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Rock Creek Canyon


MarshLane
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  • RMweb Gold

Evening all,

Another good afternoon working on the end board. The grade is now fixed in place and have started countersinking the screws!  There is the boardwalk for the flyover (where the continuous loop cuts across the staging sidings entrance paintwork) to complete, then the timber work for the upper level tracks along the top of the staging sidings and at that point all the baseboard work is complete and track laying can commence! Hurray!

 

562561034_IMG_2932(1).jpeg.8b6cab46dcbccee65606adc7eae61a06.jpeg

 

Despite how it looks in the picture below, the point where the grade trackbed meets the upper board is flat!

 

410045317_IMG_2931(1).jpeg.56352ecb23149ca6970801acf436ee3f.jpeg

 

1942256967_IMG_2935(1).jpeg.8eee488f011723055aa9e1cc2bf0a619.jpeg

 

Rich

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  • RMweb Gold

Evening all,

Wow amazing how quickly threads drop down the pages these days. I haven't done an update for a couple of weeks, as it was just more timber, timber and timber!  However, I am delighted to say we have reached a major turning point yesterday.

 

Firstly, what's happened recently. Well I have managed to get a little extra time to do things with the recent lockdown, so the track base has been finished.  This concentrated firstly on the overhead bridge section that crosses the throat of the staging sidings.

 

IMG_3058.jpeg.6762e8db888144d4651a4bcf7b1d4295.jpeg

 

And then the upper level supports that run the length of the scenic section, but out of sight from the front, and above the staging sidings.

 

IMG_2948.jpeg.910dd334351c1b2700cd30c7821ec614.jpeg

 

The first track work has also gone down on the layout, one small step as they say!

 

IMG_3059.jpeg.6f28b80d355d3171f856a19d3bcb2bed.jpeg

 

The following day, the two signals for the scenic section arrived.  These have been handbuilt in N gauge by Richard Piccuilla of Custom Signal Systems in the US.  Not the cheapest of items, but defiantly a case of getting what you pay for - they look superb and are no where near as brittle as I feared they may be, despite the cruel closeups. Highly recommended, and no connection other than as a customer.

 

IMG_3038.jpeg.04c33411cb6d176ba31e188eabbfbfcf.jpeg

 

IMG_3039.jpeg.29060d540723ecd26b5305f8ffe49d3c.jpeg

 

IMG_3042.jpeg.fe999cfe4e7a9a29ca4797f25a084a59.jpeg

 

So with the first bit of track work down ... there was only one thing left!  The editor of the local Rock Creek Chronicle writes: "Our area correspondent, Fred Haddock, the local trout fisherman was sat on the local river bank yesterday when an unknown noise grew louder from behind him.  Putting his rod down on the back, he picked up is 8mm cinematography device and started to crank the handle just as a Norfolk Southern diesel locomotive appeared in view - presenting the first rail movement over the new railway.  The footage is shown below, courtesy of the local homing pigeon club."

 

 

Subsequently, BNSF sent an SD40 over the route as well ... and the driver has kindly supplied a photograph from the middle of Rock Creek Bridge.

 

IMG_3070.jpeg.7366cb8db17c2a75d0a1891f79618997.jpeg

 

Hope you enjoy ... I said things would get a bit more interesting now!

 

Rich

 

Edited by MarshLane
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  • RMweb Gold

Thanks Andy,

Much appreciated :)

 

Progress is coming on slowly .. but I always said there was no rush, and this was about getting it as right as possible, and experimenting ... but I am glad the wood work is over and we're onto something fun now!!!  Yes very fortunate to have added a couple of items courtesy of birthday pressies!  Another UP loco has joined the fleet, and the double-stack container set has extended a little!  I'll pop some pics up in the next day or so.

 

Rich

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  • RMweb Gold

I thought I'd better do a quick update to Rock Creek, just so that nobody thought it had been closed or vanished!

 

Didn't get any time over Christmas and New Year on the layout, but have had a couple of afternoons since, the net result is that all the track has now been laid, with the exception of the right hand return loop (which is bigger of the two return loop boards) and the fiddle yard.  The aim is to deal with that return loop next so that at least trains can run.  Initial operations and tests have worked well, although trying to run helper locos on the rear of the train on DC was problematic and involved a big derailment each time. I am hoping that will be a better situation once the locos have been speed profiled and are running on DCC, but we'll have to wait and see.

 

The sighting of the point motor for the one 'on scene' point has been sorted out and we have been able to sort out a method of operation, to allow the motor to be remote from the point, again another job for next time.  At that point, I think work will probably start on the scenics, with track laying on the fiddle yard board taking a back seat for a little white.

 

Hopefully some more pictures with the next update.

 

Rich

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  • RMweb Gold

Well progress has finally been made on Rock Creek Canyon. I have been trying to progress a couple of bits since before Christmas and for one reason or another (illness, family issues, work) it just hasn't happened.  But I did finally get a few hours on Rock Creek yesterday afternoon.

 

To recap, the baseboards are complete, and most of the core track work is down.  The hidden sidings were always going to be a later edition, although the double slip I have been waiting on is now sat in my Hattons Trunk waiting a couple of other bits before being posted out.  Electrics are progressed in part - in that the track feeds are all in, the wiring needs tidying and properly routing and documenting under the baseboards, but it is runable at this point.  Probably another afternoon in the not too distant future will allow the track work to be completed and trains to run in a proper manner.

 

Scenics

So yesterday, work focused on starting the scenic aspect to build up the canyon side.  I tried using chicken wire, but having stabbed myself and drawn blood on three occasions, together with what looked like a constant battle to get it to go where I wanted, I abandoned that plan!  Instead, choosing to recycle several cereal packets for the base framework.  Fortunately I have been saving Kelloggs packets for a few months in case they were needed for this project!

 

IMG_3489.jpeg.f688613c0c8d7c51863e50221cf8720a.jpeg

This kind of scenic work is something I have not done previously, but using cardboard strips with some superb, quick setting craft glue, a base structure has started to form.  The idea is to build the cardboard framework up in layers, to give a gentle but solid slope from the top of the back scene (some 18" high) down to rail level (itself 2" above the river bed).  The framework as seen here does not give the final outline or flow of the canyon side therefore, but should give a rough guide which can then be built on.

 

IMG_3496.jpeg.a3bf1e0dd157d03a0f33cfbe1e159b0f.jpeg

 

More cross pieces of cardboard need to go in to give something for the plaster of Paris bandage pieces to form to.  I have established that it is better to just link two pieces of card, rather than trying to link three and four.  Firstly, it is easier to stick and hold together, secondly it reduces the uniformity of the landscape.  The three taller pieces here giving an idea of how the canyon will dominate the railroad.  At this end of the board, the railway will disappear into a rough tunnel portal, just bare rock as it was originally blasted out is the aim.

 

There is much more to do with the framework, but having not used plaster of Paris bandages before I wanted to have a go and just see what it was like and how it worked.  My rational being that if it went wrong it was easier to rip everything out now, rather than later!  In event, I was quite pleased with how it came out.

 

IMG_3501.jpeg.8dcd5fc27e931c710da472264d52bb52.jpeg

 

This is the section in front of the railway, coming down to the creek.  The bandage is around 10cm wide and a meter long, so it was cut into pieces that are 2-3 inches wide and I think that will prove to be more manageable, than bigger pieces.  Once soaked in water, and applied, I am quite impressed with how solid the structure is.  It was stiff within 20 minutes, but rock (excuse the pun!) solid this morning.

 

IMG_3503.jpeg.7756cc426849c8ee4e88b08d9a3a9b68.jpeg

 

So the plan now is to finish off the cardboard structure before applying any more plaster bandage, and hopefully we should start to gain the basis of a layout.  As the canyon goes across the baseboard join, I have yet to work out how to do that and make it as unobtrusive as possible.  Thoughts, comments and suggestions are welcomed!

 

Rich

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Hi Rich, 

 

The looks impressive, the canyon face really dominates and makes the track look impressively small. 

 

I used a similar method for making a much lower raised section on the background of maid's morton and found I underestimated the space needed to make it look a realistic distance to the rails once all the scenic detailing was added. I have zero experience of how close is realistic for a railway like this and it might be fine, but the second cardboard pillar from the left on the last photo looks like it would be very close to a passing train once a bit of additional texture was added. Only an observation and I might be totally wrong (also hard to judge measurements perfectly from a photo), but I thought it's better to say something now where adjustments can be done relatively easily. 

 

All the best,

Dave

 

 

 

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  • RMweb Gold

@DavidMcKenzie Thanks for the comments, apologies ive only just seen your comment. The aim is certainly for the backdrop to dominate, which I think it will do quiet well. Valid thoughts on the spacing, everything is well clear of the trains tho. 
 

Progress was delayed after I thought I’d trapped a nerve in my back 9 days ago, a deterioration last Monday, along with an inability to breath resulted in a 999 call, and subsequent discovery that it was a badly pulled muscle. It is well on the mend now, but has delayed progress somewhat!
 

Just before all this, I did manage to get a bit more of the cardboard structure fixed in place, which I am hoping I can continue with this week, before a big plastering day.

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Hi Rich,

 

I hope you are on the mend and you back is improving at least. A big plastering day sometime in the future sounds good, something to look forward to once the back allows. 

 

All the best,

Dave

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On 23/05/2021 at 01:26, MarshLane said:

@DavidMcKenzie Thanks for the comments, apologies ive only just seen your comment. The aim is certainly for the backdrop to dominate, which I think it will do quiet well. Valid thoughts on the spacing, everything is well clear of the trains tho. 
 

Progress was delayed after I thought I’d trapped a nerve in my back 9 days ago, a deterioration last Monday, along with an inability to breath resulted in a 999 call, and subsequent discovery that it was a badly pulled muscle. It is well on the mend now, but has delayed progress somewhat!
 

Just before all this, I did manage to get a bit more of the cardboard structure fixed in place, which I am hoping I can continue with this week, before a big plastering day.

WOW, Rich, Sorry to read of your woes mate, don't go over doing things, although its good to see progress.

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  • RMweb Gold

Thanks guys,

I am a week down the road now and the back muscle is just about back to normal, being careful but not shouting ‘ouch’!

 

Had a couple of yours this afternoon increasing the cardboard framework. Never used this system before so I am going to plaster it with bandage tomorrow and see how it comes out, before doing too much more ... still bit more progress!

 

IMG_3540.jpeg.cfd0df6f912e5d31116820d54f64f321.jpeg


Looks messy at the moment, but there is a method here of building up layers to support the plaster.

 

IMG_3537.jpeg.a652e3fc8aa3062f53d60b1bab7d5c19.jpeg

 

Rich

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Evening all,

Well a couple of hours getting plastered :o .. sorry, I mean plastering the canyon .. was undertaken this afternoon, and have to say, I am rather pleased with the results, so far.  All work is only on the left hand board at the moment, the right hand is more tricky, containing the Rock River and wanting that to curve out of sight, so that the backboard is not actually visible - but I have a plan, as they say.

 

IMG_3552.jpeg.73640d65ad87dd1cdf5e51a43ce00b41.jpeg

 

IMG_3543.jpeg.e8c18cdcf07ce0796e58d528ec78f4a5.jpeg

 

IMG_3571.JPG.065f62839272a5382f80a32c5a431b58.JPG

 

Remarkably impressed with how sturdy it is now its dry, with just one layer of plaster bandage.  Another layer to go on at some point.  The cove visible in the last picture, will form part of a water outlet draining from the other side of the line, hopefully giving the option for a waterfall feature.

 

I think @DavidMcKenzie mentioned about the track looked a bit close to the rock formation in an earlier post ... so fortunately the Google Earth satellite was over this afternoon too :)

 

IMG_3564.JPG.3d2de67f14468e11f1ed862a11cc766e.JPG

 

Rich

 

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  • RMweb Gold

Evening all,

A very frustrating afternoon today. I'd been able to put the day aside to work on Rock Creek. Had a good couple of hours this morning sorting the wiring out (forgot to take some pics tho, so will post those tomorrow) which is now all neat and tidy under the boards.

 

After lunch, put the whole layout up, with the intention of laying the last of the track on the upper level, only to find that something has happened to the opposite end board where the double track was already laid, and that the end pieces against the edge of the board have been damaged.  I was afraid of this and will have to look for a better way of securing the track work.  Its been regaled and screwed for the time being (its off the scenic section, so quite happy with small screws in).  Then turned to some of the track work on the opposite end board, and what should really have been an afternoon's job at most to get it laid, turned into mammoth effort!

 

Some track has gone down, and the point for the top level return loop is in, but the mojo took a bit of a battering with the damage and endless problems to get the new track work to line up right.  Just one of those days when the best thing to do is to pack it in and come back another day!  One evening this week will be decoder fitting night!  I have about eight decoders sat here since mid-December waiting to go into the locos.

 

Hope everyone is having a better evening!

 

Rich

 

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Hi Rich, 

 

Sorry to hear you've had a challenging modelling session. Days like this are just the little set backs that will make the result you get to at the end feel like an even bigger achievement and something to be proud of. If it's any consolation you are not alone I (and I am sure plenty of others) have days like this as well. 

 

Have a good weekend. 

 

All the best,

Dave

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On 26/05/2021 at 20:58, MarshLane said:

Thanks guys,

I am a week down the road now and the back muscle is just about back to normal, being careful but not shouting ‘ouch’!

 

Had a couple of yours this afternoon increasing the cardboard framework. Never used this system before so I am going to plaster it with bandage tomorrow and see how it comes out, before doing too much more ... still bit more progress!

 

IMG_3540.jpeg.cfd0df6f912e5d31116820d54f64f321.jpeg


Looks messy at the moment, but there is a method here of building up layers to support the plaster.

 

IMG_3537.jpeg.a652e3fc8aa3062f53d60b1bab7d5c19.jpeg

 

Rich

Your plastic formers look like they have come from the same sheets that I acquired about 15 years ago when a Supermarket was changing some signs. I still have some bits left, and it has been used for everything from formers to Platform tops, and much in between. 

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1 hour ago, Andrew P said:

Your plastic formers look like they have come from the same sheets that I acquired about 15 years ago when a Supermarket was changing some signs. I still have some bits left, and it has been used for everything from formers to Platform tops, and much in between. 

 

Haha! Well they are an own-brand cereal product of a certain supermarket, whose motto really is true .. 'every little helps!'.  In this case, the family have suggested renaming Rock Creek Canyon to the Coco Canyon, on account of the hillside being created from CocoPops boxes!! :nono:

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  • RMweb Gold
Posted (edited)

Evening all,

Well in preparation for being able to run some trains, I though I had better get some decoders fitted.  Unfortunately, cue another frustrating session!

 

IMG_3680.jpeg.c43976e151ffc7da82a85ad24a8acf3b.jpeg

 

I'll not bore you with the details, (the diatribe is here in DCC Help if you want to read it - N Gauge DCC Decoder problems), but in a nutshell, fitted three decoders, all Digitrax to two Kato and one Fox Valley Model, and nothing worked after fitting them.  The lights illuminated but no driver home, as the b****y things wouldn't move or respond, cannot even programme them.  Evening ended by replacing a Digitrax board with a TCS and bingo everything worked fine first time, so I have some Digitrax decoders that need further investigation!

 

That aside the American manufactures and DCC companies really have got their act together, replacement drop in Printed Circuit Boards for lighting, power and DCC are a doddle to install, as you can see from this image:

 

IMG_3688.jpeg.16d810d3cef8260892fe735117d7963a.jpeg

 

Decoder (a Digitrax in this instance) at the top, and the original DC Kato board on the bottom, just slide the board out, slide the new decoder in, and (In theory!) bingo!  Including getting the body off and back on, its a three minute job, although admittedly these are motor only decoders with no sound, so somewhat simpler.

 

The Fox Valley Models ones are even easier, dont have to take the body off, just pop the radiator roof off, pull a small DC blanking board out, push in a DZ126IN decoder (which is 9mm x 10mm - so dont sneeze!) and reattach the roof.  It really is far simpler than the British manufacturers make things.

 

So end result, not as much progress as I'd hoped, only one loco chipped, readdressed and working, but at least I have narrowed down where the problem with these decoders is, I was worried it might be my Digitrax DCC System, but that looks fine.  A few phone calls to make tomorrow to see if we can identify what the issue is.  

 

Hope everyone is keeping safe and well.

 

Rich

Edited by MarshLane
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  • RMweb Gold

Just a quick update, as anyone who has followed the linked 'DCC' thread will already know, Nigel Cliffe of this parish advised getting a Sprog device to sort out the problems using Decoder Pro.  Duly arrived this morning and I have had chance to have a play and look tonight.  Most of the problems I ran into last week have now been solved.  All bar one of the decoders is working fine, and all have been programmed to the correct address :) Hurray!

 

So nine programmed, just another five to go, and everything is 'DCC' compliant - first time ever I could say that with a layout!  Next task will be speed profiling them, but I cannot really do that until the continual loop is up and running, maybe later this week.  Some good progress tonight tho, and rmWebbers offering support and practical help at its best! 

 

Rich

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  • RMweb Gold

Wow, where has two months gone! Work has been challenging and manic the past couple of months, plus there was an 'incident' (see below) which has resulted in a little progress on the layout.  I have moved the scenic work on a little bit, but that brought further problems.  The two scenic boards not that heavy, but certainly not lightweight - they were made to be solid and not to have any issues with warping etc, which in all fairness they have achieved well, but as a result, it is advisable to have two people to lift them.

 

Trials & Tribulations

Back in early July, having lifted both boards onto the tressles myself (there was nobody else at home that day) I did some work on the scenics, before lifting them off again (again on my own) at the end of the afternoon in order to clear up.  The following day I thought I may have trapped a nerve in my back, a little painful but thought nothing of it, but the following morning it seemed a little worse, and things deteriorated rapidly. By mid-day I was in so much piercing severe pain across my back, getting anything more than half a breath was difficult and at one point I was seriously beginning to think I was in trouble.  Thankfully somebody else was home and a 999 call resulted in Ambulance at the house in just six minutes.  About 30 minutes later, the paramedics (who are angels in green overalls and were wonderful) had me able to breath somewhat easier, and the afternoon was spent in hospital.  I emerged that evening, able to breath once more and with painkillers so strong you shouldn't look at machinery, let alone drive it!  The whole incident was diagnosed as a very bad pulled muscle in my back.

 

My only conclusion that could have caused this was the lifting of the boards on and off the trestles a couple of days earlier.  The whole reason for relaying this saga is therefore that I have had to take a long hard look at where I am going with this project.  Despite being asthmatic and having experience of breathing difficulties I can honestly say I have never been so scared in my life, and certainly don't want a repeat of that - however I also do not want to stop the layout, I am enjoying the work on it too much (well when I have time to!), and have built up quite a reasonable American N gauge collection that I want to enjoy and run - especially as I have recently extended the coal set by another eight wagons!

 

Moving Forward

Therefore, I have decided that I am going to return to square one, start with new smaller, lightweight, laser cut baseboards - that will also be easier to store and handle.  The downside of smaller boards is that there is more of them and consequently more rail joins but I think I have a way to manage that.  The same 'Rock River' canyon scenario will continue, although the change in baseboards, will allow me to develop the hidden sidings into a small yard - still performing the same function in reality - but making more of the layout scenic.  I will continue to post updates as I go, but a lot of the forthcoming work is going to be CAD design to create the new baseboard plans, and I suspect that may well be of little interest to people, so I'll probably do an update when there is something to show (ie when the laser cut wood arrives!).

 

I am going to use the rebuild as an opportunity to replan the electrics - an increase in the number of points for the yard, means its now sensible to use the MERG CBUS system for control, and I have also decided to move the trackwork throughout over the MicroEngineering Code 40 rail (instead of Peco Code 80) and handbuild the pointwork.  So in a nutshell, a good move following a bad experience, chance to build on the knowledge learnt from this project so far, and hopefully emerge with something far better in the process.

 

Rich

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Hi Rich,

 

Sorry to hear about your bad experience, but hopefully you are doing better now and you'll enjoy starting a fresh with all the learnings from the previous effort. I can recommend the code 40 track, I think you will notice a difference!

 

All the best,

Dave 

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Thanks David,

Its a shame as I was really pleased with how things were coming along, but looking at the plans in Templot for the new layout, it will be far better, lot more movement and action and two scenes - with the scenic canyon down one side and the yard along the other, totally separated by a backdrop.  So overall, can only view it as a good thing!

 

Thanks for the comments on the Code 40.  You have echoed my thoughts. Not as quick with the track laying as Peco, but given the significantly higher number of points on the new one, it will be far cheaper!

 

Rich

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On 23/08/2021 at 16:24, MarshLane said:

Wow, where has two months gone! Work has been challenging and manic the past couple of months, plus there was an 'incident' (see below) which has resulted in a little progress on the layout.  I have moved the scenic work on a little bit, but that brought further problems.  The two scenic boards not that heavy, but certainly not lightweight - they were made to be solid and not to have any issues with warping etc, which in all fairness they have achieved well, but as a result, it is advisable to have two people to lift them.

 

Trials & Tribulations

Back in early July, having lifted both boards onto the tressles myself (there was nobody else at home that day) I did some work on the scenics, before lifting them off again (again on my own) at the end of the afternoon in order to clear up.  The following day I thought I may have trapped a nerve in my back, a little painful but thought nothing of it, but the following morning it seemed a little worse, and things deteriorated rapidly. By mid-day I was in so much piercing severe pain across my back, getting anything more than half a breath was difficult and at one point I was seriously beginning to think I was in trouble.  Thankfully somebody else was home and a 999 call resulted in Ambulance at the house in just six minutes.  About 30 minutes later, the paramedics (who are angels in green overalls and were wonderful) had me able to breath somewhat easier, and the afternoon was spent in hospital.  I emerged that evening, able to breath once more and with painkillers so strong you shouldn't look at machinery, let alone drive it!  The whole incident was diagnosed as a very bad pulled muscle in my back.

 

My only conclusion that could have caused this was the lifting of the boards on and off the trestles a couple of days earlier.  The whole reason for relaying this saga is therefore that I have had to take a long hard look at where I am going with this project.  Despite being asthmatic and having experience of breathing difficulties I can honestly say I have never been so scared in my life, and certainly don't want a repeat of that - however I also do not want to stop the layout, I am enjoying the work on it too much (well when I have time to!), and have built up quite a reasonable American N gauge collection that I want to enjoy and run - especially as I have recently extended the coal set by another eight wagons!

 

Moving Forward

Therefore, I have decided that I am going to return to square one, start with new smaller, lightweight, laser cut baseboards - that will also be easier to store and handle.  The downside of smaller boards is that there is more of them and consequently more rail joins but I think I have a way to manage that.  The same 'Rock River' canyon scenario will continue, although the change in baseboards, will allow me to develop the hidden sidings into a small yard - still performing the same function in reality - but making more of the layout scenic.  I will continue to post updates as I go, but a lot of the forthcoming work is going to be CAD design to create the new baseboard plans, and I suspect that may well be of little interest to people, so I'll probably do an update when there is something to show (ie when the laser cut wood arrives!).

 

I am going to use the rebuild as an opportunity to replan the electrics - an increase in the number of points for the yard, means its now sensible to use the MERG CBUS system for control, and I have also decided to move the trackwork throughout over the MicroEngineering Code 40 rail (instead of Peco Code 80) and handbuild the pointwork.  So in a nutshell, a good move following a bad experience, chance to build on the knowledge learnt from this project so far, and hopefully emerge with something far better in the process.

 

Rich

Crickey Rich, I didn't realise when we spoke on the phone the other week that you had been so bad.

 

Glad to hear your on the mend now, and yes smaller lighter  boards must be your way forward. 

Good luck with the new adventure mate.:good:

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6 hours ago, Andrew P said:

Crickey Rich, I didn't realise when we spoke on the phone the other week that you had been so bad.

 

Glad to hear your on the mend now, and yes smaller lighter  boards must be your way forward. 

Good luck with the new adventure mate.:good:

Thanks Andy,

I am looking forward and taking inspiration from a chap on here building a layout called Bute Road :)Fair bit of 'modern day' railway modelling ahead on the computer to get the boards right first, before laser cutting, then the good stuff starts!

Rich

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