Rowandale is loosely based on the Settle Carlisle line in North Yorkshire, in the late LMS period; mostly steam - with only a diesel shunter. The first section is shown in the track plan below; the fainter lines are hidden track. Work is concentrating on this first section. The hidden storage sidings at the rear are under the town, central is the quite extensive goods yard, with the station in front of it on the gently rising main line. At the bottom left the main line crosses a viaduct, over the river, before entering a tunnel.
The base is 5ft by 2ft 6” and is formed from two layers of 2” building insulation foam, into which is carved a deep river valley under the viaduct. Extra height has been added over the tunnel at left with expanding foam. The track bed is formed from thin MDF board with cork on top. Edges are protected with 1/8” ply glued to the foam board; this has proved strong, stable and very light; surviving the removal van with no damage. The track is Peco Code-55 with Electro-frog points. Small button magnets are buries at various locations in the sidings to operate the DG Couplings on the rolling stock.
Temporary semicircular tracks, on a ‘D’ shaped board, have been added at the right hand end to allow continuous running on the main line and give access to the goods yard.Miniature model aircraft servo motors (Type SG-90) are used to operate the points; the servos being mounted just in front of the rear storage tracks and are connected to the points by the wire-in-tube method.The servos are controlled by a small dedicated module, a Pololu Maestro Servo Controller. This is a micro-processor system which has been programmed to accept a route number, sent by a Raspberry-Pi micro computer in the control panel, so that various routes in the sidings and main line can be set with just a single push-button on the control panel. The polarity of the frogs on the points are set with micro-switches operated by the servo motor arms.Control of the locos is using the free open-source software JMRI DeCoder-Pro, running on a second Raspberry-Pi micro computer, with the interface to the track via a USB connection to a SPROG 3, which in turn generates the DCC signals for the track.
Track Plan of goods yard & station section - with temporary ‘D’ loops
This shows the station approach road and bridge over the entrance track to the goods yard. together with the station yard, small goods store and groundwork in the goods yard, including fencing. The engine shed, water tower and turntable are also shown.Retaining walls, with storage units and a couple of shops under the arches, are at the rear of the goods yard, with road access via a ramp. A coal merchants office is also here. Above the retaining wall, at the level of the main town, are various buildings. The front half of this raised section covers the servo motors and controller, which operate the points. The rear half covers the hidden holding tracks.
The buildings over both of these areas are mounted as removable modules to allow access to the tracks & servos underneath. Some of the buildings were originally on the rear of Archie’s Yard, which was originally intended to be a quick lash-up, but did become a full layout.The Midland Railway built its stations to a common design, with three size variations to suit the importance of the station. The station in the layout is based on the small design. They all had characteristic windows and distinctive filigree design of the barge-boards at the roof edges. The goods shed also had distinctive windows. One small business AMBIS Engineering has produced an excellent brass fret of these details for the station & shelter, the goods shed and station master’s house.
A Raspberry-Pi 3B computer is mounted inside the control panel and is used to control the routes for the layout and the displays. A full description of the control system, points controller and loco position sensors is given here:
Rowandale has a comprehensive control & mimic panel. It is A3 size and fitted with route selection push buttons, together with tiny LEDs which indicate the position of locos in the hidden holding bays. To set a route, pressing just the one push-button which lies on the desired route, will set all the points that are required to establish that complete route.There is also a four line by 20 character display screen which indicates the previous routes that have been set. The associated keypad, can be used to perform a number of functions, such as setting the default routes, initiating train lap timing functions, and train holding features.It is also used to perform various system tests, such as checking all the LEDs on the control panel.
Click on , for a blog of the Development of Rowandale.
For detailed photos of the buildings see:
The lighting is by small filament bulbs, either the grain of wheat or the even smaller grain of rice.They are 12v bulbs run at 9v, for long life and subdued glow. I find that even the warm-white LEDs are rather harsh by comparison.
The disadvantage of using filament bulbs is their current consumption. The grain of wheat bulbs used in the engine and goods sheds draw 60ma each. The houses and most of the other buildings use the grain of rice bulbs which draw 27ma. The total for Rowandale is about 3A, so it needs a 9v 4A power supply. An advantage with bulbs is you do not have to worry about polarity of the feed.
All the buildings and structures (apart from the signal box) are built in card using the downloaded kits and texture sheets from the Scalescenes range; some of the building kits being heavily modified.
Once the goods yard and station section is completed then it is planned to remove the temporay ‘D’ loops and extend the layout to a long country scene. See here for the planned extension.