Sunday, May 22, 2011

Progress Report 36

Quite a few developments since the last progress report.

The railway has had its first ever visit from a fellow garden railway modeller and a visiting loco.

 Keith also happens to be a Rail Track signalman and gave me plenty of advice on signalling the line, bringing with him a series of nicely drawn signalling diagrams for each station. In the case of Bickerton, these ranged from the most basic with 8 levers ..........

........... through the intermediate in complexity (with 10 levers) ..............

.............. to the most comprehensive (with 24 levers)!

As one of my main interests is operation, I am keen to add signalling to the railway, particularly as the ore trains run irregularly between the scheduled services. I'm inclined to go for the least complex as I'm concerned that signals will be vulnerable to accidental damage, particularly when hedge cutting. Signalling is now another job to add to the 'pending' list.

Keith posted a fine set of photos of the railway on the G Scale Central Forum which he took whilst he was here.

Point/switch decoders
As some of my points (switches) are hard to reach (and I am doddering into old age), I decided it was about time I provided a means by which they could be operated remotely. When I first built the railway, all the points were electrically operated from a central control box positioned in the porch (see Making a control panel). When I went wireless with my controller (first Train Engineer and then MTS), running back into the porch every time I wanted to change a set of points became ridiculous - much easier just to switch them by hand on site. However, seven points are beyond comfortable reach (or positioned behind the sheds) so, whilst I replaced all other point motors with hand operated point levers, I kept sufficient motors to operate these remotely positioned points. One of the points (the link to the Beeston Market/Copper Mine extension) is operated with a single switch decoder (LGBL55024).

These are very easy to fit and link up, but relatively expensive. The other eight are operated by 4-way switch decoders - one LGB55025 and a Massoth 8156001. Whilst these are more cost effective than the single way decoders, the wiring becomes a little more complex. Furthermore, the decoders have to be located in dry/damp free conditions. You may have noticed the lush green foliage of the garden - this is largely due to the high levels of rainfall which we get in the North West - and particularly, it seems, in the Cheshire Gap. I decided to use the original wiring which was still in place for the point motors on Phase 1 of the railway. As these still run into the control box in the porch, it was a relatively straightforward rewiring job to fit the switch decoders in the control box (alongside the reverse loop controller).

Some re-routing of the wiring was needed to reach the points at either end of the 'Mine Branch' link.

and one wire needed to be extended to reach one of the crossover points, but now all the hard-to-reach points on the railway can be operated from the Universal Remote (though I have to remember which way they are set).

Track Cleaning Loco
Several years ago, I bought a track cleaning loco. I was a little underwhelmed by its performance and so for a while I wondered whether to recoup the £300 it cost me (now they cost over £500). I've always operated it as an analogue loco, not wanting to waste a decoder on something which is used only once in a while. Having accumulated a few spare decoders through lucky bids on eBay, I decided to install a chip to see how it would operate under MTS.

The chipping process is relatively painless - a lot easier than chipping the Stainz (see How I added a decoder to a Stainz loco. All that was needed was to remove the bonnet at the rear of the loco (two screws) which revealed the circuit board. The LGB decoder simply plugged in, the dip switches were all then turned off and away it went!

Whilst under analogue, I had some control over the speed of the cleaning motor, but now it has been chipped the cleaning motor runs at full pelt all the time. I've learned from experience to make sure the loco keeps moving: if it stops for even a few seconds, the cleaning wheels file two neat depressions in the rail!

I've now caught up on some outstanding ballasting jobs. The sidings at Beeston Market (see How I added sidings to Beeston Market),

the Copper Mine branch line (see Adding a link to the Copper Mine)

and all the recently added buffer stops (See Progress Report 35),

have now been ballasted using my tried and tested grit, sand, cement and PVA method (see How I ballasted the track).

The Engine Shed
I am in the process of constructing an engine shed for Beeston Market station. The model is based (very) loosely on the engine shed at Southwold - however my model is twin track, whereas the original was only single. Glimpses of the engine shed in its final form can be seen in this 1929 video from the Southwold Museum website.

A couple of stills from the video (sorry about the quality):

An exterior grade plywood shell is being clad in clapperboard planks thanks to the ubiquitous coffee-stirrer. I'm not sure how many coffee stirrers it will ultimately take, but I am well down one pack of 1000 and not even half way finished! I had hoped to roof it with scale real slates, but after working out this would cost somewhere in the region of £100, I am having to find a cheaper option.

The engine shed is now completed - see How I constructed the engine shed.

I am slowly working my way round the rolling stock which has not so far been weathered. So far, some more of the goods stock has been attacked:

Once all these have been suitably aged, I will turn my attention to the coaching stock, which looks a little too pristine for its supposed age. Lastly will come the locos. I want them to have a well-tended but ageing-gracefully look.

I'm very slowly painting all the recently acquired figures. They've all received a base-coat of black (matt or satin (I ran out of matt) and are slowly being detailed in acrylics. They have all had any slab-like bases removed and a hole drilled up one leg for a brass peg to be inserted. This will be uses to position them on the various platforms.

I will finish them off with matt varnish. I've gone for a relatively expensive matt varnish which is used by our war gaming colleagues as my experience with so-called 'matt' varnishes has been somewhat mixed. Hopefully, by paying more I will get what it says in the tin! The figures are taking quite a while to complete, but it is a job I can do while sitting and 'watching' the telly in the evening.

Finally, a few more plants have been added to the garden. Because my garden faces North and is mostly in the shadow of the house, I mostly have to go for shade-loving plants which prefer moist conditions. I do have one flower bed which, by comparison, enjoys desert-like conditions. Not only does it get the benefit of full sun through the year, it is also adjacent to a hedge which draws moisture from the soil. The only real success I have had in this bed is with campanula, which seems largely tolerant to most growing conditions and, furthermore, flowers for quite along period from spring to summer. I've added another campanula to this bed, and am also trying a phlox and some gypsophila, both of which are supposed to enjoy full sun and a well-drained soil.


 Time will tell...........................

Train flap

I've replaced the original train/cat flap into the porch with a slightly more robust one fashioned from exterior ply.

At present, the wooden train flap is merely wedged into place as, incidentally, is the slightly cut-down cat flap which sits inside it. One day I will get around to hinging the wooden train flap at the top - but in the meantime it does the job and there are far more interesting projects awaiting completion.

No comments: