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"The Plank" - Compact DCC with a Spanish flavour.

Plank RENFE DCC Spain Benidorm FGV Tillig




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#1 Pete 75C

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 16:37

I blame Andy (McGomez).

A recent re-read through his excellent Portland Grove thread reminded me that I'd been meaning to try out DCC Sound. Now Portland Grove is about as Spanish as I am. Not, in other words. That's irrelevant though. Scattered through the thread are some pictures of Andy's HO scale RENFE stock which I believe gets an occasional run. As a wannabe ex-pat who's buying a house in Spain with the intention of moving full-time circa 2019, I find myself thinking more and more about Spain and its railways. High speed lines don't excite me too much, but little railway backwaters do... those that have survived, that is.

Hence "The Plank". I had thought the Spanish translation was "La Plancha", but apparently that's a little metal plate that you grill meat on. The perils of knowing a few foreign words and not being at all fluent. For example, on a recent trip to Spain, I told a pharmacist that my wife was "sick in the head". I only wanted some aspirin for her headache...

So... 2 bits of wood totalling 8ft x 1ft. A little run-round loop and a siding. Having bitten off more than I can chew recently with some bigger layouts, this stands a chance of getting finished. Even if it never gets finished (scenically), it will serve quite nicely as a little end-to-end test track. A decent DCC system has been purchased. I've gone for something slightly unusual... a Uhlenbrock Daisy 2. Good reviews, but it's not as common as a NCE Powercab, for example.

Now, I always need a prototype for inspiration when beginning a new project and I didn't have to look far. The track plan owes a lot to the little metre-gauge station about a mile or two inland from the beach in Benidorm. The line runs from Alicante to Denia and is pretty much light rail rather than "proper" railway. Trams at the Alicante end and little diesel trains from Benidorm through to Denia via Calpe. The line is part-electrified and I gather a lot of money is being spent on the FGV right now. The station at Benidorm has three platforms and a couple of sidings, so I've already pruned that to fit into 8x1. I won't be modelling metre-gauge either... that has grown to standard gauge. Quite a bit of the prototype will make it into the model - the road crossing, inspection pit, platform canopies and buildings etc. Everything else will be pure fantasy.

 

estacion_benidorm_Google.jpg

estacion_benidorm_Bing.jpg

 

The track has been laid. Just 3 Tillig points. As this is a bit of a "micro", I resisted the temptation to go for Tillig's extra long points. The ones used are still a little bigger than Peco's large radius points, so they should look believable. The little inspection pit has been cut and the track has had a coat of grime. Next step is to finish the wiring and test everything thoroughly. That will let me have a play with the first sound-fitted loco unit I've ever owned, a Class 594 by Electrotren, prototype seen below. It's the DMU with the giant rubber gasket at each end. I do like the unusual...

 

800px-Tren_Renfe_TRD_Madrid_-_Salamanca.jpg

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

 

plank_001.jpg

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plank_006.jpg

 

If you have an interest in RENFE, past or present, do please chip in with anecdotes, photos, advice etc.

More soon but I'm not in a rush with this.


Edited by Pete 75C, 20 December 2016 - 10:56 .

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#2 McGomez

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 18:18

Me gusta....
I reckon my AVE might just fit in that passing loop.
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#3 Pete 75C

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 18:41

Me gusta....
I reckon my AVE might just fit in that passing loop.

 

Maximum silliness factor though! I reckon a 2-car and a 3-car will do nicely. I may even put some of that strange "knitting" up.



#4 Enterprisingwestern

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 19:21

The Benidorm - Denia line stops at Calpe now, 44 million Euros is needed to upgrade the line, so it's all on hold at the mo. It closed with no warning last month and will be closed for at least 2 years, although, depending on which report you read, work won't start for 2 years, so don't hold your breath.

There is a replacement bus service which people are preferring as the coaches are air conditioned and the service is quicker, so it may never re open, which is a bit of a ######, as I still need it for my Bakers!

 

Mike.


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#5 Pete 75C

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Posted 15 September 2016 - 19:59

The Benidorm - Denia line stops at Calpe now...

 

Thanks for the info Mike, but damnit... that's a shame. We're back out in a few weeks and I was hoping to ride the train to Denia. At least riding it as far as Calpe will give me a chance to go over that bridge at Mascarat which I think has recently had some work done to it. Whilst the kids are bobbing about in a pool somewhere, I need to have a better look at Benidorm station armed with the camera for some "research".

 

https://www.flickr.c...N07/20108624803

 

https://www.flickr.c...N07/24962115113


Edited by Pete 75C, 16 September 2016 - 05:37 .

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#6 Pete 75C

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 16:54

I've got a couple of projects on the go at the moment, so this little test track is meant to be bottom of the pecking order. I got a little fixated on one small detail though, so thought I'd see it through to completion. At the metre-gauge Benidorm FGV station, there is a small inspection pit in one of the sidings. Way smaller than the kind of thing we're used to seeing in depots so nothing commercial was really suitable. I also wanted to replicate the rails "floating" on steel and concrete beams. After butchering some Lego (what else?) to make the actual pit, various bits of styrene were cut to size and something resembling the prototype was made up. Seemed daft not to add a couple of lights to it. They're just 12v LEDS shining through a couple of translucent plastic strips which "kind of" look like fluorescent tubes. Well, in my mind anyway... The pit's only about the length of a DMU's bogie and the side access steps are unusual. I'm quite happy with it. Needs weathering and handrails etc.

I'm back in Spain next month in the hotbed of excess otherwise known as Benidorm, so will make a little research trip to the station. Cheap fizzy lager may be involved.

 

plank_007.jpg

plank_008.jpg


Edited by Pete 75C, 21 September 2016 - 17:02 .

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#7 Joseph_Pestell

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 18:12

An old friend, who died a few years ago, gave me a nice picture of a loco on this line. A 2-6-4T which I think was probably by Beyer Peacock.


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#8 Derekstuart

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 18:39

Nice 'little plank', Pete.

 

You seem to have a knack of making these things look "real"- I think your choice of track together with your habit of putting decent, prototypical space between each road probably has a lot to do with it. Real looking 'flowing' track. Excellent.

 

Do you mind me asking what board construction method you used in the end, following on from a conversation previously?

 

 

BTW Apart from trips to Bilbao on a well known ship (normally just off ship, wait, back on again), I haven't been to Spain in 30 years. Over the winter I shall be driving down to Gibraltar right the way through Spain and seeing the real Country compared to the lager louts paradise that I last went to. If I see anything that resembles a train I will take a photo for you.


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#9 Pete 75C

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Posted 21 September 2016 - 19:15

BTW Apart from trips to Bilbao on a well known ship (normally just off ship, wait, back on again), I haven't been to Spain in 30 years. Over the winter I shall be driving down to Gibraltar right the way through Spain and seeing the real Country compared to the lager louts paradise that I last went to. If I see anything that resembles a train I will take a photo for you.

 

Thanks Derek. Do please take some photos. Your route should take you through the "real" Spain for sure. Strangely (for someone who's about to make a trip to Benidorm), I'm not a huge fan of the commercial seaside resorts, much preferring to be a little inland with perhaps a small town or village within walking distance. We'll eventually be about 10 miles inland from Blackpool Benidorm (if the purchase goes through), and although it's nice to know it's there if I feel the need for an ice cream/burger/vist to Lidl, it'll be even nicer to know I can't see it or hear it!

Re: the baseboards... to my shame, I ignored almost all of the advice on the "other" thread and went back to 9mm ply on 3x1 softwood (lazy). In my defence, the softwood has been lying around the house for over a year and if it hasn't gone banana-shaped by now, perhaps it never will. Time will tell.


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#10 Pete 75C

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 15:58

I had an hour and a half spare today, so have finished wiring up the plank. The Uhlenbrock Daisy handset sits in a clip on the fascia next to a Digitrax Loconet panel, for ease of connection. I was just going to fix the Uhlenbrock control box under the baseboard, but it occurred to me it might make more sense to have it hinged so it could drop down for access. A left-over door hinge and an offcut of MDF was all it needed. I need to make up a clip, so when the control box is folded away under the layout, it stays in place.

Assuming I haven't done anything stupid with the wiring (Cobalt motors still to be fitted), I should get a chance over the weekend to test everything and have a play with the factory sounds on the Electrotren Cl.594 DMU. I've never had anything sound-fitted before, and I'm curious to hear what it sounds like "in the flesh" instead of on the PC in YouTube videos. The "door close" alarm and the air brakes releasing are intriguing me.

 

plank_009.jpg

plank_010.jpg

 

Now, a question, which is I suppose the whole point of this thread!

The level crossing at the Benidorm FGV station will be modelled, just pruned from four lanes of traffic to two. In the Streetview image below, the warning lights don't look very European to me. They look much more like those you'd find at a US railroad crossing. I've Googled other Spanish level crossings and this would appear to be the norm. Can anyone confirm this? If so, the only working warning light option I would seem to have is the Busch American lights (below). Assuming the wires run to the lights from the base, I could perhaps snip the cross off and cap the post. Does anyone know of any alternatives in HO scale? In the Streetview image, that's quite a busy main road but there are only barriers facing the direction of traffic, like a half barrier crossing in the UK. Is that usual, or is it just because the line is quite lightly used?

 

crossing.jpg

crossing2.jpg

5934.jpg

 

 


Edited by Pete 75C, 23 September 2016 - 16:02 .

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#11 Pete 75C

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Posted 23 September 2016 - 16:29

An old friend, who died a few years ago, gave me a nice picture of a loco on this line. A 2-6-4T which I think was probably by Beyer Peacock.

 

If you get the chance, Joseph, could I trouble you for a scan if the image isn't packed away somewhere? I'm currently rather fascinated by this line, past and present. I'm still reeling from the news that the line between Calpe and Denia is closed and may not reopen. I have some nice images of the diesel-hauled Limon Express before shortsightedness and lack of money put paid to that. Sadly, today's trams at the Alicante end aren't quite so interesting!



#12 Pete 75C

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Posted 24 September 2016 - 08:03

Oh dear. Plugged everything in this morning and I'm always surprised when there's no issues - mysterious shorts etc. I shouldn't really be too surprised I suppose. Just 3 points, so there's not a great deal to go wrong.

The "Oh dear" is a gut feeling in response to the DCC sound. It's really rather addictive and I have a suspicion that DCC no sound is not an option for me now. That equates to an extra chunk of cash added to the purchase price of each loco/unit. Ah well. I never wanted to be rich.

The Uhlenbrock Daisy 2 is completely new to me too, so I have that to learn. It's very different to the NCE PowerCab I was used to, but in a good way. It's incredibly intuitive and a delight to handle. The sound in the 594 DMU is an absolute joy. So many different functions... it's a bit like playing an arcade game. The only thing I need to do is lower the overall volume a little and it will be perfect.

I have other projects to work on, but will keep coming back to this little test track often. Next jobs are to get the road and pavements over the crossing in place, and to choose some barriers. I also need to figure out what I'm going to do about the platforms. I'm tempted to keep mainline stock to Platform 1 (the longest) and go for a very low level platform for the loop. I'm wondering if I can introduce trams to this platform somehow. Food for thought, although the trams would have to share the main line and I'm pretty sure that's gonna be prototypically unbelievable. I'll figure something out.


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#13 McGomez

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 12:40

Good to hear that you have the sound bug.

Any chance of a quick video Pete?

I´ve never heard one of these DMUs.



#14 shanks522

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 12:50

Once you go down the sound route there's no going back, I enjoy nothing more than having a couple of cromptons just ticking over whilst i work on the layout.

 

Graham.


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#15 Pete 75C

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 13:29

Good to hear that you have the sound bug.

Any chance of a quick video Pete?

I´ve never heard one of these DMUs.

 

Sounds like a Sprinter to me... busman's holiday, eh? I can hear one of those on the hour every hour just by walking down to Sheringham station!

:jester:

I'll try Andy. I only have a [email protected] little Casio digital camera that's pretty poor quality when used for audio/video. My smartphone is probably better. I'm a bit of a technophobe with stuff like that, so no promises.

 

Once you go down the sound route there's no going back...

 

I fear you may be right. I said I may put up some knitting on the test track, and that would allow a RENFE electric like a 250 or 252. What exactly does an AC electric sound like? I'm expecting a faint hum or whine instead of a diesel tickover...

 

On the subject of sound, does anyone know what a Spanish level crossing sounds like when the lights flash? A YouTube link would be great if anyone knows of one. I've had a look but have drawn a blank so far. I'm pretty sure its bells or gongs and nothing like the yodel of a UK crossing. I really don't want to automate the barriers, but flashing lights and warning sound at the press of a button appeals. I could be really sad and wait for the barriers to come down at Benidorm next month and be ready with the phone's voice recorder!


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#16 Pete 75C

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Posted 26 September 2016 - 14:18

Hang on while I see if this embed thing works. Edits may be required.

 

 

Apologies for the audio/video quality. I need a decent (video) camera. It does sound better in the flesh! There are so many different sounds, just a few are on the video.

 

Edit: Ooh. It worked first time. I normally end up with just a link...


Edited by Pete 75C, 26 September 2016 - 14:25 .

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#17 Pete 75C

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 12:45

A little progress.

All track has been weathered by dry brushing with powders. A little hard to see in the pictures, but it is an improvement on spraying everything universal "brown". Hopefully it will look ok when ballasted. Lots of point motors and cable ducts to install first.

The platform edges are in place. Although this most definitely isn't "Benidorm", the slightly unusual arrangement there has been copied. The main platform is of a standard height, dropping down to the foot crossing. The platform then continues almost to the roadway seen in the far distance but this part of the platform is for access only (not for boarding trains) and is of a lower height. The island platform is of the same lower height, almost like a tram platform.

The platform tops will no doubt be a bugger to cut as there is a very slight curve to most of the platform. I'm planning to use a mostly "tiled" surface for the platforms, apart from the ramps. These tiles are everywhere in Spain, used for pavements, platforms etc... usually pinky/terracotta or sandy-beige coloured. I'm pretty sure there is now a more "tactile" surface specified for new builds and resurfacing.

 

plank_011.jpg

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plank_013.jpg


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#18 Marcus 37

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 07:50

Hi Pete
I'm fairly useless when it comes to looking anywhere apart from Layout topics so missed this completely. This looks like the start of a cracking little layout. I really love the small inspection pit with the lighting. Very nice bit of modelling. Will be following along now with interest. Very nice work on Caleta as well. I'm slowly working my way through that thread when I get a spare few minutes.
Cheers
Marcus
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#19 SMR CHRIS

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 17:01

Just found this Wow a great prototype for inspiration.
Pete looks like an interesting project, I always like things that are a little unusual the DMU is a nice bit of kit dose in come With the DCC sound or did you fit DCC to it.
The small layout concept is a good way to get to a more complete stage with a model railway within a reasonable time period with out it dragging on and loosing interest due to having vast amount space to complete.
Will be following this
Thanks for posting
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#20 Enterprisingwestern

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 18:18

Just in case anyone is wondering where Pete's journey will take him!

 

Benidorm estacion;

 

1-1749.jpg

 

2-1750.jpg

 

Trams at the Alicante underground terminus;

 

1-1128.jpg

 

2-1127.jpg

 

Mike.


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#21 Pete 75C

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 06:13

Pete looks like an interesting project...

 

Thanks. It certainly is. It's quite nice to step outside your comfort zone once in a while. I know next to nothing about the prototype but it's fun finding out. The little DCC test track is standard gauge (although I was surprised to learn that there's a fair bit of continental metre gauge stuff available) and I've taken some inspiration from the platform/level crossing arrangement at Benidorm. I'd like to copy some of the buildings and the signalling too, but that's about it. Everything else will be a total figment.

 

Just in case anyone is wondering where Pete's journey will take him!

 

Nice pics Mike, thanks. I shall be there myself in a fortnight armed with camera and beer money for a little "research". I just need to lose the wife and kids for half a day... Hopefully the sun will still be shining between the thunderstorms and they'll be happy by the pool whilst I indulge in a little trainspotting. For the second week, we're leaving behind the debauchery of Benidorm and are staying at the foot of the path that leads up to the viewpoint I mentioned in Post #5...

 

https://www.flickr.c...N07/20108624803

 

Hopefully the path won't be as steep as I've been led to believe.


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#22 Pete 75C

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 06:42

Sorry Chris, I didn't answer your question. The DMU was bought new and already sound-fitted by Electrotren. Electrotren seem to do four versions of everything... DC, 3-rail, DCC and DCC sound on board. Loksound v3.5 I believe. I think it can be upgraded/reblown (?) but I'm still a little unfamiliar with all the terminology. It sounds good to me as it is and I have no plans to upgrade anything. I had expected start-up, shut-down, air brake and horn sounds but there are so many more different sounds. Cab lights, interior lights and tail lights are also assigned a function button, so I assume if you have two units running in multiple, you can switch off the tail lights between units... something that's sometimes not possible and often moaned-about on UK models. I also think I made the right choice with the Uhlenbrock Daisy handset as I'm finding it very intuitive to use. The vast array of graphic icons are a big help and you can upload your own icons with an addon piece of hardware. If anything the whole setup was too loud straight out of the box, so I've lowered the overall volume a tad and it sounds a whole lot better to me.

 

Ballasting at the moment, then platform tops to add and then I need to get the road and hardstanding areas done. Not in a rush though.


Edited by Pete 75C, 04 October 2016 - 06:53 .

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#23 Pete 75C

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 07:24

An hour or two spare today, so I just need to tidy up the ballasting. Having spent ages trawling through Google Images, it occurs to me that the Spanish don't run their lineside cables in concrete troughing like we do in the UK. They must bury it underground? Not a single section of cable trunking to be seen anywhere on the images I've looked at. For that reason, I've binned the troughing that I had planned to install on the layout. I've still added cosmetic point motors etc. Once I'm happy with the ballasting, I'll get the platform tops cut to size.

I've been pondering what to do about the level crossing barriers. They're quite distinctive. The closest match I can find are in brass by NJ International and based on a US prototype.

 

crossing_01.jpg

nj.jpg

 

The arms are apparently free-moving and come with a linkage that can be automated at a later date, and the lights are pre-fitted with resistors for 12v DC. They really are the closest match in model form that I can find. Assuming that the wires run up through the cabinets to the lights, the crossbucks can simply be snipped off and capped.

Finally, does anyone know the best way to replicate the pedestrian warning lights shown below? I was wondering if maybe Viessmann or Busch etc did something similar that I'm not aware of? A Google search didn't return anything similar. When lit, the display appears to be a kind of "T" symbol and if I can't find anything off the shelf, I was thinking brass rod, plastic sheet "hood" and fibre optics. I'm assuming they flash at the same time as the road-facing crossing lights so could be linked to a flasher unit under the baseboard.

 

crossing_02.jpg

 

I shall be there in 10 days, so maybe the best thing to do is have a better look rather than rely on Google Streetview all the time!



#24 McGomez

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 08:25

Hi Pete.

 

i was having a re-read through this thread last night and started looking for level crossings and came across a whole thread dedicated to them here.

http://www.forotrene...php?f=9&t=25020

 

I was especially impressed by this video, (if you´ve got 40 minutes to spare).

 

 


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#25 Pete 75C

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Posted 05 October 2016 - 09:31

 

Bingo! That's really useful, Andy - thanks. I can see Google Translate getting a hammering over the next few days.

 

Re: the video... I did find that one a few days ago. I confess I got bored once the train had come to a halt and fast-forwarded to the end!


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