Paul Hopkins Layout
Modbury Torr represents the proposed terminal of the GWR Yealmpton
branch in Devon had it been completed to the original proposal.
The layout is built to a scale of 3mm to 1 foot on three baseboards the middle one of which was built to satisfy the 40 inch challenge set by the 3mm Society as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations in 2005.
The majority of the buildings, scenery and trackwork represent the features and layout at the Yealmpton end of the branch and are all proprietary items, which can be purchased from most model shops. The locomotives and rolling stock also represent those operating the branch and are made from a combination of kit or scratchbuilt sources.
I accepted the 40th anniversary challenge and built the layout Modbury Torr,
which was my representation of the proposed terminal of the extended GWR Yealmpton
branch had it been completed to the original terminal at Modbury. The Yealmpton
branch is located in the South Hams area of South Devon, a few miles south
east of Plymouth. The original 40 inch specification allowed just enough space
to build the station area and bring a typical branch train of a Pannier tank
and B set into the station platform and be able to run the loco round the train.
The original layout incorporated a loco shed and limited goods yard facilities,
and as an experiment used mostly proprietary buildings which were adapted to
the scale, and Peco’s HOm trackwork products, with manual rodding and
slide switches for point control. The layout was completed in time, and was
included in the contingent of 40 inch challenge layouts at the AGM in Stockport.
The whole experience was most satisfying, was rewarded on the day with encouraging
comments from Society members, and reflected in the subsequent issue of Mixed
It was always my intention that the layout would be available for exhibitions, and was designed to be extendable to generate more interest to the public and the operators. Within a few days of the AGM, the layout was extended by 5 inches at the scenic end of the board to enable larger locos to operate, and provide the space to hold a second loco in the loco shed. Unfortunately this extension introduced an unprototypical kink in the headshunt which could only be eliminated by changing a turnout and trackfeed.
A fiddle yard was added and the secondary objective was achieved as it then became a fully self contained layout that can be taken to exhibitions to provide as much interest as possible and avoid lengthy set-up and pack-away work at the start and end of exhibitions. It was decided that since the layout was originally built to the accept the 40 inch challenge, the fiddle yard board should also be built to the same specification, although an additional 3 inches have been allowed on the width of the board to generate sufficient space in the storage area, which is a combination of turnout fed sidings and cassettes. The inclusion of the fiddle yard allowed a scenic part to be developed at the front of this board to extend the goods yard, which now includes a goods shed (adapted from a Triang Diesel shed) and a cattle dock, an important country facility missing from the original specification.
All this work now done, the layout still needed something else, the answer – make it symmetrical, another extension! Another 40 inches has been added, including a short fiddle yard with turnout fed sidings in the hidden area capable of holding an Autocoach, Railcar or 2 car DMU. The scenery includes a representation of the area around Steer Point with part of the River Yealm as well as its tributory and the rail linked South Hams brickworks, although details of these buildings have proven to be so elusive that a generic industrial site has been developed.
Another of the original requirements was to have hands free coupling and uncoupling, and B&B couplings are used on all stock, the majority of which is made from Society kits and extras, although some are scratchbuilt. Train sequences have been prepared the whole rota taking 45 minutes or so.
Layouts are never finished, and improvements continue to be made, some are still outstanding, the most pressing is to make several of the lower quadrant signals work, and raise the baseboard height. Results so far are satisfying, and that from the ideas of the 40 inch challenge, I now have a working layout that is 125 inches long, using trackwork and buildings that can be purchased from the average local model shop, which provides a reasonable demonstration of working in 3mm scale, and can be set-up or packed away at exhibitions in less than 15 minutes. The layout has been shown twice at local exhibitions, and some favourable feedback has been given, but can confidently answer the question, no it’s not 4mm, it’s 3mm, and yes you can buy it fairly easily, but a lot easier as a member of the Society.
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