Well, the navvies have been hard at work and most of the trackwork at the Grand Terminus Station has been laid down. Or if you prefer I’ve finally managed to glue two Peco points and 26 inches of flexitrack onto a foamcore baseboard.
There are a couple of changes from my original mock-up. I’ve used a Y point to give a few extra centimetres of length to the rear track, and I’ve decided to use a horizontal traverser sliding between the two tracks at the end of the station, rather than a pivoted sector table. These changes mean I can fit an island platform around 2 inches wide between the tracks. That would have been acceptable at a time when Railway Inspectorate regulation was distinctly light touch; yet another advantage of the period for the slap-dash modeller!
Wooden rods (stirrers from coffee shops) beneath the baseboard operate the points. I like Mercontrol for point operation, but you can only put a point lever in one place and I wanted to operate this layout from both the front and the back. With a width slightly over four inches it’s possible to run the coffer stirrers under the board so they stick out on both sides. I’ve painted them matt black to match the foamcore, and since the front of the stirrer only has to jut out a centimetre from the front facia to grip it, I don’t think they will be too obtrusive.
Peco streamline points have a small plastic circle in the middle of the tie-bar, designed to fit around the bar of the Peco point motor. But it also fits the track pin I use to link the tie-bar and the coffee stirrer. To be on the safe side I've made supporting brackets for the point rods from sawn-up disposable razors (the U channel handle from Lidl’s razor holds a coffee stirrer snugly) and freebie Health Lottery plasticard. I don’t think these brackets are absolutely necessary, but I had the materials in stock and wanted to experiment. I’m a great fan of simple, low tech, cheap solutions, and so far this arrangement is working well.
The free, help yourself Health Lottery plastic cards displayed in supermarkets are actually very good quality 0.030” / 0.75 mm plastic card beneath all that advertising guff on their surface. They cut, score, snap and glue very well indeed. Cement-style plastic glues don't work (as the advertising coating on the surface doesn't melt), but superglue sticks extremely well. It’s a source of modelling material that I use a lot, and you’ll probably be heartily sick of hearing about its virtues after I’ve posted a couple more updates.
I bought some brass cosmetic fishplates from Wizard Models a few months ago (they’re actually made by the EM Gauge Society). As an experiment I’ve superglued a few of them onto the Peco rail joiners around the points (but only on the side of the rail that the viewer will see): they can be seen in the bottom left of the photo below. So far they don’t seem to interfere with the running of locos or stock, even with Bachmann’s rather coarse US profile flanges, so we’ll see how they go.
You probably can’t have too many fishplates on an 1840 layout. Companies like the Birmingham & Gloucester and the London & Croydon used rails that were 15 feet long. (I’ll let you decide how uncomfortable the constant jolts would have been for passengers on wooden second-class seats at top speeds of 30 mph.) For the purist, fifteen foot rail lengths would mean fishplates every two inches in HO. So Setrack rails may be too heavy for 1840 track, but their length is considerably more authentic than my yard-long lengths of Flexitrack!