N Gauge

LAYOUT WORK: Building 'Bournemouth West for the S&DJR'


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5 October 2014

The latest news is that there's not much to show. This layout-building process seems to be a mix of frantic activity and long periods of waiting for the next stage to happen. In those gaps I'm usually busy on the Grouping Workbench modelling work, so it's not actually time being wasted.

On the plus side, the lower level loop has been completed (cue 'playing trains' just a little - which is entirely for testing reasons, naturally). Getting that completed was a major step forwards, but it wasn't all plain sailing. Working with Peco flexitrack involves a bit of a learning curve.

Track laying continues at the front of the layout (the Evercreech Junction Station area) and at the start of the incline which begins in what will be a tunnel area, so it's important to get the transition from flat to incline just right.

The frame for the fiddle yard unit has been topped with 6mm plywood and is now ready to get some legs:

Fiddle yard

...and the backing panel has been secured:

Fiddle yard

This shows the full length of the fiddle yard beyond the scenic break. It takes up much of this unit, but that's because the longest train will be a seven coach double-headed express. This weekend's work also included sawing timber for the traverser tray and the controller tray, working out which points to link to the first two relays, and how to wire up the banking loco parking siding to a 3-way switch.

15 October 2014

Another update:

The shelving at the back of the fiddle yard has been installed and is awaiting a coat of pain. The tray works manually but still needs some kind of catch mechanism to be fitted. I was going to use Bales catches based on Tank's huge fiddle yard, but I've been strongly advised against that. Hmm...

Fiddle yard

Laying track up the incline and positioning the first support battens for the upper level:

Main baseboard

Upper level test:

Main baseboard

Main baseboard

More support battens in place, but not yet secured:

Main baseboard

Main baseboard

Main baseboard

Main baseboard

Track base between fiddle yard traverser and main layout in place but not secured:

Main baseboard

First official wiring completed:

Main baseboard

19 October 2014

I've had a Jason Statham moment - Crank! Last minute pre-construction adjustments to the track plan didn't coincide with last minute adjustments to the baseboard plan, so at least three points at the front of the layout clash with support struts. That means some remote points operation is required, and for that you need a crank: Crank No 1, set up for me by someone who cares for idiots in the community:

Crank

Crank No 2 set up by the idiot in question!

Crank

The second platform loop at the front has been cut, laid, glued and wired (temporarily). It works, but due to the three-way point at the far end it can't be used regularly for now:

Main baseboard

Next stage is to try and complete the upper level general construction work and start connecting up power feeds on a more permanent basis...

28 October 2014

Another quick update. The removable upper level is in place, with two dowels at each end to locate it when slotting it in, and the goods siding at EJ has been laid (with another crank for half the double slip):

Main baseboard

Now the incline curve has to be completed:

Main baseboard

Some support battens under the upper level:

Main baseboard

The temporary mimic panel for EJ (Lower Level):

Mimic

In the meantime, work continues on the fiddle yard section...

29 October 2014

I should provide a bit of clarification about the upper level's support battens. The width-wise gaps are there to allow for points motors. The big gap along the straight edge is due to the fact that the lower level back straight runs directly underneath and there isn't space for wooden battens. I'm working on that, and this shot shows the first stage of that solution:

Main baseboard

They're 60mm screws which are pretty solidly anchored, so they don't move around at all. Luckily, the running lines have a gap between them and nothing comes closer than about 3-4mm to any of the screws, not even the outside-framed Class 08. Stay tuned...

6 November 2014

While I wait to get my hands on the extra supports for the upper level, construction work has switched to the detachable fiddle yard. The baseboard and frame were put together some time ago (see photos, above), but the legs still needed to be done, complete with wheels and adjustable legs:

Main baseboard

Admittedly, the adjustable legs should have been fitted to the outside or inside of the legs, rather than behind them. They tend to foul one set of wheels in the direction of travel. Testing the positioning of the fiddle yard unit:

Main baseboard

Testing how many storage lines I can reasonably squeeze in (the answer is ten and three quarters):

Main baseboard

Clamping the fiddle yard unit to the main board in preparation for drilling two bolt holes and four holes for locating dowels (above the block with all the markings on it - that's a left-over from an entirely different bit of work):

Main baseboard

10 November 2014

Here's the latest update, although most of the work recently has been preparation and not much progress. Testing the traverser for train length. It can easily take seven coaches and a double-header:

Fiddle yard

The piece of brown card is a tester for a cartridge system. The plan is to have a cartridge at each end of each storage line. Incoming trains run up to the end so that the loco is on the cartridge, and then this can be lifted, turned, and placed at the other end of the traverser, with an empty cartridge replacing it. Any ideas for building the cartridges? I have 3mm ply to start with...

The upper level was set to the correct height, but when testing the last part of the incline (from the bridge to the upper level joint), the climb seem to steepen for the final 20cm or so. So the upper level has to come down a bit. Luckily, the support battens are on a layer of 3mm cork, so this is coming out. Saving 3mm might be enough to make all the difference. It means ripping out each support batten, scraping off the cork, and re-gluing the batten in place. It can't be done all at once to avoid the dowels being in the wrong place - much easier to do each half separately, and the first half is now done:

Main baseboard

One smelly undercoat on all the visible surfaces of the fiddle yard. The next step, once it dries and the fumes clear, will be to lightly sand it and then add two coats of leftover ceiling paint:

Fiddle yard

20 November 2014

Just about got time for an update (work has been manic for the past couple of weeks). The fiddle yard has received an undercoat and four topcoats, and seems to be looking good:

Fiddle yard

Now to bridge my first baseboard divide and get the track extended onto the embankment:

Fiddle yard

Two glues to stick down the brass bits and one soldering iron to secure the track to them... messily. I used Minitrix rail joiners laid upside down on top of the rail head to make sure the bridged section remained in line (Minitrix joiners are bigger and wider than Peco Code 55 types), and then glued down and pinned the curved track, wrestling it into place in about ten minutes of work. Luckily the glue dries fairly slowly:

Fiddle yard

First over the gap - the engineering train headed by the 8F and its long wheelbase:

Fiddle yard

Second track down and the brass bits masked with a black marker pen. Once the ballast is down this should look okay:

Fiddle yard

The view from the fiddle yard:

Fiddle yard

Stay tuned for more...

10 December 2014

Not much done recently due to weight of work and also a large number of new pages to prepare for publication on the History Files in just over a week, but here's the little progress that has been made. Cork laid across the traverser tray, allowing spaces for loco cartridges. The three lines at the back will be for full length trains, so a central cartridge won't be needed.

Fiddle yard

Here's the early prototype loco cartridge, simple 26mm cable trunking with self adhesive base. It needs to be raised (so the self adhesive will come in useful):

Fiddle yard

And it suddenly dawned on me that there was no access point for positioning points motors under the embankment. Whoops. One hack and chop later. Mind the gap, lads...

Fiddle yard

17 December 2014

With the preparations under way for Christmas and things at work winding up, I've had spots of time this week to do little bits of work on the layout here and there. The Highbridge Loop (aka short cut to the fiddle yard) has been laid and is open to construction traffic only:

Main baseboard

The other end of the loop crosses a baseboard joint (cue the overuse of much solder to ensure the tracks don't ping in opposite directions when they're cut next year), and joins a junction at a fairly tight radius. It's never going to be used by anything with a long wheelbase so that's fine. But it meant that getting the end of the curve to align with a point fitted with IRJs was a bit of a nightmare. Luckily, using Copydex the first time allowed me a second bite of the cherry and the chance to get rough with it. This time it's aligned and it'll stay that way:

Main baseboard

The diode matrix for route setting - fitted at last!

Main baseboard

Relays fitted and wired in, although they aren't operational yet:

Main baseboard

More loco cartridge tests on the traverser. Results encouraging:

Main baseboard

First points motor fitted but not operational. How on earth are you supposed to test whether they've been properly fitted...?

Main baseboard

That's pretty much it. The Highbridge Loop is still drying off so I won't be able to test that today. The loco cartridges need a couple more cartridges to be fitted with track so that I can test for misalignments. It looks unlikely that the first loco will be able to make its way to the fiddle yard this year.

22 December 2014

I had a bit of a brainstorm in regard to the traverser wiring and power connectivity and spent a furious half hour scribbling down notes that will cover just about all of the rest of the work. So the way ahead is clear. I just have to find the time to do it.

As for the points motor, I suppose I used something similar, only less hardening - blu-tack! A small blob on each corner of the mounting plate allows you to hold it quite easily in position while you mark out the screw holes for pre-drilling and then secure the motor itself. At the moment I still haven't been able to test the motor so that I can be sure it's correctly mounted.

23 December 2014

Just time before Christmas for an update of the weekend's work. Firstly, an overview of the tricky junction. It crosses a board joint and meets a junction (nearest the camera) at a pretty tight angle (somewhere midway between R1 and R2, I think):

Main baseboard

Where the track crosses the boards, it has been soldered to PCB strips that are superglued to ply inserts in the cork. The hope is that when I can get me a razor saw and cut the rails, they won't go 'ping' and rearrange themselves into an entirely new track configuration:

Main baseboard

At the junction end it needed another strip of PCB, temporary metal rail joiners until everything had set, and a bucket-load of solder to cement it all in place:

Main baseboard

And now attention turns to the soon-to-be-connected fiddle yard. The loco cartridges are mostly ready for testing, although they still need some work to complete them. The spacers are being put in place to divide the cartridges, and these come from off-cuts from the 1.56, two metre-long cabling duct, while the cartridges use another part of it to raise them the required amount. Nothing (much) gets wasted:

Main baseboard

Progress on the fiddle yard in January should be good...

19 January 2015

A quiet week after Christmas meant that I was able to push on with electrics and fiddle yard work. My unpatented fiddle yard-to-traverser connecting rail with power transmission. Otherwise known as a scruffy piece of brass and card with some dodgy soldering to secure it. It works pretty well, but I'm betting that a much tidier version can be made, just not by me:

Main baseboard

Here it is in place. The curved sides allows each of the traverser storage lines to ride over it as the traverser is pulled out:

Main baseboard

And meanwhile, underneath the main board, the PIT (a power board and plugged-in power supply) and CDU have been installed:

Main baseboard

Two more relays attached (Relay 4b is solely to allow the fiddle yard to be taken over by Controller 3 while 1 &2 still power the main line). Writing upside down with a felt pen is fairly tricky:

Main baseboard

The route setting board:

Main baseboard

And finally for now, the main line reaches the fiddle yard!

Fiddle yard

 

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