We have started working again on Mauch Chunk since getting back from a succesful exhibition in Glasgow. We had two problems there that impacted on operations, although hopefully the public didn’t see anything substantially wrong.
Firstly we had overheating of the Lenz LZV100 command station. This was partly because I didn’t take the lid completely off the really useful box we’re using for the control panel. However, overheating did occur again later even when the box was completely open. Clearly passive air cooling isn’t enough when we are operating so intensively for 7 – 8h periods.
To remedy this, Gavin has put a fan in one end of the box, holes in the other and reorganised the interior to allow a good airflow. The Lenz LZV100 is now also mounted on a hollow support to allow airflow beneath as well. It should work nicely and will allow us to leave the lid on next time!
To put the icing on the cake he (and Dave Faulkner) have also wired the block protector boards to LEDs that display when a short is occuring – this will make it much quicker to detect problems.
Secondly, we had problems with the Peco point motors (in the staging yard) misbehaving. This is likely to be due to poory alignment/positioning which has occured as a result of heavy use and the way that they operate – with a thud in each direction.
We decided to try a servo design which has a more genteel motion. As there was not enough vertical space for Tortoise motors, have gone for MP-1 point motors from MTB Model (click here) in Prague. These are supplied by DCC Train Automation in the UK (click here). To control these with DCC we also purchased Digikeijs DR4018 accessory decoders, also from DCC Train Automation (click here) which each control eight motors.
We had to include some cross-baseboard links for control to avoid wasting the channels on the accessory decoders. Although it is a pain to replace and rewire all the motors in the yard, provisionally it looks as though it will be a good investment. We will report here on our experiences.
Last week we set out all the stock and tested it in new consists and configurations. Everything (well nearly…) ran well and since then several items have been further weathered. Richard’s new K1s 4-8-0 has been completed and is running and photos also show an ABBA F3 set hauling a long freight Westbound. Other photos show the locomotive and other stock lined up in their fiddle yard roads.
Finally, the new fascia lettering is coming together!
We hope to see some of you at the Scottish Exhibition Centre on Friday through Sunday this weekend.
Work is still progressing on preparations for Glasgow – most of it in intensive sessions coinciding with Steve’s visits to Barrowmore from East Yorkshire.
Photos show Steve weathering boxcars with Pan Pastels, these were then sprayed with fixative and/or acrylic matt varnish. The spraying does fade some of the colours, particularly the brown and organge, but has the advantage of fixing them.
Richard continued making corridor connections for all the passenger cars from black card, scored and folded into concertinas then superglued to the car ends. A LOT cheaper than the commercial options and looks just as good.
Dave (Millwood) continued to help by ballasting the gap in the platform and making more of the cantilevered telegraph poles for the extended LH end wall. Steve also made and planted many more telegraph poles for the RH end and the front.
Richard replaced the broken plastic handrails (they are so fine) with brass wire equivalents on half a dozen small tank cars – a substantial task. Gavin airbrushed the latest K1as camelback prior to decaling.
Finally the stock was set out to arrange train consists prior to reboxing it in the correct order. Note the new caboose tail ligthts.
Another trip to Barrowmore in early December resulted in more progress: Firstly we had to rescue Mauch Chunk from underneath a substantial pile of baseboards – mostly associated with the O-guage Johnstown Road layout. The Barromore clubrooms only have room for one of our large layouts to be erected at a time and the others usually need to be moved round each time to accomodate this. Gavin and Richard helped erect Mauch Chunk and all was well once a connector had been partly rewired and a mysterious short had been eliminated.
Richard got down to building (soldering) the remaining fencing for the roadway on the RH side of the layout – there hadn’t been enough uprights in the original etch – and I (Steve) got on with spray painting them and drilling holes for all the uprights. Eventually Richard soldered the pieces together in situ and after a final handpaint of these parts they were done.
Dave Millwood – an S4 modeller who is new to Mauch Chunk – is rebuilding the other fencing between the roadways and track which on reflection we had decided was overscale.
I have also been preparing 24 sets of Cal-Scale Marker Lites (PR 190-375) to use on the cabooses. After removing the sprue and filing smooth, they were painted yellow. Three of the lamp sockets were painted yellow and one red as per the prototype. These were then filled with Glue’n’Glaze crystal clear (From Deluxe Maaterials) in two stages with overnight drying in between – which produced realistically shaped lenzes of the appropriate colour. Finally holes were drilled and these were fitted to the cabooses.
After all this activity, Richard and I relaxed by trying out some switching moves using a mixture of fixed undertrack magnets and the big hand in the sky. This latter will hopefully be at least partially replaced with Subarishi smart-couplers before Glasgow in late February.
The visit to Barrowmore with the caravan took place and the camelbacks and the H1 were decalled with liberty heralds. Unfortunately painting with a matt varnish resulted in white deposits which will need to be disappeared during weathering. Decalling some of the next phase of cabooses (another half dozen) was more succesful.
I also attempted to start building the post office, but a long time having elapsed since my last buildings were constructed (ten years?!?) resulted in a degree of incompetence that made me yearn for something more reliable. I have therefor embarked on planning to get at least the framework cut with a laser cutter. Should this prove succesful it could result in the purchase of a laser cutter by Barrowmore MRG at some point in the future.
Locally I have been attending the East Riding Finescale Modellers group in Hull. A fine bunch of fellows who seem to manage to model to a high standard by the expedient of standing round chatting and drinking tea – I expect to be enlightened some time soon!
Most recently I resorted to the kitchen table to finish decalling the latest cabooses (modified from generic NE cabooses), adding roof grab irons and painting their roofs. Just the tail lamps to add to a selection and they’re ready for Model Rail Scotland in February.
Since the last post I (Steve) have moved house to the East Riding of Yorkshire and this has somewhat impacted my modelling opportunities. The layout was taken down in early July and will probably not be put up again until December to allow modelling on the boards prior to exhibiting at Model Rail Scotland.
However, there is no holding Gavin back: He has worked on the motors and DCC chips of two of my camelbacks still in the original brass – a 4-6-0 L by Red Ball and an 0-6-0 B4 by Overland Models. These still need decaling and weathering which I will do on a visit back to the Barrowmore clubrooms hopefully in September (taking our new, well 2004, caravan!).
The 4-6-0 will supplement our existing 4-6-0 on (mainly teminating) passenger train duties. The 0-6-0 was not a regular visitor to Mauch Chunk, but will be used for switching around the goods shed and in the coal sidings at the Western end.
In the meanwhile, enjoy these photos – also seen on the BRMG facebook page.
With Mostyn back from the Alexandra Palace exhibition and enhancements of the Mostyn Expressnet completed, Mauch Chunk – or at least the scenic part – was again erected in the Barrowmore clubrooms.
The focus has been on improving the appearance of the ballast, which was rather large; growing more trees for the woodland at the RH (North) end; and improving the roadways.
Gareth has done most of the work on the ballast which is now much improved. Steve has regrassed the area where the old trackside huts once stood and has been ‘growing’ the trees. These include Supertrees imported from the USA which are used at the front. To fill the bulk of the space, trees have been made from templates of sedum, astilbe and ‘dead’ heather. In all these cases the bulk is built up with theatrical hair before adding coarse woodland scenics scatter which is held on with ultra-hold hairspray – as cheap as possible.
More skilled is the production of the fencing for the pathway by the road. We etched posts to which Richard then soldered 0.5mm brass wire (four strands) and a second post is the soldered on top. The end result works very well.
Mostyn is to be exhibited at Alexandra Palace (London) towards the end of March, so most work stopped on Mauch Chunk during the period leading up to this.
Some work has been going on: I have rewired the board connectors on the four ‘old’ large scenic boards using 12-way Mat-N-Lok connectors as with the rest of the layout. This brings all the wiringit to the same standard.
Passenger and parcel stock has been re-Kadeed to allow for closer and more reliable level coupling. We have also started to add corridor connectors. Seven more cabooses are beeing worked on to have their eighth window removed and will then be repainted and decalled.
Finally the Mauch Chunk boards, on their trolleys, were stacked underneath the O-Gauge ‘Johnstown Road’ layout while Mosty was put up.
In the last week leading up to the Chiltern MRA exhibition at Stevenage it was all hands to the pumps!
Richard carried on carefully finishing the signals for the signal gantry – using etches previously prepared by Steve and scratchbuilding the signal post for operation. The ladders are of the more recent variety as seen on the photos of the gantry at Nesquehoning Junction. He used his considerable ecperience of building working British signals to incorporate an (almost) invisible mechanical mechanism to change the position of the upper semaphore. The lower semaphore is fixed as in the prototype. Mike primed and then painted the completed gantry and signal post. More details of the construction of this gantry and signals will be published in the near future but please contact us if you are interested.
Gavin butchered the original backscene buildings which needed to be changed from 1 inch to 4 inch depth. He then skillfully rebuilt them and finally Steve papered them with new photo-printed sheets and sprayed with matt varnish. A crudish finish but they did the job at the back of the layout – for now.
Other scenic work was continued by Mike (who finished the roadways) and Steve to blend the new into the old and to add some trackside detail. Additional telegraph poles were not added until we re-rerected the layout at Stevenage.
Finally, Gavin constructed end panels and applied finshing touches to the paintwork.
Frankly an astonishing piece of work necessitating some 7-day a week working of over 8 hour days to be ready. Check out the photos on the Chiltern Exhibition page to see if you think we got there!
Last, but by no means least, Richard has been continuing on with the three-track signal gantry which Steve etched and which he started in July 2016!
Moving on from the basic components of the two uprights and the gantry itself, Richard first put in the bracing struts and added the rivet plates to the uprights – both of which were etched separately. The uprights and the gantry were then soldered together and the supporting struts (cosmetic on the model) were added.
The next major stage involved adding the walkway resting on cross supports, top rivet panels and scratch building the handrails to the photos we have of the prototype. Finally the ladder was scratchbuilt and added to the appropriate leg (unusually on this prototype).
Currently (not shown) the signals and operating mechanism themselves are being scratchbuilt. A seperate article will be prepared for the signal bridge and its construction at a later stage.