Monday, 1 September 2014

Layout Recycling

It's all very well building all these extra boards to complete the layout - in terms of track layout - in time for the exhibition later this month, but it still leaves the question of how to store and transport them.

And that's where the racking system comes in.

It's probably more accurate to describe it as a pairing rather than racking system, because we fix our boards front to front for transportation, as you can see below with two of the fiddle yard boards.

The eco-friendly bit is that the L girders Himself has used to make up these latest end plates come from the baseboards of our very first exhibition layout, a OO preserved branch line terminus called Wickford.

In one of his more ingenious moments Himself engineered these so the transport pieces are attached using the same clips as the ones we use to connect all the boards of the layout when it is erected.

(Although Himself being Himself he's also drilled a hole and inserted an extra bolt as well because he doesn't trust the clips not to come apart in transit.)

He also tells me that he's invested in our own personal sack barrow so we can wheel the sections between the van and the exhibition space rather than relying the team carrying them one by one like pall-bearers at a funeral though the hall and out into the car park.

Given that this is not exactly a lightweight layout this may prove to be a very shrewd investment indeed.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

All Under Control

Both ends, or perhaps I should say, both levels of the fiddle yard have now had the track laid and the temporary control unit for shunting in the yard, which I mentioned in a previous post, has been installed.

To me it all seems very prototypically FR.

During the push back to Blaenau - and to a lesser extend through the WHR project - the railway had a series of short term infrastructure solutions that ended up becoming very much long-term, and for all I know our fiddle yard could end up being just the same.

You can see that Himself has laid out the lower half with the same pattern of sidings as the Caernarfon end.

Eventually we plan to have the control panel for all the point work and electrical sections mounted here at the rear of the layout with the 'drivers' plugging in hand held controllers at the front of the layout where they can combine train operation with public relations duties, ie. Gassing to the punters. (I foresee collisions and derailments)

The only question mark with this temporary set up is that Himself has not been able to test that all the wiring will talk to the rest of the layout because, short of hiring the village hall, we're not able to erect the whole thing to test it.

Set up time at Woking in three weeks could be very interesting....

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Happy Feet

In an ideal world all exhibition venues would have floors like a billiard table and you'd never have issues with getting your layout level and all the trestles standing square and stable.

Unfortunately the world doesn't work like that and over the years our layouts have been erected everywhere from giant international exhibition halls to village halls to Boston Lodge Works and Dinas Goods Shed.

That's why with a layout as large as Bron Hebog Himself is taking the precaution of installing these adjustable feet on the bottom on the legs which support the fiddle yard.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Splendid Isolation

There are a few tweaks needed to make the fiddle yards user-friendly for the operators at an exhibition.

If your layout is old-fashioned DC controlled, as ours is, then its handy to have some isolating sections to allow you to have two locomotives standing on the same road.

This gives you the option of either running round the train and putting same same loco back on the other end or bringing a fresh engine into the front to take the train for the return journey around the layout.

Himself has also installed the function to have a separate controller for the fiddle yard so someone can be shunting in there while someone else is taking care of the mainline.

Yes, yes, I know you could do all this and more with DCC but you're wasting your breath.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Cutting Styrene

In Glasgow, the city were I ply my trade, there is a tradition in the Clyde shipyards of having a bit of a do when they begin work on a new vessel.

It doesn't happen as much as it used to, of course, but happily it still does from time to time.

They call it 'cutting steel' and I remember being at the Govan yard when some bigwig - I can't remember who - ceremonially pressed the button on a giant machine to chop the first piece of the Type 45 Destroyers.

It always feels similarly momentous to me when I slice the first pieces of styrene to make a new model as I did last week.

Those of you who know your WHR carriages will have instantly recognised the outline of 2046, the newest of the carriages turned out by Boston Lodge.

This car is marked out by having big picture windows, rather like the original semi-open design, but with the addition of small sliding windows along the top where nearly all the other carriages have solid panelling.

The challenge with this carriage is that I've had to make my own drawing. My sources were unable to lay their hands on one for me but I was given a tip that the window pillars on this carriage were in the same position as some of those on the earlier trio of 13m saloons.

Once I'd worked out which ones were kept and which were done away with I was able to adapt a copy of the plans for the old carriages.

Hopefully it will turn out looking something like the one above.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Sidings

Himself has been finishing off the first draft of the fiddle yard track laying.

This is just a solution to get us up and running for the first couple of exhibitions with the complete layout - the first of which is less than a month away now - and it is by no means the finished design.

Himself got some of the stock out to test what length of trains we'll be able to fit in the sidings.

As you can see from the pictures we will be able to use the run round loops with a 7 car formation of WHR stock with a Garratt at one end.

The siding nearest the edge has a long head shunt which will be able to accommodate a 10 car rake and an NGG16.  The middle road is intended to act as the run round.

At least that's the idea - each of the operators will find their own way of utilising the track layout at shows.

For those of you wondering about the points - or turnouts if you must - they are a mix of the new PECO 'mainline ' range and the original 009 design.

At the moment it's just a case of using what we've got to get it up and running.

The points on the public side of the layout are hand made, but in a fiddle yard where the the point are switched by hand it's much more practical to use the proprietary product.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Some things have been sitting on my modelling 'To Do' list for years and the WHR KMX Tamper match wagon is one of them.

In the last few months, however, the stars have come into alignment and I think the day is drawing near where I might actually get around the building it.

The problem's always been I didn't have any measurements to work with and I wasn't sure what to use as the chassis. It would have been a case of attempting to adapt an N gauge wagon chassis.

Now, however, the 009 Society has produced an exclusive kit for members of RNAD wagons - exactly the kind used as the basis of the tamper match wagon.

So that's problem one sorted.

Then at last, after years of hiding from Himself on far flung or inaccessible parts of the F&WHR system the tamper and its match wagon broke cover and turned up at Boston Lodge so Himself seized the opportunity to take down its vital statistics for me.

The match wagon, however, is not at the very top of my priority list.  That honour belongs to a carriage and I'll be starting work on that any day now....