N Gauge

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


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2 May 2016

Work on the layout has been trundling along at a fairly good pace, but I haven't had a chance to post individual reports, so this one is a bit of a bumper photo-fest. In fact it covers all the work carried out during February, March, and half of April! I really shouldn't leave it so long between updates...

As usual there are far too many jobs that need doing, sometimes so many that I don't even know where to start with them. In the end I usually end up working on two or three of them at the same time, with the result that progress is slow on all fronts.

Still, progress recently has been good - especially in overall visual terms. Something I've wanted to get installed for a while has been the front fascia. But because of the way I wanted this to link into the platform at the very front of the layout, the platforms had to go down first. The first go at this was botched, because I glued together two layers of balsa to produce a platform that would need steps up from the carriage for it to be reached - provided the carriage doors could even be opened outwards (there were no sliding doors in 1930, you know).

The second stab at this went back to basics. The first thing to produce was a decent template for each platform, and as always, card is the best resource for this.

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The balsa that I'd bought for the platforms was still a little thin, so it needed two layers glued together and a layer of cereal box at the bottom. That done, it seems to be pretty much perfect. The platform height falls at just around the height of the running board on Farish suburban carriages, which means a short step down from the carriage - common enough at most stations even today.

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Platform 2 now in place. Because the balsa was a little warped, screwing it down seemed the best option. The screws can be covered with card and the whole platform will be washed over with shades of grey. Eventually the sealed holes will look like patches of tarmac that have been reworked at some point. At least, that's the plan.

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Now for a bit more work on the upper level's MPD board (the left-hand of the two upper level boards).

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The boards were still far too flexible. They needed supports that would fit underneath and not catch trains using the back straight underneath. Metal shelf supports, kindly supplied to me, were measured and cut down using my trusty
junior hacksaw. Then they were bolted in place and the extended bolt thread was 'dremmelled' off at the nut.

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But then I discovered that coaches coming onto the back straight underneath were catching the first part of the support on the Bournemouth West board, so it had to be reduced in depth. More trusty junior hacksaw work. Quite a bit of it, in fact.

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That done and tested to satisfaction, I could turn to adding the wiring connection from the lower level, which would be supplied via a 7-pin DIN. You can also see the hacksaw work done on the shelf support, at the far end.

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Bolt holes covered on the upper surface.

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Detachable wiring connections between the two upper level boards.

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And now for something completely different. With the front platforms in place, it's time to create a template (out of cereal box) for the front fascia. The pencil line marks the upper edge of the fascia, which is designed to provide a scenery level between the front of the layout at the track.

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Assembling the first parts for the Bournemouth West (BW) control panel.

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The fascia template is being turned into plywood reality. One test fitting in between the two control panels coming up...

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...and another over on the fiddle yard.

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Back to the heavy duty upper level work - this all has to be done before any serious track laying takes place. Sawing and filing out a hole for the Peco turntable was a job and a half!

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Undercoating the fascia meant that I also had the opportunity to paint the control unit.

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A CDU with a bit of oomph for the points, now installed on the layout like a humping Chihuahua.

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The first purpose-built relay to control the route setting points. The original system of diode boards and relays is being dumped in favour of this much more straightforward system (and this one actually works!).

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The painted control unit is back in position.

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Wiring the MPD board to the lower level via a 5-pin DIN (the DIN plug is resting inside the turntable hole).

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Overcoating the fascia, one of three coats of satin paint for extra protection, plus two coats of matt varnish (which unbelievably is still in top class condition, around fourteen years after I first bought it!).

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The next stage will be fitting the fascia, but that's something that will only be reported when I get around to transferring the next batch of photos from my aging camera.

26 May 2016

It was time for a grand weekend of works. Having a three day bank holiday weekend meant there would be a good chance of getting everything done. Announcements were duly made in advance: 'The line will be closed all weekend for engineering works. As this is 1930, no replacement bus service will operate, but passengers are free to flag down a fly or hire a local cart to transport them to the next working station. Third class passengers may walk using local paths and trackways'.

All of the planned work involved the back of the layout, so some time was spent in removing the control unit and the fiddle yard and the upper levels, and even the really-hard-to-detach incline curve. With all that missing, along with the backscene, this is the view.

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The top of the incline, on both sides, needed lowering to remove a peak at the crossover point. That meant lots of shaving and sanding on the underside of the MPD board (with turntable hole visible here)...

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...and sanding to the final support for the incline curve. I also took the opportunity to create some clearance space for the chunky, nose-in-the-air King Arthur. That involved lots of filing on the underside of the support bar. Lots and lots of filing.

Then the points motor for Point 3 (located just behind the King Arthur's cab in the photo) was installed and tested. That's the last of the lower level points to be installed. At last.

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Another job was chipping out a bit of extra space on the control unit for switches...

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...and also attaching three dust cover sheets to the back of the layout, just below the removable backscene parts.

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The smoothed incline top looks much better now. Locos and stock seem to glide over it. Not one derailing has occurred. Job done.

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The next job was to create dust sheet support posts from scrap wood, with notches. The idea is that these will be the stumps and the notches will take the bails.

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As you can see in the next shot, the front fascia has been fully painted, fitted, tidied up, and varnished. All it needs to complete it is a black curtain (in four parts, but that's for another day).

The dust cover support stumps have also been fitted, and the 'bails' are in place. There's a little tightness where they meet the stumps, so there's no chance of them wobbling or falling off. They're pretty secure when in place and still easy to remove when dismantling the structure.

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The same job was done for the fiddle yard.

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With the dust covers in place, all the work at the back of the layout completed and working satisfactorily, and the fascia finished, it feels like a milestone has been passed.

11 June 2016

Well, that milestone proved to be a bit of an excuse for doing nothing. To be fair, work has been busy this month, and the History Files needed a bit of attention, so the layout has remained under its dust covers.

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Must find a way to stop the covers sinking down onto the layout. I have something in mind that may partially solve that problem.

12 June 2016

There was one other thing that I forgot to mention from the layout work before the recent hiatus. An accidental drawer space under the fiddle yard that is now complete with draw. It's nice when a plan comes together, even if it wasn't really a plan to start with.

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I've recently also had a booster shot of enthusiasm (thanks, Russ), so there's more going on to report next time.

4 April 2017

It's been a long time coming, but work on the layout this year has really moved things along.

Two major electrics sessions have completed the main work on the route setting. Now there are just one or two potential creases to iron out, plus some work on adding relays around the points to provide the proper power feeds when points are changed.

First off, a tunnel mouth bought via eBay for the single track lines out of Evercreech Junction towards the back straight.

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And now for the scary part - elektrickery. The Bournemouth West (BW) mimic panel finally gets some wire added to its empty innards. All of these wires fit a D-plug on the other side of the control panel pull-aparts.

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The Evercreech mimic panel also needed a bit of work with the D-plugs after several of the wires came loose during work inside the panel. My soldering these days is a good deal better than it was two years ago, and I was able to re-solder all of these without taking the entire section out.

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The BW D-plug leads here, to a batch of choc blocs under the upper level. I love chocs. No soldering required. All of these connections will carry power to the upper level.

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Also added to the BW mimic was the wiring for two isolating sections, both on the incline between upper level and lower level. The one coming down the incline was always planned, so that trains could be stopped if the route onto the back straight wasn't clear.

The one going up is a newbie. If a particular train proves too heavy for a loco, it can stop, the driver can walk to the nearest signal box or level crossing keeper (it's 1930 - not only are phones not mobile, a great many people don't even have one yet!) and put in a request for a banking loco to pull up behind the train and give it a push. It works, too.

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Underneath the layout, the route-setting points are getting their relays added.

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And added to these are points feed relays which control power distribution on either side of the points. You can't rely on the points blades to do that. Point 6, above these relays, recently stopped doing just that because the blades weren't making full contact, and that happened not much more than two years after being laid.

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Fancy an overview of the layout? There's Evercreech Junction at the front, the detachable control panel below that, and the incline up to the upper level behind it. Entrance to the fiddle yard is on the far upper left-hand side of the photo.

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Finally for this time, two more route-setting relays were required. They're not actually for the route setting. These are to serve one of the more complicated points/wiring set-ups - a point connected to a double slip, which means three motors in all, and quite a bit of feed wiring.

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Done. With these installed, Points 30 and 31a/b all work perfectly, I have power into the colliery sidings for the first time, and I can even switch control of the sidings to Controller 3 while controllers 1 and 2 have the main line. It's all coming together.

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30 April 2017

There seems to be a lot going on with the layout since the end of winter hibernation. The electrics on the lower level are coming along nicely, route-setting is largely working as hoped during testing, and now it's time to begin a few basics for the scenic side of things.

To start with, I've long wanted to do something about filling up the gap between twin tracks so that when they're ballasted the ballast will appear fairly level. Pre-war railways tended not to have deep ballast troughs. In fact they seem to have ballasted up to the top of the sleepers and levelled that across the entire trackbed.

To help with this, 1mm cork sheets were ordered. These will be cut up and laid between the tracks. The bonus is that cork is flexible, so cutting them out can be relatively rough and imprecise. You just jam then in and they take it.

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The first few strips were laid over a crank set-up for a points motor that couldn't be laid directly under the point. Lots of testing made sure that the crank still worked after laying.

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More cork went down the entire centre strip at Evercreech, allowing the water crane's base to be inset into it.

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More work on Evercreech - platform ramps are coming!

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A rethink on the platforms themselves means that the balsa will be protected by a layer of grey card (cereal packs are a great source). The balsa is just too fragile to be left out in the open, although it's still great for making curved platforms.

Because the platforms would be gaining a layer of card on top, a layer of card had to be removed from the bottom.

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Also, now that I've got more information on the goods yard at Evercreech, I decided to realign the goods shed line a little, and extend it a little too. Gluing is taking place, with something heavy to hold the track in place for twenty-four hours.

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Here's the base layer for the road and level crossing. A top layer will hide all the print.

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More card to hide another points crank. This one was also fully tested many times.

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Finally for this update, a host of goodies just arrived. They're all for Evercreech. The lineside fencing will be used in the cattle dock (the fancy Ratio dock is far too big and showy for Evercreech).

The footbridge will have to be hacked to narrow the track span. The GWR white picket fencing will be used on both platforms near the level crossing.

The station lamps are a perfect match for Evercreech, and the telegraph poles may need some minor hacks to make them suitable. I also have 'stone' paper for the platform facings and for scratch-building the station master's house and other buildings. Not really looking forward to that part...

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11 June 2017

With the Gloucester show coming up next weekend, it's time for an update on progress with the layout.

The lower level electrics aren't far off completion, with the only bits outstanding being the old the relays at the back, the wiring for the Evercreech Junction goods siding, and the relays around Points 1 which also supply power to the fiddle yard.

That leaves me free to start on the scenic work on the right-hand side of the layout, and on Evercreech Junction (EJ) Station itself. The balsa platforms are being supplied with a layer of card - Coco Pops seem to offer a good shade of grey for this, and their boxes are quite big (more card, less joins).

I've also added a layer of fine grade sandpaper between the tracks. When the ballast is down around the track itself, there will be some texture in between which should resemble finer grade ballast and general grit and gravel.

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Where possible I'm securing platforms by screwing up from underneath, but near the EJ control panel this isn't possible (to much electrical gubbins underneath). So these bits need top level screws which will be covered over later.

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With the platform surfaces finished, they were given a coat of matt varnish to seal in the card. The sandpaper-laying was finished, and the open nearside embankment was sealed up.

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The beginnings of a level crossing were added to the right-hand end of EJ station.

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The completed water hose kit was put in place (see the workbench thread for details of what needed to be done to complete this white metal kit) - it's the first bit of completed detailing for EJ station.

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Something I've wanted to try out for a while is the rolling stock cartridge from Mill Lane Sidings. Made of laser-cut MDF, it's assembled as a kit, with the track going in first of all. The remaining sleepers are supposed to slot in place, but mine needed a good dose of superglue to hold them there.

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The next stage is to assemble the side panels and arches.

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Then it all gets joined together and held in place with elastic bands until the wood glue dries. The completed kit is pretty robust and easy to handle, and apart from the rail problem assembly was very easy.

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Then I needed some way of joining the cartridge to the fiddle yard so that complete trains can be loaded and unloaded - or at least half trains can, as the cartridge is a touch over three coaches in length. I can't double up on cartridges because there isn't enough space between the fiddle yard and the layout.

A custom plastic fiddle yard tray was made up, with a couple of bits of brass rod soldered on the outside of the leading end of the track so that the cartridge will sit inside it. This has the effect of aligning the tracks, although the cartridge did need a piece of 3mm scrap plywood glued underneath it to raise it to the same height as the fiddle yard track.

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With cartridge testing a proven success - I'll certainly need to get more of those, but they're not exactly cheap - I need somewhere to store them. Extra shelving under the fiddle yard is the ideal place.

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With some strips of pine ordered for a DIY job in the house, I increased the order to give me enough for this shelving too. Viola! Two shelves of additional storage space.

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And now for the moment you've all been waiting for. The final piece of track to be laid on the lower level. It was the offcut from creating the cartridge-to-fiddle-yard tray.

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Now on with laying the basic structure for the embankments and cuttings. Corrugated card will do for this, cut roughly to the shape of the eventual scenery. The gap on the other side of this bit of embankment is where the EJ water tower will go.

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A steep embankment will also sit at the back of EJ's goods yard.

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The exit from EJ station and the colliery line also gets some more contour shapes added.

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And then there's the field at the back of the EJ goods yard....

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...with the EJ cattle dock now added. Unfortunately this sits right over one of the tie bars for the double slip in the goods siding. For that reason, the dock needs to be removable, just in case.

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Having spent a while looking in detail at the lineside buildings around Bournemouth West Station (at the back of the layout, on the upper level), I've managed to work out a much better idea of how to fill up the empty central well. The foundations for the road and a terrace of railwaymen's cottages have been added...

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...and the road extends further on towards an eventual tunnel alongside the tracks. This is Poole Road, but brought nearer to Bournemouth West (BW) than it was in reality and with all the grand houses removed.

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The road surface goes on loose for mow. The red dotted line marks the front of the terrace of cottages, with the road in front of it and the sloping entrance to Surrey Road and the tunnel under the railway to the left. There's still a bit of work needed to add some 'curve' to the slope.

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With the way the scenery work is moving on, there's bound to be another update pretty soon.

 

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