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Found 394 results

  1. RichardS

    Planning.

    When building a ‘model railway in the landscape’ the planning process is comprised, essentially, of three elements which are all inter dependent. Make an alteration to one and this will impact the other two. The three elements are the baseboards which must support the track and give a foundation to the landscape The track plan which must nestle in the landscape and look as though it was an integral part and lastly the landscape itself, the landforms, rivers, woodlands, embankments etc. All three elements must be juggled and adjusted to arrive at an acceptable compromise – for all model railways are a compromise at the end of the day. I’ve been juggling with Bosmelin for a long time, too long in fact, and eventually a stake must be hammered in the ground or in our hobby a saw applied to piece of wood. And so I find myself at the point of commencing the construction of the main scenic boards for Bosmelin. My Templot plan has been ready for a while and is as close a match to Boscarne Junction as can be achieved based on the 1907 25″ OS map. Of course it is rare to be able to adopt a real location without some adaption. For Bosmelin the overall length of the junction to 4mm scale has been cut by about 300mm and the alignment of the diverging branches to Bodmin SR and Bodmin WR will need to be changed but by and large the actual model track layout will be pretty close to the real thing. The problem will be the points, turnouts or if you prefer crossings and switches. The use of Peco ready to lay point-work produces a fixed and rather ‘straight’ geometry. Whereas the plan requires a bespoke set of switches to maintain the integrity of the subtle curves in the layout. So it seems that I shall have to construct the point-work. I have made a point before and it’s not to difficult provided you take your time, don’t rush, use quality gauges and follow instructions or guidelines. The point-work will be built to 4SF or OOSF standards which means that the track guage through the crossing will be 16.2mm and the flange way will be 1mm. This is of course the EM Society standard with the gauge reduced to 16.2mm which is designed to give better running through the crossings as the wheel is supported at all times. Standard RTR stock will run through. the crossings provided the back to back measurements are refined to not less than 14.3mm. Effectively what is being done is to remove ‘OO slop.’ Elsewhere the track guage will be 16.5mm. More details about 4SF can be found online at http://www.4sf.uk To finish here’s a couple of snaps of a baseboard under construction and the templot plan.
  2. Gordon Thanks, looks like a goo idea, one of the issues is the paper holder in my cheap HP printer, if the guide is narrowed it prints off centre, plus one (long) border is nearly 1" wide. However cutting with a straight edge and scalpel is easy enough its just lining up the sheets on 2 axis I have issues with Plans which go on boards I use as rough guides, for building turnouts, crossings and formations I build them off board and take extra care when attaching pages together When building I try and keep formations as small as I can. Its also easy to rearrange the pages within Templot to minimise the number of pages required for each formation. I also try where possible not to have page joins through crossings on the build templates etc
  3. Gordon I use a scalpel knife to trim the sheets, I do find it a bit hard keeping all the pages square though. The main platform bays will form the datum line, along with the roads to Wrenford and Bodmin Parkway lines. From these everything else will flow according to things like structures and baseboard joints. I did think about swapping the crossover into the goods yard with the turnout into the engine shed, however not only keeping it truer to the subject it is based on, it will also add additional operational interest for instance engine shed to workshop 4 moves rather than two. I am also considering adding one or two extra sidings in the goodsyard/workshop area, but will depend on how they look in relation to the existing track and buildings As for my track building skills, thanks but its more down to the skills of Martin Wynne designing Templot and Len Newman and his skills in product design with C&L and Exactoscale. Not forgetting all the knowledge and help I have gleaned form members here, on Templot Club and demonstrators at shows.
  4. Some trackwork finally! The handbuilt turnout section has been wired and fixed down along with the conveyor pit and associated road. Last night I got the tortuous looping curve section bonded down and started to look at the Peco Y that joins up to the boxfile. Slight deviation from the Templot plan for the curve as I had to straighten out the turnout exit to allow the Farish 0-6-0 chassis to run through. The road through the conveyor pit was always just a temporary placeholder as when I did the plan I had no real idea how the conveyor was going to sit As you can see, the Y is wired but not fixed down yet. I have modified both Y's removing the overcentre spring and adding a frog feed wire as relying on blade contact to power the frog as designed was not going to be reliable enough for me. The frog for the fixed crossing where the NG leaves the complex leading up to the Y will also be switched by the Y motor. So once the route is set from Y through to dual gauge section all will be good. For the Standard gauge track that leads onto the boxfile the Y will have to be reversed. This may change as I'm closely following developments at MERG where a new frog juicer design is evolving. If this is suitable I'll try it for the fixed crossing. Track is stuck down with runny Loctite Superglue, cured with Deluxe Materials Rocket Blaster cyano accelerator. Pin track in place, which is easy with 6mm of foam core underneath, flow the cyano around the sleepers, allowing it to flow underneath, then a quick zap with the Blaster, job done Getting closer to the point where the boxfile gets permanently stuck in position ......
  5. Just spent an hour playing with a few ideas in Templot Both exit routes have sidings as per the older track plan, but added the loco works (top middle) as it is now
  6. As you sat, thanks to the skill of Martin Wynne using Templot now has become very easy for most things, and as it happens Bodmin fits into the space I have providing only one exit is used. As for the station building it will be a very basic form of kit bash- owing to my limited imagination and building skills, Still with what has been used as my DIY workbench freeing up its been a welcome relief to start it. The good thing is the delay has altered my mind to build it to EM gauge rather than 00SF
  7. For once a major step forward, Thursday I visited the timber yard and got a sheet of 9 mm ply stripped down. Only one error in getting too many of the 3" strips cut in half, thankfully a had an offcut at home which I could cut 2 strips from. Thursday was a preparation day and made one board yesterday and the second today A full length view station area top left, entrance to the engine shed bottom left and goods yard bottom right. The Templot plan is a bit of a mess, its an old one which is a bit angular and was designed for 00SF gauge, I converted it to EM, but as I am going to alter it slightly I did not bother realigning the turnouts and plain track, as they will be altered Last night I roughly scaled up the North London Groups Bodmin plan which is on the internet, I am not going to build a scale model of Bodmin station, but kitbash a couple of Wills Station buildings, just wanted an idea of the station area building sizes and platform length and width, my trailing crossover is roughly in place. As said before I will be using a bit of modellers licence, it will have a second platform, a goods shed will remain, possibly a third siding at the station end. A single road engine shed. As for the loco works I will do something not quite certain yet Two more boards to be built, the next 4' board will have the engine shed and works, A 4 th board will be L shaped 2' x 3' will have both curved exit routes (the bridges will form a natural break) and a short 5th board will hold a fiddle yard Cassettes? Still a good step forward and will allow me to more focused
  8. bcnPete

    Back to my roots...

    Afternoon all, Following the recent post and demise of my Meeth 2mmFS DJLC entry I promised to share my alternative proposal. Part of the decline of Meeth was that it had no real layout future beyond the competition - more time should have been spent thinking this through long game One idea I have previously toyed with in BCN, even in 7mm scale was a model of Treviscoe clay dries. The thing that killed off the 7mm one was the thought that I would want to purchase a class 37....so 7mm toe dipping on a budget was never going to happen Despite my excursion into Scottish railways (which I have thoroughly enjoyed) my real interest has always been in China clay so this seemed the natural choice (admittedly Meeth was also a China clay proposal) I have always been taken by the John Vaughan image of a class 37 edging past a dries building so it was time to revisit this but in 2mmFS. I was aware of a rather nice 4mm layout on the forum loosely based on the Trethosa/Treviscoe dries area so it was natural that I first message Kevin to see if he had any objections to my project. I outlined to Kevin that whilst his layout was inspired by the area my would be an extract of the prototype as per my usual preference albeit condensed as required to try and capture the flavour - I sent my track plan and Kevin graciously replied that he had no issues with it especially as mine was based on the prototype and was a different scale - he has even offered some photographic research help - top bloke So the idea is to create an extract of the area between the two sheds which are connected by a high level conveyer of some sort. The 600mm x 234mm (approx.) 2020 DJLC competition area was overlaid on a google earth type snapshot and the area to be modelled was drawn over crudely in CAD - no Templot this end am afraid... Outline sketch...plan and very very very loose elevation (for Mikkel)... Crude CAD drawing...plan and elevation of fascia... Ditto but with overlay on google earth type image... This gave the following scenario which would have a FY each side. The idea is that trains can arrive, shunt wagons into the dries building and collect later on. Perhaps the odd passing freight too on the front line. The era would start early eighties so clay holds but could expand to include CDA’s and also Cargowagons (As found during Internet searches) I have a rake bought for a Moorswater and Mark (46444) weathered one superbly...and has offered to complete the rake. The next part of the process for me was to make a 1:1 mock up to test the idea with rolling stock. This would help gauge train lengths etc. The area was printed out at work full size and foamboard of varying thicknesses cut in preparation. This time I have decided to increase the front viewing window from my usual 200mm to 250mm...the jury is still out on this. The dries buildings have been guesstimated from pictures but I need to do more detailed drawings before they are built. The lighting has been integrated in the fascia with my usual methods and is a return to the IKEA strip lights I used in BCN. Am still pondering the Fiddle Yards but may use sliding perspex as per Kyle...how much of this will be on view is still being considered. Here is the mock up made last weekend and posed with various rolling stock to help me decide whether it’s worth pursuing. The main idea is to try and build it for May 2020 however (a) if it does not get finished it might be presented as a work in progress (b) it has a life beyond the competition in that it could be offered as an alternative to Kyle which will no doubt start to retract from exhibitions in the distant future. View from RH Fiddleyard... View from LH Fiddleyard... 37 arrives in loop on CDA’s... Front end view...not sure whether to reduce down viewing portal... Wagons left for loading and departing... 37 on Cargowaggons...this one was expertly weathered by Mark (46444)... Passing through with Cargowagons...that yellow is ouch! The two circular structures will be the China clay vats (name escapes me!) This link to the Flickr photo sums up the area to be modelled quite nicely...but modern day...(not sure if image shows as I just added the link to it...Mods - I can delete if it’s a problem?) That’s where I am at with it. I am quite happy to return to a China clay layout as I have most of the stock from my Coombe Junction - Moorswater layout. I am off work this week for 1/2 term so may look to make some initial progress. As always, comments welcome! Pete
  9. I have finally started the trackwork, at Scaleforum I bought a bag of part used Exactoscale turnout timbers, which equated to the best part of 3 complete frets, I have in my cupboard a box of PSM code 75 NS rail and a few bags of C&L 2 bolt chairs. I also bought a pack of C&L baseboard alignment dowels and time has come to start building the layout. In addition I have a 2 meter pack of Exactoscale EM fast track bases First up will be the platform trailing crossover. Temporarily I will fit it on a length of 9 mm ply to give me a test track for some locos I am both building and converting to EM gauge, I will also use it to test platform heights and distances I made a plan in Templot with 10' track centres as there will be a row of water stand pipes between the platform road and the run around track. Still a few chairs to be added. Tiebars initially will be copperclad timbers for testing, also bonding wires will need fitting A very untidy work bench and a close up of the crossing I have used 2 bolt chairs on the crossover though the Exactoscale fast track bases have 3 bolt chairs. I will see how noticeable they are on the test plank I will go and get the birch ply tops and ends cut to size in a week or so.
  10. OK, first draft of the pointwork etc is done, some fettling to do but it's removed from the build board and had a quick clean. Isolation gaps next and some wiring then I can test the running with a real loco or two! I'm also thinking about making the narrow gauge track move to the centre of the standard gauge, without sharing a rail etc towards the fiddle yard exit, then I can make dual gauge cassettes that can be rotated easily. Fire up Templot again!
  11. Slow progress but getting there. Some changes from the Templot plan to reality but pretty close. It all looks a dog's breakfast at the moment as heat from the soldering and all that flux has made a mess of the tape etc holding the sleepers down. I'm sure it will all clean up and once painted will be okay
  12. Dry run and it's changed now thanks to a few on the Templot forum. it's now looking like this as you can see I've made a start
  13. Good luck with the project, dual gauge trackwork is something I would like to have a go at, but too many other interests. Been trying to follow the Templot design thread topic and am looking forward to see the progress
  14. Well after a quite a while getting back to grips with Templot and a LOT of help from @martin_wynne I have a track plan finalised. There will be some changes in levels, as the exit road(s) will have a small incline through a rocky cutting and the siding leading off the Y will be for side tippers unloading into to conveyor that takes spoil over the loop track onto the raised hillside at the back. It really got complex at the front of the layout, with all that mixed gauge trackwork and even a couple of "half K" arrangements so that it is impossible to set a road that causes derailments - also meant that the narrow gauge exit from the dual gauge does not need any moving switch blades The half K on the right is wrong I know, I might have yet another go before I start building, but the roller gauges will help me position it better anyway. Oh and it's OO-SF, I'm hoping that the 1mm flangeways will not lead to too much wheel drop of the OO-9 stock. I might be able to tweak some of them to 0.75mm depending on back to backs etc, we shall see.
  15. Maybe there's help to be had in the Templot forum?
  16. So after some playing around with flexitrack and standard turnouts I have come to the conclusion that fully handbuilt is the way to go at least for the points! It's been a while to say the least since I used Templot, but managed a first go at roughing out a plan last night. As you can see all I've done is overlay some OO track over the N (for 00-9) so far. need some help I think from @martin_wynne to create some turnout templates with a small enough radius and large enough crossing angle for my purposes. That will come later. The section of dual gauge is far too tight, I'll need to break it up into sections so I can ease that curve. Will mean that the rest of the loop will be tighter but the NG stock can take it!. Next steps? I want a stub siding where the "a" is on the plan, will be fun fitting that in but I need somewhere to park a standard gauge loco for shunting purposes.
  17. As we all know, the Earth is anything but flat but a flat earth is quite a common sight on our models. Now it's pretty obvious that Hayle North Quay has some high ground at the back and a quay edge at the front, but is that the whole story? Well, no... A couple of examples from my visit in 2010 (the place has been completely rebuilt since then to provide flood defences). I'm not sure what this building used to be, possibly stables for the Steam Packet hotel or possibly something else. In theory this is on the flat part of the quay, but look at the ground line. The wagon weighbridge (in its original position) - pretty flat here but look in the distance - the road (and inset rail track) are climbing up to enter the former Octel bromine works site. In the 1950s this gradient was used for gravity shunting. The problem (for me) is knowing how much level change is enough. While puzzling over this I looked again at my many photos and found a little corner of a photo of one of the other quays which showed North Quay in a helpful way... So roughly speaking, the rear of the 'flat' part of the quay is higher than the quay edge by about the height of a car (A40?). I guesstimate about 5 feet. The bigger conundrum for me was to figure out how a small patch of ground in front of the Octel works 'fits together' from a height perspective. These level changes are less subtle but I found them quite difficult to figure out. A couple of snippets from 'Britain From Above'... Towards the rear of this little scene we have the rail line up to the Octel works... which is uphill but only up a railway kind of hill plus a non-too-steep ramp from the road back down to quay level at the end of the detached cottage. All quite subtle but on the other hand the two semi detached cottages have a retaining wall at one end which is is almost a full storey high and has earth to the top of it on one side and the ground level is similarly high where it meets the inclined front wall of the detached cottage. Now maybe it's just me but I couldn't make all of this fit together in my head... and also factor in some selective compression. In the end I decided that building a scenic mockup of the patch of ground and the incline to the Octel works was the only way to figure it all out. The mockup sits on an old piece of laminate flooring and is all done with cheap card, cerial boxes and Templot printouts. I didn't have any suitable 'ground' material to hand so I took a trip down to my local Hobbycraft and a bag of air drying clay was about the cheapest thing that seemed like it would do the job. It was quite fun to do - sticking extra bits on here and there or carving bits off and easily smoothed over with a dampened finger, screwdriver blade or an old butter knife. Have I got it right? I don't know but it doesn't look too far from what I see in the Aerofilms photos. What still puzzles me a bit is why they didn't just dig more of this ground out instead of building retaining walls and leaving it piled up against their back walls to cause damp. I have a theory but will leave this as an exercise for the reader. Wot, no tractor? Actually the tractor is part of this story because it will hopefully drive along the road and negotiate that ramp in order to get to the other end of its train. Using the info from the scenery mockup, I worked out how much extra 'padding' the ramp would need and added a functional but rather less scenic balsa wood ramp to the tractor test bed... I'm not sure how long the clay will take to air dry - it's had several hours so far and isn't showing any signs.
  18. Firstly I should mention that it was great to meet and catch up with many familiar names at the supermeet in Tutbury last weekend. Sadly, I didn’t spend as much time as I should’ve speaking to folks, as I was busy screwing up D869’s shunting tractor while he wasn’t looking. Still I’m told that one of the objectives of the day was to test the reliability so that in itself can be looked at in a vaguely positive light. So back to Callington Road, when I arrived back at the beginning of the roster break, with around a year to go to the Expo, I felt it was time that I really should have some trains running by now. The last couple of breaks have been used up with getting all of the various bits of woodwork painted in a suitably garish shade of green, whilst trying not to contaminate all of the areas needed to be painted white. The full templot plan was then printed out, stuck together and then traced over onto the baseboards, ensuring that the stencil wasn’t moved in the process. Following this slots were cut out of the baseboard top for the tie bar positions, and holes drilled for the PM2 uncoupling magnets. The pointwork was then sliced off the hardboard shelf with a steel ruler standing in for a palette knife and the whole assembly dunked in a bath of water with a little bleach mixed in, to soak the templates and to try to bathe off any remnant green label flux from soldering. The sleepers were then gapped using a semi-circular needle file and droppers soldered on with SWG 33 Nickel Silver wire, a departure from using 5A fusewire, as I find this to be a little too flexible. The hand drill was brought out once again to punch more holes in the baseboard tops for the for these to passthrough, with only a couple having to be re-sited as they went straight into a spacer block. Then, there was nothing for it, but to grab the solvent PVA and bring the beer out! Actually this is a bit of a lie, I quickly figured out that this wasn’t a great way to hold the track firmly to the baseboard as there were spots where it was lifting up, particularly the pieces of easitrack at the end of the pointwork, so I had to resort to balancing heavy lumps of brass and steel over each section as the glue dried. While this was all going on, Brasso was applied liberally to the rest of the easitrack sleepers and once dried, the plain track panels were assembled, more droppers soldered on, more holes drilled and these in turn glued onto the layout, with lots of prodding during drying to ensure that the straight bits are straight and there weren’t any kinks in the curves. The board joints provided to need a little head scratching for, if I was starting this from scratch I’d probably just do away with this and build the whole 900mm as one baseboard, but for some reason I decided it was a good idea back in August... Long rail sections were glued down over the joint, and cut with a very fine (0.2mm) razor saw to ensure consistency in the curve, the same being done to the points laid down over the joint. PCB sleepers (and chairplates) were then inserted and soldered in to provide some strength against the inevitable snags on jumpers. The coal siding that goes off the front of the baseboard also presents another quandary, this is one of the tightest spots on the layout at 450mm radius, or in other words, less than the 600mm recently suggested as what the minimum radius ‘should’ be. From what I can see from the maps and photos, this is in fact kinder than it was on the prototype, as it was laid originally in the 3’6” East Cornwall Mineral Railway days, avoiding a couple of stores to access an area of the yard beyond. With the track going up to the edge of the baseboard, and being keen not to send any stock on a one way journey into the abyss, this siding will not be powered after the break at the baseboard join, which will mean that it needs to be shunted with barrier wagons to reach onto the tighter part of the curve. I may yet still resort to fixing a wagon down on the end of the siding too, so to prevent a whole rake of wagons being sent off to their demise, before the loco reaches the dead area. The cast brass sleepers on the end were put in so that the rail ends would be secure, and so I could take a big file to them to match the baseboard front edge. Whilst we are on the subject of the prototype some photographs that I had found after I had built the trackwork, inevitably showed that the yard entry point should be tighter, and both yard points should be ‘Y’ points. Oh well, this is going to be Callington Road after all then, not just Callington. More PCB sleepers have been glued under the layout along with the modified filmstrip tiebars housings, and the droppers soldered onto these ready to land the wires from the control box. Of course, I’d really meant to get these all wired up too but then, I think we all could do with 26 hours a day. Finally, the mousehole was cut into the backscene view blocker to allow everything to be put back together for storage again. In doing so, you get a full view of the layout in DJLC guise, with the DMS of the Class 118 DMU which I’ve been building forever, plonked on for scale. Until next time, when there might actually be some movement to write about… Chris.
  19. The corner of the room has two baseboards, one which will feature a scenic area with the mill and the other, much narrower board, for the fiddle-yard. These two boards don't have the space for the curve which leads into the fiddle-yard because this needs to be removable so that the 'crew lounge' can be used as a bed when we have guests. The resulting extra board is a bit of an odd shape caused by a desire for the rails to cross at right-angles to the the baseboard edge and for the permanent boards to not have too many 'sticky out bits' to catch yourself on while sleeping! The very narrow parts of the board, where the track is very close to the edge on the left is 'off-scene' and will have a wall to prevent anything falling off into the drink. Once in position I was pleased that the cork which I marked from the Templot drawing fitted correctly, I am down to a 3'4" radius curve at this point so didn't have much room to make it tighter if I'd needed too. The cork got stuck down and the sleepers are now in place. I need to get some more rail from C&L at Stevenage tomorrow so obviously he won't have any in stock (just guessing). I had a bit of a play in Templot to see how the mill siding would look if I put in a head-shunt. I can get one in though the point is quite tight ( A4.5 Y). The radius isn't too bad so I think it would be ok. The real advantage is that this would allow wagons in the sidings to be shunted without fouling the mainline and I could use a small industrial locomotive. This could hide in the headshunt while the mainline locomotive exchanged wagons. The mill buildings I constructed based on Ebridge in Norfolk look quite nice, I will probably extend the hideous asbestos part just to avoid them being too twee. The Barclay fireless rather looks the part with a pair of grain tanks. I think I might put in a wagon turntable on the siding away from the building which then crosses the line next to the building to disappear between the two bits of mill to a boiler house behind. That way the buildings don't need the clearance for a rotating wagon and the siding between the two buildings can be tight. So, I'm pleased with the progress, hopefully I should get the track into the fiddle-yard laid next week. Then I need to work on the lifting section over the door before I can got round and round. David
  20. The cross over is on a curve and I'd originally used a 1:10 angle V in Templot. However your reply got me thinking because about 6 months ago I ordered a load of components from C&L when I thought I was going to give up on the Stour Valley and do something smaller/simpler. Typically I'd ordered 4 B8 points and was now faced with making 1:10 crossings myself. Your reply led me to go back into Templot and see what impact using a 1:8 crossing would have and the answer appears to be very little, I can still make the turnout fit on the baseboard fine and, while my existing marking out of the cork will no longer be right for the crossover line, the main curve of the track remains unchanged. So I've modified the plan using C8 for the cross over, I've made the catch point as a B8 as it isn't exactly a 'running line' and that leaves the switchblades clearer of the baseboard edge. Looks like you've saved me from having to make 3 crossings by hand - thanks! David
  21. A good few hours in TurboCAD, followed by some time on the laser cutter produced parts for the fourth baseboard for my Stour Valley project. This board was a bit more complex than the previous three because it needed to accommodate the small stream which I think was originally part of the moat of the castle. I only had to recut one piece where I screwed up the drawing which is pretty good going! The ply was stuck together with Gorilla glue, which got me thinking, do they make it from Gorillas or for sticking Gorillas back together when their arms fall off? This board will take considerably longer for the track to get laid than the previous platform board because it has the point for the coal siding and its catch point, the cross-over at the Long Melford end of the station and the catch point for lay-by siding. A bit more work than the two 4 foot lengths of plain track on the previous baseboard. Next up will be transferring the Templot track plan onto 6mm cork. David
  22. Here is an update. In the last six months there has not been a lot of time for modelling, and to be honest there seems to have been a lot of wasted time, as the learning curve for motorising and laying of hand-built points has been steep. There has been far too much ‘two steps forwards and 1.9 steps back’. This has made it hard for me to keep up interest. But I hope I have reached a tipping point. I have decided that this post will focus on the things I have learned in that hope that others can avoid some of the pitfalls I have jumped into. The current status is that a lot of the point work in the main station area is now down and fixed in place and wired up. This means that I have now reached an area where I can lay several meters og track without having to worry about points. I’m also pleased with the control panel, but this is where the problems start. One of my major focus points was to try and keep the wiring tidy. I am using the DCCConcepts Alpha system which certainly looks good. It is also very easy to use with easy to fit wires that plug into sockets. I plugged it all in and it all worked. But then whilst doing the second half of the board I discovered that I could make the wiring even neater and self-contained by fixing the two digital switch panel boards to one side of a strip of plywood and the corresponding alpha unit to the other side. So I unplugged all the wires, moved the boards and then re-attached all the plugs, To my horror only half of the switches worked. By fiddling about with the plugs, I could see that there seems to be a problem with the wires sitting too loosely in the sockets. I could get most of the lights working by moving the wires about, but the connections are too unstable to trust. I have a few extra wires and have tried replacing the most troublesome wires and that seems to do the trick. My advice is to avoid moving cables about. The plugs are easy to connect but that does not mean that they should be moved repeatedly. Also make sure that you buy wires that are long enough to avoid putting strain on the connections. My current plan is to buy new cables and make sure that they will not be moved after being plugged in the first time. This really ought not to be necessary and I feel that DCC Concepts should perhaps look again at using slightly more robust connections. Whilst they are rethinking that, I have another small wish. In the instructions they make it very plain that you must take great care with polarity when connecting the power supply to these switch circuit boards. Why not just put a couple of diodes on the board to make it impossible to connect them the wrong way around? My next issue was with insulating joiners which are very necessary for my hand-built points. Peco have introduced excellent metal joiners for their bullhead rail and these work well with the SMP flex track and C&L rail I am using. But when it comes to insulated joiners for bullhead rail there seems to be only extreme options ranging from The Peco ‘Gumboot’ which looks horrible and is far too long to be used in the middle of points to separate the frog from the switchblades, to the ExcatoScale cosmetic ‘Stilettos’ I rapidly gave up trying to use them as they normally broke before I got them on to the rails. I ended up using the Tillig insulated joiners that are designed for flat bottomed rail. But they can be ‘persuaded’ to fit bullhead with a bit of finely applied violence. Until a better option arrives this is for me the best compromise. As those who follow this blog will know (I salute your patience), I have built very light baseboards that use 5cm of extruded foam for strength. This excludes using under board point motors. I am using the relatively new DCC slightly strangely named SS point motors. I assume ‘SS’ stand for Small Surface, and not a refence to a historical German military unit! They are small and powerful. Again, my experiences are mixed. But this I think stems more from my limitations. One of the good things about them is that you can wire two points to a control panel so that a crossover can be controlled from one unit. They also have an adjustable throw, but that is where my problems start. My hand build points are not the most uniform, which means that sometimes the throw of the two points in a crossover is not precisely the same. This gives me an issue as the throw is only adjustable per output and I am running two points of it with different requriements. Normally the difference is small enough for the flexibility of the rail to soak up the difference. But I have experienced that the stepper motor can end in a situation where the midpoint of its throw can drift off-centre, and this gets progressively worse until it is actually stuck at one end of its travel. DCC Concepts have obviously encountered this as they have included a ‘recenter’ button on the control unit, which does NOT function as it says in the instructions. In that it does not recenter the switch but actually moves it to one endpoint of the travel and then when the point Is next changed this will move it back to the middle. NO, that does not make any sense to me either! Especially if it is stuck at the ‘wrong’ end of its travel what happens then? How to handle what happens when you are running two points off the connection and then reset is not easy either. I end up unplugging the ‘OK’ point and here again I am worried about how robust the supplied connecters as they are the same design used in the control panel switches. What the reset button does to the adjustable throw is unknown to me. It must be involved as it is the change after a reset which ACTUALLY recenters the throw ( not the button that claims to do it) this change must surely be the maximum thrown or it will not be re-centred? Not to mention how it affects the polarity of the Frog switching which is not directly connected to the direction of the motor, this I know because as there is a switch to change the direction of throw compared to the DCC command which does NOT change the polarity of the frog power as well. I fear that there are lots of things with which I am going to have to experiment. The simple but expensive solution for me would be to only run one point off of a connection and use two circuit boards with the same DCC Address to control a crossover. But there must be a better way. In my station area I have a lot of points relatively close together, and since the whole area has only wide radius curves I have chose to set the track centres at 50mm. This means that I can not fit even the small SS motors between tracks. My solution is to use rods in tubes under the track bed to the outer edge of the track sections. This seems to work fine but it means you have to lay points in the right order… which I didn’t. I managed though to force the rod and wire through the foam track bed without damaging the point that I had glued down. Given that the point motors are wider than they are long, a little right-angle crank would surely make things easier as they could then be fitted parallel to the trackwork. As you can see form the first photo I lay and ballast plain track at the same time. I use a thinned Copydex mixture that I paint thinly onto the foam track bed. I then lay the track, cover it with ballast. Then I lay a strip of 9mm plywood on the rails and weight it down at 20cm distances with 1 kg weights. Once dry, I hoover the extra ballast up using a bagless handheld vacuum so that the ballast can be reused. Point work that is still attached to the paper templates printed from Templot. These are also glued and weighted using the same Copydex mixture, but I have not painted or ballasted them yet. I learnt from laying the very first point that something that seems to work fine on the building bench might not work as well when it gets the test train which in my case comprises a Bachman Prairie pushing three Dapol 6 wheeled milk tanks. These trucks are terrible runners that can suddenly derail at the slightest provocation. It is much easier to re-solder check rails or switch blades in situ if the points are not painted or packed In plastic ballast! One of the big issues for me has been wiring dropper wires and getting frogs wired correctly. It can be difficult to check polarity when using AC DCC power to the track. So I have found a new use for my Power TEST panel that I originally built to test the four pin XLR connections (two for DCC power to the track, and two for a separate DCC accessory bus) between each baseboard. By plugging the relevant baseboard’s XLR plug into this panel I can check polarity in the rails by using a 9volt DC transformer and a multi meter instead of the DCC power. The powercab runs on the accessory bus so that I can test point motors as well.
  23. With another international move under my belt, this time back to the UK (at least for a third of the time, Outer Mongolia for the remainder) I’ve been left with much less space than I had available in Utah, with very little chance of this materially increasing in the near future. This coupled to the fact that I’d not progressed my plans of Lydford Junction in the last two years have led me over the last couple of months; OK Years again, to evaluate the different plans that I’d had. Lydford Junction’s temporary home. After several false starts, reading quite a few books and reading RMWeb quite a lot more than I should, I looked again at the part’s I liked from Lydford Junction, and came up with a new concept keeping them. The result is Lydford Town, a smash up of the layout of Bridestowe station on the western slopes of Dartmoor, placed where the line comes closest to the village of Lydford, just to the North of the viaduct, borrowing the attractive PDSWJR station building at Brentor. This should still capture running through the landscape feel I think suits 2mm so well, utilising Dartmoor as a backdrop, albeit not on the scale of messers Greenwood and Jones’ empire’s 3D Design for the revised Lydford Town. Only +20 coaches to build before then! Despite Lydford Town’s much smaller scope compared to Lydford Junction, I still have a mountain of stock to build and convert to run anything like a representative schedule, realistically making this a long term prospect. After more deliberating, procrastinating and contemplation, I decided that it would be a good plan to enter the Diamond Jubilee Layout Challenge for the shindig in 2020 as well. A couple of Idea’s bounced around for the DJLC included: · A scenic section of the Princetown branch, which might be a bit boring to operate, and suffered from a lack of points, without an improbable quarry siding shoehorned in. · A section of the old layout of Meldon Quarry, which the viewpoints & Scenic blocks wouldn’t really have worked for, and · A section of the end of Newham goods station in Truro, which again, would be pretty uninspiring to operate. It was at this point that I remembered the old baseboards that I’d put together for the semi-theoretical extension of the Callington Branch in East Cornwall, called Congdon’s Shop, with the aim of fitting this into a boxfile coming in at 714x 233mm. These are not dissimilar to the DJLC dimensions being 600x 239mm, or 240mm depending on how accurate your tape measure converts 9.42”. This has got a far as laying track, and installing TOU’s, but for one reason or the other, has failed to get beyond. A rubbish photo, almost showing the length of the layout. Rather than trying to modify a set of boards already built, it seems to make sense to me to recycle the concept (and correspondingly all the research, stock collated and idea’s) onto a new set of boards built to the right challenge dimensions. Fortunately the amount of tools and information available to layout planners has increased dramatically since 2012, with Templot and NLS maps freely available, coupled with the learnings from my own previous failings and successes. One of the main dissatisfactions with the original plan was that “714mm is just too small a length of track to be interesting.” This statement, on the face of it, is a problem. The DJLC length is specified as 114mm smaller than this. But templot and inkscape to the rescue: Layout plan on Scale map of Callington, showing the DJLC Dimension area and the extra extension after this. Actually, the prototype trackplan is quite a lot shorter than I’d originally guesstimated, and the more important, interesting bits of the station will reasonably fit into a 300ft scale length. This, to me, still feels stiflingly cramped having three entry points to the layout from the fiddleyard. So, I’ve planned the layout to actually be 900mm in length so that following the challenge in 2020, I can replace the backscene side to the full intended dimensions. This allows me to include the yard entry point and thus reducing the fiddleyard entry’s down to two and I feel gives a more open feel. The irony isn’t lost on me that the layout might only be ready for 2050 or the ninetieth anniversary, (a more realistic projected completion date?!?) I wasn’t particularly happy with the straight-curve-straight portion of the platform road on the initial rendition, the old trackplan solely using straight Easitrack B6 turnouts. This time I’ve planned to use B8 curved turnouts soldered up from templot printout’s. Curve radii were specified to be greater than 450mm which has, mostly, been adhered to. The soldered turnout construction will give me more strength, and greater opportunity to adjust and correct when I construct it out of gauge. I am keen to try to use a sector plate type arrangement with this layout to ease the amount of handling stock needs and the faff that this involves. I envisage that cassettes will still have a role to play, acting as the headshunt off the end of the traintable and potentially to load stock onto the layout from extra storage cases. To also assist with this, the straight portions of the table are planned to be made from brass strips, as anyone who’s tried to load up the traverser on St Ruth, this is a difficult task to do this on plain rail with fat fingers. Only three roads are anticipated to be required on the traintable, up to two for passenger and one for goods stock, the vacant road being able to act as the run-around road. A 70mm thrust bearing is used as the pivot, whilst alignment and power should come through cabinet barrel bolts, until I can think of a more unnecessarily complicated way to do it. Fiddleyard and lighting rig plan, along with check for strengthening ribs above things like tie-bars The 3mm ply construction of the baseboards has proved to be remarkably robust, to be honest they have now survived a couple of trips in the hold of a 737 so there can’t be much fundamentally wrong with this for the small size of board required. I plan to use 6mm stripwood rather than cut plywood strips this time though. Life’s just too short, trying to get straight flat edges from a sheet material. So there you have it, the grand sum of what 6 years of paper planning gets you… Nothing to show, a pile of materials, but at least a vague idea about how they ‘should,’ all fit together.
  24. David. Glad to hear that you're getting back into it. The new track certainly is giving some idea of the scale of the layout. I must say, with the Templot track layout burned into the cork underlay, you have to look twice to see that the track isn't there yet. With no particular knowledge on the subject, I agree with the general feeling that the brick wall would have had much less or no lichen back in steam days. Dave.
  25. I just copy the a .dxf out of templot into TurboCAD, I used the laser cutter to just mark the surface of cork. David
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