The concept for Okehampton was to build a layout in O Gauge which all members can be involved in, both in construction and operating.
The size of the layout is dictated by a number of factors. The main one is that a layout should have space for the longest train to come into the layout, be in the layout, and exit. Therefore the entrance space, the central space and the exit space should each be roughly as long as the longest train. In 0 gauge, an 8 coach train and a Bulleid pacific is about 13 feet long, so thus a reasonable layout should be 39 feet at least. Okehampton fits this criterion with a length of over 40 feet along the main line. The width of the layout is a result of the depth of track and required a board width of some 6 feet. The essential features are:
1. Double track main line.
2. 3 platforms, up main, down main and branch.
3. Single road engine shed.
4. 70' turntable fitted at Okehampton in 1947.
5. Coaling stage.
6. Goods shed and extensive goods sidings.
7. Military siding where troop trains and other vehicles would be loaded.
8. Proximity to Meldon Quarry where ballast was extracted. Hence ballast trains.
9. Okehampton was where the engine was changed. This will be of interest to an audience.
The layout is being designed for DCC control using existing club controllers. Club members will also have DCC controls soon, and can lend them for operating.
The previous layout plan of Plymouth Friary was eventually rejected in favour of a more traditional layout based on Okehampton as this contains a freight yard, engine shed, station plus scenic elements - in other words more scope.
The layout plan follows Okehampton pretty accurately, with some shortening of platform sides, sidings and engine shed.
Two main lines pass through the whole area, allowing passing trains to be shown. A third platform face gives access to the sidings and also provides potential for a branch line train to be brought into the station and sent back out again.
The engine shed adds interest and sits on the viewer side, where an operator can talk about the stock and layout. There will be a turntable, coaling stage and shed. Okehampton was one of the first stations to receive one of the new 70' tables, and this will be modelled. Thus the period will be very late 40s.
Two 3 road sidings allow for plenty of space for goods stock, shunting and movement. There is a goods shed as well.
A 6 or 8 road fiddle yard provides storage space. The boards here are 2' 8" wide, the maximum that can be reached over. It would be useful if each road in the fiddle yard could receive or send a train to any one of the main lines. This may not be practical to achieve.
The boards will be made of extruded foam with sides reinforced using ply, probably 9mm. the main lines will probably sit on ply bases with a vertical reinforcing piece underneath, with foam on either side. Cork or foam will be placed on top. Track will be Peco for the fiddle yard but hand built in the viewing area. We may use Exactoscale or C&L for this. The hand built points are much cheaper than Peco, but the plain track more expensive. Peco is useful to reduce the time to build the fiddle yard and also increase the reliability. There are some double slips here which are complex to build. There are only 2 double slips in the main layout.
The main area boards are 6' by 3' max reducing towards the ends. There are 12 in all covering the main layout, which can be bolted together top to top for storage, as the boards on one side will match exactly boards on the other. It is suggested that the boards being worked on are kept at the club, while the remaining boards are kept off site. If an operating session is needed, these will be brought to the club. Otherwise scenic work and track laying can be done on the boards at the club. This will occupy members for some while.