I have mentioned several times that the standard gauge track needs rebuilding to ensure long term reliability. Last night I got carried away and did a first stab at a Templot track plan for the track on boards 2 and 3. The scanned tracing I had done previously of the existing track was imported into Templot. I then played around with track templates, trying to reproduce the existing track plan as closely as possible. I printed this out full size and checked it against the layout. Fortunately, I was more or less spot on. I then refined the design slightly by straightening out a few unintentional wiggles in the original track and lining up the turnouts better. Templot is a wonderful tool for doing this - much better than the paper templates etc that the original builders must have had to use. That gave me the 'authentic' version - hopefully more or less exactly as the original builders would have intended it to be.
I then did a second version just for fun, keeping to the basic track plan but changing the alignment of various tracks very slightly. This was an attempt to address a few problems identified in discussions on forums and from personal observations. Some of these are as follows
1. Making the main running line more identifiable. The pointwork was altered slightly to make one track appear to be the main running line right through to the buffer stops. This largely meant changing some turnouts to the opposite hand.
2. Trimming back the edge of the platform. On close inspection, the platform edge is not very smooth. I suspect the builders had clearance problems with stock and cut the original edge back slightly. The result, unfortunately, is a very jagged edge. Here is part of it in close up.
I think I can trim this slightly to give a smooth edge, retaining the appearance of the original platform as far as possible. It means moving the platform line very slightly towards the back of the layout to match the new platform edge. Playing around in Templot suggests this is a perfectly workable solution.
3. Optional slight realignment of the back siding, behind the trestle. Reading the article in Rail Model Digest, it was originally intended to load standard gauge wagons on this track from the narrow gauge loop above. Fortunately, they changed their minds and built the gantry instead - surely the highlight of the layout. There is now no reason why this back siding has to be so close to the quarry face, especially as I have to re-lay it anyway. There is plenty of room to move it slightly towards the gantry - looks like around 32mm in fact, roughly to where the red dashes are on this photo.
This would allow the ledge on which the narrow gauge line sits to be slightly wider and/or maybe the rock face below it to be slightly more 3D. It will be a long time before I get to do any major work on this board (other than the now completed removal of the narrow gauge track) so I have plenty of time to think about it.
Inclement weather this morning gave me the excuse to stay indoors and finish removing the old, life expired narrow gauge track from the ledge next to the trestle (as in the photo above). The old track wobbled a lot vertically - especially the one nearest the edge. I needed to investigate whether the underlying wood was warped. Fortunately, the undulations seem to have been due to the cork trackbed. The plywood underneath seems sound. I managed the track removal without any unintentional damage to the rest of the layout. I found a couple of permanent uncoupling magnets underneath the track, much to my surprise.
Unfortunately, when hoovering up the mess, I dislodged the rail at the top of the quarry steps. This has temporarily been removed altogether for safe keeping. I have also lifted the signal cabin and the small cabin on the platform for the same reason. The main station building seems to be very well stuck down, so I shall leave that where it is and work around it.
Here is a very provisional diagram of the new track plan. The green line is a possible alignment for the waggonway, buried in weeds - more or less on the alignment of the existing remains on the model. The waggonway remains will have to be added to in due course - like a few disconnected sidings hidden in the undergrowth.
Overall, I like the revised version best - largely retaining the look and feel of the original, but slightly refined. A lot more detail work is required yet in Templot, including converting the turnouts to interlaced sleepers, adding catch points etc. That should keep me quiet for a while.
Meanwhile, I hope to lay the hidden narrow gauge track on the centre board. The wheels have now arrived for the Beyer Peacock 4-4-0 (conversion of the Hornby LSWR 4-4-2T). More on that another time!