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Southern Fabricator

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    All Trains,British Engineering Heritage, Music,Gardening.

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  1. Called in at my Tauranga Hobby shop here in NZ for supplies and came across ‘Just Plug’ LED nano lights to my delight! I’ve been looking out for Pico LED’s sold locally until I spotted them thanks to the shop owner. Some time back I got and made a Ratio 470 LMS home signal in the hopes of using a servo for its operation and of course it needed to be lit as well. Although the Nano is a size up from the Pico it was as close as I could obtain. The signal lamp needed modifying which proved quite a challenge mainly due to the scale sized lamp and size of the nano wire leads. The lamp is powered from the 5 volt bus line that supplies all my servos that also works the signal. One thing I’ll do for the other Home semaphores is to find a better way for using a diluted colour wash on clear styrene sheet for the spectacles as the green/blue could have been better now the LED is lit behind it. This was my opportunity to see if it was feasible to add a light and motorise a Ratio semaphore, made all the harder after finding out that the signal mechanism would need to go through a 52 mm deep x 13 mm diameter hole to mount it as it wasn’t possible to clear the occupational tunnel #116 sub structure underneath the baseboard, hence the need for the deep hole! The servo needed to be mounted horizontally to connect the linkage requiring a bespoke 22 swg metal bracket (it must be a good to have places in the UK where you can get things straight off the shelf) and so with some additional fettling for the hole to allow control arm travel was also done. All in all it was a good outcome, I’ll will be up for more of the same again as I found the future signal locations are all much easier than at the first signal to access. Watch this space! Evergreen 1.5 x 3.2 mm #156 strip clearance issues. The pictures show too much wood material to remove. The redesigned linkage arm is stronger. The added Evergreen #296 4.8 mm angle linkage support was made to improve the system whilst the layout module is being worked on. All the original Ratio signal linkage was kept and connected using a spare servo arm fixing screw from my RC supplier. The 13 mm hole to fit the signal base through the 12 mm baseboard had to be enlarged slightly for a snug fit for easier signal placement and removal. My Servo ESU usually has a 680 Ω resistor for point control, but after much experimentation with wire (I’m using ordinary paper clips) link lengths I found by just changing the resistor to 130 Ω gave the servo greater movement needed to operate the Ratio signal linkage arrangement for improving the LED light display through the semaphore spectacles. Presently the starter signal #19 operates via a link to the single slip & down line point #34 with switch 32b / 33b on my control panel using plug in connectors.
  2. OK not quite but getting on with it. Been involved with looking after my wife after her hospital operation that was supposed to be a fortnight ordeal unfortunately turned into a years recovery saga for her and is still ongoing. Have had some spare time to myself lately and have got my enthusiasm for modelling back. Garsdale station workers Cottages have had their back yards mostly completed as much as one can go. Matching the walls to the adjacent cottages was a mission (about 3 to attempts) paint wise and the main problem was that the yard spaces themselves were under scale due to the revised viewing and operating positions being reversed earlier. Not having a photographic clear view of the walls themselves made for some interesting modelling decisions. In the end I think the final result worked well for me. I spent some time ensuring that the control panel LED’s actually indicated the correct track route, and that the micro switches on the point servo units are wired properly for them. Fortunately I had notes with drawings as the months of slow progress also had affected my memory of the track work wiring of the single and double slips operation. I found it necessary to recheck wiring into the strip connector blocks as some of the wire insulation was isolating the electrical flow from my micro switches. Plastic sheathing on wire when screwed down acts as a good insulator! So all in all, a good exercise for me to remember to test all circuits when installing and not leave it for several months later. As I’m progressing with many irons in the fire for my representation of Garsdale Station. It’s diorama is one that has taken time to develop as one learns what works and what idea needs modifying further. It has been a while since I attempted to make trees that appeared suitable and at last tried placing them on the station to see their effect to see their effect. The jury is still out on whether I produce some more of the same but improve my method.
  3. Hi all, I’ve just been able to get back into some modelling of my version of Garsdale on the S & C line after a lot of other challenges since last December 2019. Nothing to do with Covid 19 though. With a lot to keep me busy, I am now ‘learning to fly’ and getting to grips with the layout servo wiring control system that I had put aside before I could get back into modelling. Having opted for using a simple server / ESC tester (see my pictures below) connected to a server to control all my points / turnouts. I have discovered some advantages such as using the testers three available outputs to switch additional ‘slave’ servos for things such as crossovers used in sidings for shunting and also mainline transfers from an up line to a down line when required. This also reduces the amount of wiring from baseboard to the control panel mimic board needed but as I had already provided wiring from the panel switch anyway, I used one of these wires as a - 5 Volt return for all the motors on my 1st module. The other spares will be re purposed for Station lighting and possibly track isolation. Once all circuits are tested maybe a general wiring tidy up will be in order. Basically each point requires six wires to operate, much the same as a conventional solenoid motor with accessory switching for LED route indication. I use six of the eight core cable wires to each servo / ESC tester point unit back to the panel. Eight core cable was chosen mainly because our GWRM club had a big reel of it available to our members at a knock down price. It should help reducing the time fault finding if electrical problems do occur and for ease of dismantling and reassembly when I get to take the layout on the road. You may notice that I discontinued with mounting mounting the ESC and its servo motor unit on a perspex sheet and then decided to mount everything directly to the baseboard as I quickly found out that it the sheet blunted my small drill bits plus it took more in time and effort than it was worth . Put it down to a learning curve hazard!! My next step will be wiring up the train controller Bus wires using a preliminary DC system to test the track out.
  4. As you might appreciate, there are other things going on with this project around the same time such as track work painting, platform mods and wiring etc., etc. Too many to write about just yet, so I’ll do my best to keep information coming. While the two station modules are joined I have commenced building the stone walls with a little help from my GWRM club member. Harry was one of our clubs’ founding members and by sheer coincidence built similar dry stone walls numerous years earlier that I was unaware of, to the RM Web Physicsman KL ones . I mentioned his Das system would probably drive me crazy in an earlier blog, but none the less I was impressed. Around Garsdale Station the walls have varying styles of construction so I decided I would need to stay with the flat stone method, but instead of Das clay, Harry had used 1.6mm thick card. To me that was an easier solution than using Das strips or pea gravel. The height of the walls vary with the terrain between 16 - 20 mm and higher, with a base of 9.0 mm that tapers up to the top width of 5.0 mm. The tops mostly consist of broken rock coping stones but being Garsdale there are angled triangular flat shaped stones in some places between as well. OK! So here I decided to use suitable sized pieces of natural zeolite also known as cat litter stacked along the wall tops then once glued in place, acrylic paint everything accordingly when all the dry stone walls are finished. That kept me busy for a while to achieve. Strange as it may seem once under way, one got a quiet satisfaction of achievement as you do with everything when scratch building.
  5. The sequence of constructing a layout can be deceiving, as you may think one may have thought of everything, but not well enough in my case apparently! Putting the platforms down before I had completed track ballasting may have made it more awkward than anything else. However I’m going to persevere and may need to use old pieces of card strip against the sides and mask up the top of the platform to prevent any ballast and paint getting on the platform sides. The platform top surfaces ended up being painted a lighter asphalt colour. Next I will glue the pre painted stone wall sides with PVA to them once all the above is done. This is the reason I haven’t finally placed of the the Station buildings on the platforms as I need as much access to the track work and such as necessary. With ballasting and track appearance everyone appears to be divided on firstly a sleeper and rail colour combination or none, then to a greater or lessor degree on ballast size scale and the appropriate colour for the area being represented on their layouts. Looking at the myriad of pictures of Garsdale over the the years to present day I see a great variation of the mainline ballast to choose from shades of grey through to a reddish colour that probably means I’ll suit myself and try blending a discrete mixture. With the sidings the ballast colour changes again to more of a dusty brown overall. But first things first, I bit the bullet as they say and went to my local Resene paint shop to select a suitable brownish track and rail colour. It turned out to be a chocolate tint called Jambalaya which I was well please with the initial dried effect and with which the ballast washed with a grimy grey colour could hopefully enhance. Now for some other reason grey seems to have tuned out to be my base colour and shades thereof. Have a Happy New Year all Phil
  6. Grazing in the grass is a gas, baby,can you dig it: from The Friends of Distinction was going to be my other title as I’ve been laying down quite a bit of Woodland Scenics fine turf as my base before I get into more detail using static grass to build up my diorama. On my first module it was by pure luck it went so well, but some time had past since I’d completed it and I had to relearn the technique used then ‘cause I’d forgotten it! Therefore for my own edification I thought best to write it down here for future reference. two methods were tested out, firstly I tried the acrylic paint base coat and sprinkle cover turf whilst it is wet. Then the two water to one PVA ratio with a drop of detergent, and then again the sprinkle cover method. Surprisingly both worked well providing good results. I started to use a no. 16 / 582 D.A.S. brush to apply the paint or the alternative PVA mix which I finally stuck to (pun intended) to the pre painted sealed surface. This gave better control for applying ‘glue’ around any obstacle, but then I discovered our local ‘$3.00 or more’ shop had the soft plastic eye droppers stocked which worked even better. This method was also my training for ballasting later. For me I found it best only to do small sections at a time thus allowing for maximum adhesion of the burnt grass fine turf when applied straight away. One other thing is the importance of at least a 24 hour drying out period after all the grass gluing session is done. It makes it better for recovering any excess turf using a light 50 mm wide brush with soft bristles an a dust pan to do this. Any ‘holidays’ in surface coverage exposed during this last stage were then addressed with a spot of PVA ‘glue’ where necessary. Finally any remaining excess was vacuumed up. The use of a ‘sock’ prefilter for the vacuum cleaner was considered for a later project when I can lay my hands on a suitable filter media. The pictures tell the story and you may notice that the station platforms had to be made in order to finish up grass diorama. More on the platforms later. Phil
  7. Still working on the terrain around the station end of my module two. After I took another look behind the down line signal box and the Carlisle waiting room it was obvious that the access road level was below the platform and not up level with it. So out came the contract filler and poly offcuts to remedy the situation which meant that the water supply tower for the railway cottages and station buildings needed to be built while raising the existing embankment height. As there’s no immediate dimensions readily available for these water supply towers, I needed to examine several photos to make my best guess at its size. This being a 55 square x 20 mm deep tank mounted on a 52 square x 95 mm high pedestal base. The access ladder will be added when I next place an order from the UK. I spent the next two days making the tower out of 1.5 mm card while also modifying the terrain to suit it. The results are in the pictures folks. Phil
  8. So far so good! As you see the formed terrain plus the use of Contract Filler (spack) in filling up most of the holes in the poly due some of my over exuberance with the rasp and hacksaw blade. Finally the diorama has been given two coats of ordinary acrylic house paint to seal the polystyrene and provide for a stronger top surface and edging. I may have some more fettling to do at the module joint to ensure the diorama is a good match. Firstly I needed to assemble the 1 & 2 modules together once again and complete the platform patterns so that they can be cut out from 1.5 mm thick card. Then with that done I have used the the paxolin tag strips as mentioned earlier to join the track work across the module joint. I plan to use some Evergreen styrene strip to simulate the track sleepers and ballast accordingly around the paxolin to help disguise this area. The paxolin tag strip worked well and my only difficulty was cutting the branch line track to Hawes because it was close to the uphill embankment I’d placed on the Eastern side of the second module. While I had the modules joined I took the opportunity to tidy up (fettling) the diorama on module 1 where it joins module 2 just before the platform 1 waiting room on the Carlisle down line.
  9. Three Dog Night sang the title and also Cliff Richard sang a a similar song ‘In the country’, so here I am up to my ears as it were in country diorama modelling. Having laid off cut polystyrene as a foundation base, I’m now going to enjoy myself sculpturing in the foreground for the next few blogs. Incidentally the photos in my last blog were a disaster as I tried to reduce their size to comply with the 10 MB limit, and as a consequence the text shrunk as well. Fewer photos needed or more program research by me! Working with polystyrene was first introduced to me by members of our Greater Waikato Railway Modellers (GWRM) club as our exhibition layout is all about keeping weight and construction costs down where practicable. The club tends to cut, trim down the excess to mould the final shape then cover after painting with a suitable green acrylic house paint using torn paper napkins laid over the top whilst the paint is still wet and tamp with more paint on a 40 mm brush. When dry it is then ready for the detailing by team members. A good vacuum cleaner is essential to clean as you go, as poly tends to go everywhere when you work with it and a face paper filter could also be helpful. But that aside poly is easy to lay and then glue down with normal PVA glue. My own modified method is to cut and trim, then using a Sure foam rasp after to smooth out the diorama to suit. Lastly I normally use a spack filler to fill out any discrepancies in the poly and lightly sand before painting with a green acrylic paint over the top. It also pays in my case (because I’m trying my best to emulate the Dales landscape around Garsdale Station) to mark out the main features such as hills on the undulating terrain, the access roads, the walking track,with its bridge and so forth with a marking pen, then use a hacksaw blade to scribe them into the poly. This last step is necessary because as one moulds the poly to suit with a rasp, your pen marks can disappear! On the Eastern side of the station above Mud Beck Gill, Edwin’s Fell is the Wether Hill. The 45° embankment slopes upward along this side of the layout is from 80 to 180 mm at its widest with an average of 80 mm in height allowing for Mud Beck Gill and the occupational bridge Eastern portal. The backboard/scene will reflect this eventually. Phil
  10. Under way at last, another portable baseboard module (no. 2) i. This allows completion of the platforms and accommodate the station proper. The module is interlocked with the 1st module to ensure that the railway tracks are kept aligned in both the horizontal and vertical planes. With the construction completed I wanted to concentrate on the SAC Bridge 116 which is an occupational access for the farmers sheep or stock. The Eastern portal was slightly difficult as mostly there are no photographs of it. Photos of that side indicate the terrain rises sharply away from behind uphill and around towards the Network Rail communications mast tower. On the Western portal the ground falls away from the embankment that supports the Garsdale Station and tracks and the original turntable set up. There’s going to be a lot of good grazing ground on this layout,not to mention drystone walls. After my second attempt to build the portals that were more satisfactory from a visual point of view I found a little fettling of the top baseboard timber was necessary to ensure a good tunnel fit. The inside of a small OO scale tunnel construction is very hard to see from perhaps a metre away, particularly if is painted in dark colours, so don’t bring your torches to check this one please. I’m using offcuts of polystyrene floor insulation for my diorama scenery. For me this is an easy if not a little dusty at times method of keeping my module weight to a minimum. Some use hot wire to work it which would eliminate the dust, but simple hacksaw blades and a sure foam rasp gets the job done and you can always cut and add extra foam blocks if you wish to rework any area. A multi tool with a wide blade can really get one artistic as well. But I,m getting ahead of myself here, the poly offcuts were approximately 40 x 50 x metre long with other odd sizes as well. Having roughly sketched the terrain out on the plywood base, these strips should make it easier for building up the rolling diorama up for the fields below the station. Mud Beck Gill also was difficult, as it disappears below and behind a dry stone wall reappearing from under the station on the West embankment at the bottom of a dry stone retaining wall. Once it is is in place a suitable culvert outlet will be made. Getting back to the track work and the Northern end of the station platforms I have used the pencil in the centre of my longest HST carriage method for gauging the platform edges. Using the ‘Standard OO Gauge Standard Dimensions’ as a reference guide, the 11 mm from platform edge to the outer side of the inner most rail worked out accurately when checked out physically. Similarly the platform height did as well when the cork bed and sleeper/rail combination along with a 18 mm platform base and 1.5 mm platform card top left approximately a 2.0 mm platform top to under the carriage step gap. Edit Sorry for the photo size difference . Trying to get more in didn't work out! Phil
  11. Well then, another portable baseboard module (no. 2) is under way at last. This allows completion of the platforms and accommodate the station proper. The module is interlocked with the 1st module to ensure that the railway tracks are kept aligned in both the horizontal and vertical planes. With the construction completed I wanted to concentrate on the SAC Bridge 116 which is an occupational access for the farmers sheep or stock. The steep rise from the Eastern portal was difficult to get any photographs of (as trains seem to rule the day, funnily enough) but the terrain does rise away from behind the communications mast tower. On the Western portal the ground falls away from the embankment that supports the Garsdale Station and tracks and the original turntable set up. There’s going to be a lot of good grazing ground on this layout. After my second attempt to build the portals that were more satisfactory from a visual point of view I found more of a little fettering of the top baseboard timber was necessary to ensure a good tunnel fit. The inside of a small OO gauge tunnel construction is very hard to see from perhaps a metre away, particularly if is painted in dark colours, so don’t bring your torches to check this one please. Some of you may have noticed that I’m using offcuts of polystyrene floor insulation for my diorama scenery. For me this is an easy if not a little dusty at times method of keeping my module weight to a minimum. Some use hot wire to work it which would eliminate the dust, but simple hacksaw blades and a sure foam rasp gets the job done and you can always cut and add extra foam blocks if you wish to rework any area. A multi tool with a wide blade can really get one artistic as well.
  12. Despite my GWRM involvement then getting the 60 day coughing flu I have been busy building up my control mimic panel box and servo switching arrangement units for my own layout requirements. The control panel features an acrylic fascia with 3mm embedded LEDs and DPDT point switches. The control box size is 625 x 240 x 80 mm constructed from 12 mm thick ply and two 40 x 18 mm dressed timber that is piano hinged between at the front for internal access. The layout mimic panel consists of two 3.0mm clear acrylic sheets with the layout printed on a vinyl adhesive sheet mounted between. The two sheets have a 6.0mm aluminium tile edging as an escutcheon to secure them together. The 3.0mm LEDs indicate point control that the DPDT switches work as they simulate the Garsdale Signal box levers. When I determined to use servo units for point control I had to also figure out how to wire up a 3 way asymmetric point with three DPDT switches to its two servo point unit motors. Eventually a solution was arrived at by using a test rig of the DPDT switches only. The double and single slips were relatively easy to wire up for control! The construction of my second module will be shortly under way. This module features waiting rooms for both the Carlisle platform, and its down line Garsdale signal box and the Leeds platform with its up line rest room and Ruswarp memorial. The statue of which has meant that for the present Ruswarp will be standing until I find a suitable sitting figurine of the right breed. The track joints between the modules are to be aligned by using modified paxolin tag strips to secure the rails at each side of the module edges. Being a double row (i.e. on row on each side) the tags are press fitted into a square hole in the paxolin preventing any movement. The overall depth of the paxolin with the brass tinned tag is approximately 2.5 mm which matches my Peco code 75 track sleeper thickness. I found the tags being of smaller surface area solder well to the rails and you can remove the tags not being used as required.
  13. We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue like Eddie Grant and get serious about track control and electrics! At this point in time I am preparing a track mimic panel with point control based on the actual Garsdale signal box lever frame control. The AnyRail reduced track plan will be printed onto a plastic sheet, then fitted out and wired into the control box. I’ve tested my servo point motor system which is essentially like a solenoid one but without a CDU. The servos will be finally controlled by MegaPoint when my finances allow but in the meantime to operate the servos I’m using a modified CCPM solenoid tester to drive them. Each servo combination is to be connected to the control panel via a length of 6 core standard alarm cable between any point servo with its LED switch to the corresponding panel switch so finding any potential faults should be easy. A Momentary On - Off - Momentary On DPDT switch cuts the power to the servo once the point direction is confirmed and returned to its off position. This serves two purposes in as much as keeping the point at the last set position when shutting off the layout power and removes any possible servo ‘hum’ transmitting through the baseboard. The servo also operates two SPDT switches, one is for the LED’s and the other switches electrofrog polarity. Once the control box is completed my plan is to wire the points of each module baseboard to the panel as I complete them. I am still heavily involved wiring up yet another track modification to the Greater Waikato Railway Modellers Down line loop and train exchange yard which is a entry only fiddle yard really that complements our Mainline station shunting yards but is mainly concerned with our Mainline circuit display operation rather than our figure eight Great Western Railway country circuit.
  14. My last post on the new format web page posting pictures caught me out slightly. The acrylic mounting and index plate has ensured good servo to point alignment Further progress has been made with 3.0 mm cork to raise the track for drainage detailing later on between the platforms. DCC track dropper wiring and point bonding to stock rails is being done to provide for future development because at this stage a DC operated layout will be my starting point. The track is now pinned ready for ballast, but I’ll probably hold this off until I’ve got the second module made and fitted to the first module to check the rail and platform alignments. My other challenge will ensuring that the platform and the diorama joints are as close as nearly invisible. For the platform width and height, I used a Mk 3 HST 125 Intercity sleeper to give me clearance for the platform curve radius and found that the OO Gauge Standard Dimensions Chart was a great guide. BTW I also found that rail joiners come very handy for centralising point throw bars. Being half blind, finding the hole in a Peco point throw bar for a servo motor drive was for me a learning curve that gave me tunnel vision. Apart from Tortoise, Cobalt and solenoid under baseboard point motor mounting there are scant mentions for of how you ‘experts’ do it. I found by using a longer throw wire length (painted white on its very end), a back light from the track behind to shine through the hole the process was achieved easily. I’ll be a real ‘expert’ on the last one after 20 points! The double slip was an issue as the servo 0.6 mm arm wire being used would not throw the point blades sufficiently across. The increased flex may have been due to the combined thickness of the 12 mm ply baseboard, the 3.0 mm cork and the 3.0 mm acrylic Index/servo mounting plate. However I found up sizing to 0.8 mm piano wire did the trick and the desired operation of the double slip was achieved. Although the single points operated OK, I also increased their arm wire to 0.8 mm to avoid any potential problems later.
  15. Mark Knoflers song The Bug played in my mind as I finally got to grips with the back scene come storage support arrangement that will keep all the modules together for transport purposes. Basically they just slide top of each other, then become four 1.2m high x 1.0m wide x 1.8m long stacks. The side panels are ply on one side with clear panels on the other. I eventually decided that this arrangement would be more practicable for both viewing and transporting the layout. As a result however the western background scenery overlooking Clough and the A684 towards Garsdale Head is now not possible. The other view from Edwin’s Fell to Wether Hill and beyond will now be possible. My Long Drag to Garsdale Project has taken a back seat as I’ve been involved with our GWRM club preparations to our exhibition layout. After being invited over to Tauranga for a January Expo to support their modellers club our members had a ‘debrief’ of our own main line operational challenges with using rakes of passenger and freight trains on tight radius loops. Consequently new baseboards have been built and existing ones modified to suit. Basically we opted for super elevated loops with a minimum radius of 505 mm on which we test ran up to 16 carriage passenger rakes with comparable length freight rakes during a club running day last month. In reality we would only be running up to 9 passenger rakes due to existing platform and storage yard lengths and longer freight rakes. Our next expo will happen over Easter weekend in support of the Hamilton Model Railway Engineers club and our core club members will be busy building electrical circuits and diorama ready for it. In the meantime I’ve tried my hand at making a two aspect S & C type signal using materials such as a bread bag plastic tie clip and tubing from an old spray cleaner bottle. The tube was used for the 3 mm LED hoods and stanchion pole for the signal while the tie clip made up the face plate for the head assembly and maintenance platform. All I need is a ladder and safety cage and it’s done! Seriously one of my future projects will need to be working semaphore signals. Also my first module track work has been laid... after some shuffling to help accommodate the double slip. The angle difference between the prototype and the Peco one make it difficult to keep the station railway track layout prototypical. However in essence it achieves the same effect. My experiment for using a servo controlled point has so far proven workable and I have worked out a method for using an acrylic mounting plate firstly to use it as a point position index marker for the underside of the baseboard and then to mount the servo and all its components onto it. I’ve got some photos here to share.
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