Yes, it was time for our annual trip to the Trent Valley group's open event at Mickleover. In previous years some visitors have said they could not see if we had made any progress, but this year no-one was in any doubt.
Not only has the main board grown by 25% with the new "trestle" board, but there is now the full-length fiddle yard behind and the two 180 degree turns to link them. The layout occupied about 1/4 of the main hall.
We assembled the layout with trepidation for two reasons.
1. It was the very first time we had been able to put the whole layout up in one place
2. Our multi-coloured fiddle-yard was bound to raise eye-brows (as it happened we lasted almost 1 hour before receiving the first comment). Here are some pictures of Allen working on track-laying in the fiddle-yard a week or two before Mickleover.
As you can see the yard is rather eye-catching - the colours identify the 8 sections on each of the 6 tracks - this allows us up to 48 sections in the yard.
To control them, Allen again has come up with an etched 48-switch control panel - here is the underside to give an idea of the wiring needs.
Eventually the layout was ready to go - here is the stack of 10 boards, two 180 degree corners, control panels, lighting rig etc. This all had to fit into Allen's Discovery & trailer, along with three people!
Well, we made it and got the layout assembled. After a few teething troubles - mostly caused by operators rather than by faults - we got the layout running.
These next shots give an impression of the size of the layout and of the cunning and light-weight lighting rig we now have.
We discovered the dos and don'ts of the fiddle-yard the hard-way; finding two long trains nose-to-nose taught us to fix on three lines going East, and three going West. By the end of the afternoon Dave and Stan had even developed ways of "shuttling" trains along the sections.
Thanks again to the Trent valley guys for allowing us to take over their hall for this "test run" of the layout. If you have not been to their event it is really worth visiting. A friendly and informal chance to talk narrow-gauge modelling with like-minded folks.