A bit of a home exhibition here some seven years ago! This pic popping up on a Facebook feed this week. All three, Albion Yard, Bawdsey, and Shelfie, (WIP foreground) have subsequently left the building. The reason for them all being simultaneously up in the man cave, was to film Right Track 19 with Paul Lunn on Layout Planning & Design.
All three of them taught me valuable lessons, Bawdsey taught me about layout conservation, and got me back into EM modelling, gauge converting Diesels and DMU’s, and generally looking after a layout built with old style technology and techniques.
Albion Yard was my first exhibition layout, not only did it have to look good, it had to work reliably, and that it did very well. Having your name above the door focus’s the mind, or it should do! Bizarrely it went to more shows after its retirement than before!
For Albion Yard the wraparound digital print backscene the height, and its associated lighting were virtually unique in terms of presentation at the time, and always generated interest at shows.
The presentation concept being to give operators as well as viewers as realistic a viewpoint as possible. On the whole this worked really well but it was interesting that some didn’t ‘get it’, not understanding why the staging fiddle yard was enclosed for example, and the public or operating crew couldn’t see it in normal operation.
The shelfie layouts build on the Albion Yard experience, and owning Bawdsey. For Right Track 19 Shelfie was developed from its original genesis as a test track to an example of design and planning, having caught it early enough in its build to use it as a working sample for the programme. Shelfie also went to a few exhibitions where it’s compact size and presentation captured many people’s imagination. Using lessons primarily learnt from Albion Yard it too used integral lighting and a digitally printed wraparound backscene.
Shelfie 2 has taken the lighting and presentation theme a bit further. Lit using LED’s and a new material for the wraparound backscene it’s waiting its first exhibition outing in a completed format.
Shelfie 2 has been out once to the Define groups January open house, showing the different effects you can get manipulating the background, but in its final exhibition format, it is now a fixed view.
Shelfie 3 at the moment is work in progress. The core design is worked out and D&E stock suitable for 1967 through to around 1982 is being worked on. As with the other Shelfie layouts it’ll be a useful photo prop in due course. I’ve labelled it as a working prototype above, and that it most definitely is.
Shelfie3’s track has been cut and laid onto a foamboard test bed. That has allowed me to ‘play trains’ and validate that the operations for a DMU based layout would be engaging enough, and I’m pleased to say so far, so good. There’s also a few non standard movements in the proposed sequence, but literally only a few. The idea is to capture the mundane everyday operating, paradoxically that’ll give it atmosphere..
Shelfie 4 is also work in progress. S4 is in fact HO, so by referring to it as S4 it’ll undoubtedly cause a few trigger moments, do I look bothered? Using high quality HO Canadian and American outline models the core concept is established, a lakeshore grain silo facility taking inspiration from Fort William and Buffalo’s Silo City.
This Canadian project is the one that’s centre stage at the moment, capturing the essence of huge grain structures and their rail feeds in a small space is providing hours of enjoyment. Learning about the grain traffic via Eric Gagnon’s fascinating blog, and input from Chris Mears and James Hilton on the design and ethos behind the project has made it all the more enjoyable and interesting, and in some aspects more challenging. That’s a good thing!
So will these projects see the light of day at a real exhibition? I think they will, a real one too, not virtually. Shelfie 2 is lined up for two this year, subject restrictions around the pandemic. S3 and S4 they’re both built to be exhibited, and with good fortune, they will be.