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Railway Modelling Ramblings

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Stour Valley Dream - More on bridges, trees, oh and a J20

Progress has been made on various projects I thought I'd share.   First up, on the small river bridge, I re-drew the 3d model for the girders and added the walk-way and handrail supports. These were threaded with brass wire and bent to shape. The result makes for a fairly unique bridge, certainly one in the 'you couldn't make this up' category.     While I've been waiting for paint to dry I decided to start preparing some trees. I'd bought some tree armatures sold

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour Valley Dream - Sculptamold and ballast

I've been making slow progress on the scenics over the last couple of weeks. I've covered all the polystyrene with a layer of Sculptamold and got what I hope will be a suitable base for static grassing in a future.     I'd not used this stuff until I was recommended it by one of my friends, having always used modrock or other plaster bandage type things in the past. I've been very impressed as it dries quickly, forms a strong layer even when applied quite thinly and is very

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour Valley Dream - Building bridges

I've made a start on the girders of the river over-bridge at the Cavendish end of the station. This bridge is still there but one of the girders has been removed. There are two distinct bridges, one with very conventional plate girders which supports the running lines and another bridge with really odd cast girders which supported the original coal siding, removed by the time I'm modelling.       One of the difficulties that I'm facing is that, as is inevitable, I

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit - a few pictures from the March show

A fine day out yesterday at the March MRC show. Thanks to the organizers for their efforts, good lunch and excellent provision of tea. There were a good number of people through the door and we had an appreciative crowd.   Getting the layout up and running gave the opportunity for a few pictures so I hope you'll forgive the indulgence of posting them here.     The Simplex 40s sat by the small loco shed, I need to look at the power collection as it wasn't picking up

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour Valley Dream - Drivers eye view

My son bought me a little present for my birthday, a tiny video camera.  It fits nicely on a flat wagon and conforms to British loading gauge in 4mm scale.  The inevitable result has been a Youtube video showing a run through the station.     It shows up my dodgy track building rather well and I need to get better with the video editing software to fix the colour balance a bit better. I did try the 'black and white old film' effect which is really rather fun but I thought I'

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour Valley Dream - Let terraforming commence!

After an enjoyable trip to the Biggleswade show on Saturday I spent yesterday making a start on the basic land forms for my model of Clare station. I had saved a load of 1/2 inch polystyrene which had been used a packing material for some 'up-market' glass white boards we had taken delivery of at work. I hadn't thought the landscape around Clare was particularly hilly but was still surprised by how much polystyrene was required. Sometime ago I purchased a hot wire cutter and this was my first ch

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Home-made mini-sander

I wanted be able to put a mitre on small pieces of MDF which are used to make walls. I've decided that mitred corners look nicer than trying to interlace or butt joint but sanding the mitre is a pain. I looked at bench sanders as a way to do this but the commercially available tools are quite expensive (around the £80 mark) and mostly very large (sanding disks around 8 inches).  So I thought I'd have a go at making one myself.   I laser cut the bulk of the components in 6mm ply and 3D

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour Valley Dream - Blimmey look at the size of that!

I've been doing a lot of test running over the last few days, running trains around at ludicrous speeds and watching what falls off where then trying to fix it. I've also had various older bits of stock out and been working over issues on them.   So out of the draw came the old faithfully Gibson J15, powered by a small portescap with an extra idler gear. I tried shunting wagons in and out of the coal siding and it kept stalling so it was out with the cotton buds and lighter fuel. Just

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour Valley Dream - Fiddleyard complete and more trains running

Over the past couple of weeks I had some fairly major works trying to do a 'proper job' of the wiring which I had previously just jury-rigged to allow me to run the first trains around and around. This work included getting the second road of the fiddle-yard working and wiring up the turnouts at either end of the loop. The sharp eyed among you will also notice that I'd made some of the cassette handles too low for a Great Eastern chimney - doh!       The turnouts are op

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - first trains around the room

I finally managed to build the last sections of baseboard for my layout, these two sections were both odd shapes and needed to be drawn based on the reality of what I'd already built and not just from the overall master drawing. I've already discovered that 'square' means a different thing to builders and walls aren't always at 90 degrees to each other!   The short section over the right hand side of my desk carries a 3'6" radius curve which is does most of the turn back to get along the wall

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - Into the fiddle-yard and plans for mill siding

The corner of the room has two baseboards, one which will feature a scenic area with the mill and the other, much narrower board, for the fiddle-yard. These two boards don't have the space for the curve which leads into the fiddle-yard because this needs to be removable so that the 'crew lounge' can be used as a bed when we have guests.     The resulting extra board is a bit of an odd shape caused by a desire for the rails to cross at right-angles to the the baseboard edge and for the perma

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - fiddleyard cassette shelf and more work on J20 tender

As today wasn't too cold I managed to get out to the laser-cutter and cut the the two sheets of ply needed to make the cassette shelf for the fiddle-yard. This is a single board nearly 6 feet long which is held on the wall by some ply brackets. The shelf is now on the wall and I am really happy with the result.       I also managed to get the point to my fictitious 'mill siding' laid. I've used the new Peco bull-head rail joiners to join the point to the plain track here and they are exc

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Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - a bit of etched brass for a change , a J20 tender

As a break from plywood engineering (and a cold garage) I decided to do a bit of work on my 'Friday evening project', my 4mm Crownline etched kit for a J20. The engine itself is coming along nicely and is waiting for its day in the wheel shops soon. So I thought it would be a good time to work on the tender. Crownline kits are 'a bit old school' so the chassis makes no allowances for springing/compensation. I cut out the chassis etch to fit High Level 2mm bearings and these are sprung using wir

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Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - fiddle-yard cassette clamp

So, here is the problem, cassettes are a great way to make a fiddle-yard but a complete pain if you want to make that fiddle-yard part of a continuous run. You need to be able to make the cassettes butt together tightly and align accurately but you also need to be able to get them in and out. If the ends of the fiddle-yard, where the cassettes join the main layout, are fixed at both ends then this is virtually impossible, either you will have a fit so loose that trains will derail or the cassett

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - more thoughts on fiddle-yard and final scenic baseboard

Over the last couple of weeks I've managed to get the final scenic baseboard constructed. This board will house the completely fictitious sidings to a mill. I've already got most of the mill buildings which are based on Ebridge mill in Norfolk. The board is a slightly odd shape to incorporate a removable section which will lead the track round to the fiddle-yard. This is made removable so that the bed which sits in the railway room can still be used when needed as a bed!     At the other e

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - first thoughts on fiddle-yard

Now I have got the baseboard around out of the scenic section into the corner built I needed to make some track and think about fiddle-yard design. Off-scene I am happy with using ready to run P4 track rather than laying timber sleepers and plastic chairs. I decided that the corner might as well have a small cassette fiddle-yard so that I can use it to reverse trains when the loop over the door is not in place. I've built a B6 point on paxolin which gives access to the cassette or to the circuit

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Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit - Steam in Beds

An excellent day out was enjoyed by the crew at Steam in Beds in the village of Eaton Bray near Leighton Buzzard yesterday. I suggested adding an incorporating 'Diesel's near Dunstable' tag line should have been added to the exhibition flier! The chancel arch of the parish church was once again filled by Fen End Pit, the layout performed well with very few problems that couldn't be solved quickly.         The new M1/A5 link road made for an easy journey and the provision of bacon butt

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Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - Completed loop and a video to show it

So the fifth baseboard got drawn, cut and constructed, together with the cork for the track bed. Then I got as far as sticking down the sleepers and laying 3 feet of track before the temptation to 'play trains' took over. As I now have a little bit of track at either end of the loop I can now pass trains. I got a variety of stock out of the cupboard to make sure it would run.   A Cravens DMU (Bachmann) arrives from Cambridge passing the goods yard, the reason for a Class 31 and 4 Mk1s in the l

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Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - Completed trackwork on fourth baseboard

After a couple of weeks I've now completed the cross-over and catch point on the fourth baseboard. Following prompting from 'Western Star' I redrew the cross-over using a pair of C8 turnouts which meant I could use the pre-prepared Vs I'd bought from C&L earlier in the year. I'm quite pleased with the results. I also managed to get the baseboard pretty much wired up.   Wiring up is quite straight-forward with DCC and the MERG control system CBUS.   I drilled loads of holes and threaded

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - Coal siding constructed

A couple of blog postings ago I included a photograph of my Claud in the platform waiting for more track to be built before it could proceed towards Long Melford. Well it didn't have to wait too long before it could go at least a little further. The siding kicks back behind the station master's garden and it is just long enough for four coal wagons. The siding was reconfigured between 1953 and 1957 as far as I can see.   Now all I've got to do is build a pair of B10 turnouts to close the loop.

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Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - Introducing 'The Jogglater' - P4 point construction

I got back to building more pointwork today, the first for some time. One job I always feel a bit wary about is getting the joggle in the stock rail where the end of the switchblade fits. One of the recommended ways to do this is to bend the rail twice with a pair of pliers. I've always found this a bit hard, because you need to get the two bends accurate or else you end up with the rail bent in the vertical plane and then nothing will ever run over the point correct ever.   What we are after

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Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - Popping more cork and a guest NG locomotive

An hour on the lasercutter this morning allowed me to mark the trackwork for the fourth baseboard onto 6mm cork. The marking out was pretty much perfect but I over-cooked it on the cutting power. Cork cuts really quite badly and you need a lot of power to go any distance into the material with the corresponding charring.     Marking out the cork this way does allow you to make sure you correctly get the flow of the track.     My Claud (D16/3) waits patiently for some more track before

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Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - 4th baseboard constructed

A good few hours in TurboCAD, followed by some time on the laser cutter produced parts for the fourth baseboard for my Stour Valley project. This board was a bit more complex than the previous three because it needed to accommodate the small stream which I think was originally part of the moat of the castle. I only had to recut one piece where I screwed up the drawing which is pretty good going!   The ply was stuck together with Gorilla glue, which got me thinking, do they make it from Gorill

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Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - The first pick-up goods

Over the last couple of weeks I managed to get the remaining line in the platform laid and wire up the remainder of the track. The result means that I can now play at shunting trains in and out of the goods yard.I tried with a mix bag of stock in terms of springing/compensation/solid axles and my fussiest locomotive - an unsprung Hornby class 31 (must order new sprung chassis from Mr Rumney soon). I filmed the result.     We had a few days away last week and stayed in a beautifully renova

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

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