Workday Wednesday

Grabbed this photo from the train window the other day, a scene from the past not often seen on today’s railway:

The Horbury Junction signaller steps out into the bracing Yorkshire air (well I thought it was anyway, the short sleeves imply he thought otherwise!) to watch the progress of 2O77, the 15.04 Wakefield Kirkgate to Huddersfield, as it bounces over the pointwork outside the box and heads towards the remains of Healey Mills Yard.

Visually it’s just a shame the box has succumbed to modern double glazing being fitted, although this is no doubt appreciated by the staff!



BWS Update 6: Exit Stage Left (or Right…)

The last month has seen intermittent progress on the layout, there have been some massive steps forward but to look at it until today you wouldn’t really have known.

First up, it works! I’ve successfully rigged up my Gaugemaster Prodigy under the layout running to a pair of connection sockets tucked away under each corner of the facia. With decent length leads, this will allow a single operator to get to each end easily, while also allowing 2 people to run things at the same time.

I’ve also finished fitting and setting up my point control servos, using Motrak Models servo mounts that I picked up years ago for a project that never came to fruition. There are 6 signals which will also be controlled by servos, the non connected servo cables being ready for their installation.

With a couple of spare hours today, I took the opportunity to spend some time concentrating on the storage yards which will be pretty critical to operation at both ends…

At the left hand end, which represents the coking plant and ‘mainline’ I’ll be using cassettes, so the board is very simple. As per the suggestion in the Cameo Layouts book, the lines heading off scene end before the board joint and the cassette will span the board joint. Therefore this board is literally a ply top and that’s it!

A little more sanding is needed on the board joint but this is where the cassette will connect to the layout. My cassette design is very similar to that used on ‘Kyle of Sutherland’ having been inspired at Railex earlier this year.

The right hand yard is somewhat more involved, essentially being the other end of the 3 loops on the scenic section. Loco release is via a sector plate at the far end, and there will be space to attach a cassette allowing a train to be removed if I so wish. Getting the track down on this board is now the next job on the to do list.

Rather than supporting the off scene areas conventionally using some additional legs, I decided a cantilevered arrangement would be better, and save on the amount of stuff that needed taking to a show. Rather than use a chain as Iain Rice has done on Trerice, I opted for a metal wire arrangement similar to that used by Andy Jones to cantilever the pelmet on his Tarring Neville layout. This provides greater flexibility as the wire is adjustable, while also looking nice and tidy.

To add some additional strength where they mount, I’ve sandwiched a couple of layers of 9mm ply behind the 6mm backscene, screwing the mounting eyes through all of these.

An initial test of strength shows these to be very robust and more than up to the job of supporting the short boards. It also means I can vary the layout height easily, potentially presenting it lower height if attending a more family friendly show – this will be subject to some experiments and experience I guess.

Until next time.


BWS Update 5: Times are a changing

Is it really nearly 2 months since I last posted a layout update!?

Having a recap of how things were looking when I last made a post on BWS made me realise both how much things have changed since then and how much happier I am with those changes.

Firstly, we now have a backscene, and a base coat of paint on it which has changed the look of things considerably.

I had been starting to struggle with enthusiasm towards the layout. A lot of time had been spent looking at maps both old and new trying to identify an exact location for the layout with no success. As I said in an earlier post, operational realism will be key to the layouts success in my mind and as such I need to be able to work out the likely traffic flows and how the prototype would have handled this. I’d originally been inspired by the Stocksbridge Railway and gone with scenery to suit, hence the hills at the left front and at the rear, but this severely limited prototype locations . I was also starting to get uneasy with the flow of the scenery, which I really couldn’t get to flow, even after I got rid of the originally proposed stream.

A look further afield but still in ex-GCR territory eventually gave me a location I was happy with, and as the concept developed in my mind things fell more and more into place. Rather than cover this here I intend to do a separate blog post about this specifically for anyone interested in such things!

There was just one issue with my new location, it was well out of the foothills of the Pennines, instead being relatively flat and unexciting contour wise. I am sure Oly would happily tell you that I am the worlds slowest person to commit to an idea, instead liking to mull things over in my mind until I’ve missed the opportunity to do what it was I was planning. It was therefore surprising when I bit the bullet and attacked the newly finished hillsides shown in my last post with a saw, completely changing the profile of the layout – instead of a large hill at the rear, a gradual slope away from the layout was sculpted. As the old adage goes, less is more and I feel that is certainly the case here, the new contours being much more natural and typical for a small layout.

Space was then created for a small crew room, accessed off a minor roadway leading from the rear of the layout. This will give a reason for a loco to run over to the crew room and sit while the crew have a brew and a catch up with the yard shunter, an additional move for the operating sequence that wouldn’t have been there before.  The road was built from ‘MRJ envelope card’ (we always like a bit of free modelling material here at OTCM towers) as per the techniques outlined by Gordon Gravett’s wonderful scenery book.

The hill at the front of the layout was also removed and replaced by what I envisaged as a small coal storage yard, served by a rerouted kick back siding, not dissimilar to the one Oly has modelled on SQ – this has led to some interesting techniques being envisaged to block the view of the hole in the backscene, which I will show as they are employed, providing they work! I am planning on super detailing a Dapol JCB to work in this yard, which will provide an interesting side project ideal for working on when I am not at home.

The newly shaped scenery was given a coat of filler as a hard shell (I didn’t get on particularly well with the papier-mache used first time round) and then painted in brown as a base shade. This was all done during the hot weather, so things dried nice and quickly and I could work on my little and often philosophy!

The hot weather did, however, put me off the idea of doing any soldering, it being warm enough in the loft without adding more hot things! However, having painted the base level, I got to the stage where I couldn’t really go any further until I’d finished wiring and been able to give the layout a full shakedown and simulated exhibition operating session, the aim being to try and identify any issues that need ironing out before I set the track permanently in place.

Fortunately the hot weather is now gone, and as such I’ve been busy with the soldering iron and glue gun under the baseboard wiring things up – so far I have put the main bus wire in, which uses sections of copperclad strip glued to the underside of the board in appropriate places linked together and to the controller, and am running wires to the switches that have now been mounted in the left hand facia panel.

Point control will be by way of servos, I was going to go with Tortoise motors but as I has a selection of bases and servos already in stock that had been intended for a previous project it seemed a logical way to go, especially as I’d need the control board for signals anyway. A Megapoints controller has therefore been purchased and I am in the process of mounting and wiring this.

I’m hopeful I will get all the wiring in place and the layout up and running in the next couple of weeks, it will be good to get some trains running at last!

I will try and get another update out there in less than 2 months!



Thank you even more, Accurascale!

You may remember a couple of posts ago, I reviewed the new Accurascale 24.5T hoppers and the overall conclusion was that they were top drawer, and probably the best RTR model of a wagon yet produced. In fact the only issue I picked up on was a minor QC issue where the incorrect vertical stanchion had been fitted to one wagon… not a major issue but something worth noting.

Then 2 amazing things happened:

1. It turns out people actually read this blog. (Hard to believe but apparently it’s true.) Some of whom are quite important in the industry. (Even harder to believe but again it’s true.)

2. As a direct result of the above, and via a convoluted route through Paul Marshall Potter and Oly using multiple communication platforms (10/10 for effort), unbeknown to me, Fran, the main man at Accurascale, sent me a new wagon to replace that with the QC slip, which I received last weekend totally out the blue!

Beyond all else, this shows Accurascale are committed to modellers and understand what goes on in this hobby. Given I’d already modified the original and covered it in paint, they are sufficiently proud of their product to send a new one to replace it, understanding people don’t like to leave models untouched. In a world where some manufacturers invalidate any form of warranty the moment you remove a screw or take the body off, this is a refreshing angle and one we must congratulate Accurascale for, although I reckon the number of instances of QC issues are very small in the first place given the quality of the product.

Without wishing to make this sound like too much of an advert, Accurascale have just announced their next model, a Cemflo, which, although rather out of the scope of OTCM, will be another useful wagon type covered to modern standards, so we will look forward to that one!


BWS Update 4: Plodding along steadily

It’s been a while since I last posted a layout update – things have been progressing gradually, but nothing really that exciting has happened to prompt me to write about it…

So what have I managed to do in the last couple of weeks? Well, pointwork construction is now complete and the vast majority of the track is now down – I guess this is quite big news but it’s only happened in small bits!

A catch point has gone in to protect the BR infrastructure from the industrial – this should co-act with the adjacent point but having spoken to various people who know what they are talking about on the subject, I’ll probably just solder it solid.

All rail lengths have had droppers soldered to their bases and passes through the board as part of the track laying process, although only a small detail, not having wires soldered to the side of rails makes a worthwhile difference I find.

Scenery wise, the landscape now has a hard shell of papier-mâché over the polystyrene on the central part of the layout – the sections at each end still need a bit of work to confirm the contours but the bulk is coming together

I was concerned that the baseboard as originally built was a bit too flexible, mainly being constructed from 6mm ply. As such I’ve added some additional framing to the underside and this has strengthened it up considerably, albeit adding quite a chunk of weight… the important bit is I can still carry it upstairs single handedly though!

Last but not least, the outside of the layout has been smartened up with a coat of black paint, which has helped me to visualise the scene inside and how/where to place the various scenic details. It will need another coat but that can wait until I’ve stopped making a mess on the layout!

Next up will be getting the network of wires dangling from the bottom of the layout hooked up and getting the backscene installed I think.