Calderbridge Diary of a layout build

A modular N gauge layout available for exhibition in 2024

The layout

The layout has been built to an agreed modular standard and will be able  to form part of a large impressive layout or be exhibited as a single layout.  The layout will be built so as to be able to use my existing viaduct, so dimensions will remain as detailed opposite.

Plympton Junction is being built as DCC layout based somewhere in WR.    This column will detail the progress of the layout build and outline how the look has been created.

The layout measures 2700mm x 400mm with another 800mm in total for the corners which swing round to a rear 10 road fiddle yard.  This gives a total viewable length of 3500mm.  The depth required is 1400mm. 

A further baseboard can be added containing a viaduct (see picture below) to extend the layout by an additional 900mm to 4400mm

The layout is self supporting.

Operation is from the centre space between the layout and fiddle yard.

One 240v ac socket is required.  The layout will fit into one large car.

Plympton Junction - operator side

In 2021 I starting laying Track on Plympton Junction, but other project then meant the layout went on ice until mid year 2022. Here we see the track laying in progress and a few rough buildings which may or may not end up on the layout. The buildings under the arches of the viaduct, coal drops, water tower and canal over bridge are all scratch built. The warehouse on a slope along with the Kestrel houses are kit bashes which the other warehouse is the Hornby.  

The idea behind the N gauge layout is to be able to handle a number of short freight trip workings to the various freight sidings. Rare earth magnets are being fixed below the tracks to allow hands free uncoupling using the Dapol Easy shunt couplings. The track plan is inspired by one in an old ‘Railway Modeller’.


During mid 2022 the trackwork was completed an a start was made on ballasting the layout.    Not a favourite task but one that needs to be done well. The first picture shows the first of the three boards all ballasted and track painted. The hard standing on the depot will take a small shed – it just fits!  Also note the rare earth magnets still showing where the track leads to the abyss (the location of the coal drops). I plan to use the Dapol easi-shunt magnets to to leave the wagons on the drops. They work well. Two magnets just gives me a larger target to hit once they are buried. The layout itself is now wired up for DCC – you can just see a few wires in the picture of the DCC bus. Two more photos – the Gasometer that will go on the middle board. I built this kit some years ago.  I spray painted it matt black and then airbrushed on some rust.  It will be an imposing structure. Note the Hymek AWS bell that I rescued from a scrap yard in Kettering in 1975 and now used as a weight!! 

November 2022 and I now busy putting in the platform edging.  I’m using Peco platform edge and used small shims along the side of the track to ensure clearance.   I used some old edging from previous projects. Any gaps have been filled using Milliput.

The Southern style concrete edging will be the cattle dock .  The end of the station board will need to be modelled so that it can work seamlessly with the viaduct board.   The plan is that this layout can be operated as a terminus.  The plan is to build a drop in section terminate the through lines.   The station building itself is to be elevated with steps down to the concourse.

The next stage is the paint the platform edging before completing the ballasting and painting the track.   For the platforms I’m going to attempt to replicate the tarmac following a process shown by Kathy Millatt on YouTube.    This process gives a really nice finish.  I particularly like the exposed cobbles below the tarmac which I will attempt to recreate somewhere on the layout if all goes well!  The F400 Silicon Carbide grit, paint and fixing agent are on order.  Note also how she replicates cracks in the tarmac.

To support the platform tops I have glued plasticard spacers at regular intervals and added card to bring these up to the height of the platform support lip.  The station concourse framework of card has been added.  The plan is to have the concourse under the main station buildings on a steel framework.  I will install some LED lighting in this section.   The tops of the platforms are being fitted – it already starts to feel like a station.  I will create some templates out of paper to do the curved inserts.  The centre of the platforms is slightly lower at the moment than the platform edging.  This is to allow the ‘tarmac’ topping which will also get rid of the card joins.

Dec 4th. The platforms are almost complete. I used plasticard on the platform tops at the baseboard join for additional strength, but otherwise card. The next step will be to follow the Kathy Millatt process, but at the moment I’m still doing the track. I’m painting the track edges using Precision paints ‘Track’ colour, which is really just a dark brown, removing stray ballast and filling in bits of ballast that are missing. I’m wishing I had sprayed the track dark brown to save on hours of effort!

19th Dec. Well it has been a little while since the last update. The reason for that is that what I hoped would be a simple job with the platform top surface has turned out to be anything but! At one point I did consider taking it all up, but I’m glad I stuck at it. The mistake I made was to leave about 1mm to be filled with the powder. The powder is incredibly fine so after four applications I was getting nowhere near the top of the platform edging. I therefore deviated from the process Kathy described and mixed the power with pva glue and a little water to form a paste which I’ve spread on. It takes about a day to dry, so this morning I used very fine sandpaper to take it back to the platform edges. There were plenty of bits that needed filling which I have done this afternoon, but in the areas where no filling was required I have a very smooth fine surface. I suspect one more sand and fill will be required to get me to a nice finish.

While waiting for the platforms to dry I have had the airbrush out to spray ‘concrete’ on the water tower, turntable well and hardstanding area at the depot. The Railmatch acrylic has produced a nice smooth finish. There will still be weathering to do, but this a is a nice foundation. There is just enough pace for the Farish maintenance shed which I think looks rather nice. I have also used a car spray to do the turntable railings in white.



Well having painted some buildings for Plympton Junction the layout has now moved to Yorkshire in modelling terms and morphed as Calderbridge. I like the industrial look, so developing the layout with a distinct regional look will be an interesting project. I’m rather pleased with the look of the ‘stone’ which has been dry brushed on. The chimney in the background still needs to be painted.
The second photo shows the coal drops. There is still a little bit of work to complete. The railing is etched stainless steel which I bought from the owner of Bridgebury Gate (which was at our January show) who has designed these.
The third photo shows the work in progress on the gas works. I have been looking at a fantastic archive picture of York gasworks for ideas.
Finally a photo of the dummy rail overbridge. The rust effect on the bridge and coal drops has been done mainly with weathering powders mixed in matt varnish.
 Calderbridge gas works is developing nicely. The buildings are now complete although some weathering is still needed on a few. The ground is covered is a thin layer of das modelling clay. Note the track is down on the overbridge with one of the lines disused.
To the right of the gasworks the coal merchants area is also developing, but again a little bit of work is needed to get the scene right. It feels a bit empty although there will be a coal merchants lorry in the final scene
 August 2nd and a little while since an update. 
The goods shed still needs some work to build an interior and to add an external transfer area to road vehicles.  Once the canal side area is complete I’ll press on with this and complete the build.
The gas works is complete other than adding smaller details such as people etc.   I have put the gasometer next to the works and relocated the rail bridge.
Some buildings have been added to give a backscene, while the canal side warehouses are now taking shape.  These should be completed during August.  Both buildings need hoists adding.
The diesel stabling point is complete other than some small details.  New railings have been added to the turntable.