Wednesday, 3 September 2014

More on Hales

Since the shots of the OO9 layout seem to have been well received here is a little bit more about the layout.

Hales was effectively three dioramas that could be assembled into a single layout.

This didn't happen very often because for most of its existence the station and fiddleyard were in my flat in Bracknell whilst the other two boards were in the house in Herefordshire.

Ah yes, the "fiddleyard." The first thing about it which is obvious from the plan was that it was in the middle of the layout. What you can't tell from the plan was that it was actually a Dapol turntable. With the short trains on the line this worked better than you might think.

The layout was very firmly set in the Welsh borders. The station was supposed to be a mix  of  Llanfair  on the W&LLR and the Tanat Valley. The other boards were more heavily influenced by Roy Link's Crowsnest Tramway and were intended to be a mineral extension.

Given my miserable rate of progress evident on this blog it will shock you to learn that, whilst construction of the three boards was spread out over some time, each of them took just a weekend to build. One reason for that was that I had all the bits and pieces readily to hand. The house in Herefordshire had a large workshop that had originally been used to make musical instruments - the mandolin played by Mike Oldfield on Tubular Bells was made there - and that certainly speeded things up compared to today when it can take me an hour to unpack the things I need for a half hour modelling session.

The other aid to rapid construction was that I was using techniques that I knew inside out. Perhaps its age but every time I come to do something now it is like I'm doing it for the first time again. In those days I would build a rake of OO9 wagon kits in an afternoon.

I also had the motivation of needing somewhere to run those lovely Paul Windle locos. They might not be up to finescale standards but at the time they were a revolutionary step forward. Using plasticard meant they were much crisper than the lumps of whitemetal we were used to, as evidenced by the Chivers Bagnall, and he managed to convert the Bachmann dock tank chassis into an effective outside framed chassis.

Passenger and freight stock was the usual selection of kits available on the market back then. not in any photos is the solitary coach, which was a Parkside Dundas VoR bogie coach, and the larger wagins which were mostly from the W&LLR.

The engine shed was scratch built, but the goods shed was the standard Wills store with an added canopy. The station building was, I think a Heljan kit but I've never been able to find another one since.

Scenery was dreadfully conventional and the only point worthy of mention is that across the whole layout I tried to use a very limited palette of colours. Track was Peco, the last time I used it before starting to build my own.

Sadly the locos got "lost" in one of my many house moves around 14 years ago, and the boards themselves ended up in a skip at around the same time.


  1. Thanks for showing what looked like a super little layout. Finescale is admirable but that layout had character and an open feel, which is often harder to achieve!

    1. Michael, I've often wondered about those sterile finescale layouts. You know the sort, where even the mud is spick and span. Of course it doesn't have to be like that. After all Crowsnest itself, in its various forms, is a finescale layout

      I'm glad you comment that Hales captures that open feel, it was one of my intentions. What probably isn't evident form the pictures is that it was actually a very narrow layout.

      I did say somewhere that I was unlikely to build another OO9 layout, but if I do I think it will echo the rural industrial tramway vibe of the country modules.

  2. It's always nice to look back on earlier projects and to discover how other peoples modelling journeys have progressed. The idea of using the Dapol turntable is simply brilliant and yet such an obvious solution in the smaller scales.

    I came very close to building a series of inter connecting dioramas myself as the idea has so many advantages especially for the space starved modeller.

    1. Geoff, I do wonder how different my modelling would be now if my comfortable domestic life hadn't been so rudely disrupted by changes in circumstances. I did start work on a OOn3 successor to Hales with a Clogher Valley/Cavan & Leitrim flavour. My suspicion is I would have carried on building variations on a theme. Hacing said which the TVR DNA was obviously present in Hales. I suspect the biggest difference it would have made is that my skills would have developed more evenly and provided a better basis for taking things to another level. However it is equally possible I would have just got complacent.

  3. Another delightful blog post - I love this little railway and the description. It's all the better for being without pretension and you can feel the fun you had seeping through those charming photos. It's also, as Geoff says, a wonderfully inspirational thing to follow the progress of a modeller and see the work and philosophy develop, despite (or because of ) difficulties encountered. Thanks for rooting out more information about Hales.

    1. Thanks Iain. I think having a very definite idea of place and atmosphere in mind helped tremendously.Especially when I was living in the area being modeled and had a deep love for it.