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Railway Modelling Ramblings

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Boxes, boxes everywhere - transporting stuff safely

Exhibiting a layout can be a hard work and great care has to be taken to avoid damaging the layout. Stock and 'removable' scenic feature are also liable to damage in transport so packing can be very important. Having an 'everything in its place and a place for everything', approach limits both the potential to forget to take things and the potential for damage.   So this week I've been making boxes to help transport bits of Fen End Pit.   First up is are the boxes that fit the new large engi

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Level crossing gates, attempting to make gates

I've got to the point in this little project where I need to make some gates. We are talking great big LNER gates here, with enormous concrete posts and guy rods.   Some drawings were published on here a few years back so I drew these up in TurboCAD and chopped then out on the laser-cutter. Two thicknesses of .7mm plastic seemed to give the right thickness. I nipped in to John Lewis at lunchtime and purchased some material to try and make the mesh. I've sandwiched this between the two pieces o

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit - the rebuild begins

So, in addition to the works on my P4 Stour Valley epic I've been planning for a couple of years now to complete a rebuild/refurbishment of Fen End Pit. The original layout is suffering from 15 year old MDF syndrome and the ends of the baseboards in particular have suffered from a decade on the exhibition circuit. I still really liked the layout and it seems other people do too based on the comments whenever I took it out to shows.   There were also a few nagging design features which I felt I

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit - Show report and more on Slater's Simplex

The Ely Show was great, it was good to meet up and chat with several rmwebbers as well as various current and ex-colleagues. The layout operated well all day with faults limited to a broken rail joint on one point, a missing or failed dropped to one switch blade and a missing uncoupling magnet, not too bad for the first outing of a completely rebuilt layout. We had more troubles getting everything in the car than I would have liked but I think we just to learn how to back it better. The public r

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Sawston modelling day - Saturday 30th May

Please forgive the shameless plug and cross-posting from Middlepeak's blog.   Our regular group of 'Friday Nighters' here in darkest Cambridgeshire are putting together one of their 'mini-exhibitions', this time to give some financial support to the activities of St Mary's Church in Sawston. This will be a very informal affair - just a collection of layouts and modelling displays from our group across a range of scales from 2mmFS to Gauge 3! Among the exhibits will be -   Alex Duckworth, a f

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

J39 - progress

One of the things about writing a blog, as opposed to an article for a magazine, is that you tend to write as you model and put up pictures of 'work in progress'. As such it is probably common to publish something, possibly making it sound like 'the solution' only to then change it a few days later!   It has been like this with the drive for this loco. The gearbox ran very smoothly, but my attempts to get a decent drive from the tender located motor caused no end of problems. I tried putting i

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Vertical fiddleyard - I can go round and round again!

Having fitted track on two levels I thought I'd better get some power back on and make sure I could still drive trains round and round. This hasn't been possible since the original fiddleyard was removed in February. I wasn't happy with the idea of just feeding power to all the levels all the time as this seemed like a recipe for disaster. I could just imagine selecting the wrong loco on the DCC and then driving it off the top level when it wasn't aligned with the exit track! The solution I've a

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

F4 Chassis - a story in cackhandiness

Sometimes I suspect people only blog when they have got something that works, that demonstrates the best of their modelling, the kind of blog posts that get answered with lots of 'Superbs' and craftsman/clever likes. I guess this might be natural but possibly a little off putting sometimes.   So, Friday evening and the F4 chassis made it into wheel shop. We had the tools, we had the company, we had the coffee. The GW wheel press was prepared, I even had a brand new magnifying lamp from Hobbyst

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit - Track completed and wired on the new works board

Over the last month I've managed to complete the track laying on the final board of the rebuilt Fen End Pit. This board is completely new and will feature a two-road engine shed as well as the unloading point, conveyor and rotating screen. Most of the point work and track has 3D printed track bases simulating the corrugated steel sleepers of Hudson Jubilee track.     In addition to the shed I've added a siding at the front which I'm hoping to use to collect the 'reject' material from the sc

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit - Washer plant completed - and another 'announcement'

I managed to get some more work done on Fen End Pit's washing plant over the last couple of days. The 3D printed steps got installed and the power up to the washer motor got routed into a conduit. Overall I'm pleased with the result.       Now 'An announcement'   Fen End Pit was booked to appear at the Ely MRC's show on 19th May 2018. http://www.elymrc.org.uk/exhibition.html .When I received my news back in January I felt I had no choice but to withdraw the layout as I did not expect

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - 3rd baseboard constructed

A wander around Clare country park on Saturday (boy it was hot!) spurred me on to cutting the plywood for the next baseboard of my Stour valley project. Last time we went a few years back the station building was all boarded up and in a pretty sorry state. Fortunately it is now opened up again as a Tea room and it did a very decent bacon bap and cheese toastie. The booking hall is available for eating and features some nice photographs and map of the station.       Construction is all fr

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - playing with platforms

This afternoon I spent a few hours on the CAD and laser cutter. I started off making the last diagonal bracing and sticking that in. I cheated a bit this time around and purchased a length of 45 degree timber molding. This meant I could put in the diagonals without the pain of having to sand the ends of the brace to 45 degrees. The resulting baseboard has virtually no 'wiggle' despite only having 50mm deep framing.     I also spent a few minutes removing the cork underlay where the platform

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit - new lighting rig

One of the things I wanted to replace as I rebuilt Fen End Pit was the original lighting rig. It was constructed out of 6mm MDF, used florescent tubes and had some rather questionable main power. The layout is a slightly different shape than before so reusing the rig would have involved a lot of reconstruction work. I believe a lighting rig can make or break an exhibition layout and sometimes layouts which look good in photographs on the web or in magazines can really be let down by their lighti

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit - Giant Caterpillars

When I first build the 10RB dragline back in 2000 the tracks were made by heating plasticard under the grill and using a simple press tool to form each of the track plates. The result didn't look too bad but 17 years of service they had got pretty worn out. The plasticard was only 20 thou so the pressings didn't really capture the nature of the solid castings used for the tracks.     Ruston Bucyrus produced a number of different widths of track which would have been chosen depending on the

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit - Tipping Dock

Progress on the works end of Fen End Pit continues and one of the last features to reinstate was the tipping dock and mechanism. Where we previously had a much larger concrete pad which the conveyor magically sprung from (how anyone ever did maintenance on the bottom end of it was a mystery) we now have a much smaller concrete area and some rust plate doors for access. The oil tank has moved closer to the engine shed leaving the original side clear for the storage of more industrial junk.  

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

J15 - Chassis kit design

Well over a couple of years ago I asked my friends at Brassmasters about the possibility of them producing one of their EasiChas range of kits to fit the Hornby J15. These chassis utilize the original motor and chassis block put provide a method to fit EM or P4 wheels with some springing. The design has now covered a range of prototypes including various LMS, GWR and LNER locomotives. I have produced artwork for some of the Brassmasters range in the past (point rodding components and the origina

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour valley dream - Celebrating track laying with some pictures

Having got the Marks Tey bound platform road laid together with the remainder of the track on the second baseboard I thought I'd celebrate with a bit of stock and some photographs. Having 4 coaches pass the 'Wheeeeeeeee' test along the main line was most satisfying! I've got enough rail to finish the Cambridge platform but will need to get some more from Scaleforum.   A J15 sits with the pickup goods in the yard. This siding was also used as a lay-by. For some reason Clare castle has been repl

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Model shops and work on J20

I consider myself to be very lucky to live in a town which still has a shop with a worthwhile model department. Ely is lucky to have City Cycle Centre as it holds a very respectable range of paints, raw materials and tools as well as the usual RTR/RTP models. Also relatively locally a day of shopping with the family usually involves going to Bury St Edmunds (no one in their right mind attempts shopping in Cambridge, no parking, too many tourists and no model shop!). Model Junction in Bury is the

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Stour Valley in P4, now with the cork underlay

With the majority of the baseboard work completed on my first two board these were moved up to the railway room from the garage. The 'works' end of Fen End Pit got boxed up and space made to put the new boards in position. I couldn't resist positioning a couple of items of stock on the boards just for fun.       An order to Amazon last week resulted in 4 sheets of 6mm cork 2' x 3' being delivered. I'd deliberately order some quite thick cork available as flat sheets rather than rolls. So

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

Progress on multiple projects

I've managed to get a fair bit of modeling in over the last week working on a variety of projects.   The major project was getting the Stour Valley P4 layout back up on its own new legs. It was previously on the legs used for Fen End Pit so I had to dismantle it every time I went out to a show. Getting the 3rd baseboard up then encouraged me into some track laying, this went well but threading Exactoscale chairs onto rail is even harder than normal when your finger tips are tingling from chemo

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

First track laid - and nothing like starting with the easy bits

Time to finally start laying track and I decided that I needed to start with probably the most critical bit of the formation, the single slip and turnout into the loop. The template from Templot showed these a 1:8 crossings, which is actually the shallowest diamond that you can have apparently. Anyone who has ever made a diamond crossing will tell you the most difficult bit is making the obtuse crossings - they are a pig to get right. That said after spending the whole of Friday evening turning

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

What's holding Fen End Pit up?

This is not one of those blog entries about 'lost modeling mojo' or real life getting in the way but rather, hopefully, some useful ideas on layout support.   Many years ago a company called IKEA introduced Britain to the delights of IVAR shelving. This simple system used pine uprights and pine shelves, and to keep everything upright steel cross-braces needed to be purchased. The first usage I can remember for layouts was on Middlepeak wharf and several other people copied the idea! To complic

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

Fen End Pit

Fen End Pit

inset track

The lower level of Empire Basin is meant to consist of a coal yard and sidings next to the canal. I plan to use cobbles for some of this but thought I'd have a go with some rough tarmac too. This was built up using 'fun foam' from my local art shop which was cut to fit around the rails. The top surface is Green Scene's 'Yard Filth' textured paint.   I'd appreciate your views.   David

Fen End Pit

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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