N Gauge

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


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20 April 2015

Not much to report since January, sadly. It's been another one of those 'long gaps between anything happening' which seem to be besetting this layout. Partially that's because I don't know half of what I'm doing and have to work it out from scratch for each stage.

However, I have to admit that I lost heart for a while, thanks to a series of problems that all happened at the same time. That always seems to be the way, although it's more usually one problem that rumbles on until it can team up with another.

But I've been making small steps of progress again recently, keeping entirely to one main job at a time.

That one main job will be printing the mimic panels and laminating them, and here's what they will be glued to, the aluminium control panels behind which will be a lot of wiring that'll control all of the points, isolating circuits, and several controller options:

Mimic

The left-hand one controls the front and lower section, and this is the one that has the beginnings of wiring:

Mimic

More news when it arrives...

20 April 2015

I haven't had the courage to test my cross-board track for its 'ping' yet, even though I have the razor saw! I've also added some extra protection in the form of drawing pins with the 'hood' removed, rammed in along the outside edge of the outside track. Ballasting will largely hide them, but any help here in holding the track in place could be vital.

21 June 2015

It's about time I updated this. Progress has been slow, mostly because I've been waiting and wanting to get the mimic panel printed and laminated before adding any more switches to the control panel.

The baseboard join has been suitable strengthened (I had quite a bit of more experienced help), and it looks good for cutting now:

Main baseboard

I've also installed the two amp meters above their respective control dials:

Control

I've been working on the fiddle yard traverser entry this weekend, trying to solve the power transfer problems from fiddle yard entrance across the removable cartridges. I think I might just have done it. Photos to follow shortly...

8 July 2015

Progress update... although nothing dramatic. The first SPDT switches have gone in under the Peco points, and I'm not especially impressed so far:

Main baseboard

A bit of a diversion was a first order of Robbie's Rolling Stock wagons to arrive. They'll need suitable weathering and coal loads:

Main baseboard

The detachable control unit was detached for a new installation...

Mimic

...but it allows me to show you the layout side of the pull-aparts. Ignore the hanging rotary switch. That hasn't been fully installed yet:

Mimic

The new installation are two D-plugs, a 9-way on the right and a 25-way on the left, supported by a metal bracket which is bolted through the base of the control panel and held up by an off-cut of rubber hose (fish tank variety):

Mimic

Another progress point has been supplying electricity to the traverser tray. These 'springies' have been cut and folded so that the tail (right) connects to the underside of the track and carries power to the 'bouncy' connectors (left):

Fiddle yard

Underside view:

Fiddle yard

In position. You can see that the cartridge sits on top of the springies, improving connectivity to around a 95% success rate:

Fiddle yard

Then I tried using DINs to provide connectivity across the main board-fiddle yard connection. This side was easy to solder, but the other side was a nightmare:

Fiddle yard

Fiddle yard

And my soldering was never great, so after a few problems (possibly due to dry joints) I replaced the DINs with pull-aparts:

Fiddle yard

Next job was properly wiring up the rotary switch to the small control panel... with some signature dodgy soldering:

Mimic

That was installed successfully, but you'll have to wait for the next batch of photos to see it...

17 July 2015

Things have been progressing lately so it's already time for another minor update, approximately one year after construction on the layout first started.

First there was the Mk1 cartridge for use on the fiddle yard's traverser tray. This version remains in use as it's a handy tool for instances in which turning locos is not required, and you just want to bridge the gap or conduct electrical connectivity tests:

Fiddle yard

Then there was the Mk2 cartridge, with a circular bolt to make it easy to pick them up and swivel them 180 degrees while transporting the loco to the other end of a train. It was a clunky, ugly mess that needed lots of pre-cut panels of plasticard:

Fiddle yard

But then came heat-moulded plasticard, a shape that could be formed of one single piece of plasticard (repeated at the other end of the cartridge), and a single panel on top held in place by super-strong car registration plate double-sided stickies, plus the old 'swivel bolt'. The Mk3 cartridge was born:

Fiddle yard

Fiddle yard

Actually, it could also be called the Mk3 travel machine, which means that it will go on to conquer the universe and exterminate all who are not like it, but it will also start this path to supreme power by exterminating its creator. Hmm...

Fiddle yard

Anyway, cartridge problem solved. I already have four working examples in operation and they seem to do the trick very nicely. They're also very easy to build. Every time I make a cuppa, I add some of the water to a bowl and form another strip of plasticard around a simple wooden former. A couple of dunks, a couple of bends, a couple of splashes under the cold tap, and I have another folded strip that's ready to glue into place. Easy.

15 August 2015

Update time.

Soldering to a 9-way D-plug. Not as difficult as it would have been a few months ago:

Main baseboard

Reinstalling the first fiddle yard storage road with new contacts where the track meets the cartridge points:

Fiddle yard

Electrical contact across the cartridges is now around 95% reliable:

Fiddle yard

Four roads with front halves completed, plus two back halves. The track is now held in place with screws so that it can be removed, realigned or anything else:

Fiddle yard

Fiddle yard traverser tray removed for essential maintenance...

Fiddle yard

...which includes installing a wall at the far end of the storage roads...

Fiddle yard

...and formalising the isolator/feed wiring underneath the tray (plus a bit of paint repair work):

Fiddle yard

A day later and the tray is back in place, complete with 'bumper' black foam laid over the far wall, more cartridge slots in place, and a total of seven storage roads in place (but I'm running out of track):

Fiddle yard

Isolator control panel for the fiddle yard, not yet wired up (except for Road 2) or fully fitted:

Fiddle yard

The last job for today was completing the logic & PSU board wiring under the main layout. This will help with firing points as part of route setting and switching controllers to certain sections of the layout:

Fiddle yard

More next time.

1 September 2015

Update time.

Progress over the last week or so has been good. Firstly, the fiddle yard's storage roads need to be numbered to tie in with the isolating circuits. Two layers of cereal box overlaid with printed numbers in Gill Sans:

Fiddle yard

Numbers fitted at the far end of the fiddle yard, along with some anti-crash foam over a wooden backing strip. I've also finished relaying the existing storage roads and used up all my remaining track. The last three roads may have to wait some time...

Fiddle yard

A close-up, with two loco cartridges in place:

Fiddle yard

Wiring the isolating switches (you can see where the panel sits in the photo of the whole fiddle yard, above):

Fiddle yard

And now for an even bigger step forwards - the first mimic panel which will house controls for the lower level on the main board. A local place laminated it for the acceptable price of 2.99, and there are three holes drilled already:

Mimic

And here it is, glued onto the aluminium panel and with all switches fitted (but not all yet wired in or working):

Mimic

The insides, with points switches largely wired in, isolator switches next to get that treatment (in the middle), and route-setting switches (nearest the camera) still a total mystery:

Mimic

If I carry on making progress like this I'm in severe danger of running out of jobs that will help me to avoid working on the points motors...

2 September 2015

The traverser brought with it a series of problems that I've slowly been solving along the way, but it's working better and better all the time now.

One last 'big step' to work out is a locking mechanism to keep it in place when it's aligned with the exit. There's very little space for any of the traditional methods. I was initially going to use Bales catches underneath the tray but was advised that that would require too much 'pull' to move the tray - with the risk that the stock would be sent flying in the process. Plus I need more track of course! The cable ties thing is easy. Just save up lots of them and then cut off sections for regular use. I'm almost out of them now, but since that shot was taken I've added the isolator wiring and even more cable ties!

 

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