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.
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.
As with last year we have made good progress in the first quarter – but it is again mostly invisible! Paul and Chris have just finished wiring the control panels for the switches and they work! We tried them out on the Open Day on Sunday 10th April and ran trains up and down all the tracks.
Steve is struggling with the sixth and seventh buildings on Susquehanna Street and Alisdair is working on the eighth. Ian is building the interiors and has so far completed two.
Again in the third quarter we have made good progress. Paul and Chris have now finished wiring the switches and switch motors on the front of the layout – and have now connected them up with looms of cable which will lead to two point control panels – one for each end of the layout. We intend to operate the layout with two operators, one at each end, and one controlling the eastbound tracks and one the westbound tracks. However, the wiring looms will be flexible to that both panels can go at one end, or a the back, or at the front. We’ll see what works best
Chris has also nearly finished the Hooven Mercantile building – he’s even modelled the back. He only has to do the characteristic fire escape on the side to complete it and we have all the parts for that now.
Steve and Paul in particular are now spending a lot of time in preparation for the Merseyside exhibition at the end of October – we’ll put links in to the photos of that if you’re interested.
Photos include: Hooven Mercantile in all it’s glory – built by Chris (& us all relaxing).
Once again in the second quarter we are making good progress – once again it is mostly invisible! Paul with the help of Chris has continued to wire the switches and switch motors on the front of the layout – a tedious but essential job that has caused much debate!
However, more has been going on – Steve has now built the fifth building on Susquehanna Street and Chris has started on the Hooven Mercantile building. Steve has continued with the rock face above the road on the RH side and has finished carving and painting and weathering it.
Photos include: Steve’s fifth buiding; Paul and Chris have been wiring up the switches; Chris has been building the Hooven Mercantile building like a true Architect (he is one); And the rock face – it will look better with vines and bushes, I expect.
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.