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Saturday 24 June 2017

Project 17 - Rodding Continues

I forgot to break the sleeper ties for the rods to run straight through beneath the rails. What you see instead is truncated lengths each side of the rails. If you can run roding straight through then it is easier but sections of insulating sleeves will need to be fitted to the wire rods to stop electrical shorting where they lie beneath the metal rails.

The second photo shows rods and cranks down the centre of the sleepers. These are for the dual acting facing point locks of the two turnouts there.

There are three more rods to lay alongside the track almost the full length of the layout module. About 20 more stools need to be made to support these. That's going to take quite some effort.

In practice there was more mechanical fittings than modelled, some of which I don't know the purpose, but what I am installing gives a fair impression of this highly visible track side furniture.

To Part 22.

To Part 1.

Saturday 17 June 2017

Project 17 - Rodding Commences

Now for one of the more tricky parts, not only in model construction but also for prototype technical understanding. I confess to being no expert and have spent ages reading up on technicalities and reviewing photographs of the location to identify turnout rod runs and cranks. The cranks can have one of two orientations and I don't know if my guess is correct as I cannot determine it from the photographs I have.

The stools (rod rollers) in this first section beneath the railway bridge in the photo are my last stock of the defunct Colin Waite brass etchings. All others will be the Brassmasters version. The cranks are a mix of both ranges. I have used round copper wire for the rods, whilst round rods were used on the network I believe at Swanage they were square channel, the other option. The spacing of stools for round rods is eight feet.

The installation is purely cosmetic and will be painted when all is finished. Needless to say this lot is quite fiddly/frustrating to assemble but I get a weird sense of enjoyment threading the rods through the finished  stools.

Six rods control two catch points and three turnouts. All together that is five turnouts so why six rods? Each rod is associated with a lever in the Signal Box and they were allocated as follows:

Lever 10: Shed road catch point
Lever 9: Goods turnout
Lever 8: Facing Point Locks of  No2 road and Goods turnouts
Lever 7: Siding catch point (off stage) 
Lever 6: Two Facing turnouts on No 1 and No 2 roads
Lever 5: Facing Point Lock for No 1 road turnout

To Part 21.

To Part 1.

Saturday 10 June 2017

Project 17 - Ground Signals

Hitherto I made ground signals from matchstick, hole punched plastic and bent wire. For something so small this is fine but for Swanage Loco Yard where attention to detail is more acute, being a very small layout, I opted for the more accurate MSE GS002 kit from Wizard Models.

Only two ground signals are necessary in the modelled scene and fortuitously the Wizard Models kit includes two signals. Whilst of few parts they are extremely small and fiddly to assemble. There is potential to make them operable "if you are brave enough to have a go", says the instructions and as I felt brave I did, except two broken drills later and much fiddling I gave up! The disc does rotate by finger push so can be placed in on or off position but is not linked to its operating lever.

The one on the left is for the shed road catch point and the one on the right for shed road turnout on the station approach road.

To Part 20.

To Part 1.

Monday 5 June 2017

Project 17 - 6 Month Review

This is one of three micro layouts I had in mind to build, thinking they would be quite quick to create. After all I had read of such layouts being created in a weekend or even 24 hours.

6 months later of 2 or 3 hours per week and whilst Swanage Loco Yard looks finished there is still more to do!

The reason a micro layout can take so long to build is down to the method one decides to follow. I daresay a fictitious railway using all proprietary materials could be knocked up in a weekend. To base a layout on a real location needs time for research and considerably more effort where much of the scene has to be scratch built, as in my case.

What's left to add to the scene is some track side furniture, a bit of landscape in the foreground and completion of track ballasting.

The more significant items to build are the fiddle yards at each end. I was unsure what method to use for these. On a recent visit to the EM South exhibition I paid particular interest in fiddle yard designs used on the layouts there and came away with ideas that should help me construct them.

To operate the layout with some authenticity I'll need to acquire an M7 tank locomotive and perhaps a class 3MT as well since these were used for local services on the line in my period.

I wish I could say that the build has all gone swimmingly but I'm afraid there are significant issues that almost caused me to abandon the project, which I'll allude to now.

Turntable Drive

The turntable is motor driven. I mentioned in an earlier posting that it is a noisy mechanism and with that big void beneath the baseboard the sound is amplified (as are the locomotive motors). More of a worry is the weakness of the turntable drive. Even though the motor is purported to be high torque it does not cope well with a bit of friction in turntable movement. If this becomes unbearable I'll convert it to manual control via a turning handle at the front of the layout module.

Foam Board Module

5mm foam board is an inexpensive and a very light weight material from which to make the layout module. I knew it might have strength issues but the finished unit seemed sufficiently rigid. However, the baseboard soon sagged in places indicating that I should have put in more bracing. It was too late to do this retrospectively as some scenic items were already fixed in place so, the deviation had to be packed out beneath the railway track to ensure a flat plane. A sheet of thin plywood on top of the foam board base or making the baseboard from a thick piece of insulation foam board may have helped matters.

During the photo session today I noticed that the sides of the module are showing bowing tendencies. This does not bode well for the long term future of the layout, which is a worry as the scene itself is very well done and a delight to view, if I say so myself. If only I could lift it off and fit it to a more solid structure for longevity. I'm afraid it does not lend itself to that.


I wanted  limited lighting to be representative of a dull autumn day It was the first thing built into the module and seemed adequate although I knew the reflection from white walls and baseboard might be giving a false impression. Having built the landscape much of the light is absorbed by it making for very dull light at the engine shed end of the layout. On the face of it with the shed lights switched on it would be beneficial but it's too dark for my liking. I don't want to add more theatrical lights at that end as the intention was to have light from one source as though the sun was shining through thin cloud. Fortunately, I had not stuck the opaque roof panel in place so I'm now toying with the idea of making the module roof out of translucent material to allow more ambient light across the scene.

To Part 19.

To Part 1.

Oh, and what of the other two micro layouts I had in mind - probably non starters after the time it is taking for this one.

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