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Jon Fitness

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Blog Entries posted by Jon Fitness

  1. Jon Fitness
    Making the loops
    There are 2 sizes of hooks and loops, and the shorter ones are for short buffered vehicles so I tend not to use them.
    Clean up the loop with the scratchbrush and run a 0.8mm drill through all 3 holes.
    The instructions recommend a 0.9mm drill but the idea is to have a nice free pivot but without too much slop or side play so a 0.8mm waggled about in the holes does the trick.
    Bend the dropper down at 90Ëšas close to the pivot holes as possible (Pic 13)
    Try to avoid bending the pivot tags.
    Grip the dropper in the pliers and carefully bend up the pivot tag 90Ëš on the dropper side. The other tag can then be bent up at about 45Ëš ready for the loop to be fitted to the pivot on the hook. Check the slot between the two pivots hasn’t closed up.
    (Pics 14-16)
    The dropper should then be bent about ½ way along its length and a twist put in so that the hole for the soft iron wire dropper is now vertical.
    The leading edge of the loop should then be bent upwards at 45Ëšand the front edges slightly rounded to aid smooth coupling.
    Pics 17 and 18 explain it better than words!!

    The loop is then ready for mounting on the hook.
    Re-check that during the bending up process that the slot hasn’t closed up between the pivots and gently ease the loop onto the pivot pin as shown in pics19/20.
    The pivot tab at 90Ëš should slide onto the pin and the other one still at 45Ëš should be ready to be bent up to 90Ëš while locating on the pivot pin.
    Use thin pliers and gently squeeze the pivot tab up to 90Ëš while locating on the pivot pin (pic21) so that both pivot tabs are parallel.
    The loop should now lift up and down smoothly and with minimum side movement
    If not, check the gap as shown in pic 22 and also check that the tabs are at 90Ëš to the pin and still parallel. The gap can be carefully eased open with a scalpel blade if necessary.

    On the bottom edge of the hook, there is a limiter tab to stop the loop from rising too far. This is tiny and has to be bent at 90Ëšcarefully, and squeezed with the pliers to obtain the maximum projection. There isn’t much of it to bend and the dropper from the loop must be fairly close to the hook to catch it. Ideally it could have been about 0.5mm longer for ease of use. (Pics 23/24)
    On odd ones where I’ve clumsily broken it I’ve replaced the tab with a short length of wire soldered to the hook.
    The coupling should now work smoothly up to its limit and drop down without binding.
    Using the soft iron wire, make a dropper from the loop down towards where your magnet will be in the track and fit it through the loops dropper, checking that it is free to swing. Allow enough length and once fitted to the vehicle, the wire dropper needs to be trimmed so that is about 1mm above rail level. (Pic 25)
    The whole coupling can now be chemically blackened in your chosen dip. I have used Carrs blackener for nickel silver on this one. (Pics 26/27)

    Note the clean bit where an air bubble kept the fluid off!! Cured by re-dipping.
    More soon.
  2. Jon Fitness
    Hook and latches.
    To match the hook and loop, on the other end of vehicles there is a hook and latch.
    The latch is to provide a delayed coupling function. When the loop is lifted up by a magnet to uncouple, the latch is also flipped up at the same time but immediately drops again. When the loop drops after uncoupling, it will drop down on the latch rather than the hook so that vehicles can be propelled and left in a siding without having to uncouple again. To re-couple just draw away and return and the vehicles will re-couple.
    The hook is prepared in almost the same way as before but is then fitted with one of two latch types. They both perform the same function and operate the same way but are assembled differently.
    Note also, it is possible to vary where the hook sits in relation to the bufferheads on the vehicle by soldering the pocket further down the hook. This is useful if the vehicle you are fitting it to does not have adjustable buffer lengths and your layout has sharp curves.

    Type 1 is less obtrusive and its operation is slightly more reliable, but type 2 is probably easier to assemble and fit.
    My personal preference is for type 2 so I’ll start with that one.
    Type 2 latches.
    If fitting a type 2 latch, take off the little half etched pip from the top of the hook. This for type 1 latches and can cause false coupling with the loops if left on.

    Clean up the latch with a scratchbrush and clear out the pivot holes with a 0.8mm drill waggled about (0.9mm leaves to holes a little to big IMHO)
    The bending up process is similar to the loop except for the dropper which for some reason is on the other side of the etch and is just a simple bend down!
    Bend the dropper down as close to the pivot tabs as possible (pic28) then bend up the pivot tabs, the side with the dropper at 90Ëš and the other at about 45Ëš.(Pic29)

    Check the slot hasn’t closed up and offer up the latch to the pivot pin. As in pic 21, use pliers to close up the pivot tabs on the pin and check for alignment.

    The latch should flip up and down freely. Note that the latch over hangs the end of the hook so that the coupling loop can lift it during coupling.

    The little tab on the bottom of the hook should now be bent at 90Ëš towards the dropper and the dropper set so that the latch rises to almost vertical. Note that the tab is half etched and is on the other side to the dropper so extra care must be taken when bending to make sure that the tab comes out far enough for the dropper to catch. If the tab simply won’t catch the dropper, solder a short length of brass wire in it’s place.
    Type 1 latch.
    For type 1 latches, prepare the hook as previously shown but leave the little half etched pip on the top of the hook. This forms the limiter for the lifting action of the latch.
    The type 1 latch is a simple loop that does the same job as the type 2 latch.
    Clean the latch with a scratch brush and clear the holes with a 0.8mm drill. With this type of latch it is even more important not to introduce too much “slop” as the latch can miss the hook when dropping and this will stop the coupling from functioning correctly.

    The loop has half etched marks on it to aid bending and should be bent over a piece of the etched strip provided in the kit for this purpose. It can then be opened gently and fitted over the pivot pin. At this stage the latch will drop over the hook too far as the end of the latch needs “filling in” so that it stands proud of the hook

    This can either be done by carefully filling with solder or soldering a short length of the etched strip provided in the kit for this purpose

    Once you are happy with the coupling, blacken it in the dip of your choice and it’s ready to fit.

    The final 2 pics show a hook with a type 2 latch fitted to a bogie bolster wagon. This has been towed round a 4ft6inch radius curve (just!)
    More soon if anyones interested
  3. Jon Fitness
    Fitted a banner repeater signal and the home signal it repeats. Both are worked by the now standard micro servos.

    Steve has finished the cottages. Someone's moved in and got the washing out already .

    Work will now concentrate on building & fitting the rest of the mainline signals and monitoring the working of the Dingham couplings fitted to some of the stock.
    Someone say Dinghams?... Next time we'll have a look at those....
    More Soon.....
  4. Jon Fitness
    My knees ache… after last nights gantry re-fitting session during which just about every problem expected, turned up and brought its mates with it.
    I must have spent about 2 hours under the baseboards trying to align the gantry with somewhere that didn’t have cross-members, wires through those cross-members, screws, brackets, areas I couldn’t reach, wires that needed lengthening and/or re-routing.
    The gap between the down main and the loop was only just enough so positioning was critical, especially as the curves are very tight at that point. I ran a mk1 coach back and forth constantly over both tracks until it fitted (just).
    I couldn’t find the wiring diagram so each wire had to be buzzed out before I recoupled it (after lengthening it) and it took at least 3 attempts before I coupled all the drive rods to the servos and the wires didn’t catch on something or another. One of the servos threw a wobbler and tried to self destruct, to the extent the gears inside went crunch and re-set themselves. I had to take the arm off the servo and re-set it.
    2230 before all signals were working again. Lesson learned? Build it up on the bench at home on a baseplate and fit the whole thing from above. If it still doesn’t fit?
    Well there’s always colour light signals I suppose…….
    The second job (which I did first!!!) was painting the retaining walls to complete the scenic work that Steve has been beavering away at. He will be building a small hut to cover the point motor until I can get round to doing a tall signalbox for the gap in the wall.
    I think we’ve got the look we were after….
    More to follow.
  5. Jon Fitness
    Steve’s now done the scenic trimmings on the top of the cutting (still waiting for the sea-moss) and has decided to use the converted low relief cottages. They will get a re-paint and re-weather and be bedded in shortly. I then painted the retaining walls a stone colour in readiness for the dark browny gunge colour to go on top.

    The re-cess in the wall for the surface mounted point solenoid was going to get the ubiquitous PW hut in it to cover it up, but I’m trying to persuade Steve he needs a really tall thin signalbox in there instead. Something on the lines of Northenden Junction !

    More to follow.
  6. Jon Fitness
    After a pleasant couple of hours at the Gresford gauge 0 get-together, (where I met fellow RM Webbers Dikitriki and Dibateg, nice to meet you fellas!), I returned home to daub a bit of paint on ET’s replacement, the stone bridge.
    The results can be seen below and I’ve left it with Steve to install and bed-in.
    Once it’s in, I’ll blend in the surrounding stone-work and I’ll then be ready to re- install the signal gantry.
    This will be moved so it’s on the “approach†side of the bridge and it will be joined by one or two others appropriate to the now revised track-work.
    Jon F.

  7. Jon Fitness
    First and Last
    Well… this is the first blog entry of 2011 and will also be the last, as for various reasons I will shortly be starting a Saltney thread.
    Steve has got stuck in with the upper level station details and is using all sorts of bits and pieces of printed brickwork and ex Talacre structures to see what works. Some may stay in place and some may be swapped for better bits.
    An old ex Talacre signalbox has been put on a gantry over the tracks (due to the usual space constraints) and awaits steps, walkways and bog extention.
    The view up and down the high level station area is starting to get “something†about it now.
    Steve’s also hand painted a “Beecham’s Pills†advert on the end of the houses by the GW Junction.
    A visiting retired Ex Chester loco driver just mentioned about the surviving house end Beechams adverts by Shotton Station and Steve obliged!

    I’ve now finished the ballasting at Astley Bridge and am now cracking on with an L&Y style canopy. The framework is from 80 thou square plastic strip and the etched brass valance is from D&S. I think it was etched for “Inkerman Street†and was left over as there was only 4 bits available!
    The rest was the nearest match I could find which was Slaters MR valance (plastic!)

    The stanchions and brackets are L&Y style whitemetal ones from Skytrex. There’s still loads to do on it but I’ve done a couple of “trial fittings†to see how its going to look.
    Don’t worry, the pegs won’t be a permanent fixture!
  8. Jon Fitness
    Steve’s now done his Bedford TK coal lorry and added some rather nice little coal sacks. These are made from some old material, and filled with yer actual coal.
    Note the empty sacks folded and weighed down with a 5lb weight.
    I’ll do some transfers for the doors (T. Watkins I think) as soon as Steve gives me some details.

    As has been pointed out, our yard footbridge wasn’t quite right so Steve’s set to with fixing that. I think this arrangement should be ok once the rest of the bits and pieces are fitted. A support between the tracks will also be fitted just to make sure.

    Finally got round to photographing the compound today. It’s now 41166, one of Chester’s stud in the 1950’s.
    As per real thing, it’s a bit light on it’s feet and all available useable space inside has been filled with lead and any more will cause it to tip forwards!

    I asked Steve to draw it forwards a bit and the wheels just spun… cue fake speed photograph!

    Steve assures me that the front number will be replaced by an etched one eventually…



  9. Jon Fitness
    A recent visiting loco in the form of J94 68006 brought an ER flavour to the layout. This was until someone pointed out that 68006 had done time at Birkenhead shed in the early 60’s! A bit more local loco than we thought..

    My Arriva liveried bubble car escaped from Cardiff Bay and managed more mileage round the layout in an hour than the real thing does in a day (probably)

    Another visitor in the form of a GW liveried auto trailer looked rather nice (even if it was with a BR liveried loco). The 2 resident 64xx’s took turns to propel it round the layout.

    Steve said if it “visits†for much longer, he has tins of paint containing blood and custard colours which may be opened….
    I purchased a Skytrex L&Y timber signalbox kit at Halifax GOG and have just got round to starting it. This will replace the card LNW box at the LM station as I am trying to get a “Lanky†flavour to the area.

    Its not a bad kit, but..I think the windows are a tad large. The rest of the kit seems in proportion so I’ll carry on and see how it turns out.
    While I was at the Skytrex stand I also purchased a few odds and sods for the goods shed; it looked a bit bare in there and a goods shed is for handling goods I suppose.

    I painted up the castings with various enamels, mostly a wash with my usual mixture of 1 part matt black and 4 parts No. 26 (whatever colour that is). The oil drums looked a bit plain just painted so I downloaded some vintage Castrol and Shell logos and made some waterslide transfers to go round the middles using some “Crafty†computer paper white waterslide sheet.
    I also managed to squeeze a desk and shelves into the office (along with a fireplace and cupboard but these defied photography!)

    Steve’s added some superb wooden coal pens to the LM yard (complete with some real steam coal) and a nice stone clad coal office. This will have a nameboard on the top with the name of a local (to Chester) coal merchant. There’s also a Bedford TK in the workshop currently gaining a flatbed and coal sacks to go with it.

    Finally, one of our regular visitors quite rightly pointed out that there is no foot access from the station area to the goods yard at the LM station. A set of steps or ladder wasn’t an option as the track is too close to the retaining wall, so a footbridge was dug out of the bits box and hacked about by Steve until it fitted across the yard. Looks OK to me but Steves still umming and arring!

    Very finally (for this time anyway), The re-painted LMS compound shown last time is now sporting BR lined black but shamefully I haven’t photographed it yet.
    Next time……..
  10. Jon Fitness
    Another loco has now joined the fleet in the form of an LMS compound 4-4-0. Steve is in the process of altering this chap from right to lefthand drive and has already moved the reversing rod and vac ejector. In the fullness of time this will eventually have coal rails fitted and be re-painted in BR lined black to represent one of the 6 or so that were shedded at Chester in the `50s.


    On a more modern note, 58047 has emerged from hibernation to have a blast round with the MGR rake. Having not turned a wheel since last September it grumbled a little at first but soon got hold of those heavy Skytrex HAA’s and settled down to a steady 45mph. Very nice.


    A small building, picked up cheap from a swapmeet is always a challenge for Steve. A little card built shop has been tucked in a small corner of the layout that seems to have become a breeding ground for little cameo scenes.
    Along with Mousey’s Garage, (Mousey being Steve’s mechanic friend) it has been installed next to the line of terraced houses which gained the unfortunate name of Rillington Place.

    It’s now “a local shop for local peopleâ€â€¦â€¦.sorry Steve!
    Is that Tubbs and Edward on the steps?...................Next stop Royston Vasey!

  11. Jon Fitness
    Well, it’s been a while since the last update and we’ve been busy with a lot of things, not all of them layout related.
    The signal gantry seems to be behaving itself and has settled in well. I think I’ll eventually convert most of the signals to servo operation as the operation of them makes things like basic interlocking and route selection much easier to install (when I get round to it!).
    Steve has laid and wired up the rest of the track in the high level station and made up & labelled the control panel.

    It is now possible to send trains from station to station without using the main line control panel. Passing trains between us using the block instruments is quite therapeutic and has brought a new interest to the operations.
    The goods shed has tested my somewhat limited modelling skills but is finally now reaching completion. I broke a sacred rule of not making a model of a model but it seems be turning out reasonably well.
    I’ll have to tell Steve; next time I offer to build something like this tell me to stick to signals. They’re a bit easier!!

    After painting the stone work, I called in to check that the goods shed still fits in the hole I carved for it and after a few minor adjustments, in it went. There’s still lots of painting jobs and there’s the roof, guttering, downpipes, office door/window/chimney and signs etc to do. I will be fitting lights in the building and it also needs an internal wall mounted crane and the office fitting out.

    Just as I arrived, I noticed 42663 sat on the turntable in a rather fine shaft of sunlight. It was a nice photo op, but I only had 4 minutes to take a snap or 2 before the light moved.

  12. Jon Fitness
    Fitted the gantry at the LM Jc today, with it's associated servo gubbins.
    Wired up to 12vdc, lit up and operative via on/off switches it twitched and grumbled into life, settling down to relative silence about 15 seconds after each activation.
    As you can see there is still a little bit of "stand off" on the 2 miniature arms but this is mechanical rather than anything to do with the servo action. A little adjustment will be required.

    Still a bit buzzy sometimes but nothing serious.
    Very satisfying.
    Steves County class 4-6-0 does the honours as the first train past it with the route set towards the fierce incline up to the GW station.
    More soon
    Jon F.
  13. Jon Fitness
    Seems a bit busy for a Sunday here in Chester PSB Interfering with my modelling time
    Had a huge T3 block that had to be shortened and re-written then when the trains started running along come a load of diversions. tsk.tsk.
    Still... managed to cut out a roof truss from foamex sheet for the goods shed. I reckon I'll need 6 or 7 so being a lazy b+++++r I'll draw round the first one a few times rather than mark them all up. They won't be part of the structure as such, just there to create a bit of atmsphere in the goods shed, especially as I have cut skylights in the roof.
    I did all of the cutting and left the loose cut outs in position until all of them were loose to keep the strength in it while I was hacking away.


    The strange notch at the top is to clear the wooden spar that runs between the end walls and acts as the main support for the roof.
    First trial fit doesn't look too crap bad.

  14. Jon Fitness
    Finally got round to painting the retaining walls along the edge of the LM yard. About 9 foot of it..





    It was all painted in a concrete colour, allowed to dry then a colour mixed about 50/50 matt black and Humbrol 26 ("matt dark earth" I think) brushed diagonally over the raised bits. took about 3 and a half hours including brew breaks. I think it looks ok.
    Steve's now started the GW station track laying. The station throat board is removeable at the moment, so it can taken down for wiring and fixing up the point motors. It will then be fastened down permanently in the hope that nothing fails below the basebord

  15. Jon Fitness
    In our banker siding, Steve has provided a little coaling facility to feed the bunkers and tenders of the busy bank engines.

    Another ex Talacre signal has been re-furbed and positioned at the LM jc; this is now the home signal coming off the incline from the GW station.

    More retaining wall has had its lumpy stone added ready for painting and the yard at the LM station now has a cobbled area. Steve has left a space that might as well have a big arrow with flashing lights that says "The goods shed goes here.....Jon...when you're ready....in your own time..."

    An old signal from Talacre (Which I was never really happy with) has been re-built with some new dolls, extended, turned round and generally bashed into shape to suit it's new role as the LM jc main diverging signal. It will now be a gantry (of sorts) and have 4 working arms which hopefully will be worked by servos. This will of course be subject to me being able to successfully assemble the required control kit from MERG! More of this signal is shown further down

    Mike Evans brought his Bachmann 03 for a run out and very nice it looks too. (well I thought so..)
    . Yes I know its a diseasle Steve but at least it has a chimney and coupling rods.............
    The gantry was then tried in position and (thankfully) fitted and there is a nice clear area under the baseboards to fit the working "gubbins". As the use of servos is new technology to me, when I eventually start on the mechanics and electrical side of this I'll start a thread rather than a blog so you can all watch and probably laugh as I struggle. Meanwhile, a number of trains were run underneath it to check for clearance on the curves. Among them, Les's visiting standard 4 2-6-0 looked grand as it trundled a fitted freight round.

  16. Jon Fitness
    Firstly, must apologise if these entries seem to be coming a bit thick and fast. Just trying to bring it up to date without making each entry too big!
    Steve had a bit of luck when someone gave him a load of photgraphic backscene sheets. OK they were seconds but very useful nevertheless. They were quickly mounted on boards and installed (to hide my point motors!)
    A bit of work with the plaster bandage, paint and green lumpy stuff and a nice scenic area was the result.
    I placed my detailed Alphgraphics LNWR Signalbox at the junction and a couple of locos were posed in the banker siding to see what the scene looked like.

    The almost completed area showing the fearsome gradients to be encountered when climbing up from the LM junction.You can see how the up and down inclines were split to ease the upward gradient. Lack of space prevented both lines from being re-aligned.

    Meanwhile, Steve and Les got busy with more green lumpy stuff around the tunnel mouth, and we now have one side of the layout looking reasonably presentable

    Of course we had to have a play, and 51232 (Sevenscal kit with Slaters wheels and Mashy motor) surprised us all by trotting sedately round with a 24 wagon freight train.

    Work then turned to the loco shed. Working of the layout will entail a lot of light engine movements on and off shed for turning so Steve installed a lot of isolating sections in the various tracks and set about adding lots of grime and atmosphere (and a bit more green lumpy stuff) to create an authentic looking environment.

    2 areas finally got their finalised track layouts. The LM station and the GW junction. Much work ahead with the wiring (I now hate diamond crossings!)

  17. Jon Fitness
    When the track was layed into the LM station, we knew we were on the very limit of curvature for most of the locos (we reckoned some of the curves were 4' 6" radius) and this proved to be too much for some. A re-think was necessary which resulted in much alteration of the woodwork and a reduction in complexity of the trackwork. We had originally envisaged a double track into the station but this was reduced to single. Many attempts were made before a compromise was reached.

    As the corner by the door would be the first thing that people will see as they walk in, that area was chosen as the first to have a bit of scenic treatment so Steve and Les got busy while I got on with the wiring and point motors.

    As the track layout in that corner had just about been finalised, the structure for the ramps was boxed in and painted black to act as a scenic base for walling etc.

    The position of the turntable was by now ridiculously out of reach and as the LM station's layout had been changed, the plan to have kickback sidings feeding back round to below the site of the upper level was abandoned, freeing up space for a larger MPD area. Steve then added an extension board to accomodate the turntable and moved it down. Much better.

    Meanwhile, I got busy sorting out which of the point motors scavenged from Talacre were usable, cleaned them up and started to install them. The first 2 were installed at the LM jc and as well as firing the points over, also operate the microswitches for point polarity.

  18. Jon Fitness
    When the old Talacre gauge 0 garden railway had to come down in October 2009, we were feeling a bit down. We had amassed quite a bit of stock and a lot of scenic work had been done in the sheds. We were left with a lot of very second hand track, a mixed bag of locos and stock,quite a few working signals and all the elctrics. We even salvaged most of the buildings. What we didn't have was somewhere to build a new layout.
    Steve found the answer on his doorstep. A secure lockup, 27 X 17. A bit tight for the curves but dry, warm and accessable. We were in business!
    We've gone from zero to running trains through a partly scenic landscape in 2 and a half months so technology and enthusiasm permitting I'll try to bring you up to date and keep it that way (if you're interested of course!)
    As soon as I get my head round this Blog thingy, I'll post a few pics.
  19. Jon Fitness
    Yes I know…. It’s been a while. I seem too busy building stuff to be writing about it, although not as busy as Steve’s been…
    There’s a popular myth that the only water troughs in a Tunnel were at Standedge on the ex LNW transpennine route…not quite;
    Some have been discovered in a tunnel near Saltney….
    Made from plastic channel and constructed “in situ”, the many support brackets were glued down as the channel was laid. The planking (provided to stop the water from washing the ballast away) is from coffee stirrers and the troughs have several layers of varnish poured in. This was all topped off with a spray of gloss varnish over the area to give a wet sheen to everything.
    The associated water tank and treatment tanks were made up from various bits of styrene and odd fittings to complete the scene.

    Another recent addition is a cattle dock to replace the fuel depot which never seemed to look right.

    Heavy use/testing of the Dingham couplings has shown that anything fitted with a bogie must have the couplings fitted to that bogie! Other than that, as long as buffer stops are avoided, and they are set to provide a reasonable gap between vehicles they seem reliable and useful. Heres one attached to a bar soldered to the bogie on a Southern "Queen Mary" brake van

  20. Jon Fitness
    The cutting sides by the new bridge have had the basic scenery work built now and resemble a snow scene. Steve has decided a couple of railwaymans cottages would look nice there, with a pathway and steps down to them. There may even be an allotment or 2 as well. The cottages in the pics may or not be used eventually as they are an old low relief building from the bits box with a temporary “back half†added on!
    Railings along the top of the retaining wall will keep the people where they should be, and the old “edge of the hill†back-scene, which for structural reasons can’t be removed, will be disguised by the contents of a large box of sea-moss purchased cheaply from a local florist.
    Once the walls have been painted to match the bridge, I’ll finally be able to re-attach the signal gantry (in its new position) and make a start on some new signals to reflect the changes made to the track layout.

    More to follow.
  21. Jon Fitness
    Yes, I know I said that the last entry was going to be the last but I couldn’t face starting a thread from scratch…
    We reached at that time, what Steve called “the crest of a slumpâ€.
    Astley Bridge station was all but complete, and everything else was just ticking over. There were a few bits of the layout that all of us liked and a similar few that most of us didn’t, there was too much stock, not enough operational flexibility and too many other distractions. It seemed we had lost a bit of impetus to work on the layout and we just ended up meeting and drinking tea.
    Steve decided that the down-hill incline from Uppermill Station was just too steep and was making the locos run badly.
    I was never happy with the ET* between the two junctions as it covered up too much of the main lines. Half of the main lines are already under cover where the storage loops are and it just dominated one end of the layout.
    I arrived one day to see several rubbish sacks outside the door, containing said hill and was greeted with an empty space on the layout where it once stood.
    Steve had decided to re- arrange the junction up to upper mill, reducing it to single line, removing the down-hill line and to do this entailed removing the hill to lay a crossover. The two mainline junctions then gained a bi-directional link line so that now we can run between the 2 terminii without stopping traffic on the mainlines. The old lead to the downhill line now heads off to 2 long sidings via a double slip, thereby curing 3 problems in one massive re-modelling session.
    No more steep gradient, a massive improvement in operational flexibility and that huge ET* removed giving more “viewability†(is that a real word?) to the layout
    Steve was in charge of the track alterations and to replace the ET* and retain the physical/scenic break between the 2 junctions, a new stone bridge is being built, both on the slant and on the skew.
    Once I’ve built and installed that, quite a bit of re-signalling will be required which will keep me occupied for quite a while.
    Meanwhile, mojos duly found and fired up again we’ll bat along with the alterations and see where we go next.
    *…ET= Elephant T**d…
  22. Jon Fitness
    Well, here we go. It’s been ages since the last update, and quite frankly I’ve lost track of what’s been done since the last one. I’ve attached a little gallery as a bit of a “catch-upâ€
    but far more pics are available at
    Things we’ve done that come to mind (not necessarily in date order!) are..
    1. New roof on the loco shed. It dated from Talacre days and was a bit …flat. Smoke hoods will be fitted once a simple way of making so many of them has been found.
    2. The L&Y signal cabin has been installed at Astley Bridge.
    3. Extra lead off the turntable. Needed more space for Steve’s expanding loco collection…
    4. Saltney Ferry station has a covered footbridge. Sort of LNW style, fitted with lights and a nice little feature entrance.
    5. LNW style coal hole on the loco shed head-shunt. A large cast concrete buffer stop by it is a test piece for Steve’s (pat pending) method of representing a weathered concrete surface.
    6. 80% of signals are now servo operated, all new ones fitted will be servo’d.
    7. All of Astley Bridge’s track is now ballasted.
    8. Major backscene project is now underway up at Upper Mill station and the approaches to it.
    9. An ex Talacre signalbox is now on a gantry over the tracks at Upper Mill
    10. In build at the moment is an L&Y style canopy and wooden platform buildings for Astley Bridge (no pics yet, sorry).
    We’ve also gained a few locos and had lots of visiting ones out to stretch their wheels.
    I was thinking of stopping the blog and going over to a thread as I found the format very clunky and awkward to use, and a bit weird to view as well. Since the format has been tidied up and is now in a list form, I’ll carry on a bit longer and give it a chance.
  23. Jon Fitness
    Steve’s finished the footbridge over the lower yard and I think it’s blended in well and adds a bit of interest.

    Still in the lower yard, some of the sidings have been partly buried in plaster to represent the ash and general waste material that was traditionally used to ballast the track in sidings during the steam era.

    Still a lot of work to do on it with bits of grass and weeds etc.
    The goods shed looks a little more “planted†now as well.
    I’ve now fitted a couple of illuminated buffer stops at Slugworth station and will be fitting a third now I’ve run the wires through the platform structure.

    Due to space restrictions, when the track was laid at the GW station, the layout only allowed arrival at one of the 2 platforms.
    This has been rectified by the simple expedient of……moving the platform across!

    (No track was harmed during this process………………..)
    During last winter, 3 bonsai trees were inadvertently left outside in the garden at my place. Needless to say none of them showed signs of life but they were given a chance until summer. Not wishing to waste them, I gave them to Steve who planted them on the layout. After a bit of treatment with the glue and lumpy green stuff I think they look quite presentable..

  24. Jon Fitness
    Some old friends have returned to the layout recently;
    My JLTRT 10001 has spent too long on the shelf at home and needed a run out and Steve’s Springside “Foxcote Manor†made a welcome return having been crocked for a while.

    Also, a couple of Ex Talacre signals have been planted and are awaiting their servos to operate them.


    A batch of Metcalfe stone card has been unearthed and pressed into service, on the long wall round the edge of the LM station. We’re not sure if this wall can be covered permanently as there are point motors behind it and we haven’t come up with a successful “access†solution for them yet. No sense using expensive embossed plasticard and going to the trouble of painting it if it all needs ripping out to access the PMs. The Metcalfe stuff will do for now and looks acceptable (to us anyway!)


    As Steve and Les got fed up of waiting for me to build something in the hole behind the loco siding, they did it themselves….


    Nice “lump†fellas! Serves me right I suppose….(Note to self….must work faster!)
  25. Jon Fitness
    Just a quick update on the Skytrex “L&Y style†signalbox kit.

    Looks more like an RSCo. Box as supplied to the LYR.

    Seems to be fitting together ok but I’ve had to shorten the cast whitemetal handrails for the staircase by about 5mm.

    The interior kit is (as usual) a bit Great Westerny so I’ll use the lever frame but scratchbuild the rest
    I think it’ll look suitably Lanky-ish when its done and painted.

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