5 pointsSo, you wait 3 months for a blog entry and then 2 come at once……..I seem to remember buses like that. Yesterday was such a lovely day up here in North Northumberland; so calm it was almost windless and a clear blue sky. Just the day for a long dog walk on the beach or a walk up into the Cheviots? Actually it was perfect for going to the workshop, getting the workmate out into the yard and doing some baseboard woodworking without getting soaked and/or frozen and without the plywood flapping about. So I did, and took the stack of A4 track templates for the next section…..just in case. And then when I got there I couldn’t get the door open……….. Something appears to have broken inside the mechanism; when you turn the handle the latch pulls back but not enough to allow the door to open no matter how much fiddling about I do with it. So a call to the door fixer and he’ll be here ‘sometime next week’……...oh good. Fortunately we also have the unit next door and they’re connected internally, so Val’s hobby room became a sawdust-footprint-decorated corridor between the workmate (out in the sun) and the layout ( tucked up safe and warm in the workshop)…….and I covered several miles with various sizes and shapes of timber and ply, knocking the occasional supposedly precious ornament over now and again, but generally managing to behave myself. And it turned into one of those rare good days where everything you do just seems to work at the first attempt; so I got a lot done. When I arrived there was a 2.1m x 1.5m baseboard frame sitting on trestles in the middle of the floor. Legs for one end were already on the adjacent board so I made the ones for the other end, fitted the end profies and joined the baseboard to the next one with dowels and coachbolts. It all fitted together surprisingly painlessly, and was flat and level. The trackbed on this board is on the raised bit at the back, with a road, Carr Rock jetty and the river in front of it, which explains the width. A retaining wall runs along the back which will give me about 150mm of useable hidden space the full length of the board, so the 5 turnout motors on this board will all be surface mounted for ease of installation and maintenance; possibly Cobalt SS. The track templates were carefully trimmed and tacked together with sellotape; easy enough to do but not so easy to move about safely at 2.1m long! This allowed me to cut the trackbase as a single piece from a sheet of 9mm plywood; it’s a tricky shape as the front edge curves pretty much the full length and there’s a cutout for the coal drops. So far so good, except for the door, and it was only 2.30. I fitted 2 longitudinal trackbase supports along the full length, letting them into the cross profiles to a depth of 100mm, and glued the trackbase down with lots of heavy objects strategically placed; and then used the templates again to mark and cut the 3mm high density foam underlay. I get it from a company who make orthopaedic insoles and it comes from a 1m wide roll, so I can use it in big pieces. Stuck down with Evostik and with the templates added using Photomount, which was the trickiest bit as I stupidly decided to lay the whole length in one piece………..but it worked eventually, and is flat, correctly positioned and firmly attached. So, on to the tracklaying……….. My plain track sleepers are cut to length from 1m lengths of 3.5mm x 1mm walnut strip using a small guillotine with an end sto set at 34mm. It’s repetitive but strangely enjoyable as long as you keep your fingers out, and I can cut 600 or so in under an hour. The walnut looks good and is stable, easy to stain and weather, and seems to work with butanone and C and L sleepers better than ply; the grain is a little more open so I suppose the bond into the wood is more effective. I really like this product for sleepers. By now I was way ahead of schedule for the day, which is highly unusual, but I decided to make the most of it. So after a chopping session with the guillotine I laid the first sections of sleepering for this board: From the left, the first track is a siding leading from the end of the platform 1 runround loop; it’s used for storing coaches, mainly from the excursion trains coming down from the Borders mill towns or along the ECML from Newcastle or Edinburgh. It will hold 8 or so depending on type with any excess being taken up to stable at Berwick until needed. The next track leads into the station, coming down from the ECML at a junction just south of the Royal Border bridge. The third track from the left leads into the goods yard, while in the other direction it crosses a bridge next to the one in the photo and curves downhill to Tweed Dock. 3 or 4 short trip freights each day will use the dock branch; there’s a maltings, an oil depot, a Co-op distribution warehouse, a coal loader, a timber quay, a cement quay and a general merchandise quay, so it’ll be busy. The track on the right is the goods yard headshunt with the coalyard siding leading off it. At the far end in the photo there’s a short section of track that appears to be offset to one side; it’s not bad alignment, I changed the plan slightly after laying the templates on the first board months ago…..honest! So next, a few more sleepers and then the mysteries of EM turnout construction, which will be a first, though I think the fact that I built a few in 2mm FS should help a little. In the evening a few local members of the EMGS came round for our usual Wednesday night get-together and a very useful discussion took place about control panels, turnout switching and other stuff which I’m learning about; and I finally got home at 11.30pm. But it was a good day, despite the door. Ian
3 pointsFinally some progress! I've actually managed to clear out the space for the layout. The room as it looked... Insulation and moisture barrier installed. Sheetrock... We all love to do some sheetrock and mud and sanding, and mud and sanding.... I rounded two of the corners. I made a backing from two layers of 1/8" hardboard. I used 1/4" sheetrock that I wetted and bent to shape in the corners. The backdrop is now the next step (almost..) I need to install the lighting first. I painted a test piece just to see the colors and tonal values. It needs to be toned down a bit though. More like this test: I've ordered the carpet and all the LED light fixtures, so it's finally getting there.
2 pointsHi. It’s been 3 months since I last updated this blog, so please bear with me if it’s a little longer than usual as I believe I’ve made some progress in several areas. Before Christmas I decided to conduct various tests and trials to establish the coupling system for the layout. Much as I like the look of 3 links, the width of baseboards needed to accommodate the area being modelled, and the significant amount of shunting which will dominate activity on this very operational layout make their use totally impractical. I used DG couplings on my 2mmFS layout and enjoyed the experience once I’d learned a little about how to set them up and use them properly, so I decided I’d give the 4mm version a try. Dgs are available in 2 sizes for 4mm, one being for 00 and the other, significantly smaller, for more finescale use. As my layout is to EM track and wheel standards, with less sideways slop than 00, a minimum radius of 45” and B8 turnout geometry as standard, I decided to try the smaller ones first. On receiving them I was amazed to find they’re almost the same size as the 2mm version, which caused some doubt regarding mounting, projection etc. I shouldn’t have worried; after some fiddling about and experimenting with mounting positions etc I now have DGs fitted to my entire fleet…..which currently amounts to a class 26, 4 ex LNER non-corridor coaches and 5 goods wagons, so it didn’t take too long. I also have a test and setup track specifically for the couplers, with an electromagnet, coupler height setting block and the necessary electrics to connect the NCE Powercab and operate the uncoupler. So I have no excuses if any of the stock fails to behave in an exempary uncoupling fashion on the layout; maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that!!! I’ve also been attempting to progress the conversion of a Hornby K1 to EM gauge; a little nerve-wracking as it’s my first attempt at anything remotely similar and I don’t want to ruin it. It’s making progress but is currently awaiting the manufacture of a couple of necessary bits; I’m getting lots of help and good advice from local modellers who meet once a week at my workshop where the layout is being built, so I’m confident the end result will be worth the wait. I’m looking forward to seeing what was probably my favourite North Eastern steam loco leaving Spittal and powering up the hill to the mainline before heading off up the branch to St Boswells or to Alnwick via the A and C route. Most of my progress has been with the layout itself. Needing to get the section along the back of the end baseboards finished so I could move them into their final positions, the first job was to extend the track towards Berwick to the point where it disappears behind the Tweed Dock landscaping and runs along to the storage yard at the far end of the room. I then needed to finish the scenic work on the outside of the curve, including a fairly major exposed area of rock where the cutting side was cut steeply away when the track was laid. This has been done, and has paved the way for the fitting of the backscene on this section, prior to moving the boards back against the end wall into their final position. The backscene has given me much to think about. It can’t really be left plain as the land slopes up away from the riverbank round the whole stretch of the model, which totals about 85 ft. Photographic backscene wouldn’t work as photos from 1960 of this area are few and far between, and ones of the area I would need are non-existent. So I’ve decided to resuscitate a hobby I tinkered with as a teenager and give painting a try, with water-mixable oil paints so I have lots of time to change things as they take about a week to dry. The fact that I gave up back in the 70s as I was no good at it wasn’t going to be allowed to get in the way………….. So I’ve had a go at it, and am reasonably pleased with how it’s progressing, though there’s still a lot of detail to add on some of the buildings, particularly Allan Brothers’ sawmill, in the middle at the back. I’ve even added in the embankment fo the ECML; it needs to have some detail added to identify it as a railway line which WILL NOT be a passing train as my painting skills would definitely not stretch to that. The junction signal for the south end of the Kelso branch, perhaps, and maybe a telegraph pole or two; maybe even a permanent way gang readjusting the odd lump of ballast while concentrating on the important job of watching the shipping and salmon fishers on the river. I’ve also built the next baseboard in the sequence along towards the Spittal terminus of the layout. This will contain some of the station throat trackwork, the coalyard and the start of the Tweed Dock branch, which, from here, will curve back around in front of the track already laid, to enter Tweed Dock on the opposite side of the room. Although the area of track is only about 2ft wide, the board is 5 ft wide as it will incorporate an accurate representation of the Carr Rock jetty, an iconic and historic landmark I cannot leave out if the model is to do justice to the area. Before Tweed Dock opened in 1876 it was the only deep water berth in the estuary. Completing the trackwork on this board is the next job, and will allow me to then work back around the layout to Tweed Dock, or to continue building down into Spittal; decisions, decisions!!! And finally, a couple of shots of the Kelso branch passenger train drifting down the hill into Spittal; this photo actually makes me think I’m getting somewhere with this somewhat ambitious project! Regards Ian