When I laid the track for the previous version of Addleford Green I learned a few lessons. I had elected to mount the point motors directly beneath the track, therefore having to cut holes in the baseboard. I had never done this before but felt it might help with the dreaded point motor alignment. Despite my drilling and cutting being somewhat gung-ho, everything worked well. That was until it came to ballasting.
I'm not sure if it was due to the over-large holes beneath the track or a lack of track pins, but when it came to ballasting I found that the glue seeped beneath the track, along with ballast itself, and actually lifted it up. This created small differences in height between rails and although it didn't adversely affect running, it was annoying to say the least. I've never had this problem with ballast before. This time around I decided to use PVA glue to hold the track down - no track pins! This should eliminate any potential lifting - I hope. Plus track pins aren't exactly realistic and I'm aiming for a higher standard this time around.
The track used on Addleford Green is Peco code 100 streamline with electrofrog turnouts. I'm not overtly fussy about the accuracy of track and tend to be quite clumsy when working around it, so prefer something a bit more sturdy! Besides, with some appropriate weathering and careful ballasting I find code 100 to look perfectly acceptable. This may seem a bit at odds with my previous statement of wanting to build something more realistic but I go by the old tenet of "If it looks right..." and to me, it does! I ultimately always prefer Peco track over the offerings from Hornby, simply because Peco's flexible track is easier to work with. Point motors are Hattons own HAT-PM-01 solenoids which are a far cry from the old Peco ones. The metal arm to operate accessories was insanely perfect for my micro switches.
On the previous version I had used insulfrogs because I had little experience with anything else. But because I wanted slow running and were to use mostly short wheelbase locos I soon found the plastic insulated frogs to be a real issue. I also started to have a problem with the blades of the turnouts needing to be cleaned on every operation due to dirt buildup stopping conductivity. Having a complete restart allowed me to review these issues. I read long and hard about the pros and cons of making electrofrogs "electrically friendly"; some said it was a must, some said they could be used as they were, straight out of the box. Wanting to have the most solid possible wiring, I elected to cut the wires underneath the turnout, bond the switchblades to the main outside rails and power the frog from a polarity switcher. There are many articles on RMweb about this, so instead here's a photo of how my switch marries up with my point motors:
Here is the entire underneath of the baseboard, currently supported on two bricks! Short legs will follow in due course. Please be kind to my wiring; I'm far from being an electrician but I have tried to be as neat as possible.
Continuing with the theme of electrical stability, I have attached dropper wires to every piece of track using 16/0.2mm wire. The power bus wires are stripped from inside a household mains flex cable. Copper adhesive slug tape has been used as a point where multiple wires can join - works a treat! Power comes from an ancient Hornby R965 controller which I have had for a good 15 years. The control panel fascia is a piece of satin white acrylic with a track diagram spray painted on from a homemade card template. I painted the switch levers to differentiate momentary point switches (black) and isolation switches (brown). Micro switches for point polarity switching were bought cheaply from eBay and were far easier to install than I had anticipated. The point motors were a real pain to get lined up - a perennial modelling issue and nothing to do with Hattons' point motors - and I have easy access to both sides of my board. I can't imagine how hard it is for those with bigger layouts!
Track weathering has begun on top. I started by masking areas I didn't want painted and placed small pieces of card between the blades of points. This kept the points from gumming up with paint and also maintained the connectivity of the blades by keeping them free of paint. Although this idea is redundant due to my level of wiring, it can't hurt to have a backup - belt and braces! I began painting with a coat of Halfords grey primer from a spray can. Previously I had not used primer first which lead to a poor effect when the actual coloured paint was applied. Paint was wiped from the rail heads immediately after application. It dries pretty darn fast so you have to be quick! After the primer had dried fully it was followed with an all-over coat of Phoenix Precision Paints Sleeper Grime. Used with the primer this had a great effect. The sides of the rails and chairs will be picked out separately with Phoenix's Rusty Rail paint, which I have seen used to good effect elsewhere.
All for now,
Next blog: More track weathering and planning scenics...