ChineseModelTrains.com - Model Projects
Second Layout - Wangkui 2006 - 2011
The next layout was a huge layout in an 8 meter x 4 meter size room. The layout ran around the perimeter of the room with a large centerpiece. Unlike the last layout, I had much help from my good friend Peter Oetterli who assisted with the construction of the timber frame work, power system, track laying etc.
A huge amount of timber was used to build the frame work. 2x1" vertical braces were fixed to the timber frame work of the house and the layout was fixed to these and supported by legs and diagnoal bracing. The frame work of the benches was primarily used by 3" x 1" treated pine and wood glue and coated timber screws were used to assemble it altogether. Like my old layout, I used particle board as it was readily available, cost effective and with airconditioning hoped the long term effects of moisture would be minimal, especially as they would all be primed with paint. Construction of the frame took approximatel six month to fully construct. The design allowed for an incredible amount of storage space underneath and this was hidden away nicely with some black cotton curtains.
The room was fitted with 12 halogen bulbs in the ceiling, but this was not efficient for the size of the layout and evenetually made light boxes to sit over the layout. The light boxes were attached to the vertical beams on one side and chains/hooks to mounts in the ceiling. Fluorescent tubes were used which gave a nice effect and LED lights were not readily available at a reasonable cost at the time.
For the large trackplan, the only way to wire it up with ease was by jumping into DCC. The DCC system has survived onto my current layout, the Digitrax Superchief. Main power was supplied to the layout by an electrical supply cable, or bus, which ran underneath the layout. A number of plugs for the controllers were installed at various points of the layout to allow trains to be followed. The track was connected using regular track joiners and electrical supply was guaranteed by soldering wires to each join in the track. I do not solder the actual rail joiners - or fishplates - to the rail, to allow for expansion on warmer days. There was a reversing loop in the center of the layout which had an automatic polarity switch machine by Bachmann. A DC bus was planned for accessories, but never eventuated.
I always wanted to use concrete sleeper track due to its widespread use in China, but as there were no commercially available points with concrete sleepers, I opted to use Peco code 83 track instead. This is designed for USA railroads as it has closer space ties with a more realistic wood grain than regular code 100. There was a reasonable selection of points available as well, however some customised points had to be built. Track was installed on cork underlay and was secured with wood glue and some fine pins. Most of the pins were removed once the glue had fully set and as ballast was not applied on 90% of the layout before it had to be disassembled, the track was very easy to remove by simply spraying water over a section and waiting a minute or so for the glue to lose its grip. Switches were all powered using Tortoise switch machines and controlled via static DCC decoders (NCE Switch-8).
The layout was large enough to incorporate some reasonably large features. The east wall featured thenarrowest section of the layout with a scenic double track mainline. At the southern end, the mainline continued around the center of the room before heading back south and then to the western wall with the large staging yard and industry. There was also a track to bypass the center section altogether. On the far outside of the western wall was a track which raised up to the upper portion in the north for the the large mining complex. The main track ran around the lower portion of the northern wall.
The center section also had an upper and lower section, with track leading to a large under ground coal mine, while the upper section with the mainline was for the large railway station on one side and locomotive depot on the other. The center section was planned to have a dividing wall down the middle to further break up the layout and give the impression of being even larger than it was.
There were no dedicated Chinese buildings in HO scale commercially available, so all of the buildings were either kit-bashed from European or American HO scale kits and given Chinese details or scratchbuilt. These were by no means perfect, but I was happy enough with the overall look. The large station building was built from a large limited edition release station by Pola, while the concrete apartment buildings were from German company Piko (not to be confused with Peco). Other buildings were buit from Walthers, Faller and Vollmer kits.
Demise of Wangkui
Although much progress was achieved to a semi-professional standard, a career change and life circumstances saw use selling the house. As minimal scenery was installed, most of the track was able to be salvaged as well as all the buildings and accessories. The timber was recycled and a good portion retained was used in my current layout. Further to this, almost 2000 quality timber screws were able to be salvaged and were also reused in the next project.