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Wednesday, 1 July 2020

July Website Cover

Continuing the theme of favourite photographs of my model railways, this month we move from Somerset to Dorset and the Swanage Branch Line. Specifically, the loco yard as it existed in the 1960s and viewed from beneath Northbrook Road Railway Bridge.

View the cover here.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 22

4mm version
Regular readers may remember the Crewkerne crane I modelled in 4mm scale (shown right. Click here for details). I like the style of it so decided to upscale it for this 7mm layout.

This should be simple. In theory all I had to do was scale up the .stl parts in my slicer program before 3D printing them. That is true for some of the parts. The trouble is that others are simplistic designs of the prototype for 4mm scale since the lack of detail is not obvious to the eye. In 7mm scale it is more obvious. I had to redesign several parts. Of note are the gear housings, which included solid gears in the 4mm version. In the 7 mm version I designed and integrated the correct spoked gears. However, the cogs were a step too far. Even in 7mm scale they are small and thought to be too small for my 3D printer to form.

I noted in the 4mm crane Blog posting that the ratchet locking mechanism was not modelled (because available photographs did not show the details). Sorry to say that is still the case so it has been omitted again in the 7mm version.

7mm version
Like the 4mm version it is a static model except it can be rotated on its plinth. The model was sprayed with Halfords grey primer and then lightly sponge dabbed with a dirty rust mix of enamel paints.

The plinth is card with decorative overlays in the manner described earlier for the office building and the railing posts 3D printed with galvanised wire threaded through.

The platform is larger than I estimated. Unfortunately, it has to be placed right on the edge of the quay wall to allow trains to pass by without interference.

I needed to obtain a chain for the hoist. I spent some time searching ebay and whilst there were many available very few suppliers gave full dimensions of the links. In fact only one did and that was slightly too wide for the pulley I had designed. I wondered how difficult it would be to make one. I Googled it and came up with a video tutorial that showed how to make a chain from twisted wire. The trick is to open out the loops with a scalpel to give a fair representation of chain links.

To Part 1.  

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 21

One side of the baseboard is decorated as the quay wall. The wall surface is a photo of the actual quayside at Padstow. The colour and texture would be difficult to model any other way. I had already used this same decoration on my 4mm Padstow box file layout. The only adjustment I made was to scale up the top row of stone blocks.

The pilings/ fenders are knocked up from wood, dyed and then pastel scrapes applied to mirror the algae layer of the wall.

The quay road surface is given a slight texture that was created from the ash of winter hearth fires.

First I mixed up a dark grey home paint from what I had available. Painted this onto the road areas and whilst still wet sprinkled over the ash from a herb bottle with fine nylon mesh cover.

A piece of A4 paper was then wafted over the surface to spread the ash evenly. Next, any loose ash was lightly brushed and vacuumed away. This actually removed quite a lot to the point where it looked like all was removed. But that is not the case. The ash is so fine it is not discernable but, gives a roughness to the touch like fine emery paper.

To Part 22.

To Part 1.  

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 20

The siding to the left of the paper mill is in practice a dead end that needs a buffer stop. However, if this were a real railway the siding would continue further along the quay side. I wanted to depict this but how?

The answer was to deploy a fixed wagon as the buffer stop. Not a complete wagon but a cut down version. I choose a cut down wagon because it gives more room in this short siding for train movements.

I find this approach quite amusing and enjoyed building the buffer-stop-wagon. In the photo above a 'vanwide' wagon is shown alongside. This I designed and 3D printed as a kit some time ago. It was a simple case of cutting the same parts in CAD, print and assemble. The buffer-stop-wagon is fully detailed, like its parent. It is fixed to the baseboard with a large flat head nail through its floor.

To Part 21.

To Part 1.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 19

Back in December 2019 I bought a loco crew from the Guildford Gauge 0 guild trade show held in Reading, Berkshire for my Terrier locomotive . After sitting on the shelf for five months I was finally in the right frame of mind to paint them up and fit them to the loco.

They are from the Phoenix 43 Scale Miniatures range available from S and D Models. The guy on the left is supplied with separate head and arms and the guy on the right with separate head and shovel. Not sure why because there is only one suitable pose to apply.

The guy on the left was sold to me as a Driver but having assembled him he has a rather odd pose for a driver, don't you think.

Considering these are not 3D printed (noted for high definition) the definition is remarkable good with individual fingers clearly defined and well detailed facial features. They are moulded in pewter.

To Part 1.  

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 18

The second fiddle yard. This one is for the mill end of the layout. For build details see the first fiddle yard posting.

This fiddle yard is not strictly necessary to operate the layout. Access to the sidings is always from the fiddle yard at the other end.

This fiddle yard is only required if trains are to be run along the length of the branch line. However, it also offers the opportunity to drive trains on/off the layout to/from the siding that runs under the mill overhead walkway, thereby enhancing shunting operations.

To Part 19.

To Part 1.   

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 17B

The name of the mill is Hillson Paper Mills, which is an anagram of the prototype Hollins Paper Mills.

The walkway is made from 3D printed corrugated panels glued to card walls.

The sawtooth roof of the building is also 3D printed as individual panels glued to rafters.

The roof and 1st and 2nd floors are removeable in case I want to upgrade with lighting for each floor or change the machinery inside.

The second floor is a wallpaper design office, cuurently void of furniture and staff.

View from the brach line with chlorine tanker alongside.

Sidings either side of the building should be further from the building (it's the main compromises of 0 gauge to fit everything in on a small layout). Somehow, I did not test my Class 33 when setting the track distance from the building. On the left siding the hand rails that protrude from the 33 cab side hit the building corner and on the right siding, which is on a curve, the central body of the 33 hits the building wall. I had two options; remake the building to reduce its width or move the tracks, which are embedded in solid DAS clay.

The building took several weeks to make so I was not going there. Surprisingly, it was not too difficult to free the rails from the DAS clay. I used a chisel to gouge out grooves in the DAS clay and then broke the superglue joins of the live and guide rails with scalpel.

To Part 18.

To Part 1.  

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 17A

Time for another building. It is the Paper Mill, inspired by the large building in this photograph of Hollins paper mill in Darwin (now demolished).

A lot of work is involved in making the model so, it is presented across two Postings.

The shell of the building is made of corrugated cardboard. This is proving an ideal material for 0 gauge buildings, as it is 'free' and makes a robust large model.

Unlike the Hollins building there is a covered walkway from the large hole on the right across two railway tracks to an imagined building off the layout.

Decorative papers of brick and rendered cement were applied to the shell. Interior decoration is also provided. The model is of the low relief variety, meaning it is assumed to be much longer than shown with the rest of it being off layout. Even so it is quite large for a low relief model, which are usually not much more than a wall against a backscene.

The back interior wall is covered in perspective views of real mill interiors, one for each floor, giving the impression of the building being much longer, although it is barely visible through the windows. May be more noticeable if the inside was lit.

The window frames are DIY 3D printed in plastic.

I wanted to include machinery on each floor and pondered on this for some time concerned about the difficulty of making 3D models of complex machinery.

I had a eureka moment when I saw a photograph that was taken from an angle that was ideal when seen through a window from the normal viewpoint of the model on the layout.

The idea was to cut out the machinery from the photograph, stick it to board and simply fix this two dimensional scene inside the building.

However, a three dimensional element was introduced by cutting out the roll of paper and table from the photograph and mounting it about 5 mm in front of the machine.

The scene was replicated to fill the ground floor of the building.

I found another ideal photograph to treat similarly for the first floor.

This is the view throught the ground floor windows of the machinery shown above.

I may not get away with this trick for the second floor, as the flat machinery will be more obvious viewed through skylights in the roof.

To Part 17B.

To Part 1

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 16

I liked the use of railings on Arun Quay. I 3D printed some for my layout and what a pain that was!

Initially, I designed each 6 foot panel as one part. The horizontal bars extend slightly either side of the poles. When the panel is printed laid down there is a small gap between the poles and the print bed, which was enough to cause malformation of the poles in places. The solution was to make each panel from two parts such that the poles are in contact with the print bed and a separate horizontal bar side extension is glued in place afterwards

That was not the end of the story because each panel is glued to the next using Superglue and that was more successful at sticking my fingers than the plastic!

The ivy is teased out hairy string covered in real, minced dead tree leaves and then sprayed with green acrylic paint.

The spiky 'weed' is petrified lavender leaves from a bush that had died, sprayed with green acrylic paint.

To Part 17A.

To Part 1.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 15

For those of us who mostly scratch build, especially trackwork, it can take weeks or even months working on the foundations of a layout. During this long period it looks nothing like a real railway and can result in enthusiasm waning. It is not until landscaping is underway that the scene comes to life, lifting the spirits and spurring us on with construction.

The two buildings previously presented are in place, albeit much closer to the branch line track than would be allowed in the real world. Between them is a privy (barely visible) being a scaled up version of the Wills plastic kit. In my case it is made from balsa wood 'planks'.

The grass is old fashioned hairy carpet underlay glued to the baseboard and peeled off when dry to leave a multitude of hairs that are trimmed with scissors to the desirable height.. Once painted with acrylics (by sweeping the paint brush to and fro) it takes on a grass like appearance. This method can give longer grass length and be clumpier in places than static grass.

The ivy is teased out hairy string covered in real minced dead tree leaves and then sprayed with acrylic paint.

The bush is the dead, bristly flower head of  Ceratostigma willmottianum covered in real minced dead tree leaves and sprayed green.

To Part 16.

To Part 1.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 14

A second building for the dockyard is McBoaty Marine Engineers. Seeking another quick build I came across a free building kit, this time from 3dk. Whilst suitable, their copyright does not allow modification so. it is a non starter for me. I had to find another.

The February 1986 issue of Practical Model Railways magazine has a plan for a small building that has some merit as my marine engineers building. The plan is of a narrow gauge locomotive shed repurposed as a cow shed after the railway closed.

The building was scaled up from the 4mm scale plan to 7mm and designed in a graphic editing application.

Following the success of the last build using corrugated cardboard the same was used here. Internal decoration is provided and an office with desk, that is a scaled up version of that used in my 00 gauge goods shed kit. The office can be glimpsed through the windows and if lighting was fitted may become more obvious.

The purlins shown in the photo are balsa wood and are the foundation for faux galvanised steel corrugated panels.

I kept the tall 'loco entrance doors' on the basis that small cruisers or small masted yachts can be entered for repair.

The corrugated roof panels are 3D printed by myself and coloured with acrylics . Rust here and there is achieved by sponge dabbing. Quite pleased with the effect.

To Part 15.

To Part 1.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 13

I started to raise the ground level to rail height in the dock yard. Upon reaching an area where there are to be buildings I had to stop because I want to embed buildings below ground level and at that stage had no idea what buildings to fit. I had to find some suitable. There is little room between the dock yard tracks and the branch line so I had to consider small buildings, maybe huts.

I found a delightful little hut by Scalescenes, given away free of charge as a taster for their range of downloadable card kits. I could have designed and built my own but wanted a quick result this time. Scalescenes are very generous in their copyright allowing kits to be customised and replicated for personal, non-commercial use.

Their kit is for 00 gauge. The first thing to do was to scale up the parts for 0 gauge and I am pleased to say the decoration suffered no degradation.

Sclaescenes builds require a range of card and board thickness from 200gsm to 2 mm thick. For 0 gauge 2 mm becomes 3.5 mm, a board size I did not have, except I do have a large stock of Ikea corrugated cardboard boxes saved from furniture purchases. Among these were some close to 3.5 mm.

Using corrugated cardboard for the first time I was pleased at its ease of use and robustness of the finished model. One mistake of several made during the build was to transpose the side walls resulting in the chimney and fireplace being close to the door when it is meant to be furthest from the door!

The hut is available in a variety of brick and stone decoration. I chose stone, partly because I wanted to add texture and the large stone blocks would make it simpler to achieve than brick.

I printed the stone decoration twice. The first was layered onto the building as normal. The individual stones of the second were cut out and glued over the corresponding stones of the first layer. As a result the second layer of stones stand proud of the mortar lines on the first layer.

The effect is not that noticeable at normal viewing distance but, close up or in optimum light the result is quite effective.

Four other customisations are the walls that have a 2 mm skirt for embedding in the ground. The gutters with facia boards designed and fitted using my own method. The drainpipes are 3D printed by myself and a door knob, which is in fact a post for the guard rail of a scrapped Airfix 00 gauge turntable!

The paint scheme is BR Southern, an option supplied in the kit. The hut therefore, is a yard office for railway purposes.

To Part 14.

To Part 1.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 12

G. Pryer's book 'A Pictorial Record of Southern Signals' has a scale drawing of level crossing gates for a single line. Bizarrley the scale is a little larger than 7mm scale so, rescaling had to be done to make the model. The drawing is of a set of gates on the Hayling Island (LB&SCR) branch line. To complement the drawing I did a search for photographs and came up with a couple, one of which suggested the crossing was located at Langston. However, other photos of the Langston crossing clearly showed a different style of gates.

Further searching eventually identified the location as New Lane, about 1500 metres from Havant station. The branch line route now exists as a footpath and to my delight the gates have been retained as an entrance point. Google street view gives us close up views where details of their construction can be seen.

The model was 3D printed as a kit of parts and is manually operated. After the photos were taken a white mesh was glued over each gate, as the prototype in operational days. The mesh came from a small 'wedding favors' gift bag, available from Hobbycraft.

Grond surfaces will be to textured and coloured later.
To Part 13.

To Part 1.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 11

An 0 gauge scale drawing of a Southern Railway rail built buffer stop appeared in the April 1972 issue of Model Railways magazine.

I considered 3D printing the whole thing but as I had rail off-cuts from track construction then these are more prototypical and were used instead. In fact nearly all the off-cuts were put to use here.

I found fixing the rails together quite difficult and fiddly. First I tried Superglue but it was not strong enough. Soldering worked well but getting all the parts to align was troublesome and of course heating one part caused solder joints on others close by to fail. Judicious use of metal clips as heat-sinks helped to preserve previously made joints

The buffer beam is 3D printed.

The model was sprayed with Halfords grey primer. Rivets were then applied using acrylic matte medium on the end of a cocktail stick. Brushed acrylic paint provided the colours and pastel scrapes were dry brushed on for a bit of weathering.

There are two sidings that need buffer stops. For a buffer stop at the other siding I am thinking of using a cut down wagon permanently fixed to the track to give the impression the track goes beyond the end of the scenic section.

To Part 12.

To Part 1.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 10

The first fiddle yard has been built comprising an open wooden frame and wooden cassette. The cassette is recycled from a previous layout and another two need to be made. One cassette will be for a  fiddle yard at the other end of the layout.

Each cassette can accommodate one diesel loco and two wagons or a small tank engine and four wagons.

The two outer tracks on the scenic section can connect to the cassette(s).The middle track is a dead end siding. Power connects to the end of a cassette track rails by crocodile clips.

So far I have not had to deploy electrical connectors and cables between boards. Electrical connectivity uses the metal hinges between boards and  'sliding wire in tube' at the fiddle yard cassette join. The latter also provides track alignment.

When I soldered the tubes to the rails of the scenic section I failed to set them all identically. Consequently a cassette could only join to one track. This was remedied easier than expected by adjusting position of existing ones on the scenic board, where possible or remaking them.

Now I must spend time operating the layout to check track is reliable before embedding the rails in tarmac and continuing with scenic work.

To Part 11.

To Part 1

Saturday, 14 March 2020

COVID-19 Impact

This is the first year in 10 that my son, grandson and myself have not visited the Basingstoke & North Hants Model Railway Society exhibition. This saddens me because it has been an annual event for my grandson who has visited the show with us since his first year of birth (now 10 years of age). It also saddens me because if others have taken the same decision as us then attendance figures will be poor. I just hope the club covers its costs for the two-day show.

The show is usually very crowded with people in an enclosed environment cheek to joul. We just felt it was too much of a risk of infection as the new virus epidemic is due to go exponential in the UK. Having just viewed an enthusiast's video of the exhibits on YouTube he made the comment that it is the quietest Basingstoke show he has known, i.e. fewer people attending than normal.

So as not to be too disappointed I staged my own event in my railway room for my family, much to the delight of three grandchildren and fathers.

Stay well.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 9

All the track for the scenic section is now laid. Rails that are to be embedded in tarmac have a hardboard sub base. The blue colouration is a throwback to when some of the hardboard was used as a sky back scene for a previous layout. It gives me a good feeling to recycle materials, not only from a cost aspect but also to reduce my stock holding by bringing it back into use.

The tarmac will not be laid until I have tested the track thoroughly with train movements, in case some rail adjustment is required. It will be difficult to make adjustment after the rails have been buried.

For train movements to be effective I'll need to make at least one fiddle yard at this end and maybe a second at the other end.

It may be of interest to know that scratch building track work consumes time. The track here was made over 1.5 months comprising a few hours most days.

Positioning the two sidings at the far end was problematical. I wanted to create a paper mill scene similar to this photograph. The idea being the two sidings would pass either side of the large building with the small building being a gatehouse. When I came to mark their positions on the layout the realities of 0 gauge space requirements hit home. There was no room for the small building and the width of the large building needed to be reduced significantly.

I had to sketch out dimensions of the large building to determine the positions of the two sidings.

For the large building, shown on the link above, there are inadequate photos from which to scale and no plan. This, together with reduced width to fit the space, meant that the building design would be freelance. This proved a bit intimidating because I normally scale and create from a real building plan and/or suitable photographs, where dimensions simply fall into place.

The problem was where to set the position of the two upper floors and windows. I remembered I had a give-away card kit from 'Scale Trains' magazine (August 1982) of Alresford seed warehouse. It was a simple case of transposing the 4mm scale dimensions to 7mm.

I shall try and incorporate the finish/texture of the large building shown in the photo linked above and will fit an overhead walkway across two tracks that will help to disguise their exit from the scenic board.

Positioning the two sidings at this end posed no problem as I had already found a good photo of a trans-shipment shed and scaled from it. All I had to do was make sure there was enough space for vehicles to pass between the curved siding and shed.

To Part 10.

To Part 1

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 8

The sleepered track needs to be weathered. I made up my own mix of 'sleeper grime' from brown and black enamel paint. The rails were masked with drinking straws slit down the length. The lot was then sprayed with Halfords grey primer followed by brushing over the sleeper grime when the primer had dried. (could not spray because my air brush broke).

The rail sides and chairs were next brush painted with my own mix of  'rusty rails' using red oxide and brown enamel paint.

The sleepers with integral chairs are 3D printed in blocks of four sleepers.

The ballast proved tricky to hold firmly in place. I first sprayed it using 50/50 PVA mix (with a drop of washing liquid to release surface tension) and left it to dry overnight. In the morning the granules were dry but had not set. I then increased the mix to 70/30 and dribbled it over using a children medicine syringe. Next day the ballast had still not set firm. Reasons why this may not have worked are the porosity of the pumice or the depth of ballast (3mm). In both cases much more glue mix may be necessary. The final method that worked was to dribble over 50/50 white tacky glue. This gave the solid fix needed.

I am pleased with the ballast colour. Further weathering could be applied to darken it between sleepers to represent muck dropped by passing locomotives.

Grass is to be 'grown' right up to the ballast. I should have prepared the ground before ballasting with a covering of green paint. I'll just have to be careful to stop the paint leeching into the ballast.

To Part 9.

To Part 1.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Day out on The Mid Hants Railway (Watercress Line)

With freedom to see everything (well almost) and as many train journeys as you wish I think £20 for a day ticket was pretty good value.

I have visited this heritage line many times before and travelled on a train between Alresford and Ropley but, this was the first time I journeyed the entire route to Alton and back stopping off at Medstead & Four Marks and Ropley. Breaking the journey this way allowed us to catch four trains hauled by three different engines.

Starting at Alresford and after a quick look around the model/book shop we boarded the first train to Alton hauled by Class 2MT 41312. We stayed on board this train all the way to Alton, which was quite a slow journey due to waiting at Medstead for what seemed an age for another train to vacate the single line so that we could proceed.

At Alton it was time for lunch. Not much to be had on the station itself but in the car park was a 'greasy spoon' cafe. Bypassing this we headed for Waitrose next door for lunch in their in store restaurant.

Back on the next train, hauled by Class 4MT 76017 to Medstead. We alighted at Medstead for a look around. This is the base for the Building Department and goods wagon storage. Unfortunately wagons were not accessible but a converted goods store has an exhibition of goods traffic handling. It also held a good display of second hand railway books for sale by donation.

In the yard was a Stothert & Pitt loading crane. This was of particular interest to me as I spent time in the past researching and building a model of one of theirs using only photographs as reference. It was pleasing to see one 'in the flesh' albeit smaller than my modelled version.

I believe the Medstead crane came from The Grand Union Canal and not a railway!

The next train to Ropley was hauled by Schools Class 30925 'Cheltenham'.

Ropley is the locomotive centre so lots to see in this respect and a reason for visiting this day was to see The Flying Scotsman, arguably the most famous locomotive in the world. To see it yes but, to board it no, unless we forked out another £5 just to stand on the footplate! Declining this was no big deal considering we were satisfied by everything else we saw and besides, it is not even a Southern engine!

Our return train to Alresford was hauled by the same Class 2MT that we started with - a fitting end to an enjoyable day.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 7

I am taking a short break from track laying to prepare the ballast.

I came across a video recommending pumice as a ballasting medium. The great benefit of this is its cost being only about £3 for 3 litres from Ikea (in the garden section).

The raw bag of pumice is shown top left in the photo. For 0 gauge I sifted this through approximately 1.75 mm mesh and then again through 1mm mesh to remove the dust.

About a third of the bag is usable as 0 gauge ballast  (shown in the plastic container). The dust, comprising 1mm chips and dust, amounted to less than a quarter of the bag and this could be sifted again for 00 gauge and N gauge ballast) The remainder, being the bulk, are 'rocks' that may be suitable for larger railway gauges.I dare say the 'rocks' could be crushed to make more 0, 00 or N ballast. I have not tested that yet.

There is good colour variation from light to dark fawn. I usually use grey ballast, which is characteristic of new or lightly used track beds. Looking at photos though I see that well used track beds appear brownish, perhaps darker than the pumice.

The depth of my track sleepers is quite deep at 3mm so I will lay a bed of the 'rocks' between sleepers to bulk out the areas followed by a covering of the prepared 0 gauge ballast. The glue will be diluted PVA, with a little washing up liquid to release surface tension, either dribbled or sprayed over.

To Part 8.

To Part 1

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 6

Turnouts that are to be tarmacked over have a solid plywood base instead of individual sleepers. To lay the rails in the correct place I traced the rails of a Peco template using pencil and baking parchment; turned over the parchment and pencilled over the rails, which leaves rail marks on the plywood. This one is a Y style so orientation is not an issue as it is symmetrical.

Brass plates were soldered to the rails and then superglued to the plywood. Sometimes the glue would break free due to stress. I discovered that applying a hot soldering iron to a plate for a few seconds affects the glue in such a way that it bonds even stronger than before! This does give rise to a plume of superglue smoke that causes severe stinging of eyes and nose. This is not a method to adopt unless a mask is worn and the head kept away from the plume.

There is a second rail running alongside the running rails throughout. This is an edging barrier for the tarmac and also serves as a guard rail at the frog end. This second rail is 3D printed plastic for economy.

The stretcher bar and switch control area are treated with normal sleepers and between the switch blades here will be a 'wooden' platform instead of tarmac. This will be removable for maintenance.

To Part 7.

To Part 1.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 5

The layout will be analogue powered (DC). I intend to use a cassette system in the fiddle yard and power for the entire layout will connect to the rail ends within a cassette by means of crocodile clips.

When a cassette is brought into play power is conveyed to the scenic tracks via copper wire plungers and connecting rings, as shown in the photo for a 00 gauge layout. I have used this method successfully on two layouts thus far.

I am not using rail joiners for electrical connectivity of track in the scenic area. Each turnout and straight track section will be wired to a bus bar beneath the baseboard. Hence everything is live except some sidings will have isolation switches so that a locomotive can be held whilst another is run.

This photo shows the bus bar made from two lengths of 13 amp copper wire for feed and return. The wire being stripped from insulated cable. They are held in place with 3D printed straps glued to the baseboard underside.

Inter board feed and return connection will be via the metal joining hinges, obviating the need for plug, socket and cable between the boards.

To Part 6.

To Part 1

Saturday, 1 February 2020

February Website Cover

A bit of a disaster in the railway room

Imagine my dismay at the site of devastation that greeted me upon entering the railway room. The picture hook holding a large glass fronted poster had pulled itself out of the plaster board wall causing the poster to drop and fall forward onto Misterton Station. The glass shattered into a multitude of small and large fragments.

It is as though an earthquake had hit the station.
  • The station building slid forward off its footings.
  • The signal box suffered a crushed chimney.
  • A telegraph pole and two platform lampposts broke into pieces.
  • The porters sack trolley broke in two.
  • A number of passengers standing on the platforms dropped dead from shock
  • One passenger was thrown into the cavernous ground near Hewish Sidings.
  • The Station Master jumped 150 scale yards landing in the railway head shunt near east field.
  • A section of platform railings took flight and has not been found to date. 
  • Platform benches and a calf float thrown about.
  • A one plank wagon carrying an invalid car derailed and the car dismounted.
  • A number of cars in the car park were moved. 
  • The Station Master's garden tree was crushed, his shed and concrete fence dislodged from their foundations.
  • A passenger coach and a kitchen/buffet coach waiting in the platform overturned. The later lost both bogie side frames and its wheel sets dropped out.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 4

This is the third time I have scratch built turnouts. Previously I made turnouts for 00 and EM gauge layouts. Now it is the turn of 0 gauge. I am making my own to save expense. The cost works out to be about £10 (using some heavily discounted products off eBay) whereas proprietary r-t-r turnouts are about £50.

The parts that were troublesome for me to make in the past were the switch blades, to achieve good electrical contact with the stock rails and effective switch blade movement. The former was a problem because I do not use a direct frog electrical feed, which would require the complexity of an electrical switch to supply the correct polarity (usually automatically operated by a point motor). I need the switch blade to provide a reliable frog feed with the correct polarity when it touches the live stock rail.

I had already decided operation would be manual for this small layout and I wanted control to be my means of a lever alongside the turnout similar to the prototype.

I proceeded with trepidation, not really having solutions at the outset for the above. But, along the way I came up with reliable designs for those parts.

The fundamental parts for the turnout are:
  • 3mm plywood sleepers stained a dark oak.
  • Peco chairs and slide chairs.
  • Peco code 124 rail
  • Fabricated brass plate foundation for the frog and closure rail assembly.
The sleepers were lightly glued at the ends to a Peco paper template. The template peeled away after completion.

The rails were cut and formed using the template as a guide and the chairs slid over. Each chair was glued to the sleepers. Now, I found MEK liquid did not work and superglue was dodgy (Peco advises pins). I used 'tacky white glue' that claims to stick virtually anything. It did work but needs a long drying time. Some chairs that are under stress came adrift and were reinforced with superglue.

The only gauges I used to set the rails was a vernier calliper set to 32 mm and a 1.75 mm drill shank to set the check rails.

And so to the switch blades.

I made the switch blade and closure rail to be one piece (usually they are separate and hinged with a rail joiner) and soldered it to a brass foundation plate together with the frog. Thus, the whole lot is electrically joined. To aid movement I cut nicks in the bottom flange of the rail at the hinge point.

To set the gap between the two blades I used stretcher bars, like the prototype. The bars need to be stiff. I used pieces of EM gauge rail I had in stock. The style of the bars is not exactly as the prototype but they are in the correct place and look the part.

Needless to say electrical contact between switch blade and stock rail was unreliable. I spent a long time thinking of a solution and nearly reverted to a separate electrical switch until I had a eureka moment.

Taking some springy phosphor bronze strip I set it in the baseboard and in line with the open switch blade such that the blade pushes into it slightly for a good contact when 'on' (top blade in photo above). Each contact is wired to the opposite live stock rail beneath the baseboard. The position of the contact must be checked to avoid touching the wheel of a passing loco when in the 'off' position (bottom contact in photo above).

The manual lever control of the switch blades is quite novel, I think. I believe the prototype uses a sprung mechanism such that the lever is pulled and released in only one direction for each movement of the blades. I could not see a way of doing that so my lever is pulled one way and then the other to switch directions.

Looking at how the Peco 00 gauge mechanism works I adopted the same sprung method but, offset it from the turnout.

I 3D printed a sliding tie bar and housing for a Peco 00 gauge spring taken from a broken turnout. The tie bar has a 1mm wire through the middle that locates in a loop fixed to the nearest switch blade. The other end is upturned to fit into an angle crank.

A platform with a slot holds the lever that pivots in an integral bracket. The bottom of the lever locates in the same angle crank beneath the platform.

The platform and crank fit over the tie bar rod and is fixed to the sleepers either side.
The 00 gauge spring gives sufficient movement to hold the switch blade against the stock rail.

To Part 5.

To Part 1.

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