BWS Update 7: Detailing Underway

It’s funny, but when I decided that building a layout for the Cameo Competition was a good idea, the thing I didn’t see being a challenge was providing updates on progress… turns out it’s not as easy as it sounds, and when you’re in the mood to do something layout related it’s normally physical work rather than writing about it… still, I guess if writing about it was the first thing that came to mind I wouldn’t have got very far with the layout!

So with apologies for another longer than planned gap in updates, here is a summary of things that have been going on over the last month or so – the good news is that I have been able to start doing some ‘modelling’ rather than the aspects of building a layout that may be better described as ‘engineering’!

First off, to cover the last of the ‘engineering’ aspects, we now have track in the right hand fiddle yard

This comprises a sector plate loco release, in addition, there is a space to connect a cassette so as to switch a rake of stock, although I don’t plan on using this excessively. The length of Peco track in the foreground is a programming track – there seemed little point in hand laying this when I had a few offcuts of Peco lying around.

I’ve also cut some big old holes in the baseboard. It was a bit of a brave moment going charging into the scenic base with a big drill to cut these but without them the signals from the last post wouldn’t be appearing on the layout so it was needs must as they say…

Finally, the ‘control panel’ if you can call it as such, really just a bank of switches in the left hand facia, is now completely wired up and ready to go. Points are controlled by DPDT switches using one side to change the polarity of the V and the other to provide an on/off signal to the Megapoints controller. The signal switches are all SPDT being used as on/off only.

So, onto the actual modelling bits. The baseboards may still be brown but I have now reached a point of moral victory where all cosmetic fishplates are fitted and the track is ready to be primed and then painted ahead of ballasting. I’m off on holiday for a few days tomorrow so it’s nice to know when I return I can hopefully get the baseboard outside and get priming! Fishplates are a mixture of C&L and Exactoscale. I definitely prefer the latter, they appear much finer and are easier to fit I’ve found, but are sadly unavailable at present. It was probably a good job I realised this before hanging on a few weeks to get some more at Tolworth before finishing! Anyway, as I conveniently had some C&L ones in stock I cracked on with these and saved a few pounds in doing so.

Now before anyone asks why I’ve bothered spend a few hours of my life sticking fishplates to the side of rails when there are no chairs on the points, and the rails are too close together, it’s time for a bit of OTCM philosophy. (Ed- that’s it, the last person reading this post has now run for the hills too…) I’m a firm believer that the human eye focusses on things it sees and has a tendency to ignore those it doesn’t. I may have made this up but I have a feeling Jerry Clifford employs a similar mantra on his 2mm scale models, and they are top class, so it must be good.

As such, the fishplates are almost a distraction technique, but also massively improve the look of things by covering over scale gaps between rail ends that are required for insulation purposes, stopping you being able to see light through the joint.

Finally, I’ve fitted buffer stops to the front 2 sidings. One of these (the professional looking one) is from the excellent Lanarkshire Models range, while the other is a home built example more typical of industrial install, and somewhat more lightweight. I will fill the holes in the sleeper before it is finished.

That’s about it for now, hopefully there will be more updates in the not to distant future!



Controlling Bottom Works Sidings

I guess this should go as a supplement to the last blog post really… think I owe Mark a few favours now!

highland miscellany

Followers of this blog will probably be aware that I share some of my model railway escapades with the two authors of the blog OTCM.  Both of the authors are in the process of putting together entries into a competition to build cameo layouts being orchestrated by the publishers Titfield Thunderbolt.  Cameo layouts was the topic of a book written by Ian Rice and seeks to describe a small layouts seeking to use presentation techniques to capture a slice of the whole in a convincing manner.

To be fair to Oly, his entry is largely complete as long as he does not seek to tinker with it too much(!), the same could not be said for Chris’s entry – titled Bottom Works Siding – so he has some catching up to do!  To assist Chris I offered to make his signals and after a few weeks of work…

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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!