Foxborough is the Club’s N gauge layout, its original configuration being the result of space constraints in our clubhouse. The room in which it is housed is roughly 5 x 5.5
metres, with a staircase projecting into it. The remaingin space in the room is used for occasional meetings, as a workspace and also accommodates our partially dismantled O gauge layout.
From the outset, the layout was built so that it could be readily dismantled and taken to exhibitions (more on this later). Because of the space limitations, it was impractical to have the scenic and storage boards all on the same level, in the classic “Roundy Roundy” format. The storage boards were therefore located vertically below the scenic boards, by a distance of approx.38 cm.
The baseboards and helixes are all supported on individual purpose-built timber table units, all with integral folding legs. The low-level storage boards are supported on cross-members on the table legs, at a level which matches the connections with the helixes. Because of the aforementioned space constraints, the layout is placed with the viewing side directly against, and facing, the room wall, with the operating area in the centre of the room.
Strip mirrors have been placed along the wall, to give an idea of how things look from the viewing side.
The same construction method is used for all the baseboards – 6mm ply tops, ply girder sides and solid timber end plates accommodating alignment dowels and connecting bolts. LED strip lights, on the underside of the scenic boards, illuminate the storage boards.
The trackplan on the central scenic boards depicts an urban environment, the twin-track main line passing through Foxborough station. This features platform and central avoiding lines, as well as bay platforms serving branch line services to Foxfields – a village on one of the outer scenic boards. Pedestrian access to Foxborough station is provided from both a road overbridge, and a track-level service road which runs along the front of the layout, connecting Foxfields village at one end, to relatively modern (60’s – 70’s) suburban development at the other end of the layout. Soon after the main tracks pass onto the scenic end boards, they disappear into tunnels which cover the connections to the upper level of the helix units.
A wide variety of railway infrastructure is represented by:- a two-road engine shed, with turntable and water tower; signalboxes (main and branch line); crew room; goods shed and coal yard; parcels depot; grounded coach and goods vans; and numerous lineside huts. There are two industrial areas served by a number of sidings. The line to Foxfields branch terminus passes across a working level crossing, the road accessing a small industrial area.
As well as lineside industry, the urban environment is represented by terraced housing, plus a Victorian-era school and the obligatory pub. Foxfields, as previously mentioned, is an older community served by a branch terminus. The village features both older and more recent residential buildings, a small church and graveyard, and a farm. At the opposite end of the layout, as well as suburban semis, there is a modern telephone exchange building, a garage/service station, water storage tower, and an adventure playground for the younger residents.
The larger buildings and structures are mainly Scalescenes card/paper kits (some improvised); some are Severn Models etched brass kits and Arch laser-cut products, and the modern semis are 3-D printed based on Scalescene plans.
Trackwork on the scenic boards is all Peco Code 55. Points are servo-operated via Tam Valley Depot “Octopus” controllers, and most are linked to operating colour-light signalling sourced from CR Signals. Track on the helixes and storage boards is Peco Code 80; points are operated by SEEP solenoid motors.
The points on the scenic boards are operated from a mimic panel with pushbuttons on a representation of the trackplan, with LED’s indicating status. The lower boards
have seven storage roads in each direction (each just under 2 metres long), in
ladder formation. Currently, individual point setting is by calling up the
appropriate accessory addresses on the DCC handsets – this has been found to be
laborious, and plans are in hand to replace this with route setting. There are
two small mimic panels, one at each end of the storage boards, which have LED’s
showing point status.
The club has accumulated a large collection of N gauge rolling stock – representative of BR in the late 50’s/early 60’s era. We have both steam and diesel motive power, supplemented by wide variety of both passenger and freight vehicles – a proportion of the latter has had their original “Rapido” couplers replaced with Microtrains knuckle couplers – in conjunction with magnets installed on the tracks, this will offer “hands free” shunting. Our members have their own stock collections, which also run on the layout.
The layout operates under DCC, divided into four power districts – clockwise and anticlockwise, on scenic and storage boards. An NCE ProCab system is used. Initially, two hand throttles have been used, but recently a WiFi adaptor has been introduced, which permits the option of control from smartphones and tablets running suitable application software.
As mentioned previously, Foxborough was initially conceived as being transportable to both our own, and other, model railway shows. However, it has become evident that the cost of hiring of suitable transport, capable of moving a layout comprising 10 baseboards, 2 helixes, and 7 tables, plus ancillaries, is now quite expensive. Additionally, one must also factor in vehicle mileage costs, including those of the operating crew – a minimum of six members. Total attendance expenses, usually re-imbursed by the exhibition organisers, would become unattractive at all but the larger shows (where overnight accommodation costs might also come into play).
Accordingly, late last year the club decided to develop a modified version of the layout – called “Son of Foxborough”. The three central scenic baseboards have been retained, and the original end scenic outer boards replaced – these new boards carry semi-circular arcs of track which connect with three new storage boards, at the same level, which run behind the original backscenes. – We have reverted to a classic “Rouny roundy” plan. The original bi-level layout configuration would be used in the clubhouse.
The three new storage boards accommodate four storage loops in each direction, alongside the through tracks. A small control panel, incorporating selector switches and LED indicators has been integrated into one of the storage boards. Points are operated by Peco solenoid motors – these, and much of the trackage, were re-cycled components collected by the club.
The two replacement end boards, and the outer storage boards, incorporate integral hinged leg units. The centre storage board, onto which the original mimic control panel can be bolted, and the three original scenic boards, are supported on pairs of new “drop-in” leg units.
It is hoped that this version of the layout can be transported using a couple of members’ SUV/estate type vehicles.
Son of Foxborough was recently exhibited at the club’s annual exhibition, as a “Work in Progress”, with the replacement outer end boards yet to get their scenic treatment. Fortunately, few operational issues were encountered, and much was learned – we are looking forward to completing the project, and anticipate exhibiting it as future shows.