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Friday, 18 August 2017

Project 17 - Lighting Improvement

I mentioned in an earlier post that the dull autumn day scene I was trying to create was a bit too dull at the engine shed end of the layout. A fix was needed.

I have a LED strip light about 10 inches long (used for another layout) and experimented placing that. Well of course that was very bright and the effort required to fit it so that it can be removed for use on the other layout coupled with having to accommodate its wiring I decided not to proceed.

I toyed with the idea of a totally transparent module roof using one of those honeycombed roofing panels but saw that it would not lend itself to the 'jigsaw' fixing arrangement required.

What I decided to do was cut a hole in the existing roof panel and fix a transparent acrylic sheet that I already had to hand. Its purpose is to allow the ambient room lighting to seep into the scene. Its location and size is deliberate. In this position (see photo) it gives the engine shed and turntable area a bit more light. It does not stretch full length because the existing LED lighting at the bridge end of the layout is perfectly adequate there.

Top photo below - Ambient room lighting before.
Bottom photo - After.














It brightens the back scene, brings out colour in the trees and highlights the shed and turntable.

If necessary I could lighten the scene further by placing a lamp above the roof skylight. Something to experiment with perhaps. For a night scene with engine shed lights switched on. I can cover the skylight using the cut out roof panel.

By the way I decided not to glue the entire roof panel to the module. I can see occasions when it would be useful to remove it for servicing.



To Part 1.


Friday, 11 August 2017

Project 17 - 3 more cassettes and a conundrum

Three more fiddle yard cassettes have been made for the station end of the loco yard. All now working. But here is the rub. I must have spent an hour trying to understand an electrical fault.

As I drove an engine off the scenic module onto one of the cassette roads it ground to a halt. A short circuit was quickly realised but the cause was proving difficult to trace. No visual signs of a short and the wiring looked correct. I disconnected the wiring to the offending section and to my amazement the meter still showed an electrical connection. How can this be with no wires connected and no other signs of a short circuit?

After much faffing around I happened to put the meter probes between the isolated rail and the track ballast and the meter showed a connection! What seems to have happened is the ballast was touching a live rail and the copper clad sleeper of the isolated section  Scrapping away the ballast from the copper clad sleeper cured the problem. Something in the ballast was conductive!

The ballast comprises a mix of Woodland Scenics grey ballast, ground up coal and ground up cork all fixed in place with a weak mix of PVA glue (dried). My thoughts turned to the coal being the culprit since it contains carbon but I read carbon in coal exists in hydrocarbon compounds that don’t conduct electricity.

So, there is the conundrum.

To explain the photo:

Left cassette - Temporarily connected to Scenic Module; represents the road to Swanage Goods Yard.

Middle Cassette - Parked; connects to the Loco Yard.

Right Cassette - Parked; represents No.1 and No 2. roads to Swanage Station.

These cassettes are not interchangeable because the tracks exiting the scenic module are not all parallel with each other.






To Part 26

To Part 1.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Project 17 - Storage Cassette

This storage cassette/fiddle yard is made from 5mm foam board. This time I built in ample supports to avoid sagging of the track bed that was evident on the scenic module.

Being portable the cassette can simply be turned around to reverse trains and/or slid left and right  for track selection.

The left hand track is the single track line from Worgret Junction and the right hand track a head shunt for the extensive goods yard at Swanage.

There are a number of options for track electrical continuity. I could use plug and sockets. I could use flat copper strips soldered to the copper clad end sleepers and bent over the ends on both the scenic module and cassettes . When the cassette and scenic module are brought together the strips touch giving electrical continuity. Both these methods require additional cassette alignment and locking mechanics.
The method I opted for is rod in tube as this provides electrical continuity, alignment and locking all in one device. At first I thought about buying some brass rod and tube. Thinking about a cheaper alternative I had a brain wave that I could roll up some brass strip, found in my spares box, into a tube and use mains copper wire for the rod. The tube was formed by holding the wire against the brass strip in a vice, bending the brass around around the wire and then repositioning to bend a bit more and so on until the tube was formed. A tag was retained for soldering to the copper clad sleepers.

In use the rods are out and the cassette manually aligned. The rods are then inserted in the tubes and are a tight enough fit to hold the cassette firm during operations.

The two tracks at this end of the layout are parallel but at the other end there are four tracks and two of these are at odd angles. I'll need to make another double track cassette like this one and one or two single track cassettes for that end. More cassettes could be made to hold a range of fully formed trains. I'll wait until operations start to see if that is worth while.

Finally, a portable buffer stop is simply made from foam board with two stiff, galvanised wire pieces inserted. These locate in holes in the track bed.

To Part 25.

To Part 1.
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