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Operational Interest & Slow Speed reliability in a Boxfile - on a budget


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  • RMweb Gold

I like the idea of the three boxfiles. It's amazing how can can produce such a nice layout in these files, as many have modelled in the past.

Your Peckett loco is very nice but one will never be enough. LCut do produce some very nice laser cut kits at affordable prices.

Looking forward to seeing more progress of your layout.

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  • RMweb Gold
15 minutes ago, Wrenn said:

 

Your Peckett loco is very nice but one will never be enough. 


Tell me about it Kevin. I’ve already got my eye on this little beauty due out in the autumn! :D
 

2194D3BE-8215-4051-B472-7680A8B4C464.jpeg.c7e6608b77d7b2ee68e0d31a2a5f7b7e.jpeg

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  • RMweb Gold

Things are moving, albeit slowly. 

 

3mm foamboard has been stuck down as a base, using Gorilla wood glue which seems to have had no ill effect so far on the foamboard. 

 

For point operation, I decided on using thin fencing wire and a variation on the 'wire in tube' method. I wanted to be able to switch the points unseen from the back, but also still retain manual operation for when I'm playing with  operating the layout from the front.

 

Almost everyone in the Hebrides has some fencing wire offcuts, so I snaffled the thinnest my friends had to spare. Even though I couldn't straighten it perfectly, it works OK. 

 

First off, I marked out the track plan and where the channels would go for the point operation wire: 

 

IMG_9578.jpeg.262749e373e545d821ed13ed42347400.jpeg

 

I then gouged out the foam board and made the hole at the back of the Boxfile with a bradawl, The wire was laid into the new 'duct' and the end bent with pliers to operate the point blade: 

 

IMG_9579.jpeg.c344883ab18a3d3c077d1b4ce2af1a81.jpeg

 

A thin strip of paper was laid over the wire and masking tape used to cap it off: 

 

IMG_9583.jpeg.a318f6eaa93aaa9e8b2b61d481ac0f7a.jpeg

 

As the layout is nearly all track and little scenery, the appearance of the track is vital. 

 

I'm a huge advocate for using affordable paints and mixing/adapting colours, so I tried these two for the rail edges.  Straight out of the pot I tried 'Bogota' (dark brown) from a match pot from B&Q, and 'Burnt Umber' from The Works, a 200ml tube of which is only £2 and it's excellent paint: 

 

IMG_0144.jpeg.342fca64fa704834ae45648aa66b1d1a.jpeg

 

The Bogota is on the nearest rail, the Burnt Umber on the furthest rail. In the sun they're showing a little lighter than they do normally. 

 

Having studied many images (primarily Kyle of Lochalsh in the early 70s) I feel that the Bogota, the darker brown, is more suitable to a clinker-ballasted yard of the 60s. The Burnt Umber would look good if it were a modern image layout with cleaner track. 

 

Being Setrack, I can now enjoy the luxury of painting the rails before I lay the track. The sleepers I'll leave dark brown as they are, and titivate with powders and washes when in place.  Once painted I'll glue it into place with Copydex. 

 

Thanks for reading as always. 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 03/02/2021 at 20:27, Andrew D said:

But before THAT I will be having a crack at building a slow speed controller, thanks to the inimitable @JimRead and his selfless generosity in sharing his knowledge.

Like you Andrew, I am grateful to Jim for sharing his controller design, and I can certainly vouch for it's superb control. I'm very much liking the way this layout is developing.

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Hi Andrew, just been looking through your thread. It all seems to be going well, I like the plan and I'm sure you'll have fun with your pecket, they are great runners and yes they are addictive! I started with one and ended up with 2 plus an   0-6-0 peckett as well. Be warned once the industrial bug bites! I have a couple of tiny  Rustons and an the new Hornby one on order too at least building small layouts gives me a place to run them!

Look forward to seeing some updates.  

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  • RMweb Gold
5 hours ago, Booking Hall said:

Like you Andrew, I am grateful to Jim for sharing his controller design, and I can certainly vouch for it's superb control. I'm very much liking the way this layout is developing.

 

Cheers Paul. I am totally clueless about how to do it so a friend is assisting me remotely and I’m learning Electronics Basics from a guy on YouTube. The order from Cricklewood Electronics has arrived and Version 1 will be built in a Tupperware. Once I’ve made that, I’ll go on to make a bespoke control panel incorporating both the controller and the isolating switches.  I would love to have made it a simple 2-wire operation, but it seems that for all their popularity, Peco points have a huge failure rate as soon as there is a bit of ballast down. 

 

I’ve promised Jim that I’ll make a video about my efforts for his channel so I can in some way ‘pay him back’ for his kind generosity by helping promote the cause! 

 

I’ve taken so much inspiration for this build from Brierley Canal Road as you know - thank you so much! I’ll be updating the thread in a couple of days. 

 

4 hours ago, sb67 said:

Hi Andrew, just been looking through your thread. It all seems to be going well, I like the plan and I'm sure you'll have fun with your pecket, they are great runners and yes they are addictive! I started with one and ended up with 2 plus an   0-6-0 peckett as well. Be warned once the industrial bug bites! I have a couple of tiny  Rustons and an the new Hornby one on order too at least building small layouts gives me a place to run them!

Look forward to seeing some updates.  

 

Thanks Steve! I’ve been working away and hope to do an update on here tomorrow. Sadly it looks like Bear’s delivery date has slipped AGAIN and is now mid to late summer - the new Ruston might even be out beforehand. Maybe if Hornby concentrated on delivering on their own promises rather than pouring their energy into doing the dirty on anyone who tries to plug long-standing gaps in the market, then the world might be a better place. :banghead: 

 

Right now I’m trying to resist a Bachmann Class 04 and a Dapol Bubblecar... where will it all end? :D

 

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  • RMweb Gold

Hi folks, some good progress has been made despite having work this week - always a bonus when you’re freelance. I sometimes envy people with Significant Others/Parents who can take care of stuff like the domestic chores and cooking, freeing up more modelling time which us solo people have to sacrifice to take care of ourselves. However, on the other side of the coin, there has been nobody nagging me to clear off the kitchen table over the past few weeks! :yahoo_mini:

 

Last weekend I had the most enjoyable evening painting the sides of the rails with the Bogotá paint (as mentioned in a post above) with a bit of black acrylic paint mixed in here and there to give a ‘non-uniform’ look, all the while with YouTube on and Richard from New Junction and Tris from OO Neil keeping me company. I was really pleased with the resulting colour, and it was nice to interact with Richard’s Live and listen to Tris chatting about model railways as I worked. 

 

 

Once painted, I planned the wiring diagram including where the isolating gaps would be, and soldered droppers to the track or fishplates accordingly. Learning from previous experience, I added some ‘just in case feeds’ that would only be pressed into action in the event of the point blades failing to ensure continuity. 

 

A8F270A1-3501-4068-82CA-9584107488DD.jpeg.2228d42f3576d1516278c9c99925253f.jpeg

 

 

 

Like the point operating cable, the wires were embedded into channels gouged out of the 3mm foam board. 

 

C52F2595-6480-46AC-8046-DC34A8C2C7BB.jpeg.aad0aa947e0170dcd8dfe75ce1597e55.jpeg

 

I then stuck the track down using Copydex, sprinkling ballast (sieved grit) on the areas where the points are after they were down, although this turned out to be a pretty pointless exercise as they still need ‘proper’ ballasting in due course. 

 

However, despite having kept all paint and ballast well away from where the point blades hit the main rails, the points STILL lost a lot of conductivity. I do wish manufacturers could sometimes focus on the basics (points that work even when ballasted) before pressing ahead with flashy new products. 

 

Rant over. 

 

Moving on to the Fiddle Box, this is where I was inclined to rename the layout ‘Much Fettling’ as I worked on the areas where the tacks join between boxes. In the absence of copper clad sleepers, I bodged engineered a solution using coffee stirrers and some copper sheet I’d bought from Eileen’s Emporium. 

 

As explained before, the traverser would be little more than a piece of foam board sandwiched between two fixed pieces of foam board, held in place with friction. The Fiddle Box is also deigned to be used either way around - open to the front or open to the rear. This meant that once it was all sorted one way, I turned it around and laid the final two spurs to link up with both the traverser plate and the ends of the rails in Box 1&2. 

 

After much fettling it all works, and while not the neatest job (my pretend Remmel drill cuts a wider slit in the track than I anticipated) it all works. I’ve done quite a bit of playing since. Excuse the wiring (much of this is temporary) - here’s where we are at the moment: 

 

E7BF268A-D796-4B58-B156-E9FC89587165.jpeg.61939b538139e83ca768da2c23b151ad.jpeg

 

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In the above shot, the two spurs to the RHS of the Fiddle Box are still dead - they will need feeds like I have on the LHS. I can’t think of a better way of powering the traverser other than the loose wires as shown. The plan is to build a built-in controller on the front fold-down flap of the Fiddle Box. 

 

Trackwork wise, I am aiming to build the track (cardboard sleepers & superglue) for the tiny section off the LHS of the layout that goes through the factory gates onto a fiddle stick. This will be concealed by paving or ash. 

 

But the next most important job is to now tidy up the kitchen and find a home for all these new bits that seem to appear with a new layout! 

 

After that I will be getting on with building the controller, building the L-Cut engine shed, and breaking the Airbrush out of its box where it has sat brand new and unused for about a year! It’s only the cheapest off Amazon with a small compressor, but it’ll be a good start, and I am hoping to use it to weather some stock and then weather the ballast when it’s done. I just need to bite the bullet and try it out.

 

The parts have arrived for the controller (following Jim Read’s diagram) but I’m still following an EXCELLENT YouTube tutorial series by a channel called CodeNMore called ‘Beginner Electronics.’ I highly recommend that for anyone as clueless as me. 

 

So all in all this little layout has so far given me A LOT of fun and satisfaction, with the promise of much more to come. 

 

Thanks as always for reading. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Andrew D said:

while not the neatest job

 

It looks perfectly tidy to me! That traverser is a very smart idea, which opens plenty of options. My only concern is it's a bit short; I would have given as much length as possible to the tray instead of the lead-in tracks. But if it's only for running locos around it will be plenty.

 

Regarding point blades, I've simply wired everything together on Arrow Paints to negate the dodgy contacts on my second-hand points - although I have the advantage there's only space for one loco on the layout, so no need for isolating.

And as for the bits - it's just inevitable. I gave up and bought a cheap toolbox from wilko, very handy for lobbing things in!

 

Anyway, I'm enjoying watching your progress on this layout, it's very promising - I look forward to what's to come!

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  • RMweb Gold
1 minute ago, TechnicArrow said:

 

It looks perfectly tidy to me! That traverser is a very smart idea, which opens plenty of options. My only concern is it's a bit short; I would have given as much length as possible to the tray instead of the lead-in tracks. But if it's only for running locos around it will be plenty.

 

Thank you! There is a method in my madness. The idea is to allow a run-around of a single bogie carriage, but this can only be done when it’s set up to operate from the front (which I am sure will be 99.9% of the time). If hell freezes over and the finished result is worth exhibiting, then the fiddle box goes the other way around and there will only be room for a couple of vans. The traverser is just long enough to take a small Bo-Bo diesel. 

 

I’m aiming for two loco operation with the shunter pottering about as ‘mainline’ locos (mostly still 0-4-0) bring the trains in, hence the additional wiring. 

 

I’m astounded how much pleasure (and skill acquisition) you can get from these tiny layouts. And even with the tiny size, I’m so excited about all the things I want to do I think I’d be hugely overwhelmed if it were much bigger. 

 

Cheers! :good:

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  • RMweb Gold
1 minute ago, andyram said:

I have just found this thread and have found it very interesting. I look forward to following further progress.

Thanks Andy! Glad my novice level bumbling along is proving interesting. :good:

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2 hours ago, Andrew D said:

Thanks Andy! Glad my novice level bumbling along is proving interesting. :good:


I like looking at all small layouts. Most of my layouts start off on a 4ft x 1ft baseboard.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • RMweb Gold

Time for a wee update. 

 

Over the past couple of weeks I have been spending what little spare time I have educating myself in the world of  electronics so that I might make Jim Read’s slow speed controller. 

 

Having ZERO knowledge of electronics two weeks ago, I have since managed to cobble together this Mark 1 Prototype - DON’T LAUGH!!!!! 

 

3C731560-675D-4586-8FE0-DFC9AAC18211.jpeg.b6a1724cfa56dee11d69989e3c38c8e7.jpeg

 

Yes, I know it looks like something done on the Generation Game. 

 

Imagine my joy when I first tried it and IT WORKED!!!! 

 

However, my modern locos don’t run very well at low speeds, whereas they do on the Gaugemaster Combi. The pre-historic Mainline J27, however, runs amazingly well at slow speeds on this controller, but isn’t so good with the Combi. 

 

Under the counsel of a friend who is an electrical engineer I did some troubleshooting, and it appears that the Bridge Rectifier I made from the 4 diodes is leaking a lot of AC through to the track, which doesn’t bother the old Mainline loco but upsets the more modern Hornby types. This controller cannot work with coreless motors which Jim makes very clear. 

 

Now I’ve established it works, I will set about deconstructing and remaking it, starting by attaching the thyristor and its heat sink (as they are the largest components) then working outwards from there, trimming down all the other components. I’ll be getting a pre-assembled Bridge Rectifier with built-in capacitor for the next incarnation of the controller, and of course an enclosure. 

 

I still can’t quite believe I did it, and here I am using vocabulary that I didn’t even know existed two weeks ago. 

 

Isn’t this just the best hobby? With the kindest and most helpful people ready to lend a hand whenever needed? 

 

Cheers for now. 

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On 01/03/2021 at 19:31, Andrew D said:

Under the counsel of a friend who is an electrical engineer I did some troubleshooting, and it appears that the Bridge Rectifier I made from the 4 diodes is leaking a lot of AC through to the track, which doesn’t bother the old Mainline loco but upsets the more modern Hornby types.

 

Firstly I'm very impressed and encouraged to try...

 

Secondly why is it leaking AC through to the track, is it intrinsic to the design or what? I'm mostly useless with electricity so please keep it simple! 

 

Thanks for the inspiration to try, in awe... 

Ralf

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  • RMweb Gold
7 hours ago, Ralf said:

 

Firstly I'm very impressed and encouraged to try...

 

Secondly why is it leaking AC through to the track, is it intrinsic to the design or what? I'm mostly useless with electricity so please keep it simple! 

 

Thanks for the inspiration to try, in awe... 

Ralf


Thanks Ralf. I was inspired by fellow RM-Webber Jim Read who produces a PDF which he kindly sends FOC on request. Check out the page on his blog: https://ogaugemicro.blogspot.com/p/the-jonathan-scott-mk3-controller.html.   My electronics engineer friend suggested that the diodes are not doing their job properly which is why I have a bridge rectifier with integral capacitor on order from Ebay, but it’s taking its time to get here. 

Meanwhile I’ve just caught @mikesndbs’s excellent video on YouTube (Model Railways Unlimited) where he builds a feedback controller using a different method, and his circuit does appear simpler. I also like the way Mike has used vero board as opposed to the plain matrix board that I have used,  which means you can make it smaller and neater. 
 

If you’re tempted to have a go, I’d recommend watching CodeNMore’s Beginner Electronics series on YouTube and Mike’s 3-part series on building a controller. I’ve just set up my own YouTube channel for my model railway endeavours and it’s my intention to make a video about building a controller for people like me with zero knowledge of electronics and don’t know one end of a diode from the other. That’s a few weeks away yet as I obviously want to get something that performs flawlessly first. 
 

In his build on YouTube, Mike appeared to have a similar problem to me to start with, but being a clever stick he worked out it was (I think) wiring the transistor the wrong way round or something like that, so I’ll be checking mine over again later today.
 

Like I’ve mentioned, I knew diddly squat about electronics 4 weeks ago. So I’m really excited to keep plugging away with Jim’s design and also have a go at building Mike’s design and seeing which one works best for me. 
 

I’ll be updating the thread soon, but despite spending many hours working on the layout progress is glacial. However, I am having a lot of fun doing it, I’m learning heaps, and I’m so pleased I’m doing this before attempting anything ‘decent’. 
 

Cheers! :good:

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  • RMweb Gold
Posted (edited)

 

 

There now follows a statement from the Ministry of the Blindingly Obvious: 

 

“If you wish to build a small layout where smooth and interesting running is key, a box file IS ABSOLUTELY NOT the the thing to use.” 

 

 

As you can tell, it’s been a trying week. I have on occasion considered giving up and taking another approach, but I have decided to press on and work at some ‘work-arounds.’  

 

Like fellow RM-Webber @kevo I found I had real trouble with the connection between the boxes, because they do warp ever so slightly. When testing my controllers I found that the carefully constructed joins looked like this: 

 

 

723D2E29-6659-4277-8FA6-9379C17C479C.jpeg.ec6f66599b3336b62e86b2033c396d63.jpeg

 

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E20DE8D3-C84A-475A-B0EA-076274153E9E.jpeg.2590b0c2811cbd7660471ebe24a80166.jpeg

 

Not good. I decided something needed to be done, so I ripped out the connections and have spent the weekend replacing them with ‘bridge’ pieces of track. These will eventually sit on Plasticard or something like that when I ballast, so hopefully when they are slotted into place you won’t see much of a ‘join.’ The upside is that as they use fishplates, the wiring is simpler: 

 

45392AD7-F5BD-4BAA-A5E6-00E5DD38E6EB.jpeg.d5fff79305d2237d66de217465d44d85.jpeg

 

DCAB8D01-C346-4031-A09B-867CECFF0513.jpeg.fab22f0bdd1520424d24173e9cc86f6d.jpeg

 

 

However, this has not addressed the issue of poor running with certain locos because the track isn’t dead flat. It’s the same over certain points - some locos stall over one, some over another... 

 

It was at this point I thought about packing it all in, but I have decided on just trying to work around it. 

 

First off, the star performer is my Heljan Class 26 which is as smooth as silk, but it’s a little too big for frequent use. Next best performer is my ancient Mainline J72 with its split chassis. No hesitation whatsoever! Like all Mainline locos it is growly, but with the Prototype version of my home made controller it also runs beautifully. 

 

The Hornby 0-4-0s are the problem, and I have 3 steam and a diesel. 

 

It was always my intention to build a pick-up tender for my two Caley Pugs. I bought a scrappy 3 plank wagon off Ebay for that very purpose. But of course, that doubles the space taken up by the loco, and space is tight. 

 

However, trials with the tender-to-be and the 4 wheeled coach chassis (the bodies are off for repainting) shows that yes, I can fit a Caley Pug + tender + coach + brake in the station area and still operate the points so I can propel the stock back to the ‘passing loop’ then run the loco + tender round using the traverser: 

 

DE1DF264-E0AA-4049-B476-4FE2A71D0983.jpeg.8e664b5c06532d6585bf8631f8853526.jpeg

 

So it’s all workable. Not ideal, but worth progressing. 

 

The Hornby Railroad Bagnall diesel will be unusable on this layout, but I hope to snag a Mainline class 03 in excellent condition when one comes up on Ebay. 

 

There is just one elephant in the room. This boxfile was meant to be a setting for a Hornby Peckett. I now don’t believe it’s going to serve its purpose because I don’t want to whack a tender behind a Peckett, and being 0-4-0 it will stall. But it is teaching me HEAPS! And I’m liking the theme of ‘slow speed on a budget.’ 

 

Finally, here is a wee video showing the Prototype of the home-made controller in action. You’ll see that the modern Hornby motor struggles compared to the Gaugemaster Combi, but the Superstar Mainline J72 loves it! That J72 was the best £15 I ever spent. 

 

 

I’m waiting for a new Bridge Rectifier to see if that helps when I get to fitting it. 

 

Plenty to be getting on with. I had no idea that such a tiny layout could be so involved. 

 

Thanks for reading. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Andrew D
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I can sympathise on your boxfile problems. One I made warped slightly but as I was only using 1 file and a 'fiddle stick' which I soldered stiff wire to the outside rail edges, I could then slide the fiddle stick on to any track so I got away with it being un level.

Have you checked out the baseboard kits that are available? I'd like to re make my scalscenes boxfile using one some day. 

Edited by sb67
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  • RMweb Gold
3 minutes ago, sb67 said:

 

Have you checked out the baseboard kits that are available? I'd like to re make my scalscenes boxfile using one some day. 

 

Hi Steve, yes I’ve had a look at the Scale Model Scenery baseboards and they look just the ticket. I will certain use them for any future small builds that I do - this boxfile layout is very much a skill builder. I believe delivery of SMS boards to the islands might be an issue though. Likewise, I had to buy 10 box files when I got mine, and now I have to work out what to do with the other 7! :dontknow:

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hi andrew just seen your pics of the rail joints  thats excatlly  how mine went   they end up more like steps   how you havent ended up jumping up and down on it like i nearly did  espically if like me you put hours of work in . i to like steve has said i will be looking at buy ing  a  scale model scenery baseboard next time .  boxfiles are one thing . the other head ache  like your have ing is getting the small size  locos to run half sensible  i have a gauge marster combi  which i found gave mixed running so i brought a  a budget model railways self build controller which has made things a lot better . but i really  like dcc and a have NCE  power cab but with every thing on boxfile size layouts smooth running is our goal . so it looks like learning the dark art of stay alives  etc  is next for me 

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  • RMweb Gold

Cheers Kevo. I have built and tried the Budget Model Railways PWM controller but it didn’t seem to do very well at the locos moving off smoothly. I’m already looking at building Version 3 - a closed loop controller. I think if I were DCC I’d be ‘Stay Alives All The Way!’ :good:

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  • RMweb Gold

This week as a bit of light relief to the technical stuff like track laying and electronics, I ordered myself a ‘new’ Mainline J72 and decided to repaint and weather both the ex-GWR Hornby 4 wheeled coach and take another stab at the ex-Triang Hornby brake van I first redid a couple of years ago in this thread here: 

 

 

 

I am waiting for the Hattons 4-wheeled Brake coach in BR Maroon, so the back story will follow the same - i.e. the coach and brake van are a stop-gap while the company sources a more appropriate vehicle. 

 

The Mainline J72 ‘British Railways’ arrived intact and I was delighted with its appearance.

 

2371764E-E95F-40FD-BC8C-F5F6363291B4.jpeg.711453a512883895ad1af8e8a1c64e75.jpeg

 

 

Performance, however, was not as good as my current Mainline J72, so I spent an evening servicing and tinkering with it, cleaning up the commutator etc and adding a couple of Heath Robinson pickups. 

 

This was covered in the thread here: 

 

 

 

With the clean up and modifications, it runs very well on the home-made controller for a loco that is probably knocking on 40 years old: 

 

 

 

The coach and the brake van were washed in soapy water, dried, then sprayed with Poundland grey Primer: 

 

B0F741E1-E136-45C7-B67A-325A5D2142E0.jpeg.c4fb93535d8b6576c938fcd18784d2a4.jpeg

 

 

 

The grey of the primer suits the BR grey of the brake van so it was left that colour with the roof painted with my cheap but excellent acrylic paints from The Works. 

 

The coach was painted with Humbrol RC403 (BR Maroon) as I had this left over from the project posted above. Applied with a Humbrol Flat brush, it goes on very thinly but very smooth and flat - I definitely recommend this method to anyone without an airbrush: 

 

BECFC346-DD84-4A1C-A02F-31D3B0C37007.jpeg.24ad35a91d32a3046e01db8aaf279ee1.jpeg

 

The roofs were painted with black and white paints on the palette (an old lid from a tub of hummus) which were thinned by simply dipping the brush in water and mixing them on the roofs themselves. 

 

Numbers on the coach were applied using HMRS Presssix transfers left over from the above project. Given the ‘freelance’ nature of the layout and the stock, I would not have bothered if I didn’t have them, the same as there are no numbers on the brake van. I am striving for ‘an impression of realism’ on a budget, and I can’t justify buying new transfers. 

 

Under frames were painted with black, white, and burnt umber paints on the palette, mixed on the as I went along and again this worked very well - you can tinker with the shade until it looks right. 

 

A7B2A201-CDC4-4FC5-9B93-E34A576F3473.jpeg.58de4f048c483d18d59fd8dc9aed14f1.jpeg

 

 

 

Both vehicles were given a black wash made out of black acrylic paint, water, and a drop of washing up liquid. 

 

After that, scrapings of pastels from The Works are used to weather down the roofs, sides, and underframes. 

 

A1828713-CEF3-41D4-9323-C3AA654E2018.jpeg.3f57d2fa4580d6c4806314e4d91f6e8c.jpeg

 

Finally, a 6B pencil was used to bring out the hand rails on the brake van. 

 

 

So there we go... not the latest in realism. But for a £20 loco and £10 worth of stock (£5 for the coach, £2.50 each for the van and the brake van) I’m more than happy. 

 

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This will certainly do the job until the Hattons Genesis BR Brake comes out. 

 

As ever, thanks for reading. 

 

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  • Andrew D changed the title to Operational Interest & Slow Speed reliability in a Boxfile - on a budget
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Time for an update. 

 

Progress continues at glacial pace, mainly due to work and decorating. But the layout provides a lot of fun and creativity during down time. 

 

It’s taken me an entire month to build an engine shed from @LCUT_creative - but I’m thrilled with the results. 

 

It’s made shorter than the kit version (three panels long, not four) to stay in keeping with the size of the layout, and it’s big enough for an 0-6-0 loco. 

 

The reason I went for the square windowed version with the square door is because, unlike the arched door version, I could cut the end panel to make the roof removable and allow me to close the lid of the box file. 

 

After assembly as per LCut’s online instructions, I sprayed the brickwork with Poundland Red Primer, and the roof with Poundland Grey Primer. 

 

I then picked out individual bricks in browns and reds, and mixed up a little blue/black with my excellent cheapo acrylic paints from The Works (£4 for an entire set of primary colours)  which I used to paint the engineering bricks. The orange turned out to be a little loud so it was over painted with brown. 

 

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The next bit is a piece of genius I picked up from the YouTube channel Bexhill West. Instead of washing the brickwork with mortar coloured paint, instead brush over fine filler (I used Wicke’s Wall Filler) with a stiff damp brush before immediately wiping off with kitchen towel. 

 

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This technique is a game changer. I very much wanted not to have the giveaway ‘teeth’ that you sometimes get with a laser cut kit, and this technique does a fantastic job of blending the panels together. 

 

After that, a wash was applied which was made up by mixing up the same paints with some water and drop of washing up liquid. Glazing was made from the lids of hummus tubs, and weathering was done with pastel shavings applied by a stiff brush - again, cheap but excellent chalk pastels from The Works. 

 

I am VERY pleased with the result. It’s a shame about the ‘line’ where the roof is removable, so if anyone has a good idea as to how to cover it, I’m all ears. 

 

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So that’s the sum of my month’s work. 

 

Meanwhile, I’ve had a reappraisal of where I’m going with this layout. 

 

Those who follow may remember this was originally to be a layout for the forthcoming Hornby Peckett ‘Bear’. That is no longer the case for two reasons: 

 

First off, I cannot get the track completely flat, and some of my 0-4-0s struggle on the points. They are fine on flat points, but not on others. My ancient Mainline 0-6-0s on the other hand are stunningly smooth and reliable with the home made controller. I did not want to shell out the best part of £100 on a locomotive that might stall on the points or the uneven joins between the boxes. 

 

Secondly, and I’m afraid this is a bit of a rant, I’ve decided not to buy anything from Hornby for the time being. Bear is now the best part of a year late as are many other products, because Hornby seems to be obsessed with trying to beat down other manufacturers rather than concentrating on developing its own ranges. I disagree strongly with their bullying tactics and have therefore taken the decision to cancel my pre-order of Bear, and instead focus on building the layout to be as reliable as possible while keeping a tight hold on costs. 

 

That said, I’m seriously considering a Hattons Andrew Barclay, but I don’t want to shell out that amount of money only for it to stall on the uneven track work. 

 

I am enjoying the layout, but something in a box file is never going to be as reliable as something on a baseboard and I now accept that. Rather than scrap it, I intend to complete it and enjoy it, then apply what I have learned to the next layout. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

 

However, as summer approaches and work mounts up, it might be a while before I get back on with this little project. I had no idea such a small and simple layout would take so long, but it is incredibly rewarding and good fun. 

 

 

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