5" Gauge Layout
Our main railway layout is a 5" gauge ground level track of approximately 2000 feet.
The 5" rails are made from 12mm square steel bar and flat plate metal is used for the sleepers, this is then placed in a jig and welded together and finally painted with red oxide. During its time on the ground we have only had to replace a small amount. Track can be made to whatever length is required, but is mainly 5ft panels, the curves are set at a maximum of 45 feet radius with a minimum of 35 feet radius.
This consists of 3 interlocking loops of track, 4 platforms, associated sidings, stabling loops, carriage shed and steaming bays with a turntable.
The average train ride for the public is approximately 1/3 mile long.
We have a large unloading area which includes 10 bays connected by a traverser with height adjustment to the main line. On the exit from the traverser we have a track gauge this checks all wheels fit correctly before entering the mainline along with a loading gauge set to the height of our tunnel.
The semaphores are all hand made using 1" square posts, galvanised sheet metal for the arms and a 12v solenoid for power. We have 28 semaphore arms and 2 disc signals around the layout some on single posts others on gantries. The coloured lights are constructed using BR Signal box bakelite block shelf repeaters, perfect size.
We have a very sophisticated signalling system on our relativity small layout. Our Signalbox contains a 20 lever miniature frame. The system uses the track circuit block method, the principle of allowing only one train in one section at one time. The majority of the layout is covered by track circuits allowing the signalman to watch all trains whilst on their journey. (see diagram below). We have 26 points on our layout, 10 being motorised, 6 are controlled on the frame, 6 are driver selection by plunger and the rest are trailing points. We have 20 individual signals which are a mixture of semaphore and colour light giving a good variety when you journey round. Half the layout is worked by the signalman the other half is automatic and worked by the passing of the train.
As the track is made of metal and jig welded we cannot use the common method of track circuits (insulated joints) so we use reed switches and magnets to operate the signalling system. This means all our passenger carriages are fitted with a magnet. The track (at the block joints) is fitted with a pad containing 2 reeds, as the magnet passes over, it operates the reeds which in turn feeds back to the Signal box relays to control the signalling system and box diagram.