Precision Miniatures Home Layout: Part 1

Precision Miniatures Home Layout: Part 1

Layout

Above is the track plan of my South African Railways HOn3.5 layout at my home in Randburg.

This layout is constructed in a stand alone room of 48 square meters, that was originally a double garage. This space was fully prepared before construction on the layout was begun. A new ceiling was installed, superfluous doors were bricked up and the entire room re plastered and painted. A carpet was installed, although in hindsight this was a mistake. My suggestion to anyone planning a layout room, would be to lay light coloured ceramic tiles or wooden strip floor. Less of a dust trap, easier to clean, and fewer small parts getting swallowed by the carpet monster. New fluorescent lighting was installed, although this was replaced in 2012 with modern LED technology tube lighting. Apart from the power saving, the colour temperature of the new light is very close to sunlight, and there is far less ultraviolet radiation. One wall has full length concertina wooden doors with large glass openings, that are dust sealed, but can be opened for an open air feel, and to take advantage of our great weather. They open onto an enclosed courtyard where guests can sit during running sessions. There is a bar fridge and espresso machine close at hand.

The track plan was drawn on an early CAD township planning program by friend Ryn Vlietstra, another fine SAR HOn3.5 modeller, over one public holiday, with the assistance of a few 6 packs and pizza’s. The design philosophy was to create a single track secondary main line, and to capture the flavour of the Eastern Transvaal or Natal Midlands. Some of the design parameters included, minimum main line curve radius of 1 meter, 750mm in yards and sidings, maximum gradient of 2%. All points were to be Tillig TT large radius points (radius 980mm), with an uncluttered track plan to mimic our wide open spaces. During design it was uppermost that the resulting terrain must look believable. In other words the terrain was there first and then the railway line came. Particular attention was paid to drainage lines and for the terrain to be above and BELOW the track bed. When designing a layout it is imperative to kill the ‘tabletop’ effect. What is not visible on the track plan is the hidden staging and return loop that is located under the main station. Departing from the main station, which has been named Belfast, in a clockwise direction the main line follows a right hand curve through a view block and crosses a five arch cut stone bridge, modelled after the preserved bridge at Waterval Onder. From here the track drops continuously at 2%, through a single turn helix. Just before entering the helix there is a short spur to a siding called Pynbos, after the siding just outside Sabie. This siding has a small goods shed and a log loading facility, as it is located in the middle of a large commercial pine plantation. So far over 350 trees have gone into this forest. The helix is partially hidden in a tunnel and gives the effects of greatly increasing the apparent length of the line. Emerging from the helix one arrives at Rosehagh. This is the the mid point of the 53 meter long mainline, and has a lengthy passing loop, a station building, goods shed and a large saw mill complex. There are additional sidings servicing the sawmill. There is also a small engine servicing facility with ash pits and coaling stage for the locos that double-head heavy trains up the helix back to Belfast. Continuing on in our direction of travel the line passes over a river gorge on a plate girder bridge, and into a tunnel which leads to the 5 track hidden staging yard and return loop. Emerging from the tunnel the track crosses a typical SAR Warren truss bridge and enters the siding called Cement. There is once again a small station, goods shed, log loading facility and a rock quarry and crusher. The quarry is served by its own siding, and again there is a small coaling stage and servicing track. From Cement the line carries on to re enter Belfast from the opposite end to when we departed. Belfast has a large station building, goods shed, cattle dock a large grain silo complex, and bulk fuel depot. There are 4 passing loops and a 4 track shunting yard. Behind the yard is a 4 track loco shed, with associated ash pits, watering points, sanding facility and a small diesel fuelling depot. Pride of place is the 2.3 meter long incline coaling stage that forms the backdrop to the loco facility. In the back are a row of railway workers houses and the depiction of a platteland town main street facing the railway complex. At Belfast there is a typical turning wye, one leg of which disappears off the layout to represent a branch line. The difference in elevation between the highest and lowest point of the track is 60 cms.

Although the names of stations etc are actual place names they bear no resemblance to the actual place, but are used to add to the flavour of the layout.

All of the structures are scratch built to represent truly South African architecture. In some instances commercial kits have been used, but have been extensively modified to appear South African.

The era modelled depicts the mid 70’s to the early 80’s, and all rolling stock and vehicles etc reflect that.

A full suite of operating semaphore signals are being developed, and the layout will feature full lighting for night time operations.

The layout is controlled by a Lenz DCC system, divided into 4 power blocks with individual track boosters. Point control is done from schematic panels at each station or siding, and utilise Tortoise slow motion machine controlled by toggle switches. This route was decided in the interests of simplicity of wiring, and because the philosophy of the layout was that it should be operated prototypically, with individual crews following their train and following SAR operating practice.

 

 

TraxworX

TXlogo

TraxWorx

TraxWorx, an exciting new joint venture between Precision Miniatures and the Model Train Shop.

Precision Miniatures will carry on as the DJH Engineering distributor for Africa, importing and promoting the DJH locomotives. Any new locomotives developed locally will also be sold under the Precision Miniatures brand name.

TraxWorx will develop a range of products for the SAR modeller, this will include line side structures, rolling stock and scenic products. The majority of our new products are designed and built by our in house facility under the control of Len Swanepoel, the man who did the SAR coaling stage. We hope that this signals an exciting new era in SAR modelling, and these products will be available through reputable dealers around the country.

Class GCA 2-6-2+2-6-2

Class GCA 2-6-2+2-6-2

Class GCA 2-6-2+2-6-2


HISTORY

Class GCA 2-6-2+2-6-2

The GCA was designed as an improvement on his experimental GC by Colonel Collins. The 33 locomotives of this class were delivered in 1927 by Fried Krupp of Germany. The locomotive had a coal capacity of 7 tons and 2000 gallons of water. They were designed for service on the Natal South Coast, but were eventually found operating on the Underberg and Greytown branches as well as Nelspruit-Graskop branch line. They were all withdrawn from service by 1978.


 

MODEL DETAILS

The kit is available only in 16.5mm gauge but Precision Miniatures can supply the necessary drive axles to convert the model to 12mm gauge. This kit is constructed almost entirely of etched brass with some white metal detailcastings and nickel silver running and valve gear. Like the GMAM the rear engine is driven, while the front engine free-wheels. The model uses a Mashima can motor and a worm and pinion drive. The rear engine provides pickup on one side while front engine picks up the opposite polarity. This is a very complex model to build and it is only recommended for experienced loco kit builders. Currently Precision Miniatures does not offer a ready to run version due to the amount of man hours involved in assembly. We have in the past successfully installed a sound decoder and speaker in this loco. As with the 6J we recommend curves no sharper that 550 mm for satisfactory operation.


Class 6J 4-6-0

 Class 6J  4-6-0

 Class 6J  4-6-0


HISTORY

Class 6J  4-6-0

The 6J can trace its lineage back to the original 6th Class designed by Locomotive Superintendent, M. Stephenson for fast passenger service on the Cape Government Railways. These locos were built by both American and British builders between 1893 and 1904. The 6J was a bar framed locomotive built by Neilson Reid and Co. and entered service in 1902. There were 14 locomotives in the class and were initially used on the Cape Main line.  The locomotives used Stephensons valve gear and the last of the Class was withdrawn from service at Bethlehem in 1972.


 

MODEL DETAILS

The kit is available only in 16.5mm gauge but Precision Miniatures can supply the necessary drive axles to convert the model to 12mm gauge. The model is constructed almost entirely from white metal castings with some etched brass components and nickel silver motion and valve gear. The relatively simple construction of the model makes it an ideal starter for those who wish to learn low melt soldering techniques and the skills required to build the more complicated locomotive models in the range. The model is supplied with Kadee No. 5 couplers on the 16.5 mm version and Kadee No. 58’s on the 12mm version. Precision Miniatures recommends that this loco should not be operated on curves of less than 550 mm radius. There is space in the tender for the installation of a sound decoder and speaker.


Class GMAM Garratt 4-8-2+2-8-4

Class GMAM Garratt 4-8-2+2-8-4

Class GMAM Garratt 4-8-2+2-8-4


 HISTORY

Class GMAM Garratt 4-8-2+2-8-4.

Between 1954 and 1956, Beyer Peacock, North British Locomotive and Henschel delivered 150 of this class to the South African Railways. The class consisted of the GMAM, for operation on mainlines as denoted by the M at the end. By moving baffles in the coal tender and water tank, the capacity could be reduced to 11,6 tons of coal and 1650 gallons of water from 14 tons and 2100 gallons for branch line operation, for track laid with 60lb rail. The locomotives were superheated and used the latest technology available at the time with one piece cast steel frames, roller bearing axle boxes, and Walschaerts valve gear. These locomotives always trailed an auxiliary water tank, to increase the distance between water stops. They saw service on most secondary and branch lines around the country. They were the last Garratt’s in service on the SAR, and were still in industrial service up to the end of the 20th Century.


MODEL DETAILS

The kit is available in both 16.5mm and 12mm gauge versions. The model faithfully copies the dimensions of the prototype, and can represent either the GMA or the M version.  Everything is included in the box to complete an accurate running model. The builder needs to supply a temperature controlled soldering iron, paint and glue. The kit can be built with a basic set of modeling hand tools. The components comprise of white metal casting and etched brass with finely machined axles and bearings etc. The loco is powered by the rear engine unit, using a Mashima can motor and precision 45:1 reduction gearbox. The front engine unit freewheels. The rear engine provides pickup on one side while the front engine picks up the opposite polarity. There is ample room in the boiler/ash pan to fit a sound decoder and speaker. The model is supplied with Kadee No. 5 couplers on the 16.5 mm version and Kadee No. 58’s on the 12mm version. Precision Miniatures recommends that this loco should not be operated on curves of less than 650 mm radius.


Class 19D 4-8-2 with type MR Tender

Class 19D 4-8-2 with type MR tender

Class 19D 4-8-2 with type MR tender


 

PROTOTYPE HISTORY

Class 19D 4-8-2 with type MR tender

The 19D can trace its ancestry all the way back to four 19 Class locos designed by Col. F.R. Collins that were delivered by Berliner Machinenbau in 1928. In 1939 W.A.J. Day decide to upgrade the preceding 19C by replacing the rotary cam poppet valves for Walschaerts valve operation. The 19D deliveries started before the war with 135 delivered by Krupp, Borsig and Skoda. After the war a further 50 were supplied by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorn Limited. These locos were supplied with vacuum brakes. These were very versatile locomotives and were used across the entire SAR network, and were one of the last classes to be withdrawn with the end revenue steam operations on the SAR.


 

MODEL DETAILS

The kit is available only in 16.5mm gauge but Precision Miniatures can supply the necessary drive axles to convert the model to 12mm gauge. The model is constructed from predominantly white metal castings with some etched brass components and nickel silver motion and valve gear. Everything is included in the box to complete an accurate running model. The builder needs to supply a temperature controlled soldering iron, paint and glue. The kit can be built with a basic set of modeling hand tools. Everything is included in the box to complete an accurate running model. The builder needs to supply a temperature controlled soldering iron, paint and glue. The kit can be built with a basic set of modeling hand tools. The model is powered by the same Mashima can motor and 45:1 reduction gearbox as found in the GMAM. The model is supplied with Kadee No. 5 couplers on the 16.5 mm version and Kadee No. 58’s on the 12mm version. Precision Miniatures recommends that this loco should not be operated on curves of less than 650 mm radius.  There is room for a sound decoder to be installed in the boiler and a speaker in either the ash pan or the tender.


 

Class 19D 4-8-2 with Vanderbilt Tender

Class 19D 4-8-2 with Vanderbilt tender

Class 19D 4-8-2 with Vanderbilt tender


 

PROTOTYPE HISTORY

Class 19D 4-8-2 with Vanderbilt tender. The final order of fifty of the class were delivered in 1949 by North British Locomotive to the design of then Chief Mechanical Engineer, Dr M.M. Loubser. Although the locomotive was the same as the previous version, they differed by having a large cylindrical tender of the Vanderbilt type running on two three-axle bogies. These tenders gave the locomotives a much increased range between water stops in arid parts of the country. Like all of the preceding 19 Classes, these locomotives saw service throughout the system.


 

MODEL DETAILS

This model is only available in ready to run form and can be ordered in 16.5mm or 12 mm gauge. The model locomotive uses the same running gear as the MR tendered version, but uses an exclusive to Precision Miniatures all-etched brass model of the Vanderbilt tender. The model provides ample space for the installation of decoders and speakers in either the tender or loco. At this time there are no plans to sell the tender as a separate item. Precision Miniatures recommends that this loco should not be operated on curves of less than 650 mm radius. The model is supplied with Kadee No. 5 couplers on the 16.5 mm version and Kadee No. 58’s on the 12mm version.