Saturday, 1 February 2014

Saturday 25th January 2014

Mickleover again.
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.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Sunday 3rd November 2013

Another long gap between postings, but things are moving along with the layout.

Following our decision to get rid of the two turn-table fiddle yards and go for a "roundy-roundy" with fiddle-yard at the back and an operating well, the old wood-working skills have been called into play again.

The first 4 fiddle yard boards are now completed - they will be hinged together in pairs and a fifth board will sit between them to match the full length of the front of the layout.  Allen has built the first of the corner units - three small boards that turn the trains through 180 degrees.  This meeting was the first time we could put the curves into place, and then lay the track across.

 The first image shows (from back to front) the first fiddle-yard board and the three corner boards.  The middle one is hinged to allow access - we are not all young enough now to crawl under the layout.

The second view shows the link to the scenic boards.  In the foreground is the new "trestle-bridge" board and the two lines are shown merging at the turnout.

Finally, here is a video of the first train to travel around the new track (can you see why we used the front line and not the rear one!)

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Saturday 24th August 2013

Well, its been a long time since our last posting, but the layout is progressing well.

Today we welcomed Stan and Wilf who visited us from Cradley Heath MRC.

Stan brought along his covered Simplex and some wagons to run.  He also brought along the strangest thing we have ever seen running on the layout (and with Alan's creations that is some claim).

The "visitor" with Stan's Simplex in the background

Although he is quite quick this poor "rat" needed to use the turntable to turn around - must have a touch of arthritis!

Stan managed to find a wagon load that would lure him away from the loco sheds eventually.

Elsewhere progress was made with the scenics - with the first layer of grass being applied to  baseboards 1 to 4.  On the new board (for some reason numbered "Board 8"!) the river is beginning to take shape, with gravel and boulders secured in place. Next step is the painting and then some "water".

Dave brought along the mock-up of his loco shed to check the dimensions.  It is going to look great when finished.

Finally, we have another booking for the layout.  Our next outing will be to the Cradley Heath MRC 1st Annual Exhibition on Saturday 19th October,  so if you are in the area why not come along and support the club.  Don't forget to call in on us and say "Hello".

Monday, 15 April 2013

Sunday 14th April 2013

Building began for the extension boards and a great deal of progress was made.

The new "trestle" board to go behind the loco sheds was constructed and fitted and a fine board it looks too.

 A mock-up of the front trestle gives an idea of how it will look.

The boxes represent some of the buildings to be added later (nice touch with the trees!)

The legs follow our normal practice of braced timber.....

...which fold away under the boards.  Attached legs mean one less thing to forget!

And finally - a rare photo of Andy and Henry working!
(Not, we hasten to add, that Andy doesn't work.  Its just that he normally manages to avoid having his photo taken doing it.  Apparently it something to do with ruining his street cred?)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sunday 24th February 2013

Today we discussed ideas to double the length of the layout, by replacing the current turntables with a full-length fiddle-yard at the back.

  Allen drew up plans for the new track-layout and we discussed the topics of dimensions and construction methods.

  Allen also produced his latest creations; a snowplough and flanger vehicle, together with a caboose.

The snowplough has a connecting bar which fits to the flanger when not on "active service".

The flanger and caboose.

Of course, being built by Allen the flanger's blade moves!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sunday 13th January 2013

The layout is currently on its Christmas holiday at Halesowen.

We did some pre-Mickleover testing and basic maintenance today, including changing a point motor servo.  Dave undertook some driver training and has almost mastered the 'Kadee shuffle'.  Allen's latest acquisition also got a thorough test run.

The layout lights were installed and wired up.  Then we ran some trains so we could take some pictures to see how it looks!

Here are some more images of the layout.
They include some rather un-prototypical photos of the Forney - note that not in one single image is it lying in the ditch!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Sunday 9th December 2012

Well, another year almost over and how are we doing?

At today's meeting we concentrated on the framework for the lighting rig.

The full set of supports were fitted and a front beam prepared.

The layout is off for its Christmas holiday in Halesowen now, in preparation for the Mickleover exhibition in February.

Have a great Christmas!