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Blog- Crawley Yard - N Gauge Modern Layout - First Outing - Not a success :-(

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Not posted for a while as I've been preparing for the first outing of Crawley Yard to the club so that the initial checks could be completed with the wiring, construction, alignment and get some feedback on the build, scenics and operation. I'd chosen this weekend as there was a Saturday running morning as well which meant I could set up on the Friday and tear down on the Saturday. I finally finished the covers on Friday afternoon, I'd wanted them painted so that when the layout is in storage in the Garage its well protected but this took longer to dry than expected so late Friday afternoon I was rushing to get these completed. Bit of a fiddle fitting them at home as my fixed base in the railway room doesn't allow them to be fixed in situ but the installation once on their legs was fine with no problems both their and back. As feared both boards don't quite fit in one of our cars but this was anticipated and a challenge for 2014.


I spent the latter part of the week double checking the wiring, making sure everything was working and found a problem that I had neglected to fix earlier with track 4. That fixed off we went to the club.


Setting up went fine, had the boards up and in position within 15 mins of arriving, out the car, fitted legs and placed in position covers off and ready to go.


What I didnt do was look at the alignment of the two boards properly, now I have 3 alignment pins fitted (metal) but at home bolt the 2 sections together, without the bolts the boards managed to get a bit out of line so thats the first job to reassess. Back home and bolted they are fine again so thats going to mean setting up on their show legs if I can find the space.


I'd built the baseboards to not have the 4 running lines included and so these are on a separate baseboard, although this is bolted to the main board it has dropped slightly at the front so going to have to revist that as well as getting the connectors on both ends took longer than expected on the night.


I'd taken some connectors (3 inch Code 75) joiners but should have done some more work on these at home, most needed reducing or extending and I didnt have 6 (Must add to show list and make around 12) and needed more sleepers removing to make fitting the fish plates easier. I should also have checked fitting these as some paint and ballast needed to be cleaned off of the rails.


Running on the main lines took a while to get right, I hadn't tested with old stock (deep wheel flanges) on finescale track and some solder and ballast needed to be cleared off, I filed a bit on the night but will redo the soldering before the next show on the board join fitting screws.


Track 3 was a bit of a disaster, getting the joiners on and ready made me late setting up the controller and I made a big mistake here. I'd set up two plans, one for operating from the side that presents the mimic diagram as if you in front and one for operating from the rear that shows you if standing behind. I hadn't remembered to test this before and it caused me a couple of issues and along with a wiring problem on track 3 prevented that from being used. Very disappointing for me and prevented other people from running so frustrating for them as well.


What were the issues, well track 3 point switching was from the DCC feed off of track 4 but this was isolated and of course didn't work. As I got more and more stressed I failed to work out why this wasn't working and although the default position should have been straight through I hadn't reversed the polarity on the rear facing plan so it had set switched and then as I'd isolated track 4 wouldn't change. I've fixed this now and put a feed in so the control is off the main DCC bus and the frog fed from the tracks so the point will always work regardless of the isolating section. The other problem appears to be crossed pair but I'm back at home, have tested and can't find it yet so that needs some more work. What I will do is insert a switch before the isolating switches that will feed DC power to track 3 for club running I'll also look at a section break for controlling via DC on track 3.


It was suggested that I could use track 4 for storage but I need to consider if a reversing shunting movement is doable or if I should add another feed from track 3 into track 4 to make an effective passing loop of 4 if required. As I haven't ballasted the front tracks yet this is all possible.


The electrical problems kept me busy and meant that I didn't get around to running any of my trains or engaging with as many people as I would have liked. A number of people recognised the location which was great and I had some suggestions on weathering and finishing off some of the scenics which was great as well as some kind words on the buildings and look and feel of the location so taking a few weeks off now whilst i recover and then back on track.  As people said on the night its why modules need to be tested before exhibitions and I've learnt a lot from the experience but its not a stress free process.


Were all back home now and running. I've dressed the layout with the 50+ cars, yard vehicles and put some wagons in the sidings and added some pictures to the blog and FlickR.


Next jobs - feedback from clubnight  summarised below and finishing off the scenery across the layout. Longer list for the next post.


Jobs to Do - From clubnight

1. Check board joining alignment dowels, consider replacing or using bolts for shows

2. Check Front boards for drop and analyse remedial works.

3. Produce more joiners, modify, paint and add to show list

4, Check soldering and make sure nothing on the inner rails above sleeper height.

5. Recheck track 3 and 4 wiring, Insert DC control option for power

6. Check Rear facing Mimic diagram and route set ups

7. Review options for DC control on track 3

8. Consider additional points to make track 4 a passing loop.

9. Move the modular connector choc boxes off the end boards


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