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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 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.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

March Website Cover

Over the next few months my website cover displays my favourite photograph from one of my current model railways.

This month the cover shows Cliddesden Station. This station is a scale model of the station that once existed on the now defunct Basingstoke & Alton Light Railway. Apart from the authentic scene, set in 1916, it is the open landscape that appeals to me. If you saw the real location today you would see many trees, hedgerows and vegetation shielding the railway route. In 1916 it was a windswept open landscape, as depicted by the model.

The layout won best in show at the Basingstoke exhibition in 2015 and featured in the March 2016 edition of  'Railway Modeller' magazine.

View the cover here.

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.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 3

Straight track is made from PECO code 124 Bullhead rail and home made 3D printed sleepers with integral chairs. The sleepers are created in blocks of four to span a 60 foot track section.

These photos do not show chair detail well due to the black colouration. Suffice to say that with an 0.2mm print layer the stratification is noticeable resulting in a crude finish compared to proprietary injection moulded items. Once installed on the layout the track will be weathered in lighter colours, which will show the chairs better. I am guessing the crude finish will not be too noticeable from normal viewing distance. Interesting to note that whilst 0 gauge is 1.75 larger than 00 there are still small parts with details that are barely noticeable.

The integral wooden keys deformed significantly during print. This was overcome by extending the key to give a good print run with a vertical support at the end to stop droop. The support and extended key was then cut away as shown by the far right chair.

Note that the plastic layering on the sleepers gives a wood grain effect.

At each end of the 60' section the sleepers are spaced as the prototype. I decided not to cut the yard of PECO rail at scale 60'. If clickety click sound of wheels  passing over the 'join' is wanted then a nick could be cut in the top of the rail.

To Part 4.

To Part 1

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 2

The layout will be a water side setting. I considered a harbour and canal but am now favouring a tidal river. The track plan requires six turnouts (four Y and two LH). The key element is the passing loop in the middle, which enhances operation by enabling the train to propel wagons from either end within the scene.

Five of the turnouts will be buried in a tarmac surface. Proprietary, fully sleepered turnouts would be an over kill here. Cost savings should be possible if a make the buried turnouts as I only need the rail with a stripped down track base made from wood or plastic. With this in mind I also decided to fabricate the wooden sleepered track of the entry turnout and branch line. Making the sleepered turnout is far less expensive than using a proprietary item but cost savings for a DIY straight track are insignificant and only worth considering if either you have cosmetic issues with proprietary track or enjoy making your own.

I obtained turnout templates from PECO and TIMBERTRACKS. The latter may be more prototypical but they are longer than PECO making the short sidings far to short. I settled on the PECO templates. The shortest siding is about 40cm long. This is sufficient for holding either two wagons or, one wagon and a tank engine without encroaching on the turnout.

To Part 3.

To Part 1.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Project 20 - 0 Gauge Layout - Part 1

I mentioned before that the inspiration for my foray into 0 gauge modelling was seeing 'Arun Quay' . The layout demonstrated that an authentic scene with operating interest can be created in a small space using 0 gauge (7mm fine scale).

Having made 8 wagons and set them out in a line with my Terrier loco on top of our upright piano they spanned the entire 1.4m length. It was then that I realised even a small freight train still demands space. This lead me to ponder a garden layout instead of a small indoor layout.

I could visualise a dumbbell layout circling the tree, snaking through the flower border passing the rear of the patio and turning back on itself through the far corner border-  a run of about 48 feet each way. The land slopes a bit in the flower border so the track bed would be a raised platform through the middle. I roughly calculated the cost of track and trackbed to be around £500. Then I thought, does it give value just watching a train going round and round since I am not interested in making a landscape with scale buildings etc. in an over scale environment.

My thoughts returned to a small indoor shunting layout like Arun Quay. I studied a variety of tack plans but nothing came close to the operational potential afforded by the Arun Quay plan. I make no apology for basing my plan on that with a few tweaks.

First job was to make the scenic baseboards, which was quick using two insulating foam boards 1.2m x 0.45m x 50mm from Wickes. The sides were covered in eighth inch hardboard for protection and these extended below by about 20mm to accommodate D type connectors and wiring- deep enough  to conceal SEEP point motors too, though I don't plan to motorise turnouts.

I used 'No More Nails' glue to fix the hardboard panels to the foam but found it to give a weak bond. It holds OK but would not take much effort to break the seal resulting in the panels coming away with chunks of foam. For added strength I glued quarter inch wood blocks into the corner joins of the hardboard.

The two baseboards join together by means of butt hinges with removable hinge pins.

A fiddle yard will be constructed later that will connect to the scenic boards.

To Part 2.
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