Upgrading pickups on the Bachman 08

Due to a bit of an oversight in the design process, early Bachman 08’s have always had issues with pickups that bear on the tread of the wheel, rather than the rear face as is more conventional. However, I’ve never actually had too many issues with this and the example we ran on Stoating Bank covered a couple of exhibitions with no problems.

However since moving on to SQ, we had found the trusty 08 had become a bit unreliable and it therefore spent most of the Canterbury show in the stock box. After the show I cleaned the pickups and the wheels and all seemed well again on BWS in the build up to Railex.

However, as anyone who has done a show knows, it’s impossible to replicate the conditions of a show in advance, and I was disappointed at Railex when after a couple of runs down the layout, both our 08’s were misbehaving. (Que Mark moaning…). This meant there were considerably more electric worked trains than the original plan dictated, although this turned out to be quite popular with the visiting public.

So how to improve the Bachman 08’s pickup arrangement? Given it must be quite a regular modification to make, a quick Google search on the subject didn’t bring up many results, the best I could find was buried in a thread on the Scalefour Society forum – so here is how I interpreted that and did it myself:

The existing pickup strip runs along the underside of the motor – a fine wire can be soldered to this under the flywheel and run down above the existing pickup behind the frames to drop out below.

A couple of strips of copperclad superglued to the bottom of the chassis keeper place in roughly the middle provide a good place to work everything else from. The droppers passing through the frames can be soldered to the inner corners of these out the way.

Using some pickup strip, this can then be bent up and soldered to the copperclad strip, so that it pushes against the rear of the driving wheels. There is no given way or style of doing this, just whatever works best for you.

And all done, the pickups should exert a roughly similar pressure on both sides, so that you don’t end up with the driving wheels sitting at one end of their sideplay constantly, but other than that there doesn’t seem to be much that can go wrong.

You can then paint the shiny bits that aren’t in contact with the wheel faces a nice grimy black shade to blend them in with the chassis, although to be honest from the low angle shot above you can’t really see anything anyway.

And that is that. Less than an hours work and test running has shown things to be miles better than before. The original pickups are still doing their job too so the locos now have 2 pickups per wheel, much improving on the original setup…. the only real question is why didn’t I do it previously!



Railex: now that the dust has settled.

Well, what a weekend that was – after a manic couple of weeks building up to the show, surprising myself at how long it takes to do jobs you don’t think will take long, I finally finished the last couple of coke wagons at 18.10 on the Friday evening, allowing paint to dry while I loaded the car, and then got a text from Andy who was about an hour in front telling me traffic was terrible on the M25 – I eventually arrived at the venue at about 20.20, where the decision was made to quickly set the layout up, check it worked then do a runner for the curry house! Fortunately there were no problems encountered on that first run meaning stomachs could be lined safe in the knowledge all would be alright.

An early start on Saturday morning saw Andy giving the layout a good thorough shakedown, and learning the somewhat convoluted (temporary) point control setup while I finished off a few little bits and pieces. At 09.50 with everything done and us ready to go we had a chance to have a brief look at the other entries in the Cameo Competition, rapidly coming to the conclusion we wouldn’t want to have to judge a winner! Mark, in his wisdom, had decided turning up at 10.00 and learning the layout ‘on the fly’ was the best bet, only to also have a crap journey round the M25 and not turn up until gone 11.00!

Anyway, with Saturday’s operating team finally all in one place, things settled down into a pattern of operation that seemed fairly consistent, although Mark moaning was the most consistent thing by far. The layout got very busy at some points and it was actually quite hard to see the front on occasions!

The layout ran well for the weekend though, there were a few more problems encountered operationally than I would have liked, but these were down to us learning how things work and don’t work, rather than any physical issue with the layout itself. Despite having packed loads of spares, the servo point control seemed reliable (I’d convinced myself it would fail constantly after the problems setting it up) and no soldering irons were required all weekend. The main issues were learning a few items of stock didn’t work with one another around some of the curves, the best example being my class 37 epically buffer locking with a rake of Accurascale hoppers as it came onto the layout derailing everything at the very moment the competition judges were inspecting the layout!!

After saying goodbye to Andy, Mark and I tucked into another curry on Saturday night (this time in the company of Brian and Paul from Shawplan, and much piss taking) before heading to exhibitors social event for a pint before calling it a night.

Sunday was relatively trouble free operationally, the principle issue being Oly getting stuck on the M25 for ages and therefore not arriving until well into the afternoon, meaning Mark and myself were a bit worse for wear after 4 hours continuous operation! Oly did, however, bring the family and as such we were able to bring in Evie as our latest conscript/operator.

Taking down the layout went smoothly, although I got caught out by time and should have started packing stock away earlier than I did (there was quite a lot…). It does look like we will be ideally placed for a rapid getaway from shows in the future.

The layout got a lot of positive feedback and I was surprised by how many people knew the area and the stock very well. Personal highlights were some quite in depth chats with Charlie Petty (of DC kits but also Chairman of the EM2 society and pretty well versed on all things MSW), Alan Whitehouse (of Mini MSW fame and author of one of the books that got me going on Woodhead in the first place) and Mike Edge (who enjoyed the industrial loco fleet).

We are out again in October at Uckfield which I’m looking forward too, especially with a few modifications to the point controls which will simplify operation no end. What’s more, none of us need to travel round the M25 so we should have a full fleet of operators for the entire weekend!

I’ll leave you with a few shots I took of the layout over the weekend. Probably not the best (I’ll do a proper photo shoot at some point) but hopefully giving an impression of what was going on.


BWS Update 11: We made it! (I think)

After an intense couple of months working on the layout in almost all my spare time (in fact so intense I haven’t had a chance to update the blog since March) we have now reached the point where Bottom Works Sidings will be making its exhibition debut at Railex this weekend, at Stoke Mandeville Stadium just outside Aylesbury.

Although I’d put the same amount of effort into any show, and expect the same standard of operation, there is something a bit scary about debuting at what is probably the countries highest quality show, alongside some layouts and modellers that probably put my standards to shame… I’ve got Mark and Andy helping me for the weekend though and while Mark thinks he thinks he can sell the layout on the merits of his signals my plan is just to blame him for anything that goes wrong!

I’ve found it surprising the amount of time that has been consumed just on small bits and pieces around the layout, those that aren’t essential but help make the scene. I’d also not factored in much time to work on any rolling stock in my last post, one of the reasons I’ve been so busy recently and not cool as a cucumber like I dreamt may be the case.

Anyway, to get any readers who are interested in the mood, here are a few photos of the layout now things are ‘complete’:

It’s a cold January morning in 1973 and Stan has just arrived in the yard to relieve the night shunt turn. His plan for the day involves staying in the warmth of the crew room with a brew and avoiding going out into the bitter cold as much as possible. The remnants of a light snowfall a couple of days ago still lie on the ground.

A view through the trees past the buffer stops in the sidings towards the 3 loops during a quiet moment with no traffic in evidence. The sidings in the foreground are primarily utilised as overflow capacity for the coke works, either empties waiting their turn under the loading bunker or fulls awaiting their next departure slot.

Over in the coal yard, the majority of the snow has melted away. The driver of the JCB has gone into the office to check some paperwork before continuing his duties stocking the site.

The road leading to the train crew room drops away to the exit gate out onto a narrow lane that runs this far, and presents a semi-rural scene despite being so close to heVy industry. About 100 yards beyond the hedge, another fence line will cross the landscape protecting the quadruple track Barnsley to Mexborough main line.

If you are attending Railex at the weekend please do come and say hello and we will do our best to have a chat providing the layout isn’t having a meltdown!


BWS Update 10: Taking a Break

Throughout the BWS saga, I’ve always set myself a vague target of Getting the layout to a state where it could be classed as ‘essentially complete’ by the time I went away for a couple of weeks in Mid March. This would then mean should something amazing happen and I got an invite to Railex, I would have around 2 months for finishing off, adding extra detail, checking everything worked to a good standard and wiring up the OHLE (last job on the to do list.)

As the title implies, I’ve now reached that point so it seems a good opportunity to review how things have gone…

Scenery wise, the bulk of the layout is now treated, although as ever some further variation in colour and texture would benefit some areas.

I’ve also been adding further detail at the back, although this signal still needs bedding in the surrounding area is bearing more overgrowth as things progress.

The trees at the right hand end of the layout need a little further painting and dry brushing to bring out some more texture but look good. I also need to paint the buffer stops in a faded and filthy red, providing this doesn’t detract from the scene as a whole.

I’ve made a start on building cassettes and the connectors are ready to be attached to the layout so I can finish up around them – this will be the first job when I get back and is probably the only bit I’m not quite as far along as I’d like to be with.

Oly has built a signal box for the layout, which looks nice in place. To use an industry buzz word we all despise that was some good cross operator collaborative working! Once the cassettes are working I can finish colouring and texturing the coal yard and bed in the box, which shouldn’t take too long.

Finally, to stop Oly asking I posed some locos and stock on the layout, something I’ve avoided too much up until now:

Back in a couple of weeks…



BWS Update 9: A long time coming!

Sorry for the long delay in posting any updates on the BWS saga… there should have been at least one in the middle but it seemed to get forgotten about!

Much progress has been made in the last couple of months, the layout going from bare bones in the last set of updates to having a chunk of scenery attached now! Let’s have a tour round the layout as it now stands…

Arrival into the yard is by way of the gate (which also hides the joint between the layout and the backscene), the railway boundary at this point is marked by a substantial hedge, constructed using florists wire to create trunks, and then teased out horse hair for the tangle of branches on top.

The road runs up to the crew room alongside the railway… the HA van is a bit rough and ready and just a placeholder at the moment – I’m yet to decide whether to finish it or use something else here. The wire in the background is the DC feeder cable for the 1500v DC overhead (still to be installed)

The crew room itself provides a focal point at the rear of the layout. I’ve made this from scratch and am pleased with the end result.

Zooming out somewhat, we can look at the right hand end of the layout as a more complete structure… the DAS ballast in the foreground has now been coloured and was worth the effort I think. Trees in the background are supposedly a mix of Ash and Silver Birch, usually the first trees to spring up and become established in industrial areas I find.

Spinning the camera round, these trees do a pretty good job of hiding the fiddle yard exit at this end of the layout. You can also see OHLE masts in place, there is further work needed on these but they are getting there.

Finally, heading back a long way we get an overall view of the whole layout. The idea was to create something quite minimalist and advocating the ‘less is more’ concept. Hopefully the layout does that…

The big news is that BWS has made the final of the Cameo Competition, and will be appearing at Railex in May! I’m not quite sure how it got selected but am naturally really pleased. The layout will then be appearing at Uckfield in October.

Before then, as well as completing the layout and sorting stock for it, there’s a couple of ideas I’m looking at to make operating interesting and realistic, which will hopefully be a little different to those normally used… watch this space.