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Served Up On A Tray - Dessert




We left the Boxfile last time safely installed on its new tea-tray, but with the track joints still to patch, and scenery to touch up.


The track joints were not at all good - they never have been. In the worst place I think there was a horrifying 4mm long gap in the railhead.


The solution was a bodge I've used in one or two places on Blacklade, though not on quite such a scale. This is to cut a sliver of 40
thou plasticard and superglue it in place in the gap. Once the cyano has thoroughly set - i.e. after an hour or two - trim it down to rail level with a sharp craft knife, and the gap is patched. The plasticard "railhead" will inevitably show white, but the patches are normally very short, and the wheel ought to be fully supported across what was once a void - with all the benefits that implies in running


This is fine if you have a fishplate underneath. You then have a firm base on which your scrap of plasticard can rest , and to which it can also be glued.


However thanks to my losing battle with the fishplates, in several places I didn't have that luxury. At least on the middle road (cue a photo so you can see what we're talking about) there were plastic insulated fishplates underneath, even if they didn't actually connect with one side.


I managed to get scraps of plasticard in place and solidly set with superglue . I trimmed them down - the rail is now more or less continuous - but unfortunately this revealed that the track is not quite flat across this joint, and small 4 wheel shunters may stall at this point and need a touch of the finger. Admittedly it's a lot better than watching the Y3 claw itself out of a pit, like a WW1 tank crossing a trench.


The final joint was rather more trouble, and desperate expedients were tried. I superglued a scrap in microstrip in the rail web across the gap, I packed the Gaping Void with scraps of balsa and bits of Exactoscale support foam , and once the Void was no longer bottomless I managed to superglue another scrap of 40 thou in place in the gap. I left it a couple of hours to set completely , and trimmed down the plasticard - fixed.


The Exactoscale foam proved an excellent colour match for the ash ballast, and I packed the gaps . Then I managed to find the original black flock to sprinkle over it - and found that the original black flock was not a colour match with the rest of the "ash ballast". I had to resort to off-black paint let down with grey - and it still isn't a perfect match , though you won't notice this in the photo.


The next job was trying to restore the rubbed areas of the Metcalfe cobbling . I tried a grey watercolour wash, in the hope this would penetrate the card, so that the colour would persist. Colour-matching again proved a little tricky - and how far it will resist continued cleaning we will see. But for the moment at least the damage has been patched up.


Then I test ran a few locos - and was sharply reminded of the running problems with the Boxfile. Further action required...


As Warley was only a few days away, I headed for the West Midlands with resolution, my debit card and a list. On the Saturday evening I returned with a DCC Concepts rolling road, and a new Tenshodo for the Y3 - the existing one being a hopeless case. Branchlines sold me a 26mm wheelbase unit, which they tell me is what it should take. This replaces a 28.7mm unit, which is what
was recommended when I built it.


The Knightwing shunter was given a good long run on the rolling road and is greatly improved . The Boxfile's worst two locos are now as good as the best..


Then I started testing the wagons in a fit of enthusiasm - and it rapidly became clear that all was not well. To cut a long story short, I ended up testing all the wagons , and even resorted to generating a spreadsheet...


The problems largely involve wagons derailing when entering the back road which serves the cold store and wagon hoist. Clearly this is not an issue caused by a dodgy joint between boxfiles. In principle it's a track issue, but it's exposing marginal problems with the wagons. And since "the rules of the game" require all wagons to go under the hoist first, the problems need to be sorted out.


The spreadsheet logs wagon description, weight, wheel type, company, work needed, whether compensation units could be fitted, and performance - Go (meaning it runs consistently reliably in both directions through both roads, either way round), Go? (a slight query over reliable running), Marginal (it derails intermittently) and No Go (consistently derails in one or more of the permutations)


When wagons stopped because of broken or missing couplings were added to the equation I had a wretched 14 wagons serviceable out of 32...


Of 11 vehicles marked No Go or Marginal , 7 have Romford wheels. 8 of them weigh 35g or less - none weigh the full 50g, though several were only a little short


A GE open weighing only 30g on Hornby wheels is Go. So is a compensated single bolster weighing 35g


Action was taken. Three wagons have had broken couplings fixed and are back in traffic. Two more have been fitted with Sprat and Winkles and released to traffic. The Blue Spot fish , which looked a bit too big anyway , has been repainted rail blue and consigned to Blacklade; I've pushed on with the MICA which is to replace it , and which only needs varnish and couplings. A fish van has received Hornby wheels and been pushed up to 50g - it's now fine


I aim to finish off a couple more wagons this weekend, but I now have 22 serviceable wagons (plus 3 more which are unsuitable for the Boxfile anyway)


And so the current state of play....




The LNER van has acquired its couplings, the PO coke has had a coupling mended, and the MICA awaits a varnish coat and couplings

Edited by Ravenser

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