Chestnut Walk Goods Yard
For far to many years I have promised myself a model railway layout to 'play trains' on "when I got a-roundtuit". We moved here in 2008 by about 2014 the loft was suitably fitted out and insulated to build it in. Much time was spent planning and drawing various designs in Templot but something always got in the way of actually starting!
Well these days I cannot get into the loft easily so that grand design is now out of the question. However, my office cum workshop, as pointed out by my very supportive wife, has room for at least a reasonable sized shunting layout that would fit into the window and under my book shelves. Granted it would be very unlikely that the Armstrong or La France would be able to negotiate the rather right curves but I have plenty of wagons, an 0-4-2t operable and a few more small engines in the 'to do' cupboard. Additionally Nick Dunhill is to complete the 1501st for me since my eyesight and dexterity are very variable these days. I look forward to receiving it back in due course after his and Warren's ministrations.
So I investigated a few things and yesterday (11/12/18) ordered the custom baseboard units from Grainger & Hodder and am now awaiting the last quote for building the track work before choosing one.
Here is the plan:
Turnouts range from 1:5 to 1:10, both the double slips are 1:6. There are three low relief warehouses to fit on the short side against a wall, the rest will get whatever scenic treatment seems appropriate without impeding the light excessively.
The cut out in the lower board is to allow the cupboard door under my machine bench to open. It occurred to me other day that this could also be a place for a removable cassette on a curve to send goods trains to the rest of the rail network. I will investigate that more once the boards are made up and in place.
The baseboards will have a rail top height of about 850mm from floor level, a good height to work from while seated. In the meantime work continues on completing the two and three plank wagons.
The space for this railway to be built in is a large, 1930s window embrasure some 10' across and under my book shelves. There will of course need to be some changes made but here is the space before starting any work.
I had some time ago moved my workbench to the centre of the room facing the window. Now I must alter the book shelves since the top of the boards will come to about where the lower shelf now sits.
All of the track work has now been commissioned from Stephen Freeman (Borgrail) and will be built to 31.5mm gauge, ply timbering and chairs from various sources to get the best possible approximation of Great Western practice as possible. Scenics will probably be somewhat limited but enough to indicate that Chestnut Walk Goods Yard exists somewhere in the Midlands, near Birmingham.
Now to start finding new homes for all the stuff that is currently in the way of new building, though I suspect it will all eventually end up under the baseboards. It is my intention to lay the track without cutting it for any baseboard joints but whoever has to remove it in due course should have no difficulty in doing that to separate the five boards the railway will sit on.
Next job is to get a full sized plan printed on a roll printer ready to lay on the boards and start planning the electrics before the track is glued to the foam underlay, which will be glued down to the boards using latex. An idea I got from Brian Lewis to avoid noises that are not railway like. However, I want to keep the clickety-click of rail joints to complement the DCC sounds that will accompany running.
I have now finalized how the points will be operated. Mega Points control panels using servos, detection, relays and frog juicers for the crossing Vee polarity. The power supply and servos have arrived and I shall collect the rest (except the mimic panel front being made) at the Bristol show 27/1/18.
I shall then be able to carry on sorting out the control panel construction and testing until the baseboard kits arrive.
The plan is also at the printers now and they will also produce a mirror image print to fix under the baseboards, I suspect I shall have to cut the one up for each baseboard and fix that to the underside of the top before assembling them.
The printer produced two copies for me, one in mirror image for the underside and each print in two sections. All I need do now is cut out each baseboard along the guide lines printed in Templot and glue it to the underside of the top once the baseboards arrive, this is due to happen week commencing 11th February 2019.
Mega Points laser cut mounts for the servos, simple and effective and easy to put together once I have found some alphatic glue to assemble them they simply screw to the underside of the baseboard.
Most of the control boards needed to wire up the mimic panel. servos and their associated switches, which will be push buttons.
The simplest way to isolate the crossing Vees for the double slips I am told by David at Mega Points is to use a frog juicer for each slip so there they are ready to be installed in the control panel.
Next up, the baseboards:
17/2/19. On Friday the giant jigsaw arrived from Grainger and Hodder and, in accordance with instructions I am doing dry run assemblies before committing to glueing. All the parts fit well but I shall add more strengthening in the corners by gluing and pinning short lengths of suitable strip wood.
The mirror image of the plan is stuck on the underside of each board and all the joints are then cut out with a new scalpel blade, actually I finished up cutting out the links between the slots too so that there was more area for the glue to set in the wood. Here is board C with the mirror image stuck down using artists adhesive spray
Below are more examples of dry running before committing to glue.
Finally, boards A and B assembled and left to dry out before adding further strengthening in the corners. There are also pieces to be fitted at the joint of boards to bolt them together and align the boards that need gluing in place but I will leave that until the nuts and bolts arrive.
Each board has the mirror image glued in place having been carefully cut out from the original two sheet printing. For the top there are two sheets that will be fixed in place possibly without any cutting once I have all the boards completed and bolted together.
It is good to see progress toward an operating railway.
Well that's got the baseboards constructed, all they now need are legs and adjustable feet but first I have to measure up again to ensure I order the right lengths of timber for the legs. I have added extra strengthening pieces, especially where the boards join but otherwise they seem robust enough for my needs. It is not going out on exhibition anywhere.
While sourcing the parts to finish off the boards I began on the control panel from Mega Points. It a simple matter to glue up the box but needs care as the ply wood is very thin and, until assembled many of the parts are fragile.
Here the rear of the panel has the control module fitted and the push button ready for inserting in their relevant holes. However, I failed to check the length of the cables and some would not reach so this module had to be re-sited further to the right. Back to Top
With the control module re-sited it was an easy matter to insert and screw down the push button modules and then wire them up along with the LED indicators to shew which way the turnouts are set. There has yet to be another add-on board fitted to allow fitting the block detectors wiring up; the remaining holes visible are for blue LEDs for these block indicators, there are separate sensor modules to be fitted under the boards. This will probably then be all that gets fitted in the control box itself, the remaining control modules will be on a separate board that will be fitted under the baseboard. This is to simplify the wiring as the various modules talk to one another via network cables so there is no need for all the servo or relay wiring to be in the control panel.
These are the servo mounts with one servo fitted. The whole unit, one proven in service can then be glued and screwed to the underside of the baseboard. They are neatly laser cut in thin ply but quite robust once assembled.
Next up should be legs, feet and setting up the boards.
The timbers for the legs duly arrived. I decided that timber from such as B&Q etc., was far too liable to warp and so invested in some top quality planed wood 34mm square from Woodshop Direct, whose service proved excellent. It was not cheap but is fine and largely straight grained so drilling out the end to fit the feet was simple enough. Just a matter of making sure the timber and my drill were vertical and using a good quality 8mm timber cutting bit.
Tee-nuts, which were 7.5mm diameter were then carefully hammered into place; at this point the other end of the leg is hard against the floor. The half millimetre difference in hole and Tee-nut guards against splitting the timber when the it is hammered home.
Lastly, a tilting adjustable foot was screwed in place and the job was done. The Tee nuts and adjustable feet came from Ross Handling Ltd., excellent and rapid service.
So now work could start on assembling Grainer & Hodder's leg units; here is the first almost complete. It still needs a couple of 6mm hole drilling through the leg timbers to match the bolt holes in the cross member and the 'ears' for the bracing struts screwed in place. The first is awaiting the arrival of a new 6mm timber drill and the latter has to wait until I start fitting legs to units as the bracing strut's angle varies for some boards, which determines how far up or down the leg it has to be fixed.
I had toyed with the idea of painting all this timber work but, after discussions with the domestic authorities, decided to simply stain all the visible parts to blend in with the floor; next job is to go and source some suitable stain, oil based so as not to raise the grain.
The office/workshop has been modified; the lowest book shelf has been discarded and the rest moved up the racking while the cupboards at the other end of the room have been lowed by removing their legs and the depth reduced by 200mm. This will allow possible expansion of the railway perhaps but also make the room look less cluttered.
I will post more hopefully later this week when I begin to get the boards up on the their legs and fitted in the window embrasure. This will entail cutting some of the rear legs down considerably to that they can rest on the window still. Once I have a couple of boards up, it should be relatively easy to measure up and begin sawing. The bracing struts will need some modification too.
At last it looks as though I am beginning to get somewhere. I had to modify the construction sequence a little by placing the second set of legs on board B instead of board A to avoid the radiator control; it proved to be more than a little problem but we got there in the end. The struts also needed some modification on the B board due to its unconventional shape. The whole unit is relatively stable but once all the boards have been levelled they should collectively all be very stable.
The next board will be even more interesting as its back legs have to be shortened to sit on the window sill, which will mean even more modification of the bracing struts. Let us hope it does prove to be "living in interesting times" as the ancient Chinese curse goes. Before I start on board C, these two are to have several coats of oak varnish to make them recede into the background more and help protect them from possible warping. These first two boards have been a bit of a struggle but a great deal was learned upon the way and the remainder should present fewer problems, Inshalla!
Progress 25th March 2019
Baseboard finally up and bolted together and I am happy to report that it all fitted together and went into the allotted space. All I now need do is get the long spirit level out and adjust the level using the adjustable feet.
Now the plan can be tried in place and it too fitted well though I have not yet checked out how close the baseboard edge marks match with what is actually on the ground. It certainly proved a good investment to have the plan printed out in two parts.
This is a major stepping stone laid and a great relief that I no longer have to struggle about on all fours tightening up bolts and wing nuts while ensuring the joins are level. It will not have to be removed until E&T come to pack up all my stuff for sale once I have shuffled of this mortal coil. Meanwhile I have the track laying to look forward to now and fitting the electrics.
It is proving to be a most interesting challenge and I am looking forward to the day I start running operations.
While waiting for the track to arrive I began work on a row of buildings from Brian Lewis, which were bought originally for the planned layout in the loft. Happily they fit in the space I have at one end with the addition of another Building A and a little extra walling. The three original building B kits were supplied with alterations, one has no doors but an extra window, which is useful since it will reside opposite a set of points where it will impossible to park a wagon. The one on the left was originally scheduled to have only one set of doors but I decided to fit the spare doors anyway fully closed against a brick wall. The canopies with be fitted after Ian has worked his magic painting the buildings for me. The whole row is just over 1.6m; I have another building that is 0.6m long that I am considering adding to the angled baseboard that adjoins the row. A slight modification to the track work to straighten out a short siding and the addition of platforms with glazed canopies should look good but I am still considering that. These buildings will all need a backing and the intention is to use artists black scraper board cut to fit inside each building.
The kits go together easily with very little fettling, well designed and executed, pity that most of them are no longer available and once Brian retires none of them will be available.
Save for one set of doors still to arrive the buildings are complete and ready for Ian's ministrations. Though there are more scenic effects planned they are not finalized yet. The boards are now in readiness for the track (that even now on its way to me (9th April 2019)), hopefully track laying can begin in a few days. The 3mm closed cell underlay has also been fitted; it was very simple since it is self adhesive, which I had forgotten so no messy glues to contend with. The track plan will be stuck down with artists mounting spray so all the windows in my workshop will need to be open and the dreaded face mask in use again. Finally the track will be stuck down using ordinary PVA and ballasted with ash (yet to be sourced but C&L 4mm looks like it may do) and large sections either cobbled or paved with granite sets. Back to Top
13/5/19 Well, Ian and I have finally begun track laying. The first job was to glue the plan down using artist's mount spray and a roller, for this we had to cut the larger sheet of the plan into sections. It was left for 24 hours to ensure it dried flat and smooth.
The next job was to glue supporting lengths of lime wood under the copper clad sections to bring the rail head in line with the timbered sections as you can see in these two photographs. There are two other similar sections elsewhere. The buildings have been removed to Ian's paint shop for finishing.
The copper clad sections are all to be sunk in stone setts so more work is required to fill in the spaces to a height that will allow cleaning of track without taking the paint off the setts or scraping the inner edge of the tramway rails. I used 3.2mm grey (so any scrapes will not show up) ABS angle for this glued with UHU to each copper clad sleeper and spaced with a length of brass strip to give a clear flange way. Back to Top
It will still need building up before the South Eastern Finescale 4mm setts can be stuck down so, after some very careful measurement I sent off to Slater's for some plasticard strip 60 thou by 175 thou. These are be glued into the 'L' of the angle with stretchers across every so often and the setts glued to this sub-frame like this.
This has the advantage that they can all be glued in place on the bench and allowed to dry properly so that fumes do not subsequently spoil the effect.
Here is a section of setts glued in place across the white plastic framwork leaving a small ledge at the left for the next sheets to be butted up. The track builder did not provide any wire droppers for the copper clad for some reason so I have some soldering to do with a soldering iron! A very rare event for me.
By the time Ian's next couple of days working here arrive, I should have a number of these tracks and most of the timbered tracks for permanent fixing.
Either side of these tracks will be artist's mount board stuck down to the plan and the setts glued to that. There are some complex shapes that need cutting from the setts sheets for this which will need careful work if it is to look neat. Probably a job for Ian with his more steady hand and artist's eye. I have yet to figure out how to stick down the setts between the tracks but no doubt Ian will have some ideas on that score.
Once that is done the setts will be painted and decorated with drains, manhole covers, dung heaps and straw. In 1900 most, if not all, vehicles in a goods yard such as this would have been horse drawn. This will also mean that the buildings can be embedded 'in' the landscape by cutting out the mount board, leaving a neat hole for the building to sit in.
As much wiring as possible will be on top of the baseboards soldered to self adhesive copper strip bus bars (I have had these for at least ten years, they came from ZTC) so no ballasting will be done until all the electrics have been extensively proven. However, some parts, such as wiring for the servos will have to be beneath the boards but they are plug and play so need only careful labeling; the awkward job will be screwing the servo mounts in place from underneath the boards. I recently found a neat little rechargeable battery driven screwdriver that can be held in one hand and has an LED light that come on when operating it so should help to make the job easier.
Hopefully, the wiring for the relays and frog juicers for the crossing Vees on the turnouts and slips respectively can be above baseboard level. All the wire droppers that have been provided are simply bare wire so I have some hours work fitting shrink wrapping to them to identify polarity and prevent shorts.
Now I have to start thinking about how best to fit the control panel; to the side of the boards or on a stand-alone table that rolls out of the way when not in use, decisions, decisions!
TO BE CONTINUED.