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The station turntable

Richard T


So to the final step in the tracklaying for Clachbeg—I can distinctly remember not all that long ago when I did not think I would ever reach this point! I have been lucky enough to have had some time off, and have been determined to get to this point before returning to work; laying the trackwork is an extended undertaking, whereas many other tasks are more discreet in nature.


The station turntable serves to turn incoming locos before they embark upon the six-mile return trip to Mains, and also to turn the passenger brake such that the brakesman’s compartment is to the rear of the train. It measures 10'4" across the bridge, ample for the short wheelbase rolling stock it will be used for.


The model is a kit from Kitwood Hill Models designed for G scale and the kit is designed for US practice, however is close enough to the original to serve well at Clachbeg. The kit is made of plywood, but the finished model will represent a plate steel bridge set in a concrete pit with boarded sides.





This shows the first stages of the kit completed: the baseplate with the ring rail soldered to PCB sleeperettes and the framing of the pit wall connecting to the outer rim. All laser-cut and an excellent snug fit; no filing or fettling required.




I sprayed the base quickly to get rid of the fresh timber appearance, and the transformation was very effective. This is a single coat of Chaos Black. The turning plate upon which the bridge will sit is unpainted.




The bridge assembly is straightforward and satisfying, the parts fitting square and firmly. I glued it together with cyanoacrylate in places and with white glue in places. Here the wheel frames are being glued to the completed bridge frame (which I had stained before assembly).





The supplied motor and gearbox. This unit requires quite a deep hole in the baseboard. The motor runs very smoothly and the gearing results in a slow movement, however I found that the turntable plate had to be aligned very precisely for the motor to be able to turn it... a quick test with a weighted bridge confirmed that the motor is not robust enough to cope with this scale. Given the location of the turntable right at the front of the layout this is not a problem, so I decided simply to leave the motor aside and to operate the turntable by hand, as the prototype was operated.





Measuring the baseboard before cutting the pit. One cannot have enough rulers...


The outer rim of the turntable encroaches on the loading gauge of the goods siding, however the 8' way between track centres allows for the turning of 9'-long rolling stock even if the goods siding is occupied by a full-width wagon. The loco used from 1933 onwards, a Plymouth 3-ton switcher, measures 8'7" long. Of course, in case of a longer longer loco, the goods siding would simply have to be cleared first...





Cutting out the pit. The white glue used between the foam board sheets proved remarkably tenacious; on the other hand the strata of the boards provided a flat and level base.





Thanks more to serendipity than planning, the tops of the sleepers lined up with the rail surface of the turntable bridge without any further ado.





Another view which shows how this final piece of the trackwork literally fills the last available corner of the layout.





Checking the length of the approach rails.


I have painted the turntable bridge with a grey rust-effect paint to represent plate metal; the paint should slowly rust. By contrast the timbers will remain stained wood.


The rails are my usual 25lb/yd, fitted to the plastic chairs supplied with the kit. The chairs (actually representations of clips bolted to tieplates) are designed for Code 250 “flat-bottomed” rail whose foot is in fact no wider than its head; with minimal opening of the aperture I was able to slide the Code 205 rail into the “chairs”. They raised the rail minimally, which I was able to compensate for by sanding the foam board base gently with coarse sandpaper, before pressing the turntable well back into the pit.




Glueing the approach template and turntable in place, the weights ensuring rail top alignment.




Initial inspection by the Works Engineer. The turntable rails have been painted with a rust colour, but I am not happy with it, it looks too flat and solid. The approach rails have yet to be spiked and fished.





After some research I fabricated a simple buffer stop made of three lengths of rail. In practice the stub of rail beyond the turntable was largely buried and never used. The approach rail fishplates lie ready for installation.




Another view of the turntable with its buffer stop. The stub rails need to be nudged closer to the turntable to close that gap, even though no wheels should ever cross it.




Final approval by the Works Engineer! He appears not to have noticed the fishplates still lying awaiting installation (so had I until I saw the photograph).


Apart from two other buffer stops, the trackwork of Clachbeg is now complete (although I shall have to paint the rails and weather the sleepers and ballast it all, of course...).

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