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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

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