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Friday 28 December 2018

A Model Railway - Fiddle Yard

The options are i) a fan out of fixed track from the single line of the layout (not space efficient) ii) a sliding traverser comprising several tracks (complicated construction) iii) portable cassettes.

I opted for cassettes simply because I already had some spare from a previously scrapped layout.

The existing cassettes are two road but, a three or four road may be better for this layout. Simply made from hardboard and softwood frame with track glued down using  Aleene's tacky glue. The open softwood frame is joined to the scenic board with hinge and removable pin, as before.

Track connection is a successful method I previously used. Copper clad sleepers are soldered to the end of the rails. Copper tubes* are soldered to each end of the sleepers. Lengths of mains copper wire are pushed into the tubes for both alignment and electrical connection.

*The tube was formed by holding the mains copper wire against the copper strip in a vice, bending the copper strip 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.

The train controller connecting wires have croc. clips on the end, which are simple clipped to the far end of the cassette track currently in use.

This completes the basic operational model railway layout, which took about 2 months of spare time to build (not including railway buildings). Fine detailing, like platform lamps and benches etc. can now be applied.

A track mat template upon which to lay track and scenery for this model railway is available from January 2019 at http://www.amodelrailway.uk.


To Part 1.

Friday 21 December 2018

A Model Railway - Hidden Exit

The transition from scenic layout to bare fiddle yard needs to be disguised. Common ways to do this are a tunnel, bridge, buildings or vegetation. I have opted for vegetation as being the most realistic scene for the open countryside section of the layout. Second choice would be an over bridge but, as a road is already close by then that would be overkill. A tunnel would not work here because, to be realistic, a steep and tall hill side above the tunnel mouth would be necessary.

Trees and shrubs are sprigs of dead Yarrow and Sedum flower heads joined together with PVA glue. The plants retain tightly bunched small flower heads when the plant dies back in Autumn. These give the appearance of leaves so, scatter sprinkling is not necessary. The brown 'leaves' of the assembled trees and shrubs are sprayed with green acrylic paint.

To Part 15.

To Part 1.

Thursday 13 December 2018

A Model Railway - Lineside

Moving into the countryside the railway is bounded by a 3 bar fence (Dapol CO23) that wraps around the Platelayer and Tool huts. The static grass here is kept short (2mm) to minimise fire risk from cinder spitting steam engines.

The fields either side of the fence presently show a bright green painted base layer for static grass landscaping (to be applied).

The home signal gantry has offset signals. The lower is for the bay platform and the taller for the main platform. There should be a ground disk on the gantry for the goods siding that is just beyond the crossing. The signal gantry is Ratio UQ/80 LNER upper quadrant, which is similar to LSWR lattice signals.

Another gantry of starting signals is located at the end of the platform.

To Part 14.

To Part 1.  

Sunday 9 December 2018

A Model Railway - Hedging

Unkempt hedging alongside country lanes can be very tall. This hedging is about 50 mm (12.5 ft).

It is made from coir matting (coir basket liner or flower pot). This material is ideal because it mimics a branch like structure. Tease it apart a little and random cut the top. Next, apply diluted PVA glue (50/50) and sprinkle on green scatter letting the coir show through in places. I used two grades of scatter and applied more to the base line after the hedge was stuck down. To finish, cut off any long, straggly coir pieces and maybe overspray lightly with green acrylic paint.

To Part 13.

To Part 1

Wednesday 5 December 2018

A Model Railway - Level Crossing

The level crossing protects a minor country road that has no white line markings. The gates, posts and lamps are DIY 3D prints (with a mesh netting overlay to the gates). The red targets and board between rails is from a left over Airfix/Dapol kit and in fact the entire kit would fit here.

The road ramp up to the top of the rails is DAS clay. Two tips about using DAS clay. Press the clay into a layer of PVA glue to help adhesion and second, wet a finger with water to smooth the clay top surface. A nice finish is created this way.

With the road and crossing complete the signal box can be placed alongside.

To Part 12.

To Part 1.

Friday 23 November 2018

A Model Railway - Embankment & Grass

A grassy embankment continues the high level of the station forecourt. First, I stuck down corrugated cardboard to make the lower ground level with the top of the railway sleepers Next, the high level area was made up from 5 mm foam board, as for platform construction. The sloping embankment was made from sculptured polystyrene packaging and covered with Wickes wood filler for a hard surface.

The sloping embankment was then covered with a mix of 2 mm static grass, predominately mid green. The high level is 6 mm buff brown with a dash of green.

The idea is that the slope is cut regularly and the top left alone, the whole area being unused railway land with the boundary fence being off stage.

To Part 11.

To Part 1.

Friday 16 November 2018

A Model Railway - Coaling Stage

The loco coaling stage is made using the same method as the station platforms and coal staithes.

I thought about a coal retaining wall around three sides but found that this was not always applied, e.g. Okehampton shed. The coal was simply heaped up on the stage and presumably a lot of clean up went on for the overspill.

Some sites had an ash pit in the track alongside the coaling stage but at smaller yards, like Seaton and Lyme Regis, only an inspection pit was provided inside the shed. I have not modelled this as it would be barely visible from the normal viewing position outside the model shed.

The Engine Shed and Water Tower* can now be placed to complete the locomotive yard. The location of the loco yard next to and at the end of the station platforms is based on that at Seaton, Devon.

*The standard card kit has been super detailed with lamp, tap and other fittings.

To Part 10.

To Part 1.

Friday 9 November 2018

A Model Railway - Coal Staithes

The coal yard is located at the end of the goods siding. The coal staithes design is based on those at Edenbridge Town (LBSCR) including the nicely rounded coal heaps.

It is a sleeper built facility. It could be made from card, styrene, wood and even Peco sleepers cut from track. I opted for plywood as I already had some abandoned plywood sleepers to hand. For authenticity they should be 1.66 mm thick. My uprights are too thick and the horizontals too thin! but it looks OK. The sides are 6 sleepers high and the rear 5 sleeper for ease of wagon unloading into the bins.They are painted acrylic brown and then weathered with white and black pastel scrapes.

The coal heaps are blocks of polystyrene packaging formed with knife and sandpaper. A layer of real coal dust is glued over followed by a sprinkling of 1 mm coal chips.

With the goods siding complete the Goods Shed can be placed.

To Part 9.

To Part 1

Sunday 4 November 2018

A Model Railway - Ballast

Ballast is Woodland Scenics Medium Grey B82, being 2.9 to 4.3 scale inches in size. This is mixed with ground up and sieved* cork, just enough to give a little colour variation.

Areas of the track where locomotives stand are ballasted with ground up and sieved coal to represent oil and muck dropped by  locomotives over many years.

The ballast is spread between the sleepers and the lot sprayed with 50/50 PVA glue/Water with a drop of washing up liquid to reduce surface tension.

* sieved through a 1 mm mesh strainer.

To Part 8.

To Part 1

Friday 26 October 2018

A Model Railway - Loading & Cattle Dock

Entrance to the loading and cattle dock is through a 5 bar gate set in a four bar fence line.

The fence is Hornby R537 and the gate DIY 3D printed. Both are painted in BR(S) building cream. Each section of fence has a thin piece of wire glued to the ends. The wire extends into the ground to hold the fence upright. The gate and its hinge post are one piece held upright by the post that extends into the ground. Rotating the post opens the gate.

The cattle dock is my own kit of 3D prints. The posts are simulated bullhead rail with moulded in planks between. Gate latches are formed from brass wire. Short lengths of plumbers hemp representing straw are scattered and glued to the ground.

The cattle dock was designed from a plan of the Wool, Dorset installation. Colouring is unknown but Googling cattle docks came up with a selection in black, brown and white. I opted for black.

This loading dock next to the station bay road, including angled fence line, is very similar to that once at Lyme Regis, Dorset.

With the platforms and station forecourt finished (apart from super detailing, which will be carried out when the basic landscaping for the whole layout is complete) the Country Station Building can be placed.

To Part 7.

To Part 1.

Thursday 18 October 2018

A Model Railway - Platform

The platform height should be 13.5 mm above rail top. Track height needs to be added to this and will vary depending on track design. For Peco code 100 a platform made from 18mm thick pine wood is a viable and quick solution. I used 5 mm thick foam board, as I had this in stock and it makes for a light weight construction.

The platform sides were glued down first and for the station forecourt a honeycomb of supports were applied. The distance from inner rail to platform edge should be 11 mm but care is needed to ensure rolling stock clears the platform especially where curves are present. The turnout at the far end of the platform is a case in point, as is the access curves at this end. Testing with locomotive and coach at the far turnout revealed that the platform side could lie alongside the Peco tie bar when it is set in the turn position giving a distance of about 13mm from inner rail to platform side. This was adopted throughout except at the curved access end where the gap had to be opened out to about 15mm for long coach clearance through the curve.

The platform sides were covered with a blackish stone decorative paper.

Platform top and station forecourt is another piece of 5mm foam board. I wanted a textured finish for the platform so painted it with black household emulsion paint followed by a sprinkled mix of granite dust, ash, and grey scatter whilst the paint was still wet. This came out as too coarse so, when dry I reduced it by rubbing with fine emery paper. The edges were painted with white acrylic paint.

The station forecourt was painted with dark grey emulsion paint without adding texture.

To Part 6.

To Part 1.

Friday 12 October 2018

A Model Railway - Track Laying

The track plan is for a fictitious BR(S) branch line terminus, although some aspects are taken from real locations. The platform accommodates two roads. Road 1 can hold a pacific class locomotive with two MK 1 coaches and includes a run around loop. Road 2 is a bay that accommodates a tank locomotive and two pull-push coaches. It also doubles as a loading dock and cattle dock. An engine shed is served from the run around loop. A separate goods siding branches off  before the station.

Track is Peco code 100. Turnouts are medium radius insulfrog and manually operated. Track is pinned to the foam board with 31mm dress making pins. This is not a firm fixing in foam but when the ballast is glued in place it should hold the track firm.

Three tracks span the baseboard joins. Since the baseboards can be separated for transportation some means of electrical connection is necessary and consideration given to a more robust means of track fixing at the baseboard joins.

For simplicity no special treatment of the track at baseboard joins was undertaken. I may live to regret this. A robust method I have used before is to replace the last sleeper with a copper clad sleeper that is glued to the baseboard and the rails soldered to this.

I had given no thought to electrical connection whilst building the baseboard. Since the boards are solid then any plug and socket arrangement, wire connections or any other gubbins below track level cannot easily be contained within the baseboards unless chunks of  foam are cut away. With hindsight it would have been useful to extend the hardboard side panels to give a void beneath the foam board to retain such items. Happily, this omission has so far not manifest as a problem.

At the board track joins I soldered bare wires to cut down Peco fish plates that slipped over the end of the rail. Wire runs were easily embedded in grooves cut in the top of the foam board *. Where a wire has to run beneath rails an insulated sleeve over the wire stops short circuits.

The existing metal board connecting hinges serve as electrical connection simply by using a board hinge fixing screw to hold the wire as well. Of course, only two wires can be connected this way - the feed and common return, and yet there are three tracks spanning the baseboards requiring six connections. The workaround was to wire the feed and return to all three tracks. No problem for DCC but for DC there are sections of goods siding and run around loop that are always live where a train cannot be held isolated whilst another is run. For my track plan this is unlikely to cause operational problems. The elegant solution is to use a multi-pin connector with the six rails connected to their mating rails through it. But, I wanted to keep things simple for this model railway. Hence the compromise.

*Postscript - Short Circuit

A modellers nightmare, worst still is an intermittent one. I had tested the track with powered locomotive and for a week or so no problem. Then, the locomotive came to a grinding halt. The electrical meter confirmed a short circuit between feed and return. I started to desolder wires from the rails but no cause of the short could be found and it eventually cleared itself. I put the wires back and locomotives ran again - for a while, and then the short returned. I could not fathom how the short arose and even suspected a faulty turnout. So I desoldered all the wires from the rails again, which cleared the short from the tracks. But there was still a short between feed and return and yet the two were now physically isolated. It then dawned on me where the fault lay.

I deliberately used bare wire (except between rails) to be unobtrusive to the eye above ground and buried it in grooves cut in the foam board where appropriate.

What I did not account for was the aluminium foil board covering. Somewhere along the wire run the bare feed and return momentarily touched the conductive aluminium foil causing a connection (short circuit). To correct the problem I re-cut the grooves a little wider taking care to strip the foil from the area. If I used this burying method again I would ensure the wire is sleeved with insulation where it is buried.

To Part 5.

To Part 1.

Thursday 4 October 2018

A Model Railway - Baseboard #3

My research for a suitable paper-aluminium glue lead me to a recommendation and tutorial found on the paper modellers forum. The glue to use is Aleenie's Original Tacky Glue (£3 from Hobbycraft). The bottle does not identify what materials it can stick but it works on metal and paper. One bottle was sufficient for the two boards with some left over.

Using 80gsm ink jet print paper track mat I was not able to get as smooth a finish as in the tutorial. It tended to crease and bubble. The bubbles disappeared on drying. Any deformation left is no problem as the surface is to be hidden with scenery.

To Part 4.

To Part 1.

Thursday 27 September 2018

A Model Railway - Baseboard #2

The vulnerable foam edges of the insulation boards need to be covered for protection. I used eighth inch hardboard stuck to the foam with PVA glue. The sides and underside were painted with household emulsion white just to make it look more appealing than bare hardboard.

I thought about removing the aluminium foil from the railway side of the boards as I intend to glue down a paper track mat, which I know would stick to foam with PVA glue but not sure what to use for foil. As I researched this I read that the foil forms part of the board strength and rigidity. Removing it could cause the board to warp over time. However, having fixed rigid hardboard panels to the sides this is unlikely to occur. Therefore, the foil could be removed except it is firmly fixed and may damage the foam if peeled off. I'll need to find an appropriate glue to stick down the track mat.

The boards are held together with the hinge and removable pin method. Pull out the pin and the boards separate for ease of transportability.

To Part 3.

To Part 1.

Friday 21 September 2018

A Model Railway - Baseboard #1

There are now sufficient number of buildings in my card kit catalogue to build a complete 4mm scale Southern Region station complex. Many of them have been used across several of my own model railways but, not all together on one layout. This project is about construction of  A Model Railway that uses a set of model buildings to build a complete station.

I wanted a small, shelf type layout that would be simple and quick to make (the card buildings are time consuming to build but I have a set built some time ago).

I could build the station in about 1.2 m plus off stage fiddle yard. That would be a bit too small for me because shunting movements would disappear into the fiddle yard. I prefer some landscape before the station for trains to run through and to observe shunting 'on stage'.

I settled on about 2.4 m x 400 mm plus off stage fiddle yard.

Thoughts turn to baseboard construction. Having seen the American preference for Styrofoam insulation board, being very light, strong, preformed and easily sculptured I decided to adopt the same. However, there are few high street retail outlets selling it in the UK and certainly not the usual DIY warehouses. A likely source is 4D Model Shop located in London but the price was a shock at about £50 plus postage for the size of interest.

I returned to the local DIY warehouses and all of them sell something similar. I found that Wickes offered it at a very low price of £6 for 1200 mm x 450 mm x 50mm. Two lengths were purchased. I'll need another later for the fiddle yard.

Unlike Styrofoam it is covered in aluminium foil. I'll have to see whether or not that is a handicap.

To Part 2.

Friday 14 September 2018

Groundcover Bargain or What?

I have said before on this Blog (or the other one) that the supermarket or garden centre can be a good source of unusual modelling materials, given a bit of imagination. Recently I found a bin load of these packets (photo right) at the garden centre with knocked down price of £0.20 each from £2.49 (80% off). I nearly bought more but was not too sure what it was. It looked suitable for modelling foliage, either bushes or tree leaves.

Upon opening it was found to be some kind of moss about 20cm square, probably meant to cover the soil of house plants. It was very dry but still mostly green in colour. I remembered seeing an indoor model railway featured in a magazine many moons ago where real moss was used as ground cover. The layout builder occasionally spayed it with water to keep it lush and green.

I picked off pieces and simply pressed it onto the embankment to give the appearance of low scrub. Quite impressed by the result.

Thursday 6 September 2018

Andover Modelex 2018

I had a shopping list and decided to go to this exhibition as lower prices for second hand items can be found at events compared to ebay. I did pick up some items on my list but traders seemed a bit thin on the ground compared to previous years. There were also large voids in the two halls compared to previous years, which made me think either there were fewer exhibits or the layouts were on the small side. Never the less there was a good mix of a high quality exhibits.

Bodmin (N gauge) struck a chord with me as I visited the prototype last year. I remembered walking along the platform, chatting to the signalman at his box about the T9 languishing in the shed a little further down the yard. Now with a helicopter viewpoint I see the entire station complex with all the recognisable structures but in miniature.

There is something about fine scale layouts that stand out from the crowd. Instantly you recognise it as such from the finely modelled details and uncluttered appearance. Llangerisech (2mm FS) is no exception. It is an extremely well lit very tidy layout.

My personal Best In Show was Leiscester Belgrave Road (00 gauge). A truly massive station complex at 25' x 7'. It can be difficult to judge the scale of a layout this size. It is 00 but looks smaller to those of us modelling smaller footprints.

Friday 24 August 2018

The Best UK Model Village

I'm biased. I first visited Bekonscot as a child, accompanied by my parents. Later I took my own children and now I take my grandchild. One day, when I am too old to drive there I expect to be taken by my children or grandchildren.

This model village (including Gauge 1 railway network built in 1929) does not stand still. It evolves and the level of detail is such that each pass around the complex you will spot something missed before.

Rescue Mission - A True Story

There are a multitude of paths that bridge the railway lines bordered by low railings. In front of us a young infant fell over the railing (about 30cm drop). The crying infant was quickly retrieved by its parent who was worried about electrocution from the live rails (having seen notices warning of live rails). Thankfully, there did not seem to be any long term damage to the infant.

However, the infant fell onto a train about to pass under the bridge causing the trailing bogie of the first coach to derail. The train carried on its journey with the trailing bogie bumping along the sleepers and being skewed made a glancing blow on a train passing in the opposite direction. Both trains carried on unaffected with the offending bogie still bumping along the sleepers. As the train approached a stretch alongside a path I took a unilateral decision to correct the fault by gently lifting the coach whilst it was in transit and placing the bogie down onto the rails. A perfect alignment resulted and the train continued happily. This is a feat that could only be undertaken by a railway modeller, such as myself, used to correcting model train derailments. No ordinary mortal could do it for a train in motion!

This is the train in question:

Saturday 23 June 2018

An Unexpected Find

This posting relates to a visit to Blue Pool in 2018. The owner of the attraction has since passed away and the site sold. It is not currently open to the public (2023). I believe the model railway is on display elsewhere near the Swanage heritage railway?

Blue Pool on the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset is a privately owned tranquil landscape open to the public by admission charge. The main feature is a man made lake resulting from clay quarrying. The water takes on hues of green or blue whatever the weather condition, hence the name. The effect is due to light refracted by suspended clay particles in the water.

On the face of it there is not much else there to attract tourists. Not true because there are lovely woodland walks, a tea room, shop, a quirky display of teddy bears set in dioramas and a small museum displaying wildlife and artifacts created from the processing of clay, for which this area is renowned.

Imagine my surprise when I entered the museum to find a model railway display. It is not of the typical displays found at tourist attractions that tend to be fictitious locations full of track and trains whizzing about to entertain tourists. It is a 4mm scale model of The Pike Brothers Furzebrook clay workings and in particular the narrow gauge railways that once served the area.
I was enthralled by the attention to detail of the modeller, R. Dyson. It took him about 10 years of free time to research and construct. It resided in a spare bedroom of his home. When the time came to reclaim the bedroom for other purposes it was donated(or sold?)  to the museum.
Today it is a static corner diorama about 2m by 2m. The layout includes a section of the Swanage Branch line with siding to the works. On the branch line is an M7 locomotive pulling two coaches.
The Swanage heritage railway is well known and a visit to it is essential for enthusiasts when in the area. I have visited several times before. This visit was spent admiring the architecture of Corfe and Swanage stations for real, having recently modelled Corfe station building and goods shed from only plans and photographs. Not much attention was paid to the locomotives and rolling stock, apart from a privileged interior viewing of a Maunsell open 3rd carriage undergoing restoration.

On duty this day was a Class 33 diesel and Class 4MT tank engine, both to be found on the line in British Railway days. This aerial view of Corfe Station (with class 33) is often photographed. I assumed they were taken from a plane or drone but no, I snapped this one from the ramparts of Corfe Castle (scary height)!

Class 4MT 80104 approaching Corfe from Norden.

Friday 4 May 2018

LSWR No. 1 Goods Shed - 5

The Galbraith North Cornwall drawing shows a shed crane position at the opposite end of the shed to the office. I assumed Corfe Castle Goods Shed would be the same. I was wrong!

There is a cross beam arrangement between the two rafters either side of the doors, giving the appearance of an 'A' frame that went wrong. It looked a little odd to me but I assumed it was for strengthening purposes. That was until my research into LSWR shed cranes revealed they were held in place by pivots in the floor and in the roof beams. Looking carefully at the Corfe building today the location of a pivot plate can clearly be seen at the centre of the cross beam, although the crane itself is missing. This places the crane at the office end of the building.

Having created a detailed interior for the model it would be amiss if a crane was not included so, here it is. It is a static model except it swivels 360 degrees arcing over the lorry loading bay and over the railway track.

I said in an earlier posting that the canopies and beams would be built into a removable roof. Having installed the crane I can see that it might be difficult to locate it in the pivot hole with a large roof getting in the way. To ease this I decided to keep the canopies and beams assembly separate and removable in their own right.

The crane is a 3D printed plastic kit I designed against actual photographs of LSWR cranes. Only 3 printed parts are needed plus some wire. Clearly this cannot be supplied with the Goods Shed downloadable card kit but, I will include a schematic. Hand built Goods Sheds supplied by me will include the crane model.

Unique to the Corfe building is a lean-to annex. In 1965/66 the wooden annex was rebuilt with what looks like breeze block, totally out of keeping with the goods shed style. I prefer to model the original wooden structure but photographic evidence of it has proved elusive so, it will not be included, which is no bad thing as it is in keeping with the original Galbraith North Cornwall design.

Click an image for a larger view.

 Lorry for illustrative purposes only.

To Part 1.

Thursday 26 April 2018

LSWR No. 1 Goods Shed - 4

The chimney breast in the prototype is a curious arrangement. Above the roof line it is square and beneath the roof line triangular! On close perusal of the drawings it became apparent that the chimney being flush with the outer walls is pretty much contained within the thick walls of the building and the breast within the building is forward and angled simply to afford space for the fireplace

The canopies are now built - at the third attempt. Part of the issue was the dimensions on the North Cornwall plan and those on the book plan are different, which was not obvious to begin with so I mixed dimensions from both before realising this. In the end I only used the book plan

The rail to canopy height on the model has been set for code 100 track that is about 5mm tall including sleeper (e.g. Peco brand). The building overall is a little taller than the plan to accommodate this. It will be fine for code 75 as well but if packing is used under the sleepers, e.g. preformed foam ballast, then check the fit and raise the building ground level if there is nterference with rolling stock.

To Part 5.

To Part 1.

Sunday 22 April 2018

LSWR No. 1 Goods Shed - 3

Getting on in leaps and bounds for two reasons. I was keen to see how my vision for the interior would manifest and trepidation about whether or not my idea for operational doors would in practice work.

The original flooring used in the prototype was wooden pine planks but what size? I read that there was no standard for Victorian floorboards, which ranged from 5 to 7 inches wide and up to 16 feet long. For the model I opted for knotty pine 6 inches wide and 16 feet long.

The loading bay on the right is correct to Galbraith's design as is the steps therein. But, the bay differs to the current arrangement at Corfe where this area has been considerably enlarged to suit its use as a museum.

At the other end of the shed is the office, the style and content of which once again is based on the Galbraith plan. It is substantially larger and more ornate than that currently in the Corfe building, which looks to be a contemporary rebuild. I have a notion that the original office was only partitions without a roof. The model office is fitted out with desk and two chairs. (one is hidden behind the wall). There is a chimney breast and fireplace yet to go into the corner.

And so to the doors, without going into detail on the paper, card and wire mehanics, they do operate but are quite fragile. They are best placed in the desired position and perhaps only moved for photographic sessions.

 Doors Closed
Doors Opened
To Part 4.

To Part 1.
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