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When ignorance is not always bliss and improvisation has its cost

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Where ignorance is not always bliss and improvisation has its cost

Background:   I am a GB expat, born in 1933 and have lived practically two thirds of my life outside the UK. My first memories of railway modelling go back to pre-1939 when I seem to remember an O gauge set up on top of the table with the rails plugged in direct to the mains and the locos had rods sticking out from the cab to control them. My father said you had to be careful not to get an electric shock. The next memories date to the 1942-3 period when I was invited with a distant cousin by

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Lima Collection - Trams

In October, my wife and I had a holiday in Geneva with a daughter who was working there with the WTO. On the Saturday, she took us to the flea market where there was a lot of rubbish on offer, but one lady had 3 or 4 of the Lima Tram collection. I didn't buy then, because I wasn't quite convinced of its suitability for my layout. Nevertheless, a few weeks later another daughter went to see her sister in Geneva and I asked them to buy one for me, It is the Düwag Partywagen, nº 208041 as shown bel

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Assessing the "earthquake" damage

In my last post I said that my layout had suffered something comparable to an earthquake. Yesterday I managed to have it lifted off the floor and placed on its trestles and set about assessing the damage. One street lamp damaged, the station platform illumination does not come on, one station building had lost a chimney pot, some of the columns supporting the ramp up to the bridge had broken away from their bases, two under floor point motors had become disengaged from the track and one track jo

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Signal Box repair

Good eveninng all. I think (i.e. hope) that the end of ballasting is reasonably near. There are only a few metres lest to be done. The downside is that, no matter how hard I try, I cannot do a neat job. On the other hand, one of the two signal boxes (Metcalfe) kits was a bit decrepit and damaged, namely, it had lost its steps (kept safe in another place) and the top storey had become separated from the ground floor on three sides, whereby it could be opened like a box. Its chimney also fouled th

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Water Tower

Helo again. My layout is based on a track plan from the 1975 Hornby catalogue and does not contain a water tower and, from the range of accessories illustrated in the catalogue, it does not appear that any was available. The front cover of te catalogue, which is a colour photograph of this same plan, shows an engine shed and steam locomotives, so water would have been required. Some time back, I purchased a Peco Water tower and, when placed on the baseboard, it seemed very low. So, I made a base

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Another type of modelling

It has been over three weeks since I have been able to lower the layout from the garage ceiling since the floor has been, and still is, occupied with Christmas material. Firstly, it was the boxes containing the Christmas decorations, then it was the boxes containing 37 5-litre bottles of olive oil (we buy first press virgin olive oil for all the family and friends for the whole year direct from the mill) and, after the oil had been delivered to its destinations, the floor was filled with boxes o

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Still plodding on

Things seem to be moving forward again in the direction of getting back to the situation prior to the accident. Last Sunday we had a family visit and with the aid of my son-in-law (a Jack-of-all-trades for my wife and me) I managed to get the layout tipped edge on again to be able to work on the underside since, at my age, my body is no longer supple enough to do contortions to work underneath. I reconnected a couple of point motors and then started testing them all. I found that one was not wor

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Playing trains

Hi all! As stated in my last post, after nearly seven years of messing about with my layout (and messing it up), I have now reached the state where I can seriously think about “playing trains” So I got various models out of their boxes and, after cleaning the track with IPA (which, to my surprise, is sold at chemists here) I started trying them. The result is that my Bachmann DMUs (Class 108 and 156) performed reasonably well although the 156 derailed two or three times at the same turnout in

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Just expressing my feelings

Hi all again! Since I can’t make any positive movement forward on my layout, I feel I must let off steam with this note. I have a list of jobs to be done: 1. Improve the lighting in the garage, not only for better illumination of the layout, but also for all uses of the garage. 2. I have to replace four pulleys of the hoisting system which do not rotate when the baseboard is being lowered or raised. Fortunately the cords used are Kevlar mountaineering cord which seems to resist the friction a

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Story of an Engine Shed, part 2

I can now update on this subject. In the last entry, I placed several photos and will repeat one, namely, the shed in the wrong place In the end, I decided to chop the shed down to its original height by removing the supplements I added several years ago. The photo also shows the door posts I had to remove. When I relaid all the track early last year to improve the dcc feeds I did not take into account the track centre-to-centre distances nor was I too careful in seeing that the straight sectio

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Ballasting

Since I relaid the whole track using cork underlay instead of the previous foam underlay I have been faced with the problem of decent ballasting. Since, for reasons explained in previous posts, I used a 5 mm thick cork, I now have the problem of how to disguise this steep step. I tried gluing 7 mm wide cardboard strips at an angle to form a hypotenuse and, in some places it seems o.k. but in others not because I did not get the ballast to stick properly. Finally, I decided to glue a twine in the

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I am still alive, in spite of all.

I have just realIised that six months have passed since my last post and a lot of things (not all pleasant) have passed in the meantime. To be brief, In May I was rushed into hospital with a lung edema (lings full of blood) and was discharged a week later with a new addition, namely a stent. Then I had a couple of short visits (a few hours each time) for a nose hemorrhage and a heart block). On the pleasant side, there was a trip to the UK to visit relatives and old friends (in spite of my age a

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Success confirmed

As mentioned in the last but one post, it is now nine years since I started out on this adventure and I think I can now say that we are in in a position to play trains. The layout is far from finished scenically, as ripping up and relaying the track caused a lot of damage. but no dead spots appear on the track. It seems, however, that some vehicles do not like the track, as mentioned in a previous post, and one of my best runners, the Class 150 DMU, started playing up again. When travelling forw

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The story of an Engine Shed

When I started placing scenic elements on the layout, I discarded resin made items because of their weight (to avoid overloading the electric motor raising and lowering the baseboard) and price and opted for a Metcalfe Card Kit. I then decided to place it in a different site from the one shown on the layout. It was not fixed in place because, at that time, I had Hornby buffer stops which clip onto the rails and any slight blow from a locomotive can dislodge them and it would have been very diffi

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Progress(?) report

What is progress? Is it having more on your board than you had before or is it that some things that didn’t work well now work a bit better? I had to replace a surface mounted point motor. Previously all units had passed well, albeit by a hair’s breadth. After replacement I discovered that the non-powered driver car of my push-pull double deck commuter rake (the first double deck units introduced by RENFE prior to the genuine EMUs) was hitting the motor. The point in question is situated right

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Untitled

I have not written a specific tite because what I have got to say this time is only partly connected with modelling. I have just come back from a fortnight in Portugal and had intended to have a ‘drive’ on my layout to try and approach a finish (those of you approaching my age may remember the G.P.O. drives post-war to install as many telephones as possible, party lines included). While away, I had seen and purchased in Lidl a digital caliper, so I decided to try it out on my problem DMU Class

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Hallelujah

Hi all! I think to-day that I can safely say, after nearly seven years, that work on the underside of my baseboard is finished. There is one detail that I cannot finish for the time being. It is a motor that requires AC and, since I have converted everything else to DC, it will not work. Perhaps when I can purchase a new, more complete controller than my current start set. The turnouts all work and the lights also. Since I had reformed the dropper wiring I tested a locomotive, which also worked

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Getting nearer to a workable layout

Hi all! As mentioned in a previous post I replaced my 14 Vac point motor control for 12 Vdc and purchased a new controller to replace the old Piko start kit. This meant that the 14V transformer became available to power the new controller. Since, as can be seen from the enclosed images, the transformer is relatively large and was previously mounted on the baseboard, I decided that I did not want either the transformer or the controller to be permanently attached to the baseboard. So, I installe

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Plodding on and still learning the hard way

I have been writing up this contribution bit by bit for nearly a month now (editing as and when necessary), but since progress has been slow for various reasons, not all related to the layout itself, I have decided to make a post. I am an assiduous reader of almost all of the blogs and, while it is no great consolation, it is encouraging to see that more experienced modellers make mistakes and confess them. Since I am basically optimistic I refuse to give up unless I am absolutely forced to and

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New platform

I mentioned in my last post that I was building an additional new platform so that I could have two trains running simultaneously and both would have where to pick up and set down passengers as required or otherwise one would have to run continuously with nowhere to stop. I can now report that the new platform is in an advanced state and enclose some photos of its construction. In the first place I would point out that do not have any CAD program, silhouette or laser cutter, 3D printer or instru

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A bit more

In spite of what I said in my last contribution, I have spent more time and money, albeit only about ?5, on the layout. I bought some cork 3 mm thick and balsa wood 1 mm thick to equal the core thickness of the foam underlay (because I could not find cork 4 mm thick and didn't want to go traipsing round the whole area) and re-laid three turnouts. Since I than had problems to settle a long straight in the grooves of the foam underlay, I finally removed about one yard of foam and replaced it with

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A decorative defensive wall

While I am still pondering on the best way to set about finishing the ballasting, as a diversion it occurred to me that I should protect the last unprotected side of the layout, where the track hovers over a precipice and, fortunately, in nine years only one locomotive has fallen to the floor. For a time, I had a programming track fixed along the edge but I decided to remove this and set up a portable programming track so I could work on the dining room or kitchen table when it was cold in the

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Last minute snag

Evening all: This morning I had high hopes that to-day would see the finish of work on the underside of the baseboard. But there is still one problem bugging me. I can't get the station lights to work properly. My street lighting works, the yard lights work, but not the station lights. The funny thing is that if I apply the current from what should be the head end of the wiring there is no response, but if I apply current from the tail end, then they do light up. So, the obvious solution is to

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A bit more

Below there is a number of photos showing different stages of construction.         A modification to the layout not mentioned above was to lengthen two of the sidings. The two straight sidings at the top station (looking at the plan as reproduced above) were too short to accommodate a locomotive and three coaches, either the locomotive or the end coach remained over the points, so I made them curved and made a curved platform for them from balsa wood.   As said above, I had i

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One step forwards, more backwards

I have been hanging on since my last contribution hoping to be able to report some real progress but, far from that, I have to report regress (i.e. retrogression). I have mentioned elsewhere my problem with arthritic fingers and the risk of hitting the wrong lever of the passing switches for the point motors, with the risk of damaging the motors. I replaced two damaged motors and, furthermore, installed pushbutton switches. These are supposed to give feedback information via leds but do not do s

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