Tuesday 6 December 2022

Enginering Works Complete

Long post alert! The last few weeks have seen some significant activity to get the layout working again. Mostly it went well but there was one setback...

In my last post I said it was time to get on with the ballasting. I decided to use my usual Woodland Scenics but using the medium rather than fine versions. The more I looked at the pictures of the trackbed the more I realised I had been incorrectly using the fine size and the individual stones were larger than I had imagined. I mixed up some light grey and grey to give it tone and put it down. I stuck it down with watered down PVA with the obligatory liquid soap but I did have misgivings on how it looked. It was really too bright and I had made the mix 50:50 and it would probably be better at 80:20. I tried toning it down but that made it worse....

I was going to live with it until I went to Warley and I was perusing the Attwood Aggregates stand. I was taken by the way real stone has variety of colour built in. I took a couple of bags, one greyish one for this layout and another more sandy coloured one for the Ashover layout. I took up the fresh ballast and, needless to say, it went down a lot easier. I don't know if it is because it is natural and not fabricated but it didn't shift when I applied the PVA.

Here's a couple of shots of the ballast including some taken using the macro lens on the phone:


The other big change that I decided to do at the same time was to replace the traverser. The traverser is a great bit of kit but as others will testify, modifying a layout once complete is rarely a wise move which leads to compromises and bodges. My bodge was that the traverser was 48" long but it had to fit into a 51" space. This necessitated some bridging timbers which, combined with some rather mediocre track laying my yours truly, meant that reliability was often an issue with derailments at the joins. Theoretically there really should have been no derailments on a layout that has not points!

If you have followed the blog from the beginning then you'll know that the driver for the traverser was that my original 4 road fiddle yard was connected via 9" radius curves which my newly built coaching stock woudl not go round. I still had that fiddle yard with its dowels to connect to the back of the layout so I dismantled it and used it's front and rear faces along with new sides and top to create the fiddle yard below. 

The yard now 5 roads with the centre one straight. What I have discovered with this layout is that running tends to consist of running the same train round several times whilst talking to visitors and only changing the train occasionally. Hence, the desire to have a straight track to limit the chance of derailments. Last year I invested in a Morley controller which can be seen in the photo below. There is a carefully cut hoel under the controller to take the cabling.

I then had to relay the track on the end boards since the levels had all changed. I took the opportunity to take this very slowly and carefully to ensure good transitions at the baseboard joins. I've found I can put up the main board, fiddle yard and one end board in the room which is how I have been working the last couple of weeks. First is a photo of the underside with the wiring in place and tag strips ready for the necessary point motor wiring. I need one more MP1 point motor and they are in short supply currently. For now it works fine without them.

Here is the completed fiddle yard complete with test track. since Melin Dolryhd only needs one controller it seemed sensible to use the second controller as a test track. The track is wired up and the buffer stops are my own 3D designed and printed coupling height gauges. 

So the engineering works are complete and the layout is ready to go to Maidenhead Show the first week of January. Actually I need to redo the curtains but they will get sorted the week before the show when the layout gets erected in the lounge for a quick check.

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