Last year, I pretty much ignored the layout from January through to the summer time. I've been on a bit of a roll of model making since then and I've had plenty to write about for the blog. Then I sat down a few days ago and wrote out a list of things to do. There are 27 self-contained projects for trains and 13 tasks and mini-projects for the layout. The train projects can keep me going for years. But the main part of the layout really does need some attention. It is still an open-topped baseboard with tracks running through empty spaces. There are two mistakes here I need to put right.
Firstly, the layout has no control panel. It has some relays to drive the point motors, and there is a Bluetooth link from these relays to my smart phone. But I cannot cope with a touch screen for operating the layout, and I spend too much time trundling "test trains" up and down the main line. I want to build an old-fashioned control panel with a mimic diagram and some toggle switches, and I need to turn the baseboard upside down to put this in.
The second mistake is the vertical curvature of the main line at the top of its gradient. It's more like a kink than a curve, and although most combinations of wagons and engines stay coupled together, operations get too dramatic when they don't. The movement of trains at the "summit" is very abrupt and rather spoils realism. I've laid this bit of track twice now, I have made it better but it's still wrong. Changing it really needs me to move a turnout and its stall motor along the baseboard, and if I do this then a headshunt will become too short and the main baseboard will no longer be a self-contained layout.
While the layout is in pieces I can attend to a point blade which keeps coming adrift from its tie bar. I have a sliding mechanism from C&L to replace the role of the tiebar. I can also remove the narrow gauge tracks (too much track in the space available) and make a better access into the tunnel. I can add an electrical socket to take the track power on to the Fairport baseboard too, then I can dispense with the crocodile clips I've had up until now.
So I am expecting the layout and this blog to go quiet for a while. I have an oval of Kato Unitrack I can set up to run trains if the withdrawal symptoms get too bad. This really is a most engaging hobby, there is always something new to do.