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Dale Junction in HO Scale


benjy14
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On 11/07/2021 at 00:02, mdvle said:

 

Based on stuff online most people seem to just be using their smartphone cameras these days, so you may want to try that first (assuming you have a smartphone, or access to one).

 

That's an excellent suggestion, thank you!  I do indeed have iPhone 7, so once I have fashioned some sort of stand/tripod for it, I will give it a go. Your post also reminded me that I have a Digital SLR camera that has a video mode and a RunCam 2 (which I used to capture the cab ride footage), so have tried both of those and the results (especially from the RunCam) are very promising. I will try to knock together a video in the next couple of days...

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19 minutes ago, benjy14 said:

 

That's an excellent suggestion, thank you!  I do indeed have iPhone 7, so once I have fashioned some sort of stand/tripod for it, I will give it a go. Your post also reminded me that I have a Digital SLR camera that has a video mode and a RunCam 2 (which I used to capture the cab ride footage), so have tried both of those and the results (especially from the RunCam) are very promising. I will try to knock together a video in the next couple of days...

Digital SLR video is excellent these days but a tripod really helps.

 

Jamie

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9 hours ago, benjy14 said:

 

That's an excellent suggestion, thank you!  I do indeed have iPhone 7, so once I have fashioned some sort of stand/tripod for it, I will give it a go. Your post also reminded me that I have a Digital SLR camera that has a video mode and a RunCam 2 (which I used to capture the cab ride footage), so have tried both of those and the results (especially from the RunCam) are very promising. I will try to knock together a video in the next couple of days...


I just rested mine on a regular home music stand to film a couple of short videos - flexible in every direction when setting it up, stability and the option of panning to follow the train.  Zero cost for us too - we have several.  Just a thought, Keith.

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I have published a video comprising footage captured on three devices:

 

 

The reults I got were as follows:

  • Canon EOS200D in Video Mode: Good picture and colour on the wider shots but did not cope very well on the closer shots.
  • RunCam 2: Exceptional picture quality but with a wide field-of-vision, making it hard to capture just the train.
  • iPhone 7: Half-way between the other devices!

So my plan is try some more with the RunCam 2, especially if I can narrow on the field-of-vision (which I believe is possible), and to upgrade my iPhone to a newer model and find a proper tripod/stand for it (it was just balanced on off-cuts of wood, which was not very satisfactory...). In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the footage from the layout!

 

As a closing thought, I just wanted to mention the passing of Gordon S of this parish, a very sad time. Not only was his layout Eastwood Town inspirational, it was Gordon who encouraged me to start this thread. RIP Gordon; my condolences to his friends and famiily.

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15 hours ago, benjy14 said:

I have published a video comprising footage captured on three devices:

 

 

The reults I got were as follows:

  • Canon EOS200D in Video Mode: Good picture and colour on the wider shots but did not cope very well on the closer shots.
  • RunCam 2: Exceptional picture quality but with a wide field-of-vision, making it hard to capture just the train.
  • iPhone 7: Half-way between the other devices!

So my plan is try some more with the RunCam 2, especially if I can narrow on the field-of-vision (which I believe is possible), and to upgrade my iPhone to a newer model and find a proper tripod/stand for it (it was just balanced on off-cuts of wood, which was not very satisfactory...). In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the footage from the layout!

 

As a closing thought, I just wanted to mention the passing of Gordon S of this parish, a very sad time. Not only was his layout Eastwood Town inspirational, it was Gordon who encouraged me to start this thread. RIP Gordon; my condolences to his friends and famiily.


 

Hi Ben, really enjoyed the video compilation, thank you for posting it here.  The layout is coming on great.  I realise my “music stand” / tripod idea only works for distance shots - no good for shots on the layout (and there are some great angles on Dale Junction for close-ups).  Really great to see the long 28 car freights on a UK layout (ie: not always a basement empire).

 

Sad to learn of Gordon’s passing - from many kind words being shared onRMweb clearly a gentleman and a significant part of the RMweb story, someone to whom we all owe a debt of thanks and gratitude, Keith.

 

(PS: It still bugs me I couldn’t find the magazine article reference on Dobwalls from the start of the story - maybe one day it will come to light somewhere I’d forgotten about).

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

Hi Ben, really enjoyed the video compilation, thank you for posting it here.  The layout is coming on great.  I realise my “music stand” / tripod idea only works for distance shots - no good for shots on the layout (and there are some great angles on Dale Junction for close-ups).  Really great to see the long 28 car freights on a UK layout (ie: not always a basement empire).

 

Thanks Keith!  I appreciate your idea for the music stand but as you might expect, I don't have one to hand...(!) However, a quick Interweb search results in a huge number of options, so once I have my new phone, I'll look into further... Not sure when that will be mind and I think I will experiment with the RunCam 2 a little more as elevating it (so it's look more "down" on the trains) looks like it could work nicely. Of course, I do really like the "lineside" shots (i.e. where the viewpoint is more-or-less as though one was actually stood there) but as with all model photography of this type, excluding anything above the backscene level is hard.

 

4 hours ago, richard i said:

the top layer should stay as a snow scene. 

 

That is a intriguing idea!  There certainly were ferocious snow storms on Sherman Hill, so it could make an interesting juxtaposition to the summer scene on Dale Junction itself. Thanks :)

 

In other news, the latest motive power acquisition for the layout arrived from a friend in the US today:

 

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It needs DCC sound fitting (which will happen in September) but it's a stunning model and, having listened to the preview clip on the ESU website, it will sound as good as it looks!

Edited by benjy14
Corrected typos.
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  • 5 weeks later...

I see that it's been exactly a month since my last post... Work has progressed on the scenery on the upper level and in particular, I have been focussing on the area to the west of Sherman station. I have covered the basic land contours with plaster, painted the plaster with the base textured tan paint (which I mix myself from cheap paint and dried sand), and have started the long process of ballasting the 15 or so feet of track.

 

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Above sees Big Boy #4017 is heading east on the last part of the climb to Sherman. The basic ground cover is in place and the track here is ballasted.

 

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Above is anotehr view of #4017 heading east. The ballast in the foreground is still wet!  I will need to touch-up where the backscene meets the ground cover.

 

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And finally, above is a going-away shot of the end of #4017's train, with caboose #3273 on the rear. It can be clearly seen where the ballasting ends!

 

My intention is to continue ballasting all of this section and then weathering the track to tone it down before returning to work on the scenery.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have not had much time to progress the layout since the last post, although I have done some electrical work (more on this later). Instead, I'll admit that I have been playing trains testing the layout and have discovered the power of the "shunt" function in iTrain; it's absolutely amazing and has taken operations to the next level. There is an excellent series on YouTube that discusses iTrain, so I won't go into detail here, but in brief, I can now bring a train into the return loop, split it (physically uncoupling it and then logically splitting the locomotive off the consist in iTrain), and get iTrain to automatically shunt the train locomotive into a siding and bring its replacement on to the front of the train from another siding with two mouse clicks. Incredible. 

 

The headline news is that I had a delivery of three new models this weekend that have been worked on by SH Modelmaking and, as usual, Simon has done a first class job. The first locomotive to showcase is a Broadway Limited Imports Big Boy #4014. This was an odd model, in it that it came with an oil tender but not in excursion (i.e. as restored in 2019) condition. I therefore decided that I would take the opportunity to create two unique models by swapping the tender with that from Challenger #3942... So, the coal tender from #3942 is now paired with #4014 (and, of course, has been renumbered) to give a coal burning #4014, whilst the oil tender is now on #3942... Of course, it was then necessary to change the identity of the Challenger, which is to become #3705 (one of the oil-burning Challengers still active in 1956) and will join the roster once Simon is happy with the finish following re-numbering. The following photographs show #4014 working an eastbound freight through Dale Junction.

 

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The next model was a chance opportunity to buy (at a very good price!) an Athearn model of a UP gas turbine electric locomotive (GTEL) from a friend who is a volunteer on the FfWHR. It has been fitted with an ESU Loksound 5 decoder and is a very imposing model. However, despite its bulk, it is rather light on its feet and cannot manage to pull a train up the helix. I have therefore taken inspiration from the prototype and paired it with Big Boy #4005 (also an Athearn model). The pair make a fine sight and this is fast becoming a new favourite train. The following photographs show the engines working an eastbound freight formed of heavy 50' box cars.

 

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The last model to be delivered was a Rivarossi 60th Anniversary Big Boy #4014, which has been fitted with an ESU Loksound 5 decoder and speaker. Whilst a fine model to look at (although the number board is not illuminated, which is an annoyance), it is incredibly light and has a poor motor. It is also in as-delivered 1942 condition. I am therefore going to double-head it with another Big Boy, #4002, that is also in as-delivered condition to form a 1940s train (which will not run on Track 3). Depending on how well it runs, I may ask Simon to change the motor and see if any more weight can be added, although I doubt it would be possible to add enough to make it capable of pulling a train on its own without destroying itself. And, of course, there was more double-heading in the 1940s before Track 3 was completed, so prototype inspiration comes to lend a hand again!   I have to fit a lead coupler to #4005 before the pair can make their debut, so I'll publish some photographs in due course.

 

Finally, I mentioned at the start of this post that I had done some electrical work. Having discovered the power of shunt mode in iTrain, and having operated the layout quite extensively now, I have decided that the sidings at the A end of the storage yard will be used exclusively for locomotive storage (i had originally intended to use one siding to hold a short local freight train but I have found no evidence of such trains on Sherman Hill). To that end, I have split the longest siding (#4) into two feedbacks, which allows me to get iTrain to automatically store two locomotives in it...

 

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This capture from the iTrain mimic diagram shows the siding with two feedbacks and two locomotives that have been automatically shunted into it; #4023 is at the lead end and #4017 is behind it. The siding next to it is holding four diesels, headed by GP7ii #105. This simple change has provided a lot of operational flexibility and means that I can have locomotives staged on the layout ready to swap for engines on trains that will shunted off into the cassette system. For anybody who may be interested, it is necessary to have the second feedback so that iTrain is able to distinguish when a second locomotive enters the occupied block.

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18 minutes ago, benjy14 said:

Instead, I'll admit that I have been playing trains testing the layout

 

Never had a layout so can't speak from experience, but from reading about others experiences over the years about the only consensus is whether you call it playing or testing it is wise to do it for an extended period prior to getting too serious about scenery.

 

The combination of making sure the layout works the way you want (in terms of ability to run the trains you want and any switching you want), that there is enough space to move around the layout (particularly if operating with additional people), and that no reliability problems appear with changes in the weather conditions with the season changes means less potential anguish in the future once changes become more costly.

 

 

18 minutes ago, benjy14 said:

The next model was a chance opportunity to buy (at a very good price!) an Athearn model of a UP gas turbine electric locomotive (GTEL)

119.jpg.5b4580f4678474ca97e72960e2254e34.jpg

 

Somewhere I have that exact same loco still in it's box - it's good looking but a lack of weight and hence pulling ability doesn't surprise me given the era it was developed in.

 

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2 minutes ago, mdvle said:

 

Never had a layout so can't speak from experience, but from reading about others experiences over the years about the only consensus is whether you call it playing or testing it is wise to do it for an extended period prior to getting too serious about scenery.

 

The combination of making sure the layout works the way you want (in terms of ability to run the trains you want and any switching you want), that there is enough space to move around the layout (particularly if operating with additional people), and that no reliability problems appear with changes in the weather conditions with the season changes means less potential anguish in the future once changes become more costly.

 

 

 

Somewhere I have that exact same loco still in it's box - it's good looking but a lack of weight and hence pulling ability doesn't surprise me given the era it was developed in.

 

 

It is most certainly the case that you can't test enough!  I also take the view that (unless I have a collosal change of direction), I will be building this layout once, so there is no need to rush. Yes, it is nice seeing the ballast slowly spreading torwards Sherman and I would like to think it (the ballasting, not the layout!) will be completed this side of Christmas... Certainly, once the trains stop running on the FfWHR and the nights draw in, I imagine the pace on the layout will pick up again. But I am also continuously finding out new ways of operating it, tweaking it, and fixing problems, something I imagine will be a never-ending task.

 

As for the GTEL, yes, I concur and I think the Rivarossi Big Boy suffers the same problem. Athearn are actually bringing out a new range of GTELs and I might be tempted to buy one, as they also worked in pairs and it would be nice to see one hauling a train on its own (assuming the weight has been significantly increased).

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

So it's been a little over a month since my last post and there has been progress on the layout, albeit a fair amount of it being rather frustrating...

 

Frustration #1 was derailment problems in both helixes. I've had this before and tried to resolve it with some careful superelevation, but I found that Challenger #3954 and Big Boy #4023 were routinely coming off. I had not used #3954 very much for another reason (more on this later) but I decided I had to tackle it because two difference locomotives having problems would indicate a problem with the track. So, I looked more closely and sure enough, I found two places where there was a nasty "hump" in the transition between two of the quarter-turn sections of MDF from which they are constructed. It was actually quite visible to the eye and using a digital spirit level on my iPhone, I found that on the climbing track, it was going from a near 3% gradient to 1% on a curve... In a way, it's a miracle anything stayed on...(!) Whilst not easy, I was able to rectify this is in both places it happened. In the first, I was able to deconstruct the supports and removed around 5mm from the very bottom support. On the other, both supports were incredibly fortunately placed on cork, so after removing the screw that held them in place (not easy with other about 50mm of clearance but I had a couple of tools for the job), removing the cork lowered them by 4mm. Hey presto, no more nasty humps (or, at least, far less noticable) and strangely enough, the running suddenly improved. Fortunately, there does not seem to be any other places where there is a problem, so hopefully this will lead to much better running and reliability (more in this later as well).

 

Frustation #2 has been with BLI Big Boy #4023, which went back to the US for a warranty repair earlier this year. Whilst most problems with it were solved, it still has a tendency for the front driving wheel of the leading power bogie to derail (this despite the derailing issues with #3954 being cured). I can't face sending it back and have found by trial-and-error that it can make a westbound trip via Track 3 without problem, so worst case is that it will have to be limited to this circuit. It does, however, mean I can recreate one of my favourite prototype photos:

 

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Above shows #4023 swinging off Track 3 at Dale Junction with a westbound manifest freight. For the original photo, you will need to turn to page 87 of "Union Pacific Across Sherman Hill" by George Drury; I do not think I am allowed to reproduce a copy here. I have also purchased from eBay a huge rotary snow plough and as it seems to be alright light engine (i.e. it seems to be the force applied to the locomotive by the train that is a part of the problem), it might well end up pushing the plough around the layout. Whilst probably an unlikely duty for a Big Boy, it's not beyond the bounds of plausibility in the mid-1950s when there were very few classes of steam engine left.

 

Fustration #3 has been problems with #3954 stalling on the pointwork in the storage yard. After some research, it turns out that using Insulfrog points in the storage yard was a mistake... I thought I was saving time by not worrying about changing the frog polarity of Electrofrog points and could have all of the rails live. Unfortunately, the problem is that the RP-25 contour wheels can bridge the gap between the rails at the frog and, of course, on DCC that courses a short. Having looked at a number of solutions (including using nail varnish to paint over the railhead), I have embarked on a programme to install insulated joiners at the frogs of all of the Insulfrog points; this does mean that I am relying on the contact between the switch blade and stock rail to conduct power to the frog, but initial tests are promising and #3954 now glides over the points every time. The side benefit of this work is that it is releasing a lot of metal joiners, which I am going to need construct the storage cassettes (I have a lot of odd lengths of Code 100 track that I can use up).

 

Frustration #4 has been issues with uncoupling. Whilst improving the helixes will undoubtedly help, I have made a really concerted effort to eliminate every single "low quality" coupler and to have Kadee #5 throughout the entire stock. Much to my surprise, I found that I still had a considerable number of cars using cheap-and-nasty couplers, and some on non-Kadee wheelsets. Below is certain to be one of the least interesting photos I've posted but shows the scale of what needed replacing...

 

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If anybody has a genuine use for these, I will gladly put them in the post in return for a small donation to the Welsh Air Ambulance.

 

In conclusion for today, it has been a frustrating few weeks and I have been questioning my sanity at constructing such a large layout, especially with so much "civil engineering" which has never been a strong point of mine. However, I have been here before and I am finding solutions to all of the problems I'm coming across, and as I do, the performance of the layout improves. This process was inevitable with such a large layout, especially as it's the first (and hopefully only) one I'll be building. Indeed, I have not had any uncoupling problems at all recently, and #4023 aside, no derailing problems either. I would like to return to scenery construction soon and push on with the upper level, and now I seem to be getting these reliability issues resolved, the motivation for this is returning... I think a little more running/testing is in order (especially with the prospect of four of my locomotives coming back from SH Modelmaking in a couple of weeks) but I think my target is to have the basic scenery on the upper level completed in time for Christmas.

Edited by benjy14
Corrected typos.
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34 minutes ago, benjy14 said:

. Whilst most problems with it were solved, it still has a tendency for the front driving wheel of the leading power bogie to derail 

Have you checked the back to backs compared to the others? 

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11 hours ago, PaulRhB said:

Have you checked the back to backs compared to the others? 

 

Hi Paul,

 

Yes, I have checked every wheel with an NMRA standards gauge and they are all perfect...

 

Ben

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I wonder if there’s a bit of ‘torque steer’ or flash in the pivot restricting movement then. Frustrating nevertheless and I had something similar on one of my Harz 2-10-2’s I eventually sold on as I couldn’t get it to run smoothly enough for me. 

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8 hours ago, PaulRhB said:

I wonder if there’s a bit of ‘torque steer’ or flash in the pivot restricting movement then. Frustrating nevertheless and I had something similar on one of my Harz 2-10-2’s I eventually sold on as I couldn’t get it to run smoothly enough for me. 

 

Hi Paul,

 

Well, I think this is a case of mea culpa, in so much as I have managed to get #4023 and #3954 running around the entire layout perfectly... I decided to have another look at the remaining places where they were derailing and sure enough, I found another couple of "humps" in the helixes. In one case, I had to take a saw to the lowest supporting uprights to eliminate it (I will fill in the gap with wood filler) and in the other, I was able to move a supporting upright to resolve it (fortunately, it was not fixed in place!). Why it was only these two locomotives that were prone to derailing remains a bit of a mystery, although I have noticed the pilot trucks of both ride up a little on the grade crossing on the upper level, so I will check their back-to-backs as I suspect they must be slightly out. Of course, these changes should improve the overall running of the layout and indeed, this afternoon, the layout ran in fully automatic mode for 45 minutes without a single derailment or uncoupling; with four trains running, that is a combined total of well over 60 scale miles. As you might expect, I am well chuffed with this!

 

The last running issue that I now need to address is the shorting over the point frogs issue. Four packs of insulating joiners arrived this morning, so over the coming week or so, I will contine with the programme to get these installed... #3954 is my go-to engine to test this, because it seems to be much more prone to stalling than any of my other locomotives. However, no more work this weekend because I'm off to drive Blanche at this weekends "Bygones" event on the FfWHR :)

 

Many thanks for your input on this, it is much appreciated.

 

Ben 

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54 minutes ago, benjy14 said:

I'm off to drive Blanche at this weekends "Bygones" event on the FfWHR :)

Have fun, I’m being bombarded with pics on the WessexNG group WhatsApp as a few of them are up there. I’m playing with the FR +2ft 9in stuff 

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Benjy's going to have a surprise in the morning, an orange one with two chimneys.

And if anyone fancies some hellfire Planet action and a really unusual move, Upnor's hauling the early morning slate train.

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On 09/10/2021 at 20:32, Mol_PMB said:

Benjy's going to have a surprise in the morning, an orange one with two chimneys.

And if anyone fancies some hellfire Planet action and a really unusual move, Upnor's hauling the early morning slate train.

 

Yes, it was indeed David Lloyd George on the gorgeous Col. Stephens set, and it was a splendid day out in absolutely glorious Autumnal weather. It was terrific to see the railway at its absolute best with lots of trains and lots of people. Of course, the railway is still operating under Covid restrictions, and there was not the usual number of people in their Victorian finery, but given the restrictions, it's been an incredibly successful year and I think we've been very lucky to be able to continue to enjoy our hobby.

  

126.jpg.9455697a92995e5c8ef013525def5983.jpg

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