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ian

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ian last won the day on June 23 2010

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  1. So hopping in our TARDIS we go back 3 hours and 7 minutes and a few miles north-west to get to Schonblick where we left it. We then have a leisurely breakfast as we wait for time there to get to 10:09 when the passenger loco heads to the carriage siding. A few minutes later the freight loco starts herding wagons. 10:51 and both the passenger and freight trains are ready to head off to Neustadt. Neustadt needs some more attention now. The trip freight heads out at 10:48 (Neustadt time) and as soon as it arrives back at the temporary loops the wagons are put away and the loco gets its coupling checked - it was a bit low but quickly bent back into alignment. 10:54 and the S-banh arrives at Neustadt. The branch passenger is supposed to be running round its coaches but, slight problem, it isn't actually here. Checking the master schedule revealed that the entry for the passenger train's journey from Schonblick to Neustadt had been omitted from the local timetable sheets. Ooops. Still, being master of this little universe has its advantages and the branch passenger can be hustled over in the blink of an eye. 11:03 Schonblick time and the reight gets underway for its run of about 4 yards to Neustadt. Where it arrives at 11:15 Neustadt time. The timetable claims that the run takes 12 minutes which makes the scehdule look reasonable. If I was using a fast clock the journey would only be timetabled for a couple of minutes.
  2. Au contraire mon brave. You had the genius idea of taking that scheme and creating mutliple time zones on the layout so that one gets the best aspects of sequence and fast time operation. Two minutes seems a bit fast for most real movements - but it is amazing how long you have to leave for shunting at three minutes a pop!
  3. Only a few locos were issued with the Telex uncouplers. With a normal Marklin loco you have to send a pulse (by turning the controller knob anti-clockwise from the zero position to change its direction. With Telex fitted locos the first pulse turns the uncoupler on - but the loco moves in the same direction as before - and a second pulse turns the uncoupler off and reverses the direction. The BR 86 tank that usually eorks the branch goods is Telex fitted and it does come in useful.
  4. Like this: I'll check it against a gauge and bend it back into alignment.
  5. "Six o'clock and all is well!" I have been taking time out to try and get a basis for an operating schedule for the whole layout (as currently envisaged). This has had a knock-on effect on the branch as it will no longer be the main focus of activity. The practical upshot is that there will not be as many trains or loads. I want to try the 'three-minute' system devised by Ian Thompson on his Altonian Railways system (https://myafk.net/7-out-of-control). Each shunting move is defined as a change of direction by the loco, or a coupling or uncoupling (an uncoupling and change of direction counts as one move). These moves have been set at 3 minutes on the AFK. To this end small, cheap alarm clocks which have been shorn of their second and alarm hands have been placed at Neustadt, Schonblick and Schwarzfelsen. At the same time I am trying a dice-based layout-wide traffic generation system (well, spreadsheet based, but it simulates dice throwing) to see how well that works. The Neustadt trip freight has been made up ready for the day. These are the wagons that would be delivered to other industries on the layout. I wonder if I will have enough wagons as the week progresses? 09:39 and the first problem of the day - the outward-bound wagons became uncoupled from the loco during a shunt. Six minutes wasted (stop and revese/recouple). 10:09 and this time the wagons being left for the branch freight won't uncouple. Another three minutes of delay. The coupler on the loco will have to be checked when it gets back to base. 10:27 and the shunting is done. It took 22 moves (66 minutes) with a timetable allowance for 25 (75 minutes). I didn't bother photographing the railbus and main-line passenger trains as they didn't misbehave. About an hour of play so far and time for a break. Next time I'm in the garage attention will turn to Schonblick where the time is currently 07:20.
  6. Added to my collection of helpful hints. For Halloween can I suggest chocolate-covered brussels sprouts for any trick-or-treaters who dare to knock on your door? Layout is looking good - I like the way you have grafted the extension on. It almost looks like you planned it that way. I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken. Just for clarity - once you ballast it will be stuck down good and proper so iron out the problems before you start messing around with the Woodland Scenics.
  7. Nah, clockwork locos and mechanically operated points and signals. You know it makes sense.
  8. I for one. Updates are eagerly awaited and cause to sit down in a comfy chair with a cup of tea for an enjoyable trip far away.
  9. I have a liking for double track (or even quadruple) and thus the automation idea was hatched. However I am shamelessly plagarising your multi-time zone, 3 minutes a move scheme for the Ercallverse - but only for the trains that are fun to play with - the rest can just amble about as part of the background scenery.
  10. I dreamed of a big layout in my younger days but I am also a bit of a thematic butterfly having at times dabbled in UK N, US N, 009, UK O, US O and a smidgen of OO - and that's before we start to look at eras! Some made more progress than others but all were stymied by one or more of: lack of funds, early adoption (e.g. UK N 1970s when there was hardly anything available to run), late adoption (e.g. US 'cheap' O gauge just after Atlas had withdrawn its range), change of available space (always smaller), problems with implementation (usually trying to get a decent coupling system), increasingly searching for photo-realism (think Code 40 N gauge track - hell, for an expanded W&L project I converted the sizes of their sleepers and rail so that my handbuilt track would look right - albeit at 9mm rather than 10mm gauge). Stranded in the mire the next passing butterfly would trigger a new project. I have never been in a position where I have known sufficient like-minded souls tomake a multi-operator empire possible so I have also chased the chimera of automatic operation. The idea of shunting whilst the main line takes care of itself has been with me for many years. It was a Damascene moment when I rediscovered the Marklin and realised it would do all that straight out of the box. No DCC, no computers. With the wonders of the interweb sufficient information and a cornucopia of reasonably priced second-hand stock and track then the world was, as Arthur Daley would say, my lobster. I still have other butterflys fluttering around my head - but for the moment they will remain as background ideas, some taking form gradually as I whittle and wallop my way through this project. Excelsior!
  11. Here's a little something I penned a decade or so ago. Still true: Back in the days of yore there were model railways that put the emphasis on the railways rather than the model. This is something that is still big in the US - models of large sections of railway systems rather than a single station, or part of one. Currently the UK hobby seems to be concentrated on producing rather nice models of a specific location (be it real or imagined) rather than portraying how a chunk of the rail network works and interacts. Those of you of a certain age, or more, will remember layouts like Jack Ray's Crewchester, Norman Eagles' Sherwood Section and Peter Denny's Buckingham - all of which were models of railway systems where trains went from place to place, in some cases with intermediate stops or alternative routes. Whilst the models were all individually built, rather than taken out of a box, none the less they weren't the stars of the show, instead they were just actors in the show that was operating the layout like the real thing. Many people hold up John Ahern's Madder Valley, now preserved at Pendon Museum, as the first true scenic layout but overlook the fact that it was designed to be interesting to operate as well. The various industries gave a purpose to the freight movements and the various modelled communities gave a reason for the passenger operations. The 'grand-daddy' of UK 4mm operations was Edward Beal. During the 50s and 60s he published a stream of articles and books about building 4mm models and how to use them to portray real operations. If you come across a copy of his book WEST MIDLAND: A Railway in Miniature I'd strongly advise sitting down with it. It is a fascinating read and whilst much of its content is dated it still provides much food for thought. Today we are fortunate in that we can sit at a computer screen and order finely-detailed locomotives that run smoothly, accurate coaches and freight wagons to a constant scale and scale miles of track at the wave of a plastic card. We can add virtually any type of scenic embellishment we like, all without raising a sweat if we so choose. So where are the operating empires of today? Where are the layouts with four or five stations with freight terminals, branches and visibly different types of traffic? Maybe it is just me, but the layouts I remember reading about in my youth that left the biggest impression were not the large 'railway in a landscape' single (or no) station scenic spectaculars, but the ones that replicated a significant slice of railway. Good narrow gauge does this - after all you can model a whole line and often get the spectacular scenery thrown in, US outline layouts (in the US) have it down to a fine art. Perhaps it is time for a few more of us in the UK to think about using the current crop of ready-to-play products to create models railways rather than model stations?
  12. Now ain't that a coincidence. Our kitchen is undergoing the same process. One of the showrooms we visited had a cupboard with an electrically operated folding door. Why? The 'grand plan' took many (very many) iterations, developments and blind alleys to get to this stage and is still evolving. One of the great appeals of the Marklin system is that if I decide to change something it is a lot easier with sectional track than flexible or handbuilt. There are compromises of course, there always are, the biggest being that it will never make anyone look twice to check if it is real or a model! This is very much in the Edward Beal mould rather than finescale.
  13. On occasions work continues on the new station. Two more signals have been installed. The shunting signal at the back is partially suspended over the void caised by the shelving system - still it saved drilling holes for the wires - whilst the colour light signal is a deviation from the Marklin norm. It is a standard 7188 unit that has had the mast separated from the solenoid housing, which is glued underneath the baseboard. I told you that things were squeezed in here! The LED lights that I installed in the garage provide plenty of light in most places so Schwarzfelsen no longer needs its strip of LEDS. These have been shortened and installed under Schwarzfelsen to illuminate the back of the new station which is in permanent shadow. A view of part of the new station along with the control panels.
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