Isle of Wight Steam

Over the Christmas period I started looking at the Isle of Wight railways. I wanted something to do that wasn’t as demanding as the programming I was working on, and something different as a break from my major layout projects.

The Isle of Wight (in steam days) looked like an interesting project:

  • Relatively small self-contained area.
  • Interesting network of lines (if you include all the branches: Freshwater, Cowes, Bembridge and both Ventnors)
  • Some interesting operations (and quite busy in the Ryde area)
  • Small range of stock required - mainly O2 tank engines
  • Reasonable amount of source materal available (eg Middleton Press series)

What was available

My plan was to prepare a map and digitise the main routes, before filling in the detailed track plans, station by station. I knew there was an O2 model in the library and some pre-grouping coaches, so I thought the core stock was available.


Getting Started

I prepared a map, and set up a digitiser session. Then I remembered the strm dem data and decided to use this for the terrain. I downloaded the relevant section and using the method previously described (SRTM Terrain Step-by- Step)created a terrain set for the Island. This worked really well, except in low lying areas - the low ground around Bembridge and Brading didn’t come out well, and the strm data seems to have problems with coastlines. So - where required - I added in the coastline terrain points by hand and also adjusted the lowliying points around Bembridge. I also had to do some work on the sands around Ryde - and becuase I wanted the mainland to be visible from Ryde - I also put in the coastline terrain points by hand.



Once I started using it, I grew dissatisfied with the existing O2 model. For starters it did not have proper animated wheels and motion - and I thought about adding these. But the more I looked at it, the more things I spotted that were wrong with the model, so I decided to start from scratch. I had a photo of the iwsr’s O2 that was more or less plan on, so I used this as a template (and for a while considered using it as the texture for the model). The front end of the model is more or less complete, but I have done very little on the cab and frames as yet:



Initially I was using Mark Hodson’s lswr coaches, but it became apparant that these were really imapcting the frame rate. These models were designed before textures and skins were implemented in the program, so I wondered if it was possible to make a model that used textures to simulate the 3D effect, and ran at a reasonable frame rate.

I’m still working on this, but results are encouraging:


This runs at very good speeds - I have a little test layout with two different versions of the O2 (br and Southern liveries) and four varieties of the coach - and the whole thing runs at better than 16fps


The layout

One interesting area is Ryde pier. I’ve adapated the components of Mark Hodson’s southend pier model.


Note the coach shown here is incomplete - I haven’t done the underframe yet, and I need to model the pier head - that pier on the left ends rather abruptly! You can just see the end of the steamer - Mark Hodson’s (again) paddle steamer, also on the “todo” list to make a decent model of the iow ferry.



I’m having some problems finding information on some of the terrain and gradients. For example, I can’t find a gradient profile of the Ryde to Ventnor line, so the gradients and elevations are pieced together from little snippets like the descent from Ryde Esplanade to the tunnel is 1 in 50, Ventor station is 294 ft above sea level etc as well as reading contour lines from the map where possible. While I have been able to produce reasonable gradients on the line, it has led to some inprobably deep cuttings and high embankments in places - so either the gradients need adjusting, or the terrain does. If anyone can locate the gradient profile - or is able to advise me on aspects like cutting depth at specific points - I’d be interested. Come the warmer weather it might be possible to visit the island and walk the trackbed in places to resolve this issue, but for now I’ll have to work on guesswork.



I found that using Google Earth I could get a good idea of where the cuttings and embankments were - and an idea of how big they are. Using this method, I’ve got the terrain on the Ventnor line to my satisfaction - for now at least :-)

I’ve also done some work on Ryde pier:


1st Feb

More progress on the island.

The tank loco is coming along, and is now substantially complete apart from the cab details:


I’ve also created a bus, as there were no road vehicle of a suitable vintage available:


The mainline from Ryde to Ventnor is coming along nicely, and I have added the Sandown to Newport line and laid out Newport station.

My work so far has been written up in an article for the Virtual railroad journal.



You can download the layout so far from http://www.rail3d.net/layouts/Isle%20of%20Wight.trp



MRG 26/06/2013 11:17:33