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  1. Hello I've only just come across your blog today, I think as far as construction goes we are following very similar lines and in fact I started in SCARM as you have. Just to say having read through your other blog entries thank you for all the information. I too am using DCC concepts powerbase and am in fact in the middle of laying my first section. The wiring comes next and your posts have given me plenty to absorb. Many thanks and I look forward to any further posts. Cheers Clive
  2. So, back again, the first section of track bed - the lower return loop/storage siding is now in place. This did take some time as I became familiar with laying an incline, fortunately I was able to gain all the dimensions I needed from my SCARM plan. The actual loop is level at 875mm above ground level and this rises through a 1.9% grade or about 1 in 53 to 1050mm above ground level. As I had modelled the baseboard frame in SCARM as well I was able to read off the heights of the track bed at each frame crossover. Suitable supports were produced and screwed into place. On the curves I have also added a thick washer between the timber support and the track bed on the outside edge of the curve, this is intended to aid running on these tighter hidden curves. As everything is only screwed down at present once I am able to run a train or two I hope to assess the effectiveness of this and decide whether to incorporate it into all curves as I do like to see the superelevation appearance on curves. Now this first level is in place I thought it wise to go ahead with the track laying on this before installing the next section. I'm using Woodland scenics track bed as I've used it before with great results. This is being fixed down with the foam glue from the same company. I'm using it as a contact adhesive as this allows you to work without all the weights needed if using "wet" glue. The foam glue isn't cheap but I find it works so well it is worth the extra. I've also purchased a glue applicator that has made this process even more rapid and enjoyable, this one (Green hopper device in pic above) cost just over £13 from Amazon and I would certainly recommend it if you have a lot to do. The adhesive is water based so clean up of the applicator is very easy. A thin layer of glue is rolled onto the track base and the underside of the underlay, every time I mention underlay to my wife she can't help but shout Arriba, Arriba! No complaints though as she is so interested in the railway's progress. Any way, you then let the glue dry, about 35 - 40 minutes, and then lay to your drawn centre line - I split the underlay down it's centre with a scalpel so that following the centre line is much easier, this also is essential on curves. The "tack" of the glue is very strong so you need to start at one end of the piece holding the other end well away from the board and then gradually lower the underlay onto the guide line. I'm just finishing the underlay up to the 1005mm level and then I need to lay the DCC concepts PowerBase. Now strictly speaking I do not need this on this section as the gradient is not too bad, however as this section is under the layout I thought that the improved traction and other benefits of this system would be wise, after all this section needs to be reliable, although I can reach the track from under the baseboard due to its open frame nature, I'd rather not do that very often. I'll be using a CMX track cleaning car to hopefully avoid too much cleaning by hand in this section. Once the track is laid onto the Powerbase plates I'll start testing and then although this section is hidden I thought I'd use it to practise ballasting so that hopefully by the time I ballast the visible sections I'll have got it right. Also in this day and age of cameras on trains I thought it would be good for the hidden areas to look as good as possible as the train goes through a tunnel. My wife says I'm mad and she is usually correct about these things but I'm enjoying the fact that I can do what I like on this railway and that is sometimes forgotten when you just plan all the time, I know my way is certainly not everybody's way but I wouldn't expect it to be. Everyone can do it just the way they want to. (See how I avoided slipping into a certain Frank Sinatra song there). Finally here are a few shots of the station building. I've been experimenting with the painting. I used a wash to give an overall colour to the stonework and then some acrylic paints/washes to pick out individual stones and the sandstone "trim". The window outer frames are LNER Station green with the frames being LNER cream. I've just given my sample piece a black wash to blend the surface and then a light dry brushing with a sand colour. I wanted to get the finish right before applying it to all the parts. This piece still needs glazing and then I intend to provide card interior details.
  3. Must say I am really pleased with the Noch parts, they are rather pricey if you buy new but they do appear on eBay from time to time. Although HO, I find items like the castle look fine to my eye, especially when they are towards the back of the layout which adds a certain amount of forced perspective. They are also straightforward to paint, I hope to change mine from the granite look to sandstone which is more in keeping with my local area. Her is a good example of the local stone:
  4. Hi all As I've been building my new layout I've been trying to imagine the story behind it. As I'm using this blog as a record of my build I thought I'd make a few notes on what is coming in the future. As I've already mentioned the station is squarely based around Acklington station - my closest ECML halt. I've been to site armed with my camera and taken many photographs. Although the main station building is now private dwellings it is wonderful to see all the original architecture. The goods shed is also based on Acklington but has been switched to the other side of the main line due to space restrictions. The village behind the station will have cottages based on various local buildings from Acklington, Felton, Warkworth and Denwick. These will be scratch built using a combination of hard foam, card and DAS clay. I have some Metcalf building I may put in place temporarily around the layout until the scratch built items are ready. The castle on the hill is inspired by Bamburgh Castle but I have nothing like the space required for a scale model here. Instead I will be restyling the Noch “Hohenstein” castle which I picked up on eBay for a very low price. It gives me a good starting point - I had started to build a plastic kit (Miniart 1:72 Scale Medieval Castle) but IMHO the kit is very poor quality especially if like me you are used to Tamiya, Faller and the newly tooled Airfix models. Also the stonework looks far to uniform and perfect and the joins need a lot of work including around all the crenellations. So the Noch castle is just a representation of the many Northumberland castles around us - parts of the Noch structure look very similar to Dunstanburgh castle which is just a short drive away. Fred Dibnah is seen here inspecting the tower, I hope it's still there in the morning! The final piece of Noch I'm using is a tunnel mouth to go below the castle. This is inspired by the likes of Bramhope and Clayton tunnel portals, this does not fit perfectly with a local landmark - to say the least- but I just love the eccentricity of these structures and wanted to have one on my layout. After this the structures will be mainly scratch built, this includes the three road engine shed adjacent to the turntable (Heljan DCC item), and a coaching inn - I'll use the metcalfe one temporarily but want to build one based on some local buildings. I'm also thinking through an idea to represent RAF Acklington in the far left hand corner of the layout. The airfield opened in 1916 and was a Royal Flying Corps airfield, In April 1918 the RAF took over but only until 1920 when it was closed. In 1938 it was reopened and was then active until 1972 - I have researched this site in depth having a keen interest in the war time RAF aircraft - mainly instilled by my father who did his national service with the RAF. I'll do a little more on Acklington station now before getting back to the track bed next week. I briefly posted this next link on my last blog entry but I think it caused an issue so I'll try again here but will not edit this later. It's just a slideshow of my progress to date that I have posted on YouTube
  5. Hi again, a few notes on progress. The cutting of the track bed shown on my last entry is now complete with all the edges having received a smooth edge courtesy of a 3mm rounding over bit in the router. I highly recommend this step as it has made the pieces comfortable and safe to handle. I did find using the Faller groove cutter a bit tedious as it kept overheating so I had to leave it to cool. Eventually the pin that goes through the blade broke - I've been onto Faller to see if I can get a spare part, if not its and expensive tool to go out of action in this way - I'll comment if Faller respond. In the meantime I tried a couple of other methods to define the centre line of the track before removing the paper plan. Why sometimes do we miss the obvious? I had tried using a scalpel but found the cut was too fine - why I didn't think to move up to a stanley knife I don't know, anyway the fact is that the stanley knife worked a treat and all the remaining lines I wanted transferred to the ply were marked. The paper plans are now removed and I have gone over all the marked lines with a pencil to make them easier to see. I finally added the last frame sections i.e. two front extension pieces shown below, they are simply bolted to the front of the lower and upper main frames. These allow a smoother transition in my line that crosses the viaduct. So, I'm now ready to start installing the first track bed piece which is my underground return loop/storage siding shown here: This is made from several parts of ply although the complete return loop section is one piece. I have tried to keep the joins away from changes in gradients where possible so that the transitions are as smooth as possible. I may have a leave this for a few days as I've really pushed on with the woodwork and fancy a break from it for now. I thought I'd take a look at the station building - I purchased the "Acklington" kit from Townstreet models some time ago and have been giving it some thought. As many have commented before the windows are a little on the thick side so I wanted to thin them down from the inside. I have found the castings to be very tough - try not to think plaster casting more stonecast type material. I want to illuminate all the buildings on my layout so have hollowed out even the solid buildings I have from Townstreet. To get the required window thickness I am using a Dremel "cutting guide" attachment as a mini router base. I then purchased a "Kutzall Original Cylinder Rotary Burr, 1/8" Shaft, Coarse" from Amazon, this is not a cheap burr but it works incredibly well on these castings and has done all the work on Acklington and looks as good as new. Below are a few images to show how the windows have been thinned. If you are not familiar with these kits, the windows look fine straight on but the thickness spoils the look when viewed from aside. I'm glad to say this technique worked really well and now when I look through the windows they are much more realistic. I intend to glaze these behind and fit some basic interiors before lighting with LED's. The Kutzall Burr with the Dremel "router base" attached. The base allows you to adjust the depth of the burr - check your castings as they are not all the same thickness - I had two depths to set in order to achieve the best effect. Work underway showing the panels for the station. I'll show more pictures of the outside when I've got some assembly to show. You can see here how the window areas have been thinned. Care needs to be taken until I have the glazing in as they are obviously more fragile now but I am impressed with the strength they still retain. I have also assembled a Faller bridge kit which is sitting in primer awaiting some further painting and weathering - more on that later. I'm also giving some thought to the painting of some Noch walling, a viaduct and a castle that I have. The basic structure looks great but I need a sandstone finish to tie in with the local theme. I went with the viaduct as it bears an uncanny resemblance to Acklington Viaduct, the same low arch and basic stonework. Here is a pic of the model, I actually have another arch but that is seperate at the moment. I will be doing some work on the join under the arches before painting - the high density foam is easy to work with - had this not been available I had intended to model this in hard foam myself but will save this for the tunnel portals and further retaining walls which I will make. You can see the real Acklington viaduct here: http://www.keystothepast.info/article/10339/Site-Details?PRN=N5579 I think you will see the similarities. I hope to keep this build to a reasonable time scale (not including detailing) so if I can find a few helpful short cuts like this viaduct I am happy to take them. Until next time
  6. Now I have all the frames in place I can turn my attention to the track bed. As you will see below I have had my plans from SCARM printed out 1 to 1 which cost me £60 +VAT. I considered that this was money well spent as I have glued these to my 9mm birch ply to guide all the cutting work. I took some measurements of the plans before starting and was really impressed with the accuracy achieved (I used Plan Printing UK who are in Edinburgh). When I exported the drawings from SCARM I imported them to CorelDraw but any vector based package would do. This enabled me to arrange the plans before printing so that the various parts would fit on to 8' x 4' sheets of plywood. It really helps to avoid waste by being able to position the track bed sections onto the sheet area. The max width I could get printed at a reasonable cost was 840mm., therefore I divided my 8' x 4' sheets into 840mm wide strips - got these printed and pasted them onto the wood. I tried using diluted PVA but this did not go well, it caused the paper to distort - very luckily I had only used it on one small strip which was straight so no permanent harm done. So I forked out and bought some spray mount glue - 2 tins and this has proved to be a good move. The paper goes down flat and is repositionable should I make an error. I concentrate the glue under the tracks so that it is easier to recycle some of the waste ply. With the plans stuck to the board I then used a scalpel to trace the centre line of the tracks - this is so that when I do away with the paper once the boards are cut - the centre line remains, it being useful for laying the woodland scenics underlay I intend to use later. The scalpel did work but I really wanted a deeper groove as when removing the paper from the ply I needed to use a sander at times and this made the cut from the scalpel hard to see. I tried a fine "V" cutter in the palm router but this was not easy to control. Finally I remembered I had a Faller groove cutter from years ago when I was modelling continental railways - I'm not using the faller system here but the groove cutter came in useful and easily made the neatest groove of the methods I had tried. Although this was time consuming I did not want to lose the "data" I had on the printed sheet. The Faller tool overheats very quickly and so I found it a little frustrating waiting for it to cool down, however I'm sure it's not meant for this amount of work in one go. Here you can see the fine grove marking the centreline of the track bed. So far, apart from the initial panic when using PVA (trying to keep costs down) things appear to be going well and have certainly alleviated the need for lengthy marking out. I am regularly checking dimensions and all seems good. The parts are cut with a jigsaw and then I have a 3mm rounding over bit for my palm router. As the boards are 9mm I'm routing the top and bottom edge as this leaves a tidy edge and saves me from much sanding work. Some of these components will be exposed under the layout so I did not want any sharp edges catching me out whilst wiring etc. Raining now, hence the update, as soon as it dries again I'll get back to it but progress feels quite rapid which is encouraging - maybe all that planning is paying off. Cheers
  7. Yes it is, creating a homemade press to create the sides took some thinking about! Only problem is I have rather a lot of projects on the go all the time - I'm easily distracted onto other things. I'm trying to make amends by concentrating on the OO layout now which has been a lifelong ambition - I hope to see this through to the final detailing stage before looking at other projects - time will tell.
  8. Thank you wenlock, it is a very smart garage - I took some time getting it ready including adding a stud wall across the main garage door, luckily it already had a door at the rear. Also upgraded the lighting with a twin 60 watt LED tube 4000K which really helps me see what I'm doing (eyesight not what it once was). Then some kitchen units from B&Q with a 3m top, great layout space and work area, I have other interests apart from railways so wanted to keep some room for these (model boats, restoring old model steam engines and vintage tinplate trains). An old Bing engine I've been working on, new cab roof and sides including the splashers and a chimney. This one was really badly crushed at some point but luckily the embossed Bing smoke box door was fine. Sorry, started rambling on a bit. Cheers
  9. Good morning all. I've finally got some construction completed with the frames. This was delayed a little by adding cables and ducting for the overhead lighting,my first pic shows this in place, it carries a power lead and a data cable for the "dawn to dusk" effects. The small section of pelmet is temporary to support the cables and power socket. I've decided to leave final lighting, which I can access from the front of the layout, until after the main layout is complete. This will enable me to fine tune where the lighting is directed onto the layout. When that is done I will install a longer pelmet which will run along the full front edge, albeit on the ceiling, of the layout. Overhead ducting and temporary short pelmet. I've constructed the 5 main frames for the layout from the components I had cut previously. I worked on the plywood sheet I have already purchased for the "track support". I'm using Titebond III wood glue and some Spax screws, I've always found this combination to provide a good strong joint. You'll also see I'm using a large square to check every corner but I am very happy to say that the frames went together really square and level, the accuracy achieved using the table saw slide really paid dividends, I've seen so many people use one on YouTube but have never got round to making one myself - will definitely use again and may well build a larger one to keep with my saw. Each frame was left to dry overnight before standing up out of the way. Here are the first 2 frames in place with the added legs and cross bracing. The legs are 75mm square PSE with screw in feet to which I've added a thin felt pad, I'll level everything up when all the frames are in. The legs are attached to the frames using 100mm coach bolts, 3 per leg. I'm also bolting the frames together using 50mm coach bolts. Finally the bracing is CLS 38mm x 63mm which I've planed and chamfered. You may have noticed the tube heater on the floor below the power sockets. I can't recommend them enough. I first came across them when I was a site engineer and we used them to keep site offices dry overnight. This one is using about 80 Watts. This is not a heater to warm yourself up with but is simply left on in the background. It has a thermostat and works over long periods to keep the garage dry and take the chill off. It always surprises me when I come from a cold garden and step into the garage how warm it is with only this 80 watt heater. That's about it for now, I'll finish putting the legs on the other frames and then I'll be ready to start cutting the plywood according to the track plan - that should be interesting!
  10. Thanks for the kind comment, I hope to continue this quality if possible - my second career was as a design & technology teacher (20 years), that made me particular about planning which always makes the work go more smoothly, and just in case an ex pupil saw this I would be very embarrassed if the work was not up to scratch!
  11. This section shows the frames I've been making. I'm using 100mm x 25mm PSE throughout, the extra depth giving the strength required for this open frame. The components are all jointed, Lap or half Lap, and will be glued and screwed. When I retired I bought a small table saw (actually a "site saw") by Bosch which has been a Godsend when making all the cuts and I also made a small cross slide box to help make the lap joints. This slide really helped - the base is a piece of old formica covered chipboard with the PSE timber raised to aid clamping. The underside showing the guides - these I made from oak. The first timber on my Mitre saw being cut to length from the 4.8m lengths supplied. The cutting list is taped to the saw to help avoid any costly mistakes. Here is the frame layout, I produced this in SolidWorks which then allowed me to create scaled drawings of all the parts required. The frame components, once I had cut the PSE to length, I used the table saw to cut the lap joints and then finally I used a forstner bit ( 35mm diameter) to drill holes for wiring. I also used a small palm router to run a rounding over bit around the holes to remove any sharp edges - I thought this might take ages but I had completed all of them in about 30 minutes. The rain is pouring down at the moment so I thought I'd put these few images together and post now. I'll update this entry as I assemble the frames. I've finished clearing and cleaning following the backscene painting, glad to get that out of the way. I bought some more timber yesterday with a view to putting a frame around the backscene - this may form part of an idea I have to aid access - and also some timber for creating a "pelmet" to hide the overhead lighting units and the LED strip. With the weather so bad I'm inside working on some vehicles - modifying some Oxford diecasts, adding drivers and a passenger. Here is my TR4, I wanted people in some vehicles as they will be moving using the Magnorail system and would therefore look a bit odd without people in them. Bye for now.
  12. I think I said how hard can it be, this spray painting lark. Well, the answer can be very hard, in fact it's taken me ages to just get things going and following a disaster with the wrong colour backscene blue I'm finally content with the outcome. It's far from perfect but I would be the first to admit that I'm no artist, what you see is just my best efforts following much pawing over YouTube and taking some photos. The trouble is only years of practice in my hands would yield the results I'd imagined and I want to get on with track laying so this will do. Having said that as the landscape comes up to meet the sky their may be some minor modifications but at least I have something that should not detract from the railway, I didn't want unsightly things in the background to spoil the illusion I'm after. So here it is, lighting is not all up yet, it looks a bit lighter in real life. Next job is to remove all the masking sheets, have a good clean up. The 2 clouds on the bottom of the next pic were used for practice and will be covered by hillside later. I used dulux "Blue Babe" for the background, applied with a roller. I thin used Vallejo airbrush paint - White & Grey to create the clouds. I made some stencils from art pad paper using a scalpel to help me get the position of the clouds down. The picture below shows the clouds just stenciled on using a white wash before the shading took place with light grey and white. And some of the many stencils I made: The airbrush is an Iwata Revolution CR I purchased about 18 years ago with an Iwata mini compressor as a kit, the needle is a little large (0.5) but it seemed to work fine. I don't know a lot about them but the set was about £100 back then if memory serves me right. A couple more pics to finish: Until next time - I feel more confident about the work in front of me than all the work so far so I'm a lot more excited about the build now. Hopefully I'll be talking about the frames next - I have made the components - I'll put up a few pics on how I did this, but have not assembled anything yet.
  13. Hi Simon Yes that would have been useful and thanks for the comment but having maximised the size of the layout (typical me) onto two walls I don't have much space to play with if I rolled it out. I have a few solutions regarding access which I'll detail later both from above and below the layout - the open frame approach does help with access to tracks from below but I will also be incorporating some lift out sections in the landscape and possibly an overhead work platform based on one I have seen used on an american layout. Clive
  14. Wizardtrains

    The Backscene

    The photo above shows my prepared backscene. This was filled at the joints and then I used a wood primer followed by four coats of matt white paint. For those interested I used 18mm thick red faced ply formers in the corners to help achieve the 550mm radius bend. The ground line is only approximate and is about 50mm below where it will actually be. I took the contours from my SCARM layout design see below. This line is just where I will fade out the sky as I need to be able to judge the horizon line before I start painting. The frame drawing is from SolidWorks and shows the backscene in place. My backscene rises to 1800mm above floor level, I really wanted to extend the sky line partly as a personal preference but also to aid photography which I enjoy. The high level frame is at 870mm (this is actually the very lowest level track height and will be below ground). The low level frame is at 675mm and is for the river which flows beneath the viaduct. I am inspired by the likes of Luke Towan and "High Eye Workshop" regarding the landscaping and water features so the river will be a focal point. Just to point out that this is an open frame layout and I will try to cover all aspects of this as I progress, I have a few ideas up my sleeve regarding setting out the track plan but more on that when I have the backscene completed. I'm off to practise spray painting and will be back when I have something to show.
  15. In my intro I mention far too much planning, well in my case this has been years with major changes to plans along the way. I've tried to think of everything, you can't bye the way, but you read about mistakes or pitfalls and how to do or not to do things from magazines, forums, youtube or any other resource you care to mention but the problem is remembering all this as you go. I've tried to keep files, bookmarked web pages and I keep a notebook of precious information gleaned from research, the latter has proved to be the most useful. Too much planning can be stressful and indeed starts to prevent you from building anything due to the fear of "getting it wrong", but now I have found the cure to this and its by making a start with the understanding you can only do your best and that some things will inevitably cause you problems. After all if you look at building the entire layout, in my case about 4.5m x 3m in an "L" shape, it can be incredibly complicated and requiring a myriad of skills. So this is how I've started. The home for my layout is a garage, this one is built in and benefits from a cavity wall all around. I decided to build a semi permanent wall across the main garage door entrance. This started with insulation to the door itself, then a damp proof membrane sheet fixed across the whole opening followed by a stud wall packed with insulation board followed by plasterboard that has a vapour barrier backing. I did not board the whole end wall as I wanted to leave it possible to remove this wall if necessary, however I have decorated this and painted the whole of the garage internally white. Then I tidied up! I have just completed my first stage of the layout which for me following all that research, has been by creating the background. I have used 3mm plywood sheets fixed to the walls which include curved corners to avoid the look of right angled corners in the sky! At this point it is worth mentioning that we all have a desirable features list, whether it be on paper on in our minds. Some things bother us and others don't, I like landscape scenery and so the background is important to me and seeing so many struggle to fit this as an afterthought has given me the impetus to do this now. I also quite like solenoid point motors (how wered) the noise they make is quite nostalgic but I know they drive some people nuts. Another thing I am working on at the moment is my overhead layout lighting. Why struggle over your layout when you can do this before it exists? A few years ago I purchased a Uhlenbrock Intelilight system, I see it's very expensive now but I got it as part of a deal at the time and for a good price. I have the LED version and it is basically an LED bar that simulates night and day - fading between the two producing sunset and sunrise colours. It is DCC controlled on my Z21(Roco/Fleischmann) controller. I added a thunder and lightning unit to this which has a loudspeaker and a LED lamp which produces the lightning. The speaker produces the rain and thunder sounds. This sort of thing is more common in Europe than here in the UK but at one point I was considering a continental layout and so did quite a bit of research into this. Also as I am so interested in the landscape I thought this effect would show it off well. In addition to this system I am also installing a basic LED strip light of 6m - the set I found has a remote controller which not only allows dimming of the lights but also the ability to change the "temperature" of the LEDS from bright white to soft amber. I will be spray painting the background sky and clouds - this will be interesting as I haven't used an airbrush before - I've seen a YouTube video - how hard can it be! Watch this space.
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