London Model Tramways

4mm scale model trams

Back on track - a 'New Beginning'!

 

A view at the busy Black Cat junction with Feltham and E1rehab trams

After exhibiting the Kingsway Subway and Dog Kennel Hill layouts for some years, in 2010, Jenny and I took the decision to move from Essex to Buxton in Derbyshire.

Consequently  the layouts were stored. It took longer than we imagined to find a new home but eventually we arrived in Buxton in November 2013.

With the thought of a new tram layout never far from my mind during the intervening years, I finally started to build a new layout in 2015. This was to be a portable exhibition layout which would be stored in the garage. However after some consideration, I decided that perhaps the trials of exhibiting were no longer for me, and consequently the new layout is now being rebuilt as a permanent layout on shelves in my work room from where I run my Kingsway Models card kits business.

 This page describes progress on the 'New, new layout', started during December 2015.

 The first section of the layout comprises a 'U shape' on shelves which are used to store a large variety of items. The view above shows the new baseboards in place with a scale model of London Transport's Barking bus garage on the shelf below.

The picture shows an initial placing of key buildings along with Peco track plans to help determine the track layout possibilities.

The layout will hopefully be developed over 2016. Updates appear below.

 

Many more photos of the layout may be seen in my flickr album by clicking this link.

Layout updates

 
The current track plan is shown below.
 
 

 

 The latest update will appear immediately below.

with older ones further down the page.

Updates

 

 Despite carefully shaping the bus garage model to fit into a corner of the layout, I was never happy with the effect. As an experiment I have replaced it with a terrace of Victorian houses built from the Kingsway Models  kit. The kit has four houses so using an extra half kit I have a row of six dwellings. The houses are typical of much of the housing stock in South London (and indeed, elsewhere) during much of the twentieth century.

 At one end of the layout two E1s pass the King's Head pub near the railway overbridge that hides the far return loop.

 

 Towards the City end of the layout, at Black Cat junction the tracks diverge to provide  a double track loop with hidden storage. Once again an overbridge is used to disguise the hole in the sky.

 I've recently supplemented the figures on the layout with many retrieved from the previous Kingsway Subway and Dog Kennel Hill layouts. Above an inspector is on duty at the Trinity Square short working terminus.

Below the cinema queue awaits expectantly for 'A streetcar named Desire'. Perhaps after the show they will wait for a tramcar to take them home.

 

 

St Judes

After much prevarication I finally managed to get around to designing a church that would be a focal point for the layout. It replaces a rather awkward Co-Op store that although having a certain charm, suffered through presenting it's most interesting side (the front) towards the road and so away from the viewer. I had to slightly enlarge the site by positioning a small corner baseboard between the others.

 The layout is sited on a shelf with others above and below, so I have 'whited out' the picture to cover the distractions! The church is rather small for London, but still an imposing model. It draws on a number of prototypes, and has now joined the Kingsway Models range as a kit.

 A view along New Road behind St Judes. Car 2 races a taxi whilst the E1 in the distance is sitting on the exit track from the depot.

 

 The photograph above has a sky added by computer magic. Seen here are my two Felthams; 2145 and newly built 2111, both from the Tower Trams plastic kit.

 

Further improvements

A small yard behind the pub is filled with odd pieces of machinery and a parked van. The British Railways truck has just emerged from under the railway bridge and is level with the compulsory tram stop flag, placed so that descending cars come to a stop before continuing down the hill.

 

 A view from Trinity square where car 2 is waiting on the short turn loop. Beyond the domed towers of the junior school (based on the one my wife attended in East Ham) the main line passes an LCC substation and ascends the hill towards the Kings Head.

 This black and white view shows Feltham 2145 waiting to climb the hill as car 2 arrives. Postwar advertising seems to have invaded every available space!

 

 At the other end of the layout a double junction forms two return loops which are partially hidden to enable cars to be parked out of view.

 

 The tracks pass through the skyboard at two places, underneath railway bridges as seen here with car 2 and E1 1802. The backscene buildings are on printed card in the hidden part of the loop.

 

 The other entrance to the hidden loops is seen here under the Nosegay tobacco bridge next to the Black Cat Tavern.I've recently been adding two dimensional decoration to the skyboard to 'deepen' the overall scene.

The three trams seen here E1 1802, rehab car 2 and UCC Feltham 2145 form the entire present fleet, although I plan to build several others.

 

Setting the scene

My aim with this layout is to show 'typical London conduit tramway' in it's natural setting.  My previous two tram layouts; Kingsway Subway and Dog Kennel Hill, portrayed rather special bits of the network. Although no particular location is modelled, I hope that the scene is recognisable as postwar London.

The buildings used on the layout are generally from my own range of Kingsway Models card kits, but include various additions and 'one-offs'. Above is a parade of Victorian / Edwardian shops which strike me as being absolutely typical of South London. These are available as the HRS kit, although I have added some detailed shop window interiors for these.

 A very noticeable feature of the postwar years is the preponderance of advertising posters. These seem to adorn every available vertical plane. Some are on freestanding billboards surrounding bombsites; others use available wall space. For the modeller , such boards are invaluable for filling odd corners. Posters seen in the photos are available in the Kingsway range.

There were particular features that I was determined to include in the townscene. One was the now rare subterranean toilet facilities. These were usually on a traffic island surrounded by railings. I scratchbuilt the steps and some glazed rooflights which are not visible from this angle. A 'Tardis' style police box that I built some thirty years ago has been positioned nearby along with an adjacent air raid siren atop a pole, as a reminder of events in the years before. Across the road is Burtons the tailors, from the Kingsway range, also the bank, to the right, and the Ferodo bridge.

 At the 'city' end of the layout, is a fire station; the LCCF Kingsway kit. This stands in front of the skyboard which hides some hidden tracks on a double return loop, which provide storage for trams.

 

 To provide further tram storage, I have a tram depot. In fact it is no more than a single track loop hidden behind the bank and Odeon cinema. The exit is via the Kingsway Camberwell Tram depot CTD kit, seen above. Using PECO track makes arranging the access tricky. The exit line joins the City bound line, but I have also installed a crossover so cars can gain the other line - although of course, my cars would then be running with the driver at the wrong end!

The entrance to my depot is via a single branch that leads off the main line behind the 'Conveniences' island shown in the photo further up the page. The hidden track has sections to isolate four or five cars. Next to the depot entrance is the Royal Oak, again fom the Kingsway range. Seen just outside the depot entrance is a scratchbuilt Karrier breakdown tender.

 In the town centre, I needed a means to turn tramcars , and so have arranged Trinity Square around a small memorial garden. At one end there is a  memorial to fallen in the Great War.Trams circle the square although other traffic passes in both directions along the High Road. Above LT car 2 (adapted from the Tower E1 kit) leads a standard E1 amongst the STLs.

Signs & lights

In contrast to the previous exhibition layouts, this one is fictional although intended to give the flavour of a postwar London full of LT trams. As the trams will be displaying a variety of routes and destinations, 'placing' the scene geographically is fraught with difficulty. The Underground station on the layout displays the name Tooting Common. So using this as a base I have imagined the various surrounding locations and positioned period style road signs accordingly.

Also seen below is a metal tram stop sign with my own printed flag depicting a compulsory stop. Both tracks her run away from the camera with the track on the right being the short working return loop. The left track leads up the hill. A healthy line of passengers are waiting for the next car.

 

 

A number of traffic warning signs have also been added including this Tram Pinch one warning of the tracks closing towards the kerb as the tracks head under the railway bridge at the other end of the layout. Also seen is a LCCT section box with telephone on the top.

 

 

 

 

I have added lighting to some of the buildings. Here the Odeon cinema has had the foyer lit. I intend to add a cinema queue at some point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Underground station is seen here. Tooting Common is broadly based on the real Tooting Broadway, with a curved frontage. I've built this model specially. The more common angled style Charles Holden station is available in the Kingsway Models range of kits.

 

 

 

 I've fitted a number of street lamps. These are available from Layouts 4 U at reasonable prices.

A Feltham tram has picked up from the Odeon and passes the Royal Oak.

 

 

 A night time view of the town section of the layout showing the short working return loop. The Embassy cinema has since had lights installed. The Underground station is on the far right.

 

 A pleasing night-time view of Black Cat Junction with an E1 waiting for a clear path.

Up the hill

 It's took a surprisingly short time to install scenery to a reasonable standard on most of the layout. Already I felt the need to try and extend it further!

I've built a narrow shelf just 12" wide which extends along the wall above my work desk. Continuing at the same height as the rest of the layout would impede my headroom somewhat, so I have arranged a fairly steep incline rising about three inches over a length of 32", nearly as steep as Dog Kennel Hill! the photo below shows the bare baseboard. It has light framing attached to the back board, and like the rest of the layout is supported on an adjustable system of shelf brackets.

 I was keen to include some fairly standard double street track, representing the norm for the postwar LT system. The street here continues straight up the hill to (another) railway over bridge and disappears to the inevitable return loop.

 Up the incline, I have used the Kingsway Models TERB large terraced houses, with some minor changes. Fitting any sort of building on a slope is tricky, and once the position was determined, ensuring that they were vertical, these were fixed firmly to the sky board. At the top of the hill I have put a side road leading into the back scene and then used a Kingsway Models pub, slightly cut down in size; the King's Head.

The railway bridge is soon reached - this time I have left the girder in a  plain rust finish. A small non-descript factory building stands between the pub and viaduct. The baseboard widens to about 15" for the hidden loop which has two electrical sections to store trams out of sight. There are tram stops at the top of the hill in both directions. The 'downward' one being a Board of Trade compulsory stop, in order to ensure that cars are brought to a complete halt before commencing the descent.

Around the town

 

 As well as running trams, the layout also serves as a setting to display buses of the postwar period. A  Charles Holden designed LT bus shelter is seen above.

 

 An E1 tram is outnumbered by STL double deckers.

 The curved front Charles Holden Underground station is similar to those at Tooting Broadway and South Wimbledon. It's named Tooting Common, but you won't find it on the Underground map...

A Ferodo bridge was once a common sight around the country. The police box has a wartime air raid siren that it controlled. Subterranean public conveniences were commonly sited underground with access by stairs.

 Another view of the Underground station with a Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society store across the road.

 

 Period advertising posters help to set the time period as early postwar.

A Feltham tram seen passing the High Road shops.

The Square

 The last of the baseboards currently in place will comprise a one way system that the trams can circumnavigate in order to return to the other end of the layout. I dislike cars running with the driver in position on the trailing platform! 

I have installed a couple of points that will eventually lead to a further extension - at this stage envisaged to be of 'bookshelf width' leading to a hidden return loop.

 For the moment, the road surface around 'The Square' needs to be completed. The view above shows the general layout. Although the trams will run one way, I think the roads will be signed for normal two way traffic. In the centre will be a First World War memorial - mock up can be seen alongside the E1 tram - and also a small garden area with more railings. Where the red STL is standing will be a bus stand with a passenger shelter. To the right, just out of scene near the join to the depot board, I am thinking about building a London Co-operative department store.

 A view of the memorial gardens in place but not yet complete. The plinth is awaiting a statue and trees , flowerbeds and benches need to be added to the garden.

 

 A similar view with WW1 statue and bollards fitted.

 Details in the memorial garden.

Adding more details

The edge of the layout is positioned approximately at the 'building line' of the near side of the street. In order to enable a view of the road and the buildings, I have suggested a park, by adding lawns and railings.

Beyond the tram depot and cinema there is another right angled turn. I've made this a junction with roads leading off 'into the sky. In time these will require further backscenes to be fitted.

One feature that I've been keen to add is the traffic island with traditional subterranean public conveniences. There's also a Tardis type Police box and a K6 telephone kiosk. An art deco Burtons store from the Kingsway range and a custom built curved frontage Charles Holden Underground station will also take their place.

 The backscene above has been taken from a 'streetview'from somewhere in South London combining two images which have each been edited to remove modern anachronisms!

 Another of Charles Holden's designs is the bus shelter, here serving the Green Line routes as a 10T10 coach arrives. In the background is an LT bus garage based on the Kingsway Models AK Streatham garage kit.

Printed track setts

 For the area of road in front of the tram depot, I have installed printed stone setts around the track including the crossover. Much of the London system retained stone setts until the end although areas of tarmac were becoming commonplace.

 The photo above shows the sequence of installing these setts around the pointwork. There is an area of printed setts installed between the point blades which moves with them. A printed card conduit is installed that bridges over these from the crossing  to the toe of the point.

Whilst the printed setts can be fitted to straight track fairly easily, it's considerably more difficult fit them to curves, hence the 'tarmac' on other areas of the layout.

Backscenes

 The baseboards are 21" wide and placed against the wall. It is thus inevitable that there will need to be backscenes that will hopefully give the illusion that the scene continues beyond the confines of the room.

 The first of these is visible when one looks under the railway bridge. This is where the tracks are hidden behind the skyboard so that tramcars may be parked out of view. The double tracks turn through 180 degrees within the 21" width of the board. The railway bridge is part of the strategy to disguise what is going on. As the storage tracks are open to natural light, it was possible to place a printed backscene against the wall of the room, so that an observer looking under the bridge could see the view.

The photo above probably shows the worse possible angle as the full half circle turn of the tracks is clearly apparent.

The above shows a better view achieved looking straight into the layout.

 Here is a view of the other entrance to the hidden storage tracks. The view under the bridge is a little darker here but the buildings in the backscene help to continue the view.

 By this stage the layout is beginning to look the part. I am using various items from the Kingsway Models range of buildings; some modified or given extra detail. Inevitably buildings are rectangular and as they are placed within a road system generated by the curves of the tram tracks, odd corners appear that need filling!  Fortunately close inspection of period photos of London in the nineteen-fifties can give inspiration. Billboard hoardings can be very helpful, and whilst filling the gaps, they also enhance the period feel.

View showing the second hand car showroom from the Kingsway range of buildings. This has had a period petrol pump installed. The printed backscene under the railway bridge can be glimpsed behind the 4Q4 Green Line relief coach.

Road surface

 Bugbear of any traditional tram layout is the decision as to how to represent the road surface that needs to appear level with the running rails. On Kingsway Subway, I built up the road surface using DAS modelling clay for the areas closest to the track and used hardboard for the road areas further away. On Dog Kennel Hill, I experimented with printed card.

 For the new layout I am again using card. Mounting board is laid on the baseboard alongside the track within the area of the road. I then use a thin grey card from a craft supplier which to my eyes appears to be a close match to a tarmac finish. This is also available in paper thickness and by laying a sheet over the track and impressing the rails into it, I can cut a piece that will fit snugly between them.

A narrower card strip is then glued on top to bring the surface up to road level whilst leaving a clearance gap for the wheel flanges. Because I am modelling part of the London conduit system, I then use my own printed conduit strip on self adhesive paper which can be very easily laid to follow the centre line of the track.

The process is tedious and not that much fun, but it works for me!

Pushrod points

 With the layout being 'U shaped', everything is within easy reach. Te points are operated by pushrods which extend to the baseboard edge.

 Detail showing the arrangement of a pushrod that controls the point giving access to the rear entrance of the tram depot.

Crossover Pointwork

 It would be nice to have 'proper tram track'. I know that others have achieved this, but I know that it is beyond my capabilities! I much prefer to concentrate my attentions on creating realistic , believable surroundings for the layout.

Consequently, I have always made use of model railway track. Previously I have used Peco 'Setrack' points with the benefit of a regular curve on the branch like tram track. However the dead frog construction does not make for smooth slow speed running. This time I have installed the smallest Peco live frog points, and the slow running performance is much improved. 

For the trailing crossover outside the depot I have cut back the branches on the points in order to bring the parallel tracks somewhat closer to scale distance. They really need to be closer, but it would be easy to render the points unusable - I went as close as I dared!

 The photo shows how one rail of each point has been cut back in order to bring the two running lines closer together when the points are joined.

Because the 'up' and 'down' lines are separate electrical areas, the tracks are joined using insulated fishplates. One of the tracks has been fitted with an electrical section wired through a DPDT switch which can switch it to the correct polarity for either area.

 

Wiring & controls

 With the experience of running the Kingsway Subway and Dog Kennel Hill layouts, where we attempted to illustrate the busy tram service provided by London Transport, I learnt that one cannot have too many electrical sections!

With a permanent layout against the walls of the room, it can only be operated from the front. The 'U shape' configuration means that it has been provided with individual control panels for each board, as standing in the centre these can all be reached easily. Initially, these panels are certainly rather 'rough & ready', just in case experience informs future changes. I will in time produce more robust versions.

 The layout is divided into two control areas roughly corresponding with 'up' and 'down' tram lines. I have labelled them 'red' and 'black'. Currently I have two controllers which can be switched to either control area , and there is provision for adding another, perhaps of the 'simulation' type.

Also visible in the background is my mult-radius track curve gauge. A simple cut out of brown cardboard, this has radii ranging from 3.5" to 6". Peco flexitrack can (with care) be formed to these curves and  provides reliable running.

Lighting

 The baseboards are supported on a shelf system using brackets on slotted uprights. The 'U shaped' configuration comprises four boards which are bolted together using coach bolts and wing nuts with metal aligning dowels. This has created a very rigid construction.

With storage shelves above (and below) the layout, I was anxious to ensure that the layout was well lit. I am hoping that it will in time become a stage set for photographing model trams and other road vehicles. There are some small halogen spotlights on the ceiling of the room within the centre of the 'U shape' but inevitably the upper shelves cast shadows over the layout.

The view above shows an LED lighting strip that runs underneath the shelf above. This is a 'warm white' light that gives excellent illumination that I am extremely pleased with. A five metre strip along with a mains powerpack cost just £15 from a 'well known auction website'.

First Tracklaying

Early stages of tracklaying

 This end of the layout will feature a double track junction, one arm of which will lead behind the skyboard to storage roads. The other arm runs along the front of the board past the fire station and rejoins the first under a railway bridge.

Although skyboards have been fitted against the wall of the room, for this part of the layout they will stand behind the buildings to hide the storage roads.

 Onto the next board the tracks run past the tram depot represented by an entrance based on that of Camberwell depot - a kit from the Kingsway Models range.On the shelf above can be seen an E1 tram built from the Tower Models plastic kit - this is used to test the track as it is laid. There are also other buildings which may be used on the new layout intermingled with a 1/24 scale diorama intended for the display of large scale Sunstar and EFE buses!

There would usually be access from the depot in both directions along the running lines. With my use of model railway pointwork this is just not possible, so I am planning a trailing crossover in front of the depot. This will enable cars to enter and leave the depot in both directions. Also seen on the board here are small sky blue 'matchpots' from the local DIY store which were used to paint the skyboards.

The Odeon cinema and Westminster bank continue the building frontage along the street. A further storage track lies behind, representing the depot.