Loctern Quay (009)

On the banks of a lazy river sits Loctern Quay, where a narrow gauge railway can be found threading through the streets of the village. Although the quayside has fallen into disuse the railway struggles on, its little goods trains still serving the community and its small businesses.

Loctern Quay is a small 009 layout - that's 1:76 or 4mm/ft scale using 9mm gauge track to represent a narrow gauge railway. The layout is just 2' 6" long by about 11" deep, with integral lighting and short legs for convenient display on a table. The track plan forms a shunting puzzle, wagons are shunted between the three sidings to make up a train according to picture cards drawn, which is quite engaging. When complete the train can be exchanged for another via hidden sidings on a sector plate.

The layout came about because of a building kit I bought on a whim, and a competition run through the 009 Society magazine. The 009 News challenge was to use two small laser-cut baseboard kits by Norfolk Heath works, about 15" x 11" each, and one had to have a sector plate. The building  was by Petite Properties and also a laser-cut kit, having come across their trade stand at a show I thought their kits had great potential so bought a small low-relief shop to try out. I came up with the idea for a village quayside scene around some sidings, and after a small scale sketch, created a full-size plan to check everything fitted and would work.

Satisfied the plan would work I ordered the baseboard kits, which went together very easily - here they are seen assembled dry to check and mark out the track before final assembly with PVA glue. After this the Peco track was laid and wired up.

I actually shortened the sector plate by 30mm to allow the track-plan to fit. I wanted the sector plate to remain hidden and operable from the front, so I made a latching system for it. A brass pin was dropped through a copper-clad sleeper at the end of each track through the sector plate and a slot in the baseboard, below the board a sprung aluminium arm is arranged with a notch providing both a mechanical latch to the pins and electrical contact when the tracks align. In addition, a dowel runs under the board allowing the sector plate to be moved from the front of the layout.

I think any layout benefits from good lighting, and a back-scene to cut out distractions, just as a picture has a frame. So a simple 4mm MDF back-scene was added, braced with strips of softwood outside the ends, and painted very pale blue. A simple pair of short fold-down legs was attached to the bracing at each end for a more comfortable viewing height on a table, and a lighting pelmet arranged to hinge up on arms and slightly overhang the front of the layout. Lighting is provided by a strip of natural white LED's which give a good colour balance and even light. Switches are set into the front panel of the baseboard in a schematic diagram, and the base-board exterior painted a neutral grey to neaten it up.

After building the first Petite Properties kit I used several other to create the village. They consist of an MDF shell which needs suitable finishing - such as with brick-paper, or sand or talc applied for rendered to plaster finish. Details are then added, though I changed the roofs of many and added extra details such as gutters.

With some care they make up to lovely models without needing lots of time, which helped given the deadline for the layout! A few buildings were scratch-built too.

There's not a lot of scenery, but levels were built up with card, foam-board and polystyrene. The cobbles are embossed into DAS clay while damp using a variety of simple home-made tools.

The result is a pleasing scene, not dominated by railway tracks despite the small size of the layout. The river is simply Modge Podge gloss acrylic medium over a painted base. Details and figures bring the model to life and set the pre-war period.

The sector plate is hidden behind buildings, and almost unnoticeable from normal viewing angles, but it is scenically dressed and backed by a row of trees to avoid an unsightly empty space.

This makes the most of the limited depth available - the sector plate actually swings into the factory.

Although this layout is very small, the "inglenook" shunting puzzle with card system makes for entertaining operation, using a variety of wagons and interesting loads, and Microtrains couplings for hands-off shunting. Building is has been great fun too, although at times rather intense, taking just 7 months to meet the challenge deadline by March 2020.

You can follow the story of this layout through the blog or click on the links above for more details of construction. Oh and as a bonus, the layout won the 009 News competition!