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 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.
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.
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.
As Mauch Chunk was well on the way to being ready for the Chatham exhibition on the date of the Barrowmore open day on Saturday 20th May, it was run for the small number of public who turned up. These photos were taken then.
Leading up to the Barrowmore Open Day, Gavin built us some elegant and practical lighting gantries. These were based on the idea previously used on the ‘ladder-based’ gantry used for phase 2 of Mauch Chunk but Gavin has developed it to a point of brilliance.
The main factor in this was the use of spot bulbs mounted in ‘naked’ GU10 lampholders. This time we have used mains power, 5W, 420 lumen LED spotlights with 120 degree coverage. We used Wago 3-position connectors for each bulb to keep the mains power safe and connected beams with ‘kettle’ type connectors.
Gavin built ‘Bennet’ style gantries modified to have extra long arms and legs to go over the wide scenic boards of Mauch Chunk. The beams were also modified by extending the front edge down to use as the fascia. The arms hold the fascia about 6 inches forward of the baseboard front and ensure that the whole of the scenic area is illuminated.
Large holes were drilled in the back face of the beams every foot to hold the LED bulbs and these were angled at about 45 degrees by mounting on triangular cross section wood. LED bulbs do not get hot so there is no heating of the wood.
When the bulbs are removed, the beams can be stored together for transit.
Richard has been doing some fantastic work extending the river wall at the left hand end of the layout. The river alignment at the RH end has also received some attention from Richard and Steve. Richard then painted the front fascia with grey undercoat and Gareth and Steve took the old varnish off the river bed preparatory to reworking it. Lastly and most recently, after some initial work by Richard, Gareth (shown) and Mike, Gavin has spray painted all the new track and roadbed a mucky color – nearly black!
We’ve got it up and running! This wasn’t as smooth a process as we would have liked though: The first time the layout went up we discovered that the frog juicers weren’t behaving – they switched the current to the frogs but too slowly when the wheels went over and shorted. In retrospect they are designed for turnouts wired so that the switch rails moving will cause them to operate. As our switch rails are permanently aligned electrically with the adjacent track, this doesn’t happen.
Solution: Buy 39 Peco turnout accesory switches and rewire the turnouts. All peco turnouts done by Steve on Monday 8th, 7 tortoise motors also rewired by Richard on Tuesday morning. The frog juicers were abandonned under the layout for the time being. Eveything is now working.
Next problem – a MERG board overheated producing acrid smoke. Quick turn off and board replaced solved problem.
Last problem – Big Bear DCC wouldn’t talk to the Lenz system. We have temporarily resolved this by using an NCE PowerCab to control the turnouts and in the meanwhile, Pete of BigBear DCC is rewriting some of the code for us to ensure that Big Bear will work properly with Lenz – excellent support!
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.