Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Progress Report 52

The weather has been very mixed since the previous update (See Progress Report 51). There have been a few days of sunshine but mostly the weather has been showery, which is the worst type of weather for playing trains - no sooner have I put out equipment than I have to gather it up, trying to decide if it will be a short sharp shower or a more prolonged downpour. Fortunately, with radio control and battery power, I have been able to run the odd train now and again. However, I have managed to get one full running session in, and the wet weather has given an opportunity for several indoor projects to get completed.

A Day in the Life of Peckforton Station

During the full operating session, I set up my video camera at Peckforton Station and, each time a train passed through, filmed its progress. The result is a video showing a typical day in the life of one station on the line. The video has condensed the day into a series of brief episodes, but the feedback from fellow modellers has been encouraging.

In addition, I took a series of stills from the video sequences, and produced a blog posting outlining the day's activities. (See A Day in the Life of Peckforton Station)

Track sweeper

Although track cleaning is no longer the pain in the butt which it used to be, locos and stock can still be derailed by the dreaded 'leaves on the line' and other debris.  I've discovered, for example, that from time to time, blackbirds and thrushes like to use the rails as anvils to crack open snail shells. Whilst, I still have to cut back the vegetation (on a weekly basis at the moment), it's still necessary to check the track before each running session - even one twig can have disastrous consequences. To help this tidying-up process, I have produced a simple track sweeper which can be sent around the track before a running session to remove the general detritus which the track seems to accumulate. (See How I constructed a track sweeper)

Take one HLW wagon chassis, a couple of pieces of brass rail, some brass strip, a motor, battery and a bottle brush and voila!

Trestle Bridge

In the previous Progress Report (see Progress Report 51), I gave an account of the building of the mill siding. The track crossing the stream had been left hanging in mid-air, awaiting the construction of a suitable bridge.This has now been completed (see How I constructed a small wooden trestle bridge), based (loosely) on the wooden trestle bridge which was situated on the Southwold Railway beside the water mill between Halesworth and Wenhaston.

At the moment, the bridge looks very new, but now it has taken up permanent residence, it will weather naturally.

Flat wagons

Adding details to the match truck

Following suggestions from fellow modellers on the G Scale Central forum, I've added a few more details to the match truck which will accompany the mobile crane whenever it ventures forth.

The detailing includes a couple of baulks of timber, a coil of rope, some chain and various other utilitarian objects such as a tool kit and re-railing jacks. I may distress and weather the wagon still further as it would be likely to suffer considerable abuse as it goes about its duties on the railway.

A new permanent way wagon

I decided that, rather than making the above wagon a general purpose Engineering Department wagon, I would make another flat wagon more specific to platelaying to be towed behind the IP Engineering Lollypop Railcar (see How I constructed an IP Engineering railcar) which I have designated as an platelayers' trolley.

The flat wagon uses an IP Engineering Hudson wagon chassis as its basis, with a coffee-stirrer body and tools provided by Bachmann. It needed to be small in size to match the dimensions of the railcar, and looks appropriate as it trundles around the railway (see How I constructed a small flat wagon).

Points controller

Having decided to move over from DCC controlled track-power to radio controlled battery power, one of the sacrifices was going to be the remote control of some of my pointwork from the DCC remote handset. Casting around for alternatives, I discovered the Deltang points and accessories controller which has seven outputs. As I had six turnouts which needed to be controlled remotely (owing to their awkward locations), this seemed to be the most appropriate solution. However, the controller is designed to work with r/c servos rather than LGB point motors and so I was faced with the dilemma of either replacing all the existing LGB point motors with servos, or finding some way of adapting the Deltang controller so it would operate the LGB point motors.

 Following the guidance of a fellow garden railway modeller (who, incidentally is based in Australia), I programmed a Picaxe microprocessor to respond to the Deltang receiver and generate a half second pulse of electricity to kick the relevant LGB points motor into operation.

It was surprisingly easy (and equally surprisingly inexpensive), to construct a system which would operate relays in response to the instructions generated by the microprocessor. I can now control my more inaccessible pointwork by the flick of a switch.

Wiring-up the most distant turnout

The most distant point (on the approach to the swing bridge) had not been hard-wired - it used a slot-in decoder connected directly to the track. This needed to be connected to the points controller, situated in the outhouse about 40m away. I happened to notice a couple of lengths of orange mains cable which my neighbours had thrown away in a skip which they no longer needed. This was pressed into service, routed around the outside of the garden and then buried.

Station Buildings

Until now, I have left my station buildings outside throughout the year and, even though they are constructed from resin castings or plastic (see How I constructed some station buildings and How I constructed a station building from a toy, they were beginning to show signs of wear and tear. Some of the epoxied joints had sprung apart and the paintwork was beginning to peel in places see Progress Report 50).

The buildings were brought inside and all the internal joints (regardless of whether they had failed) were reinforced with a strong instant-grab, flexible adhesive.

The representations of timber framing were repainted green and some of the roofs were touched-up but I decided to leave the cream clapperboard as it was as this was generally surviving well (it was watered-down masonry paint designed for outdoor use with a ten year guarantee). The posters and signs were all reprinted and re-applied (see How I made some period posters and enamel signs). Some posters were mounted on noticeboards, made from black plasticard (see How I made some noticeboards)

I have decided to bring my buildings inside during the winter months from now on to prolong their working lives (and to save myself unnecessary maintenance).
The station buildings and platform paraphernalia ready to be installed in the garden
Peckforton Station building in situ
Beeston Market Station building

Platform detailing

Whilst re-installing the buildings, I decided to assemble and paint various kits and general clutter of platform equipment which I had accumulated, such as trolleys, firebuckets, seating, luggage, etc.

These items had come from various sources including Trenarren Models, Garden Railway Specialists, Roundhouse, Modeltown and Back2Bay6.

These items were constructed and then given a couple of coats of primer, before being given a final coat of green or red, with detailing added with acrylics.

As time progresses, I will add more and more items of this sort as it seems to me that this type of detailing is what brings a railway to life.


James Hurst said...

Dear Rik,
Thanks so much for your advice on track ballasting, it's working a treat!
My next challenge is rc points. I am using deltang controllers supplied by micron for the locos, but I would love to know more about the electrical ingredients used to control your LGB point motors. Would you be prepared to share the wiring diagram and part numbers please?

Ge Rik said...

Hi James
I've described how I operate my points using Deltang equipment here - https://riksrailway.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/how-i-operate-some-of-my-points-by.html

If you use the receiver to control servos it would be a lot less complicated.