Bruce Smetham's modern image layout "Broad Green"


The construction of Broad Green began in 1975, just after I became a member of the Three Millimetre Society, having inherited a sizeable TT model railway a few years previously. Despite early plans for modelling Euston, or the West-coast main line; Broad Green is not based on any prototype. The initial intention was for a reasonably sized terminus leading, via a double-track main line, out into the country and into a fiddle yard terminus, but with provision for extensions when time, and more importantly finance, permitted.

The original layout was roughly 12ft. x 12ft., broad green track planbut has since been extended to 24ft. x 12ft. Each of the 19 boards is formed of 2in. x 1 in, soft-wood framework topped with insulation board or chipboard on the newer boards and faced at each end with l/2, in softwood, and on the viewing side with hardboard.

Trackwork, is a mixture of Gem, Wrenn, 3mm Society/Ratio, the new PECO HOm track, and hand-built to Code 95. Plain track is Gem flexible yard lengths (now sadly unobtainable), while points are the old Wrenn fibre based points, rebuilt on copper-clad sleepers or new PECO pointwork modified to take Triang locos. Curves are in theory laid at 3ft. radius, but a variety of radii are used in pointwork to suit the location.

layout viewThe scenery was constructed using cardboard, or polystyrene packaging material, packed up with newspaper and using offcuts of insulation board for strength, then covered with Mod-Roc, and scenified. Raised areas of the urban area, station platforms, buildings, bridges, etc., were made from a framework of balsawood which was sealed and then painted, or covered with plastic sheet brickwork. Other buildings are a mixture of card and plastic kits from a number of manufacturers used either as-made or modified. One terrace is constructed by low-relieving a Brian Sherriff backscene using balsa and brick papers. With the exception of the MGR disposal point, none of the buildings are based upon any prototype.

Cab-control is used with twenty sections which are each capable of being operated by at least two of the four hand held Gaugemaster controllers with bi-polar LEDS wired into the panel to show which controller is in use - in which direction, and to indicate shorts. Points are operated by H&M point motors using the electric-pencil system on the main panel and on a subsidiary panel for West-end sidings. All signals are colour-light 3 or 4 aspect, with junction indicators where necessary, and were constructed from the excellent range of parts manufactured by EPC suitably detailed and scaled down for TT. Control is by rotary switches. Street lights are provided, and the level crossing lights work too, as do the barriers. It is planned to make the signals semi-automatic in time.

Each platform road, and fiddle yard road, is split into two electrical sections to prevent disaster, and to allow more than one train in each platform, or to allow running a loco onto the other end of a train.

The intention is to model and run trains which could be found on British Rail in the period 1970~-85. The locomotive fleet consists of the following:

The fleet has also been enhanced by kits produced by the 3mm society and individual members, for example:

Several locomotives of classes 08 and 31 exist in bits to provide spare parts, repairs usually being carried out by replacement of the offending bogie with an overhauled unit.

DMUs include a HST set, four Triang BRCW 3-car DMUS, a scratch- built Pressed Steel 3 car Western Region set with a Lima motor bogie, and a bubble car. The last two were made from a multitude of Triang suburban coaches with new cast ends. The HST is made up from etched brass parts and castings from Worsley Works - another society member.


Passenger/Parcels stock
Prototypical scale length trains are run, being made possible by weighting locos, and fitting all stock with 3mm Society/Kean Maygib metal wheels with pinpointed axles running in brass bearings.

Passenger/parcels rakes include:

Freight stock
Whilst there are considerable numbers of Triang mineral, box, and cement wagons still owned, many do not leave the stock box except at the larger exhibitions (see later). As with the passenger stock, freight trains are run as prototypical length sets, and reflecting the authorís interest in the freight railway, portray the modern scene.

Wagon rakes include:

When Broad Green was operated as an end to end layout, the station operated on a shunt-and-release basis, but now that Broad Greenís circuit is complete, a decision was taken to avoid the worst excesses of the "tail chasing layout" by continuing some of the practices of the old arrangement.

The station itself, carriage sidings, MGR disposal point (modelled on the prototype at Bennerley by a good friend - Adrian Sweet), the outer and inner stabling points, the freight branch, and West End Sidings all generate and receive traffic allowing operators to terminate, shunt and reverse trains in the station, or swap locos.

Three circuits are provided, the Outer main, Inner main, and the freight branch. The main lines are duplicated over half the layout to allow slower traffic to be passed, and this facility is regularly used at exhibitions. The three circuits have four trains each at their disposal, and often operators arrange to swap trains by means of the many crossovers, or exchange trains in the carriage sidings or West End Sidings. The carriage sidings can also be operated independently thus allowing four trains to operate at any one time.

The intention at exhibitions is to show an interesting variety of prototypical trains, and also to act as an "eye opener" for the scale. At larger exhibitions, weekends are into the 1970ís for two days, and 1980ís for the remainder thus utilising all the stock over the course of the show.

I have tried to produce a layout primarily to please myself, but also to show what is possible in 3mm and indeed modern image modelling in 3mm. I am continually encouraged by the number of people who come up to the operators at exhibitions expressing surprise that it is TT, and the complimentary comments that follow.

The future will see the introduction of an 03 shunter, a motorising system for diesels on behalf of the 3mm Society, and more storage sidings.

A fuller description of the layout appeared in the January 1999 edition of Model Railway Enthusiast.

More pictures are to be seen in Part 2

Bruce Smetham

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Last updated: 21-01-2006