Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tamper shed


The replacement container for the layout (the previous one was smaller and had less detail) will soon be installed.  So tonight I investigated whether it is worth running track into it, and as you can see Dolgarrog does fit in.  Therefore I shall be running electrified track into their –however the CMX track cleaner won’t quite fit in the KMX tamper shed due to the height of the control on top. 

Bench drill setup (on the cheap)


Here is my cheap bench drill setup complete:

- Minicraft drill stand from the 009 society stand at Shepton for £10.50

- Piranha 0 - 76MM quick release vice off of ebay for £8 + P+P

- B&Q value drill which fits the stand perfectly and has a latch (no speed control though) for £10

altogether about £30.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hoff update

Massive thanks to David Waller (of Dduallt/Bron Hebog) for posting me three different diameters of piano wire.  It’s perfect for what I need but very difficult to cut indeed.  Thus, after further advice, I have purchased some heavy duty side cutters.  Hopefully these bad boys will make short work of cutting the wire.  So far the wire has made short work of the cutters!
In other news, I have saved up enough pennies to purchase the expo paint extractor unit…hopefully this will arrive next week and I can start practising with the new airbrushes… so much to do, so little time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hand built versus peco points

Here is a comparison between the modified (DCC friendly) peco point and the hand-built point I bought at Shepton.  The difference is phenomenal and these just must mean better running - I really fancy getting two more (both left hand) for the other main loop point and the yard point.  This would mean that all three points on the main drag would be of this hand built type.  But where would one get more of these/the parts to make these????  any ideas??? anyone????

Shepton Mallet review

Firstly a suite of photos can be found here:
Good exhibition once again.
Highlights for me were Pempoul, Talyllyn, Garreg Wen and Beddgelert 1910.
The arrival of a 009 society 10% discount card just befrore the show was a nice surprise!
I bought a backwoods double fairlie (for £72!), two TR coaches (don’t ask why! I just liked them), a lovely handbuilt point (which will likely adorn one of the loop points on Rhyd Ddu), a Mercian FR horse dandy wagon (which I shall build to conceal a motor and run as a gravity slate), some FR transfers, a drill stand (£10.80!), 4 books (Ian Rathbone’s newish book on painting and lining, the new Middleton Corris/Vale of Rheidol book, the Oakwood Welshpool tome and a Lynton and Barnstaple album).  I also got some more of those great 009 society stock boxes.  Oh and some 16mm details and a skip wagon. phew!  and that’s not mentioning the cheese an cider from Thatchers near Cheddar!
Dad invested in some more Kevin Trim 7mm kits which I have to say look superb – the Welshpool Earl is all nickel silver and even comes with real coal in the kit!  His plan for a diorama of British narrow gauge trains is coming together now – two Talyllyn trains, a Leek and Manifold train, an Ashover one and most of a Welshpool and Llanfair train now too.  cool.

The line-up

For the first time I was able this weekend to line up all my WHR Garratts.  In various stages of build here we see (from top) K1, 109, 143, 138, 87.
I have brought K1 back as Dad has not had time to work on the valve gear, so I’m going to have a go.  I built the body.
143 is materially complete, just needing varnish, a decoder, a driver etc
109 will wait for the launch of 109 next year.  The body was bought off ebay in this condition.  This has the chassis units I started off (wheels in etc) when they were to be used for 87.
87’s body is nearly there and I’ve left the two chassis with Dad to try and get them working – these were bought recently off ebay along with the body that will be 109.
138 is pretty much there and just awaits details on pipe runs etc once she is outshopped in red later this year.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A matter of the utmost gravity

I have been rereading an article by Martin Collins about 009 slate waggons.  Martin was not happy with the running of the axles in the plastic axleboxes and so got worsley works to etch up some new chassis for the waggons. These utilise an etched chassis with holes for brass bearings. There are three types – 16mm for FR 3 ton, 11mm for FR 2 ton and 10.5mm for TR 3 bar slates that can be converted to looks like FR 2 ton wooden slate waggons. 
So I decided to get out my slate waggon collection and see how many waggons could benefit from these new chassis, with one eye on Shepton Mallet coming up…
The test I developed was that a waggon would be deemed to have passed if both wheels would freely rotate when it was pushed gently along track with a finger from the end with no extra weight applied to the top. i.e. if the track were inclined enough I would expect the waggon to roll along nicely.
The inital pass had mixed results, some were excellent, some had just the one wheel acceptable and some were sliding along the track not rolling.  However I soon came along a fix, that of filing off the pointed end of the axle a little to give it more of a blunt end.  This improved a number of waggons and with brake gear snagging on some wheels too being sorted  was getting somewhere.
In the end the waggons pictured above on my bookcase have all passed the test – some 32.  There were just 3 waggons in the end that I couldn’t fix easily and so these will be sold.
I therefore see no reason to invest in the new chassis.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wired up and ready to go

The 5 new points have had wires attached to the undersides of the rails and are ready to be reassembled onto the layout.  I ran out of blue wire towards the end!  I decided on wire that will be linked under the boards as any other method (like bridging the gap with strip) makes it harder for the blades to bend properly and may result in gauging problems. 
So now it’s time to get the yard board out again and rewire this section.  Then I’ll be installing the hoffs, which still need piano wire but I am hoping to get some advice on the correct size to go for before I order the wire up.  It looks like a max size of about 0.8mm would work as although the 1mm is wide enough to fit the slot, it protrudes too much and the red plastic piece struggles to retain the wire.  0.6mm fits nicely but is a bit springy.

Monday, February 15, 2010


There can be little doubt that the best paint finishes come from airbrushing.  Thus I have invested in some kit.  Off of ebay I got this little lot for £100 (inc P+P).
Two double-action airbrushes.  Yes I know they are ‘cheap’ Chinese copies, but the reviews I have read say that they perform really well, so I’ll start with these and see how I get on.
A compressor, with tank and in line moisture trap.  The tank means that the compressor is used less (less wear on the piston, another moisture trap and less noise!).  Also using air from the tank avoids pulsing of the air (the action of the piston). To be honest this is worth £100 on its own!
and some nice extras – a T connector to split the airflow, allowing 2 airbrushes to be in action at once.  Also included is a double stand and a couple of extra pots and a fine mini filter to attach to the airbrush to catch any last bits of moisture in the air.  Plus two braided air hoses too.  Everything I need.  I have also invested in a book on airbrushing.
Next purchase will be one of these… the expo tools extractor, Dad has the more expensive (but less portable) graphicair.  This should be fine for my requirements as is about £70.  The video shows how compact and effective it is.
Testing of the kit will have to wait until the weekend…
Oh and I’ll be on the look out again for an ultrasonic cleaner (really good for cleaning airbrushes).

Dcc friendly points

P1080532 P1080531
Thanks to Nile from rmweb for the idea.  The conducting joiner was replaced with a cut down insulated one and glued below just in case.  The springs have also been removed.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

DCC friendly points

The 5 new peco electrofrog points have arrived and the process of making them 'DCC friendly' has begun.  I will post photos later, but all have had the joiner pivots swapped for insulated ones, the springs removed and the points reassembled.  One piece of webbing has been removed and I hope to hop the stock rails and blades together using phosphor bronze strip tonight. 

Then reassembly of the yard will commence.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The hoffs are here

They are in good nick and have obviously been installed on a layout somewhere.  I have tested them all and they all work, although one is a little squeaky and slower than the others, I suspect a function of differences in between can motors.  Some grease should stop the squeak. 

There are therefore no obvious problems except that the wires that actually throw the points are missing.  I thus need to source some piano wire.  The wire that came with my other hoff was 0.6mm but I know that the 7mm layout Dinas uses thicker wire than that, so something like 1mm would probably be sensible.  The search starts tonight.


Monday, February 08, 2010

More thoughts on layout lighting

Another trip to IKEA at the weekend and I found this.  It’s LAGRA and it’s a desk lamp.  However if you don’t attach the base it looks like the image above.
The bottom has a small grub screw to attach it to its base, but it struck me that if you could find some tubing slightly larger in diameter and you drill a hole through it, the grub screw could be used to secure this lamp to a support.  The arm would then bring it over the layout and the lamp itself also has the ability to be repositioned.  I reckon I'd need two per board.
and the price. well that’s the beauty(bulb extra) but £2.99!

Starting again

It has not been possible to convert the in situ points to ‘DCC friendly’ and attempts to do so resulted in damage to either the tiebar or the frogs.  Thus I have removed the points, which you may find alarming. 

However this does actually give me an opportunity to tidy up some non-standard wiring from the days when Rhyd Ddu was to be DC powered (note the blue wire above which was provided to isolate the siding – unneccessary in DCC so it can be removed), and also to put right some rather large track gaps.
I have also shortened the long siding (headshunt) to be closer to reality.  However in reality the railway has yet to extend this headshunt as I expected they would.

Points are on their way, the hoffs are on their way.  Now its time to buy an accessory decoder…
My plan is to get all this in and tested asap and I want to prove everything electrically and in terms of running before I paint and ballast the new track.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A great site I just found on t'internet

Documenting in many pages with lots of images the building of the backwoods NGG16.  This will need some time to digest so I'll be spending most of tonight reading it. 


Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Hoffs are coming!

4 Hoffmanns have just been purchased on ebay for the bargain price of £25.  That is about half the normal price.  cool.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Rewiring commences


But first some scenics…


Well actually the ground frame, which seems awfully relevant given the point motor change that’s about to happen…  The handrails were added and painted gunmetal – that’s some cool paint by the way!


and here is the underneath – all point motors and the accy decoder gone – all wires labelled ready for the arrival of the hoffs!

More on Hoffmanns
I think these are going to be the answer, but with a new accessory decoder required too.  Probably an LS150 (6 output). 

I tried the hoffmann with the gaugemaster DCC30 last night but it didn’t work.  I also prefer the LS150 as it is covered and has those 6 outputs, rather than just the 4 of the DCC30.  It looks altogether better built too.  Images below.  A friend has already used this to power hoffmanns with no alterations or extra components required – easy, as it should be.

I should also mention that despite setting the DCC30 output to its maximum (127) it still didn't have enough ummph to throw 2 solenoids at once.  The addition of a CDU might help this, but given the above it's time to move on past this peco/DCC30 combination.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

and then…

I went into the garage to find some insulated joiners and came across a hoffmann slow action motor that dad had given me a few years ago.  These have also been recommended to me by friends and work well with DCC accessory decoders as they require 16v AC just like solenoids.  They come with integrated polarity switching and you can buy extra switches for signal switching etc.

A few issues remain to be answered on this, but maybe this is the answer…?

The fulgurex thing is not so much the current draw say gaugemaster, but that it requires DC input and although with tortoises this can be overcome, no-one has managed to make a fulgurex work like this.  They are also considerably larger than these hoffmanns. 


The first point being butchered!  Don’t worry nothing is broken – insulated joiners will be added as a new pivot and the blades glued back on to the tiebar. A new plastic piece will be added to stop the point moving to the right and disconnecting the insulated joiners.

More on the point motor strategy

I have received my fulgurex point motor and had a good look at it.  P1080517

The current draw from one of these is about 200mA, way less than the DCC30 accessory decoder rating of 3A (I have asked gaugemaster again about this given their belief that it won’t work). 

When you start looking into this you soon realise why my current (no pun intended) setup is so lame at throwing points.  The peco motors can draw 4A, and in one case I am trying to power 2 at once = 8A on a 3A rated system.  ah.

Thus it does seem sensible to move to

1) Latching, if I am to butcher the points and make them DCC friendly, and in the process killing the springs

2) Less of a current draw to get good reliable throw

3) Slow motion for realism.

Thus I am still proposing to switch to fulgurex motors. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Further complications

Gaugemaster now tell me that the DCC30 accessory decoder that I have cannot power fulgurex motors as they require too much current.  A DCC31 may be about to be launched that will do that job.  ah.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Points strategy

My strategy will now be as follows:

1) Attempt to remove the springs from the existing peco points and replace the rail joiner hinge with an insulated one as per an idea by Tony S on rmweb.  I will then link together the stock rail and point blades to sort out this issue with shorting.  A small amount of reballasting and repainting of rails will be necessary.

2) In time replace the peco solenoid motors with fulgurex slow motion types and reprogram my DCC30 accessory decoder (gaugemaster) for latching point motors).  This also needs some resistors adding.  Furthermore I have emailed gaugemaster to understand whether I can use their accessory decoder I have to operate two fulgurex’s together on one output – the yard and yard headshunt points which always act together.  I will be ordering a fulgurex today to understand how it works.

Thanks for all the comments people, very helpful.  One of the beauties of this blog is access to other people’s thoughts and ideas – cheers.

Other point motor types

With thanks to Michael Campbell, my attention has been drawn to three more types of point motors:

1) Fulgurex see and for instructions see

These are a much better cost that tortoise and also much lower profile (30mm).  They can have 2 or more aux switches and the only issues are apparently noise (not a huge issue for me) and the fact that they are hard to alter later (but I hope to get them installed correctly first time and would probably glue them in with epoxy for strength and a bit of alteration time whilst drying.

2) Conrad see and search for point mechanism -
people say these are cheap versions of the below.  They only have the single switch and people say avoid them on reliability grounds.

3) Hoffmann see

as 2, they only have one switch and are about as expensive as tortoises.  Fulgurex still my favourite.

So, to change or not...