Author Archives: Steve Hales

Getting near the end

Although there is still loads to do, we have been finishing off a lot of the little jobs and the track is now all laid and the wiring is (99.9%) complete. We erected the layout from the trolleys on Saturday 6th May for the first time and checked the electrics, fixed a short and a miss-joint and Dave started some scenic work.

Trolley rebirth

The trolleys built for transporting the baseboards during phase 2 of modelling while at the Merseyside MRS were considered very useful. As we are all of us getting older, we decided to rebuild these and modify the design a little for the new boards. One of the biggest changes to accomodate was that end protectors would now be put onto the boards before they are mounted on the trolleys, rather than use the trolleys AS end protectors.

Steve removed the hinges from all the trolleys – the new design fixes the ends on with nuts screwed into self tapping bolts. The end protectors are also attached in a similar way.

Steve built a fourth trolley to take the corner boards. While all this was going on a swarm of bees arrived justĀ  few feet away and provided endless entertainment and distraction!

Fettling the locos

Phil Sutton, a BMRG member from the soft south of England, came up to the clubrooms for four days to service and chip the poorest running CNJ loco stock. He came in his rather flashy jaguar but still managed to do a brilliant job of a selection of the diesels including double enders and babyfaces. He is apparently allergic to steam locos, although he had a good go as you can see, fixing three K1as camelbacks.

Building a Turnout

This series of photos shows Richard building the last turnout pair (for now) for the scenic section. The technique is age-old and starts with a template drawn in and then printed out from Templot to fit the space precisely.

Copperclad strips are first laid on sticky back tape on top of the template. The centre rails are then laid including the points of the crossing V. The next shot shows the gauges used: The NMRA HO gauge, and two OO rolling gauges. Outer rails are then added and then their opposite pairs. Next come the switch rails and then the frogs (with a caboose being run over by Richard to demonstrate clearance). Then the tie bar is carefully added with all clearances first checked for smooth opearation. Next the guard rails – which are pretty much cosmetic if eveything else has been done properly. This completes the turnout except only for gapping the conducting copperclad ties/sleepers.

A couple of shots show the Tortoise motors we are using with these new, hand-built turnouts – to reduce damage from the rapid throw of a Peco turnout motor – and the MERG board specific to Tortoise motors.

Final three shots show the turnout pair being laid on the ‘last’ scenic board at the LH end, and then in all the glory.

Destruction and Rebirth!

Well, that is a slightly grandiose title, but to an extent it does describe the work of the last ten days on the right hand of the scenic section!

We’ve taken up some of the old turnouts and cut back the track to a clean board finish. The board was then widened by just under three inches by Steve and Gavin to take an extra yard track. After careful levelling, cork was laid and then track and new turnouts, handbuilt by Richard, were carefully laid by Richard and Steve. The intention is to scenic the large, curved, end board at a later stage.

Wiring then commenced – these handbuilt turnouts will be powered by Tortoise point motors which give a more realistic movement and also reduce stress on the handbuilt soldering joints.

New ‘trestles’ for the scenic boards

The 20 foot of scenic boards is being modified to bring it closer to the standards of the Barrowmore MRG and also to allow for the (near future) extension of scenic work around the curve leading to the Nesquehoning Yard.

In particular, the main four 4ft x 4ft boards were orignally built to mount on trestles supporting three beams and, after much consideration of building legs for these boards, Gavin and Richard decided that the only viable option was an updated version of the beam design. This would involve beams mounted on legs rather than trestles – which would support just this central scenic 16 foot. The remaining original two small end boards (18 inches and 2ft 6 inches respectively) would be replaced by two 2ft wide boards for ease of transport and construction.

Three beams were constructed – to support the back and front edges of the boards and the location of the joint where the (historical) join between the front and back boards had been. This is to compensate for any weakness this might cause.

A the start of April, Gavin completed the beams and legs and also built the first of the 2ft boards. Photos show this process including the scenic boards finally standing on the completed structure.

Wiring the new staging yard

Although some wiring is continuing, most of it was done in the ten days to 5th April by Richard and Steve, with significant input by Dave (& even a couple of hours by the hard-working Gareth!).

All the droppers are connected onto track buses – one ‘westbound’ and one ‘eastbound’.

The approach for the turnouts has been to use Peco turnout motors on the Peco turnouts. These are connected through to ‘frog juicers’ built to a published circuit by a member of Merseyside MRS. These are supposedly more reliable than the physical switches that sit on the motors which are currently still in use on the scenic section. Frog juicers are necessary because electrofrog turnouts are used. The turnout motors are connected in fours to MERG boards, made up by Derek Jones of MMRS. This type of MERG board has a DCC accessory feed (two wires) and a trickle charge feed (two wires) to charge the capacitors.

Finally, a Lenz expressnet link is fed through and taken to DIN sockets on the sides of the board wherever one is needed. The total 12 wires for each (most) boards are connected from board to board using a wiring loom fed into Mate-n-Lok 12 pin connectors which look like a cheap and reliable connection option.

(Nearly) Finished Tracklaying!

Work has continued on laying the track and switches this month (March) and the track in the staging yard is now complete to the end points of the curves. Richard and I (Steve) have done most of this and Dave has corrected some of my worse errors! This is as far as we can go until the new boards on the front are complete – which will hopefully be in the next couple of weeks. The N&W caboose runs very happily through all the curves and switches although it will soon be recolored and decaled!

You can see that we have avoided using the double slips which proved a little problematic with some stock on the phase 2 staging yard boards.

We’ve now moved on to wiring.

Moving Home

This week the scenic boards and a few extras, such as lighting gantries originally built by Chris Bennett, and backscenes, were all moved. These were taken by hired van from the Merseyside clubrooms in Birkenhead to the Barrowmore clubrooms 30 miles away.

Photos show Derek Jones helping to load the van outside the Merseyside clubrooms, the van arriving at Barrowmore, and then the (temporary) pile housing the scenic boards in the Barrowmore clubrooms.

Rapid track laying

Since returning from Model Rail Scotland and as we go into March incredible progress has been made laying track in the new staging yard. Richard and Steve have forged ahead with this as the photos show. Each piece of track has a duplicate pair of droppers soldered under the rail and copper strip is used at baseboard edges to hold the track firm there. Track is then glued down at each end of every fourth tie using cheap superglue. All track is Peco streamline code 75 and switches are now also being laid, initially by Richard.

Oh dear – I’m repeating myself in the excitement!