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


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*IMAGES CURRENTLY REINSTATED FROM PAGE 3 ONWARDS*

Experience Level: Novice

Expertise Level: Numpty 

 

I have so far resisted the allure of the ridiculously cute Hornby Peckett. However, for the past year my eyes kept resting on ‘Bear,’ the cutest of the cute, now due for release in March. Long story short, I now have Bear on pre-order with TMC. Oops. 

 

Credit: TheModelCentre.com

Image Credit TheModelCentre.com

 

 

Bear needs a home. My Hornby 0-4-0s and three-for-£10 wagons were fine on the kitchen table, but now it’s time for something better, even if I haven’t *quite* finished my N gauge layout Dale Green

 

Dale Green was my first attempt at a ‘proper’ layout, albeit still very much a train set at heart. The idea was for a portable layout, and even though it can fit into a box, it’s still quite unwieldy. 

 

Then I got hooked on the Boxfile & Micro Layout section of RMWeb. In particular I became obsessed with Brierley Canal Road by @Booking Hall, Arrow Paints by @TechnicArrow, and the various projects by @Karl. Massively inspiring threads. After two failed attempts at a small OO gauge layout, I decided a boxfile could be third time lucky. 

 

One of the greatest aspects of our hobby is the diversity of those who enjoy it, and their primary interests and motives. Many of those who have developed Boxfile layouts do so with the honourable intention of having something that looks über realistic in a tiny space. Operation comes somewhere down the list.

 

That’s not for me though. Operational interest and reliability are paramount, and are way more important to me than point rodding or three link couplings (for now, anyway.) 

 

It became apparent that a single boxfile would be too limited for my needs, but I devised an operationally interesting track plan using two box files joined together, with a third box file for the fiddle yard - or ‘Fiddle Box,’ I guess. 

 

Here’s another trend-bucker: I don’t have a printer. So this will not be a Scalescenes homage, either. 

 

Here is a mock-up: 

 

F869CA72-7A9A-4DB6-B4EE-7C9E23B9CFE9.jpeg.0d80a6d0c24f76ee77d3ad60c1cac989.jpeg

 

 

C8A6538D-A74B-4919-B44E-EAEDF82A7B29.jpeg.97ee9327e9608ac7dc3a65841b9c515d.jpeg

 

 

 

Back Story: 

 

In the fictitious Scottish town of Tobhar an Athair (Fatherwell) is the Caran Leisg Bakery factory, making chocolate, sweets, biscuits, cakes, and other processed food items. Even though it’s the 1960s, ingredients still arrive by rail and the finished products are dispatched by rail. Caran Leisg has its own locomotive, a Peckett called Bear. The factory has its own staff halt which, owing to recent residential development in the area, now also sees British Railways (Rule One Division) traffic as well as staff trains. 

 

Looking at the image, the front edges of the box files will fold down. To the left on the front line (where the ugly red 0-4-0 and 4-wheeled coaches are sitting) will be the station halt platform. The right side of the front line is a run-around loop, the points of which are off stage. There might be a coal yard here. 

 

The middle line, the main line, enters from the right and the middle siding on the left is the reception siding. This will lead through gates into the factory (possibly a fiddle stick) which will be used for the perishable ingredients such as milk and eggs. 

 

The farthest line will feature the warehouse and loading platform to the left (flour, sugar, dried goods, and goods dispatched) and a small Peckett-sized shed to the right where 101 is posing. 

 

 

Now to the fiddle-box. 

 

The plan here is for a very simple two-road traverser. But here’s the clever thing. The middle line is bang in the centre, and the fiddle-box will be designed in that it can work both ways around - with the lid at the back OR with the lid at the front. This will also allow through running on the middle line if future expansion brings a scenic section on the other side too. 

 

So that’s the theory. Now to get on with building the thing. As a numpty myself, this thread is most definitely aimed at the beginner end of the spectrum but I hope the experts will also follow, as I’ll be needing plenty of help along the way. I’m afraid I’ll be asking LOTS of questions :) 

 

Thanks for reading. 

Edited by Andrew D
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Looks like a good track layout, with plenty of options for operating fun - I can see an inglenook within that plan, and with two lines running off-scene many more options are opened up. The repositionable fiddle-box sounds like a good plan too. My only concern is there isn't much scenic space left that isn't track, but if some of the factory yard is inset that will help.

I'll certainly be watching on, this could be a good one!

 

Edit: Btw, Dale Green looks like a very well detailed roundy-roundy that well disguises it's true nature, so don't mark yourself down for your modelling being "unrealistic"!

Edited by TechnicArrow
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50 minutes ago, TechnicArrow said:

Looks like a good track layout, with plenty of options for operating fun - I can see an inglenook within that plan, and with two lines running off-scene many more options are opened up. The repositionable fiddle-box sounds like a good plan too. My only concern is there isn't much scenic space left that isn't track, but if some of the factory yard is inset that will help.

I'll certainly be watching on, this could be a good one!

 

Edit: Btw, Dale Green looks like a very well detailed roundy-roundy that well disguises it's true nature, so don't mark yourself down for your modelling being "unrealistic"!

 

Thank you! Yes, I agree there is little scenic space left, so this is one reason that the front sections will fold down, to free up a little space. But I am looking forward to detailing the bits that remain - I only hope I can make almost as good a job as you have done with Arrow Paints. Just like Dale Green I see this as a 'skill builder.' Cheers! 

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1 hour ago, ManofKent said:

Looking forward to seeing this. I've had Bear on pre-order for a couple of months too.

 

Of course Bear did spend most of it's working life in Scotland.

 

 

Really? That’s good to know. I thought Bear spent his life in Sittingbourne, but I guess that’s just where he ended up! I think it’ll be superb with the open backed cab, really looking forward to it. Thanks for the info! 

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16 minutes ago, Andrew D said:

Really? That’s good to know. I thought Bear spent his life in Sittingbourne, but I guess that’s just where he ended up! I think it’ll be superb with the open backed cab, really looking forward to it. Thanks for the info! 

It was a Colville's loco, running at Mossend - I don't think it ever ran at Sittingbourne - most of the railway is narrow gauge (part of the old Bowater's line) but has been on static display for years. When the current situation improves I must pop up to Sittingbourne to see what state it's in (only a few miles up the road from me).

 

https://preservedbritishsteamlocomotives.com/peckett-sons-works-no-614-the-bear-0-4-0st/

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3 hours ago, Andrew D said:

I think it’ll be superb with the open backed cab, really looking forward to it. Thanks for the info! 

 

Why did I have to spot this? I'm now consigned to going and pre-ordering an open backed one... 

 

Looking forward to seeing this develop Andrew, a Scottish bakery with private sidings sound blissful! I can see wagon loads of Pineapple Cakes and Snowballs being very popular with enthusiasts of bakery products and industrial steam... 

Ralf

Edited by Ralf
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19 minutes ago, Ralf said:

 

Why did I have to spot this? I'm now consigned to going and pre-ordering an open backed one... 

 

Looking forward to seeing this develop Andrew, a Scottish bakery with private sidings sound blissful! I can see wagon loads of Pineapple Cakes and Snowballs being very popular with enthusiasts of bakery products and industrial steam... 

Ralf

 

Ha ha! Sorry Ralf. I could have gone with the distillery theme but want to inject a bit of fun into my ‘Rule 1’ layout! And what better fun than a bit of cake? Cheers! 

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3 minutes ago, Andrew D said:

 

Ha ha! Sorry Ralf. I could have gone with the distillery theme but want to inject a bit of fun into my ‘Rule 1’ layout! And what better fun than a bit of cake? Cheers! 

 

Absolutely, having spent a fair proportion of my youth either living in Glasgow or visiting relatives in Motherwell / Bellshill I'm reasonably fond of Scottish bakery products, although I think I'd have gone down the butcher road if I were you thinking Mince Rounds, Bridies and of course Scotch Pies!! 

 

Keep up the good work! 

 

Ralf

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Just a warning, 1 Peckett will never be enough...it's a slippery slope...I speak from experience! Good luck with the build and a neat idea with the 3 boxes. I have been thinking of extending Lockdown Wharf with a second box file. Looks like you managed to source some of the good box files, I had to abandon one as it warped and bought some like yours and they work much better.

 

Low relief buildings are a god send in box files if you're after structures/retaining features and I recommend things like JSModels if you're after warehouses and scenic route models for very cheap but convincing small buildings, Bank House Colliery used inthegreenwoodlaser for the ultra low relief north light buildings.

 

Looks like a busy shunting yard that you've been able to lay out.

 

Good luck with the build and keep any progress photos coming!

Edited by Karl
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1 hour ago, Karl said:

Just a warning, 1 Peckett will never be enough...it's a slippery slope...I speak from experience! Good luck with the build and a neat idea with the 3 boxes. I have been thinking of extending Lockdown Wharf with a second box file. Looks like you managed to source some of the good box files, I had to abandon one as it warped and bought some like yours and they work much better.

 

Low relief buildings are a god send in box files if you're after structures/retaining features and I recommend things like JSModels if you're after warehouses and scenic route models for very cheap but convincing small buildings, Bank House Colliery used inthegreenwoodlaser for the ultra low relief north light buildings.

 

Looks like a busy shunting yard that you've been able to lay out.

 

Good luck with the build and keep any progress photos coming!

 

Thanks for the tips Karl! I've already looked up those companies and studied their offerings after absorbing your threads on here :) 

 

I think I will start with LC Creative and use their sections as ultra-low relief buildings (Jakub was very helpful when I emailed for some advice). Once I've done a mock up (after I finish hacking the boxes about) I shall post a pic. 

 

Being in the islands I had to buy 10 Box files (£30 for 10 inc postage, or £7 if bought individually) so I have a spare or two if you need it! Postage would probably cost more than the file though :-/ 

 

In the meantime, I must resist more Pecketts! Mind you, the new Hornby Ruston due out in the summer also looks rather delicious too.... 

 

Cheers!

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11 hours ago, Andrew D said:

 

Thanks for the tips Karl! I've already looked up those companies and studied their offerings after absorbing your threads on here :) 

 

I think I will start with LC Creative and use their sections as ultra-low relief buildings (Jakub was very helpful when I emailed for some advice). Once I've done a mock up (after I finish hacking the boxes about) I shall post a pic. 

 

Being in the islands I had to buy 10 Box files (£30 for 10 inc postage, or £7 if bought individually) so I have a spare or two if you need it! Postage would probably cost more than the file though :-/ 

 

In the meantime, I must resist more Pecketts! Mind you, the new Hornby Ruston due out in the summer also looks rather delicious too.... 

 

Cheers!

 

I think it was the LC Creative chimney that I used on Bank House Colliery which is very good. I have become very fond of laser cut wood kits. I did have 5 of those tyoe but two were commandeered by my Dad who has built himself a 009 layout using two along the lines of your idea as using one for a fiddle yard. Trying to persuade him to let me put some photos on here as I think it's really good.

 

I have a Ruston 48 and that is quite an incredibly smooth runner, even without it's pick up wagon, so based on that I think the 88 will be great, and of course they would be occasions that during a washout that 'Bear' would perhaps not be available... :D I;ve also built about 8 of the Hardy's hobbies kits for Pecketts chassis and they're really enjoyable to do too.

 

Little bit envious of your 'Being in the Islands', that must be very nice at times! Nearest I get are my regular jaunts to photograph the Jacobite.

 

Look forward to seeing your progress and if there is anything you think I can help with just ask. Although I rank myself as novice and numpty like you so it may be daft leading the blind! :danced:

Edited by Karl
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12 hours ago, Andrew D said:

 

Thanks for the tips Karl! I've already looked up those companies and studied their offerings after absorbing your threads on here :) 

 

I think I will start with LC Creative and use their sections as ultra-low relief buildings (Jakub was very helpful when I emailed for some advice). Once I've done a mock up (after I finish hacking the boxes about) I shall post a pic. 

 

Being in the islands I had to buy 10 Box files (£30 for 10 inc postage, or £7 if bought individually) so I have a spare or two if you need it! Postage would probably cost more than the file though :-/ 

 

In the meantime, I must resist more Pecketts! Mind you, the new Hornby Ruston due out in the summer also looks rather delicious too.... 

 

Cheers!

I hopefully in the future thinking of a similar box file project.

 

I have downloaded the Scalescenes Canal Wharf as a starter, but like the idea of multiple box files in a similar project to yours, only mine will be a small brewery.

 

The box files I have are also warped, any chance of details where you obtained your box files from ?
 

Although I’m not on the Islands, I may as well be with lockdown.

 

Keep safe 

 

Terry 

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52 minutes ago, ELTEL said:

I hopefully in the future thinking of a similar box file project.

 

I have downloaded the Scalescenes Canal Wharf as a starter, but like the idea of multiple box files in a similar project to yours, only mine will be a small brewery.

 

The box files I have are also warped, any chance of details where you obtained your box files from ?
 

Although I’m not on the Islands, I may as well be with lockdown.

 

Keep safe 

 

Terry 

 

Hi Terry, I got these on Amazon and they were the 10-for-£30ish ones with free postage.   The ‘3 pack’ ones on Amazon looked like they had plastic ends which of course are no good. These ones are idea as the ends are thin MDF and the cardboard used is nice n stiff. I am in the process of hacking them up and bonding on thin (5mm ish thick) wood strips to hold them together and reinforce them.

 

A1E13090-9A1D-4E41-81D3-CCFCBBD819F5.jpeg.fa36d14404532200b8aa612cb9775165.jpeg

 

 

Update on that very soon. I’d recommend a look at Brierley Canal Road by @Booking Hallon this thread as a wonderful example of using multiple boxes. 

 

I’m planning on using the leftover boxes for future extensions, future projects, and stock storage. 

 

Good luck Terry. One day it would be nice to connect a load of box files together with other modellersm and make a nice long through run! 

 

Cheers.

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2 hours ago, Andrew D said:

 

Hi Terry, I got these on Amazon and they were the 10-for-£30ish ones with free postage.   The ‘3 pack’ ones on Amazon looked like they had plastic ends which of course are no good. These ones are idea as the ends are thin MDF and the cardboard used is nice n stiff. I am in the process of hacking them up and bonding on thin (5mm ish thick) wood strips to hold them together and reinforce them.

 

A1E13090-9A1D-4E41-81D3-CCFCBBD819F5.jpeg.fa36d14404532200b8aa612cb9775165.jpeg

 

 

Update on that very soon. I’d recommend a look at Brierley Canal Road by @Booking Hallon this thread as a wonderful example of using multiple boxes. 

 

I’m planning on using the leftover boxes for future extensions, future projects, and stock storage. 

 

Good luck Terry. One day it would be nice to connect a load of box files together with other modellersm and make a nice long through run! 

 

Cheers.

 

That would be an interesting idea... everyone can do what they want in their boxfile but the track must be in the same place at each side to allow for connection through... An RMweb boxfile layout... 

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12 minutes ago, Karl said:

 

That would be an interesting idea... everyone can do what they want in their boxfile but the track must be in the same place at each side to allow for connection through... An RMweb boxfile layout... 

 

My suggestion, as it is what I’m doing, is to have the through line dead centre. But actually it doesn’t really matter, as it’s easy enough to jiggle each boxfile forwards or backwards, and put a few sheets of paper underneath to ensure that the height is correct. It just means the boxfiles themselves might be staggered a little. I think the main requirement would be gauge (size of ‘the hole’), electrical connection compatibility, and that the rail ends are flush with the furthest edge of the boxfile. 

 

Sounds like a bit of a laugh, doesn’t it? 

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BOXFILE PREPARATION - PART ONE

 

I decided to permanently join the two scenic boxfiles in order to allow a little more flexibility with the track plan, and not have to join track on a curve or start chopping points about, in case I want to re-use them down the line. 

 

Being hopeless with tools, I asked my friend and neighbour to help me out - and he used a MultiTool to remove the sections needed after these were measured with track and rolling stock. 

 

Holes were cut where possible (rather than whole sections removed) as the removal of the two middle ‘ends’ already compromises the structural stability. This has left some rather low and narrow sections above the trains (bridge bases) but the mdf of the box file ends is surprisingly strong. 

 

The fronts of the files fold down to make for a more open viewing area, and a bit more scenic space. These have been ‘forced’ a little so they lie (almost) flat on the table to compensate for the bracing under the box files. 

 

The track will be laid on 3mm foamboard, which I ordered from Amazon. 

 

Here are some pix of the progress made: 

 

6CB54794-A9E9-42D0-B8F5-1BA8B2ECD736.jpeg.61fc2ac80099243f905c7b6060ecdcf8.jpeg

 

13718FC5-1465-4302-9138-D444CCE481C5.jpeg.7fb886d96ae59084edf5a266fd0127fb.jpeg

 

 

Once the holes were cut, it was time to brace the boxfiles... 

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BOXFILE PREP - PART 2

 

Once the holes were cut, then it was time for bracing. This was done using some 5mm thick timber my friend had lying around his garage, secured with glue and weighted down while drying. 

 

The bases, rear section, and lids of the scenic section were all braced to try and compensate for the removal of the two central sections that were removed. 

9A097093-49B8-4388-BCBD-3C59C868DAC5.jpeg.288691d727b35d857acf102b65e56c76.jpeg

 

108CE957-F84A-47BE-85E9-5E6A558E18E1.jpeg.031a427d883dab72394d5e1308b6763b.jpeg

 

 

I’m not sure how I will keep the boxes secured close yet - probably just large rubber bands. 

 

My next task is to order some pieces from LCut Creative, and finish my order from Eileen’s Emporium. On the islands we need to spend £50 with Eileen to negate the £7.10 postage charge, so I want to make sure I get as many essentials as I can in one hit. All part of the fun :) 

 

Thanks for reading! 

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As a fairly new modeller with very few scraps lying around, it wasn’t difficult to spend the £50 island postage threshold in Eileen’s Emporium on bits and pieces. 

 

Fun has been had this evening with cardboard boxes, templates, and putting in an order to  LCut Creative. 

 

1525AEC2-9346-40DC-AC47-6735F40BAE68.jpeg.32e04099a7a391f7c5410261a49ba064.jpeg

 

Looking forward to playing around with the pieces when they arrive to see what ultra-low relief buildings I can conjure up. And by chopping down the single road engine shed from four panels to three (which actually makes it Peckett Sized), it looks like a Mk1 bogie coach can still negotiate the layout even though it’s not intended for such rolling stock. But you never know... :) 

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Little progress has been made as I was waiting for my delivery. Fierce Easterly winds have scuppered the ferries for a few days, so my package from @LCUT_creativeonly arrived today despite fast turn around and dispatch from their end last week. 

 

I’ve ordered the small engine shed (which I shall assemble even smaller) and a few bits to measure out for the warehouse and factory railway entrance. From what I have seen of the pieces from LCut they are beautiful! I think ‘dainty’ is the word I’m looking for after dealing with brutishly over scale N gauge stuff for Dale Green. 

 

B85B6547-8D9C-4A07-9769-972CDB3F8042.jpeg.a5ed5f7707fe87deb71b4a02b698bbea.jpeg

 

The triangular top of the factory gate entrance will be cut off to make it flat and flush with the surrounding wall pieces. I’m wondering how tall to make the warehouse - two storeys or three? The lower storey will be mounted on foam board and the upper storeys on magnets so the lids of the box files can be closed. 

 

Now I’ve had a play with these pieces I can get on with sticking down the foam board base and laying the track. 

 

The plan is to fashion point control out of something like ‘wire in tube’ or a rod system buried in the foam board. The foam board is also intended to hide tack wiring and lighting feeds. 

 

Control will be DC, and the end of each road will have an isolating section to allow engines to be released from their trains. As smooth reliability is key, I envisage track feeds everywhere! 

 

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. That might not sound much to some, but I am TOTALLY CLUELESS when it comes to anything like that. I am attempting this to show that if I can do it, anyone can. 

 

Sounds like a challenge. 

 

As you can tell, things will not be moving very fast. :)

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, 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. That might not sound much to some, but I am TOTALLY CLUELESS when it comes to anything like that. I am attempting this to show that if I can do it, anyone can. 

 

I'm keen to see how this goes... Please do keep us posted - and good luck. 

Cheers

Ralf

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Hello Andrew,

It looks as though your layout will be a lot of fun and present you with some interesting challenges on the way.  I did have some queries regarding your traverser, but I've just seen that you have seen Jim Read's latest layout, so you'll be aware of his traverser video - enough said! 

 

Good luck with your project, I shall follow this with interest.

Edited by Sun VI
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7 hours ago, Sun VI said:

I did have some queries regarding your traverser, but I've just seen that you have seen Jim Read's latest layout, so you'll be aware of his traverser video - enough said! 

 

As impressed as I am with Jim's traverser, I will be attempting something way more rudimentary - little more than a sheet of cut-down foamboard sliding up and down between two others, held in place by nothing more than friction. It might work, it might not! If it doesn't, it will be back to the drawing board. But I am encouraged by @TechnicArrow's builds where he manages to make such practices work. 

 

Thanks for following along! 

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