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Layout In A Box – Demo Micro Layout Project (part 2)

Scale Model Scenery Demo Micro Layout Project

Part Two

Following on from part one of this series in which we covered the building/assembly of the Scale Model Scenery BB017 Micro Baseboard. This base board along with it’s smaller BB018 micro baseboard sister kit, are designed to fit into the Really Useful Series of plastic storage boxes. The really useful boxes for storing the BB017 baseboard can be found here:

If you are struggling for space for a layout, then a micro layout could just be the answer you’re looking for. Let us now take a look at the next phase which is track planning & ideas.



Having assembled the baseboard it’s time to start planning out the layout. So the first questions are:

  • what prototype & era for the layout?

For the prototype & era we’ve decided to go with the diesel era from late BR up to the current day. 

  • Is the layout going to be based on a real location or is it going to be freelance?

We’re going for the freelance option & will take ideas from various locations around the country. So can be based on various locations around the country. Simple change of signage will allow us to portray the layout in various rail regions around the country. For example set the layout in Scotland & have BR/ Scotrail signage, then simply swap the signs out for say Great Western to then portray the layout somewhere in the western region.

  • What are the aims of the layout?

To showcase a micro layout & to give club members & customers ideas for creating their own micro layout. Also to show case our own Scale Model Scenery range of kits in use on a layout to show & give a better understanding of the kits & the roles they can play on the layout.


 What track are we using?

For the layout we’re using Peco’s Code 100 streamline flexi track. This will allow the SMS team to run various locos & rolling stock from today’s super detailed models with fine scale wheels, to older models with deeper flanges on their wheel sets. 


Which Pointwork are using?

Having succesfully used Peco code 100 point work on my own layouts for many years, this is the natural choice for the layout. With the layout being aimed at those building a layout for the first time, we’ve opted for insulated (insulfrog points) to keep things simple. On my own personal layout I use Peco Electrofrogs. 

Peco offers a much larger range of different types of points as apposed to Hornby’s small range of points. This gives much more flexability in the the design of the track plan. The point work we are using from Peco’s range is the Medium Radius Lefthand/righthand insulfrog points. Part code SL-95 & SL-96. These are fully compatible with Hornby’s own range of track work which is also code 100. Code 100 stands for the height of the rail. Code 75 trackwork is more finescale & is smaller in height, thus code 75 is only suitable for models fitted with finescale wheelsets.

What control system will we be using?

We’ll be using a DCC system to control the layout. However, we may possibly make the layout so it can be controlled by a traditional analogue control system via a change over switch.

What features do we want include?

  • The track plan will include a straight run with storage siding at one end to hold a single car DMU.
  • A small end of line branch line station.
  • A tunnel with hidden sidings & entrance to a possible additional off baseboard fiddleyard casstte to allow trains & rolling stock to be changed.
  • Some form of rail served industry with loading/unloading pad. 
  • Use of our low relief loco shed as a factory or loco depot.
  • Headshunt with sidings to allow the layout to be used as shunting puzzle.
  • Factory on a raised area above the track towards the rear of the layout.
  • Part of the track area to be set in concrete hardstanding.
  • Layout lighting such as street lamps & flood lighting.
  • To feature as many of our scenic detail items as possible to show them in use on a layout & to try portray a urban feel/look.

Idea sources & track planning.

A trawl on the intenet brings up many photos & videos of the real railways & locations. Youtube for example you can see many great layouts both private layouts & model railway shows. For the real railways the likes of Google maps being a great source for looking at current day railway locations. Photo websites are a great source for railways long gone if basing a layout on a real locations. The NRM museum at York has a research facility called the Search Engine, which is a fantastic source for researching old railways. 

Railway books, railway modelling magazines & videos are also great for getting the creative ideas going. Amongst them is the good old tradtional track planning books in which a selection of some can be seen below. 

The likes of Peco’s Settrack & Hornby’s own track plan books are based on their respective trackwork systems. Other track plan books such as those by the likes of the late C.J.Freezer are based on Peco Streamline Points & flexible track sections.

Other track planing methods can be done with using track planning computer software such as the likes of Anyrail, Scarm, Trax, Hornby amongst others. Anyrail for example, allows track from different manufactures to be used in designing a layout track plan. Once the plan has been designed, can be then printed out. 

Then there is the tradtional pen & paper method, where the track plan is drawn out by hand on a grid. The grid for example is drawn up so that each sqaure represents a scale foot in length i.e. a 12mm by 12mm sqaure ( 1mm equvalent to 1 inch) thus equivalent to a one foot grid sqaure.

Another source for small layout track plans is the Micro Trackplans website, where a large number of small micro layout track plans can be found. Lots of ideas a plenty!!

Full size point work templates.

If planning out a layout using actual pieces of track section, Peco do download & print off pointwork templates. These can be downloaded for free from Peco’s website. Make sure that you set your printer settings to 100% on your printer, this will then print off the pointwork templates at the correct scale. The beauty of this method, is that you can try out various point work configurations before actually buying any point work.  Thus saving any costly mistakes in buying the wrong size point work.  


Track configuration

After looking through my trackplanning books & the Micro Layouts trackplans website to get some idea’s going, I then worked & planned out a rough track plan. Going old school, I then sketched out the plan on some paper. Having roush sketched the plan out, I then selected several types of Peco Streamline code 100 points that would possibly fit the plan. These being Peco medium & short radius left & right hand type. Next, a visit to Peco’s website to select & download the track templates, then these printed off at at scale 100% (actual size) on my printer settings.

After carefully cutting out the templates, I then tried out various pointwork configurations, trial & error soon had me settling on the medium radius points. Once happy with the plan, the points & flexi track were then duly ordered.

The photos below show the track templates being used during testing various configirations out. Once happy with the plan, the points & flexi track then duly ordered.


The layout track plan

Below is a basic plan of the layout & where the scenic items are planned to be positioned on the layout. The key to kits is as follows:

  • A – Fiddle yard cassettes. These will allow different trains to be brought on to & off the layout with trains being changed over off stage so to speak.
  • B – Low relief 1930’s factory kit. This will sit on a raised area above the track work, the raised area will help hide the track entrance hole in the backscene board.
  • C – Concrete hardstanding area. This will be the top section above the trackwork, it will be made removeable to allow access to the track below for maintance etc. 
  • D – 6 foot industrial wall with gates. This will sit along the front of the layout & act as the rail served yard perimeter.
  • E – Over Bridge. This will be scratch built using items from the Scale Model Scenery range. The bridge will help hide the second track entrance hole through the backscene board.
  • F – Hardstanding section with track work embedded. This will feature our LX096-OO hardstanding kit for depots. This will be the loading/unloading pad for the rail served factory.
  • G – Low relief engine shed. This building will be our LX225-OO kit which will take on the roll as a rail-served factory building.
  • H – Security fence with entrance gates across the access track. Here we’ll use the LX007-OO chainlink security fencing with gates. We’ve selected the crank top version which is a firm favourite with many customers & club members a like.
  • I – Station. At the end of the branchline is the small station which will be served by a single car DMU unit. This station we’ll be scratch building using our platform & brick texture sheets. A wall or fencing will be fitted along the rear of the platform.
  • J – Low relief factory unit. One of the low relief factory such as the KX007-OO units will sit between the station & the raised area. 
  • K – Portable office cabin/container. In the rail served yard will be located a portable office cabin/container. We’ll be using either the twin shipping container office kit or the easy build portable cabin kit for this.
  • L – Security fence. Running along the side of the track in front of the low relief industrial unit will be security fencing, here we are thinking of using one of the palisade fencing kits.
  • M – Tunnel & retaining wall. Here a tunnel will cover the entrance track work on to the layout from the fiddle yard cassettes. With the about to be released arched retaining wall kit into the Scale Model Scenery range, this will be ideal for covering the wall of the raise area as well as one section being used for a tunnel.

For the backscene we’re looking at using one of the Berwick Upon Tweed backscenes from our range. Other smaller scenic kits & lighting from the range will also be used throughout the layout. Other details such as a signal for the branch line will be looked at later as this project progresses. 

The rail served yard could be both a wagon works or some industry. This could be achived with some removeable signage & removeable yard scenic items allowing it to change roles between a wagon works & factory/industry. We’d be interested to hear your suggestions on what type of industry this rail served factory could be. Let us know your ideas in the comments box below.


Happy modelling

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  1. wicky0570

    Great to catch up with Iain at GETS2019 in Milton Keynes. Loving the look of the track plan and looking forward to seeing the layout develop.

    • Iain

      It was great to see & catch up with you. Hopefully will have the layout looking something like the plan by Warley show. Also great to meet & catch up with all club members who came to visit during the show 🙂

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