Port Dinorwic Layout Planning


One of the most fun parts for me is planning a project.  This micro layout has started to take form in my mind and I’ve been playing around with real track to see what fits.

It’s certainly not easy fitting a dockside into a small space…

Track Plans

This is based on 25″ Ordnance Survey maps and photos from the time, such as these from Jaggers Heritage.  I have got the track work as close as possible to the real thing although the right is a little cramped and could do with a few more inches to space it out.

The main scenic area is the central darker area.  The paler track will be code 75 Bullhead track and the rest is OO9.  Staging or fiddle yards are the paler areas to each side.  These may be cassettes or solid fiddle yards.  I haven’t decided yet but the layout scenic area fits in the area in my kitchen on top of the range cooker…

The two plans differ only in the staging.  The first plan has a crossover like the real thing but in the staging area.  The second one has a two track sliding cassette thingy.  That’s a technical term!  The main line staging needs to be about 40 cm long but the OO9 only needs to be around 25cm.  The wagons are diddy!

The front is the bottom of the layout and you are standing in the sea as you look at the layout.

Initial Track Plan – with points as per prototype
Initial Track Plan – with sliding cassette storage

There’s no run around for the OO9 locos but I think they always need to be on the right anyway as all the points are fed that way.  Certainly, every photo I’ve seen has them on the right.  The standard gauge just comes in and leaves and I’ll swap the loads in staging.  It’s taking out slate and coming in empty.

The brown rectangle to the left is a road and should be slanted but the track planning software defeated me on that one.  It will have a level crossing gate that moves.  The top left is an incline which comes out in a tunnel – great modelling – and I need to think how to make it look like it’s an incline working whilst still using a hidden engine to actually pull and push the wagons on and off the layout.  The buildings should help mask it.  The tunnel will need some kind of cloth to reduce light leakage. There’s a wooded and housed hill along the back. At the front is the dock and the sea.

The points will be stub turnouts and I’m hoping they will be a little shorter than these so I can get more even curves.  Probably not though as the Peco points are fairly sharp.

I think I need to selectively compress the buildings as they won’t fit.  It’s either that or I add a few inches on the front, which I can do.  That would allow more curves but end up in a bigger layout but I do have a few inches of room spare.

I will definitely cove the corners as it looks better.

I’m considering using DCC Concepts Powerbase so have bought some to play around with for the OO9.  I’m wondering about magnets on the wagons or they are so light, they’ll just come flying off the track.  It’s hard to shunt if they just derail.

If I decide not to put it in the range cooker cubby hole then it will all stretch out on the right a bit so it looks less sharp.  Mind you, the real thing is really sharp.

Range Cooker Cubby Hole

So over to you guys – what do you think?


3 thoughts on “Port Dinorwic Layout Planning”

  1. Hi Cathy,

    A few thoughts for you.

    I’ve not got any experience of the DCC concepts power base, my own locos cope just fine with 6-8 loaded slate wagons on a 1 in 28 gradient/9″ curve. My engines weigh 40g or more. However, magnets in the track can cause other problems with small lightweight stock. The TeBee wagons “as built” had a tendency to derail when passing over uncoupling magnets, the magnet will attract the axle and tip it up! A little bit of lead weight between the wheels has mostly cured that problem. I also use uncoupling magnets which aren’t quite as powerful as the type normally recommended for the Greenwich couplings on my stock. That does impact the reliability of the uncoupling at times, but it’s something I have to live with. Most of my derailments occur as a result of “operator error”, the TeBee wagons generally shunt well as long as they have the deeper flanged wheels mentioned in my earlier post, that said I mostly use no more than 4 wagons per rake on my quarry layout. My other layout uses longer rakes, but I don’t usually shunt them.

    I’ve been doing some of my own further research on the sub points for a new layout (still in planning) for a permanent public installation. The layout only requires the stub points to be “realistic dummies”, but I am tempted to try and make some working ones, a decision I blame partly on this blog and partly on a friend handing me a photocopy of an article describing the construction of Pete Wilsons points for Chwarel Cwm Bach at the recent Wellesbourne narrow gauge modellers meeting. So i’ll be very interested to see your own interpretation of the design. Mine is going to be (primarily) a 3D print. One thing I did notice is that the geometry of the stub point described is very close to that of the 009/N gauge set track points, so these are a good substitute for planning purposes.

    1. Tim

      Some great points, thank you.

      Power base is not magnets in the track but sheets of steel under it. The magnets should be on the locos but I’m going to try them under the wagons. The wagons will blow over if you sneeze and I’m not sure how much weight I can get in them empty. I’m not planning to use uncoupling magnets but I haven’t finished that thought process yet.

      I’m going to use double flanged wheels and the axles are only short and don’t go all the way across so you can use the wagons on the Padarn transporters. I’m still mulling all that over. I’m thinking of casting the wheels in resin with iron powder to add some weight.

      Good luck with your stub points. They’re not that difficult to do and fascinating.



  2. Actually, one correction to my earlier post, it wasn’t the metal in the axle that was causing the derailment, it was the iron part of the couplings, which may not be a problem for you depending on the coupling type.

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