Returning to the hobby after many years away, my first decision was where to locate my layout. Living in a one bedroom apartment meant either I build a small micro layout (focus on detail) or build outside. While I am a huge fan of small layouts as built by Chris Nevard and others, I also like to see prototype length trains running. With an 8x10 shed available and a small garden I took inspiration from Ian Russell's outdoor layout and decided to have the best of both worlds. A small scenic layout in the shed connected to a scenic outdoor layout. Of course, the very experienced members will probably say I've bitten of more than I can chew, and they are probably right, but, hey ho, I've started, so I had better get close to a finish. Mistake are a given, considering my absence from the hobby for so long, but I love mistakes! You learn from them.
I made a good initial start but over the last couple of months I have had work, holidays and a new bathroom and kitchen to fit so things came to a halt for a while. So now I thought I would  post my present situation on here and let others advise or criticize as they see fit. Of course my delicate ego needs a massage occasionally so don't be too unkind. The coming winter will certainly slow things down a bit but there are loads of kits to build on the kitchen table in the warm, so progress can still be made.
Please feel free to ask questions or make suggestions. IMG_3446.jpg  The layout plan for the lower fiddle yard pinned up for reference IMG_3449.jpg   
Track laying starts IMG_3444.jpg Flexible packing sheet makes a base for the backdropIMG_3440.jpg  
The lower fiddle yard. There will be another level above this at the height of the lower edge of the black sheet
IMG_3512.jpg  The backdrop in place, and wiring commenced. The section above this bit of fiddle yard will be purely scenic. The upper layout will be to the front and only extend 2 feet to the rear. The remaining 2 feet of space to the rear will be removable scenic boards.   IMG_3558.jpg  Starting on the outdoor baseboards IMG_3560.jpg  The PIR board has been outside for several years already. In the foreground is a scenic river bed which is also functional in that it acts a as gutter for rain water. The base is Welsh slate and the white filler is waterproof mastic. IMG_3617.jpg 
First base section is done and painted with Stormshield Pliolite. Don't worry about the gaps as the board will be built up with PIR board and shaped to form hills and then painted with Pliolite before being scenically painted. IMG_3577.jpg 
Base for the single track section to the upper garden.  IMG_3583.jpg Getting a feel of out it might look. This is a 1in50 incline so Powerbase to the rescue for the next 99 feet! Notice the PIR board facing which forms part of the hillside down to the lower level.
The turnaround for the fiddle yard takes up so much space that I built a 'nestbox' extension to the shed to accommodate it. This will be boxed in with an access hatch and will form the base of the upper level outdoor section. Confused? Me too!
No going back now. I've cut a hole in my shed! IMG_3515.jpg  More backdrop.

I had the pleasure of visiting the McKinley layout in Bournemouth recently where Dave and his team made us most welcome. Their aim is to run a total of 180 trains mostly computer controlled which gave me ideas!
My aim is to run 14 trains partly computer controlled. Whereas McKinley is controlled by Train Controller through a Digitrax Loconet system, mine will be controlled by JMRI through an NCE/DCC Concepts cab bus system, unless I can muster the funds to buy Train Controller. A lot of the automation can be achieved with NCE Mini Panels. I am eagerly awaiting the day when DCC Concepts launch their DCC system.

I hope you enjoyed the pics and thanks for taking the time to view.
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Nice amount of storage roads (you can never have too many!)

I was a bit sceptical of Powerbase until I tried it.
Test train was a Bachmann Class 66 with 13 Dapol HIA hoppers - they are quite heavy and not overly free running.
On a 1 in 30 gradient with a 42" radius, it would wheelspin it's way to the top - just.
I fitted powerbase plates to the track and magnets to the loco - a total transformation and I could add a couple more wagons without any trouble.

I was impressed so much, that we will be back fitting it to my mate's layout - he has 1 in 60/80 gradients, but his train lengths are 21 HHA hoppers which defeat a Class 70 (less metal in the chassis than a 66)

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Actually... Interesting in many ways.

"Taking on to much" isn't really relevant I think. You make informed choices, you have a plan and are following it. It will be interesting to watch the evolution and so far, I am simply jealous as I need to work less and play more.

Life is too short to take one step at a time anyway :-).

I think the approach is excellent and intructive in many ways... from concept to materials choices. Please keep the posts coming.

kind regards, Ahjay
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Bernard Newbury Bernard Newbbury
I really like the back scene, What length is it and how many parts does it consist, cost supplier etc etc. I need to get one within the next month month so would like to know al the details.
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Puffer Pete
Looks good. Nice to see the use of sensible radius turnouts and curves to give a real railway feel to the layout, rather than cramming in  as much track as possible at the expense of atmosphere and realism.
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Bernard, the back scenes are available from New Modellers Shop online. The back scene consists of Village Long pack B Premium code P202B, and Village Long pack C Premium code P202C. Both packs each consist of 2 pieces 5 feet long. So my back drop has a total length of 20 feet. The sets are available as standard or premium. The sets match up to each other but it is fiddly getting them lined up. I chose premium because it is printed on self adhesive polypropylene. Cost is £18.99 per set. Take care sticking it to a surface because the adhesive is very sticky. Go carefully to avoid wrinkles and air bubbles. A second pair of hands is helpful. There are a good selection of backdrops from industrial to urban to countryside. Gaugemaster also do them but I found New Modellers Shop has a larger selection. Hope this helps.
Thanks Pete. The smallest radius on the layout is 3rd radius (19.75 inches). As I plan to have fixed rakes of coaches that will be semi permanently close coupled I dare not get any tighter on the curves. Outside the radii are even larger, except in the hidden loops behind the shed. But even then the smallest radius will be 20 inches.
I will endeavor to update the post with fresh photos and info as I go along.
Ahjay, since I retired I have never been so busy! I'll be glad to get things out the way so I can spend more time on the layout!
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I have my first 5 metres of Powerbase to lay. As it will be outside I have been advised by DCC Concepts to paint the plates first which I will do. I will be using Titebond 2 Premium Wood adhesive to stick them down as I've heard good things about this glue for exterior work. It's basically an exterior PVA but on steroids! Same adhesive to stick the track down too. But for ballast I will be using Astonish Floor Polish. Two applications of that will last for over two years outdoors at least. I'll keep you posted on how it does over the long term but so far I have been very impressed. While on the subject of ballast I thought I might add a tip for cheap effective ballast for outdoor use. I use granulated slate or sometimes it is called Moonstone. Roofing contractors use it for flat roofs. Available from builders merchants for around £16 for 25 kilos! It is slightly overscale but outdoors it looks great and if you are modelling a Cambrian railway it is the right colour. If you want to lighten the colour add some french chalk, mix well and stick it down with Astonish. I'll get some photos of that up soon.
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Astonish Wood Polish is available from hardware stores for around £1.19 a litre!
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Bernard Newbury Bernard Newbbury
Kuffer wrote:

Ahjay, since I retired I have never been so busy! I'll be glad to get things out the way so I can spend more time on the layout!

Kuffer, I have to agree. Since I have retired I wonder how I found time to work. I am lucky enough to be able to spend 10 >12 hour sessions a few times a week to build my layout.  Thank you for the information on the back scenes and I will source those in a couple of weeks.
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We do tend to be cautious with our advice, so I am not surprised our CS guys advised painting.

In reality though, PowerBase is a ferritic stainless steel (so its also magnetically reactive) so it will eventually get surface rust outside but will still last a very long time :-).

If you do want to paint it, a quick spray with Halfords undercoat will do fine. Spray underneath, glue, then remove the protective plastic and spray the top.
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