3 December 2017
Some time was spent on getting the platforms at
Evercreech Junction just right. After a couple of false starts I
finally produced this version in balsa wood (easy to shape) toped
with a layer of cereal box card (easy to shape after the balsa has
been shaped, and easy to paint and stain. The ramps, though, needed
to be propped up with more card, like this:
Then the platforms were painted lightly in several coats and three
different greys until I found a shade I was almost happy with.
Elsewhere, more scenery formers were added between the colliery and
the main line out of Evercreech.
Then one of the curved storage lines in the colliery area was taken
up and relaid as a straight line. Having found a good modeller's
article on the colliery I now have a much better idea of how this
area should look.
Here's an overview of the entire Evercreech Junction (EJ) area at
the front of the layout, with painted platforms in place faced in
brick and stone paper, and both water columns in place (although the
farther one would soon be taken up temporarily (aka accidentally
knocked out of its housing).
The loading gauge for EJ Goods has been permanently fixed in place.
Underneath, some more of the route setting relays have been put in
Needless to say, I didn't wire these in. They're an unexplained
mystery to me!
Here are the beginnings of an experiment to produce an uncoupling
ramp. The brass square rod which fits inside another rod was easy
enough, as was soldering the brass ramp to the top of the thinner
rod. The servo underneath the board which operates it will take much
Much easier to complete were three more of the kit-built rolling
stock cartridges which will sit under the fiddle yard.
At EJ station I decided to add a bit of a raised roadway at the back
so that it comes up to meet the back of the stationmaster's house.
Visible at the bottom of the photo is a white metal post for the
level crossing, but more of that another time.
And now for a bit of major work on the incline.
The top section from the bridge up to the joint with the MPD board
has never worked properly. I decided it was time to rip up the
entire thing and start again. But first I needed to store some
rolling stock prior to removing the fiddle yard. That meant a few
extra storage trays, and at last I have enough stock of the same
type in one tray to be able to label a few of them.
With the stock removed, I was able to remove the controller section
from the front of the layout, and then detach the fiddle yard and
heave that out into the spare bedroom (it's really a two man job, so
heaving it out solo requires a bit of effort). Then the layout could
be wheeled forwards so that I could get around the back (after
refitting the controller section so that I could send test trains up
Here's the old incline, with the very bad track connections at the
bottom and the Grand Canyon jump across to the MPD board at the top.
I've already started removing support blocks and thinning them by at
least half of their original width to maximise the amount of track
underneath that can be reached.
The old board joint at the top of the incline was on a curve in the
track - never ideal - and it caused some stock to derail. Now I cut
a chunk out of the MPD board to attach to the incline and change the
place at which the two met.
The MPD board off-cut was clued and screwed to the incline and an
extra support put in place underneath. That also meant sawing off
part of the metal support bracket under the MPD board.
With the board joint now in place and level across the very much
smaller gap, I could concentrate on laying the inside track (which
would have the tighter radius). Constant testing produced a curve
which was free of any wheel lock-up, and placing the track joint
beyond the right-hand side of the bridge (under the hammer handle in
this photo) meant no awkward rail joiners just where the curve
While we're waiting for the glue to dry, here's a shot of the main
baseboard, pulled out into the middle of the room and with the
controller section loosely reattached.
At the top of the incline I took out the cork and replaced it with
hardboard of the same thickness. This is where the board joint will
Extra droppers were soldered under the track so that both ends of
the incline have a power feed, and rail joiners on a tight curve
aren't the only way of ensuring that power reaches the top of the
incline. The track would also be soldered to the blocks which were
salvaged from the old incline top (I had to - it's all I have of the
After much track bending and testing with powered locos, I had a
top-most part of the inner track that I was happy with, so this
could be glued in place. It would have been next to impossible to
take it up and use Copydex and still keep the perfect positioning,
so I left it pinned in place and dripped in wood glue mixed with
Twenty-four hours later I had an inner track incline that even a
King Arthur could negotiate with ease. This test train also managed
to achieve a new record for the furthest a powered train has managed
to get on the upper level.
Next it was time for the outer track to be tested and laid. This one
was a little easier (not necessarily saying much!) as the curve was
a little more generous. There's also a little banking going in under
the track with the light grey card to offset the slight outwards
tilt of the track without it.
The next day the top section of track was laid (more testing, more
track bending, more success). I did all the soldering across the
board joint at the same time, much more neatly and unobtrusively
this time than I did before.
Here's a close-up of the board joint while the glue was still
drying. The red wire is another extra feed wire which would be
connected to the main circuit once the layout was back in position.
The next job will be to saw across the tracks in the middle of the
board joint to separate them. I've already done the inner one here
and it's still pretty perfect.
Cuts done, the track still lines up perfectly and smooth running has
been achieved along the entire upper section of the incline. That
lot took a week and-a-half of various sessions to complete. I also
started adding some scenery formers in celebration.
1 April 2018
Nothing new has happened with the layout this year,
but that doesn't mean I can't catch up with the last of 2017's
After finishing off the incline rebuilding work
(see above), I managed to produce a test print of the
stationmaster's house for Evercreech Junction (EJ). There are no
details on it at this stage. It's just a shell so that I can gauge
the size. The footbridge is accurate so I can gauge it against
that... and the building is a little too tall. Back to the design to
trim off a couple of millimetres and also to reshape the rear of the
On the scenery side of things, some progress was made with two
layers of card strips across the vertical formers. This hill would
be ready for some landscaping work to go over the top if I only knew
how the hill was supposed to meet the upper level. I can't do that
until the track is laid up there and I know where the station
buildings are going to go.
To add to the initial test run at building a rolling stock
cartridge, I've added three more of them, all MDF kits from Mill
Lane Sidings. You can see that they're labelled up now, two for the
Southern Railway's 'Bournemouth Ltd' service using Maunsell coaches,
and two for the Bournemouth Belle, using Pullmans. They make it much
easier to roll-on/roll-off stock onto the fiddle yard - essential
when the layout actually becomes operational... one day.
When the top of the incline was fixed up, I laid down card sleeper
'tops' across the track over the board joint. Now I've done the same
on the Highbridge loop at the front of the layout. It looks a
little rough at this stage but I'm hoping that when a thin layer of
ballast goes down in between the sleepers, it'll look much better.
More scenic work could take place elsewhere, this time on the
rebuilt incline. The back 'corner' - actually a curve on the outside
of the rail curve - got some of its card formers and the backing for
a sleeper-built retaining wall. This corner will be filled with
pine trees and purple heather, both well known for living in the
I don't think I've included a proper shot of the EJ footbridge yet.
So here it is. The single matchstick glued into the corner was
actually part of the real bridge (a wooden beam, not a matchstick).
In fact there was one at each corner, added by the Southern Railway
to secure the steps to the replacement overhead section when that
original wooden version in the
1920s. The one matchstick here will be the same colour as the
footbridge when it's painted, but the other three will be bare wood, so I can't add them until painting is complete.
Another job done was to add an extra stop to the 'Controller for
sidings' switch. Settings 1, 2, and 3 are to determine which
controller supplies power to the sidings in two locations on the
lower level, but it's a good idea to add a neutral setting too just
in case no power at all is required (thanks for the suggestion,
Russ). In effect, the neutral setting acts as an extra isolator
It's time to test version two of the stationmaster's house, this
time with sample windows and doors. It's a little shorter, but I
need to do a little more work on the rear so that it sits properly on the
pathway behind the platform.
Final job of the year, to drill all the wiring holes for the
scissors crossover on the upper level. I'd love to get the upper
level working without having to worry about any wiring for something
as complicated as this thing, but nothing's going to get through
this without relays and points motors being installed. Maybe next