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A Long Term Project

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Blowing through with a quick update...

Just a quick, one-picture update - if the weather allowed, I had planned to take the layout into the garden today to work on it and take some pictures, but 'Storm Katie' has other ideas - I'm not risking it with it blowing 50/60mph winds at the moment!   Anyway, the station building is now done,so I did brave taking that outside for a quick picture in natural daylight.   I'm really quite pleased with it, and it seems to 'fit' well. The LBSCR red colour was obtained by taking one of the printed poster boards to Hobbycraft and matching it as closely as I could with their Acrylic paint selection - I usually prefer Tamiya, but on this occasion Revell 331 'Purpurrot' got the nod.     The slight 'sag' on the guttering is down to either my photography skills or the limitations of my phone camera, because when the building sits on the layout, it is not noticeable!

dseagull

dseagull

 

A Station Building For Ripe

Over the past couple of weeks I have been working on the first of the buildings that will be required for Ripe, with the signal box (a small, platform mounted type) and the station building.   After a couple of false starts, I'm happy enough with the Station building to post a few photos in it's incompleted state - incomplete as it is missing a roof, guttering, bargeboards, glazing and one window frame, as well as painting of the two exterior doors and windowsills (I don't have a suitable colour in my paint stash at present).   Platform Side;     It is a simple building, with a ticket office, waiting room, separate ladies waiting room (this was the 1920's ) and an office. I had been looking around for a while, and couldn't find any kits which appealed, so in the end, I bought the Staverton station building kit from Scalescenes to use as a template, took an inch or so out of the length and scratchbuilt from Wills Sheets (English Bond Bricks). Windows are from various sources, Mostly Ratio and Wills kits which I found in the bits box. I seem to remember buying a Wills Craftsman Pub kit once and using all the sheets for entirely different projects, so it is quite possible there are some of these too. Lintels are simply thin cardboard, cut in a strip and measured to a consistent (two brick) distance over the top of the window.   With a large opening at 'front of stage', I have bashed together an interior using the original Scalescenes parts and some posters/timetables printed off from Google Images on LBSCR poster Boards, found on StationColours.Info , scaled down by the totally unscientific method of reducing the image in Microsoft Word to the same size as the GWR Boards in the kit ( http://www.stationcolours.info/index.php?p=1_3_SR ) . The boards were then simply printed out, Pritt-sticked to thin card, and attached using the same glue onto the 'woodwork' from the Scalescenes kit. I can also see that I have got one of the poster boards slightly lower than the other, which is frustrating but not too jarring on the eye. Hopefully once the building is bedded into the platform etc it won't be too noticeable.   Side Elevation     I decided to add a 'Gents' as well, which is more Wills walling, with a simple roof made up from Balsa and covered with a dried (unused!) baby wipe, painted grey to represent a felted roof. It's the second time I've used this, and I like the effect it gives. The window/skylight is cut down from a larger window, and the door is from the Peco Modern Office Buildings kit - this is simply a flat, brown door with a raised doorhandle, so in order to 'age' it, I scribed panel lines using a craft knife and steel rule, and then scratched in some wood grain. This picture doesn't show it off especially well, but it looks surprisingly good.   Road Elevation     Finally, the road elevation, which will be hidden from normal viewing, but still needed to be completed to a decent standard in order to allow for photos across the station yard. Another door here in the same style, more cut down windows for the 'high level' windows in the station office, and a whacking great hole for another window which I will need to source. Windowsills throughout are a bit of a bodge - Wills tongue and groove boarding, cut down to one 'strip', with a chunk carved out of either end to allow the sill to sit in the window opening. It's something I've done before, and has the added benefit of being easy to run a blade across the width to produce a slight taper. The whole thing is mounted on a piece of Daler Board, which will be cut into the surface of the platform (I knew there was a good reason I hadn't yet stuck it down!)   Brickwork is painted with Tamiya and Humbrol acrylics, semi-dry brushed on to the brickwork after the mortar was painted with Tamiya Tan acrylic - the age-old method of painting on, then wiping away (another baby wipe!). The bottom edges, and the shady corner where the gents meets the wall has had some olive drab to give a bit of mossy/dank colouring. The actual colouring is a little better than it appears here, as these pictures were taken on my mobile in rapidly fading light this afternoon!   I should be able to finish the building off this coming long weekend, after a trip to Uckfield for some more supplies, which will hopefully also allow me to get the few bits (paint, guttering and a window) I also need to finish off the signal box too. In the meantime, I may make a start on the half-relief goods shed/store.

dseagull

dseagull

 

Ripe - Wired and Terraforming Underway

The wiring is now complete for Ripe - not a great deal of it! - and the frog juicer has been installed to deal with the polarity switching.   It needs testing, but lack of a suitable test loco means that this will have to wait for the time being. The annual bonus from work was lower than expected (across the board, not just me!), which, combined with Charlie's birthday and the Car Insurance stymied my plans to buy a Bachmann E4 last month. I do have some BR Blue stock to move on which will be a substantial amount towards one, but it currently lives in my parents loft, so needs to be retrieved first!   Once I have tested - and also built the detachable fiddle yards - it will be ballasting, but before I can move on to that, Point Rodding will need to be installed. I am planning to use the Wills kit for this, but thinned as per Geoff Forster's efforts on the wonderful Llangunllo - http://radnorailways.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/point-rodding-pt2.html . LBSC Point Rodding was also round, rather than square, but I think careful work to thin down with a scalpel will help to discuss the kits' Western origins, and if not I can always say the independent CVR got some on the cheap from Swindon!   As well as the wiring, I have also put in the platform - made from Stripwood sides, with a thin balsa top, which will in turn be covered with Daler Board. Some polystyrene, and stripwood offcuts, serve as 'filler' underneath this first surface, which I hope should prevent any warping of the board when painted.     You can see in the background of the above, and this picture of the other end, that I have also put in the base (from 5mm foamboard) for the road surface.     This first mockup of the shop from foamboard was built to the wrong size, as I stupidly forgot to take into account the thickness of the road! . As I was pondering how best to represent a typically 'Sussex' flint and brick building, the latest MRJ came out, and in it, Gordon Gravett shows how to make exactly this using DAS on Foamboard, which is the way I will go. The road to the side of the shop leading to the track will be replaced with a road sloping down towards the track to cross on the level.   Along the backscene opposite the shop, I think a simple wall - something like that shown here;     will do nicely, as there will be no room for anything on the other side of it.   I aim to redo the shell for the shop over the next few days, and also get the base for the road in place, with the top dressing to follow much later...  

dseagull

dseagull

 

Ripe - Track and Cheapo Point Control

Work has continued on the Ripe layout since the last update, with some significant progress on the 'boring bits', with all track now laid and wiring to be tidied up tomorrow, once the glue holding it down has had plenty of time to set.   Going back a little though, this was the scene a few nights ago. Excuse the snapshot again, which has been taken on my phone and edited for size.     As you can see, the pointwork has changed, which I have salvaged from the previous Litlington board, as I wanted medium radius points rather than the previous medium and small combo.   Over the last couple of days I have also been giving consideration to controlling the points. I was originally planning to use Tortoise Motors, and indeed the Peco points have been modified so that Frog Juicers can be used to switch polarity of the frogs in preparation, but for now, have decided to leave them as manually operated via wire-in-tube.   What I have done though is worked out a way to do this 'on the cheap'. The catalyst was, oddly enough, tidying my desk at work, where I found a Biro which was completely exhausted. Looking at it, I thought the ink tube could come in handy for something, and took it home. I then got some copper wire of approximately 1mm thick, put the wire through the Biro tube and began experimenting.   After testing off board, and a strong coffee, I bit the bullet and drilled a hole underneath the tiebar, and another on the front fascia, poked the Biro tube through, then threaded the wire through and up through the hole (with another piece of tube to keep it straight through the baseboard). To my great surprise, it worked perfectly!     Here is one in place, it isn't the easiest thing to photograph, but you can see the (before cutting to height!) wire poking through the points and the front of the board.   The tube has been glued to the underside of the board, and also taped over for security, with part of the Biro Tube left through the front to avoid the wire going out of shape.   Given the small size of the layout, I have also removed the webbing between the sleepers on the SMP plain track, which is something I have never bothered with before, but certainly will be in future as I am very pleased with the results.     I am also playing with arrangements for the occupation crossing, and am keen on a small signal box, of the platform mounted type, with the platform ramp in front of it. The placeholder one is 'handed' in the wrong direction unfortunately, and the steps would not be there on the real thing. The signs on the mock up shop are from Scalescenes, and were simply added to pass some time tonight and make it look a little less stark!   As always, thoughts are more than welcome!

dseagull

dseagull

 

Ripe - More Progress...

Progress has continued with some more additions and work on the Ripe layout/cameo.   After screwing the various pieces together (angle brackets and a couple of mending plates from Screwfix, and some 19mm screws from Wickes), I used some spare Fablon/Sticky Back Plastic purchased from Poundland ages ago for one of Charlie's homework projects to neaten the front up, as there were a few marks and chips from the process of screwing it all together. This neatens the front of the layout up nicely. I had planned to use Cork tiles to provide underlay for the track, however my stock of these appears exhausted and, not wanting to spend £10 on a new packet of which I needed 3, I decided to look for other options. A trip to Poundland again brought the solution;     These are Foam sheets in A5 size, sold for kids craft activities. They come in a pack of 10, with five different colours, and as the place suggests, cost just £1. I was expecting some variation in thickness, but they all seem remarkably the same, they cut very easily with kitchen scissors, and stick down easily and quickly with bog standard PVA. I saw these on Saturday, but didn't buy them straight away, so yesterday afternoon it was a quick trip into town before they closed at 4 to grab some - should have gone with my instincts when I first saw them, as they are ideal for the job. I imagine Hobbycraft would do these in bigger sizes, but no doubt more expensively!   I have now also cut the track (SMP with Peco Code 75 Pointwork) to size, and, with the discovery of a couple of points in a bag beneath my desk (one Medium and one Small Radius), have decided to go with these so that I can get going, without having to wait until payday to buy some new ones. This has had the effect of straightening the track a little, so I have introduced a slight curve to the 'main', which now curves away from the Seed Warehouse siding before running offstage.   The points have both had the springs removed (I can only assume they were salvaged from some long-forgotten layout or another!), but I think the depth of the plinth will allow me to use Tortoise Point Motors with no problems, probably with the switches for them poking through the front fascia.   I also dug a few bits out of the cupboard to enhance the 'visual plan'/3D Mockup - although the platform section at the back which is serving as the bay is too wide and too long, so has to be viewed with some imagination. The Litlington Goods Store though does fit nicely, and in the absence of anything else, I may well use this - or I may build another, more low-relief version. The Tree front right was a helpful find, as it had conveniently been made 'low relief' by having most of the back cut off already! - and it has also made the decision for me that there will be a hedge running along the 'rail side' of the white (Woodlands Scenics Incline) slope, which will serve as the base for the farm track.   The big change though is the building at the back left - previously, it was to be a cottage and sit up against the backscene, however by moving it forward towards the tracks a little, at the expense of a garden, I can have a road going behind it - in the picture above you can see a Morris Van (also a placeholder, although a horse and cart would look nice!) poking out from behind it. In the last post I mentioned having some doubts about the road from front to back, so this has solved that problem as well - with the cottage now becoming a shop (the front will be facing the backscene). Construction of this will be brick and flint, to really 'set the scene'. The level crossing remains, however it will now serve for road access to the farm and the Seed Warehouse only, rather than being a public road. The Crossing gate shown is just a placeholder - MSE list an LBSC level crossing, which will be ideal for the job (Geoff Forster has made a superb job of their GWR example on his stunning Llangunllo   So - on the whole, some genuine progress, although there is a bit of a sinking feeling that the 3' I chopped off the back would have come in very handy! (I'd love to put in another siding for the coal yard, some allotments and a bridge over a stream, but there is simply no room) - still, he who never compromised never made a model railway, and I must adapt to the space available to me!

dseagull

dseagull

 

A View To A Layout

After a quiet couple of days following construction (or at least putting together - it hasn't been fixed yet!), I have had a look again at the sides/middle divider that came with the TV unit, with a view to using them. I initially rejected these as sides/wings due to the height of 6.5 inches, but having looked again, and as the layout is designed for eye-level viewing, I have decided to use them.   Cutting them down to size has given me the sides and wings - you will have to excuse the poor quality snapshots, taken on my mobile with less than ideal lighting, and resized on paint.net.     You will also see that I have gained a backscene board - this has also been re/upcycled - it is the front of a draw unit from a cheap chest of drawers which has fallen apart under the weight of clothes my wife has put into it - that it is a different colour really doesn't matter as it will be hidden in any case, and the slight (it's about quarter of an inch, and very frustrating!) height difference will be resolved later in the post. The holes are where the handle used to be.   I wanted to see if my 'vision' would work, so knocked up some quick card mockups from a box purloined from the recycling - it is simply held together with sellotape, so isn't particularly accurate and is more to show what I am aiming for, although the Station Building is accurate in dimensions as an aid to planning. Starting front left, we have the seed warehouse, with the part relief cottage rear left. In the middle is the station building, and to the right, the goods store.   The rising ground at the front(Polystyrene resting on a pile of business cards at one end) represents the farm track, although it is very tight, and I think I might abandon the idea in favour of the farm track in favour of just a grassy bank.     Looking to the left, you can see where I am going with the seed warehouse with a shelter/loading bay sticking out over the tracks. I have also very quickly mocked up the cottage garden wall, but I think this will either need to be higher or perhaps just a simple fence instead.   Finally, I thought the whole 'box' was lacking 'something' to finish it off, and then I remembered that I had lopped 3' off to form the baseboard. Luckily, I cut this in one length, and put it in a sheltered spot of the garden. When I retrieved it earlier this evening, it seemed to still be OK despite some rain over the past few days, and after cutting it down a little, put it on top to see how it looked - with the idea that it would finish off the 'front' of the layout, as well as hide the slight height difference in the backscene when viewed head on;     The whole process has answered a few questions for me - and also, inevitably raised a few more - I now don't know about the road - but overall I think it has been a more than productive evening, and I am now confident that all my amendments and 'trimming' of the layout plan has been worth it, and I will be satisfied with the end result. As always, your thoughts are more than welcome!

dseagull

dseagull

 

Take one TV Unit...

And Build a Baseboard.   Not how they tell you to do it in the magazines, but when I saw the above offered for free on Facebook, my thrifty side couldn't resist.   It is (or was!) an Argos 'Cubes' TV Unit - link here; http://www.argos.co.uk/beta/static/Product/partNumber/6090746.htm, and, no doubt, did that job very well. It was described as 'Free to collector, has some marks on top', and was outside waiting for me when I picked it up yesterday evening, but the short spell out in the cold seems to have done it no damage, and it was sound, with just one or two water marks from mugs etc on the top - exactly as described.   I quickly stripped it down at home, with the intention of just using the top or bottom as a shelf, but then got thinking about how best I could use the rest. The plinth, helpfully, was just attached with dowels, so that came off straight away and on it's own, it was a little rickety - but the size of it immediately caught my eye, at 27 and a half inches by 13 inches, with little plastic 'feet'. A little smaller than ideal, thought I, but worth a ponder.   The top, however, was perfect for my requirements, coming in at just a smidge under 3' in length and 16 inches wide. With this in mind, thoughts turned to increasing the width of the layout, however a 16' deep shelf on top of the desk looked a little ridiculous, so I lopped 3" off the back to give a 13' shelf, hiding the 'chopped' side against the wall and leaving the nicely oak veneered side facing outwards. I then put the plinth on top, just to see what it looked like...     And realised it was too good an opportunity to pass up.   I then cut the other shelf (either the top or bottom) down to the same width as the plinth, but it was gone midnight by this point, so gave up for the night, and have spent the last 10 minutes chopping 8' off the side as well to provide a flat surface for the track. This will be attached to the plinth using L-shaped Angle Brackets to form a solid baseboard, and probably covered with cork to make it easier to lay the track.   This has left the three smaller pieces - two were originally sides, and the middle one provided extra support and also divided the 'shelf' underneath the TV Unit. These are just under 16' across the longest dimension, and 6.5' across the width - I was thinking of using them on the ends of the boards, but it would leave a 6.5' backscene, which is lower than I'd like.   All of this has meant another amendment to the plan, to take 8' out of the length of the layout, putting us at 27" x 12", and very much into 'Micro Layout' territory. I did knock something up quickly last night, but it didn't quite sit right, so have tried again this afternoon. This time I have simply shifted everything over a little, reducing the distance between the Y point and the level crossing, and making the road more of a winding country lane. It's a bit narrow in the below plan at 2' wide, but with another slight adjustment, can be made to 3" quite easily - this would equate to a road of just over 43' in 4mm scale (if my calculations are correct!), which should do for a country lane in the 1920's.     There are, inevitably, a few compromises - the platform ramps will be a bit steeper than I would have liked, for example, and I think the coal office may be reduced to a token representation, but otherwise, it does fit nicely and it is better than nothing. Having said that, I have gone from a board 12" wide to 13", which I haven't accounted for in the plans, so perhaps there will be a little more room than anticipated. Anyway, it all fits, the domestic authorities are happy (enough ) with the size, it will be solid, stable and portable - oh, and of course it was free!

dseagull

dseagull

 

A question of Space...

It has been an interesting couple of weeks, with plans continuing for the small, portable, Ripe project/layout and several sketches done to try and get my minds eye down on paper.   One of the main snagging points though has been the size - namely, I hadn't calculated how large the brackets would have to be to support a 1' wide shelf. When I found some suitable ones today in Wickes, I was a little surprised - to be frank they will look awful on the wall, and as the shelf was planned for the lounge, this will not meet the approval of the rest of the family!   However - all is not lost. My computer desk has a shelf on top, which currently houses a speaker, a collection of miscellaneous junk including a speaker, flower pots (which will soon become very useful indeed when the time comes to prick out some of the many seeds currently growing in trays on the bedroom windowsill!), a back scratcher (a Christmas present to stop me using a steel rule for this most essential of tasks) and the router for our broadband & wi-fi. All of this could be found new homes, which would leave me with a suitable spot for a small plank which would not have too much of an impact on the rest of the household. The only issue is it is just under 3' as opposed to 4' in length, although there is suitable space either side for an overhang to make it 3'. I intend to put a new shelf directly on top of this, and secure it to the desk, giving 'slots' with a divider or two to allow for storage of things like printer paper which need to be kept out of reach of my 2 year old daughter (otherwise printer paper becomes drawing paper!). The layout would then, as per previous plans, be built in a demountable 'box'.   Try as I might, I haven't been able to shave a foot off the previous plan without it looking far too cramped, so tonight has been spent back on the (virtual) planning, with an eye to shrinkage. It is probably a good job I am using XtrkCad rather than good old pen and ink, as by now I would have gone through a whole forest's worth of trees, given the number of times I have started over again. Finally though, inspiration struck - and it came in the form of an old layout.   It is one of my regrets that this project - http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/63341-daddy-charlie-build-a-railway/page-2 - was never finished, firstly because it was something both Charlie and I enjoyed doing, but secondly because, looking back at the pictures towards the end of that thread, it was coming along very nicely. Unfortunately the cardboard construction did not survive our house move in August 2013, and although it still languishes in the cupboard under the stairs, it is not worth trying to resurrect, especially as the cardboard used wasn't really strong enough in any case. The trackplan, however, gave me an idea, and so I present Ripe, the 3' version!     Most of the plan is pretty self-explanatory, but despite shrinking the area by a foot in length, I have been able to get most of what I had previously in - the only real exception being the cattle pens, which have had to be sacrificed.   I said in one of the previous posts that the theme would be rural, without large industry, and that remains, however some research this evening found a new potential industry. The following screenshot is from the 1915 Kelly's Sussex Directory, as found on the University of Leicester website, and I am assuming copyright has now passed, however if this is not the case I will happily remove.     You will see, amongst the names of farmers, an entry for one Douglas Mannington, described as an agent for Webb & Sons Seed Merchants (and also an insurance agent). Webbs, my research tells me, became a big name in the horticulture world, eventually merging with another company, Bees, and becoming part of the Unwins company. In my fictional reality, Mr Mannington was not an agent, but had his own seed company which was eventually swallowed up by Webbs a few year's later. His warehouse is served by a private siding off the runaround loop, and crosses the public road protected by gates either side, before running into a covered loading dock.   Operationally, this revised plan offers the same, if not a little more, than the previous one - according to XtrkCad, the platform would hold a 2MT 2-6-2T and 2 Mk1's, so short, pre-grouping motive power (E4, Terrier) and coaching stock should present no problems. The Bay/Goods dock holds 2 standard 20T Vans with ease, and 3 if I extend it by an inch towards the right hand side. Having the coal merchants office on the station forecourt hints at at least one other, offstage siding, whilst the private siding for Mannington's accommodates one wagon onstage, but continues offstage too. I was planning to use cassettes, but given that, to allow for the entire layout to be used 5 of these would be needed, I have had a rethink, and am now thinking along the lines of a 2' fiddle yard board either end, which could be detached from the scenic board when not in use and stored elsewhere. When 'playing' or for transport, the whole shebang would then fit nicely on the dining table.   Useful links;   University of Leicester - Historical Directories - http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16445coll4 Webb & Son's brief history; http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Edward_Webb_and_Sons

dseagull

dseagull

 

Plans - Revisiting and Revising

So after posting the various plans on Friday evening, there was still something which I wasn't quite happy with, and I couldn't put my finger on what it was, although a lot of it was around space, or lack of it, in what passes for a goods yard.   I've now had a chance to look again, and have come up with what I hope will be the final plan which I invited comment on     It was the change to a curved point which I think pulled this all together for me, I think it gives more of a natural flow to the (mostly) off-stage loop but an open to suggestions to the contrary.   It retains the stage right (Up) exit behind trees, crossing over a level crossing, which has now gained a small signal box, before entering the station and going offstage again behind the barn, with the bay and dock sidings now given a little more breathing space.   A word on presentation - I think I am going to try and build a self-contained 'box' for the layout, having looked at various APA Box layouts over the past few days. I intend to complete this with 'wings' and a Proscenium Arch, which will allow for some lighting and hopefully look a lot better on the wall than a baseboard balanced on a shelf. Electrically, DCC to match everything else I've done in the last few years. The Litlington Board is being collected tonight (too long for the car, but not for my brother's van...!), so come payday, I should be able to get started!

dseagull

dseagull

 

Ripe - The Plans

From my previous posts not-so-subtle hint, you may guess that I have selected Ripe as the new area of the line to receive my attention.   My previous posts, setting out my history for the Cuckmere Valley Railway, have barely mentioned Ripe, as a small hamlet (both historically and at the present time), a station here would be pushing the boundaries a bit, but there are plenty of real locations which barely merited a station and had one (in some cases more than one!), so Rule 1 applies here!   Despite that, I want to maintain a very definite 'rural' feel to what will be a small layout (4' x 1', excluding the cassettes which will be used for operation), and without some lateral thinking, there was no way I could get in what I wanted. When I first started pondering the scheme, over Christmas (between Christmas and New Year I was at work, and had so little to do that I often found myself doodling plans on post-it notes!), I set myself a list of the following; Small Through Station, rather than the halt originally envisaged
Bay with Goods Store from Litlington
Level Crossing
Cattle Pen
Very Rural, Open Feel
Fitting all of it in has been a challenge - but borrowing an idea from the superb Llanastr - http://llanastr.webs.com/ - I have been able to, by not having all pointwork 'onstage'. Llanastr is of course a terminus, but I have adopted the same approach to a through station, by having the goods loop offstage, and only part of it in the modelled area.   The plan then;     Starting from the left (Laughton) end, the loop to serve the goods yard (if you can call it that!) begins offstage, coming onstage under a road bridge*. From the top, the first siding serves a loading bank with small cattle pen on, whilst the second, forming a bay platform, is purely for goods, with the Goods store I built for Litlington used again here;     The third line from the top is the 'main line', which simply runs straight through the small station, over the level crossing and offstage, with the right hand exit hidden behind some trees.   * - I'm not sure about this, the real Ripe is a particularly flat area, but if I set the track in a bit of a cutting, hopefully this will not 'jar' too much.   Scenically, the ethos is on 'open countryside', hopefully to give the impression that the railway has been carved through - stage front will be scrubby land which slopes down to the track, with only a single, small flint-built cottage as evidence of any habitation here, the main village/hamlet centre being further past the cottage and up the lane, though a postbox on the corner of the station forecourt would be quite a nice addition.   As it stands, it encompasses just about everything I want for the moment, though it is a little 'straight' and clinical, which led me on to Version 2, which puts a gentle curve in the platform road as follows;     This would see the cottage brought to the other side of the tracks, and built in partial relief rather than full, with a heftier flint wall the other side, perhaps with apple trees poking out above it, hinting at an orchard.   I am someone who enjoys building over operation (well, I aim to be....!), so you could perhaps say there is limited operating potential, though this is a rural branchline in the very early 1920's in any case, and it does allow (with cassettes) trains to run straight through, as well as somewhere to indulge in a spot of shunting.   I would be interested in any thoughts, specifically if anyone can think of another way to hide the left hand side scenic exit,     EDIT 21.45   This is what it looks like flipped...     The building front right is a Barn (this is the Wills kit which I have on XtrkCad) - I would change the building material to flint, something like this... (Credit on bottom of image) - this is in Selmeston, just down the road.  

dseagull

dseagull

 

A return to the blogosphere

Well that's not bad, it's only been about 9 months this hiatus, unlike the year one previously...   So, what's been going on in that time?   In all honesty, not a lot. The embankment had the 'soil layer' installed and painted late last March, before progress ground to something of a halt. There was a reason for what was fully intended as a temporary pause, possibly needing some static grass and a holiday, but whatever it was, it is lost in the mists of time, and ever since, the layout has been standing on end in the hall, getting in the way and shaming me every time I walk up the stairs.   It has also, not unreasonably or unsurprisingly, earned the ire of the wife, who has asked me to 'do something' with it. Now, this is where the problems come in. As it is, the layout can only be worked on on the lounge floor, ideas of getting trestles or legs made up never came to fruition. This leads directly to the second problem, in that it could only really be operated in the lounge too - my planned 'home' of the bedroom sideboard was torpedoed early on.   However, there is a light - or rather two lights - at the end of the tunnel. Firstly, Litlington will most definitely not be scrapped - the Foam baseboards have remained incredibly stable throughout the spell in decommission, and I am now convinced of their long term suitability. The layout is at a stage where it can quite comfortably be left for a while, until more space is available, and then picked up with the bits I struggle with (wiring and ballasting) already done. So, when time allows, the plan is to move it to my parents loft, where it will be safe and dry, and can stay until we move to somewhere bigger.   The second light comes from something I should have done at the start and adapted my plans to suit current living arrangements - something smaller. Above my computer desk is space for a shelf, of between 3' and 4' in length, depending on how much I impinge on the lounge wall - and I have been granted permission to put something in on the proviso that "this one gets finished". Whilst nothing can actually physically start until after Litlington has been moved, preliminary planning has. With my long-term intention to complete Litlington, my thoughts are to build a 'complementary' layout, using the same scenario (and buildings for the time being). I was initially torn between modelling just a section of the line, or the shingle loading point at Cuckmere Haven, but the former just doesn't appeal and the latter needs more space to do it justice - so after much pondering, have decided to model the smallest station on the line (the rough track plan in the History posts will change!)   Litlington is sleeping, but the time is Ripe to move on...

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dseagull

 

Preparing the ground...

So after my ballasting issues, and a much needed - and enjoyed - four nights away with the family, I have now moved on, and have begun putting the basic landscaping in.   A picture tells a thousand words, so;     This shows what I've done so far - I have used screwed up newspaper (the Friday-Ad comes in useful for all sorts!) underneath, stuck down with PVA then covered in strips of the same. There is still a fair bit to go in, and more strips will be needed to cover the paper fixed onto the board tonight.   To neaten the edge, masking tape has been applied along the rail side of the embankment. There is also a polystyrene strip, rescued from the skip at work, along the back edge, to allow for the support for a hedgerow.   To the right of the (placeholder) signalbox, you will see a white strip. This is another section of the Woodland Scenics incline, used purely for scenic purposes on this occasion.   If you excuse my foot, this shows what I have in mind     Starting on the far right, the white, flat card is the road surface, with a gentle slope up to a pair of railway cottages. I will scratchbuild these, but for mocking up purposes, the blue card is 130mm by 75mm, which is half the length of the Scalescenes 'row of cottages' kit - this contains four cottages, and I only need two, so will base the buildings on these measurements.   The slope then continues past some allotments, before becoming a muddy track leading up to a farm gate. I recently purchased the superb Gordon Gravett book on modelling grassland, rivers and roads, which really is excellent and has given me some ideas and, more importantly, the knowledge of how to do it. It has also seen some rather eccentric purchases, including chinchilla dust, tights, sawdust and white pepper...   Finally, going back to the signalbox, it will be raised above the bank, similar to that at Mayfield on the Cuckoo Line - the one on the layout at present is a Wills kit built and painted (badly) for an old layout - I'm actually planning to use the Ratio 'Platform Signal Box' kit, as it is smaller, but put it on brick foundations to raise it to the same height as this one to enable the signalman to see the top of the bank.

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'Magic' Ballasting (2)

So after last nights failed attempt with the new 'Ballast Magic' product, tonight I started again.   To recap, late last night I was feeling hopeful, after the board and its ballast survived 'the lift' onto its end from the lounge floor. This morning though I touched a patch of supposedly fixed ballast, only for it to come away instantly.   A quick hoover dealt with most of what had been laid last night, though a couple of sections were stuck fast, offering some encouragement (picture below). I then went back into 'mad professor' mode, mixing the layout ballast from three colours, then decanted this mix back into the cup using a teaspoon, meaning I could then use a teaspoon to put the right amount of powder in as well.     I mixed it tonight for a good 3-4 minutes, making sure it was all thoroughly coated, before spreading across 'in the usual fashion'.     Again, I've just attempted the one section tonight, and of it doesn't work I will go back to other methods. We'll see in the morning!   EDIT - picture after 24 hours. See comments!    

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dseagull

 

A Kind Of (Ballast) Magic?

Like taxes, death and failing to win the lottery, ballasting is something of a required inevitably.   Its also something I've never been very good at. For the sidings, I plan to use DAS clay as per Chris Nevard's methods; http://nevardmedia.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/creating-effect-of-ash-ballast.html   For the main line though, and given that shingle extraction is in my history as a purpose of the line, I wanted to give the impression of shingle ballast. As this isn't available out of the packet, I mixed some up from various Woodland Scenics fine grade ballast with a ratio of a tablespoon of Buff, a teaspoon of Grey and half a teaspoon of Brown.     So far, so good. So now we come to fixing it. Various methods have been suggested over the years, from a mix of PVA and water, to scenic cement, to neat glue and no doubt plenty of others to boot. There is though a new option - I saw this just after Christmas and have been tempted ever since.   This is 'Ballast Magic' from Deluxe Materials - there is an advert/instructional video on YouTube;   I bought the kit which comes with a water spray bottle and a mixing cup -https://www.deluxematerials.co.uk/gb/scale-plastics/108-ballast-magic-5060243901507.html   As per the video, you mix it 1.7 with ballast, then apply dry and spray with water. It is then supposed to dry in a couple of hours.   Here is a section of my first attempt, photographed about 20 minutes after spraying with water.     One thing to note is that the video suggests not making up too much at once - I presume this is is to avoid the powder going off prematurely due to moisture in the air. I overestimated, so may have to have to get rid of what's left in the mixing cup - though the bottle comes with 100ml or so, which should be more than plenty to finish the rest of the layout. I also ran piece of cardboard over the track after spraying, to take any of the gluey water off that had settled on the railhead - this isn't mentioned anywhere so I may be worrying unnecessarily, but thought it better to take it off wet rather than having to scrub it off when dry!   Verdict? Too early to say - it certainly goes on nicely and is easy to use, but the proof of the pudding for me will come later when I pick the board up to store on end as usual overnight.

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dseagull

 

Where we are so far...

After placing the dock temporarily in position, I thought I'd take a photo - as much for my benefit as anything else - of progress to date.     Plenty of basics to put in, let alone anything else, but the 'bones' of the goods yard side at least are now nearing completion.   I hope this gives a general 'map' of the layout which will help anyone interested to get their bearings when I start to add further structures and scenery.

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dseagull

 

Banks for the memories

With the goods shed all but completed, the loading bank is next on the agenda. As with the platform, the basic shell is a thin ply top with 12mm basswood sides.   For the surface, I've again used DAS clay, this time attempting a cobbled surface using a method mentioned in the past by Chris Nevard of using a ballpoint pen with the writing part removed to form the cobbles themselves.   Chris' article can be found on his blog -http://nevardmedia.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/quick-cobbles.html   My method is slightly different, in that I used the ink tube from a Biro rather than the end of the pen, as I wanted slightly smaller cobbles than the end of the pen gave, and dismantling too many pens would have produced stern glares from she who must be obeyed (I've already had strict instructions to stay away from the baby powder!)   Once dry, I painted the surface with Railmatch Sleeper Grime, and then drybrushed with a variety of greys and creams to produce a variance of colour. Finally, I added brick facings on the edges and coping on the rail side using plasticard, scored and thinned on the edge, and a flint wall of which more will follow in a later update. This isn't quite finished, I feel it needs a couple of brick pillars for the ends, the subject of tonights planned session, along with some fencing on the 'other side' and along the access ramp and a bit of filler to cover up a gap (which inevitably looks worse than it is in the photos!) at the bottom where the surface and ramp facings meet.     A close up to show the cobbled effect - the colouring looks better from a normal distance!     The other side     An overview, showing the coping.   As always, thoughts and comments are welcome - I took advantage of the natural light for these photos, but will try to add one showing the dock in place on the layout next time.   EDIT   Here you go - gap filled with Humbrol Filler and a 'vintage' filter applied to try and get an 'of the time' look to the photo. The buffer stop is an old Hornby one as a placeholder.  

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Platforms For People - and Livestock

Whilst there has been no updates for a week or so, progress has continued apace, with the bulk of the platform now completed as well as the cattle pens.   As previously mentioned I want to ensure a local flavour to the layout, starting with the building materials, but also continuing to the structures. Typically, a cattle dock in 00 Gauge has meant using the Ratio Kit, which is of a GWR style with wire and post fences. Locally though the cattle docks I have found in my research - Hailsham for one, but also the 'new build' dock at Kingscote on the Bluebell Line - had wooden 'four bar' fencing.   I've chosen to represent this with Ratio Lineside fencing, and I leave it to you to decide if it works. I'm quite pleased with it though, and my wife was impressed with my patience!     The fencing itself is set into a platform top of DAS clay, with 60 Thou plasticard for the floor of the pens. The non slip brick pattern is Wills tunnel lining, cut into strips, and for those in between, individual bricks. I used the tunnel lining as the sheets are flexible and therefore considerably thinner than the standard sheets. The pattern itself was cribbed from the stunning model of the Walllingford pens by John Hayes in MRJ 223 - though his work, with custom-milled brass section and opening gates makes mine look like the amateur effort it is!   To represent the gates, I adapted the fencing with bracing bars from thinned offcuts, and added hinges from slivers of the posts, which were trimmed to make the gates.     A few little bits will be needed - standpipes and troughs for example, along with a healthy dose of grot coloured paint washed over the floor to represent the mud and unmentionables which haven't quite been washed away by the station staff!   Heres the dock in relation to the rest of the platform, with the SECR van currently in use to gauge clearances - excuse the poor quality of the 'Google Earth' style view, the camera on the tablet didn't appreciate it very much!         The platform itself is made from basswood from Hobbycraft for the sides, with a top of 2mm ply and a surface of DAS, with coping stones scribed individually. The brick facing is again cut down Wills tunnel lining, with separate strips (one of four, and one of two courses) cut and overlaid for the corbelling on the edge of the platform. This is nearly complete, the ramp section needs doing as does the small sections leading into the bay. The odd sections of wood you can see in the overhead view are supports for the ramp leading up to the station building entrance and the ramp for accessing the cattle pens. I've also noticed that I've left off the ramp at the other end of platform, which will run down to a barrow crossing next to the level crossing.   The whole shebang will be fixed to the board - making something like this where placing it down slightly incorrectly could result in all sorts of problems with stock hitting the platform removable is, I suspect, asking for trouble! This will also let me fill in the gaps between the dock and main platform, and also the ramp sections, which were built separately.   The goods dock at the other end of the layout will be built using the same methods, but I'm looking forward to cracking on with some more structures - a couple of railway cottages and also an attempt at something from the real Litlington...

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dseagull

 

A Sunday Night Interrupted

I had intended to crack on with the wall for the blacksmiths yard this evening, but as I have a toddler who is simply refusing to go to bed on my knee, I fear it may have to be put off!   I have though taken advantage of todays good weather to take a couple of photos of the now very nearly (not yet glazed and needs a sign) blacksmiths building itself:       After being pleased with the goods shed even before I'd finished painting it, this one was the complete opposite - until I started putting on the guttering and bargeboards I wasn't sure about it at all. I'm particularly pleased with the chimney, built separately and attached almost at the end, as now it is there it seems to look as if it always has been!   I intend to attach the building to a separate sub-base, because as the layout is portable, buildings need to be able to be removed. I have found some 2mm ply that I'd forgotten about in the dark recesses behind the 'box of things I want to keep but am not sure where to put' that has been cluttering up the corner of the lounge, much to my wife's displeasure, since we moved, and intend to use this for the road surface, which will mean the 1.5mm ply which I bought for the core of the retaining wall can be used for the sub base of this building - it should fit nicely and enable me to hide the join with the 'fixed' road surface. The wall and the little section of the blacksmiths yard which I can represent will also be part of the sub base, hopefully hiding the join well.   Next on the buildings front will be a pair of railway cottages,but before I start that I think it may be time to start thinking about construction of the platform and loading bank - that goods shed needs something to sit on!

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dseagull

 

Building Number Two

Its been something of a fraught week in the household as, after a rough weekend, our eldest broke out in the very visible symptoms of chickenpox on Monday.   In between applying calamine lotion and trying to prevent the inevitable scratching, I have been working on a few bits and have now started on the second building. Again referring to the Cuckoo Line book for inspiration, and with the knowledge that there was one in Litlington in the early part of the last century, I have decided to add a blacksmiths to the layout.   Full of ambition, I printed out the relevant plans of the blacksmiths shop built by the LBSC at Groombridge for use by the PW department, scaled it up -and then found it was far too big for the intended location, so what follows is another 'based on' rather than a brick for brick scale model.   The shell went together reasonably quickly from the usual Wills sheets (English Bond brick, doors and windows from the spares box and Roof Tiles, with an offcut of 60thou plasticard to replace the hidden rear wall as I ran out of brick sheeting). In keeping with my usual methods, I've built and painted this first before applying the detail - bargeboards, glazing, gutters & downpipes, door frame etc so the picture is a little 'rough and ready' but will hopefully be improved with those additions. I should also add the chimney stack is not yet painted and is just balanced in its position at the end of the building at present.     The arched windows, also refugees from the Ratio Goods Shed mentioned previously, may seem a little high, but they are positioned as per the plan of the blacksmiths from Groombridge. The door on the front elevation is the entrance from the street and will have a sign above it, whilst the door on the side will open into a cobbled yard, bounded by a flint wall (again, I'm a glutton for punishment considering I may still rework the first one I've built!) with some of the lovely etched gates from the Scalelink range at the front opening onto the road. The yard will have plenty of junk etc and maybe, if I can fit one in, either a cart shed (would a blacksmith have had/needed one?) or a stable (same question applies!) in the far corner of the yard.   Alternative options could be a builders yard, small engineering works or a wheelwrights perhaps? - I'm quite sold on the yard with its flint wall and gates though!

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A Goods Shed for Litlington

I've mentioned on several occasions that I have been using the Alan Elliott 'Cuckoo Line' book for inspiration, especially for the railway structures.   I've previously mentioned the Station building from Hailsham, and way back at the start, I thought the Goods Shed from Rotherfield would make a nice model for the layout too. As the planning stages progressed though, and with the subsequent reduction in available space, it became clear that it wouldn't fit properly, so it was back to the drawing board.   Horam Station had a small goods shed on the platform, and although I am keeping mine in the goods yard, it seemed to fit well, as well as giving me scope for some alterations to make it my own. Unfortunately whilst the book is very comprehensive, there is no plan of the shed included, so I have had to approximate.   You can see the real thing here; http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/h/horam/index3.shtml- it is the small wooden structure partially obscured by the hedge and fence.   My interpretation of this is below;       You can see I've changed it a little, replacing one of the walls with brick and adding a small flat-roofed office, and also a sash window on the rail side so that the foreman can look down the line to see what he will be dealing with next!   As usual the camera has shown up a few areas needing touching up, but I'm quite happy with it for now - the roof felt, by the way, is a dried (unused!) Baby wipe, cut to size, folded under the plasticard roof, and painted using my preferred Tamiya Acrylics - the effect really is quite good. The woodwork is Wills sheets, as is the brickwork, whilst the sliding door is cut down from a Ratio GWR goods shed kit which was built and completed, but dropped when we moved, neatly separating back into its component parts!   The whole structure will sit on the extreme left of the layout, on a still to be built dock. It may not win any awards, but its mine!

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The Wall - v1

In the last update I talked about a scenic identity, and mentioned the common use of flint in Sussex for building and construction.   I'm off this week, and whilst I planned to spend a lot of time on the layout real life has somewhat got in the way, although having said that it has been a lovely few days so far with another couple to go.   One thing I've long wanted to make a start on is the retaining wall, as it will be a clearly visible feature, and it needs to go in first before I can start on the goods shed/bank siding. As mentioned previously I've been playing around with a few ideas of how to produce the flint, but today hit a snag. I had wanted to use Wills Cobblestone Walling, but a visit to the model shop saw them out of stock. They did though have some of the Cobblestones, so I've decided to try it and see. I also picked up, for the princely sum of 90p, a sheet of 1.5mm ply, which is suitably flexible to put the slight curve that is required in easily.   After getting home, I cracked on and have 'finished' the wall, although it is not painted and still requires some filling. In all honesty, I'm not sure - the cobblestone has produced flint which is a little large, but equally, I'd like to get it painted and then reassess.   See what you think - I've cropped the image, and it is a little, but only a little, bigger than actual size. This will sit approx 10" from the baseboard edge.;     As always, comments are encouraged! - its a shame Wills don't do N Gauge/2mm Cobblestones, as I suspect they would be perfect...

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dseagull

 

A Scenic Identity - Research and Structure ideas 1

Now that the layout plan is finally complete, I have spent a most enjoyable evening browsing various websites looking for scenic inspiration. Something which I have been keen to do since coming up with the idea is to keep a real 'Sussex feel' with regard to the scenics and the structures. As well as buildings, that also encompasses local building materials - I've even found myself looking quizzically at trees on my travels, thinking "I wonder if I could do justice to you and fit you somewhere". Apparently pills are available for this sort of thing, but as the Mrs hasn't caught me yet I will continue to do so for the time being!   Now I do it intend to have a drive out towards Litlington at some point and take some photos myself, but as the kids are in bed, you will have to make do with the first fruits of my digitally researched labours for the time being.   A good place to start is usually a map, and below you will see a link that takes you to an 1880 OS Map of Litlington and the surrounding areas as digitised by the British History Online website - if you first locate the word Alciston on the map, then zoom in just above the 'N', you will find the village.   http://www.british-history.ac.uk/os-1-to-10560/sussex/079   As you can see, Litlington in 1880 was not a large place - a pub, a few houses, a manor house a little away from the centre, a post office and, to the north, the church. In my minds eye, the station is between the pub and the river, with a conveniently placed lane being the road which crosses the tracks just south of the station.   I'd previously looked at this map on old-maps and the like, but not at the same zoom level due to their paywall, so it has been a real boon to find this, especially when cross-referenced with other sources to fill in a few of the gaps with buildings that are not captioned on the map linked above. One immediate example which springs to mind is a blacksmiths, which would have been just round the corner from the station.   Moving on to initial ideas for structures, there are a couple of obvious ones - albeit moved from their actual locations to fit in with my geography - those being the church and the school. Unfortunately for my purposes, they would both be a little too big and would, I feel, overly dominate what is supposed to be a rural layout.   The School:     The Church:     So - those are buildings which I like, but don't think I can fit. Let's move on to some others which I think I can do justice to - albeit with 'representations' rather than true scale models to avoid having to ask some awkward questions of present owners! - but first, a diversion...   One of the key features of the local area is the extensive use of flint as a building material. We have a lot of it in Sussex, and we've certainly made use of it over the years - as indeed those images above demonstrate. With the 'main line' rising off stage, I need a retaining wall, and flint would have been the material most probably used for this. There may be a few more sections required, but the main section will be behind the loading bank;     If you excuse the placeholder shed and the wonky ex-mini rolls container 'bank', you will see what I mean. The card represents a wall which holds back the bank, but also continues to form a wall running alongside the track.   Unfortunately I can't show images of what this kind of wall looks like in reality, because I can't find a suitable image with the right copyright licence, but here are a few links to exactly what I mean:   https://ianfrithrn.wordpress.com/tag/horizontals/ - Third picture down   http://miniatures.about.com/od/miniaturescalebuildings/ig/English-Village-Facades/Lewes-Flint-Wall.htm   I've had various ideas on how to model this, but think I am set on using a 'core' of plasticard to get the thickness, with Wills 'Cobblestone Walling' painted accordingly for the flint. As for the brick course which can be seen in one oof those photos, some walls have it, some dont - as yet I'm undecided on if my walls will have or not. The 'capping' will be either DAS clay, scribed accordingly, or card, as used as ridge capping by the master Iain Robinson on this rather delightful model here . I was toying with the idea of scribing the lot from DAS, but I don't think I could keep the proportions right. Slaters do a flint wall product, but it looks a little too 'random' for what I've got in mind.   With the use of flint in mind, another wander onto the excellent Geograph.org.uk website has revealed a few ideas which are a little smaller and I think I could fit in. Again, these are all from Litlington - all images are credited accordingly using the nifty tool on the website with relevant info at the bottom of the pictures:           So hopefully this will give a little flavour of the actual area - as I continue to research I have no doubt I will find other 'possibles', but it will be nice to have plenty to try out and choose from. Any thoughts would be, as ever, very welcome!

dseagull

dseagull

 

Less Is More - A Space Oddity

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I had finalised the plan, at long last. Of course, a layout is much more than just a track plan, something which I feel is sometimes missed - that's why I've generally tried to call it the plan, rather than the track plan, as whilst the track is obviously important, it is how that it fits in with the 'minds eye' vision I have for the layout as a whole, that is more important to me.   That leads nicely onto the change - the bay. Most of the variations of the Litlington plan have featured one, as I've long wanted to replicate the rather attractive feature of Hailsham Station, that saw, up until 1885 at least, the cattle dock on the same siding that led to the engine shed. Unfortunately, despite many attempts, I couldn't fit this in how I wanted - it looked too cramped, so it had to go. I then tried taking the bay out completely, before going back to it, and then again trying to fit cattle pens and a shed into the space.   That's where that word comes in again - plan. It's easy to draw out a plan on XrrkCad, or even on the back of an envelope, but sometimes, somehow, that doesn't translate well when you have track on baseboard. In my last post, as well as the bay, I mentioned skewing the platform roads slightly. As usual, a picture paints a thousand words, so here then is the final track plan (word chosen deliberately that time!) for Litlington.     Apologies for the somewhat ropey quality of this, it was difficult to fit it all in with the tablet camera, but I hope it shows the general arrangement well enough. I've added to this a first mockup of the platform in finest printer paper, - which, now I've cut back the bay line can be extended a little. There is also, just about visible, the floor plan of the station building. This is, as has been mentioned previously, the Station Building from Hailsham. Hopefully it will look something like this photo from the excellent Disused Stations website.   The 'bible' for the Cuckoo Line, on which Hailsham station stood, is a book by Alan Elliott, printed by Wild Swan - well worth keeping an eye out for if you have an interest in railways in this part of the country. For the modeller, it has plenty of inspirational photos and also plans of nearly every structure along the line. Unfortunately I have misplaced my copy - but in a moment of foresight, I did scan in the drawings of the station building early on in the Litlington project, so have been able to print it and tape to some scrap cardboard as a mockup to test if it 'fits' in with the plan. You'll have to excuse the 'wonkiness' - the card is really too thin for the job, but it is at least the correct dimensions.     I'll be building this from scratch - an early attempt was started before, but looking at it with fresh eyes, I'm not happy with it and will start again. As I mentioned the other night - no rush!   Finally for tonight, I've now secured all the wiring to the underside of the board, and hopefully installed the frog juicers correctly, so when I can locate a suitable DCC decoder for the C Class next week, I can have a proper testing session. Once I'm content it works, it'll be ballasting time!

dseagull

dseagull

 

Taking the slow line

Well, as predicted in my last update, the first running over the layout did occur the following evening, using the bus wires temporarily lashed up to an old Hornby controller. Much to my pleasure, and a little surprise, the whole thing worked perfectly, with my new-to-me (a £60 secondhand bargain!) Bachmann C looking very smooth as she coasted down the gradient into the station, before exploring all the sidings.   I fitted the feeds to track through the bottom of the baseboard, using some cut down drinking straws as wiring conduits to avoid potential problems with the foamboard. These were installed by the high-tech method of a large screw driven through the cork, taken out again, and then the hole cleared of any residual foam by poking a screwdriver through it.   I then spent the weekend in ponderous mood, namely the thorny issue of point control. I'm undecided whether to power the points or not -I sold off my stock of Tortoise Point Motors a while ago, but if I do, it will be those again - but with the small size of the layout Wire in Tube operation is also a possibility. This also led me on to powering the frogs to aid reliability. This is something I've been particularly lazy with, and haven't done before - causing the unintentional opening of a can of worms on the subject of Frog Juicers, a rather nifty looking (to me!) product from the States which handles most of it for you. It seems to be something of a Marmite product, some love them, some think they are the work of the devil. I've looked into them, and for me, it seems they make a job I'm not keen on (wiring) a lot easier, of course at a cost, but equally so, it's no use having a layout full of beautiful stock if it won't run properly...   Late last night I decided to press ahead, and made the simple modification required to one of the points in the yard, so now will need to order a couple of the aforementioned Juicers to get things up and running again. Of course, this morning would be the time the car decides it needs a new cambelt as the water pump is rapidly failng... (and you can't change one without the other) - it may be time to dig through the boxes to see what can be sold off to booster the modelling coffers.   These changes have also seen me - finally -finalise the trackplan. I did some mocking up on Saturday - quickly knocking together the shell of a station building from some card from the recycling bag, but when placed in its intended place on the layout the platform looked a little narrow. So - the dock is to be shortened, which rules out an engine shed but will allow for the more realistic livestock pen, and the platform road and runaround have been pulled to the right, rather than going straight on. This has three of outcomes - firstly it buys a tiny bit more space at the front for something to block the scenic exit, the 'skewed' platform road enhances the nicely flowing look, and also it will allow space for a 'proper' station building. I'm at work at the moment, but will add a photo next update to show how this looks.   So - continuing to step in the right direction, and a change made which will improve reliability and in all honesty I should have been doing long ago. It's a marathon, not a sprint -there is no rush, and I intend to enjoy the journey

dseagull

dseagull

 

Firming things up

Tonight has seen a productive session on the layout, after a frustrating evening with the soldering iron on Sunday. Soldering is one of those things I cannot seem to get to grips with (that's blown any pretensions of being a Finescale modeller!) and after some soul-searching, I have decided to go with the Peco pre-wired fishplates, at least initially. If I somehow develop the ability to connect a piece of wire to a piece of track using hot metal in the future, I will change it.   These though have made life a lot easier for me - tonight I have put all bar three of the feeds in place (modelling time was slightly shortened by a non-sleeping baby this evening!), so tomorrow, all things being equal, could see the first trains trundle across the layout.   Talking of the layout, it looks a little different from the last plan...     I'm not sure what, but something didn't quite sit right with me about the last variant, so tonight, using the trusty map pins and some boxes rescued from the recycling bag, I went back to mocking up. You can see the gradient has already been put in place, the Woodland Scenics polystyrene profile is, in my opinion superb - it is nicely flexible but strong, and is cut very accurately. It cost less than £6 - and the box contained 6 2' sections. For that price, it is worth the 'time cost' alone to use it!   So - what's new. Well, from the Alfriston direction, trains still coast down the gradient but now run into what was previously the runaround loop and is now the platform - the Frubes box represents the station building for now. As before, the loco can cross over the level crossing to run around if required. Goods workings, however, are propelled back into the siding, which has seen a separate siding for coal pens reinstated. The white card (the folded innards of a Mini Rolls packet!) represents a loading platform, on which will sit a Goods Store, as preliminary research has revealed nothing in the local area which could possibly justify a large Goods Shed. The siding running behind the platform will serve either cattle pens (certainly more than plausible as a distinctly agricultural area), or perhaps an Engine Shed with the platform side wall being used to hold up a canopy (as at Hailsham, where the engine shed went in 1885 but one wall lasted until 1968!), or possibly even both (again, at Hailsham Station the cattle pens were on the approach to the engine shed.   As before, shortly after the station building is a level crossing, crossing over the lane. By far the biggest change though is the viewing side - it is now switched, giving more space at the 'front' of the layout to play with scenically, although in keeping with the 'rural idyll' master plan, think Greenery rather than industry!   I hope I have explained my reasons for yet another change well enough, and thanks for continuing to stick with me throughout the process. You never know, this time next week you might see some trains!

dseagull

dseagull

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