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Artless Bodger

An Amateurish Attempt

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Having joined RMweb last August, at the time mainly to add my hapence worth to some topics, I think it's high time I actually showed some evidence of doing some model building, however amateur. I was tempted to call this topic 'Hardly more than a trainset' and it does not bear comparison with most of the content on RMweb, and I would be loathe to claim any 'skill'. I'm in awe of the levels of ability, focus and sheer elan shown by contributors.

 

My first train set was bought for me on my third Christmas - a Triang clockwork 0-6-0ST and two coaches. Since then I've tried both OO and N with gaps due to wargaming, military modelling, student days and setting up home. Since the mid '80s I've had reasonable use of the box room allowing about  8' x 5' in terms of continuous run at a price in accessibility. The current layout started about 2 years ago (not that you'd know from the lack of progress) when I had to dismantle part of the previous layout to get the windows replaced - as the baseboards had been constructed in-situ this required a big saw. After the upheaval of the window replacement and collateral damage to the layout, I decided to downsize and rebuild as there were too many issues I couldn't resolve with the old one (scenic, electrical, 9" radius etc) to make it worth repairing it. 

 

I often ask myself 'What do I want from my railway?' and to be honest, I still don't really know.  With fairly eclectic tastes both within and outside railways, I've never been able to concentrate on one region / scale / period, so have to invoke rule 1 most of the time. I like the idea of a 'mini system' railway like I saw in late 60s early 70s Railway Modeller - multiple stations, sources of traffic, trains going from somewhere to somewhere else with a purpose, no hidden sidings. When modelling OO I found the increasing detail and accuracy of models was limiting what I could run on set track radii, many locos and carriages not happy on 2nd radius, so had begun to scheme a light railway theme; terminus - terminus with continuous run and through station. It's the only time I've worked up a comprehensive fictional history. It was designed around 1 or 2 coach trains and small tank engines, a limited number of wagons and primarily self contained. I rediscovered an interest in N gauge, got the old stuff out and laid a temporary circuit inside the embryo light railway. Then increasing back trouble prompted a rethink - do away with the problematic duck-under, make a U shape dogbone layout in N only. This had a single continuous run of about 30', a terminus inside one loop (shades of Kings Cross), a through junction station and a branch to a high level terminus, and an industrial railway complex redolent of the papermill I used to work at. This kept me occupied on and off for several years (many alterations and replans, branchline gradient in the 'too difficult' category for years etc) until the aforesaid window caper, along with retirement, more time and less money. Even then it was not straight forward, the early sketches were for either 2 termini, a continuous run (within 5' x 2'3") and a through station, albeit with no more than 3 x Mk1 and loco trains. Several versions of that were laid, tried out, rejected after a few days / weeks / months, until I settled on what I have now, more trainset than proper model railway in the continuous bit: Terminus with 4 platforms, engine shed, goods yard; out and back loop which has a continuous link; middle circuit continuous run with through station and an inner goods circuit with goods yard. So, depending on how I feel i can run trains round and round, do a bit of shunting, or send trains out and later bring them back. The terminus acts in some ways as a scenic fiddle yard (or will when it has any scenery). There is minimal hidden track and I can still run loco + 4 passenger trains. 

 

What I have learned, is that I get a lot of my enjoyment out of planning, laying track, taking it up, relaying it over and over, also making stuff out of cardboard, even if it gets scrapped soon when I change my mind. What has been very helpful recently was visiting the Folkestone exhibition last autumn with my wife (the weather was bad so she opted to join me rather than risk a walk outside), her appreciation of the various layouts was much different to mine, but one comment she made "I like this one, there's a lot going on, like yours." has made me realise I should do what I enjoy, not wish for something out of reach.

 

So, with that introduction, I present New Hythe and Lower Tovil, with sketch plan of the current layout and some photos.

 

Much of my inspiration derives from younger days in Kent, and much of the stock passes for Southern in the main if not strictly south and east of London. Names, industries etc are taken mainly from the Medway / Maidstone area. The through station is Lower Tovil - the name of the papermill Grandad worked in, when the Tovil goods branch was still working. The terminus is putatively on an estuary with a wharf, New Hythe (the mill several of us worked in) seemed a suitable name. 

 

I hope I'm not being presumptious, if nothing else it might be amusing to some of you?

 

 

 

 

base plan adjusted.jpg

1s.jpg

2s.jpg

3s.jpg

4s.jpg

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A turntable for New Hythe - part one.

 

The original plan for this layout did have a turntable, though in subsequent re-hashings I deemed it unnecessary as the diverging lines from the terminus formed a reverse loop and I could easily turn locos by a trip around the layout (much as I had with the old layout). In any case I didn't have room for the PECO one, nor did I want to cut big holes in the baseboard top (it's wonky enough as it is). After re-hashing to the final (? - current) plan, using the reverse loop didn't seem such a good idea, and a turntable re-appeared. There was just enough room for a short one - scale 55' or 60', which would handle my tender engines, all 0-6-0s or 4-4-0s. So a circle was drawn on the baseboard and the track laid temporarily across it - and thus it stayed for months. 

 

The baseboard has a layer of 3mm cork floor tiles on top of the Sundeala - it at least means the PECO track pins don't project which was a source of gouged knuckles on the old layout. By using a through girder type I could get away with just removing the cork to provide the vestigial pit required. Now, how to build one that worked? By worked I mean just drive on drive off without finger assistance, so power connections required, rotation would be by direct manual assistance. 

 

Web searches, provided prototypes (mainly GWR, though Guildford had a through girder turntable SR ones otherwise seem to have been all deck types), ideas for power supply, drive etc. But how to construct it? I had time when walking to think up schemes; rails soldered to copperclad, power supply via the support rails soldered to a copperclad pit floor etc- all complete fantasy given the state of my soldering art. I knew from using the PECO one on BGP how that picked up and reversed polarity, but doubted my ability to fit in the springs and shims required in the few mm at my disposal, but the rail fixing on the PECO one seemed a place to start if I was to use PS sheet as my preferred construction material. Ideas for power pickups still evolving at this stage (crocodile clips?).

 

Next I built a cardboard mock up to test the ideas and check the loco flanges would be accommodated, which was encouraging, I could secure the rails to gauge, and a loco would run on it. And there it rested until the coronavirus lockdown when I finally bit the bullet and began making it. (to be continued....)

cardboard mock up s2.jpg

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The basic structure was planned to be 40 thou turntable deck, with a 20 thou strip to set the rails to gauge, further 20 thou outside to hold them to gauge. On top in the 4 foot, another wider strip of 20 thou overlapping the flanges, and similar outside. Using code 80 rail this leaves 40 thou / 1 mm of rail proud as the running rail. The cardboard mock up proved this to be both sturdy enough to secure the rails and allow powered movement of the Union Mills locos.

 

To connect electrically, I used brass domed screw heads, cut off and soldered to the base of the rails, these domes fitted into holes in the deck and protrude a bit below. Initial plan was for the domes to contact drawing pins in the well, with soldered wire feeds.

 

Sketch attached shows some of these ideas schemed out, with approximate dimensions.

turntable again 20+211219.jpg

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Hi AB.  While reading the thread, your first paragraph spoke to me! For what it's worth: I commented on a thread on RMWeb about my being discouraged by the sheer quality of what other folk have done, as I was still cutting my teeth (and my first sheets of plasticard). Someone responded "it's a hobby, not a competition". I have clung to this, and offer it to you. Do what you enjoy.  I have thoroughly enjoyed (almost!) everything I've tried, and the good folk of RMW have been nothing but encouraging.

 

So, I look forward to following your musings.

 

Richard

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Well, plans are one thing, application is another. 

 

Despite considering the best way to ensure everything was concentric etc, and measure twice, cut once approach I still managed to get the deck and rail alignment slightly off true. Incidentally I found the magnifier specs shown below to be an essential tool and they have been instrumental in keeping me modelling in N  - they were a chance find in Hobbycraft, and at £15 (2019) with 5 different lenses and a built in LED light are indispensable to me now. Cutting the deck and base disc was done with a compass cutter (also Hobbycraft) - quite a simple tool but a bit flimsy if you try to take too big a cut at once it distorts and goes out of dimension. 

 

Having marked the deck and rail positions, I then drew in the diagonals of the rail positions and where they intersected drilled a small pilot hole, used this as centre for cutting the end radius. 

 

Before drilling the holes for the screw heads I cut these, filed the shank as flush as possible  then soldered them to the rail flange - my lack of dexterity and soldering technique meant they were not quite exactly positioned. After several attempts, burned fingers, hot metal on the carpet and much swearing, I decided I could live with the inexact positions. Once cool and cleaned up the rails were measured and holes drilled on the rail centre lines to accept the screw heads.

 

Problem - with a magnifier I can read / estimate to approx 0.1 mm on a steel rule (I had to do it in my job at one time), but I cannot accurately mark up, let alone cut, to better than 0.5 mm, so getting the 20 thou strip for the gauge precise was ultimately a bit fit and fiddle. Also seeing the pencil lines when the rails are actually to be positioned on top - not planned well! 

 

Finally though I got the rails superglued to the deck, gauging strip solvent welded in place and the capping strip glued over the flanges, as shown.

 

 

 

 

1 Indispensible magnifyer.jpg

2 Deck pit base rails with screw heads.jpg

3 Rails with screw heads.jpg

4 Rails fitted onto deck.jpg

5 rails set gauge strip in place.jpg

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14 minutes ago, Geordie Exile said:

Hi AB.  While reading the thread, your first paragraph spoke to me! For what it's worth: I commented on a thread on RMWeb about my being discouraged by the sheer quality of what other folk have done, as I was still cutting my teeth (and my first sheets of plasticard). Someone responded "it's a hobby, not a competition". I have clung to this, and offer it to you. Do what you enjoy.  I have thoroughly enjoyed (almost!) everything I've tried, and the good folk of RMW have been nothing but encouraging.

 

So, I look forward to following your musings.

 

Richard

Hi Richard. 

 

Thank you for your supportive response. I've been doing model building - railway, war-gaming (Napoleonic, WW2), military especially AFVs etc for a long time now and still don't seem to have learned very much, despite all the reading of magazines and websites, and don't have much to show for the time and money expended. But as you say I did enjoy it, and get a lot of satisfaction from overcoming obstacles (though quite a lot ended up in the 'too difficult' category). 

 

 

 

 

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The rest of the construction of the turntable bridge was fairly straight forward PS sheet construction, with plank embossed strip for the walkways either side of the rails. I made one error in that I didn't allow enough clearance for the UM Dukedog crankpins at first and had to remove the side girders and re-glue them about 1-2 mm further apart. I tested the bridge by placing it on the track and putting a selection of locos on - power was conducted via the screw heads and the locos moved, so far so good, now for the pit.

 

The pit was cut into the cork tiles using the compass cutter again, slightly uneven due to the size of the cork particles. The base disk inserted and the bridge fitted, with a pin or bent paperclip providing a pivot, rotation proved that the bridge and pit weren't quite concentric, and not enough gap for a low brick wall around the pit, so the cork was trimmed back using a 1/4" woodworking chisel and a chisel bladed craft knife. This is where the lights on the magnifier headset came into use as I'm working in my own light in many places on the layout. 

 

The compass cutter (plus some fettling with scalpels) provided an outer ring for ground level and narrow strips of brick embossed PS sheet were fitted for the pit walls, all liberally soaked into place with solvent. 

6 Pit base, wall and outer.jpg

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The next stage was to cut a ring ob PS sheet to fit in the pit to represent the circumferential support rail, that done the bridge hole was opened out to fit a suitable long dome headed screw I had in the bits box, the pilot hole in the pit base disc also drilled through and through the baseboard. The screw was just long enough to take a washer and two locknuts underneath - much fiddling in the dark to get these on. This is where I found the deck was tight in places - pit wall not quite concentric, so a bit of filing on both ends of the deck ensured hitch free rotation. A segment of 30 thou fitted under each deck end, curved to fit inside the pit wall and rest on the support rail ensured a fairly level deck and once the inlet track was packed up with a strip of thin card, nearly level transition across the gap - as good as I was likely to get it.

 

Fitting power contacts now proved to be difficult - the original idea was some sort of springy metal strip as a wiper, but I shied away from this and first tried two drawing pins. First issue - the pins are steel, brassed, so dont solder too well and are also too big, so needed cutting down to a D shape. Wires attached and pins pushed into predrilled holes, it didn't work - the pins were not level and the deck did not sit on them smoothly. Back to the spring wiper idea - sorting through the bits box, I found some small scraps of brass or phosphor bronze shim (recovered from our workshop at work years ago). One looked promising, it was soldered to a small scrap of strip-board also found lurking in the bits box.

 

The diagram I think explains it better than I can in words.

 

Close up photo of the contact springs in situ.

 

Photo of turntable aligned with entry track.

 

It works well enough, I can drive locos on and off it without finger poking, rotation is by big hand from the sky, but then all my points operate the same way too. I can isolate a loco on it by rotating away from the contacts should I want to. The two spur tracks are unpowered dummies.

 

Finishing touches will be some plastic wagon wheels filed down to half and glued to the top of the segments either side of each girder to represent the support rollers, and finally painting.

 

I shall probably paint the steelwork grey, some photos on the web show light and dark stone for a GWR table which this resembles, but many seem to be a single dark colour.

 

Contact springs diagram.jpg

Contact springs.jpg

Almost finished.jpg

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I'm impressed with the turntable.  It will be a really effective piece of kit when finished.  It looks the part already.

 

Don't worry about things looking scruffy.  The finished product always falls together, often in an unexpected way - I'm hopeless at drawing plans and even worse at following them.  Layouts evolve and the story is usually the most interesting bit.

 

Keep up the blog.

 

Les

 

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11 hours ago, Les1952 said:

I'm impressed with the turntable.  It will be a really effective piece of kit when finished.  It looks the part already.

 

Don't worry about things looking scruffy.  The finished product always falls together, often in an unexpected way - I'm hopeless at drawing plans and even worse at following them.  Layouts evolve and the story is usually the most interesting bit.

 

Keep up the blog.

 

Les

 

Many thanks for the support Les, from someone with such modelling credentials as you, that's a big fillip. I've enjoyed reading about Hawthorn Dene. Looking at your new project gives me pangs as I sold the little bit of German N I had not that long ago, most of it dating from when I helped operate the Reeds Model Engineering Society's layout - I recall it was called "Furburgen and Erdenstadt", we took it to Gravesend and Deal. I've had a fascination for the altbau electric locos ever since, so the E94 and E44 fill me with longing - to be unfulfilled as Minitrix prices were beyond me even when still in employment. 

 

 

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Not a lot has happened on New Hythe in the last couple of weeks, but that is typical for me, the previous layout was going for 6 years or more but never really took off. I've been mainly indulging in cardboard geology, it's cheap, and have also raided Head Gardener's horticultural grit sand (with permission) for some ballast material for the goods yard - I sieved it with the tea strainer and returned the grit bits. It's a nice slightly yellowish brown, hopefully like the shingle ballast the SECR and LBSCR were reputed to use. 

 

I've used 3mm foamboard inserts between the tracks in the goods yard - evident in the photos in the first post above, these have now been glued down after painting the edges, ballasting will proceed when I can get up the enthusiasm. This will be a useful experiment as I've not used loose ballast for a very long time; my experiences on the old Reed's OO layout were not great and earned me a lot of opprobrium since the dilute PVA managed to get down the wire in tube point control by capillary action, rusted the wires and the whole tube / wire / ballast in the area had to come up and be replaced.

 

I didn't plan the scenery before settling the track plan (again shades of previous layout), I have a vague picture in my mind of what I want but making it work is something else. The high ground in the back corner was designed as a lift off panel for track cleaning, derailments etc, and was to have a basic retaining wall. However, I realised I had no credible goods yard access, and so spent some while scheming and cutting to get to the curved sloping road in cutting visible in the first post. Activity has been sporadic here, getting the gaps filled, trying to ensure the section that lifts out mates properly with the fixed lower part etc. OCC (old corrugated cases) are great as free material but susceptible to warping when using waterbased paints, glues etc. I've also had to apply quite a bit of packing of various thicknesses to get the retaining walls (Metcalfe red brick sheet) vertical - visible in the photos. There's quite a lot of cereal packets involved too. I think the church will eventually occupy the bit over the tunnels - to be decided.

before crop.jpg

stage 1.jpg

stage 2.jpg

stage 3.jpg

cardboard_geology_.jpg

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I've just come across this, and am enjoying what you are doing. The turntable and the way you've sorted out the roadway are particularly good.

 

There's a lot of potential for a great looking layout here.

 

I will be following with interest.

 

Al.

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Another lull in model making - I profess sloth modelling. However I've got going again in the last few days, mainly fitting bits of Metcalfe brick card to the spiral ramp and making and  fitting the bridge girders. Made from cereal box card the girders are a bit basic, but cheap. Glued with either Roket card glue, or solvent free UHU I get more glue on my fingers than the card, which sometimes means I pull the surface off the card - the plybond of folding boxboard isn't very good these days it seems.

 

The other - big - news is that finally I took the plunge to start hacking my trolley bus. I've had the Newcastle trolleybus ever since Head Gardener worked there for a few years, however I wanted something more like a Maidstone trolleybus, those we used to catch to Loose or Barming from Wren's Cross. It won't be an accurate model but it will have the right number of wheels.  Starting by dismantling the bus - it's quite a complicated model and very well detailed - then considering where to cut. The lower deck cut was quite obvious as I needed to take out 1 wheel arch. The top deck then became obvious to retain the trolley pole mounting and to stagger the cuts. So far I've got the bottom deck glued together but needing a bit of filler, and the top deck join needs a bit more fettling before I glue that.

girder 1.jpg

girder3.jpg

girder4 trolleybus.jpg

girder2.jpg

ckd trolleybus.jpg

cut lwr deck.jpg

cut screwed and glued.jpg

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