To support the new turnout and trackwork, Steve has added Tortoise point motors and new MERG boards – build by Derek jones of Merseyside MRS – to control them. As well as this, all the ‘droppers’ had to be connected and rather than use the old track buses, new, taught ones were added to match the style of the staging yard as well as the other Barrowmore Layouts. Only the inter-board connectors were not changed at this time.
In the week before Christmas and New Year the turnouts and tracklaying were completed by Richard and Mike. Once down only 14 feet of original track remained! The ‘dropper’ holes (new and old) were filled with tissue paperby Steve to prevent ballast loss and the whole was airbrushed black by Mike.
Gareth (shown) and Steve then painted the sides of the track a rusty brown – avoiding any switch blades. Finally Steve ballasted the track (with help from Gareth) using real sieved coal from his coal scuttle.
Running up to Christmas we have carried on at great pace to finish the trackwork and scenic work on Mauch Chunk.
Richard has carried on turnout building and, having finished 12 (?) turnouts – many in groups – is now relaying the track on the front to accomodate them. This has produced a pile of old turnouts which have served us well for many years but are not reliable enough for the new exhibition running. Mike is also lending a hand with tracklaying.
Mike has carried on with the smoothing of the roadways, which currently look very smooth – a bit of weathering will make them more realistic.
Gavin has built the new backscene boards using 3mm ply and braced them with 1inch x 1inch timber (not shown). He has also varnished and primed them for Steve to paint.
Steve has carried on with weathering the walls and rockface and then moved on to ballasting the RH end of the layout and adding the rocks on the river edge. Ground cover has also been added to the hillsides with Woodland Scenics coarse and fine scatter in several colours and blends, prior to re-adding the trees.
The late Chris Bennet’s bridge (the earlier girder bridge) has been extended using the same techniques and and pieces to extend over the extra tracks.
Since my last post, we’ve been storming ahead with getting Mauch Chunk ready for the CMRA show in Stevenage on January 13/14th.
Mike has been getting stuck in with improving the scenery and has done some work on the statue of the unknown soldier, as well as starting to relay all the roadways and extend them onto the new boards.
Steve has been continuing to work on the walls – painting them – and is modifying the ‘river’ bridge extending it to cross the new, increased track witdth.
Richard has been measuring up and re-templotting much of the pointwork and is now building a full replacement set to ensure flawless running. Some or all of this will be relaid before CMRA depending on time available.
Gavin has started to build new backscenes to fit the new, extended scenic section, ready for Steve to paint in the early new year.
Peter, of Big Bear fame, has reworked the software for us to allow operation on 1024×768 screens which will allow us to use ex-‘Point of Sale’ touchscreens if time allows.
Having returned from taking Mostyn to the Great Electric Train Show at Gaydon at the start of October and stacking all the boards away, we have now re-erected (most of) Mauch Chunk.
Gavin has completed the curved fascia and mounted the light sockets and connected the mains supply using Wago 3-way connectors. A single ‘Bennet’ upright is enough to support it with one end braced by the adjacent fascia.
The ‘dry riverside’ on the bend has been filled and Steve has also been applying plaster and clay (DAS modelling) to the wall supports at both ends of the layout. The clay was rolled out using a mini-rolling pin. On the RH curve, the rockface was carved using photos of the prototype taken as stills from YouTube videos.
The work on Mauch Chunk has come to a halt for a month or so while we prepare the two other Barrowmore layouts for exhibition. The club has three layouts now and there is only room for one layout to be put up at a time while the others are stacked.
Mauch Chunk should be put up again in mid October so we can get it ready for Chiltern MRA’s exhibition in January 2018. The photos show some of the trees being temporarily planted on the new hillsides for storage, the stack of layout trolleys and miscellaneous pieces and finally the two temporary hillsides that we used at Chatham on their way to the dump.
Meanwhile some work is continuing on sieving coal (for hoppers and ballast), building rolling stock kits and weathering.
Back in October!
In the past month I have plodded on with the two hilsides: Photos show initially Flagstaff mountain which has been made considerably higher and four inches has also been added to the back to make full use of the boards – this widening has been done all along the layout.
After building with the polystyrene and carving, the polystyrene was covered with a plaster/PVA/paint mix. This was then further painted a brown earthy color. Finally PVA was again painted on and old-fashioned carpet underlay was glued down – and pulled off once the glue was dry to give a layer of undergrowth to go under the floc that will fall from the trees! This will be trimmed with my beard trimmer.
The roadways were edged with 3mm ply or a similar thickness of MDF. Both were cut with a jig saw and attached with grip adhesive and a nail gun. Note that at the RH end (Packer Hill), various indentiations were included to allow for the prototype detail. We have managed to get this detail from a couple of YouTube films taken from train trips. Wall stones and rocks will be carved out of PVA-strengthened plaster. Some rock faces have already been carved above the road and look pretty reasonable.
Gavin has started to cut the baseboard away to build the riverside on the curve – there will be no water as this is on the inside of a river curve – just deposited river stones.
Finally Gavin’s curved fascias can be seen under construction made up from laminations of 3mm plywood. Astonishing!
After getting back from Chatham Exhibition, we took a break before erecting the scenic boards of Mauch Chunk. Once these were standing again, Gareth’s son, Celfyn (Welsh for Kelvin) found the boards were just the right height for climbing through! Steve’s daughter Anna’s dog, Bryn, is also with us for a couple of months while she moves into her first house (we hope) and he is being very laid back about all the noise I am making rebuilding Packer Hill.
The first main task was demolishing the temporary polystyrene ‘hills’ at either end in order to construct the new, larger ones. Polystyrene sheets were laid and stuck together with various glues of various efficacies! Eventually, they all dried and we were able to carve them with a mixture of a multi-tool and knives. Baseboard edges were lined with plywood.
Once this was completed, the roadway was laid in ply around the edge of the hill above the track. The base of Flagstaff mountain is being similalry rebuilt.
The other issue we wanted to resolve is the use of Big Bear with our Lenz equipment. Remember that we fudged at Chatham exhibition and used an NCE PowerCab to control the pointwork. Peter, the developer of Big Bear, has been very helpful and has now managed to recode Big Bear to work with the Lenz 23150 USB/ethernet adaptor – brilliant! This means that we have been able to lay out the control board again and it has been made to fit into a Really Useful Box for transport and operation.
Chatham MRC – 3rd/4th June 2017 – The Victory Academy, Magpie Hall Road, Chatham ME4 5JB
This was Mauch Chunk’s first outing since 2011 and the first with operators from the Barrowmore club. More significantly, in the past six months, 13 of the 17 baseboards have been built from scratch as well as the lighting gantries and control system. This was also the first time we used Big Bear and TeamViewer to control the layout from two laptops.
Because of the high standards used in the Barrowmore club, the layout ran reliably and well and proved popular with the somewhat disappointingly sparse crowd. Over the course of the weekend, the Barrowmore ‘fettling’ table got ALL the locomotive stock running smoothly – the first time ever. The novice operators seemed to find the layout easy to operate on the whole and put on a good show.
As a result, steam power – mainly brass but including the two kitbashed mikados – was to the fore, as were brass double enders and babyfaces. Many plastic F3s, RS3s and several switchers were also in evidence. Everything on the layout was from the era between 1945 and 1955.
The exhibition team was Steve Hales, Richard Oldfield, Gavin Liddiard, Mike Rapson, Kevin Bays Gareth Evans and Dave faulkner.
This was a good start to Mauch Chunk’s new life as a Barrowmore layout and bodes well for the future – once the long fixing list is completed!
Over the last three weeks (while Steve was on vacation in Scotland, touring Whisky distilleries on Islay), the team: Richard in particular, but also Gavin, Steve (when he got backl), Phil, Mike, Gareth and Dave; have been getting Mauch Chunk ready to go to the Chatham exhibition.
In particular, Richard has ballasted the new track, completed 10 caboose modifications, and carved and painted the new LH extension of the river wall. Richard and Phil have done more work on locos and stock and others have smartened up bits of scenery. Steve has recorded the stock and packed it all away and modifications have been made to the Big Bear layout plan with several additional routes added.
We’re ready to go (tomorrow) for Mauch Chunk’s first exhibition in six years and the first with the Barrowmore team.