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Tavistock North in N Gauge


6029 King Stephen
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So following on from my last post, today I got on with modifying the framework to reduce the width of the layout so that it will go round the shed walls with a lifting section across the double doors. The width of the cross members are now 24”, reduced from the original 39”. I effectively ran out of time and was not able to cut any risers as I had to put stuff back in the shed. I wasn’t also able to increase the under layout storage to include book shelves to move my books down from the spare bedroom. This will have to wait until another weekend!

 

Now to the photos; the first is of the three road hidden fiddle yard with point motors installed. The new plan will incorporate this further round the circuit. The next photos are of the reduced framework and then with the 4’x2’ 12mm ply tops laid across the cross members and then the plan laid out on top. The curve at the Plymouth end will be gentler than the one at the Lydford end and I hope to have Shillamill viaduct and tunnel at the Plymouth end but only go as far as the first over bridge in the other direction. The line will have to disappear behind my display cabinet and modelling bureau so that will need to be just plain track. Then it will be the hidden sidings and the back through Shillamill tunnel.

 

Just waiting for some Febond PVA to arrive and then I can make a start on gluing down some foam and getting on with the track laying

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Febond has arrived so during this weekend I would like to mark the track template into 4’ long sections so that I can avoid pointwork straddling a baseboard join. The opposite side of the shed from the station boards has now had shelving installed to house my books, models and paints but I need more storage as there is still stuff on top of what will be the layout. The intention with the track bed is to split the template down into 4’ sections and cut them to the width of either the track bed or what is on that area, such as the goods shed or station area. I’ll then glue down the foam and the template to use that as the guide for track laying and drilling holes for point motors. I’ll make up some simple boards with loops to enable running whilst I am progressing around the shed.

 

That’s the plan anyway - just need to balance this with my model making and other jobs around the house.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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OK, so I may not have got as far as I would have liked this weekend but I have managed to clear the layout top areato allow me to work out the baseboard joinlines on the template. I have also marked out the point number and it’s handing on the template and managed to guess where each turnout was removed from the last incarnation of the layout. I have run out of time to cut any of the ply tops as it will be dark in just over an hour but I am hoping that I will be able cut some risers and cleats so that I can check the height of board 2 (working from the Lydford end) which will contain the goods yard. This will be a 2’ wide board to accommodate the retaining walls and the area above and behind the goods yard. Board 3 will also be partly 2’ wide, narrowing to the width of the viaduct. The viaduct is split over this board and board 4.

 

I will have to make some alterations to my Templot template to curve the mainlines round at the ends - this being the only deviation from the plan - but this should allow gentler curves at both ends. At the Lydford end, the first over bridge will be the scenic break. At the Plymouth end the over and under bridges will come at shorter intervals than the prototype, to leave room for the 12 arch Shillamill viaduct, an under bridge and then Shillamill tunnel to provide the scenic beak at that end.

 

Photos show the cleared layout tops, with track and tracklaying tools and equipment ready for cutting up the template, cutting the ply and gluing on the foam. I want to lay track and wire up the turnout on each board as a module before fixing it to a cleat and riser.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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Edited by 6029 King Stephen
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Well, I have managed to make some progress today and feel that things might start moving a bit quicker now. I was slightly concerned that I might not have enough foam to do all the boards and because it had been a costly month with car tax, insurance renewal and buy my next lot of commuter coach tickets, I didn’t want to feel that I would have to wait another month before getting on with tracklaying so I bought a pack of 9 cork tiles from Wickes. They are close enough at 3.2mm to the 3mm foam I am using but as it might have turned out, I might have enough foam after all.

 

The first thing I did was place the cut templates, max length 4’, on a sheet of 12mmply and mark out the edges, before cutting them out with the jigsaw. Board 2 has the goods yard and part of the station on it so I decided to use a 4’x2’ sheet of 12mm ply for this board and glued foam, covering the entire sheet. This was left to dry whilst I cut the other boards to suit the track template to suit. Board 1 will need some further cutting once I have prepared the curving template at the Lydford end. Some of board 3 will also need to be narrowed at the Plymouth end as the line will start across the viaduct once it leaves the station. The line will curve here too as it goes across a lifting section towards Shillamill viaduct and tunnel. The line between Tavistock viaduct and Shillamill viaduct will have to compressed to fit in all the over and under bridges on the prototype.

 

I have yet to glue foam on boards 1, 3 and 4. I have just looked and realise the I should have cut part way alongside the main line on board 2 as once the line has passed through double slip on the up line and the pointwork on the down line it starts climbing at 1 in 75 towards Lydford. I will have to set the jigsaw on a slow speed setting to avoid ripping up the foam!

 

Photos show where I have got to today. Next job is to create the curving templates and cut the trackbeds. Then I can glue down the foam or cork tiles and make a start on laying some track. Once track has been laid on the boards, I can then attach cleats to the undersides, cut risers and fix the in place. The viaduct through to the goods yard is all on the same level before it climbs at 1 in 75 at both ends.

 

By coincidence, there was a programme on Channel 5 on Friday about a guy walking along the line from Bere Alston to Okehampton. Having followed the route myself I was interested to see if he managed to access parts that I hadn’t. As it turned out, he missed chunks of it out such as the line south of Shillamill tunnel that does have access and when he got to Lydford he diverted and looked at the gorge rather than trying to find Lydford viaduct - I also failed to find this viaduct at rail level although I did find it in the woods at ground level. I chickened out on walking through Shillamill tunnel knowing it to have a double curve and it was pitch black and I was without a torch. Back the programme, he also went on a diversion on the ex GWR line to Lifton to sample Ambrosia rice pudding. He walked across Tavistock viaduct but missed out the next viaduct above a quarry and the section that goes up to Brentor. He did visit the old station at Brentor. He didn’t go to Bridestowe and walk across Lake viaduct but did do some abseiling to check rivets on Mellon viaduct before visiting Mellon quarry and taking a heritage train to Okehampton. The programme was interesting but I wish they would do without all the diversions and freebies that are not part of walking a particular lost line. He could have walked the Plymouth to Launceston line most of the way and visited Lifton.

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With an unplanned leave day today (only decided upon yesterday!), I spent sometime this morning making the terrible mistake of gluing the template for board 2 to the foam. This was a mistake because the sellotape joining the sheets of A4 with the printed template wouldn’t lie flat and this would not do for well laid track and perfect running. So I had to pull it up - fortunately with Febond even when dry, it allows you to pull things off it, usually after the item has been wetted but this wasn’t necessary with my printed templates. The downside is that I have had to reprint this section to allow me to copy the pointwork locations onto the foam. On the plus side, I did manage to create the 24” double curves for the Lydford end.

 

I then spent this evening working on the viaduct height and creating supports to hold the trackbed at the correct height. By taking measurements off the drawing in the Irwell Press book, I was able to determine that the total height of the viaduct between the bottom of the longest pier to the underside of the trackbed is 70’ (140mm in N), plus the height of the crossmember across the L-Girder (60mm) gives me a total height of 200mm. I cut three of this length and clamped them to the crossmembers under board 3 and I am pleased that this will allow me an almost level view of the trains. I glued foam to board 3 and have placed some track and a couple of coaches to get feel of what the final result will be like. There is a crossover on the viaduct and my thoughts are turning to how to motorise the point that is on the viaduct itself. I am thinking along the lines of mounting the point motor on the L-Girder and using a length of steel wire connected to the point motor using a steel tube as a sheath and the other end fitting through the hole in the tie bar. The tie bar will be positioned above a pier to disguise the wire operating pole. That’s a problem for another day - I will drill the hole when I start on the tracklaying, anyway.

 

Below are some photos. I have several sheets of ply - noticed today that they are 9mm thick rather than 12mm - and I am thinking towards cutting one of them down into strips of 2’ x 200mm to provide the upright supports for board 2 with cleats at the top to secure to the underside of the board. I might also use the same to create contour boards at the baseboard joins for the other boards.

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Edited by 6029 King Stephen
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I managed to make some progress on the layout on Sunday and last night. I have built the supports for board 2 and board 3 and both this boards are covered in foam. I cut a trackbed for the viaduct (boards 3 & 4) and piers the width of the trackbed and 200mm high to match the datum level. As a bit of fun, I positioned these in place get an idea of what this will look like. I also started on the supports for board 1. Board 1, the viaduct and board 4 require foam gluing down. Then it will be a case of securing the boards to the supports so that tracklaying can start. The viaduct outers will be built in thin ply using a router to cut the arches, with a facing of stone plasticard. As I shall be using DCC, I will solder droppers to each section of track and then connect these to the bus wires. Initial running will be with DC using my handheld controller until I fit decoders and will then switch to my Prodigy squared DCC system.

 

Here are the photos - please excuse the mess - I am not a tidy worker!

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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I have now glued foam to the viaduct track bed and board 1. Now I need to cut out the templates for board 2 again so that I can mark the track positions on the foam. I will start the track laying from board 2, with the intention of marking the turnout motor positions, drilling the holes and securing the track to the foam with double-sided tape. Once the board/module has been completed I will fix it down and then move out to board 1, then boards 3 & 4.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have now cut out the reprinted templates for board 2 and have transferred the plain track positions onto the foam. The turnouts are still on the templates but the holes that need to be drilled to fit the point motors will be marked next. I bought a couple of polarity switches for the double slip today so once I have marked the holes for the point motors for this and the pointwork that connects to it, I will drill the holes and secure the motors to the underside of the track bed. Progress onwards should, I hope be pretty swift and I should have something running soon.

 

My modelling area is being revamped at the moment so that will play second fiddle to layout building. I am considering using the Ratio stone viaduct kit rather than scratch building although I will still have to install a jack arch in the middle. It is all a question of cost but having built the OO gauge Wills one in the past, I know how good it looks.

 

I also bought a mini circular saw today and I hope this will allow me to cut in the gradient beginning on board 2 and progressing onto board 1 and then round onto what will become board -1 (?).....

 

More photos to follow.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have not been able to do anything on the layout because I have been preoccupied with reorginising the furniture in the shed. Out has gone two bureaus that I was using for modelling and for supporting my airbrushing extractor. In has come a large office desk and a smaller office desk is forming the basis of a home-built airbrushing paint booth with a kitchen extractor unit. The layout building has suffered because I have a lot of unbuilt model kits and I have had to move these around the shed in order to make the improvements.

 

Today, a display cabinet is being collected to create more space and I am lining the ceiling of the shed with OSB and polystyrene insulation as the shed is noticeably colder. As the sheets of OSB move from the floor to the ceiling, more space is appearing in front of the layout. Once I create some form of storage under the layout for storing the aforementioned models, I will be able to concentrate on layout building. A new addition to my N gauge stock is a Dapol Manor Loco and some frog switches for the double slip.

 

Next steps are to build the framework around the Lydford end of the layout where the line will curve around onto the end wall and get on with tracklaying.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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  • 2 weeks later...

At last I have started the track laying process on board 2. I began last night by drilling a hole in the board beneath the first turnout on board 2 coming in from the Plymouth end. With the hole drilled, I was able to replaced the square of foam covering it and cut the slot for the operating pin to come through in into the tie bar of the turnout. As I am using this method, I snipped off the two pieces of upright plastic on the tie bar. Then I prepared the double slip for laying. There are thin wires underneath the slip for current feed and frog polarity but they are so short that the barely protruded underneath through the foam and ply track base. I therefore soldered wire extensions to these and after drilling holes in the right places, fed the wires through the trackbed, joined the slip to the turnout and it is secured to the track bed. My plan is to use the same method asi used when laying OO gauge finescale track when I lay the plain track - once the track has been cut to length, curved as necessary and tested for position and marked on the trackbed, I will ‘paint’ a thin layer of Febond PVA onto the trackbed, lay the track, connecting it to the next piece and then over it with ballast. After 10 minutes I will hoover over the ballast and should be left with a nice and tidy length of ballasted track. As I am dealing with an area that was all on the same level, the station and goods yard, I don’t need to create a ballast shoulder and will just vary the colour and type of ballast used in these areas - grey for the station and main running lines and a cinder black ballast for the goods yard. I use Woodland Scenics fine ballast.

 

Just remembered that I need to cut the start of the mainline incline before laying any more track! The intention is to drill holes or point motor pins and secure the turnouts with double sided tape and the plain track as above and once dry, invert the board to secure the point motors to the underside of the track bed. Then wire up the point motors and prepare track dropper wires before securing the trackbed to the baseboard framing and moving on to the next board. Will be back in the shed this evening to make the incline cuts and lay more track....

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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More progress on board 2 last night, with all turnouts having their point motor holes drilled and dropper wires fed through the track bed. This has allowed me to push some coaches through the pointwork to check alignment and fit of the track. The trackbed has been cut to create the start of the incline at the Lydford end. Board 1 to be done now - cut board so that goods yard is at datum level and mainline continues on an incline but on a sweeping curve to the right as it goes around the end of the shed. Several turnouts need fitting to this board and there is the baseboard join, so rails need to be soldered to PCB to ensure alignment. Board 2 needs to be inverted so that point motors can be fitted and wires soldered to Bus wires. Point motor control will be separate to DCC control. Here are some pictures of progress made.

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Edited by 6029 King Stephen
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Thanks, yes.

 

Many moons ago (during my army days) when I was building something in OO, somebody came in to my room and remarked that they thought that when I had mentioned having an interest in model railways that I pushed them around the track (a bit like Brio, I assume) and were surprised to see they worked on electricity! Funny how things turn out because at this stage, playing trains is pushing the coaches shown in the photos around the track formation, very much like playing with Brio....

 

I have plans tonight to return to the shed and lay the rest of the plain track on board 2 and then mark track positions on board 1 after cutting the main line track bed to separate it from the goods yard behind. Then I can get on with drilling the holes for the point motor pins. Soon after that, I will be able to install my bus wires for the two boards and get something running on DC initially. Then my focus will turn to boards 3 and 4, the station and viaduct boards and the line towards Plymouth.

 

Just got to keep the momentum going!

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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After an evening in the shed, I have been soldering wire to lengths of plain track, cutting the track to the correct lengths, drilling a hole in the trackbed and laying the track. Looking at it, there doesn’t seem to much done in 90 minutes! There remains the rear most siding to sort out before I can secure the track to the trackbed with sticky labels, invert the board and then secure point motors to each turnout, wire everything up, including the bus wires and carry out some testing using DC Gaugemaster hand held with crocodile clips. If it all works then I’ll connect up the DCC to bus wires and fit a decoder to one of the DCC ready locos I have and try some more manoeuvres. In the meantime, here are some progress shots with an extra two coaches, showing them moved into different routes/sidings. A first chance to play trains...

 

Regards,

 

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After an evening in the shed, I have been soldering wire to lengths of plain track, cutting the track to the correct lengths, drilling a hole in the trackbed and laying the track. Looking at it, there doesn’t seem to much done in 90 minutes! There remains the rear most siding to sort out before I can secure the track to the trackbed with sticky labels, invert the board and then secure point motors to each turnout, wire everything up, including the bus wires and carry out some testing using DC Gaugemaster hand held with crocodile clips. If it all works then I’ll connect up the DCC to bus wires and fit a decoder to one of the DCC ready locos I have and try some more manoeuvres. In the meantime, here are some progress shots with an extra two coaches, showing them moved into different routes/sidings. A first chance to play trains...

 

Regards,

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

There has not been any progress made on the layout in recent weeks because I have been pre-occupied with organising my modelling desk and building my spray booth. However, I now feel guilty that I have neglected the layout so I will finish off securing the track to board 2 after work today and this evening and will try to make a start on securing the point motors to the underside of the track bed. This should then allow me to connect up my DC controller and try running something using crocodile clips to make the power connection. Then I must cut board 1 to separate the inclined track bed from the goods yard. I will sort out the trackwork for the goods yard, including drilling the holes for the point motor pins and once that track work is done and the point motors secured to the underside, I can progress onto the incline line and the curve around the end of the shed. Then it will be on to board 3 for the station and board 4 for the viaduct and the curve round that end of the shed. We are talking 2019 for boards 3 & 4 to be honest. I will build some temporary loops at each end so that I don’t need to go round the shed to get the layout operational. Set track and small radius turnouts will be the order of the day for these end boards.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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I will post some more pictures later. I have finished laying the track on board 2 but then started laying the track through the station on board 3 and across what will be the viaduct on board 4. This includes the crossover that begins at the end of the station and ends on the viaduct. This has caused me to think more about how to arrange the point motor that will be fixed to the turnout on the viaduct. The easiest option is to fasten the point motor to the underside of the trackbed and hope that the pier and arch can disguise it. If it can’t then, I will have to try to fix the point motor to the top of the L-Girder and have a connecting wire between that and the tiebar, fixed to the pier to stop it floating around in space. My preference is the former.

 

I have also been giving some consideration to operation. I want to use DCC but only three of my locos are DCC ready (Farish MN, Standard Class 3 and Dapol Manor) and the remainder will need to be hardwired (Minitrix Britannia for Langley rebuilt MN kit) or need a “top hat” device to allow conversion (Farish King and Western). If in future I steer clear of older Farish items, most modern N gauge locos are DCC ready. I don’t want to revert to DC as this would be a backward step in my opinion. It should be time to connect up my Gaugemaster handheld DC controller with crocodile clips (that I will move around the track formation) to allow some basic operation and check my tracklaying. It is all very well pushing coaches around but it is more satisfying to have a loco doing it!

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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I finished laying track on board 2 and then laid the track on boards 3 and 4. Today, I had a short session of playing trains and was able to run my Manor the full length of the laid track. However, overall it was not a good experience because as I was placing locos and stock on the track, I came to the conclusion that my interest in model railways is not as strong as it was and the space that the layout is occupying could be better utilised by workbenches for building wood working projects and to house dioramas from my model building. I have lost my motivation to go further with the layout. I was also aware that N gauge has become too small for me as I keep having to don my reading glasses over my contact lenses to see it properly or even wear 3x reading glasses to join sections of track!

 

Regrettably and please excuse the pun, it is the end of the line for my N gauge and Tavistock North. I must now decide whether to sell my N gauge as individual lots or whether it would achieve more as a “layout in box”?

 

Finally, a special thanks to Siberian Snooper and GWRphil for your supportive comments during the past two and a bit years.

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As Ian mentions, its quite possible the mojo will return; a lot take a sabbatical every now and again..  Too bad though as I always like a 'local' layout, one that I was familiar with.  Also I concur with your remarks about the size of N gauge.  I once had an N empire but gradually moved up in size and now I have a tinplate  layout because of the size and simplicity.

 

Brian.

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Thanks for your supportive comments - of course you are right! I need to crack on with it and maybe upgrade my locos so that I sell off the old Farish and Minitrix items and replace them with modern DCC ready items. I have spent over £1,000 buying the items for the layout, money that I will never get back. It is not the end - I will get on with connecting the point motors on board 2 and get the track on boards 3 & 4 secured and wired up.

 

So, going forward, I will sell the Farish Western and King. Does anyone know if it is a simple task to fit a decoder to the Minitrix Britannia? I would most likely fit the decoder in the tender and have the wires going into the cab. I will try and post the photos of the running session.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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Photos showing track laid on boards 2, 3 & 4 and scenes from the running session. Dapol Manor was used on first powered train and hauled the 6 coaches the length of the laid track. Now I have the impetus to get on with laying track on board 1 and have the curve to the right to start the trip around the shed. Initially, this will just be a simple straight fiddle yard so that I can concentrate on fitting point motors and building the station platforms and the viaduct.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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A few layouts have been built that are bracketed off the wall, that are high enough to have work benches below. I know what you mean as regards N gauge, mind you I have to use an Optivisor these days to do the finer work in 4mm.

 

I hope that you get your Mo Jo back soon, I think most of us go through peaks and troughs and although big layouts are nice too have, it takes a while to see any great progress, whereas a smaller layout has a smaller build time.

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