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.
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.
February was quiet for Mauch Chunk PA because we (BMRG) were getting Mostyn ready for Model Rail Scotland on 24-26th February and there is only room for one large layout to be erected in the clubrooms. Good news in that Mauch Chunk has now also been invited to MR Scotland in 2019!
As soon as we returned, Mostyn and Johnstown Road (the club’s O-gauge layout) were carefully stored in a large, linear pile along the rear side of the clubrooms and the new Mauch Chunk staging yard boards were re-erected and levelled.
Track laying has now started – using Peco streamline code 75 track. The Barromore MRG approach is being followed with droppers under the track and track held down with superglue. It is also VERY, VERY straight! Photos show Richard laying track although Steve (me) and Dave Faulkner are also involved.
We’ve carried on working hard since last November and have pretty much completed all the baseboard work now. It’s not shown in any detail, but we cut the old staging yard off the back of the main baseboards, leaving just two tracks, which are for testing and programming – one will be DC. A 1ft strip was also removed from the left hand (tunnel) end to give a total modelled board length of 20ft to match the staging yard.
The cutting was done with a rotary saw and finished with a hand saw. The edges were then faced with fresh plywood, suitable braced, glued and screwed. To finish this part of the reconstruction the remnant rear main boards (now about 4ft x 1ft6in) were permanently attached to the front main boards (the original 4ft x 2ft6in) using PVA glue and screws through the bracing points. This means that we have four boards 4ft square and two narrow end boards – one 4ft x 1ft6in and one 4ft x 2ft6in – slightly awkward but – hey!
The photos show the new centre well that this configuration gives us – big enough for even the larger of us (I won’t say who that is!) to move comfortably along, although we can’t easily pass except in the ends.
New legs were constructed for the end curves. Also shown above and below is a (re-) railing track which is switched to avoid shorts. Connecting the boards up in the final configuration meant that we could finally lay the connecting track at both ends – shown below.
A brief diversion here into the techniques used to ensure that where the track crosses a baseboard join, the stock doesn’t derail. Portable baseboards are the norm in the UK and so this is a major problem. Critical to ensuring that track stays aligned is ensuring that baseboards align in the same position each time they are reattached. The best way to do this is to use board alignment dowels. The best ones have a point in the back of one side that lets you align the two sides for drilling. The second and third photos show these in our board (after the curvy edge system had failed to align the boards well enough!).
The wiring on the front had been installed many years ago, and so the switch control wiring was disconnected and then rewired to MERG DCC boards to give the same switch control system as in the staging yard. Note that the DCC switch control boards are always attached to a vertical surface to make maintenance easier. One switch on the front (on a curve) was replaces with a commercial Peco switch – which has proved better, but not perfect.
Everything working on the boards, we then moved on to the lighting and the gantry. After seeing a layout at the Mickleover (Derby) club using an aluminium folding ladder to support the lighting, we managed to purchase a 20ft ladder that would work for us. Although it was not completely level when supported at only the ends, it was rigid and so the slight central dip could be accommodated when mounting the fascia boards.
Lights are DC (12v) halogen, wide angle floods of 20, 35 and 50 watts. We attached these to the bottom of strips of plywood at 45 degree angles with basic lampholder bases. Along the top of each board were the transformers and the wiring. The plywood simply rests on top of the ladders and the fascia hangs off the front. A simple H frame at each end supports the ladder.
All this work completed, we decided to put our stock out on the staging yard and were quite shocked by how much we had – especially as most of our locos can’t pull such long trains. Still quite a lot of weathering, re-wheeling and Kadee-ing to be done though!
Finally a shot showing a consist of new (as yet undetailed) Athearn RS3s and then one with a N&W articulated interloper with a long empty coal train (note that the buildings have been removed for safe keeping). We are now moving on to add more hillside and roadway at the RH end, and then will work along adding detail to the scenery.
Despite my hopes that the updates to the site would become more regular after Gordon’s retirement in April and my continued life of leisure, what has actually happened is that we modelled at a high rate instead. As Doug is working a four day week, we modelled on Friday mornings as well and this made a big difference.
We had a good summer and used this to carry out repairs on our clubhouse – including demolishing a 120ft portacabin which also kept us pretty busy!
Here we are starting to lay track in the staging yard – if all else fails, hit it with a hammer! Even my daughter came in to lend a hand on a visit back from her midwifery course. The track laying progressed well. By August it had pretty much all been laid.
In the meanwhile, Steve was working on customising some SW7s and SW9s for the CNJ. Athearn and Proto-2000 stock was used as the starting point. Both jigs and hand bending were used to prepare the CNJ-style handrails – some were soldered, but most were superglued.
Handrails were added to different styles depending on the prototype, as were minor variation in the vent stacks. Once handrails (and some grab irons) were complete, the bodies were airbrushed with my own mixture of gloss green. RBH water slide decals were then applied carefully and the models were then sprayed with matt cote. Finally all were weathered with a mixture of techniques. Three were chipped and one set up as a dummy as not all the motors were usable.
Meanwhile, back at the club, the hard work of wiring up the track and switches was proceeding – led by Doug, but with all three of us taking a share. Later, Doug withdrew from this exciting activity due to pressures of work and other interests, but we continued to fit and wire switch motors (Peco) with the help of Bill, and MERG DCC switch controller boards. These latter were mostly built by our club specialist (Derek) and wired in by Steve. Derek then configured them for us.
We set up computer control with the Big Bear software package – which works well. The track panel component (left) can be downloaded for free.
..and all the time the trains kept running round! We are now cutting and reconfiguring the old baseboards, removing the old staging yard, and hope to have finished this stage before Christmas.
We have made some very visible progress in the second quarter this year – painting and ballasting all the track. Steve has done most of this with help from Ian and Chris for the painting. First stage was to undercoat the track with primer. We used a can of plastic primer for the plastic ties and a metal primer for the “circuit board” ties on the switches. We followed this through with a can of “fender primer” to turn them all grey and then finished off adding a little brown with an airbrush.
We used a mixture of black coal dust (from the bottom of a coal bucket) and almost white coal/wood ash – mixed to a dark grey; these were sieved thoroughly before use. We applied this over a layer of white glue, smoothed it out carefully and then sprayed with Isopropanol (IPA) as a wetting agent and then dilute white glue (about 30% in water with a drop of detergent added). Some touching up with a dropper was required in one or two places. Finally we are slowly painting the track sides rusty. Other natural materials were used in off-track areas.
Progress has slowed a little this quarter – mainly as Chris has been focusing on building replacement lighting gantries for taking club layouts to exhibitions. However, Paul has plodded on with the wiring, and has now finished his sixth board (all in the storage yard) – the wiring really is beautiful if you like that sort of thing. As I write he has started on the front boards. Steve has been doing some scenic modelling on the front wall and making a lot of noise carving stones out of plaster with his mini-drill. The photos show all this:
Photos include: Firstly Paul and the rewiring – by early June, all the four rear baseboards and the end boards had been wired and tests have ensured that trains will run. In early June, all the baseboards were re-assembled and the layout looked quite good. Paul started on the wiring of the front boards later in June. Steve worked on the wall along the Lehigh river – more details can be found on a project page – the river wall.
Progress also continued well in February and March. Chris put finishing touches to the turnouts and trackwork on the front of the layout and Paul removed, wired and replaced two baseboards as he starts the laborious task of wiring the layout. Although we will use DCC eventually, he is wiring for standard operation at the start with four blocks. Chris has also built and placed a model weighscale (see archive photo #707).
Photos include: The wiring (I didn’t get the exciting photos of Paul actually doing it) is, as usual, quite inspiring! Chris starting on the finishing touches at the baseboard joints, and an open view of the layout without the backboard – removed so that baseboards can be taken out and wired. The (non-functioning) weighscale built by Chris (see photo #707)and a caboose under construction by Steve.
Progress picked up in January and the photos show this. Chris and Paul forged ahead with the switches on the front of the layout and they are now all in place (although not wired or motored) and working! Even Steve has had a go at laying switches in the staging yard to provide new storage sidings – he has also finished most of the work on the third building.
Before we focus on the switches, here are the three buildings so far completed, Chris and Paul showing that laying switches is a very serious job, and three old HO hands assessing progress!
The completed switches as laid in January by Paul, Steve (some only) and Chris.
Progress over the summer has been exceptionally slow, mainly as a result of vacations and having to spend time on society business. Chris has also been very busy building lighting gantries for the MMRS – however, we are certain that normal service will resume as as soon as possible !!
This is what we have been up to:
Steve has finished (except for the shop interiors – which Ian is doing) the first two buildings on Susquehanna Street. Paul has been busy too, building switches (pointwork) for the front of the layout; here he is being carefully supervised by Bill, our tea-bar manager. Paul has also painted and decalled an ATSF switcher into CNJ livery.