Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Armchair Modeller
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Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:42 pm

Well, here I am again after a long absence! Several people recognised me at Scaleforum, despite my cunning disguise. Scaleforum was very inspiring! I was asked how my modelling was going, whilst one or two expressed disappointment that there have been no progress reports on here for some time. In case anyone wonders how they missed me, I had a haircut a few days before the event, dressed respectably and left the rucksack at home, so I almost blended in with the crowd ;)

I made good progress after starting the "train set" a while back, but the pressure was definitely starting to tell. Self doubts and mental exhaustion fuelled by an exponential profusion of ideas finally got the better of me. I decided to go back to 2mm finescale and build a small layout as a form of relaxation, but even that took around 18 months to get underway. The good news now is that I am definitely itching to get my P4 project going again.

My P4 layout was originally intended to be a very quick, small, laid-back test piece to see if I was up to the challenge. Just a bit of track, maybe a few locomotives and wagons - then on to building a much more serious layout. I soon realised that the challenges were far from insurmountable. Also, it dawned on me that the test piece could make a really good "proper" layout in itself. I began thinking of it as a much longer term project - quite likely the only P4 layout I would ever build. Suddenly, the need for a credible storyline became important. I could no longer build anything I fancied - it all had to fit into an overall plan. I needed lots of time to think it all out.

Although inspired by the track plan at Wantage on the old Wantage Tramway, my idea is freelance. I deliberately enhanced the plan to make it more interesting to operate. Much of the stock on the Wantage Tramway was unique and could not have appeared elsewhere. The end result will owe very little to the real Wantage Tramway. With all the wonderfully-detailed RTR models that have been introduced or announced in the last few years, it would be so, so tempting to scrap what I have done and start again with a main line project. Apart from the huge expense of starting again and the shame of scrapping what I have already done, a totally freelance project offers the chance to do something truly unique and interesting. Making it believable is infinitely more challenging than simply copying a real railway though.

The good news is that despite over a year stored in my garage, everything seems to be in good order. The baseboards and the trackwork are as good as new - no warping or other concerns at all. I did have the layout out a couple of times and had a little play over the last 18 months, so it was never completely neglected. There are a few things I could improve upon though. On the layout, the tiebars definitely need to look better. I also want to design a better chassis to use under my small diesel shunters. It should be perfectly possible to completely hide the motors from view. My Model Rail Sentinel shunter could really do with similar treatment, as the mechanism more or less completely fills the body below window level. Moving forwards, I now have the bits to start constructing some passenger stock. More of all that in due course.

Here is a reminder of what the overall project will look like.

G-42.jpg


I had made good progress before things ground to a halt. The trackwork for stage one is complete. Also, the first baseboard for stage two, left of the bridge, has been built. The fiddle yard trackwork on this board has been laid. The two turnouts have been built, but not yet laid.

The next step for the layout will be to lay the remaining track on this board, as the scenic part of the layout and the fiddle yard will both be very frustrating to operate without a run-round loop. The bridge section and the right-hand sector plate are still a long-term addition.

So, here we go (again!) :shock:

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Colin Parks
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Colin Parks » Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:12 pm

Hi Armchair Modeller,

The track plan looks interesting - especially with the central fiddle yard placed on a 'rat-run'.

Colin

Armchair Modeller
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:54 pm

Thanks, Colin.

The position of the fiddle yard probably works well on a narrow scenic layout like this. It would be awkward on a wide scenic layout though, as the backscene would severely restrict the view and reach of operators working at the back of the layout.

JFS
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby JFS » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:17 am

Armchair Modeller wrote:So, here we go (again!) :shock:


I wonder if my gentle ribbing over the weekend has had a result?

Or was it just the excellent inspiration which is Scaleforum?

Good luck Richard,

Armchair Modeller
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:33 am

Hi Howard :thumb

Accepting full responsibility for my future P4 "sins" is very generous of you. :D

Many thanks for the good wishes

Richard

JFS
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby JFS » Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:33 pm

Armchair Modeller wrote:Accepting full responsibility for my future P4 "sins" is very generous of you. :D


...not sure I remember that commitment....

Best wishes,

Armchair Modeller
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sat Sep 26, 2015 8:22 pm

Maybe just a slight exaggeration on my part! :D

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Mike Garwood
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Mike Garwood » Sun Sep 27, 2015 6:11 pm

I like the design, you've given me an idea for a bedroom - bit more of a curve in mine - that will be spare in a year or two...

Mike

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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sun Sep 27, 2015 7:29 pm

Glad you like the design Mike.

I do have other ideas suitable for bedrooms, but they are probably unpublishable on a respectable forum like this ;)

Seriously, good luck with your project!

Armchair Modeller
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:10 pm

I am awaiting parts before I can make progress with the tramway carriages and the Nonneminstre Planet loco kit - largely due to holidays and my very haphazard and uncoordinated ordering process. In the interim, it's on with the layout!

Here is a modified plan showing stage 2a highlighted in yellow...

G-40.gif
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This is necessary in order to provide a run-round facility for locomotives when the layout is operated in terminus mode. Operating without this facility would be rather tedious, both in the station and the main fiddle yard.

I had already built two turnouts for the extension. These have now been installed on the baseboard. Unlike the first two baseboards, this board is open plan, to allow for a substantial drop in the ground level as the track approached the bridge. The thinking behind this is the need to provide a contrast to the rather flat landscape in the station area. I have begun adding foam blocks to support the scenery.

aDSCF4338.gif
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As for the bridge, I would like a very spindly, rickety structure to add a bit of drama. As I have hinted before, I want to end up with something that looks nothing much like any other P4 layout. I am currently experimenting with an N-Brass girder bridge kit. This is intended for OO9, so requires a lot of work to convert to 18.83mm gauge. I have ordered some brass channel to replace some parts that have to be folded up. I think this will give a neater job. The bridge will look a bit like this photo, if I can finish it to my satisfaction...

G-43.jpg
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Mine will represent a substantially smaller bridge than the one in the photo - which would be enormous, even in 4mm scale. The white dotted line shows roughly where the baseboard joint will be. The span across the baseboard joint will be removable. As with most of my work, this bridge is very experimental. If it doesn't work well, I will happily bin it and try another idea instead. On the other hand, if it comes out OK it will definitely add a bit of drama and provide a great place for photographing my toy trains ;)

Armchair Modeller
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:58 pm

Typically, almost all of the bits I needed to progress various projects were delivered by the post lady more or less on the same day - not that it was her fault! So now it's a headache knowing what to do next. I neatly evaded the big decision by having a go at most things...... :?

In order to finish laying the trackwork on scenic board 3, I must erect the first span of the bridge I mentioned at the end of the last posting, so that is where I started. The main girders in the N Scale kit are folded up and soldered to make rigid I beams. These girders are then linked together by crosspieces to make the complete span. The kit is designed for narrow gauge use, so the girders are intended to be a mere 9mm or so apart. Mine needed to be much wider. I made then up to be 21mm wide overall, so that the girders will be vertically below the rails on the finished model. I replaced the crosspieces in the kit with sections of 2mm scale bullhead rail 19mm long. I made a crude wooden jig to keep the girders square and the correct distance apart. Here is a photo of the jig, with the first completed span partly extracted. During soldering, the girders were held against the vertical pieces of the jig with clamps. So far, it has worked very well.

A01.gif
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The finished girders are 88mm long and 9mm deep. I still have to add rivet detail and a few other bits. It was very tempting to see what the girder would look like on the layout though, so here it is, crudely clamped in place.....

A02.gif
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The headroom for road vehicles will be around 50mm, or 12ft 6in to scale. The rails will be laid on closely-placed copper clad sleepers placed on top of the girders.

The next span is now also under construction. This will be the removable span across the baseboard joint. I think I have worked out how to make the span easily removable, but will only know for sure when I have tried it. At this stage in the layout's life the final scenic board won't exist, so the removable girder will just poke through the scenic break at the end of the baseboard. It will need to be in place to provide a run-round loop for the layout in terminus form. I will also do the first pier over the next few days. I am currently waiting for the glue to set on a small jig.

I have also laid a bit more track in the station area. The siding behind the train shed is now more or less finished. The sleepers and most of the depth of the rails on this siding will be buried under detritus, so I have not bothered with chairs - just brass shim under the rails to raise them to the correct height above the copper clad sleepers.

More of the scenic infill has been put in too - mainly at the front of the baseboard. Behind the trackwork, most of the scenery will be above rail level. I will probably delay doing any of that until the trackwork has been thoroughly tested.

A03.gif
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I have also done some preparatory work on the body of the Nonneminstre shunter. I am just about to try an experiment on wheels for the tram trailers - but each have their own place on the forum, so I will describe these developments in more detail elsewhere.

Couplings

During the great interregnum of the last 2 years, I spent some time productively thinking about couplings. Much of this time was spent browsing the web and reading books to get ideas for what my tramway might have used. Tramways like the Wantage and the Dublin & Blessington seem to have used long rods to couple up passenger stock. There were no continuous brakes. Stopping relied on the loco brakes and brakes applied on individual trailers by the guard or whatever. In later years, the D&B seems to have fitted continuous brakes and used some form of centre couplers. Both the D&B and the Wantage Tramway ceased hauling passengers between the wars. I want my own model to be based in the 1950s, so I have to imagine what might have happened (or not) beyond the 1930s.

I quite like the idea of continuous brakes and centre couplings. They seem to have been used on some colonial railways too. The prevalent type seems to have been the link and pin type, until American-style buckeye couplers became universal - even on some standard gauge railways. These had a central buffer with a hole in the middle of the buffer face. Through this passed a rod with a loop at each end. There was a vertical hole behind the buffer through which a pin could be passed to secure the rod in place. This illustration shows the principle, though there were many variants, it seems, including some that were semi-automatic.

A04.gif
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(apologies if this infringes anyone's copyright - I can't find where I got the image from now)

Looking through all the commercial couplings that are available, nothing completely fits the bill. I am loathe to try fitting and removing pins on scale couplings, so I have decided to compromise. The best fit (though only if you squint and take hallucinatory drugs - please don't try this at home :D ) seems to be the DG coupler. The AJs, Dinghams and all the others don't even come remotely close.

So then, it probably has to be DGs and no buffers.........unless anyone wants to persuade me otherwise ;)

Derek
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Derek » Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:50 pm

If it's any help, Roco had a similar coupling type for (some/all?) its HOe range.

It looked very similar and used a moulded 'bump' at each end of the coupling bar to fit into a recess in the coupling housing. Of course, you could drill through the 'bump' and use pins as per your prototype.

I have found a picture of a SIMILAR one https://www.reynaulds.com/products/Roco/40390.aspx

This has facility for both the type I mention and the conventional huge great loop, but in the 'hole' in the one above you insert the bar and it locks by interference fit.

There is a specialist Roco and Fleishman (sp) dealer in Brackley, South Northants http://www.aandhmodels.co.uk/


I hope that helps
Derek

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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:28 pm

Hi Derek

Many thanks for your suggestion. :thumb

I discovered these Roco couplers a while ago, but was rather put off rather by the cost. The body of the coupling is just what I am looking for, but the moving parts are a bit gross. Maybe the ideal would be a combination of the Roco body and the moving parts from the DG. You can buy inappropriate Roco HO couplers in bulk at a considerable saving, but these OO9 ones seem only to be available in packs of two.

The DG does have one big advantage over the Roco though. It can be used for remote uncoupling - i.e. where you uncouple at one point and then push the wagon into a siding before releasing it. I don't think the Roco does that.

Another possibility would be to "improve" the appearance of the DGs with some cosmetic work. It may be possible to beef up the shaft and add something oval or circular to the front (a small washer, for example?) without impairing the operation of the couplings. Something to think about over the next few weeks!

Armchair Modeller
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:43 pm

There are also some very convincing couplers on Shapeways, including this one

Image

from https://www.shapeways.com/product/EMP3U ... d=57086784

but they rely on fitting a pin in a very small slot to couple up - something that would be impossible to use on my layout. The station will have an overall roof and stretching over the scenery to uncouple elsewhere would be challenging, to say the least!

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RobM
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby RobM » Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:00 am

Richard, pleased to see you back and working on this interesting project…following with interest.
R
http://www.robmilliken.co.uk
Updated December 2016

Armchair Modeller
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Thu Nov 05, 2015 10:53 am

Many thanks Rob - your interest is appreciated - I am looking forward to hearing more about your new creation too!

Hopefully there will be more intriguing twists and turns to come, so do stay tuned in ;)

Terry Bendall
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Terry Bendall » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:02 am

Armchair Modeller wrote:The prevalent type seems to have been the link and pin type, until American-style buckeye couplers became universal - even on some standard gauge railways. These had a central buffer with a hole in the middle of the buffer face. Through this passed a rod with a loop at each end.


A very similar type of coupling can be found in current use on the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway on both passenger and freight stock and works perfectly will although a later addition to comply with current operating standards is a two pipe air brake system. In some instances an open link is used rather than a plate with holes at each end but ideally not on passenger trains due to the snatch that will happen as the train pulls away. I think it would be possible to have the same system in 4mm scale but it would involve the big hand in the sky and good eyesight.

Terry Bendall

dal-t
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby dal-t » Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:00 am

Have you considered Bemo HOe couplings? They are compatible with/very similar to the Roco and certainly used to - a few years now since I was a NG modeller - come with a variety of 'tails' for different vehicles and in bulk. But re the latter, if you wanted a quantity but couldn't find a handy supplier, I'm pretty sure I've a drawer-full somewhere looking for a more appreciative and understanding home ...
David L-T

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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:12 am

Many thanks for the suggestion David. Unfortunately, much as I am tempted by the chance of a good offer, I don't think the Bemo coupler is quite what I am looking for. Here is a comparison between the Bemo and the Roco.

Image
from http://www.parksidedundas.co.uk/acatalo ... RIES_.html

Image

The lower one (Roco) is quite close to what I am looking for, if we ignore the coupling loop and uncoupling arm. It has the characteristic hole in the middle of the buffer face. The Bemo one looks very different.

It is a shame really as, even without your kind offer, the Bemo is available in bulk at almost reasonable prices from the trade.

The DG coupling is not dissimilar to the Bemo in appearance, except that the coupling loop and uncoupling arm are much finer. They are available at £3.50 for 16 couplers from Wizard Models (Type E). Being made of etched metal, they are more suitable for modification. I have a packet already, so will experiment to see what I can achieve. I think it is worth persevering with this approach as the DGs have a remote uncoupling facility which will make operating the layout more flexible.

If my attempt is not satisfactory, at least I know I have the Bemo or the Roco to fall back on.

dal-t
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby dal-t » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:35 pm

Armchair Modeller wrote:If my attempt is not satisfactory, at least I know I have the Bemo or the Roco to fall back on.


And for reference if you should have to, it's easy enough to replace the pressed metal on either type with wire loops, which makes them look much finer. I tried it, but decided the slightly more reliable coupling of the originals was worth more than the improved appearance of the wire (although they work even better if you can bear to have your stock 'handed', and simply remove the loop from one end).
David L-T

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby grovenor-2685 » Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:28 pm

For the record here is a pair of link and pin couplers in use.
link-2.jpg
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And one coupled to a buckeye (with knuckle removed).
link-1.jpg
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Regards

Armchair Modeller
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:45 pm

Thanks for those photos Keith. The one thing that strikes me from all the photos I have looked at is the tremendous variety - particularly if you include ones of American origin too. Before the buckeye became universal, American railroads used link and pin (or pin & link) couplers. At least one variety is still available from a company in India.

The ABC Coupler Company of Wolverhampton seem to have been a major supplier based in the UK - see http://www.historywebsite.co.uk/Museum/ ... /ABC01.htm. Later designs by them include automatic versions - presumably intended to compete with American buckeye couplers.

Exploring all these cul-de-sacs of railway history is part of the fun for me. Three link couplings just don't have the same appeal to my curiosity ;)

Armchair Modeller
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:35 pm

Moving on, I have now assembled a DG coupler, modifying it to a fairly crude link & pin appearance. This was just a kind of proof of concept, rather than the bees knees, so please don't be too harsh in your appraisal. ;)

a-DSCF4359.gif
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The top image shows the coupler right way up - the lower image shows it upside down. My modifications include...

(1) Adding a 10BA washer to the front, looking vaguely like a buffer face. This really needs to be squared up a bit and raised to make it more central to the coupler body. I was originally worried that the washer might interfere with the movement of the coupling loop, but now think my fears are unjustified.

(2) Beefed up the shaft of the coupler by soldering a piece of 3mm x 2mm U-section brass to the underside. It is ironic that the finescale fraternity has spent more than half a century dreaming up ways of making model couplings less obtrusive, yet here am I going the opposite way! The beefing up will hopefully make it look a little more like the real thing in my case though.

(3) replaced the tabs that hold the coupling loop up with some thin wire to make them less obtrusive.

I have not added the uncoupling dropper as I have yet to decide at what height the couplers should be fitted. Calculations suggest that the washer will not cause a problem with coupling and uncoupling. The coupling loop is quite generous in size. I may even be tempted to make the production coupling loops slightly smaller.

The finished product looks nothing like Keith's example above - but as I said earlier, these things came in a whole range of shapes. For example, here is an advert from the ABC Coupling Co

a-couplings4.gif
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Hopefully, practice makes perfect. My next attempt should look a little better. The ultimate would probably be to try to cast a body to my own designs, but I fear that would be a step way too far for me.

On another note, I belatedly discovered that the new siding on scenic boards 2/3 had an undesirable dip in it. The wagons I was testing the track with didn't derail. Nevertheless, for appearance sake I have decided to relay it. This involved removing the old siding and trackbed. There were a few nervous moments, bu the trackbed eventually came up after a lot of careful but firm levering. The joint between the kitchen cloth and the foam gave way in the end - fortunately with only very superficial damage to the foam surface. Here is the result

a-DSCF4352.gif
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The exercise gives me a great deal of confidence in the structural strength of the other trackbed joints. A new, slightly larger plywood trackbed has been stuck down. I am currently building the replacement track.

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RobM
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby RobM » Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:33 am

Armchair Modeller wrote: The ultimate would probably be to try to cast a body to my own designs, but I fear that would be a step way too far for me.


Maybe I could help…..I have been reasonably OK with pattern making and casting with resin……..PM or E-mail me if you wish.
Rob
http://www.robmilliken.co.uk
Updated December 2016

Armchair Modeller
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Re: Here We Go (2)... The Layout

Postby Armchair Modeller » Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:45 am

Thanks Rob - your offer sounds very interesting.

I am just off for a long, cold shower (a week's holiday in Glasgow) but will think about your kind offer on my return.

Best wishes

Richard


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