East Sussex Finescale  


Ewhurst Green

(building a 4mm finescale layout)

by C. Watts


Fellow Finescale Modellers,

This page is being updated as layout construction progresses!

Moving house brought an end to my 4mm layout Apothecary Street but provided the opportunity for a new layout, Ewhurst Green. Usually most articles start with baseboard construction but before this happens it is important to decide exactly what one is intending to model and how reasonably prototypical operation could be achieved. However, I’ve started this article with the simple test circuit!


30069 & E5001.jpg

With E5001 on the test track, USA tank 30069 tries the (then) recently
laid Down Main through what will become the platform area. ©


Test Circuit

At present a simple test circuit utilises the fiddle yard before entering the station side (still on Peco® track) but laid out of the way initially at the rear of the baseboards. Providing a circular run just over one scale mile, it has been a useful addition and the centre of a number of social gatherings with ESF members.

This has introduced a variety of rolling stock onto the circuit ranging from models of elderly external framed copper-topped green kettles (of dubious parentage) through Hampshire units (an eight-car formation has been run) to modern diesels in post-privatisation livery. It has also seen ESF member Kevin’s pre-First World War Prussian steam (very impressive) along with a modern German articulated multiple unit!

This has given ESF members (who are still building their own substantial layouts) the opportunity to let their models ‘stretch their legs’ including several that haven’t been out of their boxes for several decades (leading to several ad-hoc overhauls). Presently there is a rake of ESF member Rod’s Metro-Cammell Pullmans providing the load for numerous locomotives; most of the TOPs diesel classes having now been run including double heading and top-and-tails.

The use of Rod’s DCC controller brought sound to the layout; although limited by speaker size /technology the most realistic versions being the Rail Exclusive /Sutton Locomotive Works (SLW) Sulzer type-2 (class 24). Fitted with two speakers these are a long way ahead of all other offerings; Charley Petty’s (DC Kits) class 26 /33 /3H sound units follow with other makes further behind.

The SLW Sulzer type-2 (class 24) have set a new standard for ready-to-run and (in my opinion) are well worth the outlay; these being a significant advance on Bachmann’s Sulzer type-2 (class 24) model particularly in respect of the underframe detailing. Bachmann’s Sulzer type-2 (class 24) remains a nice model; SLW have simply taken ready-to-run locomotives to a new level and like Hornby with its Railroad range there is space in the marketplace for both versions.

Kernow’s Beattie Well tanks and O2 classes run very nicely as does Model Rail’s USA tanks and Hornby’s Radial tanks. In terms of emu stock 2 BIL /2 HAL units have been run along MLV /4 CEP stock and a blue /grey 5 BEL. Interestingly Hornby have not sought to provide any fittings to enable a pair of 5 BEL units to be coupled together. If only somebody would produce a 4 LAV in r-t-r!

Ironically to-date I have run very little of my own stock!


Using the test circuit is Terry’s Metro-Vick D5714 hauling
14 bogies with ease; this is believed to be the only Co-Bo to
0perate on BR(S) doing so from 4th to 7th April 1960 ©

Unfortunately the studio’s daylight simulation
lighting isn’t particularly conducive to photography


Layout Concept

As a railwayman who followed his grandfather onto the Southern (in my case British Rail’s Southern Region) my modelling interests are fairly well cast-in-stone. My previous (terminal layout) Apothercary Street had been constructed as a parody of Holborn Viaduct with cross-London freights via Snow Hill tunnel and I had thought about expanding this concept. However, since then Bachmann had brought out its marvellous model of Thomas Myers’ 1880-1883 LBSCR station buildings and I was keen to utilise one of these.

Thomas Myers was first asked to design the replacement station building at Hassocks thence those required for the ‘secondary’ railway lines built in East and West Sussex. This would set my layout in Central Division territory with very limited scope for any South Western or South Eastern Division workings. However, ‘historical design’ along with a sprinkling of ‘modeller’s licence’ can push the ‘bounds’ whilst still remaining reasonably credible.

Certainly in recent years the range of Southern models that have become available make modelling of the Southern’s Region’s divisions relatively straightforward even before the many offerings by kit manufacturers is considered.

The next stage was to identify a ‘credible’ location for the station and the potential services that could exist. Obviously this isn’t an essential step but it does assist in terms of what type of services could have run and the rolling stock required.

In terms of appearance none of the scenic track remains parallel to the rear wall and a less-is-more approach was also intended.


One afternoon Rod bought across his Kernow 2H ‘Hastings’ unit no. 1122 across to
have its first run; seen here passing through part of the (then incomplete) fiddle yard.
1122 has run with other ‘Hastings’ and ‘Hampshire’ units of varying liveries! ©

As a model ‘Hastings’ unit 1122 needs its roof-mounted lighting conduit removed; 1121 did have
roof-mounted lighting conduit post-May 1974 when its identity was swapped with unit 1108.


Ewhurst Green

There are in fact two locations called Ewhurst Green – one in Surrey, the other in East Sussex; thus providing the opportunity to be slightly indistinct with the location if required. Certainly Ewhurst (and Ewhurst Green) in Surrey could have fitted in with real 1884 plans to build a railway from Cranleigh  down to Midhurst.

Mixing historical proposals with imagination it is conceivable such a railway line could have left the Dorking to Horsham Railway at Holmwood passing through a station at Forest Green to reach Ewhurst Green. There would have been a junction at the Country end of Ewhurst Green taking a branch-connection across to the Horsham to Guildford railway and into Cranleigh.

From Ewhurst Green the main line may have passed through Alfold & Loxwood thence Gennets Viaduct across the valley (both Wey & Arun Navigation and the River Arun) to Plaistow & Ifold station. In order to avoid tunnelling immediately north of Midhurst the line had to approach from the north-east so served Balls Cross for Kirdford and Lodsworth & Lickford.

Midhurst to Chichester could have been under construction at this time but with this new line now as double track through Cocking tunnel and Cocking station to a junction just west of Singleton (with its four platforms and nearby Goodwwod racecourse). However, Singleton to Chichester was probably still built as a single track.

West from Singleton the line may have entered two further tunnels (under Heathbarn Down thence Stoughton Down) necessary to provide a fast alignment into Havant. This could have given rise two stations (Stoughton & Walderton thence on a falling grade to Westbourne). The Brighton to Portsmouth Railway was joined just east of Warblington.

Imagination could reasonably assume this route was reasonably well-engineered being intended to provide a faster alternative (to the Mid-Sussex line) between London and Portsmouth as well as competing with the LSWR’s Pompey Direct (a privately constructed line south from Farncombe that was offered for sale to both the LSWR & LBSCR).

In Southern days this imaginary line could have also provided a potentially viable route to Fareham with trains terminating at Southampton (calling at Woolston and Bitterne) along with a portion to Gosport. This also opened up limited services into Waterloo via Raynes Park (including as a useful diversionary route). Although eventually DC electrified, like many places in Sussex the branches were not.  

Journey Times

Back in the real world, for many years Victoria’s services to Bognor Regis and Portsmouth were routed via Dorking North until they included the stops at East Croydon and Gatwick Airport. Today services even run from Victoria right though to Southampton being routed via East Croydon, Gatwick Airport and Horsham. However, their end-to-end journey time is double that from Waterloo; this service being more about intermediate trips (Gatwick Airport in particular) rather than end-to-end journeys.

Even direct services to Fareham are still some 25 minutes faster leaving from Waterloo. However, a faster route by Ewhurst Green might have reduced this time by some 20 minutes or so. Certainly the ‘fast’ trains to Horsham (and beyond) that used to run via Mitcham Junction (non-stop) and Dorking were around 10 minutes faster than the present services routed via Gatwick Airport. It is therefore presumed that this imaginary ‘new line’ via Ewhurst Green might have saved at least another 10 minutes; maybe slightly more.

Until the advent of electrification from Farlington Jcn to St Denys very few trains ran direct from Havant to Fareham; this line would have provided a regular through service without the need to travel to Fratton to change.

Ewhurst Green (Surrey) could also provide a rare opportunity outside of London for the mixing of rolling stock of the Southern Region’s three divisions (SED, CED & SWD); some SED services coming down from Reading.

Loading Gauge

Although the LBSCR loading gauge was reasonably generous we will assume this route was out-gauged (along with Three Bridges - Redhill- Reading) during the First World War providing the LSWR with an alternative route to Havant via Raynes Park and Epsom.

Local Expansion with the Railway

Ewhurst Green would have been the junction with a spur onto the non-electrified 1865 branch across to Guildford via Cranleigh thence onto Reading via the SER route. Ewhust Green could have grown significantly through being served by an electrified railway and so became a starting point for suburban services into London (along with handling freight).

Certainly nearby Cranleigh doubled in size in the first forty years after the building of the Guildford to Horsham railway line. It is probable that Cranleigh would have grown further had it been on a direct railway line to London (thus being attractive to commuters).

The building of such a route (including its subsequent electrification) could have led to interesting connotations in respect of railway service patterns although in reality Ewhurst would probably never have grown to sufficient size to be as busy as portrayed by the model!

JA E6003.jpg

Dapol JA E6003 hauling a freight around the test circuit.
Pictured straight out of the box this is a nice model although there is one
glaring error in the form of the incorrectly parked secondman’s wiper! ©


Passenger Service Pattern

In designing a layout it is important to consider how it could operate in a reasonably realistic but interesting manner. Certainly most of the Southern Region’s electric services operated on a half-hourly clockface pattern; this in part being down to the economics of DC third rail operation.

About an hour from Victoria, Ewhurst Green would sit upon a basic half-hourly semi-fast electric service from Portsmouth Harbour to Victoria; services serving Midhurst, Havant, Fratton and Portsmouth & Southsea. These services could alternate each half-hour calling at the additional stations between Ewhurst Green and Midhurst or Midhurst and Havant thence on to Fratton, Portsmouth & Southsea and Portsmouth Harbour.

Set on top of this basic half-hour electric service was a half-hourly fast electric service Victoria – Portsmouth Harbour via Havant, Fratton and Portsmouth & Southsea which did not stop at Ewhurst Green as well as both an hourly steam-hauled fast service Victoria – Southampton Terminus (non-stop) and a Waterloo – Gosport & Southampton Terminus which did stop at Ewhurst Green. Both these steam-hauled services running via Havant and Fareham.

Situated at the end of suburban services there was just an hourly off-peak stopping service to London Bridge (the other half-hourly suburban service terminating at Dorking North). With the exception of the London Bridge stoppers, fast services travelling north would just call at Dorking; semi-fast additionally at Leatherhead, Epsom and Clapham Junction.

Forest Green would only be served by the hourly London Bridge suburban service; Holmwood by Dorking to Horsham trains, Cocking by Midhurst to Chichester trains and Warblington by the Chichester to Havant services.

The platforms are configured to enable the splitting /coupling of electric units should I look to alter the service pattern at a future date.

On the Guildford branch there were half-hourly pull-push services (one an hour through to Reading; other terminating at Guildford). In the rush-hour there was a loco-hauled service from Cranleigh to London Bridge (starting at Guildford to accommodate Bramley & Wonersh) as well as longer trains through to Reading.

All this is of course concocted simply to make interesting railway operations rather than any probable commercially viable service!


Indicative Passenger Timetable


Up Departures


Down Departures


Victoria calling at:

Forest Green
Dorking North

Semi-fast train from Portsmouth Harbour formed 4 no. 2-car emus (Platform 2)


Portsmouth Harbour calling at:

Alfold & Loxwood
Plaistow & Ifold
Balls Cross for Kirdford
Lodsworth & Lickford
Portsmouth & Southsea

Semi-fast train formed 4 no. 2-car emus  (Platform3)


Passing time

Dorking North

Fast train from Portsmouth Harbour formed
2 no. 4-car emus


Passing time

Portsmouth & Southsea
Portsmouth Harbour

Fast train formed 2 no. 4-car emus


Arrival from Guildford.

Terminating here formed pull-push set (arr Platform 1 shunts to Platform 4 Down Bay)


Reading (Southern) calling at:

Bramley & Wonersh
North Camp & Ash Vale
Farnborough North

Stopping train starting here (Platform 1) formed
3-car loco-hauled set.


Passing time

Dorking North

Fast train from Southampton Terminus formed
2 no. 3-car loco-hauled sets


Passing time



Southampton Terminus

Fast train formed 2 no. 3-car loco-hauled sets



Dorking North

Semi-fast train from Portsmouth Harbour formed 4 no. 2-car emus  (Platform 2)


Arrival from London Bridge

Suburban stopping train terminating here formed 4-car emu(s) (Platform 1).


Passing time

Dorking North

Fast train from Portsmouth Harbour formed
2 no. 4-car emus


Portsmouth Harbour calling at:

Stoughton & Walderton
Portsmouth & Southsea

Semi-fast train formed 4 no. 2-car emus  (Platform3)


Waterloo calling at:

Dorking North only

Fast train from Southampton Terminus & Gosport formed 2 no. 3-car loco-hauled sets (Platform 2)


Passing time

Portsmouth & Southsea
Portsmouth Harbour.

Fast train formed 2 no. 4-car emus


London Bridge calling at:  

Forest Green
Dorking North
Boxhill & Westhumble
Ewell East
Carlshalton Beeches
West Croydon
Norwood Junction
New Cross Gate.

Suburban stopping train starting here formed
4-car emu(s) (Platform 1)


Southampton Terminus calling at:


Front Portion

Southampton Terminus

Rear Portion
Fort Brockhurst


Fast train formed 2 no. 3-car loco-hauled sets (Platform3)


Arrival from Reading (Southern)

Terminating here formed 3-car loco-hauled set ((Platform 1).


Guildford calling at:

Bramley & Wonersh

Stopping train starting here formed pull-push set (Platform 4 Down Bay)


Passenger Trains

In order to achieve these services all the through platforms would be able to handle 8-car trains (usually 2 BIL /2 HAL formations). Used mainly for departing pull-push services the Down Bay handles just 4-coach lengths (i.e. Locomotive + van + 2-car pull-push set).

4 SUB (inc. augmented units), 2 NOL, and 2/4 EPB (BR & SR types) units all operate the stopping services up to London Bridge and the Portsmouth Harbour services utilise 4 COR /4 CEP /2 HAP units on the fast (non-stop) services with 2 BIL /2 HAL combinations on the semi-fasts. An 8 LAV (2 x 4-car) formation will inevitable creep in at some stage. Southampton services variously use Maunsell, Bulleid or BR Mk1 corridor stock with one each hour stopping at Ewhurst Green; the other hour at Midhurst.

Set 904 was redeployed from the Oxted lines to operate the (Guildford) /Cranleigh /Ewhurst Green peak hour service into London Bridge. Weekdays this would be kept overnight at Ewhurst Green (along with a suburban emu formation) running ecs to Guildford (reverse) ready for the single morning peak service back through Cranleigh to Ewhurst Green thence on to London Bridge. Several peak hour services ran into Waterloo joining the South Western main line at Raynes Park.

In terms of Reading services ex.SECR Birdcage and ex.SR Maunsell sets were used along with Mk1 non-corridor 3-car sets displaced from Exmouth Junction services. Both the Reading and Guildford services also used pull-push sets. However, all were now under threat from the new 2H Hastings 2H /3H Hampshire units; I have tweaked the time period here with the first of the (green liveried) 3R Tadpole units making the occasional appearance on services from Reading.

Race days at Goodwood would see special trains down from London to Singleton with strengthened connecting services from Reading.

The layout easily manages 10-car non-stop trains (for example Portsmouth Harbour boat train of 8 CEP plus MLV and TLV – yes I know the MLVs & TLVs essentially operated on SED and the latter is outside my era but in 1968 number S68203 did enter service in maroon livery) as well as a 10 BEL formation on a special to Portsmouth Harbour. However, visually eight coaches maximum appears to work best whether this be an electric train or a locomotive hauling two number BR(S) three-car coach sets with space for a buffet /Pullman car or van(s).

Ewhurst Green 71 012 013.jpg

With the London end scale track mainline S&C in place a train of visiting
Metro-Cammell Pullman cars rattle past on the temporary test track. ©


Freight Traffic

I’ve never worked out why Ewhurst Green was a useful location for freight although is saw a degree of goods and container traffic having a bigger yard than Cranleigh and some other local stations. This line could also have remained useful route for through freight between places such as Temple Mills (ER) and Holloway Yards (ER), Hoo Junction (SED), Norwood Yard (CED) and Southampton (SWD) as well as Chichester (CED) and Shoreham (CED) along the West Coastway.

Limited MoD traffic is envisaged to service Dunsfold’s wartime-built airfield (delivering aviation spirit in particular).

Local freight facilities are provided although their use is on the decline. Engineer’s wagons (mainly Grampus) will also be kept there. Whilst Bachmann’s Wickham’s inspection trolley might appeal these only normally ran during engineering possessions so I’ve passed on one of these otherwise delightful models.

Apart from the needs of the yard, shunting locomotive servicing facilities were basic (water and coal for the Reading /freight services). Any locomotives that would need turning would have to trip through to Guildford shed. However, it is barely plausible that the DeepdeneHolmwood spur (closed 1900 /reopened 1941-47) may have been retained for freight traffic in order to reduced the need for locomotive turning.


The Railway after my Modelling Period

In just a few years the route was reduced to a basic half-hourly semi-fast to Portsmouth Harbour; stations such as Northchapel being closed with others (for example) Singleton being reduced to rush-hour and race days only. Following the 1955 closures of Midhurst to Petersfield (to Pulborough might of survived a little longer), the route to Guildford closed in 1965 along with the Midhurst to Chichester passenger services (which had survived because the sturdier embankment near Cocking hadn’t collapsed) and Cocking station (only served by these trains) closed.

The through Fareham & Southampton services were gone; even the London Bridge service was reduced to just two trains each morning /evening peak-hour as an extension from Dorking North (now being the only services to call at Forest Green). The only freight left was through traffic; this still being a useful route to Portsmouth and Southampton taking the pressure of the Pompey-direct and the SW main line.

06. Layout London end.jpg

London end of the layout after construction
and laying of the (temporary) test circuit ©


Station Layout

Layouts can sometimes be too big in terms of the station being modelled so I’d considered basing my model on stations such as Groombridge /Barnham /Ford /Horsted Keynes /Lingfield /Dorking North (etc). That is two through platforms (2 & 3) and an Up Passenger Loop (platform 1). Alongside the Up passenger loop would be freight loop similar to Redhill plus a shunting road. On the Down side (country-end) was a short bay (platform 4) and adjacent dock served from a headshunt.

Groombridge, Barnham, Ford and Horsted Keynes stations have a similar layout and sit on or close to junctions, which can lead to much operational interest. Essentially the mainline would operate as Up and Down circuits (with the possible splitting /joining of electric trains in the through platforms) but is would be the branch with its through and terminating services that will see the main operating interest of the layout.

It was decided to place the main station building towards the rear of the baseboards. Besides placing the platform-side of the building on view this also left uninterrupted space along the front of the baseboards for the Up Passenger Loop (where branch trains would be terminating) and the goods sidings (i.e. all within easy reach).

This station concept provided the basis of the baseboard design.

01 Layout framing.jpg

Terry undertaking construction
of the framing for the station ©


Baseboard Construction

The layout is housed in a dedicated purpose-built and well-insulated studio; the temperature running at a constant temperature from an inverter proving air-con /heating (well worth the investment and surprisingly cheap to run).

The layout’s baseboard was built at a height of 52” using 3” by 2” timber with the top made from 12mm high-quality plywood. In other words strong enough to rest or even sit on!

After much musing with good friend and ESF member Ian, this figure of 52” high had been derived from a number of factors; the main one being able to look at the railway from a more realistic sideways viewpoint rather than looking down from a great height onto train roofs. Ian uses a similar height on both his Oxted and Redhill P4 layouts. It is also a convenient height to duck-under when the drop-down door flap is in use.

The height of 52” still places the rear of the layout within practical reach whilst enabling tasks such as wiring and the fitting of turnout motors (etc) to be undertaken from the relative comfort of a swivel chair (until such time that I can obtain a chaise-longue on raised legs with castors).

Nominally 30” wide (the furthest one can realistically reach and work) each has a triangular pop-up in each corner where one can stand up to work.

Baseboard construction was undertaken by good friend and fellow ESF member Terry who flew in from his mountain retreat in the Algarve to construct the baseboards – the lure of tea, biscuits and Cornflakes being simply too irresistible!

Having constructed the boards for his own layout thence Ian’s P4 Redhill 1938, Terry has since gone on to construct Rod’s baseboards for his 4mm take on the interesting arrangements at Inverness.

Ewhurst Green’s fiddle yard boards were built in March 2015 and the station boards completed October 2015. During the latter visit the simple test circuit was also installed.

02. Layout Moser undertakes a static load test.jpg

As part of his inspection Moser (my tomcat)
undertook a static load test of the baseboard ©


03. Layout Terry undertakes a static load test.jpg 

Not to be outdone by Moser, Terry undertook
the same static load test of the baseboard ©


However, on the station side the 30” baseboards widen to around 50” at each end which would ordinarily leave the rear out of reach. The solution was simple in the form of two drop-down sections being provided (similar to the entrance door flap) to provide access-reach; it is this flap that is demonstrated in the static load testing photographs rather than just the permanent (fixed) baseboard!

In order to protect the scenery on these flaps their design enables them to be swung through 180o and secured upside down out of the way by means of a fixed cord operated on pulleys. Track only passes onto the boards at the ‘inner’ ends at 90o so there wasn’t to be any skewed rail joints.

Once secured up into place by a simple sprung (brass window) latch at the far end the inner end is drawn tightly into alignment by use of a brass sash window screw latch; this system also being utilised on the drop-down entrance flap.  

A credit to Terry’s engineering skill; the baseboard top-framing is shimmed to provide a maximum deviation of less than 2mm between opposite ends of the layout. This top framing was also designed so as not to interfere with the future positioning of turnout motors and the positioning of the legs to optimise storage; the legs being screwed to the (insulated) floor.

04. Layout static load terst complete and access flap foled up under layout.jpg

After the static load tests were completed Terry demonstrates how
this section of baseboard folds away in order to provide access ©


05. Layout country end.jpg 

Country end of the layout’s boards with its own folding section;
pulley and cord are just visible between baseboard and floor ©


Track Laying

Modelling in 4mm I have always used 00 although have thought long and hard about EM or P4. With so much available in P4 these days I could see little reason to change to EM even though on the majority of my rolling stock it would have been relatively simple to ease out the back-to-backs of their finescale wheels. However, the change to either would necessitate a significant amount of additional work including starting again with all the trackwork instead of recovery from my previous layout.

Fiddleyard Trackwork

The minimum radius used on non-scenic sections is 36” and for the fiddleyard Peco® code 75 ‘HO’ track is employed being cheap, practical, of standard dimensions and simply laid onto 1.5mm cork. Unfortunately the 36” minimum precluded the use of Peco® single /double slips in the fiddle yard which are only 30” radius.


Scenic Trackwork

Both Exactoscale® (C&L Finescale Modelling Ltd) and SMP® track is employed in the scenic sections being laid on 3mm cork and paired to Marcway® turnouts. However, although I had a small existing stock of SMP® track left over from ‘Apothecary Street’ I decided to move forward using Exactoscale® as the track has a considerable edge including crisper sleeper mouldings. Accordingly the remaining stock of SMP® track was used up on the less visible sections of the layout.

There is a small transition in height between the scenic track (Exactoscale®) and fiddle yard (Peco® track); this being achieved using graduated shims made from card.

The choice of Marcway® turnouts is a relatively simple one; for although they are of copper-clad construction (which many would suggest is dated, even crude by today’s standards) from a distance they still look reasonable and all of Apothecary Street’s Marcway® turnouts were recovered for possible reuse; these being stripped, cleaned and repainted. In addition Marcway® turnouts are simple to repair and adjust in-situ. On an operational model railway (on fixed-boards) sheer practicality in terms of ongoing maintenance has to be a significant (if not over-riding) consideration.


Setting out 01.jpg

With 3mm cork and centreline pins in place on the Up Line the
alignment of the S&C is drawn ready for the cork to be laid. ©


Ewhurst Green 71 012 010.jpg

With the S&C now laid, part ballasted, motored,
wired it is tested with Hornby’s HA (71 012). ©


The track centrelines of Ewhurst Green were set out by means of both chalk-line and laser technology with the centrelines marked then delineated using track pins. Mounted on 3mm cork the scenic track is held in place before light gluing, painting thence ballasting the four-foot to fully secure it.

Switches and Crossings

Where needed a number of the scenic turnouts were carefully rebuilt to incorporate the required long timbers therein; particularly required as a scale six-foot dimension had been adopted (45mm centres instead of the 50mm more usually adopted by many modellers and Peco® - necessary compromise to accommodate sharp radii).

Tortoise® turnout motors were used throughout albeit with 0.9mm wire drive for the mechanically stiffer Marcway® turnouts. Even then this wire size is only just strong enough for the short switches on the double slips; each double slip requiring four motors – one per pair of switchblades!

Not only did this choice of turnout motor enable standardisation across the layout (I fitted each motor with a lead and plug of standard configuration) the two sets of contacts thereon enabled switching; one set being used for the polarity of each turnout’s common crossings.

Ewhurst Green 1004.jpg

London-end - Up Line (plat. 2) is complete with the Down Line (plat. 3)
awaiting removal of the test track. In the foreground is the Up Loop No.1,
Up Passenger Loop (platform 1) thence the Up and Down Main lines. Note
the use of staggered baseboard joints to reduce the bracing underneath. ©


Ewhurst Green 1017.jpg

Country-end S&C with entry into five goods sidings (middle
foreground), two carriage sidings, Up reversible, Up and Down
Main thence the entry into the Down Bay /headshunt (rear). ©


Layout Electrics

As an old-school modeller I have not sought to ‘embrace’ DCC. However, there is no ‘luddite’ here – the current choice is out of practicalities and the desire to achieve realistic railway operation in a simple cost-effective manner; DCC only offering limited benefits in this area. As on Apothecary Street the control of the station will be undertaken by means of an electric lever frame with conditional locking; I considered this would be best achieved through the straightforward use of switches and relays.

Depending upon their purpose these former GPO relays work on either 12v or 50v circuits; the two voltages being separated isolated from each other. However, I would not advocate the use of 50v circuits unless you have sufficient knowledge and experience to undertake this safely.

Turnout Motors

Each Tortoise® turnout motor is powered from a two-transformer source running at around 7v to 8v. One side of all the turnout motors are connected to each other. The other side goes back to the operating lever switch; this either connects to transformer 1 (positive) or transformer 2 (negative).

At the end of its movement the Tortoise® turnout motor simply enters a (designed) stall with power still present. I use old Hammant & Morgan transformer-controllers for this purpose as the voltage can be simply adjusted to an appropriate speed. Marcway® double slips each require four Tortoise® motors. It is possible to install all four motors on a double slip between the two pairs of stretcher bars (motors mounted side-by-side in pairs placed back to back) although this can be fiddly.

To-date ninety turnout motors have been installed with the motors at the London-end goods yard and branch fiddle yard awaiting track laying. Standard designs of wiring circuits are used to make work easier on both the turnout motors and associated relays.

One pair of contacts on each Tortoise® motor switches the polarity of the common crossing on both Marcway® and Peco® turnouts; this provides reliable electrical switching. On crossovers the second pair of contacts on one of the motors makes the electrical connection between the two tracks. Spare Tortoise® motor switches are used in the conditional locking circuitry.

Although each turnout or crossover is numbered the Tortoise® motors also carry a simple colour code using coloured cable ties (tags). A single motor has one coloured tag, a simple two-motor crossover has two and where three motors are employed three tags are used. Working underneath the baseboard can be disorientating and these tags provide a rapid but simple means of identifying motors.

Furthermore each motor is placed in the ‘normal’ position and a bright yellow tag added to one of the made contact wires (either yellow or blue) as a useful reminder when installing wiring. This is particularly useful on crossovers where motors may be reversed so one end normal is ‘yellow wire’ the other end it is blue.

Track Feeds

I no longer employ cab-control; instead arranging track feeds through the signalling with a smattering of isolating sections in the scenic sections. Route setting is employed in the fiddle yard with just a handful of isolating /move-up switches controlling all tracks. Essentially it is a case of just set the road and drive the train!    

Notwithstanding this the layout is being wired with the potential to use DCC at a later date; certainly I recognise the are benefits from a constant 16v around the track rather than the slow starting voltages associated with DC.

Conditional Locking (Signalling)

It would have been nice to have employed full interlocking. However, I accepted that this would be unnecessarily complex for a model railway and that conditional locking would suffice. This still requires the correct turnouts to be set to allow the signals to be pulled off (thus enabling the required electrical track feeds). Instead of preventing a conflicting route from being set conditional locking simply cuts the electrical track feed which in turn halts the trains.

I shall not attempt to describe the circuitry involved save to say that with a basic knowledge of relays the underlying principle is ridiculously simple and highly effective; coming up with such circuitry just needed a degree of lateral thinking.....

Ewhurst Green 1010.jpg             Ewhurst Green 1013.jpg

Country-end S&C with the main crossover (mainly single & double slips)
(turnout motors and wiring now installed).

Left: the double junction is just visible in the distance with locomotives on the Up Main
and Down Branch respectively. A single van marks the end of the Down Bay Headshunt.

Right: a BSK marks the non-electrified carriage siding; just beyond a 2 BIL DTC sits on
the electric siding - a carriage walkway will eventually separate these two sidings.


Back Scene

After much consideration a simple painted sky back scene was opted for; this being very effective on fellow ESF member Ian’s P4 layouts Oxted and Redhill. It also enables the future use of trompe-l'œil behind the trees in order to provide the effect of depth. Furthermore Ian’s adept and creative wife Wendy had offered to paint it!

Along the length of the scenic side of the layout is a continuous support beam intended to provide a firm rest if any of the strip light mechanisms need to be replaced (the tubes are easily accessed). The 16” height of this beam was determined by using the 8’ long 12mm plywood off-cuts from the 32”-wide baseboards. These 16” by 8’ long off-cuts were used to form the back scene; the top of which is held in place by the support beam.

Each scenic board was numbered and painted matt-white ready for Wendy to undertake her magic with sponges and various acrylic paints; the sky effect being carried across each board joint (completed March 2017).

Unfortunately the room’s daylight simulation lighting means the photographs simply do not do the final sky-effect effect justice. However, they look excellent in-person and I’m extremely grateful for Wendy’s creative time and work.

Web Ewhurst Green Apr 2017 002.jpg

London direction in the distance D6580 is sitting on the Down Main.
Left to right - Up Loop no.1, Up Passenger Loop, Up Main, Down Main
(with the realigned temporary test track alongside) ©


Web Ewhurst Green Apr 2017 005.jpg 

Country end S&C. Sidings can be seen starting to curve away to the right;
beyond is the junction where the non-electrified double-track branch will
curve away to the right from the electrified main line. ©

At the same time as this scenic-backboard work was undertaken the opportunity was taken to add some room decor in the form of split-flaps from former Solari indicator boards (obtained during my days on BR’s Southern Region). These provide a selection of destinations and types of indications displayed including some no longer seen.


Rolling Stock (Technical)

I have covered my decision to remain with 00 instead of moving to EM or P4 – had I been starting from scratch then I would probably have considered 3mm Southern Electric or even LBSCR overhead electrics in P4!


Most of my rolling stock has had its wheelsets replaced using wheels from Jackson (now Romford manufactured by Markits) or Alan Gibson; these having a 14.6mm back-to-back dimension. Even though there are no plastic wheelsets in use on my test circuit it is still surprising just how dirty the track gets after a day’s running.

Some ready-to-run and all the kit-built steam locomotives use Romford wheelsets as manufactured by Markits. These are simple and straightforward to use giving excellent running.

However, the diesel locomotives such as Heljan’s KA & KA-1A (class 33/0 & 33/2) and Hornby JA (class 73/0) use Ultrascale conversion sets. Whilst Ultrascale orders can have a long lead time in production it must be remembered that this is a high-quality bespoke specialist engineering service and the final high-quality product is well worth the wait.

The superb Hornby HA electric locomotives (class 71 in modern parlance) are having their driving wheels replaced as their Hornby wheels appear to quickly attract the dirt; this is quick and simple to do – finescale modeller matt having converted one to P4 for his BR(S) layout ‘Shelvington’. The Hornby models are excellent runners with a considerable haulage capacity.


In building my previous layout I spent considerable time looking into the subject of couplings; eventually settling on the current mini-coupling as used by today’s manufacturers. These are is simple, easy to fit (a wire bar is compatible) and today’s standard coupling. However, in terms of the many coupling types out there my favourite was the Winterley automatic coupling although I always liked the operation of the Hornby-Dublo pseudo buckeye.

In my opinion simple and reliable couplings are prerequisites for a reliable operating layout. It is acknowledged that the mini-couplings have their faults and limitations; they are certainly not pretty but are practical and for the most, already fitted to proprietary stock. The only significant fault with the mini-couplings is the difference in height that sometimes occurs; particularly when some makes droop.

The exception to the use of mini-couplings is on buckeye fitted stock where Kadee® buckeye couplers were an obvious choice; a choice that works well with buckeye fitted multiple units although in terms of sheer practicality their use might be extended to other multiple-units where the prototype had screw-couplings (for example 2 BIL, 2 HAL, 4 SUB & 4 LAV units) if experiments with other NEM-fitment couplings aren’t successful.

The potential compromise of using Kadee® buckeyes with these Southern Railway-built units would enable closer coupling and an auto uncoupling capability. For example the Down Main, Up Passenger Loop and electric siding have been equipped with a Kadee® magnet to enable the division of electric trains if the service pattered required it. These magnets can be removed from underneath the baseboard if needed.

It is worth noting a 2 BIL uses a Kadee® no.19 whereas a 2 HAL uses no.20; the limiting factor being buffer-locking on the Peco® turnouts. Had the layout used Marcway® 3’ radius turnouts in the fiddleyard then one size lower could have been employed.

In terms of BR-design MU stock Kadee® buckeyes are used for all end couplers (2/4 EPB, 2/3H, 4 CEP, MLV & TLV). Kadee® buckeyes are also used for the intermediate couplings in corridor stock; again sheer practicality along with close-coupling being the deciding factor. The gangway air-gaps are closed and on Hornby’s Maunsell corridor stock the opportunity is taken to retract the buffers. On non-corridor stock such as sets 152, 153, 154 and 904 Bill Bedford couplings have been employed within sets; these really do look the part.

Modifying Heljan Locomotive-couplings

It is unfortunate that many Heljan couplings have a tendency to droop with coupling engagement being poor and the bottom of the hook-assembly catch the stock rail on S&C; leading to derailments. The hook and bar assemblies are glued into place railing the bar as high as possible whilst the sprung NEM pocked it glued onto the bogie frame. On 36” minimum radii curves this fixed coupling really doesn’t create any problems.

Modifying Bachmann Mk1 Coach-couplings

In using Kadee® buckeyes within sets using Bachmann Mk1 stock, two easily corrected faults were found. On longer trains in particular (say twelve bogies) certain coaches kept derailing as they entered the straight leg of Peco® turnouts off 36” curves. After some investigation the causes was found to be on the underside of the coaches with no turnout fault. The two issues being:

(i)                      The NEM-style pockets are mounted on a yoke which surrounds the bogie pivot being held back by a small spring. My replacement wheelsets have much finer flanges and so had an increased propensity to derail if the bogie rubs against the plastic hook that retained this small spring to the underside of the coach. Careful paring down of the hook eradicates the problem.

(ii)                  As the coach transitions between the curve and straight the yoke moves and one of the two lugs on the yoke slide forward across the underside of the coach. Some coaches (the FK in particular) have a small amount of plastic flash that catches on the yoke interrupting its smooth movement; the resulting ‘jerk’ causing a derailment under load. Simply removing this flash resolves the issue. 

L1 3778.jpg

‘00’ works L1 number 31778 hauling an
unfitted freight around the test circuit ©


Speed Record

Interestingly most of the trains that have operated on my layout’s test-tract belong to fellow East Sussex Finescale members and the current record for the slowest lap currently stands at eighteen minutes eight seconds with a visiting pre-First World War Prussian 0-8-0! (This was using an elderly but serviceable H&M controller and could be significantly improved with modern sophistication). When time permits, this may be attempted with a Model Rail (Bachmann) USA tank.


Rolling Stock (General)

It would be boring to provide lists of rolling stock some of which is kit built; others proprietary often with minor modifications or additional detailing that can make a significant difference. For example, it is surprising how many visitors struggle to identify Bachmann’s® N-class 31848 which appears in its short-lived 1954 guise without smoke deflectors!

Coaching Stock General

Research is often the key to modelling. For example coaches are correctly formed into the Southern Region’s prototypical sets; something manufacturers are only starting to undertake. I believe this started with Replica’s excellent correctly numbered BR(S) Exmouth branch 3-car non-corridor sets in both Crimson Lake and Green liveries. Replica subsequently went onto to produce a very limited number (just 3) of the remaining Oxted line non-corridor vehicles used in set 904; more recently Hornby produced SWD Maunsell Special Traffic set 273 in BR(S) green paired with Schools-class 30924 Haileybury.

For the pull-push services Hornby’s converted Maunsell sets were a welcome addition; particularly as they have modelled both variants (with whistle or with air-horns). These were followed by the Maunsell rebuilds of the LSWR 48’ coaches; in BR(S) days these attained Crimson Lake livery with just a few of the seconds receiving Green livery. Once Bachmann’s Birdcage stock arrives there will be little shortage of coaching stock for local services.

Liveries are also important with the Bulleid, Maunsell and BR Mk1 corridor stock; these all being available in both Crimson Lake & Cream (aka Blood & Custard) and BR(S) stock green. A concise history of these liveries is covered here.

Coaching Stock Liveries

In terms of the Southern Region’s Lancing carriage works the last Crimson Lake & Cream (coded CLC) vehicle was outshopped on 17th July 1956 (High Window Maunsell SK) with first repainted from Crimson Lake & Cream into Green livery occurring the next day (Bullied SK). By 25th March 1959 the last Maunsell corridor coach had been repainted into Green Livery although some Mk1 coaches remained in CLC right into 1963.

Few modellers set a specific date for their model although many operate to a period. At present Ewhurst Green is intended to follow the latter; roughly between 1958 and 1964 (just as the first yellow warning panels appeared on BR(S) emus. However, in doing so whilst a Sulzer type 2 (1958-built class 24) might just be seen hauling CLC liveried Maunsell stock a type-KA Crompton (1960-built class 33) would simply look out of place with these CLC liveried coaches (although very rarely could be seen with CLC liveried Mk1 3-sets).

Motive Power (Steam)

Bachmann’s E4, C, Standard 4MT ‘bacon-slicers’ and Fairburn tank classes are excellent as are Hornby’s Q1, Black Motors M7 tanks and OO Works H-tank.

In terms of mainline locomotives Hornby’s WC /BoB /MN (all now made in air-smoothed and rebuilt forms) are also superb along with their V and S15 /N15 variants. Even a Bachmann LN appears on a (very rare) diversion to Southampton during engineering works at Woking. OO Works L , N15 & H15 classes feature with Roderick’s D15 eagerly awaited. There is even a much-modified Triang L1!

The layout doesn’t stop with extra-detailed ready-to-run; for example South Eastern Finecast make excellent kits of the D, E5, Q & P classes and they supply an excellent chassis to go under the Golden Arrow Productions E-class (in my opinion this having the potential to be more accurate than the DJH kit).

Motive Power (Diesel)

Kernow released the 2H DEMU units (2H ‘Hampshires’ were in number range 1101-1118; 2H ‘Hastings’ 1119-1121). A 3R ‘Tadpole’ is being scratch-built with a 3D ‘Oxted’ under consideration. 

Following the arrival of the Sulzer type 2 (class 24) locomotives on loan from the LMR, Southern Region type KA ‘Crompton’ diesel engines (class 33) start to appear with a KA-1A (class 33/2 aka ‘Slim Jim’– repainted into plain green) and the pull-push D6580 (forerunner of the class 33/1) although this unique locomotive (trialled on the Central Division) is pushing the boundary of my modelling period.

Web Ewhurst Green Apr 2017 011.jpg

Heljan D6580 was weathered by Lee Polson (of P4 Shelvington fame).
Strictly speaking this model shouldn’t be produced by Heljan equipped
with Buckeye couplers and compression bars ©


Electric Traction

It has been assumed that the type-HA (class 71) electric locomotives also ventured on this route working freight across to /from the South Eastern Division via Factory Junction and Pouparts Junction. Certainly they worked on the Central Division; this included hauling the Newhaven boat trains with a steam locomotive inserted to ostensibly provide steam heating although double-heading did on occasions, unofficially occur.

Hornby’s ‘plain’ green front with red-stripe versions of the type-HA are NRM’s E5001 in post-September 1963 green (i.e. with cantrail rainstrips) and E5022 ‘as built’ in plain green front with red-stripe without cantrail strips. To-date this is appears to be the only current HA model produced in pre-September 1963 guise (i.e. without cantrail rainstrips). Weathering of these will be interesting as they were kept relatively clean albeit getting shabby approaching withdrawal.

Bachmann produced its superb model of the 4 CEP unit rapidly followed up by a MLV. Now a 4 BEP is promised; ideal for the fast services. Their 2 EPB is excellent (conversions into 4-car are in hand) and some green 2 HAP units would site nicely amongst all these.

Hornby produced the excellent 2 BIL stock with a 4 COR anticipated before the 2 HAL was released; ideal for the semi-fast trains.

Ajay all-steel 2 HAL units also feature having strayed on the Gatwick services /West Coastway. Such ‘straying’ was not improbable for in later years the occasional 4 VEG ‘Gatwick’ unit appeared at Hampton Court when the 4 VEP /4VEG formation became reversed so the 4 VEG picked up an afternoon diagram down to Horsham, up to Waterloo thence out to Hampton Court before returning the same way!

Suburban services use 2 NOL, 4 SUB and 4/2 EPB units.


Strangers on the Southern

There is always the temptation to have a huge number of one-offs and visiting locomotives; an area where I am actively seeking to prune back past purchases. For example a Black 5, two 8Fs and WD have now been reduced to a single passenger rated 8F. With the advent of the type 1 NBLs (later class 16) which ran through to the Southern Region (including at least one passenger excursion into Brighton) there is no additional need for the not dissimilar EE type 1 (class 20) and BTH type 1 (class 15) which were intended for Apothecary Street.

One type of locomotive upon which more research is required is the Baby Deltics which were expected to run onto the Southern although were too heavy for use through Snow Hill. However, a retired driver (sadly now passed) remembered working on one (as a trainee) into Hither Green.

Even DP1 and Fell diesel 10100 were on SR metals albeit both loco-hauled to Battersea (1957) and Eastbourne (1951) respectively. However, with one exception I’m not venturing to such rarities as I believe a layout needs to concentrate on the regular (if mundane) everyday stock and operations!

There is also a record of a Metro-Vick Co-Bo (D5714) working through to Norwood Yard thence down to Three Bridges in April 1960; this rare visitor to the Southern being an exception simply too interesting to resist on the layout.


Layout Construction Progress

Track laying is now well under way having been designed using AutoCAD®. The track is lightly glued /held in place by pins before painting in Railmatch™ acrylic sleeper grime and ballasting in the four-foot to keep it firmly in place.

Both the London and Country-end S&C connections into the Up and Down Main Platforms (2 & 3), Up Platform Loop (1) & Up Loop along are laid, motored and ballasted. The Up and Down Main platform roads, Up Platform Loop and Up Loop are all laid; the Up and Down Main lines ‘meeting in the middle’ by means of a large radius curve (this being achieved in August 2016). The current stage is laying the Country-end carriage sidings and freight reception sidings; these being on curves to avoid the visually unappealing rows of linear tracks.

The Down Main is not yet connected into the fiddle yards as the space is taken up by the test circuit. However, now all the turnout motors are in place and the track wired (I always electrically switch the common crossings of turnouts) the Up Main will start be utilised as a test track. At some fast-approaching point the test track will be lifted and stored for later use for the branch section of the fiddle yard.


However, by far the best fun came from playing hunt the cat-biscuits with Moser.......
(A game derived from Moser’s hiding Terry’s tea and biscuits)


In memory of Moser
A companion dearly missed


I hope this will have been of ongoing interest!

Kind regards,

C. Watts


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