The Silverfox LNER loco No. 2512

SilverFox DCC Model Railway Club

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Watkin Magna (00 Gauge)

Watkin Magna is the club’s main OO gauge layout which is being built to exhibition standards.

July 2012

Since our last update of the website, there has been much progress on the Watkin Magna layout. All but two of the baseboards have been completed by the board team.

It has always been the clubs goal is to have this layout running, although in a work in progress state, for our exhibition on the 18th August; therefore, over the past 6 to 8 weeks there have been frantic efforts to provide temporary boards that will provide the final links. Once these temporary links where in place, it allowed the track laying team to complete the track for the main running tracks.

On the 24th July the final ends of the tracks where joined to provide a fully running circuit ready for the exhibition. The final push will be to complete the electrical wiring which will then allow trains to operate on the layout.

Once the exhibition is over then these temporary boards will be replaced with the final baseboard sections, the track will be re-laid and the branch line completed, in readiness for next year’s exhibition.

Please come along to our exhibition to see the layout in its current work in progress state actually running locomotives.

The pictures below show the progress of this layout and a video of the inaugural run can be seen here.


Following our exhibition, planning for the wiring of the layout started. This will include block detection and visual loco positioning displays. This includes using the MERG CBUS technology and servo’s for point control.  Using the MRG kits will involve the members in building these electronic circuits. The plans have been produced and the work is starting on wiring the fiddle yard boards as a test base.

It has also been decided to change the method of holding the track at the board joints.  The new method involves bonding aluminium strips to the board edges and then replacing the plastic sleepers with ones cut from cooper bonded sheets, these will then be bonded to the aluminium and the rails will then solder to the cooper sheet sleepers.  This work is very extensive and will take quite some time, but has the advantage that aligning the boards will be easy and accurate.

The last few boards are progressing well and it is hoped to have these complete by the time the layout is moved to the new clubhouse.


At last Watkin Magna has come home to its room in our new clubhouse. It taken a number of club nights to assemble and level the layout in its new home, but this is now complete.  We can now finish the construction of the final baseboard and it is hoped that this will be completed by the middle of March.

In the meantime, work has started on the wiring of the individual boards. It has been decided that the layout will be controlled using the MERG CANBUS system, this will take some time but it will be worth it in the end.

The other major item of remedial work that is required is the replacement of the track connectors at the baseboard junctions; this was originally done using tubes soldered to the track at the baseboard joints and aligned using rods through the tubes.  This method did not work as it was hoped, so it has been decided to fix aluminium strips at the joints in place of the cork, on to the aluminium will be fixed copper clad sleepers on to which the rails will be soldered.  This will take some time to complete.

APRIL 2013

The final baseboards are work in progress and will be completed this month, once these are completed, the board team will commence work on the baseboards for the new club N gauge layout.

All of the current board joints have now had the new aluminium strips added and the fiddle yard has been relaid with the track now firmly fixed to the aluminium via copper clad sleepers which have been bonded to the aluminium. This will make all of the joints better aligned and less chance of any damage during transportation to exhibitions.

The relaying of the track for the rest of the layout has also started and it is hoped this will be completed by June.

The wiring on the fiddle yard will be completed once all of the board joints in that area are completed.

Main fiddle yard area Fiddle Yard point motors & DCC controllers Discussing the finer points over a brew


Phase 1

Following the decision to completely rewire the layout some months ago, we can now report that Phase 1 has been completed and the layout has been re-assembled to enable trains to run once again.

A universal layout control system developed by MERG has been adapted for use on Watkin Magna.

This uses CANBUS (Controlled Area Network bus) wiring system which is the product of over many years development by MERG members.


At its basic level, we want a system to both look and operate like a conventional ‘hard wired’ system using a control panel with switches to operate turnouts and simple route setting.  It also has to operate as a ‘CAB bus’ for DCC systems, so handsets (CABs) could be connected to a DCC command station using the same wiring.  At the other extreme, we want to allow for full computer control, using a laptop computer, which would enable fully automated train movements”.

MERG (Model Electronic Railway Group) is an international, UK based group promoting interest in the application of electronics & computers to all aspects of railway modelling (

Protocol Adopted:

In view of the size and complexity of Watkin Magna, it was decided to separate the operation of accessories (points, signals etc.) from the running of trains. An LBC (Layout Control Bus - MERG CANBUS) was installed to operate point motors; point position; signals; train detection etc. and a NCE DCC system (generously given to the club by former member Malcolm Alberry to control the locomotives.

The track is powered by three separate 'DCC power buses'.

The CANBUS system is powered by two power buses and a CANdata bus.

An additional power bus has been installed for non-CANBUS layout lighting and other accessories that may be installed in the future. This dual system will allow for the smooth realistic running of trains by manual control and the operation of signals linked to the points and eventually for the full automatic control of all trains by computer.

Phase  2

This is already underway and will result in all the points on the layout becoming operational in the not too distant future.

The Watkin Magna Layout.  The 'Fiddle Yard' area is painted grey. The Southern End where there will eventually be a viaduct over a reservoir (Based on Swithland Reservoir, Leicestershire)

The Watkin Magna Layout.  The 'Fiddle Yard' area is painted grey.

The Southern End where there will eventually be a viaduct over a reservoir (Based on Swithland Reservoir, Leicestershire)

Mid part of Watkin Magna where there will be a main Line Station.

Mid part of Watkin Magna where there will be a main Line Station.

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MARCH 2016

Good progress has been made in recent weeks by the Watkin Magna Team, which meets every Wednesday and Thursday.  

The branch line boards (High Level) have been strengthened, the wiring tidied up and the boards are now back in place.

Three cut-out switches have been fitted to prevent any electrical 'shorts' damaging loco decoders.

Work is continuing on rectifying a number of track defects, which means that the main lines will be out of action for the next two Mondays until work can be completed to replace the track nearest the emergency door, which has been causing trains to derail. Please note therefore that Watkin Magna is not likely to running again until Monday evening 11th April.  Sorry about this inconvenience.

The Control Panel for the fiddle yard is operational and ten points are now operated by this.

28 September 2017

This morning we had Watkin Magna (excluding the branch line) working with all turnouts fully functional so the main line and sidings, including the fiddle yard, are now operational.