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drmditch

Rebuilding a Railway

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While I was working in the rest of the house I tried (just to have something that worked) to ressurect  an old 'minimum space' branch line that I first built nearly thirty years ago, and has proved useful on occasions since. This proved a complete waste of time. The wood structure had warped slightly, and the foam underlay had partially hardened and partially disintegrated!  Never mind. That has now been scrapped and the track salvaged.

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Hello there!

 

Great to see you on here. Loving the photos of the old layout so if the new one will be an improvement then it should be a cracker.

 

Look forward to seeing it develop ;)

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Thank you LNER4479. The failure of the branch line mentioned above to survive 20 years in storage is (one of) the reason(s) for not making more progress on your J54. I have done some work though, and it looks much better with a smaller smokebox!

 

Good old fashioned materials like papier mache, cork underlay, and ballast properly fixed with PVA or Cascamite seem to last indefinitely. They do however, make it very difficult to lift track!

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The concept of the railway is unchanged, and is based on an idea from David Jenkinson. The new room is larger, but as the railway runs round the room this will leave more space in the centre. Basic plan is:-

- Three levels

- Lowest level double track continuous run. (Was only partially doubled in the old version). This includes the main junction station.

- Mid-level single track with continuous run with loops and refuges and a passing station.

- Top level (accessed by a cross room viaduct) the terminus station with a locomotive shed and facilities.

 

Included in the lowest level will be the main storage sidings under the terminus (where there is most room for access). There will also be storage sidings under the mid-level boards wherever possible. The major problem with the old railway was running out of 'on-line' storage space. I also want to include a 'cassette' facility for 'of-line' storage, but this might still be tricky to implement.

This plan means sharp curvatures and steep gradients - but it is located in County Durham!

 

While the overall concept is not prototypical in any way it does allow me to :-

- Run trains from 'the rest of the world' a.k.a Darlington, a.k.a the main storage sidings, all the way to Durham St Margaret's;  in the process travelling round the room two and a half times.

- Run empty and loaded coal trains around the mid-level in opposite directions.

- Run (diverted) main-line trains around the lower level, with connections to the Durham branch.

- Provide a service of local passenger trains between three stations

- Provide freight services between goods yards

- Enjoy at least two (and possibly three) trains running continuously if all I want to do is 'watch the trains go by'.

 

I've spent some time deciding which of the existing units to incorporate, and which to scrap and replace. I want to save time and effort but not to come up with a sub-optimal solution. The ruling radius used to be 24", and I was hoping to increase this to 30". At the moment I'm going to keep the units giving the lower level junction station and the 'corner' attached to it. The track on this is all fully ballasted and I'm reluctant to scrap it. This commits that corner to 24" radius on the inside track, It will be re-worked a bit though and most pointwork replaced.

 

This was all built from 9mm and 6mm ply in a lightweight structure. giving different levels and room for some below track features.

 

post-3451-0-69069000-1449516888_thumb.jpg

 

post-3451-0-22531500-1449516947_thumb.jpg

 

The opposite side of the room has a new structure, which will allow wider curves. In complete contrast to the above this has been built of 25mm and 12mm mdf left over from previous domestic projects! Definitely not lightweight!

 

post-3451-0-06742700-1449516990_thumb.jpg

 

The upper level here, which will host the passing station will lift up for emergency access to the storage sidings beneath. Raised it looks rather like a piano lid!

 

post-3451-0-11891100-1449517099_thumb.jpg

 

The new track laid here - all three sidings - will represent Bishop Auckland! What a shame I can't build that station in it's entirety. As you can see, all the hidden areas are to be painted white, for ease of visibility.

At least now there is powered track in these sidings. You can just see the J72 that is on track testing duty!

Edited by drmditch
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As a contrast to all this heavy stuff, here is my representation of an NER overhead gantry signal cabin. I'm actually quite pleased with this, although it is till missing minor details like signal wires and connections!

 

post-3451-0-58190900-1449518501_thumb.jpg

 

The interior however is complete. The windows are more transparent in reality than they are in this picture.

 

post-3451-0-21759000-1449518574_thumb.jpg

 

The roof is a 'plug fit' which allows a more detailed examination.

 

post-3451-0-75967200-1449518630_thumb.jpg

 

The fire is lit! I just haven't got a good photograph of it. This is a good use for spare Christmas Glitter!

Edited by drmditch
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Hi,

 

This sounds an interesting project. In some respects not too dissimilar to mine. You've done well to retrieve it from such long term storage and I can see you've already done the hard task of decision making.

 

I'll watch with interest. :-)

 

Rich

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Progress is not as fast as I was hoping. The cold/flu bug over Christmas didn't help. The re-working of the original corner unit shown above needed quite a lot of thought, but it is coming together now. 

 

Below is a diagram of the main lower level junction, with initial ideas for some of the signalling. The branch leads to the upper levels, and commences climbing a gradient after about one yard 'off diagram'.

'A' indicates a single slip, giving access from the Up Main to the Down Main, this is part of a run-round arrangements for the station, and also allows access to the Down Main from the Platform Loop.

 

By the way, the 'Up' direction leads to Darlington, despite the 'Down' direction on the branch climbing up the gradient!

 

post-3451-0-09982400-1452539173_thumb.jpg

 

This is my attempt to produce a working compromise between the 'geography' of my railway room, existing units, and my layout concept (see above.) All the signal arms shown are assumed to be Stop signals for the moment, and the distribution of brackets, dolls, and arms is probably not right yet. The dotted lines in the bottom left corner are assumed to be non-passenger lines, although one of them does provide a locomotive run round for passenger trains in the loop platform.

 

Signals are meant to control:-

B - Starter for Platform loop in the Down direction. Access to Branch and Down Main

C - For the sidings, also with access to the Branch and the down main,

D- (Sorry arms going the wrong way) - Access to the loop platform and sidings.

E- Access to the Down Main and the Branch.

F- Access to Branch from Headshunt.

G- (Arms the wrong way again?) Access from the branch to Up Main (and Platform 2), Platform 3 and Loop, and the Headshunt.

H- Access to Platform 2 and 3. 

 

I would be very grateful for (constructive!) comments and advice. In particular:-

- should B be two installations. One single arm Stater and then a Splitting signal further on?

- should I use small NER type 'calling on arms' where I have put an 'x' on the diagram, or should I consider ground signals. (I presume I should not use ground signals to control passenger train movement.)

- should there be a fixed Stop signal at 'X' to prevent  control shunting movements.

- can anyone think of a prototypical (preferably exNER) layout for a single track branch coming off a double track main line, without having a short double track section on the branch. (I have found a rough diagram of the Allendale branch      

  coming off the N&C which is a little like my scheme.)

 

I want to have the main signalling scheme worked out before I complete the baseboard structure in this location. The superb signalling on other layouts (especially Grantham - thank you LNER4479) has inspired me to at least attempt something.

 

(PS - I must study signalling diagrams more! Sorry for the crude attempt.)

Edited by drmditch
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Hello David,

 

Most obvious thing I can think of is that signal D isn't 'right', certainly as a main signal. Signal G coming off the branch already reads into Plat.3 and the loop ... but signal H doesn't which seems inconsistent. In conjunction with this, I think you need some form of protection for platform 3, ie an additional point adding so that the access / exit from platform 3 is a crossover (even if the other point is just a trap point). With that added, signal D could become a shunt signal for a loco running round a train in platform 3 (assuming you intend doing this). You can then add an additional 'loop' arm to signal H then all is well (I think!)

 

Hope that helps. (and feel free to shoot me down in flames if some idiosyncrasy of NER signalling permits what you have proposed. Exceptions and rules et al!)

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Thank you LNER4479. I am working through your comments carefully. If I understand, you are suggesting something similar to that which I've retrospectively marked in red. If I do that, then perhaps I need a 'calling-on' arm added to signals B & C.

I'm not sure I understand your comment on Signal H. It has two arms, one for Platform 2 and one for Platform 3. I did wonder if it needed a smaller NER type arm for the lines I've marked L2 and L3.

 

The problem with adding the 'red' point is that in actuality the line it would come off is on a curve, and fully ballasted! 

 

By-the-way, I've managed to find one of the lumps of lead that got lost after my move. This is essential for the J54 - which I haven't forgotten. It's a difficult little thing to get weight into!

Edited by drmditch

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Ah - I can see I've mis-read your description for signal G - you mean one of the arms to read plat 3 or loop and then sig D 'clarifies' it.

 

Hmm! Not sure how prototypical / allowed that is? Are all these signals worked by the same box?

 

Subsidiary signals for L2, L3? Depends on what moves you are looking to have signalled. Do you intend a loco (say) to draw forward behind your sig D then set back along on of the other lines (eg as part of a run round move)? If so then you need such a signal. If you're looking for a train (eg a Goods train) to depart from those lines out onto the main line or branch then you'd need a main arm as well! Meanwhile, if you want to do a shunt move forward from plat 3 to return back along L2 or L3 then B needs a subsidiary signal!

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There has been significant progress on the new railway since my last post.  The junction layout sketched above now exists in actual track, and I have inserted a small section (4" wide) between two of the previously existing baseboards. This solved various clearance and operational problems that existed on the old railway, but was a real nuisance to get into place. I should have dismantled everything and lined them up on a level  floor again. Instead of that I used a series of temporary legs and clamps to keep the alignment, which turned out not to be so much of a short cut after all.

 

The new railway will keep to old fashioned and ugly Peco Code 100, despite all the exciting new and potentially new options, and all the very informative discussion elsewhere. My reasons (in case anyone is interested) are:-

 

a. The sections being re-used are fully ballasted.

b. I have a lot of Code 100 to re-cycle, and it would be very expensive to replace.

c  Given my limited track laying skills, I know how to use Code 100 and make it work so that nothing (usually) falls of and (usually) runs reliably.

 

I do agree though that some aspects of it look ugly, especially the sleepering on the single slip (of which more later).

 

The newer pointwork is all Electrofrog, with which I have have had very few problems. However, some of the older (ballasted) sections use Insulfrog. The problems with these have not been the gap in electrical contact (all my locomotives collect from all available wheels, including tender wheels), but in the gradual erosion of the plastic frog so that some wheelsets sometimes 'drop into the gap. One particular turnout is in a position where it could be replaced fairly easily. However, I had a look at other threads on this forum, and decided to see if I could replace the frog, eventually coming up with the method described below, which I haven't seen described elsewhere.

 

1. I filed and soldered up a new frog from Code 100 NS rail. I used a rough jig which will need to be improved for 'mass-production'.

2. The new frog was then drilled through vertically and a suitable gauge brass wire soldered in. The resultant item looks rather like an axe head!

3. Removed most of the plastic frog using snips and scalpel, leaving a thin layer to insulate the existing metal frog rails.

4 Measuring very carefully, drilled the plastic base (and the baseboard) to take the 'axe handle'.

 

post-3451-0-65519400-1456658144.jpg

 

post-3451-0-42796000-1456658189.jpg

 

 

The nice thing about this method is that it is not 'sudden death', and the new frog can be pushed home and then removed and filed and fettled to give a good smooth profile. This allows for my rough and ready modelling skills!

When all is happy, it can be pushed home and secured with a very small amount of superglue. The brass handle then provides for an under-base-board switched electrical supply. Another advantage is that the new frog is slightly longer than the plastic one (the measurement is the same as on Electrofrog turnouts). This also reduces potential 'wheel drop'.

 

Here is my A8 on track testing duties cautiously approaching the new pointwork!

 

post-3451-0-46954900-1456658265.jpg

 

post-3451-0-08788400-1456658322.jpg

 

(My A8 is the most track sensitive of my locomotives. It's construction was described in another forum.)

 

So, I'm quite pleased with this method. It could save me quite a lot of money in replacing older points. 

 

(I've also noted that this particular generation of Peco point allows for relatively easy spring replacement from above.)

 

The only major Improvement I will make is to use larger section NS bar to avoid soldering up the new frog from rail. (It de-laminated once during the process). For that reason this prototype isn't glued in yet. Even without adhesive the frog fits quite securely, and an A8, J39, and Q6 all travel over it with no problems

 

(Edited 28/02/2016 to replace pictures)

Edited by drmditch
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Having sorted out my camera problem (in-so-far as my inadequate skills and old camera will allow) here is a picture of most of the new junction layout.

 

post-3451-0-79719800-1456658537_thumb.jpg

 

The track isn't 'tidied up' yet, with the 'bobley ends' of the Peco tiebars needing to be removed. 

 

It is all wired-up (except for the point motors and switches) and everything so far tested (A8/J72/J39/Q6 and Hornby Gresley coaches) all appear to work very well. I need to unpack a long mineral train and try that over everything, but at present I'm trying to make substantial progress with the next series of baseboards which will provide for the main lower level storage.

 

After resisting using using computer track planning tools for some time (I spend too much time using computers anyway), I have started to use the SCARM tool for basic planning. It's fairly basic, fairly intuitive, and lets me do what I want with the minimum of fuss; and it's freeware! 

 

I have no connection with SCARM or it's providers, other than as a reasonably happy user.

 

It has a library of the major makes of track (including most of the PECO options). I haven't really got the hang of using the tools for flexible track yet, but my objective is not to produce a perfect diagram, but to use it as a tool for planning baseboard sizes.

 

 

EDITED 23/05/2016 - Diagram removed - replaced below,

 

 

Edited by drmditch
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It seems to have been a very long time since the last update on this thread, The diagram previously shown above was (almost) completely obsolete, so I have finally got round to updating it. I have worked out the vertical geometry for the three levels, and most of the basic structure is in place. Also key to the operation of this railway are the storage tracks, and much of my railway time over the last few months has been spent on these. It was very annoying when my measurements (and/or the different sizes of modern metric timber) turned out to give me a 9mm horizontal discrepancy that entailed a partial dismantling and re-construction.

 

Here are some (rather scrappy) pictures.

 

post-3451-0-37774400-1463693732_thumb.jpg

 

This is an unusual view of the top level terminus, sitting on one of my trusty workmates while it's hinges were replaced. This view was and will be impossible when it is in place in the corner of the room. This has a mechanical lever frame for point operation.

 

post-3451-0-83975400-1463693772.jpg

 

 

Here is the terminus in place and swung up on it's hinges. Beneath it the mid-level storage is temporarily in place and work is about to begin on the main lower level storage.

 

 

post-3451-0-69511900-1464014486_thumb.jpg

 

And here, after what has seemed an inordinate amount of planning and cutting track are the eight storage lines (on the white-painted cork) and the four main line loops (on the black cork).

Between the two is the rising gradient (1 in 45) of the branch line. 

 

post-3451-0-56117000-1464014393_thumb.jpg

 

This is easier to see from the other direction. Someone has dumped the radio (for R4/R4extra/R3/ClassicFM) on the mid level storage line.. As you may be able to see, the wiring for these storage areas is all above the baseboards, and is this easy to access without having to solder upside down!. This evening I'd just finished tidying up the wiring and was testing all the tracks with a temporary power feed when I discovered I'd built in a short! It was easily corrected, but I'm glad I'm checking each part of the layout as it gets built rather than getting nasty surprises when the panels are all designed and wired up.

 
post-3451-0-94733300-1464014558_thumb.jpg
 

The method of operation will be easier to explain when I have either updated the diagram, or laid the headshunt tracks on the other side of the room. 

 

 

I've also been working out the method of control. Given the size of the room it will be nicer to have two alternative control positions. The main panel will be alongside the loops shown above, and will have full facilities for the entire layout. It will also be in a convenient position to access the manually worked lever frames for the top level terminus and loco facilities. The secondary panel will be capable of running the main and mid-level lines, together with partial control over the storage. I think my limited wiring skills may permit this. Very conveniently a Maplins store has just opened in Durham, and illuminated DPST switches will be useful in switching the controllers!

 

 

There is a lot to do still, and sometimes I think I should just have made something smaller, but it is getting there - slowly!

Edited by drmditch
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post-3451-0-58737400-1464014768_thumb.jpg

 

Having updated the diagram  the method of operation should be clear. Up trains can run directly into one of the eight dead end storage  roads. Down trains can run into the headshunt, and then either reverse into the storage, or be pulled in using a pilot locomotive. (Since this poor engine may have to spend all it's time in the dark I may consider getting a DEJ1 for this purpose!). 

 

The storage roads are arranged thus:-

 

post-3451-0-22561300-1464015218_thumb.jpg

 

The uncoupling ramps are strips of clear plastic with the ends located under sleepers. The plastic that used to come inside shirt collars is very useful for this. They are individually fitted to give a suitable height for tripping my Bachmann/Hornby new style tension lock couplings, but not so high that they derail light vehicles or locomotive bogies. By making them about 10cm long, they are easily compressible. They also cost little, and (subject to access) easily replaced.

 

The little yellow pillars mark the highest point of each ramp and therefore where uncoupling is most likely to occur. 

 

At the other end of each road then a little red pillar (suplemented/replaced by a red arrow) marks where the electrical breaks occur. Point blades are not used for isolation or switching.

 

The buffer stops (entirely non-prototypical) are made up of copper-clad pcb offcuts, with vertical legs of ns rail offcuts soldered in place. These are just outside the track gauge, so can easily be located in holes drilled in appropriate places. These are slightly overlarge, and the legs glued in with a contact adhesive. This gives a slight degree of resilience if a locomotive is driven in to fast! Do remember to gap the copper to avoid a dead short if either of the legs makes contact with a rail! They are set at height so that coupling hooks pass underneath the cross piece, and buffers can make contact. For this railway, I've glued a cork face into the pcb, just to deaden any impacts. I've painted them red just to aid visibility!

 

post-3451-0-75005000-1465212832.jpg

 

post-3451-0-65748300-1465212861.jpg

 

( 6/06/16 -Edited for better pictures)

 

(I'll try to get a better picture later on.)

 

Edited by drmditch
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I like your engine shed. Did you make the doors or do they come as part of a kit? I'm just about to make a shed and I'm wondering where to get a pair of hinged doors and posts.

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I like your engine shed. Did you make the doors or do they come as part of a kit? I'm just about to make a shed and I'm wondering where to get a pair of hinged doors and posts.

As far as I can remember they came as a separate item (possibly Heljan). I did rework them quite a lot.

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Some progress. The plan above now exists in Peco track. 

 

 

post-3451-0-90466700-1465213209_thumb.jpg

 

At least it's good for testing rolling stock!

 

(This is really meant to be on the 'hidden' part of the layout - but for some reason I'm thinking about signals - at least on the main lines!)

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Although I haven't posted much on this thread for a few months, progress has been made!

 

Since the layout goes round the exterior of the room, the crossing of the room door forms a major part of the structural engineering.

First the door itself was replaced with a sliding door, which was actually a mini-saga in itself.

Then there was the planning and construction of the 'swing out' section, the geometry of which is quite complex.

 

Here is the result, in the closed position.

 

post-3451-0-50744000-1474909672_thumb.jpg

 

Here is the structure partially swung open.

 

post-3451-0-18133600-1474909786_thumb.jpg

 

Since there will (eventually) be track on two levels I wanted to avoid the conventional 'swing up' bridge. I also wanted to make it safer. There is no chance of this thing falling on anyone's head!

 

The critical aspect of this design is that the edge furthest away from the line of the hinges must be at an angle greater than that of a tangent to the diameter of the circle described it's rotation.

(It's easier to draw than to describe - unfortunately I seem to have have lost my exploratory drawings.)

If you think of a wedge of cheese, you're on the right lines!

 

The curved bracing does allow a 'crawl through' if one wants to put the kettle on while leaving trains running!

 

The whole structure has to be very strong and stable, since it is effectively hinged on one corner. It is made from 1/2" birch ply, and is self bracing in three dimensions. I should probably have used thinner play for some of the bracing pieces, and the weight of the finished structure was a bit frightening. However, the abutments are very solid, also braced in three dimensions and are secured to the underlying concrete of the floor. The hinges are heavy duty stainless steel with ball-bearings.

 

The rubbing surfaces comprise of segments of brass, which (may) allow for electrical conductivity, but I'll have to see how that works.

 

It does seem to swing very easily, and because of some complex geometry (the top surface is actually tilted down towards the centre of the room, and there's hardly a right angle in the whole thing) it does actually swing closed if left unsecured.

As you can see, the joinery is not quite finished, and I'll try to make a better explanation when the upper level is fabricated.

 

Meanwhile, I want to get some track laid, and the all-important track joins made.

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The pointwork for the north end of the junction station will largely have to be placed on this swinging structure.

 

I've worked out two options, and would be grateful for advice.

 

post-3451-0-64598000-1474911775_thumb.jpg

 

 

This allows access to/from the Platform loop from both the Up and Down directions, and provides a 'crossover' for any shunting moves (there is also one of these at the South end.

It also happens that the point motors will be placed in convenient positions, and I happen to have all the pointwork I need in stock!

The curvature flows easily and it 'looks right'

 

However, it does place a facing point on both Up and Down lines. I would presume that this is not a layout that the NER would have wanted.

 

 

post-3451-0-98940300-1474912136_thumb.jpg

 

The second option does not have the facing crossover, but, of course, there still has to be a facing point on the Up line anyway, so I'm not sure what is gained by the additional complexity. Perhaps though the NER would not have been troubled about this, or the additional signalling required. Would the LNER have preferred the simpler layout?

 

I would be very grateful for advice, while I spend an evening looking through NER/NEA track plans!

Edited by drmditch
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Hi,

 

Your first plan is a 'model railway' plan that is more modern era in look, as you allude to. However, operationally it would work perfectly well as a model railway.

 

The other issue with it is, if the bi-directional platform is signalled for passenger traffic then you need protection on your run round loop (ie turn the right hand most point into a crossover and introduce a blind siding or - my preference - extend the run-round loop to join on to the headshunt.

 

Below is a suggestion for how a traditional track formation might have looked.

 

post-16151-0-85848900-1474998387.jpg

I've replaced the single slip on the mainline and created a plain double junction instead. The introduction of the double slip (off the mainline) doubles up as the end of the run round loop (as per above preference) and provides the exit from the loop platform out onto the mainline. As drawn it looks a bit tortuous; you might be able to smooth out the curves a little in practice.

 

Hope that helps.

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Hi. Its good to see the progress of another multi-level layout built to operate. On one post you say you wonder whether you should have done something smaller. No, you have done right in my opinion. There are too many simple layouts started, or even built, but never hold the operating interest. Complicated is good in my book.

 

My layout has been a pipe dream for over 30 years, but I finally got round to starting a couple of years back. I often wondered why I had chosen a complicated layout, and would I ever get there, but tonight I laid the last track. If I can do it, anyone can. Keep at it.

 

Loving the swing section. Why didn't I think of swing instead of lift? I need Jeff Capes to lift mine now.

 

Rich

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Many Thanks LNER4479.

 

Unfortunately, what with the baseboard edges coming where they do, I can't see a way to implement your proposal.

 

There is, just a way to lay this:-

 

post-3451-0-23547100-1475076274_thumb.jpg

 

Do you think this would provide suitable protection for the passenger lines?

 

The problem is that I'm trying to integrate most of the existing 'old railway' station, with ballasted track etc. As I said higher up the the thread, it might have been better to have discarded these!

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 I need Jeff Capes to lift mine now.

 

Rich

 

Well, mine is certainly very heavy. However, so far the hinges seem to work fairly easily!

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