Wednesday, 31 July 2019

A new challenge

A couple of months back a 009 society challenge was announced in the 009 News, to build a layout using two modular baseboard kits from Norfolk Heath Works. This means a total size about 2' 6" by 11" with a sector plate in one corner, and an option of a dropped front to the other board. The challenge runs until next March.

Of course I sketched a few ideas for fun but with no real intention to take part. One idea did grab my imagination though, based around a quayside/wharf with warehouses and other buildings surrounding an "inglenook" track plan. Most of the buildings would come from the Petite Properties range, after my experience of building one of their kits recently, and they fit the scene well. The layout would be front/end operated and could have a simple back-scene and lighting bar for an attractive display.

I like to check ideas with a full-size plan, so drew out the baseboard (on just 4 sheets of A4 paper) and printed some Peco point templates. The original idea used Y points for their shorter length - I know the set-track points are shorter but they have dead frogs, which I wouldn't want to use on a shunting layout. It seems to work but I wasn't happy with the arrangement of the tracks.

Using  left and right hand points for the sidings looks better, but there is still a severe reverse curve to the Y point which looks odd, and will be a pain for operation.

Using just right and left hand 12" radius points gives straighter sidings and more practical operation, though there's now a reverse curve into the fiddle yard. I think this is a better compromise, and pulls the tracks forward making more space for the street at the back. Oh, and it looks like I have these points in stock - found in the garage, recovered from a previous layout.

The benefit of a full-size plan is to check clearances. As you can see the headshunt and the sidings will take 3 wagons easily, and 4 at a push - small wagons will be required! The Petite Properties shop gives some perspective, and road vehicles confirm the street will work.

I still didn't intend to actually build the layout at this point, it's just a fun exercise. After all I don't need another layout project. But then I had to have an operation, and knew I'd be recovering for a while, so maybe a small table-top layout would be good therapy?

So here's the pair of baseboard kits, loosely assembled - they are not yet glued but the parts fit together so well they hold together. Before assembly I need to drill and cut some holes, but I'm not yet up to using power tools so that will have to wait. I've transferred the track-plan to the boards with only minor adjustments. I'll permanently join the boards (2' 6" is hardly large enough to warrant splitting) so the points can be placed over the join.

Before I start I need to decide on point control. With this type of small layout I'd normally choose wire-in-tube connected to slide switches for frog switching, the photos show how this could be arranged for front operation. However there really isn't space to route the wire-in-tube to the points, so I don't think this would work.

Another approach would be to use dowels under the baseboard which could protrude through the fascia as represented by the coloured pencils here, and have a wire connecting them to the point tie-bar. The slide switches could also be connected to the dowels under the board to switch the frogs and limit movement, this is similar to the method I used for Thakeham (though that used wire-in-tube too). This could get fiddly to arrange though, especially with some tie-bars at an angle, and the dowels could be a bit of a reach for end operation.

The other option is to use point motors, and a search of the garage has turned up three SEEP motors. As shown here they should fit under the points without fouling bits of baseboard, and could be easier to arrange than manual mechanisms. There's a bit of extra wiring and it means I need to use my larger power-pack for the layout, which has a CDU - or build a simple capacitor unit into the layout. It also raises the question of where to put the switches, there's no space for even a small panel in the fascia (there could be up to 4 isolating switches too). I could use an external box, mounted on the end of the layout, or on a wander-lead to  go in front. Alternatively the switches could be distributed along the fascia next to the points, but as above that might be less convenient for end operation.

Lots to think about...

Light duties

About three weeks ago I had to have an operation, which means I'll be recovering for a few weeks. However over the last week since being back home I have started some modelling - having lined up some easy tasks that would not be physically taxing.

First up was some wagon kits - three of the recent 009 society kits, two wooden bodied opens and a flat/bolster wagon, to join the iron sided wagon I built already. These are nice easy kits for relatively small freelance wagons with good proportions, so I will look out for some more of them. I've also made a batch of couplings and fitted them to all 4 wagons, plus to the digger wagon.

Another easy job was the scribing of stonework for the walls around Hexworthy. This just uses a pencil in the styrofoam. Photos of stonework in the area and the actual bridge were used to get the right style as best I can.

Here's one of the river bank retaining walls in place, with the wall to the road in the distance.

The bridge and wall to the road, the stonework is larger in the bridge walls.

At the other end of the layout is this small culvert over a stream. I'll have to get the paints out to complete these walls.

Before the op I'd cut platforms from 3mm foam-board, marked out from a paper template. I think the platform surface should be paved around the station building, but I'm not sure how to go about this best. I'm considering individual plastic paving slabs but I'm not sure on the size, or pattern. Here I've cut large slabs 3' x 2' (12mm x 8mm) - the same size as the pavement in our street - and smaller ones 2' x 18" (8mm x 6mm). The smaller ones probably look better though would be more tedious to lay, but the bigger ones work better along the platform edge where I expect a substantial paving slab would be required. I guess they go length-ways along the edge, but which way to lay them over the rest of the platform?

Monday, 8 July 2019

Wagons and a digger

Back in March (at the Alexandra Palace show) I made a pair of wagons to carry a mini digger using the 009 society RNAD flat wagons, as a preserved railway permanent way train to run on Hexworthy, and I've only just got around to painting them.

To add interest to my usual wagon grey I thought the ends would look good picked out in yellow, and suits the PW train. The ramps were also yellow, but well distressed with rust and gunmetal as they would be, having a digger drive over them. The wagons got the usual dirty wash, some dry-brushing and a dusting of weathering powder before a spray of Dullcote matt varnish.

The digger also got a dirty weathering wash, using a cotton bud to add streaking. This was used over the windows too, cleaning with the cotton bud, while a brown wash covered the tracks. Pipework was touched in black, with gunmetal on moving parts, and dry-brushing for rust and bare metal - such as on the shovel. I added weathering powders too, but I've not varnished as it would fog the glazing.

The digger can still be removed and posed - it is held with a small magnet - but I've had to glue the ramps and packing timbers along with the jackhammer attachment onto the match truck. It took me a couple of attempts to arrange these in a realistic manner.

While the paints were out I completed this wagon built from another 009 society kit, which I'd also built back at Alexandra Palace. It's iron bodied so for a change I went for a red/brown oxide colour, and weathered as a coal wagon. It's a nice size wagon - small but not tiny - and I've a couple of wooden ones to built, but I might have to get some more.

I just need to fit couplings to these and put them into service. That digger might have work to do at Hexworthy.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Backscene Part 2

Although fitting the back-scene had appeared to go well, after a few days I noticed a ridge in the middle. I'm not sure what went wrong, but probably I'd not kept enough tension on the paper while sticking it down. Attempts to smooth it down didn't work, in fact they seemed to make it worse. From some angles it wasn't too obvious, but from others it was - and once I'd noticed it I knew it would always bother me.

So after mulling it over I decided I wouldn't be happy with it, so ordered a replacement, only one of the two sheets was needed as the short right-hand piece looked fine. The question was how to make a better job of fitting it at the second attempt, especially as experimentation on the old piece showed the print is damaged by masking tape.

I decided on a 2-step approach. First I applied PVA glue to the first inch of the backboard, I don't know how well it will hold the plastic-backed print (experiment on an off-cut suggests sufficiently), but it did allow the back-scene to be positioned carefully and adjusted, checking the edge is neatly against the fixed piece and it unrolls straight.

When I was happy with the position the glued inch was weighted and left overnight.

Back out in the garden with everything (including the rolled back-scene) masked for the spray glue. This time my wife helped, while I  unrolled the back-scene carefully keeping it straight and under tension she smoothed it down a little at a time with a cloth, working away from the glued edge.

And it worked, a week on there is no sign of ridges or bubbles. The lesson I think is that tension must be kept evenly on the paper while applying it, and it's a two-person job to do properly.

The join between the two pieces is much neater this time too, here it will be partially disguised by trees but it isn't that obvious. It isn't nice deciding to re-do a job, but I'm glad I did.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Down-pipes and details

More progress has been made with Hexworthy station building. The barge-boards have been painted, first grey - a similar shade to the slates, ensuring to cover the edges and there is no white visible. The colour was then painted on, but leaving the top edge grey to disguise the fact it is outside the slates, rather than under them. Although a bit of a cheat this has worked well, and it is certainly not obvious that the barge boards are not quite where they should be.

The other obvious change is the down-pipes are now fitted, having been painted matt black (along with the gutters) and super-glued to the walls. I confess I didn't bother with gutters and down-pipes at the rear of the building as it will be very hard to see. The chimney pots are also painted and fitted, though the chimneys have yet to be glued in place.

Not so obvious but internal walls are now fitted, and floors prepared. The interior is mostly painted grey for a "shadowy" interior, but the booking hall, ticket office and goods shed have pale walls and brown floors in case they are more visible.

At the other end the toilet block roof is painted - matt grey covered with talcum powder is ideal for felt. A down-pipe has been fitted going up inside the fascia board, with a hole drilled in a corner of the flat roof suggesting the drain.

The heating fuel tank is a Bachmann item, and has had a dirty weathering job so is ready to be planted, it will probably be partially hidden by bushes and flowers in due course.

I've been pondering how to finish the roof, it looks to consistent and clean, so I put together a small test piece - imagine it in quarters. The right-hand half was given a dirty black-green wash of well thinned enamel, but this has just darkened the paper slates. The lower half was treated to a mix of black and grey weathering powder, brushed over and into the cracks, I think this is much better at disguising the (slightly oversized) cracks and giving some variation of shade.

I picked up this container for the yard some time back, but while the paints were out decided it needed weathering - heavily. I rubbed off some of the lettering with a fibre-glass pencil, then gave the whole thing a wash of black-green enamels, wiping off any excess with a cotton bud and causing downward rain streaks. This collects in the detail nicely. A little rust was dry-brushed on, particularly the corners and outer corrugations, and the door closing bars. Finally a little weathering powder and a spray of Testors Dullcote to seal and it is ready.