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Plumpton Green
However, modelling the entire station, including these two lay-bys would result in a model of (few moments pause with a calculator) oh dear – over 40ft long, just for the scenic section! So the big question is whether it can sensibly be shortened or truncated to get a reasonable representation into the available 16ft.

I’ve not previously used Templot, but it’s the obvious choice for a new layout, so it’s time to shell out for a copy – except that logging onto the web-site I find that it is now free to download (with requests for donations).

One key component which I would like to include is a fully mechanically interlocked lever frame – something I’ve not attempted before, and which will certainly need some research – what to do and how to do it. The Signalling Record Society’s Book on LBSCR signal boxes shows the Plumpton Signalling Diagram for 1920, with the track plan and signalling unchanged from 1910 (see diagram on left). This shows that in addition to the main signal box to the east of the station, adjacent to the level crossing, there was also a ground frame in the goods yard, controlling signals and turnouts for the yard entry. I presume this is because the distance from the box to these turnouts was more than 250 yards, which the Brighton regarded as the limit for safe operation of turnouts. The box and the ground frame were linked by levers on the ground frame to request operation of the crossovers, and levers in the box which released bolt locks on the turnouts.

The diagram very helpfully shows all the lever numbers, but doesn’t have any indication of how they were interlocked. Having spent a few days during the month thinking about this, and making numerous drafts of locking tables, and diagrams, I’m getting somewhere, but I’m not sure I’ve got it right.

July 2012. Templot is both brilliant, and frustrating in equal measure, especially if you’re used to ordinary CAD software. It takes a while to get used to the way in which the software generates track templates based on defined parameters, which can then be edited and saved. Creating a series of templates, and joining them together creates the final track plan. The best advice I got when I started, was to understand how pegs and notches work (they are the means by which adjacent templates can be seamlessly joined together). Excellent advice which got me up and running.

After a few days’ work I have managed to recreate the trackwork for Plumpton at true scale 4mm:1ft, but it is clearly too long. So what can be done? The most obvious change is to model only the crossovers into the lay-bys, with most of the length of the lay-by off-scene. This would make the layout a little over 20ft, which begins to look promisingly like 16ft. By shortening the platforms and the goods yard, and moving the eastern up/down crossover inward the layout can be shortened a bit further. The goods yard entry (shown on the right) cannot be shortened without tightening the turnouts from B7 to B6, which I’m not prepared to risk in P4. A few further tweaks (making the level crossing slightly less acute for example) and on version 12 of my Templot track plan, I think I have just about achieved a solution – 16ft by 2ft scenic section, with four equal length baseboards, and pointwork which fits neatly relative to the base-board joints.

I’ve decided to use interlaced sleepering for the turnouts which was a feature of the Brighton, although the photos I have of Plumpton don’t give a clear indication of whether it was used here or not, apart from one turnout in the goods yard. Learning how to move sleepers around, and create new ones in Templot has been a bit time consuming, but Templot is very flexible and once you get the hang of it, it’s quite straightforward, if a little long-winded. Also the Brighton typically used short check rails of four sleepers rather than five – something else Templot can happily cope with.

Plumpton has a rather curious dis-used third platform on the up side (the race-course side), which is separate from the normal platform (there is an ugly Southern Railways era footbridge which crosses the line between the two platforms, and which replaced a public footpath board crossing). There is no equivalent platform on the down-side, and I can’t see how this platform could have been used for passenger traffic. I wonder therefore whether this extra platform was used to load and unload horses for the race-course, to keep them separate from passenger traffic? This platform didn’t exist in LBSCR days, but I think the addition of an up-bay for horseboxes would add a bit of operational interest, and is certainly feasible within the space on the base-boards.

A few miles west of Plumpton, close to Keymer junction is the Keymer Brick and Tile works, which had its own standard gauge railway, and also a connection to the main line. With a bit of modeller’s licence, brick making in Plumpton could conceivably have grown in size and stature to become ‘Plumpton Brick and Tile Works’, needing a connection to the main line…………

With these two additions I think I now have a final track plan (left), with the additional up bay (bottom of the drawing) and the siding to the brickworks leading onto the headshunt at the far left.

My idea for this layout is to make as much as possible (track, buildings, signals etc) before starting on the baseboards. I’m hoping that this will make the final assembly of the layout seem fairly quick, but we shall see.

I’ve had some fantastic help from Howard Bolton on the subject of interlocking, including the ins and outs of such seemingly obscure (but essential) topics as lifting tappets and sequential locking and I think I’m now getting somewhere with the locking table (ie what locks or releases what).
Diary of a Railway Layout
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