Throwback Thursday , ballasting…

Remember the good times? Spending hours brushing ballast into the sleepers, getting the point work clean, repainting, filling the gaps afterwards?


No, me neither! However it is one of those chores that for me is included in the ‘Meh!’ files along with wiring. Today I’ve finished all the track work, it’s all had a good shakedown testing so on with the ballast. I’m using Woodland Scenics and it’s now in place for the fixing.


Normally I use diluted PVA or superglue, but this time I’ve tried a different technique, clear varnish acrylic with the surface tension reduced with detergent. It worked ok and I did a traditional PVA/detergent mix test simultaneously.


Working outside on a warm summer day the PVA cured faster, so I reverted to that method for the ballast across the layout. Peco bufferstops are at the track ends, but will be replaced with GWR or LMS/BR types from Dave Franks,  lanarkshiremodels.com these have already been assembled and will go on once the core scenery structure is in place.


These are some of Daves bufferstops, LNER bottom left, and centre/top BR/LMS. And for you retro health geeks out there, yes they are sitting on a ‘Reebok Step’, (no Jane Fonda’s or Olivia Neutron Bombs were hurt or disturbed taking this image).

I’ve found a good way using the new Peco Bullhead rail track of assembling these kits too. For now though I’m running the layout, as well as brushing the track regularly with a two inch household paintbrush. I do this for a week or so to allow the track and glue etc to bed in, and to dislodge any sections or pieces of loose ballast.


Whilst I’m doing this I’m also working up the scenery structure. This time I’ll be using insulation foam as the underpinnings, and that’s partly because it’ll give greater flexibility and opportunities in placing the trees, of which I’m expecting to build quite a few!

Posted in 2017, Bachmann, blog, Branch Line, British Rail, Cameo, Cameo layout, DCC, dcc sound, Eastern Region, finescale, Forest of Dean, Great Western, HO, hobbies, Hornby, iain rice, Ian Futers, Kalmbach, Layout, life, LMS, LNER, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Narrow Gauge, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, Rapido Trains, Scottish Region, shelfie, Southern Region, throwback thursday, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, Uncategorized, wagon, Wales, Welsh Marches, Western Region | 2 Comments

Player, or Builder?

There’s a question….

I took Shelfie to the Warminster show last weekend, a round trip of 430 miles just to show the layout for one day. I don’t often do one day events, but occasionally there’s a show where I will do a one day trip. So that must make me a ‘player’. The one day shows I do attend however are pretty focussed on people whom are known as ‘builders’, i.e. they make stuff and layouts. The one day shows like that that I’ve attended are Larkrail, Warminster, and earlier this year the first Define day, the reason to attend those shows is twofold, to show the layout, be it Shelfie/Albion Yard or Bawdsey and to see what other ‘builders’ are up to.
On the blogroll there’s two recent additions:
Chris Mears’ https://princestreet.wordpress.com/
Rick DeCandido https://fillmoreavenueroundhouse.wordpress.com/

Today was one of those days where I was at a crossroads of builder/player, and a Facebook post of Chris’s on layout design lead me to Rick’s page and his thoughts on staging cassettes. I was testing one of the locos I’d run at Warminster to improve the electrical pickup, the 08 pictured above. Both Chris and Rick’s postings immediately struck home and I went from player to builder, or at least ‘imagineer’. One of the layout elements that always has me challenged is the fiddle yard/staging area. It is always an interesting use of space and can take up quite a footprint. With Albion Yard the fiddle yard is hidden behind either a curtain, or view blocking by buildings and trees.

Overview of fiddle yard/staging on Albion Yard

Albion Yard. No photoshop, this is what the exhibition visitor gets looking into the fiddle yard/staging.

On Shelfie I didn’t want to have the same sort of footprint, the staging is very much in the vein of both Chris and Rick’s staging idea’s, and Ian Rice has referred to them as a flying fiddle yard, as it just sticks out of the end of the layout, rather than a conventional board. This breaking into my though process has put the brakes on a current project, because its making me re-think the staging to perhaps a flying fiddle yard idea along the lines of Rick’s staging.


This view is looking toward the staging area at the far end, it opens up the possibility of doing something entirely different with the presentation, hence calling a ‘time out’. So I need to think about how the staging and layout fit together and the presentation challenges that’ll bring in disguising the join, whether I still retain the wrap round backscene idea that I’ve used effectively on both Albion Yard and Shelfie, the lighting rig, size, height, overhang etc etc. Here I am sitting at a crossroads. Again.

Fortunately its not something that bothers me.

Posted in 2017, Airfix, Bachmann, blog, British Rail, Cameo, Cameo layout, canada, DCC, dcc sound, Exhibition, finescale, Friends, HO, hobbies, Hornby, iain rice, Ian Futers, Inspiration, laramie, Layout, life, LMS, LNER, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Narrow Gauge, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, Railex, research, shelfie, social media, toy fair, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Great Central Weekend

Busy weekend due at the Great Central Railway at Quorn. Exhibition looks good and some interesting trade exhibits. This is the EP for Dapols LSWR B4 


At first glance it appears popular with the punters and captures the overall look of the prototype.


The GWR EP’s have had work, no longer having the tail lamp moulded on the body.



The 7mm 3F ‘jinty’ is looking excellent too, the inside motion being visible and well depicted. An early prototype chassis for the pannier was on show, running with working, visible inside valve gear. There’s a video on the Albion Yard Facebook page.

Posted in Airfix, Bachmann, blog, British Rail, dapol, DCC, dcc sound, Exhibition, finescale, Great Western, hobbies, Hornby, Inspiration, Layout, LMS, LNER, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Narrow Gauge, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, research, Scottish Region, Southern, Southern Region, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, Uncategorized, Wales, Western Region | 1 Comment

When you’re digging a hole…


Often said, when you’re digging a hole, know when to stop! I’d been pushing on with my Southern Electric project, and it wasn’t lighting my fire as it should. It’s at this point it’s a good idea to take stock, and I did, literally. I was in discussion with a few good friends around the Southern project and I used a set of scratch built Great Central platform buildings to mock up the island platform structures with the EMU’s in place. This just emphasised that the whole thing wasn’t working. So that’s where we are today, filling in the holes. What I’m using is really neat stuff, Vallejo Plastic Putty, an acrylic resin filler. It has the consistency of toothpaste and can fill tiny gaps to quite big ones like wing root joints on model aircraft. That’s what the white blotches is on the sleepers, where the third rail ceramic pots left drilled holes I can backfill them easily and quickly with this stuff. After a few hours I’ll sand the excess flat and repaint the track, the putty takes all kinds of paint with no ill effect.


The Southern electric stuff is back in its boxes. They’ll be back in the future that scratch is still itching! Over the past few years like many of us I took the opportunity to stock up when RTR prices were low, “we neva  ad it so good”, buying cheap second hand Diesel transition DMU’s (only a few) for a future project. Well that time has arrived.


Using the GC buildings (scratch built), that I had in stock for the layout mock up looked instantly right on the island platform. No great surprise there, it’s almost a standard GC design. Add a few DMU’s and I’m back commuting to Bicester from Marylebone in the late 80’s,  so visually I was sold on how the layout would look, the plausibility gap had been crossed! Next is does whatever is ‘in stock’ suit? Largely, yes it can, the concept being an East Midlands location in North Nottinghamshire with a crossover between Midland and Eastern Region. Nothing new here, Frank Dyers Borchester many years ago was placed in the same geography, and this idea is firmly in that territory, but the emphasis being that the GC made bigger inroads than they did historically.


This then, is Wellow, just to the east of Tuxford on the LDECR line, taken over and upgraded in typical GC style. At Wellow there was a small junction joining the north and south colliery routes from local pits. The Viaduct across the Trent at Fledborough is still open and the collieries delivering to High Marnham on the banks of the Trent.


Cut into the low hillside at the southern edge of the Vale of York lies Wellow, truncated and lines closing around it, the era will be 1969 through to 1977, allowing the change from green to blue, including pre and post TOPS, and head codes to 0000, and marker light white dots. The post Beeching blight will be making its presence felt, the line finally succumbing to reality in the early 80’s.

That’s the ‘theory’ anyway…

Posted in 2017, Airfix, Bachmann, blogger, Branch Line, brassmasters, British Rail, Cameo, Cameo layout, DCC, dcc sound, Eastern Region, Exhibition, finescale, flying scotsman, Great Western, HO, hobbies, Hornby, iain rice, Ian Futers, Layout, life, LMS, LNER, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, Railex, review, Scottish Region, Southern, Southern Electrics, Southern Region, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, Uncategorized, Western Region | 4 Comments

Southern Nouveau

With Shelfie out on loan, the space it occupied has been filled with another project. This one has been on the back burner for a while, and is very firmly influenced by Ian Futers.

Ian’s layouts have consistently provided inspiration, particularly his Northumbrian layouts, and perhaps the one that really caught my attention the 4mm P4 layout ‘Lochside’. It was one that stood out, it was a finescale layout, using converted and detailed ready to run diesels it looked good and had a plausible back story to it.

From then his Scottish urban layouts have always caught my imagination, and using his ‘three point’ terminus concept I’ve added a fourth point to add a little more operational interest, and brought this south of the river.

A week or so ago I was at the Ally Pally show helping, or rather hindering Alan Whitehouse and Mick Simpson running Alan’s 2FS Halam Town. This is Alan’s take on Cyril Freezers classic ‘Minories’ design, based in urban Yorkshire in the 1970’s. The layout captures the essence of the era and with the use of appropriate stock, make the most of Freezers design. Catch the layout at railex in May.

On the journey into town I retraced my old commuting days on the Great Northern, snatching a few shots of embankments, bridges and tunnels for reference to get a feel for the civil engineering I’m likely to have to get my head round with this layout.

The board for this layout is seen below, a 6ft x 18 rectangular asteroid. The chassis is high quality ply, and a track bed of 9mm MDF topped with Woodland Scenics HO foam underlay. The ground is built up with Balsa wood so I don’t have significant ballast shoulders to contend with. The track is a mix of three types, new Peco OO bullhead, C&L OO bullhead track and Peco Code75 streamline points. Despite such a variety of track it works really well, and to further annoy the foaming purists I’ve glued it down with superglue!

Being Southern Region I’ve added third rail, using the Peco components and suggestions and assistance from Oly And Chris otcm, and Mike Cubberley. Any errors however or implausibility is all my own work!

Despite the layout being at such an advanced stage, the chassis and track bed are not yet permanently joined. The layout is designed for DC so there are a good number of section switches to give variety of train positions in the platforms. Keeping chassis and track bed apart made wiring the loom much easier. The design also allows DCC operation, with the limited locomotives and units I’ll be using, I’m seriously considering ‘Touchcab’ as an operating system. I’ve used it with both Simon Thompsons Aberbeeg (S7), and Pete Kirmonds ‘ Laramie ‘, and it’s a user friendly operating system. The other reason for the bare structure is I’m still working the topography of the layout in my head, current idea is based in a cutting, but putting it on an embankment would be more unusual, and a real challenge containing it scenically. Presentation is eye level or thereabouts with view blocking and tightly controlled viewing angles. Once the topography is determined, then the layouts superstructure and lighting rig will be easy to formulate, and then there’s the fiddle yard to build too! I can’t design the fiddle yard until I’ve decided cutting or embankment.

Common sense tells me cutting, heart tells me embankment! Ho hum…

Posted in 2017, apple, Bachmann, blog, Branch Line, British Rail, Cameo, Cameo layout, Chris Nevard, DCC, dcc sound, Eastern Region, Exhibition, finescale, flying scotsman, Great Western, HO, hobbies, Hornby, iain rice, Ian Futers, Inspiration, iphone, laramie, Layout, life, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Nevard, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, Railex, Rapido Trains, research, Scottish Region, shelfie, social media, Southern, Southern Electrics, Southern Region, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, Uncategorized, Western Region, wild swan | 13 Comments

Biggest Little Railway, Toy Trains on Telly?

My mate Mr Parker  (philsworkbench) gets the low down on a telly project to be filmed this summer, sounds bonkers, and fascinating in the same sentence!

Posted in 2017, Bachmann, blog, brassmasters, British Rail, dapol, Exhibition, film, flying scotsman, Friends, Great Western, hobbies, Hornby, humour, Inspiration, Interweb, Kalmbach, life, LMS, LNER, magazine, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Narrow Gauge, O Gauge, o scale, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, Rapido Trains, research, Scotland, Scottish Region, skill, skillset, social media, Southern, Southern Electrics, Southern Region, television, toy fair, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, travel, Uncategorized, Western Region | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

14xx Frustration..

There’s a bit of an Irish answer kicking round with this one, in that if you want to finish up with a good chassis, I wouldn’t be starting from here. When buying a model for use, my primary concern is that it runs well, cosmetic and detail variations I can attend to relatively easily, but the core function is the model has to move, and move smoothly throughout it’s realistic speed ranges.

DJM Hattons 14xx H1410

Having test run the Hattons/DJM 58xx above, I wasn’t over enthused with it. In original spec the coupling rods were way to large and moved around the crankpin, with an elliptical motion that was clearly visible.

DJM Hattons 14xx H1410
Original Rods vs Alan Gibson 4M75 fitted replacement

One thing I felt worth tackling was the coupling rods, and bought a set of Alan Gibson rods (4M75) to try out. Part of the running trials indicated that running on downhill grades the mechanism had a tendency to bind or lock. This occurs when there is either a load pushing or pulling the locomotive. I took a small bit of video of mine in action on a Woodland Scenics 3% gradient.  DJMhattonsincline.14xx All main testing has been done with a Gaugemaster ‘W’ controller in DC. The binding and cogging still occurs in DCC mode having briefly tried it.

I’ve been working on the ‘big’ plan again and one ruse to extend running time between locations I’m considering is an external track behind the scenery. To maximise this and minimise the visual appearance I’m hoping to drop the track level and hide the extra mileage at the back of scenic sections. To do this, models have to be able to climb and descend gradients reliably, hence getting the Woodland Scenics ramps to try them out. Well as you can see in the filum the chassis binds when any load is applied when descending. As the J94 does the same, ( DJMJ94 chassisprob ), I’ve tried six of them, there must be an issue within the gear train assembly or design, or both. This effect happens with a load ‘pushing’ downhill, as well as in front of the engine, ‘pulling’ it downhill.

DJM Hattons 14xx H1410
Square axle stub

 

Intriguingly the chassis doesn’t bind when decoupled from the body and is freewheeling with either original rods on or off. DJMhattonsrodless14 The first job was to contact Colin at Alan Gibson alangibson to get a set of 4M75 coupling rods suitable for a 14xx, and solder them together. They arrived promptly and I assembled both pairs and reamed out the crankpin holes to fit. Well, sort of. I did one and took too big a bite clearing the second hole and bent the rod. The second job was to contact Colin at Alan Gibson alangibson to get a set of 4M75 coupling rods suitable for a 14xx, and solder them together. They arrived promptly and I assembled both pairs and reamed out the crankpin holes to fit. Lesson learnt! The chassis as delivered has a significant amount of play in the coupling rods, this leads to one axle moving independently of the other if the crankpin holes are not aligned to give a perfect ‘drive’. This is noticeable and sometimes when stationary means the rods aren’t parallel which looks, and is, wrong. With the chassis free running my hope was that fitting the Gibson rods would remove the slack in the rods and drive train. It did, but resulted in the gear train binding. There are clearly points where the gear train will interfere with each other without significant lateral movement on the crank pin. This is poor quality engineering if the gear train jams when fitted with correct, properly fitted coupling rods. The quartering is fixed on these, there is a ‘Romford’ type stub axle fitting which means that unless you are deliberately trying to force the wheels into an incorrect position, they will quarter correctly and accurately. The gear train is clearly part of the drive problem so the logical move is to remove part of the gear train and let the rods drive the unpowered axle in a conventional style. This was the next step which meant quite a bit of disassembly, this model isn’t designed to be maintained in a cost effective manner.

Wot I dun to fit the Gibson rods.
Undo the vac pipes which clip into the buffer beam at each end.
Break the glue fixing of the injector pipes at bottom of cab steps.
Twist and remove front sanding pipes.
Undo three screws, one either end of chassis behind drawbar and one in centre underneath the cab.
You can now pull the body away from the chassis, caution, it is still connected by the motor wires. (Hint) Easier to unsolder them now. Leave the body upside down so you don’t break the rear sandbox pipes.

Remove coupling rods, fixed with hexagonal head screws.
Lever off the baseplate using small screwdriver, its held on by six clips, two either end of the chassis, and two behind the centre drivers.
Remove wheel from leading axle. Using a flat cross section ‘tool’ gently lever the front wheel off from the axle. This gives you access to the screw at the front of the chassis which is otherwise inaccessible due to the wheel….
Undo the three side screws and gently lever the chassis apart. There will just be enough room to remove the second from front free running gear wheel. (If there isn’t remove or loosen the centre drive axle wheel). Removing this gear will leave the front axle independent of the drive train. Caution, check all the remaining gear train has re-seated in their axle drive holes as you push the chassis back to reassemble it. Make sure you quarter the front drive wheel to the centre axle on reassembly.

Hattons 14xx 48 xx 58xx

Fit coupling rods and check chassis is free running with no binding If there is, just open the crankpin holes with a reamer to get a little extra clearance. Once the chassis is running sweetly, fit the rod retaining nuts. Note there is still a large amount on clearance on the crankpin due to their length, I may try and get some washers turned to minimise this, I’ve not yet checked viability of shortening the existing pins.
Re-solder chassis to motor wires and fit chassis to body including three screws to hold motor and body so gears/worm will engage.

Caution ( ask me how I know…), its easy to get a motor wire entangled with the worm leading you to think a wire is adrift or motor has failed, gearbox jammed, all of which you can’t see. If the chassis runs refit the vac pipes and sanding pipes.

Million dollar question, ‘Does it run any better without the cogging?’ In short, no. It does have a very slight improvement in the running and certainly in the appearance, but it doesn’t solve the bind or cogging descending a gradient under load. This means that if you have gradients unless you opt for a full replacement chassis this binding will continue. For me, this points to an incompatibility in the worm gear to tower gear drive components. What that means for the longevity of the chassis components and motors is anyone’s guess, but its not likely to be positive. The next model for release with this type of geartrain is Kernows 13xx family, and inspection of an EP at Stevenage this year showed a slotted crankpin hole in the coupling rods. I hope they don’t have the same problems if using the same style drivetrain.

It’s interesting that online comments and videos indicate no problem with the chassis on gradients under load, but apart from mine above, there are no comments or tests of this model (to date) under load, coming downhill. I find that odd, and to get a sweet running chassis in all modes of operation, I’m convinced this design isn’t where I’d be starting from…

woodlandscenicsSET/page/1

 

Posted in 2017, Airfix, Bachmann, blog, Branch Line, dapol, DCC, dcc sound, djm, Eastern Region, EM, finescale, flying scotsman, Forest of Dean, Great Western, H1410, Hattons, hobbies, Hornby, Layout, life, LMS, LNER, media, Midland Region, Model Railroad, Model Railway, Model Railway Journal, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, Nevard, New Radnor, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, Railex, research, review, Scottish Region, Southern, Southern Electrics, Southern Region, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, train set, trainset, Uncategorized, Wales, Western Region | 17 Comments