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  1. A trouble free day of running trains was the reward for Saturday's patience in sorting out the Ardlui servo controller. Not only does this cover the Ardlui section but because there are only 9 servos at Ardlui and the controller has 12 outputs, it additionally operates 3 of the points at Fort William. Whilst not yet complete I am happy with what I have done so far at Ardlui and apart from adding the station sign, I intend leaving the remaining work. Not only does this approach let me play trains, it allows me time to digest what has been done and decide on what further work is required. 37033 continued its journey north with 7B02 seen passing through Ardlui.
  2. It took longer than I expected, most things usually do, but I managed to sort the servo controller problem. I am not certain but suspect that a fat finger on adjusting one of the servos was the cause of my problem which caused the controller to reset itself. This meant I had to re-programme all 12 servos again. By the end of the day I had everything running smoothly again although there was only limited running time. 37043 passed through Crianlarich heading north with the Alcan hoppers, 6S56.
  3. I managed a few hours of running trains yesterday before a Megapoints network problem arose with 2 of the points at Fort William. Hopefully I have determined what the problem is and can solve it with modest effort later today. My next scenic project/activity is the rocky cutting between the north end of the main fiddle yard and Garelochead. Woodland Scenics rock molds will form the sides of the cutting, it will be interesting to see how 'workable' the molds are as they will need cutting and shaping to join them together to create the cutting. It is a bit fiddly because I need 2 removable sections to retain access to hidden storage sidings that are adjacent the running line. 37033 heads 7B01, 0520 Mossend to Mallaig Junction Yard through the cutting and onto Garelochead.
  4. A short video showing Ardlui with its operational signals filmed from a northbound train. My cheap and cheerful sugar cube camera struggles to capture detail and does not do sound. I can't decide whether I like this because it replicates what by todays standards is the typical low grade 1980's film quality or whether I have become adicted to todays HD standards and want a better camera. For now it is the best I have at my disposal.
  5. Indeed, its been quite a journey through lockdowns and Covid with still a long way to go. I managed to complete the Ardlui signalling earlier today which left me free to start running trains again. Part fun and part further testing before I start on the cutting at Garelochead, 37043 heads the Alcan hoppers at Ardlui with working signals at long last.
  6. Yesterday I managed to complete the bulk of the work on the freight platform at Ardlui. Being on the edge of the baseboard the platform is formed in low relief and made out of Wills coarse stone for the facing and plasticard cut to fit for the platform itself. Initial cut of plasticard to form the low relief platform surface Platform glued down and painted in undercoat. The gauge is not quite right yet and the platform surface will get detailing once the paint is dry Bushes added to fill in the remaining gaps in ground cover Looking south towards Ardlui station, I want to motorise the 2 signals to complete this phase of development
  7. My stiff neck/shoulder has not improved sufficiently to progress the signal motorisation at Ardlui. So far I have only managed to complete the work on one signal; it's frustrating but there is nothing I can do but wait for an improvment. Automating points and signals using a Megapoints network has proved more straightforward than I ever expected and unless shunting is required I can manage the entire layout from the control panel located alongside the fiddle yard. The only tricky part in the servo installation is the accurate location of the servo bracket to the point/signal that is being controlled. Get this right and it is a matter of just a few minutes to set the servo to move the point/signal as required. For signals I use a 0.35mm piano wire connecting the servo to the MSE manufactured hole on the arm of the point. Motorised signal looking south Under baseboard mounted servo which controls the above signal 27105 sits in the sidings at Ardlui, like me, it's awaiting a return to action
  8. There was discussion regarding the most appropriate tankers for 1980's WHL a while ago but I cannot recall where is it was and my searches have not found what I want. Others may have better memories than me! I did come across the thread below which provides a good background to oil tanks, their colours and hazard markings. There are plenty of pictures on the internet (I favour Flickr) showing examples on the WHL in a range of colours. I am not that familiar with how freights containing vacum and air braked wagons were marshalled. I believe that the rules and regulations were quite complicated although I have never looked closely at them. I have seen pictures showing vacum braked wagons to the rear of mixed consists behind the air braked wagons which is what I have always understood to be a partially fitted freight. I use Bachmann TTA's which are not strictly correct because TTV's would have been required for the tanks that were tripped between Fort William and Mallaig as the coaching stock was vacum braked. In contrast the freights on the main WHL were all air braked which means that somewhere along the way there would have been an unfitted element. At this point my eyes begin to glaze over and it gets to complicated hence I just stick to the TTA's and blissful ignorance. Not a great resume but it is the extent of my knowledge.
  9. Another Ernie picture shows the trunking stopping alongside the signal with the mechanical point rodding extending onto the point. At Garelochead a 1950's picture shows no trunking which had been installed by the 1980's
  10. I am confident that all WHL station points apart from at Fort William were mechanical until the signal box closures and changes made on the RETB arrival. Available pictorial evidence indicates that trunking arrived late in the 1960's or early 70's. My current hypothesis on the trunking is that it was most likely to be for electric cables to feed lights which replaced oil lamps in the signals. Several of the JM Boyes pictures from in Ernie Bracke's wonderful collection support this, the one below of Crianlarich dates from the 1960's which shows a lack of trunking. A stiff neck from Friday's gardening limited my activity yesterday, crawling under baseboards connecting servos to signals was not an option. I managed to make a start on the yard platform which will be low relief being right on the baseboard edge and shunted the engineers train into it to test the gauge. Having bought far too many wagons I need to use the sidings at the various stations along the line for storage so it is good to have the 3 at Ardlui back in service.
  11. A week or two ago I set myself a list of work that I wanted to do, as at todays date I am happy that I have done the 50% of it scored out below. Garelochead south end of scenic section. Rocky cutting leading to the main fiddle yard needs completion Ardlui scenery continued development Mallaig section needs lifting onto the workbench for the scenic work to be completed and the extension to the station constructed Mallaig Junction fiddle yard needs lifting onto the workbench for 3 servo controlled point motors to be relocated By the end of yesterday I had 1 of 4 servos that will control the signals at Ardlui working correctly, 1 being a PIA and the other 2 in the first stages of installation. With a few hours work I aim to finish these today and will move to the rocky cutting at Garelochead next. Limited play time as a consequence of the signaling work although 27105 did get to move its engineering train south where it is seen arriving at Ardlui.
  12. Having got to a position where the Ardlui section is usable, albeit still incomplete, I decided to start another days operations. I am sure readers will understand that this is purely to test Ardlui of course, nothing to do with being an 'I want to play trains today' day. If time permits I aim to fix the servos to the signals today as this will complete the automation of Ardlui and leave just further scenic work to complete the section. Scenicly the main outstanding area is the freight platform in the yard which is being delayed because I cannot find the plasticard brickwork I want to use for the platform facing; I know I have some but I just cannot find it in the rather large collection of storage boxes I have accumulated. 37081 has charge of the down sleeper seen as it calls at Ardlui.
  13. WIth the help of others on RMWeb I appear to have found a solution to planting WS trees. A hole created using a suitable size drill bit and a little bit of pressure when inserting the tree creates a friction fit that feels reasonably secure. I have made a start at planting, at this stage I am looking to get a blend of trees and bushes which will take a bit of time to determine. For a first step I am delighted with the effect adding trees has, Ardlui is beginning to look how I want.
  14. Interesting, thank you. Many of my trees are 150mm and taller hence my thinking that I would need some form of additional support over and above drilling a hole and planting the trunk below the surface. I'll give this a go and see if it delivers what I want. I have also ordered some 2mm steel rod and will try this on one or two trees for a comparison.
  15. Out of the box WS trees come with a stand that is made out of plastic to resemble the trees roots. Apart from requiring a flat surface, the stands aren’t very robust and the trees are prone to falling over. Whilst they can be glued in place on a flat surface, this doesn’t solve the challenges of planting the tree on a slope. I am thinking of drilling a hole into the base of the tree trunk and using steel rod which can be sunk into my polystyrene hillsides as a support. I can’t believe that I am the first to think this way but I can’t find anything in an RMWEB search or on YouTube. Does anyone have any suggestions or practical experience?
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