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Northroader

“FLIGHTS OF WHIMSY”

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For a long time, I’ve been harbouring a fancy to have a narrow gauge layout, and as I’m getting no younger, I decided to get started. The writers who analyse why Railways hold such attraction usually give the reason is the way that Railways balance Classicism with Romanticism, and in this particular application I’m veering strongly towards the Romantic side of things. It’s intended to form a framework for some scenes in which a train is passing through, but not attempting to represent a known prototype, or even be “credible”, and not really giving any operating potential. The layout, such as it is, also needs to provide a theatre where scene shifting allows for different works to be performed.

The scale will be 7mm, which I’m used to, and On16.5., although the main yardstick I shall work from is the human figure, trying to measure whether everything done looks right in proportion to people, narrow gauge always seeming to be a more personal  relationship for me. The rolling material will be formed on old OO chassis, keeping costs down.

Thats the prospectus for now, and I’ll try to move on to the lack of design next time.

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Well, at 32 degrees in Wiltshire, it’s too hot for modelling, so I’d best sit in the shade and type instead. It just so happened that I had a gash baseboard left over from another job, so that decided the size of the layout for me, 48” x 24” (1230 x 615mm) It’s got a new 12mm ply top on a nominal 2” x 1” softwood framework, so fairly standard construction. I wanted to have a basic oval run, with minimal track otherwise. Of the lines I’ve had, the one that saw the most use was a similar job in continental HO, with a train just tail chasing. Not very operational, just the enjoyment of seeing something in motion. Room needed to be allowed for two trains, and stabling for a spare loco, and I had worked out that the train length would be 21” (540mm) A passing loop in the oval wouldn’t work, as the points would come on the curve, so I settled for a siding facing either way, one inside the loop, one outside, and I added a short spur off the outside line for stabling. The way the line is wired it might not be that get-attable, but it will make a nice cameo setting in any case.There’s a small halt / station in two of the diagonally opposite corners, and once the trackwork was sorted I cut an oval opening in the middle. Oval layouts which have a filled in straight across top don’t appeal to me all that much. The intention is that the left hand part of the oval will be depressed for a lake, and the right hand side will stay open. Doing oval track on this width of board for 16.5mm gauge does lead to tight curvature in places, as you can see, but you can legislate for this, and in any case, it will strengthen the whimsical look I’m after.. (Tools off to the freezer for a choc-ice)

CB519E27-ADC3-4E7B-9BE5-4CD3FFC4CB14.jpeg.5b4b321a23d18e706c5002250512126b.jpeg

Edited by Northroader
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On 21/07/2019 at 21:26, Northroader said:

Railways balance Classicism with Romanticism

 

Just so.

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Sorry about this, I’ve been interspersing text and pictures, but lost my text in the process, drat and double drat. Try again. The first picture shows I cropped too much off the far end in the previous post, there’s a bit of space for buildings here. The track is laid on 3mm cork tiles for resilience. The main purpose is to show the points, which I’m afraid are a ragbag out of the leftovers box, rather than buying proper On16.5 jobs, all by Peco. The crossover on the oval run is a Setrack at the far end, insulfrog, and the geometry is ideal at 168mm length, 438mm radius. The nearest point is a universal with insulfrog, and the yard point is a streamline with electrofrog. This one has been resleepered to give a more n.g. look, but the other two are going to get covered in ballast and weeds until the sleepers don’t show. The line is wired with the oval permanently live, and the sidings on isolator switches, and a further switch to change polarity of the yard point frog. The points are thrown by a finger against the tie bar method, all nice and personal.

The plain track is mainly Peco On16.5 which I saved up for specially, but it is a bit dogeared from previous attempts. The second picture shows the worst curve, which is around 8.25”  215mm radius. I found that for this sort of curve all the webs between individual sleepers had to be cut away. In addition a lot of sleepers were replaced by ones formed from Marcway fibre glass copper clad strip, 5mm width. These were soldered in to reinforce the proper gauge, and also to support the check rail. This is against the inside rail of the curve, and by acting against the back of the inside wheel flange, pulls the wheelset across, as otherwise the outer wheel flange is continually looking for an excuse to mount the rail.

The Civil Engineer has sent the Mechanical Engineer a specification which states that because of the curvature on the line, all his rolling stock and locos must be limited to short bodied four wheelers, so next time a visit to the drawing office is scheduled.

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Actually the design of the trains was done some time ago. At the time I was able to use a photoshop programme on my computer, but since then a replacement computer with upgrades of software has left me without this facility. However, it’s given me a grasp of the principles involved, and any future work I can just use the base sheet and sketch in freehand.

The base sheet just has three horizontal lines. The bottom represents the rail level, the middle one is the floor level of the trains, and I worked out that using OO chassis this would need 20 mm above the rail. The top line is the cantrail level (the carriage roof eaves) height set to be a scale 6’ above the floor.

85EC5B14-33CC-4E95-912D-97F1A2C6CB8B.jpeg.84b2170d1e2529d6e86869e0a2738908.jpeg   

 

Two full size scans were added as extra layers, one of a Triang Nellie chassis, and one of an engine driver, which gives me a human scale to judge things by. I figured out that train width of around 7.5’ would be the maximum, so I could add two verticals topped by a semicircle to get a cross section. To round it off, I normally stick an inch scale somewhere on the drawing, just as a check on prints.

 

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I like your approach, Northroader! I have picked up quite a lot of second hand items over the last  three years, which I look forward to customising when I have gained a bit more experience. Photoshop and some of the other Adobe software is very useful for modelmaking generally, as well as creating backscenes. I still have a stand-alone version of Adobe Creative Suite on my old XP computer, although I am now sharing a subscription with my daughter for the current version on my new machine. :good_mini:

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I’m glad you’re aboard, Marly, look out for the next post to see why. At present I’m fitting couplers, a key job on this line, so this morning I got the second loco running, and discovered my isolating section doesn’t isolate, so I’ll have to trace the wiring back, aarrgghhh!

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Gonna follow this, I’ve got a freelance narrow gauge itch again, but with bigger trains. (Checks eBay again for cheap Roco BR93s)

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By the way, Talltim, thanks for following the thread, it just crossed my mind, and I’m sure I’m doing an injustice to your intelligence in even suggesting it, but you won’t be trying to get that BR93 to go round curves like I’m doing on this job? Those locos are craftsman made purpose built for proper ng lines, and when I see one running I’m lost in admiration, but it does need more room than a 4’x2’.

This line is 0-4-0t only, and I’m just skinflinting on old Triang and Hornby castoffs I’ve picked up for a few quid at the local collectors fair, and the way they run, it shows! They’re just on or off, and the gearing is way too high for my needs. One thing I must do is get a decent controller, at present it’s an old rheostat type, which doesn’t help. Maybe some time I’ll find one of the new Peckett, or a Pug, going cheap, as I gather they’re much better behaved.

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Yeah, thinking of something bigger and probably not roundy roundy,it was the whimsy rather than the curves that drew me!

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OK, that suits me, if you’ve got a BR 93, and thinking of the Michael Portillo programme with that loopy witch on the Brocken, you’re allowed a little piece of whimsy:

FFF659A1-AB54-4577-9B96-7AAB6A27644D.jpeg.2e858dac28c506c22fa430074df16e3d.jpeg

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Rather Craig and Mertonford - I like it!

 

Really, all the railways in the IoW ought to have been narrow gauge, probably 3ft.

Edited by Nearholmer
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The roof is just a flat piece of brass, a humpy strip of brass in the middle for a key, then milliput smoothed over to get the “dome”.

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The worksheet can be expanded to give something to pull. With a passenger train, you just fit the coach body onto an OO wagon chassis, either a long wheelbase or standard. Length needs to be kept down for the curvature, no more than three compartments. Images of the coach get a slight shrinkage to fit on the worksheet lines, but not much.

Another loco has been added, having had the same treatment as previously, and going from an 0-4-4T to an 0-4-0T, but still quite recognisable. The coaches are made from plastic sheet.5BED3F47-3EC5-4D56-86C7-6E9085BECA69.jpeg.d665ac289633c23164c16fafaf3af5e6.jpegC6364A41-566D-4527-A438-6B484FCDBD70.jpeg.c3b9ab21e7d6c87e7d0042ccf1de2d5f.jpeg

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I love your models! The Highland Railway looks very good in narrow gauge maybe the LSWR would look good in narrow gauge too, the midland railway or Somerset and Dorset would be interesting too. I’m hoping to build a 09 railway based in the Cotswolds with my huge round animals too.

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Thanks, Jason. If you take railways seriously, you’ll be in trouble, but if you don’t, you’ll soon get the knack of narrow gauging standard gauge, and then adapting to fit in excessive curvature. The Highland got chosen, partly because it had distinctive small tank engines, and partly the romantic cachet it has, but as you say any of the old pregroup lines are fair game. Your Suffolk Punch horses outdo Thelwells rolypoly steeds, and I doubt if you’ll get them in an 0n16.5 horsebox, But a few would be fun grazing in a lineside field. Good luck with your work. Memo to self: fatten some Highland cattle.

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Just now, Northroader said:

any of the old pregroup lines are fair game. 

 

I can't see a Johnson bogie single making the transition with any degree of dignity!

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Now time for a flight of whimsy that I've been brewing for a while .........

 

Canals are now mainly for leisure, and people own nicely painted boats to chug up and down them in comfort.

 

Imagine instead a spindly network of 2ft gauge tramways, extending nationwide, upon which people are allowed to operate their own private trains, speed being governed-down to slow-bicycling pace, say 8mph, and all locomotive "motion" being enclosed. Trains are typically a couple of shortish bogie coaches, one the kitchen-diner-lounge, the other a couple of bedrooms and a bicycle store. Motive power is steam, battery-electric, or internal combustion engine, and because the speed is so low the power rating needs only be about 20hp. I think I'd go for a battery electric loco, with "get you home" diesel backup. Liveries would, naturally, be ornate, and a lot of polishing would go on.

 

All the advantages of a camping coach, combined with the mobility and ever-changing scenery typical of a canal holiday.

 

What do you think?

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Sounds great fun, with the potential for some really individual looking  vehicles, very idiosyncratic. The one problem would probably be passing places, I always think of this sort of thing as being single line, if you had loads of personal caravans in circulation, there’d be endless conflicts about precedence, unless it was double track, then you might lose a lot of the whimsicality. Canals do gain here, having a lonely neglected look but the capability of passing boats all the time, unless you create an equivalent of Grindley Brook locks in the summertime. Still, country roads can have passing places in view, and in your vision, the traffic could be infrequent, really spaced out.

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Spaced out? Yes, I suppose speeds would be low enough not to need to enforce D&A controls excessively tightly.

 

I've thought about the passing-place problem, because I too envisage these as single-track, and it needs something not too complicated to solve it, otherwise the whole thing becomes too complicated and lacks charm. Given that the whole point would be not to be in a hurry, perhaps sections of track could be something like "down" from XX;00 to XX;10,  "up" from XX:15 to XX:25 and so forth, which might mean hanging about in passing loops quite a bit. The permitted times could be posted at the entry to each section (and amended by local vandals).

 

Either that, or make use of mobile phone technology, using the equivalent of the "share my location" function, possibly adding some data about direction of travel, to report to a server that is accessible to other users of the line. It wouldn't need to be safety-critical, merely advisory, because driving would be "by line of sight", but it would get used, because it would be to everyone's convenience. You could add some intelligence into the system, to avoid giant snarl-ups on busy days too, if necessary. Bus-stop "next bus" indicators, and "live bus" apps on your phone, work a bit like this.

 

Also, horse traction would presumably be an option, as might the use of lightweight pedal-speeders, with room to carry a tent, for the more outdoor-pursuits-inclined users.

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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23 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

 

I can't see a Johnson bogie single making the transition with any degree of dignity!

 

I sense there’s a challenge in that, Stephen, I’ll have to look into this further, dignity? probably not.....

Edited by Northroader
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