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  1. The wife seems to think so, but when I ask her to elaborate on this she just sniggers and changes the subject. I can only conclude she doesn’t wish to hurt my feelings, but infact prefers a large mainline layout to my current 6ft depot. In all seriousness I think there’s another question within this, does added size really need more track, trains, and activity? I wish I had a better memory of the layout, but I recall seeing one in the late 90s at an exhibition (can’t even recall which one! South B/ham area somewhere to be unbearably vague), the layout must have been 20ft+ in length, yet featured just a modest branch line through station, a single set of running lines and a token small siding, the rest was just scenery, and nothing extravagant either, just a very well modelled cutting carving through some countryside. What an absolutely mesmerising viewing it was too. I could have spent an entire day admiring this stunning layout. A perfect depiction of just an ordinary reality somewhere. There was something exceptionally special about it being precisely nothing special.
  2. Oddly enough my memory of a journey between Sheffield and Leicester around 2002 left me quite impressed with how capable our HST set performed with only one power car. We left Sheffield on time on two engines, lord knows what happened but after a slightly longer ten minute stop at Chesterfield my dad noted that the rear power car was dead in tow. Yet we were only a few minutes late into Derby, and bang on time into Leicester, where the set left still with the lead power car doing all the work onto St Pancras. Fortunately the train was pretty light, and at the time I think the line between Sheffield and Derby was still sub 100mph running, but the single power car performed pretty well, and although getting to speed out of Chesterfield and Derby took a little longer, it left me quite in awe at what a single Valenta engined HST could do.
  3. Oh great, another one! Truth is, it's been far too long since I've actually had a layout, 10+ years infact, and although I do a bit of railway modelling amongst other sorts, it is limited to weathering, and modifying stock. I've become a collector, and it's not where I want to be, I want to run my collection on more than just a rolling road, and I need to stop putting it off and get stuck back into the hobby I enjoy rather than just reading about it, and seeing other people's at exhibitions. I'm fortunate enough to have a large outbuilding that is the proposed destination for a much larger affair, but as it's been so long since I actually put into practice anything I think I know, it'd be foolish to jump straight into the dream layout, as it were. So this small end to end, really rather simple layout, is as much about practising the art of constructing a model railway, and all that it entails from the ground up, as it is about creating a 'scene'. I will make mistakes, I'm very aware of it, but it's a great opportunity to learn from them, and to perfect one's technique and learn better ways, if necessary. So with that in mind, please excuse the simple, linear design, and allow for maybe slight deviations from real world practices, as I'm constrained by a modest size (the outbuilding is currently full of typical family crap, so a spare box bedroom is the setting for this), and focusing more on functionality. The Brief The layout is 00 Gauge, and the scenic part measures a modest area of a little under 1.5ft x 6ft - there are provisions for a small fiddle yard to be added later. Theme is to be of an early 90s small servicing / loco stabling point. The area is to be modelled in a very run down, and little used state. Layout operation will be DCC, I'll be following 'best practise' methods, such as making every single length of track connect directly to the power bus. All trackwork is PECO code 75 Bullhead, and straight sections are modelled in 60ft lengths. Operation of the turnouts will be by both DCC, and a switch panel with route indication, allowing different methods of switching to be used and practised. The layout will focus on functionality. For example, if a building is present that would in reality have illumination, this will be modelled on the layout. As a side note, I'll use this page to upload photos of the build from the baseboard up, whilst this might get a little comprehensive, and picture heavy, it's as much about my trials and tribulations in constructing it, as it is the layout itself. I appreciate that won't be everyone's cup of tea, but cataloguing my successes and failures will certainly be good for me, and maybe help others out also. ---------------------------------- After a very quick play around with XtrkCAD, I'd settled on a massively simple track plan incorporating a single running in road, a stabling siding, fuel point, and twin road servicing depot. The railway area on the layout is bordered by a 4" raised section along the rear, and to the front, which will form the scenic break to the proposed fiddle yard later. The rear end will probably feature a low relief wall due to space constraints. In the plan below the area for the fuel point is the the right, and the twin track servicing depot building on the left. Then onto constructing the baseboard. I used 4" x 1" timbers for the frame, with two lengths running either side, and braced across at the ends, and every foot in between. I like the 4" framework, it allows for a lot of depth on the underside to protect the larger slow action point motors, and gives plenty of chunky areas on which to mount accessory decoders, and for other components and wires to sit. Carrying on the chunky theme, the baseboard top is 12mm thick plywood. Whilst 12mm may be seen as overkill given the ample bracing, again I like the thickness for its ability to take screws for the wiring guides I use. If this were a portable layout, I'd probably think differently about the materials and design used, but it's staying where it is, and I'm a sucker for over engineering. The plywood top is glued and screwed to the softwood frame. Dog is useful ballast weight. Next I printed off the XtrkCAD layout design 1:1 scale, and place it on the baseboard, just to confirm to myself that I like the look and feel of how the trackwork fits onto the layout Happy with that, I then add two layers of 1.5mm (purely as it was what I had) cork sheet to the railway area. Being a yard, there is no ballast shoulder, so the cork covers the whole area, and the trackwork will sit, and be bed in at the same level as the surrounding scenery. To avoid the PVA glue seeping through the porous cork, and glueing the ballast wood to the cork, I used a sheet of greaseproof paper between the ballast and the cork. Once the glue had dried after a good couple of days, the paper came away cleanly. Once the cork was completely dry, I copied the track plan over onto the baseboard, and also marked out the exact placement of the turnouts, and then marked up both the holes for the point motor switch wires, and the track power droppers on the turnouts. I also then worked out how many 60ft straight track sections (plus some odd smaller ones) I'd need, marked them up, and marked out where the droppers would be for each of those also. When it came to creating the 60ft sections, I created a single section, where I was happy with the sleeper spacing, and used some double sided tape and masking tape on a spare piece of ply to use it as a template / jig so I could re-create more sections uniformly with the sleeper spacing. This was the first time I'd used Peco Bullhead track, and being a silly sod didn't even realise that the new Bullhead fishplates didn't need the end ties removing off the sleepers like I used to have to do with old flexitrack! So the first few sections I'd removed the last ties before realising Whether going to these lengths to replicate the sections of track that would have been prototypical in such a yard was worthwhile, I'll not really know until it's all scenic'ed up, but it was something I'd wanted to try. As it's such a short run, the prototypical 'clickedy-click' of jointed rail won't be evident, but on a larger run I can well imagine it would give quite a decent effect audibly. Onwards, and the drill came out, and the holes for the point switch wire / rod were drilled, the frog wires, and the MANY dropper wire holes drilled through. As I was using cobalt slow action point motors, I also used the cobalt point motor installation kit, giving me the correct size drill for the holes necessary. After, I used some brown paper and pritt-stick to re-cover the hole, figuring this would be useful to stop ballast falling below and creating a void further on. Dropper wires were then soldered to all the straight sections and turnouts, and slowly the trackwork started to come together. I started with the turnouts as getting the orientation of these correct was obviously paramount to the rest of the layout. All the track was glued into place with PVA, no track pins necessary. One drawback to having scale(ish) track sections and adopting a mantra of every piece of track needs its own power feed is a nest of dropper wires mounting up below the baseboard!! Hopefully the running qualities of the layout will pay dividends and make this all worth it. On with the wiring now, and making things tidy and sensible under the baseboard. I didn't take any 'during' photos of this stage as it's obviously quite monotonous, but I'll summarise... For the DCC Bus wires I used 18AWG silicone sheathed multistrand I had left over from an automotive project (droppers are 7/0.2) connected to 'chocolate block' connector blocks in each one foot section. The blocks are bridged to accommodate for however many dropper wires plus any point motors that are in that particular section. I use the same method for an accessory bus at the opposite end, obviously with different colour wires. However each one foot section has six available terminals, as at this point I don't know what or how many feeds I'll have to illuminate buildings etc. I also have two more separate accessory circuits for yard and depot lighting that I've installed. These are separate as they will be connected to an old DC controller, allowing me to adjust the brightness of the lighting from the controller as I feel is right. The turnouts, as mentioned are controlled from Cobalt slow action point motors. Originally it was my intention to use digital ip motors, but no stock on these at the time lead me to get Cobalt classic motors, powered from individual DCC concepts AD1-HP accessory decoders for the same functionality. These are wired directly to the track bus, had it been a larger layout with more turnouts I'd have considered a separate DCC bus for the turnouts, so not to piggy-back off the track power. But I'm unlikely to have several sound locos running at once, and there being only four turnouts I thought the single bus would be sufficient. For maximum functionality the turnouts will be able to be controlled from the DCC cab, a computer panel via a DCC interface and PanelPro, and also the wiring has been installed so every turnout will have a traditional push switch and LED route indication on a conventional panel at the end of the layout. A little overkill for four turnouts maybe, but it's as much an experiment in using these methods, as it is having them to use. All tidied up, and wired in. There's provision for wiring for switches for individual building illumination if I wish, I've tried to futureproof the electrics to allow easy installation further into the build. And as you can see, I have a bit of a thing for wiring tidies! Which brings it more or less up to date for now. Obviously the wiring is quite tedious, but it's nice to get it done and ready to move on to more rewarding aspects. Next phase is to get some of the depot yard lamps installed, look at a frame for the raised sections of the layout, and trial some different methods of surfacing the railway area. I have some air drying clay on order to try a method I've been reading up on that looks just the ticket for the effect I want!
  4. A crucial point, and well made too I feel. As an example I’ve just completed the underside wiring of a small layout, and although reasonably complex with various accessory busses and wiring for panel switches and lights, wasn’t the most taxing of jobs when taken one step at a time. Yet if I look back at it, now (mostly) complete, and wonder what I’d do if it all got destroyed tomorrow I think ‘There’s no way I could do all that again’. Well, of course I could, I’ve done it once over the course of several evenings, I could easily do it again. But taking the job as a whole seems much more daunting than breaking it down to several small jobs, in this case very simple circuits and droppers, just repeated many times over. Therefore I don’t do big jobs, I do small ones however many times necessary, I find it much more palatable.
  5. Incredibly excited for this, I’ve only just seen the updates, wasn’t sure if this was going to happen. Given my apparent guilty pleasure of amassing scale length engineers trains from the early 90s, I think you can expect a big order from here when the order books open. Now I wonder which child is worth more to medical science
  6. Apologies Simon, I’d not noticed these latest announcements. I’d feared this project was dead in the water after a long period of time!
  7. Go on then, I’ll bite! A nice heavy diecast YMA Salmon / YKA Osprey would be lovely and have a great appeal covering pretty well the entire network and still in use today (or certainly up till recently) from as far back as the 50s in their earliest guises, I can’t think of any other rolling stock spanning such a broad timeframe. And most people could find a reason to run an engineers train, long or short. Cambrian do a fine kit, but it’s a little too lightweight for me, and no real place to hide weights on an empty load. FWIW, I was never in the market for a 91, but as a businessman can well understand where you guys stand with your decision as your business is still in its infancy, it’s perfectly understandable to reduce risk. I have no particular axe to grind over Hornby’s recent announcement of theirs as I don’t know the facts, so don’t know how long it’s been in the pipeline internally for them, or how far back progress goes, but do feel for you over the unfortunate timing of it. On the face of it you have a fantastic business model, and rightfully a fantastic support, you’ve given confidence to the crowdfunding concept in this industry right when it was needed, and I wish you ever success, which I’m sure you will duly achieve.
  8. It’s an odd one, I’ve never bought any of my model railway stock as an investment, but I’ve always found comfort in the knowledge they remain a substantial value asset to the other half if I were to shuffle off suddenly. Everything has been bought with disposable income that I’ve squirrelled away over the past two decades, and as someone on here as mentioned, that money would have only gone on beer, or at a time cigarettes, or other random expenditures to which I would see no return further down the line. When I recently valued my stock for insurance purposes (and for instructions for the wife if the worst was to happen), I found that the biggest ‘profit’ against the prices paid was for the mundane locos of 10+ years ago. Locos such as early releases of the newest Bachmann 37s, not only were they bought at a time when I could pick them up at shows for around £50, but they’re in numbers and liveries that’s are memories of a good many years ago and rarer seen on the market. To many people having started since then these are as good as new releases, but not as common. Sale prices suggest these are my biggest return on money invested, in some cases over three times their purchased price. But alas things change, and I dare say they are as lucrative now as they ever will be with future releases of the ‘next gen’ Accurascale 37 on the horizon, but that’s the nature of the beast. If I’d bought them to make profit I’d start to cash in on them now, but ultimately I’d have never have known these would be the ones to return the best value in ten years time.
  9. Good to meet you buddy, glad your cabinet is up and filling up!
  10. Express models do a good range of depot lamps also. Options for older, and newer styles, and an impressive tower in the range as well.
  11. I ordered some online through them in November, they rang me to tell me they were on back order, they did mention Feb (ish) as a gauge of when they expected them back in stock, so sounds like they’re even a little ahead of where they expected. In the end I wanted to crack on so they offered me the analogue cobalts and AD1HP decoders for the same price, which I duly accepted, and fitted, very happy. Exactly the same functionality this way, so this could be your alternative. Decent bunch of guys over at DCCconcepts to be fair, found them most helpful.
  12. And I think I’ll be using this method with my next ones! The one I’ve just done was mounted built but without the glass shelves. Still took two people holding and one drilling/screwing (no dirty euphemisms intended).
  13. There’s probably not enough mazak and plastic left in China for anything else!
  14. Agreed, it needs to be seen for what it is. I can’t disagree with the obvious technological advancement of blue rail however this will have its place as basically untethered DC. DCC, as popular as it is, hasn’t conquered the world just yet. Plenty of DC users out there for this to benefit, and not all them of the older generation. Not all those ‘cheap’ 66s will end up with decoders in them.
  15. Doesn’t matter what you model and when, as a railway modeller if you aren’t impressed/excited by something in there (regardless of whether it’s ‘for you’ or not) then you’re exceptionally difficult to please. Amazing stuff! Most things for me are actually re-releases of existing tooling but the ambition here is impressive to say the least.
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