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Post Scaleforum part 2

Couplings

The subject of couplings tends to come up at most shows. Each have their own ideas whether manual or autocouplings are best. I’m firmly in the manual camp and within reason I like couplings to look like the thing they are supposed to represent. Yes I know the infamous ‘hand of god’ grates to some but, to me, I like to suspend my belief for a second or 2 while an operator couples up rather than something looking wrong 100% of the time due to some weird design of autocoupling. On Brettell Road I have kind of the best and worst case scenario at the same time for the hand of god problem. Best case because its dark and its easier to hide it. Worst case because if the operators have any hope of seeing what they are doing you need a light! I can appreciate that this might well be the ultimate per peeve for some. Bit like my own of tipped from the box road vehicles or magnificently modelled signals with a flat etch for the ladder, so is there another way? Well there might be!The couplings on this wagon have been modified do that they can be seen in the dark.  in the light there are no derogatory side effects but in the dark……and under a UV light coupling hook they are clearly visible. Potentially easier to see than inter the normal pen torch. The UV torch I have does still give out visible light so the next mission is to find a truly black light source. By marking the coupling link, the wagon hook and the end of the coupling probe with a UV marker I might have a reasonably invisible manual coupling method.

Cassettes

Of the 5 layouts I have regularly helped to exhibit 3 have used a cassette system and this always seems to generate interest at shows. Cassettes are one of those weird things in model railways that everyone seems to be aware of but no one ever really explains to anyone. I have to hold my hands up and say I am not really a fan of them but for Brettell Road I didn’t really have a lot of options.  This is how my cassette system works (other methods are available).The baseboards were designed with a recess for the cassettes. The connecting end of the cassette itself. this is the third revision.   The track is only actually stuck to the cassette at this end via the copper clad. the rest is merely clamped between the cassette and the inner piece that runs down it’s length.

I say third revision because the way it connect to the layout has been a tad problematic. initially I had extra rails outside of the running rails that transferred power to the copperclad sleepers by sitting over the top. This worked for the vertical alignment and at the test session at Phil’s seemed to be fine for horizontal too. However in terms of transmitting the power it wasn’t 100% and as Simon (one of the operators) pointed out – it was likely to wear through the copperclad at some point.

For Scaleforum I retained the extra rails for alignment but added phosphor bronze strips for electrical connection. these were better but fragile. Also oddly we had horizontal alignment problems that hadn’t shown up before.  This is my revised arrangement that I am happy with so far. It seems reliable in tests but until the layout goes to its next show we wont be absolutely sure. It does look a little bit more complicated than it needs to be due to 2 tracks feeding in from the layout. The basic idea is that a piece of flatbottom rail mounted sideways and into the web of the running rail does all the alignment and power transmission. you might have noticed that the rail in the cassette picture wasn’t attached to the first sleeper. this is because it’s slightly tweaked outwards and is held in line by the flatbottom rail. The advantage of this is that its robust but easily adjustable if needed. So far in tests the derailment problem hasn’t re-occured. The cassette in place. I also have some half length ones too.


Basically just an excuse for pictures!

Brettel road now has its final front and backscenes added. More work to do on the fronts yet but its starting to look like a proper layout!Here is a view of the warehouse with the new backscene in the distance.   Ive decided to take some pictures of trains too. (sorry this post isn’t a bit more, erm, informative!) Railcar 22 trundles past towards DudleyPannier tank arrives with the sausage train. Kirtley shuffles some ballast wagons aroundClass 20 descends the bank.Jinty waits for something to do. Deeley takes its turn at some wagon worrying. The railcar climbs back up the back towards Stourbridge.Yeah I know this looks a bit wierd but there is a prototype practice for it.


A visit to the woodworking shop

I spent the early part of this week visiting my friend Tim to get the extra bits of wood cut for Brettell Road. With Scaleforum looking at the end of September I needed to turn it from a plaything to something that could survive on the exhibition circuit. My list was as follows:

  • 2 fiddleyards
  • Cassettes for the fiddleyards
  • New sides and ends for the layout itself
  • Fronts for the layout
  • Legs for the layout

The reason for the new sides and ends were that when I built Brettell Road it wasn’t supposed to be taken out. I used 3mm MDF for the backscenes and it was too weak The entire construction was MDF and while this is absolutely fine for small, simply shaped boards the design of Brettell Road was a little too ambitious for the material. So the 3mm MDF has been replaced with 6mm ply instead.Pictured above is the right hand side (as the viewer will look at it) fiddleyard. Quality control dog Earl doesn’t seem all that impressed!

Laser cutters can be quite hypnotic to watch. Here is the large cutter cutting out a test piece for the layout logos.

The logo test. the scratches on the acrylic were not caused by the laser but by yours truly cleaning the dust off with something a tad too abrasive!

As always, thanks to Tim for allowing me to take over his machines for a couple of days.


New Street, new board

Back in the latter half of last year when Tim and I did the boards for Brettell Road we also cut the next 2 boards for New Street. While the boards for Brettell Road were experimental both in design and materials we didn’t want to jump that far with New Street so sticking with what we know we opted for ply.
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This is the first of the two. A simple rectangle but the awkward part was that the surface isn’t flat as the trackbed drops down as you leave the station. This board will be entirely under the tunnel but I plan to leave a letterbox in the front so you can peek in. The jigsaw shape in the top surface is due to Tim’s cutter not being long enough (he now has one that can do boards this size with ease).
One thing I did forget was although we etched the track plan and cut holes for the point droppers into the top sheet I forgot to include the holes on the bottom one! (note for next time). I also mistakenly glued the back boards the bring way round (hence no jigsaw as Tim kindly re cut it for me on the bigger cutter).

The next board will be similar and will recreate the area I originally did for the plank.

As always, thanks to Tim for his help.


Introducing Brettell Grove

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Regular readers will recall that I was quite taken with the GBL Jinty. Well after wandering around the area where I live (both online and in reality) I decided a small plaything based loosely on the sidings at Moor Street might be worth looking into. A day or so in Illustrator and the above plan was formed.

When I say loose I mean very loose. For a start Moor Street yard was firmly in GWR territory and I prefer the Midland. The yard at Moor Street was much longer and double ended and the canal is in a different place. Plus the mainline is double, not single and flat, mine is neither. The real location wasn’t, to my knowledge, as hemmed in by buildings as I wanted. The name is based on the nearby Brettell lane.

There’s also the opportunity to practise a few things I will be using on New Street, mainly laser cut baseboards and buildings. Plus it’s a bit more ‘railway’ than my shopping centre, which will be quite a long term project.

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So with the help and guidance of Tim and a couple of days at the controls of his laser cutter a couple of baseboards were cut and assembled. A few mistakes were made but overall I was pleased with how they turned out.