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IanLister last won the day on November 17 2011

IanLister had the most liked content!

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    Seahouses, Northumberland

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  1. Hi Pete. Shame about the step backwards, but if it's not working for you taking steps forward gets you to a worse place still. If you decide to lay sleepers, then ballast, then thread rail, you might want to try my method: walnut sleepers laid and stained, which look better than ply or plastic ones and take the solvent better because of the more open grain; then chairs threaded onto rail and stuck down with solvent after ballasting. You can do turnouts the same way; by laying the crossing, then ballasting, then gauging everything from the crossing. I've built 12 so far, with a further 6 just needing blades, and about 80-90 ft of single track so far and am really pleased with the results. Ballasting and painting the easitrac on my 2mmFS layout proved much more difficult than the tracklaying itself. I've tried the above method in 2mmFS and it works, by the way. I can let you know the walnut strip supplier if you wish; it comes in 1m lengths and is 2mm x 1mm section. Good luck with whatever you try Ian
  2. That's all impressively neat and tidy, and a clever design exercise. If only I could say the same about mine...... Ian
  3. IanLister


    Hi Ian. Really enjoyed the video; you've created a really convincing and believable scene. It must be a very satisfying layout to operate. Ian
  4. Thanks Pete. It does feel like I'm getting somewhere with this project. Ian
  5. Hi. Things are progressing steadily at Spittal. The summer and hot weather often results in a slowdown in activity for a lot of us; holidays, barbecues, family commitments and possibly a little heat-induced lethargy……..I’ve found the answer to the latter. Spittal is being built in a converted farm building with 3 foot thick stone walls, and though it’s south facing it stays wonderfully cool and comfortable even when outside is ridiculously hot; I’m not really a Mediterranean climate sort of person. So the weather can be used as a reason to go over to the workshop ‘because I need to cool down a bit’…………...how long before that excuse gets rumbled? The downside is that any kinks, doglegs, knackered bits in the trackwork can’t be blamed on climate change but are the results of my own somewhat hamfisted efforts! There’s been a steady sequence of visitors over the last few weeks. Firstly, Splinter and Screwit, the local carpentry firm, extended the layout by adding a further 2.4m baseboard, taking the length so far to 7.8 metres; I’m going to start a bus service to transport operators/helpers etc around the place. This allows the trackplan to extend as far as the start of the terminus platforms and the spread of sidings into the goods yard: Two tracks on the left are platform 1 and the release road/carriage siding, next are the bay platform and a release road which also serves the goods arrival road to the right of it. The right hand tracks fan out into the goods yard, with a branch leading off and down to Spittal Point and the fish quay starting at the goods yard entrance. Once the clouds of sawdust and bad language had cleared, next to visit were the PW gang and tracklaying engineers. The trackwork on the previous board is now nearly finished; just the long carriage siding and the coal drop siding to go, but the latter will have to wait until the coal yard is in place, which won’t be until the wiring underneath is completed……….complicated I know, but I’m trying to avoid crawling about underneath with a soldering iron as much as possible, for a lot of very valid health- and wellbeing-related reasons……… The trackwork now flows onto the new baseboard; 3 more turnouts are in place and just need blades to complete them. Once that’s done I’ll have a small runround loop and access to the headshunt and coalyard sidings, so work on the layout will be frequently delayed by passing trains/testing/playing/wasting time. While all this was going on, the signalling department were busily working on the breakfast bar at home, surprisingly. The end result was my first homemade signal; something I have been looking forward to with some concern and trepidation but amazingly it works: Construction involves a 3mm square length of walnut strip filed to a taper in the vice; easier than it sounds due to the nature of the wood. The rest is made of various bits from MSE and a couple of homemade parts. Just 11 more to build…..fortunately there are no 48 arm signal gantries, although the linkages for the 3 junction signals may prove a little testing. After all this mayhem, peace and tranquility descended on the layout in the form of the local electrical contractors, Tangle and Testitt Ltd, who have been brought in to try and save the world/sort out the muddle/connect things up. I’m actually very lucky to have the assistance and advice in this area of a leading exponent of all things electrical and DCC, without whose knowledge everything would be taking me a lot longer as I’d have to keep the instructions in one hand while doing various 2 handed and 3 handed jobs with the other one…..not easy, especially when the flowing of electrical current is as mysterious to me as the flowing of the River Styx of Greek mythology (you cross it to enter the underworld, apparently). So with lots of help, the track is all connected up to the DCC bus and it works. A twin 12v DC bus provides power for uncouplers, which also work, and Megapoints servo boards and relays for frog switching, which, amazingly, also work. Lots of little flashing lights and faint clicking and whirring noises accompany what can only be described as smooth and seamless operation; the signal pulls off in 2 stages, and bounces splendidly on returning to danger. Remarkable, really, and it bodes well for future operation. So my control panel now has 1 of 12 signal levers earning its keep, along with 3 of the 11 rather nice retro look rotary switches. I even did a small amount of it myself……….. On a practical note, the servos, controllers and wiring are largely on top rather than underneath, for ease of access from the back of the layout. It’s an advantage of building a layout set on a sloping river bank; there’s a retaining wall (the sort I used to sit on to watch the trains, and fall off occasionally) along virtually the whole length of the back of the station area which will hide it all, and access will be via cutouts in the backscene. You may notice in the photos my rather overcomplicated design of combined servo mount and wire-in-tube link terminal, and you may also notice the mk2 version operating the signal, which is much simpler: servo mounted snugly in a hole cut in the 9mm ply baseboard top and secured with silicone glue, so removable if necessary...this leaves the moving bit at exactly the right height and is much quicker and easier to do while being more secure. A loop in the springy operating wire copes with excess movement, and is easier than attaching the omega loops. The final visit, on July 1st, was by a group of about 20 visitors from the North East and Borders area group of the EMGS. We had a barbecue in the courtyard outside the workshop, and several of them brought stuff to run on the layout. It was really rather inspiring to see the bit I’ve done so far populated and busy with a variety of visiting locos and rolling stock; onwards and upwards as they say. Hopefully, anyway……..good weather, good food and good company. And now, for those of you who have just scrolled through the above because you just want to look at the pictures, let’s pop back to 1960: An almost brand new class 2 diesel on running-in duty is waiting for clearance to head off up the hill towards the ECML and the junction just south of the Royal Border Bridge. It’s heading for Kelso and St Boswells on the Waverley route. The leading coach still awaits its new maroon paintwork. Just behind and on the next track across waits a goods departure for the Alnwick and Cornhill branch behind a far-too-new looking K1. The reason for the delay is a delayed Edinburgh-Kings Cross express on the ECML blocking access to the junction; it’s apparently just leaving Berwick heading south, so the route should be clear in about 5 minutes. Both types of servo mount visible above, and in the last pic you can see the inconspicuous DG couplings, which work well and don’t look too intrusive; on a layout which will extend to 1.8m in widthe in some places (for scenic reasons) hand-powered uncoupling is not possible, I’m afraid. The goods stock is kitbuilt and weathered; the coaches and locos have been gauge-converted and fitted with Dgs, but I haven’t had time to weather them yet. In the pipeline: a goods brakevan, an RT Models chassis to convert my DJM J94, bought when I was intending to model in 00FS, more signalling and the rest of the trackwork on the new baseboard; and then, just for a change……….another baseboard which will take the track to the end of the station. Thanks for visiting Spittal; sorry if it’s been a bit busy. Ian
  6. IanLister


    Hi Ian That's looking good. If you decide to revisit wiring your posts try EZ line; it's available in the UK. It's an elastic polymer thread which comes on a reel and the elasticity deals with the sag issue and makes it very easy to put in place. The finer grade would work well in 2mmFS. It's an American product but available in the UK. I've used it for lineside wire and post fencing and also for fishing boat rigging on my 2mm layout. Ian
  7. Hi. How do I get rid of a dead blog? Ian Lister
  8. Hi Self-adhesive photo paper with an appropriately sized grid printed on is easy to align. I use two rows from the grid for each visible row, with the individual slates cut halfway through (one row). The uncut row makes for easy alignment as each row overlaps, and there's a printed line to work to. The photo paper is 110gsm, which looks about the right thickness, and is a dream to paint. Hope this makes sense; it's easier to do than to describe! Ian
  9. Hi I make my own corrugated iron sheets as used in the pic below: I cut strips of aluminium foil (the heavier duty stuff like turkey foil works best but any will do) about 10-12cm long and about 16-20mm wide. These are wrapped round one of those plastic screwtop lids with small corrugations to aid grip when opening; coffee jars, Nutella and various others. I look for deeper ones as they're easier to use. The foils is pressed into the corrugations by finger pressure and occasionally by pressing with a screwdriver blade or something similar. It can then be removed and cut to appropriate sheet size. It's easy to do, easy to glue and paint, costs next to nothing and has appropriately thin edges, which to me is very important from the appearance point of view. Hope this helps Ian
  10. Geraint Thanks for your kind words. My retirement dream was always to build a waterside ex NER branch terminus; Whitby was a place where I spent much of my childhood watching trains. We moved to the Tweed Valley when I retired and are now back in North Northumberland after 5 years living in a big motorhome and travelling. The workshop became available, and when I started researching the Tweed Dock branch and other NER plans for the area there was simply no other way to go........ Ian
  11. Hi Ian. The lever frame is a row of 12 Cobalt S levers from DCCConcepts. I'd love to be able to say I scratchbuilt it but I decided to take the shortcut to allow me to get on with other stuff; there's a lot to do!! Expensive but very good reviews and will do exactly what I want them to. They're already wired up to an NCE Minipanel under the frame; all I need now are the signals, the first of which I'm hoping to start on this weekend. Regards Ian
  12. Hi Time for a long overdue update on the progress on the south bank of the Tweed estuary….I know it’s been a while, but I’ve kept looking at it and thinking, “Not just yet, I’ll just get this bit finished first.” I keep going home and leaving bits and pieces all over the place and then coming back and picking up where I left off and truth to tell it’s not been very photogenic; a combination of mess, clutter and infrastructure work that’s not very spectacular. You wouldn’t want me to scare you with photos of that, would you? But now I’ve reached a point where, if you’re interested, you need to know where I’ve got to. The board I’m working on is the hub of the whole layout in several ways. It’s where the single track descending from Berwick and the ECML comes into Spittal and starts to branch into the station and goods yard approaches, and from where the industrial branches to Tweed Dock and Spittal Point start to diverge. It’s also the best place to locate the main control panel for various reasons. To understand the strategic importance of this bit, you need to know a little about the operating regime I have in mind…… Spittal is not a one-man operation. The run from fiddleyard to terminus is about 80 ft, and there are two significant branch lines to operate as well. Three or four drivers/shunters and a full time signalman is the plan, and I’m fortunate that a very friendly and supportive group of EM gauge modellers meet at the workshop once a week; I hope they’ll become the operating team. The signalman will be in charge of all train movements and will control this: The track diagram represents the hub of the layout: passenger facilities and runrounds, and the start of goods yard, Spittal Point and tweed Dock branches. Once trains leave this section, they are either on their way to Berwick, the ECML and Tweed Valley junction, or they are heading down the token-operated one-engine-only industrial branches or into the goods yard. Whichever of the latter it is, they leave the signalman’s domain and are not allowed back without permission. While there are passenger services to Berwick and Eyemouth, all stations to Edinburgh, all stations to Newcastle, and the Tweed Valley and Alnwick-Cornhill branches, in addition to excursion trains arriving, the vast majority of the train movements are freight orientated, with the goods yard, Tweed Dock, Spittal Quay and Spittal Point interacting endlessly to process a very significant amount of inbound and outbound traffic to and from all the destinations listed above. Trip and transfer freight workings will be almost continuous, and the traffic will keep the signalman very busy indeed. He has route-setting 2-position switches and a bank of 12 signal levers to control the movements. On the wall in front of him but behind the layout will be a 28” monitor, with a rolling train information display so he knows when he may have time to grab a cup of tea…….. The goods yard, and the 2 industrial lines, will have their own discrete control panels, which will be driver operated; as they are single engine operations it’s the obvious way to do it, and spreads the load somewhat. The control panel sits on the front of the station hub baseboard mentioned above, on which the trackwork is taking shape fairly quickly: There’s just a bit more tracklaying to do and then the job of connecting it all up, adding servos etc and building the signals for this section. One of the great advantages to me of working in this sequence is that once I’ve connected this bit up and added the long single track section I’ve already made and had running, the control infrastructure will be complete for the whole layout; 5 power districts with circuit breakers, the accessory bus and all. When I add the next board and track I’ll just need to hook it up to what’s already in place and it’ll be up and running, so the apparent hiatus in developing the layout while I’ve put the control infrastructure in place will actually speed progress enormously. One of the things that was worrying me about building the track on this board was my decision to ash ballast to the tops of the walnut sleepers before laying the C and L chairs and rail. This has worked well on the plain track sections with the use of a simple homemade jig to align rail position in relation to sleeper ends (there is a Templot diagram stuck down but you can’t see it because of the ballast!), but I was worried about turnout building using the same method. I built the crossings in place before ballasting, then added the ballast, and gauged everything from the crossings and it appears to have worked; my first 5 turnouts in EM/4mm and rolling stock runs through them all even without the check rails added…..which I’m leaving until the wiring and final testing is complete: The ballast is Advanced Lightweight Polyfilla stippled with a paintbrush; it will be painted/weathered after the track is finished by letting well thinned acrylic paint soak through it. The way in which the paint spreads through the ballast without soaking into the walnut sleepers is wondrous to behold, easy to do and a great time saver compared to the usual ballasting methods. I’m lucky the NER used ash ballast in this area on its branch lines. So there you are; evidence that I’m still alive and still busy developing the layout and loving every minute of it!!! If I’m honest, it’s my model railway dream coming true….the layout I always wanted to build one day in the future…… Ian
  13. IanLister

    don’t grass me up...

    Looking good and quick progress Pete. When I did the ground cover on my current project I was a bit disappointed with the uniform effect of the static grass, despite using different shades etc. I ended up adding a top layer of very short (2mm) dead grass fibres on top of the longer stuff, varying the density of the coverage. It made a fantastic difference, especially when intermixed with longer fibres in places to represent reeds, damp patches etc. Best of luck with future progress; I've just built my first EM turnout. Ian
  14. Hi Don Helpful photos, thanks. I've just finished my first test turnout and am really pleased with it. Walnut timbers and C and L chairs and rail. I built the crossing on a template as you have, but used short lengths of copperclad sleeper which are then cut back to disappear under the crossing. 2 bits of walnut are then added outside the crossing so it looks like a long timber. Fortunately height of copperclad is exactly the same as walnut plus chair, so it's easy to get it nice and flat and easy to fix down. I'll post some pics of the finished turnout in a day or two; suffice to say I'm now happy to proceed with the baseboard trackwork. Ian
  15. So, 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
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