Ready to run: What can be achieved with ready-to-run products

Railway modelling is a time-consuming hobby and for many this can be its main attraction, with every detail being beautifully recreated. If you’re a newcomer, however, or your time is limited to occasional evenings and weekends but you dream of a large busy layout, then what are your options? Matthew Bradshaw shows what can be done with ready-to-run products.

Greystones Attic is the second OO-gauge model railway that I’ve built since returning to the hobby in 2010. My interest was reignited when I walked past Rails of Sheffield one Saturday afternoon, and I remembered visiting the shop as a child. Lured in by the fabulous display of models in the window, I went inside to see how times had changed and came home with a Hornby catalogue and a desire to start modelling again.

With Greystones Attic I wanted to build a layout that improved on some of the shortcomings of my first layout and also added more of what worked well, so this would mean more passing tracks in stations to allow freight trains through, larger yards for longer trains and the ability to run five trains simultaneously, as well as shunting in the yards!

Main station, lower goods yard and five main line circuits.

The overriding goal would be to reinvigorate my favourite memories of the railways. It became apparent that this would be a big layout and with that came the dilemma of how detailed I should make it. I’d seen some amazing layouts at exhibitions with stunning levels of detail but my layout would only ever be built at evenings and weekends. After much deliberation I decided to take the unconventional modelling route and build using almost exclusively ready-to-run (R2R) models and hopefully answer the question, ‘What can be achieved with R2R?’.

Layout design

As Greystones Attic would be my own design I decided that having some guiding principles would be helpful, so that I could check they were being achieved as I went along.

Based on a mixture of things I’d read and my own experiences, these are the design principles I laid out: 1) Five circuits of simultaneous running; 2) At least two tracks bypassing the main station platforms; 3) A yard or passing loop accessible from every circuit; 4) All passing loops and yards to support 1.5m-long trains; 5) Multiple levels but no inclines steeper than 1-in-40; 6) All buildings, stations, bridges, people, locos, coaches and wagons to be R2R and the railway designed around them; 7) No curves tighter than 2nd Radius and all tight curves, straights and points to be R2R (had to compromise a little here and use Flexitrack for shallow curves).

For the full article, see the March edition of Modelling – available now!

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