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Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Sea Siding


D869

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I was going to find some modern marketing speak for 'digging up the track' but the language used by the real railway is now so far detached from reality that I decided against it.

 

As most readers will know, St Ruth is 'based on' Penzance but exactly how far that goes is rather flexible. Starting from the pre-1938 track plan, the very first departure from reality that we made was to add a headshunt to the goods yard and then continue this along the sea wall as a goods loop. This has been very successful in allowing operation to continue in the yard without interfering with trains on the main line as well as making life easier for arriving and departing goods trains.

 

So... we're going to change it.

 

No, we're not going back to a strict adherence to the pre-1938 plan. Instead we are stealing a little bit of the post-1938 layout in this area. The new plan will still have a loop (which will double as a headshunt) but we will reverse the crossover that provides access to the loop at the 'up' end.

 

Why would we want to do that?

 

Well, it allows some prototypical empty coaching stock moves that we currently can't do. The real thing (both before and after 1938) had the ability to push empty coaches back out of the platforms and into a siding on the sea wall called the 'sea siding'. After 1938 there were two of them (called the long one and the short one). We only have room for one (like the pre-38 plan) but we will keep the loop line between the sea siding and the goods yard (like the post-38 plan).

 

The work on this started several months back - the new control panel diagram and the starting signals that cover moves over the scissors crossover already assume that the sea siding is there but we've always had things coming up that have put us off actually making the trackwork changes. Nobody has complained about the rather spurious extra signal arms. Now we plan to make the changes before the next show (Aldershot in October). Here are some photos of the new crossover on my workbench. It's built with the now discontinued 'Easiline' chairplate system to match the rest of St Ruth's track... with thanks to several people who sent me their left over stocks of chairplates.

 

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The template was done in a slightly convoluted way. First I took a paper 'brass rubbing' of the track. Then I left this in my bag for several weeks. With the next meeting approaching I finally got round to plotting the curves out in CAD by measuring the XY coordinates using a ruler and then joining the dots. I did an initial rough stab at drawing the pointwork using the same CAD templates that we used for the rest of the track before finally deciding that Templot might be a much better bet for drawing curved pointwork. The original CAD tracing was then loaded into Templot and used to locate and 'bend' the templates for the new points at our last meeting.

 

The resulting template is pretty rough and ready because there was no time (or expertise) to sort out niceties like correcting the sleeper spacing but having printed it and checked it against the real track, that became the template for the job.

 

All being well the saws and scrapers will be out to do some serious track modifications at our next meeting on Tuesday. We need to make a gap for the new crossover just east of the scissors and (hopefully) slot it into place. Then we need to rip out the original crossover which is even further to the east and replace this with some plain track, plus shift the point motors and associated gubbins. The job will also entail moving one of the signals - naturally it's the route indicating home signal with call-on arm - the one with 5 servos underneath. I will probably use the opportunity to fit some beefier wires to this signal because it does have a tendency to get stuck.

 

Another job (later) will be to have another crack at the 3 doll starter bracket for the scissors. This was fitted in time for Railex earlier this year but the 3 foot arm that covers the sea siding shunt never quite worked properly once the thing was painted - not too big a problem when it covered a move over a non-existent crossover.

 

Finally of course we need to re-jig some of the empty stock moves in the operating sequence and figure out how to arrive and depart good trains from the already cramped goods yard without using the loop.

 

UPDATE:

 

We've passed the point of no return now :O I didn't quite get as much done as I had hoped tonight though...

 

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I also found a couple of photos on my camera that I took during the earlier stages of the build and then forgot about so thought I'd add them so that you can check out my hi-tech crossing soldering jig.

 

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Great blog title Andy :D

 

That's a brave move (but in keeping with the 2FS's on here who like to rip up track occasionally) but seems to make perfect sense to increase operating scenarios.

 

As much as I like easitrac, there is still something wonderful about seeing handmade soldered trackwork.

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As much as I like easitrac, there is still something wonderful about seeing handmade soldered trackwork.

Thanks Pete. I think that when it comes to pointwork I am very much in the 'tried and tested' camp. I know that my soldered pointwork still works even when it's more than 20 years old. I also know that my own way of building points needs me to make adjustments to get rail alignments correct and curves looking smooth (instead of like a 'thrupenny bit'). That's not to say that there is no other way but this way works for me.

 

I have no doubt though that when I next need significant lengths of plain track in public view then I'll be giving Easitrac a try.

 

Regards, Andy

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Having built bullhead turnouts in several gauges, I find the robustness of soldered construction really does take some beating. It then makes sense to build short interconnecting sections of plain track the same way.

 

For longer sections of plain bullhead track, Easitrac is superb for the job - just as long as you can put up with the difference in appearance to the soldered pointwork.

 

For flat-bottomed track in 2mm scale, soldered turnout construction seems the only real option to me. For plain F/B track, Easitrac has large blobs of plastic to hold the rail in place - understandable in practical terms. With careful construction, plain soldered 2mm track looks marginally better to my eye, but this has to be weighed against the time it takes to build long sections of it.

 

Glad you have the confidence to learn from operating St Ruth and make it even better than it already was.

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For flat-bottomed track in 2mm scale, soldered turnout construction seems the only real option to me. For plain F/B track, Easitrac has large blobs of plastic to hold the rail in place - understandable in practical terms. With careful construction, plain soldered 2mm track looks marginally better to my eye, but this has to be weighed against the time it takes to build long sections of it.

 

Glad you have the confidence to learn from operating St Ruth and make it even better than it already was.

I have not had much contact with FB track although checking steam era photos of Cornwall and also the Somerset & Dorset suggests that perhaps we should be using more of it.

 

On the operating side I expect that it will make life more tricky for the already overstretched goods yard operator but it will give a bit more obvious 'purpose' to some of our propelling moves. Even though the moves are correct for Penzance I think that some people thought we were working a push-pull service. Some ECS moves will still propel to 'Long Rock' (aka the fiddle yard) though. We don't want to leave long rakes in the sea siding for long periods because they will interrupt the punters' view of trains on the main lines.

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I have not had much contact with FB track although checking steam era photos of Cornwall and also the Somerset & Dorset suggests that perhaps we should be using more of it.

 

On the operating side I expect that it will make life more tricky for the already overstretched goods yard operator but it will give a bit more obvious 'purpose' to some of our propelling moves. Even though the moves are correct for Penzance I think that some people thought we were working a push-pull service. Some ECS moves will still propel to 'Long Rock' (aka the fiddle yard) though. We don't want to leave long rakes in the sea siding for long periods because they will interrupt the punters' view of trains on the main lines.

 

Yeah, it's surprising just how much FB was around on main and secondary lines even in the mid-1950s, never mind the 1960s. - Yet looking at most model railways, you would almost think that FB didn't appear until the rail blue era - or even later?!?!?

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Yeah, it's surprising just how much FB was around on main and secondary lines even in the mid-1950s, never mind the 1960s. - Yet looking at most model railways, you would almost think that FB didn't appear until the rail blue era - or even later?!?!?

Although I'm sure I've seen the quip in several books and DVDs that seeing track renewal in the 1960s was a sure prediction that a line would close within a year or two.

 

Regards, Andy

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Although I'm sure I've seen the quip in several books and DVDs that seeing track renewal in the 1960s was a sure prediction that a line would close within a year or two.

 

Regards, Andy

 

There was some truth in that - many lines were in a dreadful state by the end of WW2, so even some minor lines needed renewal - though sometimes with second-hand materials.

 

On the other hand, busy main lines often needed renewing every 10-12 years, so parts of them might have been relaid a couple of times in FB rail by the rail blue era, with no risk of closure.

 

The decision to switch to FB rail was made very early in BR days. Some of the big four experimented with it in the 1930s.

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That is a high tech crossing jig compared to my piece of paper with two lines on!

 

I'm obviously going to have to work a bit harder on my 'back to basics' strategy.

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