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Rebuild, April - May 2019

47137

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April 2019

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.

 

- Richard.

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To-do lists can be very sobering! :lol:  But there are some projects you just need to do to move forward. Good luck with it, I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

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11 hours ago, Mikkel said:

To-do lists can be very sobering! :lol:  But there are some projects you just need to do to move forward. Good luck with it, I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

 

I dare not write up my list here, because I will simply tell myself "the list is up to date" and go on to do something completely different.

 

However, I can say the list is in two columns, "stock" and layout"; and the list of stock begins, "all new projects must be able to run on the layout"(!) This means no more 64ft coaches for a while, because 57ft ones look better, and no more Continental-outline trains. However much I admire them.

 

I have a long-term hope to build a compact exhibition layout. This would be a self-contained scheme based on Southern Railway practice, and be an attempt to represent some kind of "might have been" scheme. It will use the trains I am currently gathering up and making for the "preservation society". It is the 40th item on the list. Pretty dull by 4mm standards, but a bit different in H0. At home, this layout would become the sixth location on the Shelf Island project.

 

Plenty of plan, and enough to keep me going for years. It would be good to cut things off the list instead of adding to it.

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I like the sound of that exhibition layout, and having it as the "sixth location" on Shelf Island. That's one of the things I like about having a single overarching concept for multiple layouts, you can try off different things but still keep it all within the same overall narrative. 

 

 

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On 14/04/2019 at 07:11, Mikkel said:

I like the sound of that exhibition layout, and having it as the "sixth location" on Shelf Island. That's one of the things I like about having a single overarching concept for multiple layouts, you can try off different things but still keep it all within the same overall narrative. 

 

 

 

Yes. The core baseboard of 'Shelf Island' works as a stand-alone layout, as it should really - it is the plan of the "Gum Stump & Snowshoe Railroad" by the late Chuck Yungkurth.  The 'Fairport' board would work as a stand-alone micro too, and in fact the fiddle yard this works on its own as a loco depot without embellishments. The SR layout would work on its too. Connecting the lot together makes 24 feet of run on two sides of a spare bedroom, and 24 feet means around 80-90 seconds of maximum journey time at sensible speeds. The biggest restriction on the layout is its lack of fiddle yard capacity, and to be honest when I set out in 1:87 scale I never imagined this could be a problem.

 

There is a part of me wanting a roundy-roundy (with some junctions to connect into the project) but this really needs a rectangular room not an L-shaped one, and I don't have one of these.

 

As far as the narrative goes, well I must admit to having three groups of stock. Essentially, the modern railway (after around 1985) the old railway (say 1950-1970) and various models I simply like. They clash if they appear together, but they all look at home to me taken in their separate groups.

 

I've have a major decluttering excercise and sold on 30 locos in the last year. This should make things easier, except I've bought a few more :-). But looking at what is left I have been running trains this last week, and so not dismantled anything. It might be wiser to make the model buildings for the layout next and see how they look, then I can alter the main baseboard to suit these if need be when I take the layout down.

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Quite a railway! 80-90 seconds journey time sounds pretty good, you could even work up a regular delay during that time :-)

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I have realised, the way ahead is to finalise the arrangement of the scrapyard on the high-level section. There is a growing topic on scrapyards here:

https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/143753-scrap-heap/&do=findComment&comment=3532737

 

When I have the design I can set about dismantling the layout, rebuilding the track to suit, and sorting out the other deficiencies like the control panel, and I'll only have to dismantle the layout once.

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5 minutes ago, Mikkel said:

Quite a railway! 80-90 seconds journey time sounds pretty good, you could even work up a regular delay during that time :-)

 

I suppose I could have a timetable, and make sure trains arrive punctually and never early.

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47137

Posted (edited)

May 2019

The layout is now in bits. I am starting with the high level section, to arrange a new point and two new sidings for the scrapyard. This needs a new sub-baseboard, this will probably be in three sections. The middle section with the sidings to be fixed, and lift out sections front and rear to give access to the track underneath.

 

Providing access like this will let me block off the access from the front of the layout, and build a scene here.

 

The hardest part is deciding how far to go. It is tempting to lift the entire high-level branch, rework the level of the main line to soften the summit of its gradient, and then re-lay the branch. Doing so would let me lay the branch with BH rail, which would be more in keeping with the scene.

 

The layout will remain workable throughout this using the Bluetooth relay board, and I can then tackle the control panel when the new track is done.

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On 13/04/2019 at 10:26, Mikkel said:

To-do lists can be very sobering! :lol:  But there are some projects you just need to do to move forward. Good luck with it, I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

 

The layout is back together now with two of my items done

- the high level baseboard rebuilt

- an electrical socket for wiring to the extension to Fairport (replaces croc clips)

 

It was too daunting to build the control panel. Also, the layout consumes an awful lot of space on a folding table in the middle to the floor, life becomes unbearable if it is there for more than a week or so. It would be much more sensible to build the control panel as a stand-alone project, then dismantle the layout to install it.

 

It is important to remember this is is a hobby not a job. So I have moved onto something I want to try, this is a workshop building for the vehicle dismantlers.

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

Sounds like you have some progress. As for the rest, I know what you mean.  A wise approach :)

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47137

Posted (edited)

22 hours ago, Mikkel said:

Sounds like you have some progress. As for the rest, I know what you mean.  A wise approach :)

 

I have met a snag with one of the tasks on my list, and somehow this takes the pressure off. This is my list:

1. Rebuild the baseboard on the upper level - done

2. Electrical socket for the extension to Fairport - done

3. A new mechanism for one point (very difficult because all five electrical bus bars are running across underneath the tie-bar - I'll look for a better tiebar)

4. Control panel to be built and then wired in (easier to build the panel, then connect it later)

5. Ease the gradient on the main line

 

Easing the gradient is difficult. The branch to the high level section leaves the main line at a turnout. Beyond the turnout, the branch rises and the main line descends. So:

(a) If I lower the turnout (maybe re-lay the track without its cork underlay) then the branch gets steeper - and it's on the limit already.

(b) If I move the turnout along the main line I can ease both gradients, but I lose the original essence of the track plan - a self-contained switchback in a six-foot baseboard.

 

Four years ago, I was very much on the limit through my own design process,  and I will  now make a guess: Chuck Yungkurth used shorter points on his Gum Stump and Snoeshow line. My railway "works" and it fits into the space available, but the top of the gradient on the main line is a bit abrupt.

 

This abruptness is unattractive for longer stock, although its Kadee couplers do usually stay connected together (just). Long models which are also 'scale' models (like 63 ft coaches by LS Models) cannot run at all.  I'm going to have to live with this. I conceived my layout for small shunting engines and short-wheelbase wagons, and the limit comes with visual appearance rather than physical mechanics. I cannot have everything I want in such a limited length. The main baseboard has so many levels and gradients it really doesn't lend itself to being built in sections, and I have got to accept it for what it is: 74 inches for me: 2 inches over Chuck Yungkurth's plan and still short enough to carry upright through a household doorway.

 

This is probably quite a good thing, because I cannot optimise the track any more. I can think about the scenery - something I would usually start after laying the track. I have learnt a great deal about how model trains behave on gradients, and in my mind pretty much rubbished a lot of the doom and gloom written on the subject in books and magazines. I can (indeed, I must) accept the arrangement for what it is, and pretty it up. I enjoy doing scenery, so this should be good.

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