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About this blog

How I am turning the attic into a tribute to steam in the 1930s

Entries in this blog

iTrain - It's not that hard

Having deleted RailMaster, put my Hornby Elite in the electronics recycling bin and swapped in a Roco Z21 controller with iTrain I wanted to see how they worked with my layout before getting into the detection side of things.    Here's my layout in Hornby RailMaster Pro I have enabled displaying the point's ID numbers as I want to refer to them when setting up the same points in iTrain. The old Railmaster  diagram does resemble my layout ..   Comparing that to a pr

Saying goodbye to RailMaster

I have several posts on RailMaster(pro edition) on this blog as I got more and more into it. It is simple to use and suited my needs as someone new to DCC. However I have been more and more frustrated with its reliability: It is not designed for Windows 10 It has an arcane licensing setup It has a lot of lag on throwing points and sending functions to locos as it is working like an old dial up modem over a com port and this also means it takes ages to read and write CVs to

ADM turntable

A quick search on the internet for turntables will likely get you a list of products for spinning your vinyl collection rather than for an accessory for your model rail layout. I mention this because looking underneath an ADM turntable you'd think it was a record player - It has a toothed belt drive and a pretty sophisticated circuit board amongst the other wizadry.  Land Rover may have had a hand in its design as it looks very robust and is reassuringly heavy and it's so well built you cou

Euston we have a problem

Apollo 13 suffered from a main B Bus undervolt resulting from an explosion. my layout just no bus B just a single bus to control them all. However I did get a couple of shorts after some redsign work and that took a long time to find so here’s the sorry saga of how not to wire up your layout and what I did to fix it, which I hope you'll find useful   As I say, I just have the one bus as my layout only has 70m of track 40 points, and I'll never run more then 4-5 locos simultaneously as

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Rolling Rolling Rolling

I felt I needed a rolling road to run in and test loco's. I originally started with the DCC Concepts one as I like their stuff but it's fiddly to line the rollers up for longer locos with tenders and the units come off the track very easily. So it's quite easy for the loco and tender to fall off  and I have damaged a lovely Hornby T9 because of this .  To be fair I normally work on locos standing up and my mark I mobile testing box shown below is  quite high plus I could be less clumsy.

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Backscene Blues

Photographic backscenes are great but my niave design decisions precluded my form using them and so I had to rely on my artistic skills to make my own.  Let me explain:   My layout is in the attic and was designed when I was new to model railways and BRM. With hindsight and reading more I probably got the track to close to the edge of the layout (120mm in some places). To make matters worse  the basic pyramid shape of my loft means that my backscene is only about 120mm high:  

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Going round the bend

Maybe this is not that interesting for everyone, but then I started to lay the track and that is when I realised I wanted to share a couple of things that'll be more useful to others: Lofts can experience a wide range of temperatures and humidity which can deform track and baseboards, particularly in the summer. This did affect me last year even though there is no direct sunlight coming is as the velux windows face due North. Some of my track did move in the hot weather and as my layout

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Mistakes

I have been away for my layout for a while, and going back up in the loft now it's warmer I realised I had made some mistakes around my planned station and also that I could add more sidings to my design.  Problems first: The three way point and double slip at the North of my layout were not at the right angle meaning that the outside curve was too tight and too close to the edge of the layout The planned platforms were too wide and would not allow my enough space to add the

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12 Short Circuit Safety for 3 way points

I have one three way point on my layout and I want to ensure a loco approaching the this point to the straight route.  However controlling the frogs on a live frog three-way point uses up the spare switches on the cobalt motors.. The other complication here is that a three way point has three routes so both motors have to be set correctly to prevent a short/derailment when approaching the straight ahead route against the point.   My solution is in two parts: To totally isolate

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11 - Safety First

A train arriving at a point set against it is in trouble. In real life lives might be at risk where in my loft the worst I'll get is a short and loss of pride as this will definitely be down to human error.   The short occurs because the frog on my electrofrog points will be wrong and therefore anything creating a circuit from the frog to the track connected to the that frog will short: My DCC Cobalt DIP motors control the frog polarity as they are wired like this:  so when the p

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10 - Wiring Reverse Loops

On my layout I have three areas where a train can end up going back the way it came - the two routes in purple and yellow and a turntable:   The turntable example is obvious if you think about it - If I rotate the turntable 180 degrees the train is now facing the way it came and when a train crosses from the turntable back on to the track it came from a short would be created unless something is done to avoid that. The other cases on my layout are not so easy to understand but essentially the

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9 - Wiring and controlling a three way point

I had a lot of trouble understanding three way points so in this post I thought I would share what I learnt. On my layout I am using Peco Electrofrog 3 way points (SL-E199), motorised with DCC Concepts Cobalt DIP motors, and controlled from Hornby Rail Master Pro edition, but a lot of this probably applies to anyone working with DCC.   There are three frogs on the point each with its own frog wire labelled A, B, & C, in the photo. The polarity of these is controlled by the two point moto

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8 - Wiring and controlling double slips

If you have been following this series you'll know my DCC based loft layout uses Peco 75 Electrofrog points, DCC Concepts Cobalt point motors and Hornby RailMaster for control.   Elelctrofrog double slips are interesting and about £65 to setup (point plus two motors), and in this post I wanted to show you what I did do get one of these working as I wanted with the infrastructure I have   The simple thing to remember when wiring these is that the point motor opposite the frog is the one that

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7 - Wiring and simple point control

A recap: My layout relies on a lot of DCC concepts stuff - like points and wiring, Hornby RailMaster for point control, and Peco 75 Electrofog points. Specifically I have the RailMaster pro pack as well which in my opinion is actually essential on a complex layout. At the time of writing Hattons have RailMaster for £5 so even with the £29.95 Pro upgrade it's cheaper than a decent coach.   Here's my layout in RailMaster and on the right my locos are all ready to be used:   RailMaster has a

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6 - The Basics of Wiring

Most of my track is now tacked down into position and I have prepared the track for DCC: Used insulating rail joiners around the point work and for the reverse sections on my layout Pre soldered dropper wires to the flex track on the underside so it won't show at all post ballasting. Drilled holes for the points - for the point motor connecting rods and frog wires Now I am ready to wire up power to the track and point motors.   I am only planning to run three or four trains at

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5 - PowerBase

It's been a while but I mentioned last time that I am using the shallowest 2% inclines from Woodland Scenics but even so I am worried that this will limit how long the rakes of coaches that can be pulled up this relatively steep gradient. So I did a test with my trusty Terrier which fitted with a DCC Concepts Zen decoder and with added lead in any spare cavities to maximise weight!     It could pull 4 coaches up the incline from a standing start but no more. To be fair that's about all it

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4 - Track Laying

Transferring a track design from screen or paper to the baseboard was not that easy for me, so in this post I wanted to share some of the things I did. In my loft nothing is really square or level so I setup an origin point and height and worked everything out from there. You can see this as the origin on my SCARM layout: I then worked with a 2 metre spirit level, a laser guide (for height and right angles) and a 1m length of aluminium profile drilled out to attach to a camera tripod to mark ou

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3 - Baseboard construction

There are many opinions out there when it comes to baseboard construction. However like choosing anything it depends on what you want and good design is about compromise. What I wanted was a baseboard that met the following criteria: Light weight - I wanted to keep the weight on the existing loft ties to a minimum and not cut or drill into them anymore than was necessary. Stable - humidity and temperature variation in any loft can be quite large and even though I have good insulation it ca

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2 - Layout design principles

The only internal timbers in my loft are three ties at roughly chest height you can just see all three in this shot of the loft as it was insulated It seemed logical to use this to support my layout. Timber in 1946 was clearly of better quality as these are just 50x100mm in section and yet they stop the roof sagging by being connected to purlins around the edge of the roof. So I couldn't easily move the tie in the middle of the picture (the one with the red pressure tank next to it) and I would

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1 - Introduction - why and where

​This is a new blog from an eccentric that has only just decided to get into model railways.   Like many kids I had a train set. In my case my dad got me & my brother a Hymek Freightliner set from Hornby. It was setup on an 8' x 4' board and stowed under my bed when not in use. We got bored of it pretty quickly and eventually it died a horrible death like some of the figures in the original Toy Story! 50 odd years later and I suddenly got the urge to look at the train again while recoveri

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