Saturday, 1 September 2007

Turntable so far...

Here is a photo of the turntable as promised. The deck is Brooksmith crossing timbers and the leads for the contacts will go down the centre of the spindle. The bridge actually runs on the two plasticard supports. The original dapol wheels are purely cosmetic. The rail in the turntable well is two lengths of steel rail soldered together, reinforced with brass rod and threaded with C&L chairs and then curved to fit, trimmed and glued in palce. A couple of unobtrusive brass rod pins also help to hold it in place.

Summer Projects

Here are some photos of the latest projects as Paul intimated. The conversion of the Hornby A3 followed (mostly) the article in MRJ 169 but using Gibson crankpins all round. The return crank is just soldered on. The splashers also needed a great deal of carving from behind to clear P4 wheels. The Bachmann Fairburn was simple enough until I came to trying to solder on the return crank. Made of mazak it wont solder, of course, so I resorted to fitting it over the Gibson crank pin and filling the hole with super glue. It seems to be holding. If I was a real modeller I would have made a new return crank from nickel.

The turntable is a SEFinecast with Dapol bridge. I have modified the mechanism and contacts so they will all fit underneath. A photo of current progress to upload later.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Heath End - Level Crossing

Wills® level crossing gates were used, and the posts supplied used for the stop posts; the hinge posts were made from 1/8" square brass tube, with a length of 3/32" brass rod [the size below] soldered inside, to inset into round brass tube set into the baseboard. A length of thick brass wire was soldered into two loops of thinner brass wire, which were inserted and glued into the gate at the level of the moulded hinges; this thick wire is then slotted into two loops of the thinner wire, which were then soldered into holes drilled through the post. As can be seen the thick wire extends below the baseboard, and has kinks in it, the purpose of which will be explained below. Finally, thin brass wire is fashioned into the bracing cable, which is also hinged from a loop soldered high up on the post. [click on photo above and you can see more detail].

Two lengths of the 1/8" tube were soldered side by side and were glued into two 1/8"hole drilled next to each other in a length of softwood, along the centre-line of the wood; the same is repeated at the other end. The tubes in the photo were inserted for the photo and are back to front: the longer tube is on the inside [see photo below]; the outer tube takes the post peg, the inner tube takes the operating shaft: this comprises 3/32" tube with 1/16" tube soldered inside, with a pulley attached at one end. This protrudes up through the inner fixed tube, and the thick wire attached to the gate slots into this, and the kinks act as a slip-clutch.

The tubes extend beyond the softwood by 15mm, the thickness of the baseboard + cork underlay + track height; once the assembly shown above is attached to the baseboard, the gates simply slot into both tubes simultaneously, and so can be removed to prevent damage in transit, but are immediately located AND connected to the operating mechanism when inserted. Since the road crosses the railway at quite an angle, the single gates do not actually touch as they open and close, so can be operated together: in the prototype from the signal box by wheel and rodding; in the model by elastic bands around pulleys!
The photo below, which also illustrates what I said [below] about baseboard construction, shows the simplicity of the completed mechanism: a third [double] pulley, of similar construction, turning in brass tube inserted into another piece of softwood is fixed so that it forms, with the two gate pulleys, a right-angled triangle. One pulley is connected by rubber band to the gate pulleys, the other to a fourth pulley set in line with the baseboard edge; this is operated by a simple crank handle made from brass rod and tube, which is located onto the pulley shaft by a slot in the handle tube locating over a wire soldered through a hole in the pulley shaft, much like a universal joint. When the crank is turned the gates move; the stop posts limit the arc of movement, and the slip-clutches mean it is unimportant which way you begin to turn! Nor does it matter if both gates do not move through their arcs simultaneously; the first to reach its stop post stops allowing the other to finish.
Here the gates are in position at an early stage, with notice board pins acting as stop posts. The plain office rubber bands are TOO elastic for smooth movement; the gates tend to judder a bit if you try to turn too slowly! I am hoping to locate some cassette tape deck drive belts of suitable length for the task.
The road surface and check rails in the 'four-foot' were made from the vinyl mounting board I referred to earlier [this is by no means the last you will hear of this material!], in fact a trimmed down length of the track-setter. The check rails are in fact simply scribed onto the upper surface at each edge, and then a small piece removed at each end to allow for the 'rail ends' to be bent appropriately. The road surface was then applied using professional filler + PVA, applied to the previously PVA-sealed plywood, and smoothed off to a reasonable likeness of a cambered road surface [see below for more detail]. By now I had added rectangles of the mounting board around the protruding tubes to represent the prototype footings of the post.
The gate-posts were painted white, after a capping piece cut from plastic sprue was glued on top. The ironwork on gates and posts was picked out in black. The wire mesh was cut from some wedding dress material, stretched out and painted white, and super-glued in position. The Red circular targets were produced on PC by printing an area all red on one side, and printing two circles in red with a white border on the reverse [a good graphics programme enables reasonably accurate placement - I use Serif Drawplus] and the circles were cut out and glued over the centre of the gate, on top of the mesh, so the red on the reverse shows through the mesh on the inside of the gate, as per prototype. This much better represents the thin metal plate than the thick circle of plastic supplied by Wills. The picture below shows the finished article [less lamps and a few odd details still to be added], also see the previous photo entry. Any questions to clarify anything, just leave a comment and I'll try to respond.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

The Meeting what we had

We met as announced on Monday 20th August, and it was a 'full-house' as far as regular active members is concerned, and to prove it here we are, the Craven Area Group, L to R, back row: Paul Hatherley, Roger Courtenay, Roger Cox; front row: Allan Smith, Paul Severs, Howard Lorriman. Howard, making progress with his ex GNR engine shed layout, based on Keighley [Ingrow], has purchased a turntable kit from Mainly Trains which, with a few of Howard's additions, looks good so far. Perhaps in the not to distant future he will upload some photos fo us.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Heath End - Platform 9¾

We have always made our platforms in essentially the same way since our d├ębut layout Tibberton I, but whereas we used to use 2mm card from the centre of cloth bales, this time we used.... you guessed, the vinyl mounting board. If you are not familiar with it, it is 2mm thick, with a hard, shiny, slightly crazed surface both sides, with a firm foam centre; it is easily cut with a sharp knife, and the surface can be textured and scored. The surface [in this case of both platform, Station building footings and roadway, all on the same level] was cut to fit the whole of the baseboard area behind the track on the station board, allowing sufficient clearance for the centre of a 64' BR carriage side to just clear - it was cut roughly to slightly oversize, and a fine marker placed against the side of the carriage and the necessary curve drawn and cut out.

The ramps were separated by a single cut, and a slight score at the ramp top enabled a clean angle to be bent; the stone slab edging was then scored, first with a mortice gauge producing an even depth from the platform edge, then with a sharp blade, scoring the edges of the slabs at right angles to the edge. This was aided by a simple jig made from two off-cuts of the mounting board, one with a concave curve to match the platform edge, then a piece the width of a slab glued at right-angles, enabling widths to be scored consistently. The ramp at the level crossing end was to be partly 'wooden' planks [crossing timbers], so 4mm wide planks were scored, and then the surface textured to resemble wood, and stained with Colron® dark oak wood stain.

Next, platform walls and strips for the vertical subframe were cut 15mm wide: this produced a platform surface 17mm high from baseboard, the result being the typical slightly low country station platform. The walls were faced with Metcalfe® stone card before glueing in position with Dunlop Thixofix®, 2mm behind the platform edge, giving a scale 6" overhang. Another strip was glued in line with the platform rear, and a third glued at the back; this has a long taper to represent the roadway falling to road level. The surface was stressed to comply to this fall. Then short pieces were glued in under the ramp tops, end loading dock wall etc., and the 'open boxes' filled in with long strips scored and bent into a concertina, a quick way of providing a well-supported, light but rigid structure; see photo above for a clearer grasp of this technique.

The level crossing end had a rectangle cut out, and a base made for the Ratio® signal box base to be a good push fit; it too is removed, as are most of the buildings, for transit. The carriage chute was fashioned by adding a second layer of board under the surface and gently bending the slope in, the chute rear edge again being separated from the rest of the surface by a single cut. In the top and bottom photographs, the cattle dock can just be partly seen, built in the same way, with a ramp down to baseboard level at the back. That will be the subject of the next entry.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Heath End - Some Photos

Lorriman Terrace - railway cottages and Station Master's house.

Autotrain crosses road and enters station.

Signal box - a Ratio® kit, with base modified so that all stonework matches [Metcalfe Models®]

Wilts & Dorset local bus service crosses line with a view towards the Brickworks. Bridge will carry overhead clay bucket cable-way.

Signal box with wooden platform ramp allowing point and signal control egress below [yet to be installed].

Evidence of the transfer from WR to SR as workman affixes enamelled green nameboard.

Autotrain enters station, with main building's long canopy in view - identical to Dunster! [Hornby, modified with same stone paper! See later instalment.]

57xx [non-fitted] hauling another autocar out of station towards south and goods yard.

Courtenay & Cox, Coal & Coke Merchants establisned on the old Wheat Fold siding.

Special thanks to Danny Cockling for permission to use the bottom two pictures. To view the original high-resolution picture, double-click the display photo.

Heath End - Trackwork

Four different track types are used on the layout: plain track on the main line and loop is C&L bases with Society BH rail, and the long goods siding is Exactoscale bases with full-depth sleepers, which had recently become available when we started so we wanted to try it. Visible pointwork uses the traditional Brook-Smith ply timbers with brass rivets, to which we [will] attach cosmetic C&L ½ chairs. The FY section was constructed in one piece using the simpler method of PCB sleepering, and then isolating gaps were cut where needed.

All the trackwork was first designed and printed out using Templot®, and points built directly on the templates printed. This is an excellent design product, and though it takes some time to master all the features, it is worth it. The only thing that defeated it was the diamond on the curve in the FY, with a crossing angle of 1:3.5!! I just had to superimpose the two curved plain track templates, and leave our veteran point-builder Allan Smith to put in the check rails where they were neeeded! Point tie-bars use fine PTFE tubing with short wire stubs soldered to the rails and inserted into the tube to ensure insulation and positive closure. Remote operation is by wire-in-tube from DPDT switches that change crossing polarity: fine adjustment is achieved by using brass studding through the switch and nuts on each side, so that the excessive switch throw is taken up - rather like the old omega-wire. Crossovers are operated from the same switch.

Trackwork is laid on 3mm cork sheet: the sheet is glued in place, and the track laid on using commerical double-sided tape. The accuracy of curves was achieved using home-made 'track-setters', glueing a Templot® template onto vinyl mounting board and cutting out carefully with very sharp blades. Thus both outer [49"] and inner [47¼"] radii gauge-width templates plus curved 'six-foot' ensured accurate alignment. Sleepers and rail sides were painted appropriate colours and ballast applied dry, and fixed in place using a water-PVA mix. To assist vertical alignment at baseboard joints, a brass nail inserted into the board on the inside of each rail [to hide it from the public!] is soldered to it . All this, and we still get alignment problems here and there!

The next instalment will deal with the level crossing; in the meantime, I will upload a few photos for light relief!

Heath End - the Baseyfundamoulds

We followed our usual practice for baseboards of using 9mm ply for the top and ends, joined by a softwood batten in the inside angle, and cross-braced half way along with a plywood batten. The sides are 4mm ply. Ends and sides are 6" deep, thus creating a light but rigid open box structure.

The tops are trapezoid, making an octagon when joined: we cut seven of the tops to our calculated shape, laid them out edge-to edge and nailed battens across the joins to hold them rigidly, and then cut the eighth top to accurately fill the gap, taking up the cumulative difference between the theoretical and actual sizes. Ends were cut and drilled in pairs to take the bolts, and marked so that pairs were used on adjacent board ends. Thus when joined by the bolts, good alignment would be achieved - in theory!

Boards incorporate fold-down legs: the board with the points from platform to loop has two legs, one at each 'end' [attached to an extra cross-batten of 9mm ply at right angles to the sides, in line with the inner, obtuse angle of the board - see above]; it is set up first. Then the three boards on each side have one leg at the 'outside' end, the inner end 'hanging' on the preceding board. The last board, with the curved diamond of the FY, has no legs - it 'hangs' between both the adjoining boards, and is obviously the last to be put in.

After setting it up for the first time after track laying had been completed, we found that vertical alignment was more difficult, so added small wood blocks to the inside corners to assist this [above], and on the FY boards added some locking fix-it blocks on the top edge to improve alignment there.

The legs would have been too short for comfortable operation had they been left at the length that fits within the baseboard, so extension battens with levelling feet are attached by two screws, one of which is removed to swing the extension upwards to fit inside the board during transit. I will add some photos of all these points for clarification later, when I have taken them!

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Heath End - the Model

The concept for this model was inspired by three things: first, the Scalefour Society Challis Challenge, where entries had to be within a 'footprint' of 18.83 sq.ft.; second, we had built only end-to-end layouts before, and had never had a continious run; third, our honorary member had started the Challisenge [as it became known] by building a totally circular layout, with curved inner and outer edges to the baseboards. We decided that a circle would be just right, but preferred on balance to have straight-sided boards, which put us over the 18.83 sq.ft. area, so we decided not to take the Challenge [operating as we have done at our usual pace, we'd never have met the timescale requirements anyway!].

The fiddle yard was a challenge! We had three main criteria: 1] to keep the non-scenic 'off-stage' length as short as possible; 2] to use our standard cassette storage system, used on all our previous layouts [except the first, short version of Tibberton]; 3] to access the cassettes from the operating well on the inside. After several ideas were sketched out, we came up with the plan you see above, with two tightly curved approach roads crossing at quite an acute angle. Building the track here was quite a headache, and getting it all wired properly took some ingenuity. The operation of the FY will be described later. The next instalment will cover baseboard and track construction.

Heath End - the Fictitious Origins

The Basingstoke and Newbury Railway was enacted some time after the building of the LSWR and GWR lines through those two towns, and Heath End Station was approximately half way along the line, not only providing an important rail link between two important towns, and facilitating in particular, race traffic for Newbury, it provided the Brick and Tile Works at Axmansford easy access to markets for its fine products.

The upper map shows the route between the two towns, and the lower a more detailed location of the Station, like so many, quite some way from its eponymous settlement! Originally there was a private siding to Wheat Fold, necessitating a second arch to the overbridge to the south of the Station; this closed in the mid-war period, and Coutenay and Cox, local coal and coke merchants purchased the arch for its offices and stores.

The Station comprises a single platform, with a level road crossing at the north end, and a passing loop at the south end, leading to the coal yard, and two other sidings, one incorporating a cattle pen, and carriage chute. Trains originating on both Companies' metals traverseed the line, but it was owned by the GWR and the buildings and signalling reflect that Company's practice. However, in the mid 1950s, when the BR Board rejigged the Regional boundaries, the operation of many of the lines to the south-west changed hands, and so the responsibility for this line transferred to the Southern Region.

The period modelled is just after that transfer, so that signs and paintwork are beginning to change colour from the old [not updated] GWR light and dark stone, to the SR green and cream.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Welcome to the Craven Scalefour Area Group

In lieu of a fully-functioning web site, we have opened this blog to keep you informed of our meetings and projects. Bookmark us and visit regularly to find out when we are planning to meet, when we are exhibiting, and how our projects are going.

We meet on an ad hoc basis for either a social evening [sharing magazines and showing our latest models, discussing matters prototype, model and non-railway, and drinking tea!] or for working on the current project.

Our previous main projects have been Tibberton and Fulham Imperial Road, and we have also exhibited a demonstation to show building techniques by way of an operational double-track Cravenfoot Halt. We have also helped three of our members exhibit their layouts, Littlestoke [Allan Smith],Frome North [Richard Dunning] and Biginnor Road [Paul Severs].

Our current project is Heath End, a circular layout inspired by, but not conforming perfectly to, the Challis Challenge to build a layout within the 'footprint' of 18.83 square feet. We have incorporated what we think is an unique solution to the fiddle yard problem. Entries on all of these projects will follow in due course. Keep visiting for updates.

Roger Cox is our Secretary [see Scalefour 'Blue Book' for contact details] to whom all enquiries about exhibiting should be addressed. Other members include Allan Smith, Howard Lorriman, Roger Courtenay, Paul Hatherley, and Graham Seed. Richard now resides out of area, but is still an honorary member!

If you live between Bradford and Preston you are welcome to join us.