Aylesbury South Signal Box

Construction, Drawings and Photos by Gary Day

When it comes to railway buildings, there is nothing more iconic than the signal box. Therefore, my second building project for Aylesbury Town (Risborough & District Model Railway Club) was not a difficult choice. Aylesbury South signal box was a Great Central design, 60ft in length, 12ft wide and contained 55 levers. The top half of the box still exists at Swithland Sidings on the Great Central Railway at Loughborough. I was unable to obtain any drawings of the box but there was a good abundance of photographs on Flickr. I purchased the Bachmann version, thinking I might be able to kit bash it. However, it proved too short in length. Nevertheless, the Bachmann model proved useful in obtaining some of the detail dimensions. I drafted up a drawing of the individual model parts using Microsoft Visio software. The parts were produced using the Club's laser cutter. I believe laser cutting will be as revolutionary for model buildings as DCC has been for model trains. The quality of the finished product is exceptional. Even the tiny brackets supporting the exterior walk-boards are accurate and crisp. I was however, disappointed with the cladding effect to the main outer walls. I therefore decided to recreate the original by overlapping 10mm strips of printer paper. A similar method was used to recreate the roof tiles. The main walls were also joined with paper in order to mask the corner joints. All parts were sprayed with Humbrol white primer. The window frames were painted in a matt white and plastic glazing added.

I searched long and hard to replicate the cream exterior finish. I the end I plumbed for Crown Classic Cream emulsion from a tester pot that I had. The faded Midland red also proved difficult to recreate. For this I chose a mix of Precision Paints Light Red Brick, Railmatch BR Maroon and a dash of matt white. The interior floor was painted with Humbrol gloss tan, which represented the polished finish so common in well maintained boxes. The name-boards were recreated using 2mm Wills lettering. Particular care had to be taken to ensure the letters did not break when cutting them from the sprue. My favourite part of the exercise was to model the interior. This was recreated from two Ratio kits, suitably detailed and painted. I was only able recreate 40 of the 55 levers due to the available length inside the box. Nevertheless, the lever configuration was accurately represented based upon available photographs of the original interior. The track diagram was also accurately recreated by editing a photograph of the original plan.

The doors were added and the walls were joined together to create the box structure, using the floor as a stiffener. Details such as the exterior walk-boards, window sills and even the horseshoe at the box entrance were fixed into position. The stairs were produced using Ancorton Models kit, suitably modified to replicate the original structure. Roof guttering, drain pipes and the corner supports were represented using 1.5mm half round brass section, 1/16th diameter aluminium rod and 3mm by 1mm brass U section; all respectively from Eileen's Emporium. The drain pipes at the north end of the box flowed into a hopper, which was recreated from a Remembrance Day poppy head, suitably modified. The chimney was modelled from 2mm diameter brass tube, soldered together to form a Tee section. GWR Scale Link finials were modified to more closely resemble the GC pattern and fitted into position. The finished model was weathered using acrylic paints. The final job is to add interior lighting, which I intend to do using LED bulbs.