N Gauge

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


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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:

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Then the platforms were painted lightly in several coats and three different greys until I found a shade I was almost happy with.

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Elsewhere, more scenery formers were added between the colliery and the main line out of Evercreech.

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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.

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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).

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The loading gauge for EJ Goods has been permanently fixed in place.

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Underneath, some more of the route setting relays have been put in place.

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Needless to say, I didn't wire these in. They're an unexplained mystery to me!

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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 longer.

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Much easier to complete were three more of the kit-built rolling stock cartridges which will sit under the fiddle yard.

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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.

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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.

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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 the incline).

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 tightens up.

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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.

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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 go.

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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 stuff).

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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 water.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 progress.

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 building.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Bournemouth area.

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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 replaced the 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.

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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 switch.

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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.

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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 year...

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