ChineseModelTrains.com - Model Projects

Third Layout - Anda
2017 - Present

Basic Information

A few years past between Wangkui layout and my current build. Work life was maxed out and being in temporary accomodation being the major demotivational factors preventing me from beginning again. After some time pondering how to remain in the hobby I love so much without building something over the top (yet), I decided to construct a relatively small layout along one length of the garage. I would be able to develop my skills in a number of areas, such as super detailing, scenery work and micro-electronics and having a smaller layout would allow me to do that quite nicely.  

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Benchwork

The benchwork was constructed to portable modules of a standard size of 1.2 meters x 900mm which was done to make them manageable when we moved, super strong and sturdy as I am unable to bolt them to the walls like the last layout and I could fit five modules in perfectly into the space I had to work with. The width of 900mm was selected as it is within reaching distance to work on as well as being convenient in using the standard 1200mm x 900mm plywood boards our local hardware sells. 

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The frames were constructed again with 3" x 1" treated pine with 2" x 3" treated pine legs, lots of white glue and quality coated timber screws. I constructed two shelves inside, one almost at floor level and another half way up the tables. As mentioned above, plywood sheets were used for much of the table tops and I was adamant on using this over the chipboard I used previously as the garage is not quite as well sealed as the previous room in the house.   

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Layout Concept

My layout is based on a fictional area in a hilly area of central/southern China in the 2010's. This gives me the ability to realistically use most locomotive types and traction. The design of the layout was to focus on one major industry only as I prefer the 'less is more' approach to layout building. I decided to model a Chinese coal mine as it is (or at least was) by far the most commonly seen freight traffic in China. A coal mine allows me to employ many types of coal wagons such as the self dumping hydraulic KF60's, K70's, C62, C64 and C70. At the front of the layout is a single track diesel/steam mainline. There is a small modern locomotive depot on the right hand side which accommodates six diesel locomotives comfortably, or up to eight in a squeeze. The main attraction is the huge scratch built brick coal mine loader, similar to the type used on the Datong coal railway near Chongqing. This is a very imposing building with manually operated coal chutes. As well as the loading track, there are another two storage/staging tracks for excess wagons or a workers passenger train and some spur sidings to allow for shunting moves which won't encroach on the mainline. 

The last couple of meters are still under development, however the bench work has been constructed to install a river with large viaduct for the mainline to cross and then sweep around to a future section of the layout.   

One major goal for me this time was to be able to run the layout in a full nighttime operation under its own light, which is a very time consuming and intricate process. 

Track

Once again I have used Peco code 83 track for my layout, being closest to Chinese prototype with closely positioned sleepers (ties). I intend to use concrete sleeper track for the mainline one day for the rest of the layout once I move into a new house, hopefully not too far away. Much of the Peco track has been recycled from my previous layout, Wangkui. A new product I'm using worth mentioning is the Walthers (Shinohara) code 83 bridge track with check rails which is a very high quality product which will be used for the viaducts and bridges to be used on Anda layout. I have started to install light signals (from Orangutan models) for the yard and even some decent quality no-name brands from eBay. At this stage as my layout is still fairly basic with only 14 points/switches, they are currently controlled by the direction of track. The points are motorised with Tortoise switch machines and controlled by stationary DCC decoders (NCE Switch-8). 

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Electrical Supply and Control

The track is powered by AC power of around 18volts and controlled by the Digitrax SuperChief DCC system. There are three ports on the external frame for plugging in the Digitrax controllers but a major upgrade has been taken place where we are now able to control the trains straight off our smart phones or iPods via a connected laptop computer. This is a very nice addition to avoid constant cables and we can get hours of use out of a single charge. 

The power is supplied to the rails through thick bare copper cables between each module. The cables are fed through holes drilled into the frame and connected to each end by being wrapped around eyebolts and tensioned. We can then simple solder wires from the tracks or point machines directly onto the power supply tracks. Each module is connected to each other with electrical plugs. To date I haven't had a single electrical gremlin by using this method. 

In addition to the AC bus for track, I have a separate DC bus wire for the layout for all the accessories. This is from a 5amp power supply which feeds 9 volts DC. Most of my accessories require power for lightings or small motors and I use a micro plug system so they are able to be easily removed without desoldering any wires from the bus. I have recently acquired some distributor boards which allow up to 40 accessories to be plugged into the same board. These are arranged in banks of ten and each bank can have the brightness adjusted. 

Buildings

Many of the buildings are recycled from the old Wangkui layout, but have been further enhanced over time as I spend more time on them. One of my apartment buildings has been fitted with individual rooms, many of them with slightly different colored LED lights to depict different types of domestic light bulbs. 

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As there continues to be no high quality structures available (with the exception of a very small number of brass models by MTC), I have once again resorted to scratch building a number of buildings. The most obvious being the locomotive shed and the coal loader. More details on the construction and/or progress of each will be added to a separate page in the Model Projects section of the website. 

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A number of smaller buildings by Busch, Walthers and Piko have also or will be installed soon or used in the future section of the layout. 

Lighting

As one of my main goals is to operate the layout in full night-time conditions, lighting has had to be very carefully considered. I am very careful with color choice and brightness. So far over 800 LED lights have been used on the scene, most of them 1 or 1.2mm size. These are very strategically placed and in some places, not directly visible. I have used them on building interiors and exteriors, vehicles, street lights and even some street signs. They appear fairly dim initially, but gets much better after a short while once my eyes have adjusted to the darkness and I am very happy with the results so far. 

Road Vehicles

Many of my HO scale vehicles are being retrofitted with a full lighting suite including front and rear lights and interior lighting. The LED's are typically no larger than 1.2mm each and are protected with a resistor so they can be plugged straight into the DC bus.  

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Scenery

I love layouts with impressive scenery, although this is quite challenging for me due to the prototype I model. Certain tree types simply aren't available commercially and I have had to scratch build a number of these to get the look I'm after. I have used a number of methods to make bamboo, conifers and poplar trees. I assemble most of my trees with products from Woodland Scenics, Peco and Noch to achieve this.  

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I am particularly interested in water scenes and use casting resin, clear ModPodge glue and Woodland Scenics water effects for the water and technical paints to achieve the mud cracking effects. 

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Future Plans

This layout (I hope!), will be incorporated into a much larger system. It is fun to shunt trains on in the meantime and allows me to use the area for a test bed for the rest of the layout. 

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