Sheffield Park

Construction and Landscaping

I had read about various methods for laying down the foundations of a model railway but decided to use locally available and economic, if somewhat oversized, 2"x4" and 2"x2" Hemlock framing topped off with ½" good-one-side plywood. This frame isn't fixed in place to the walls of the room but the fit is so snug it isn't going anywhere soon.

To provide some relief, on top of this basic frame, I applied thin sheets of Styrofoam, glued together one layer on top of another, carved into shape to produce a contoured effect and smoothed over with drywall mud. This proved to very easy to do, somewhat messy but quite heavy; however, the end effect is very realistic. I then covered this all in appropriate sprinkle-on landscaping material held in place with diluted white glue.

Aerial view An aerial view of north end of both platforms with the N Class awaiting to depart on its journey.
An aerial view of main station arrangements. Aerial view
The code 75 Peco track outside of the main station area is laid on sponge foam tapered base pieces, in what I understand is a typical fashion, which in turn are glued directly onto the plywood. However, the lines and points throughout the station area are laid directly onto ¼" thick foam core board as a simple means of keeping everything flat and in an effort to dampen any noise from running trains. It certainly has kept the track flat, but it has not dampened any noise (thought for another layout!). All points are operated remotely by piano wire through bicycle brake sleeve material. This works for the most part, but I have learned that once fixed in place it is very difficult to clean or tweak for better operation.
Coaling stage The coaling stage with crane, E2, IOW Terrier, and N Class all waiting.
Detail of inside modified coal truck at coaling stage. Inside coal truck
View from south View from the south.
I have also included a short section of 009 narrow gauge track that leads to a model of the original milking stage. The Mid Sussex Dairy survived just south of Sheffield Park station until 1933. It would dispatch a hand pulled cart up the incline once a day to the station, with one churn going to Buckingham Palace.

The few fences that separate track from open field areas, or which separate field from field, are all hand made using scale profile spruce and piano wire. The trees are also hand built, but not all by me. As these fences and trees were some of the first items built from scratch, it is quite easy to see how today's skills could improve upon the outcome.


The up and down platform buildings are radically different in style and original building materials. The main station building, on the down platform, is a brick structure with many stone framed windows. The upper floor of this building was designed and built using a decorative exposed wooden framework and plaster panels. While this proved to be unsatisfactory in real life - it apparently leaked like a sieve - I chose to model it this way to offer a more pleasing finished article than the later vertical clay tiling. All windows but those in the south wall, and all the doors are scratch built because I could not find suitable pre-fabricated units.

On the other hand, the up platform building is a wooden structure and is far simpler in design and construction. Again, I chose to build to the plans even though I believe certain details were altered during construction. This was my first model building, and I would certainly do things differently if I were building it today. For instance, I would use thin plywood or plastic stock as the base frame and apply a suitable surface finish. I have actually built it all using balsa wood and this is not as stable as I'd like nor is it rigid enough to maintain straight lines. The front wall somehow twisted and warped a few days after I had set in some Juneco white metal windows and doors. (Juneco is a family run Canadian business that produces bits and pieces of fine quality and detail.)

Station It's now 2004 and the station is almost complete.
Some of the details needed to finish are: guttering and drainpipes; flashing; finials; door signs and knockers; etc. Also waiting to be fitted, of course, is the platform canopy. Station
The covered wooden footbridge I also built to the plans. The original was constructed this way and lasted until its demolition in 1949. Unfortunately I have over-weathered it and need to tone it down a bit; but that's on the "to-do" list. (I'm sure you know what I mean; that list that grows faster than one can get to it.)

I have not yet built the original north or south signal boxes, but have experimented with a stock Ratio Midlands Region plastic kit, bashed to look somewhat Southern; and while it is quite out of place with the rest of the layout, it will stay for now. The interior is fully equipped and the roof is removable to show this off.

Station Note the internal detail, including a member of staff in the booking hall.
The detailed interior of the Signalbox. Note the Signalman's bicycle propped up against the box! Inside Signalbox

All photographs are copyright

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This page was last updated 17 March 2006

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