Saturday 19 November 2022

Relaying the track

After removing all the old ballast and track I then had to carefully remove any leftover impact adhesive from the old track. Once that was removed it was a case of smoothing it off with a wooden block and some medium grade sandpaper and it was ready to go.

Then it was a case of cutting up the sleepers with a razor saw. The early Cartwright and Russel book on the WLLR states that the sleepers were 6' x 9" x 4.5" at 3' spacing. That meant they should be 24mm on the model but as the track gauge is 1mm smaller than it should be, I decided to cut them to 23mm to keep the visible ratio correct. I used a razor saw and the wooden ones were easy but the fibreglas ones were hard work. Thankfully I only needed 6 - two at each end and two at the track join.

I then went over the trackbed and marked out 12mm spacing and a line of where the far rail should be. the expectation was that I would lay the far rail first and then lay the second rail spaced off that. The first rail was glued to the sleepers with impact adhesive, doing around 12 sleepers worth a time. Once glued and aligned it was weighted down with a metal block.

  After that the second rail could be glued down and spaced off the first rail using the 3 point gauges which were themselves held down with the metal block. Again, I could do about 12 sleepers at a time, and chose to leave the weight on for around an hour before moving to the next section.

Eventually, once it was all down, I just had to solder the track to the copper clad strip, reconnect the wires and run the first train.

The impact adhesive is a messy way of laying track and I am not sure I would continue to do it the same way for a larger layout. that said, it was all made a lot harder by being an afterthough and having to work within the fascia.

Onto the ballasting, a job that very few people like...

Wednesday 16 November 2022

Time for a refresh

When I was exhibiting Melin Dolrhyd at the Welshpool Gala this year, I was very taken with Martyn Harrison's Castle Caereinion - see the post What I really liked was his code 40 track and how it gave a much more light railway feel to the layout. Peco crazy track is excellent for building reliable track quickly but there is no getting away from how chunky it is.

There were really two questions to solve:

  • Would my stock run over it?
  • Was it worth the effort?

To satisfy the first question I had to first obtain some track and also obtain some track gauges. I ordered some code 40 rail from the 2mm Association and some track gauges from FastTracks in the U.S. I already had some suitable sleeper material from the 3mm Society. Once I had all the parts I built a short test track on foamboard. I already had a similar test track with Peco crazy track and was able to compare the two.

Peco on the left and scratchbuilt code 40 on the right. The difference between the two is huge! The track is simply stuck down to the wooden sleepers using impact adhesive. In real life the WLLR pinned the track down. There were no chairs. I was able to run all my stock along the track and none of them bounced on the sleepers, not even the oldest engine in the fleet.

That leaves the question of whether it is worth it. I came away from the Welshpool Gala energised by the show but dissatisfied with the operation of Melin Dolrhyd. The front of the layout was fine but the traverser was not as successful as I had expected. Much of this can be put down to having to make a 4ft traverser fit in a space which is just over 4' 3" long. There were packing pieces and packing pieces and the traverser never seemed to be level across all the tracks. Derailments were more frequent than they should have been for what is essentially a straight piece of track. The traverser is an excellent piece of kit but is overkill on Melin Dolrhyd and suffers from the curse of being a modification to an original design which didn't plan for it.

Taking on board my dissatisfaction with the running I decided it was worth the effort of replacing the track on the front along with replacing the traverser on the back. I'll cover the rear of the layout in another post.

Once the decision was made, I ordered some 1m lengths of track from C&L Finescale along with some roller gauge and they arrived on Friday. I popped across to the 3mm Society West Byfleet meeting on Saturday to pick up some deeper sleeper material which meant I had all the materials necessary to start, so start I did.

The ballast had been stuck down with the usual pva mix and the track itself was originally stuck down with impact adhesive. I used a dropper to wet the track and then worked away at the ballast with the screwdriver I use for almost every task where I don't use a scalpel. The track itself lifted relatively easily. The track bed is foamboard so I was worried that the card cover would soak and tear off, but it has stayed so far.

In fact it all came off quite easily with the exception of one of the baseboard joins where the card did tear off. In the next post I'll cover preparing it all and laying the track.

Saturday 5 November 2022

A Little Bit of Publicity

 At the 009 Society local group meeting last weekend I was indebted to one of the members, Derek, who pointed out that Melin Dolrhyd was featured inside the recently published issue of Narrow Gauge World and there is also a photo of Melin Dolrhyd on the cover.

It's not a magazine I usually look at so I was very grateful for the heads up. The article covers the Welshpool Gala and the presence of three Welshpool themed layouts at the Gala. Andrew Charman did the photos and has taken a pleasing angle of the layout with an original train. I'm not sure where the words came from but they do remind me I need to get on and build the engines I have waiting for the layout.

Leek & Manifold Transport Wagons

Personal modelling has taken a big hit recently with launching a new shop for STModels along with taking the trade stand to Narrow Gauge Sou...