Monday, December 21, 2009

Bridge Over the Railway

In April of 2009 we had the beginnings of a requirement. There was one side - one side of a cutting. There were three railway tracks running past this small one sided cutting.

By the end of April we had a better idea of what we wanted - we wanted a mountain over in the centre of this end of the layout. This would then of course require a way of getting vehicles and people into the town that would be sitting in the shadow of this mountain.

So we grabbed some of the Peco N Truss Girder Bridge Sides (each of which are 143mm long) and cut them up and stuck a piece of 1/16" balsa wood between them to act as a temporary bridge. Well, it might become permanent if we are lazy enough.

In May we decided that the bridge needed to exit to the small side via a tunnel, so we dug out a portal and a slice of cardboard tube to place about where we though a tunnel for the cars and trucks might go. We also spotted a few trees around to see what it might look like.

Soon June came along and we had built up the tunnel roof with more plaster and even added a bit too much concrete colouring to the plaster leaving us with a bit of a chocolate tunnel top.

Then along came Peter. New member and keen. So he fell for the usual club trick - if you mention something is lacking or not up to scratch - the job is yours!

So we handed over another 6 of the Peco bridge sides and Peter came back in August with the start of his bridge to replace our poor cousin of one.

The next time he came down he had added the decking.

Then we put a few cars on top to see how it was coming along - pretty nice I reckon.

By September Peter had given the bridge some feet and a coat of primer and she was looking like a real one.

Late in September, Peter added some railings using the thread method described by himself in the Nov or Dec issue of the club newsletter. The footings for the bridge were also starting to take shape as well.

The abutments were primarily poured in place into balsawood boxing. Other parts were made seperately but also balsa was used to box them up.

Then we just used a bit more plaster to join the blocks together and to make the whole abutment join into the layout plaster mountain.


By now it was October and Peter had gotten the bridge deck painted and the centre lines painted on it - lookin' good I reckon.

Since then the bridge sits while we build the new Exhibition layout, but at least she's there and traffic can use her.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mountain Mining Men

What to do with the left hand loop of the layout? That was the question. And it remained unanswered for a few years. Here we see the loop as it appeared in August of 2007. This was right at the beginning of the remodelling of the layout to add some height and variety to the layout.

Do remember that if you click on pictures in posts, they do get nice a large for easier viewing :O)

By March of 2008 we had at least started on the remodelling and had gotten foam risers in and put the chux wipes and plaster over it and gotten the trackbed almost ready.

April of '08 saw the cork go down for the track. The usual Liquid Nails was squirted down and the cork pressed into it.

And by August we were in business. Track was down and the temporary timber bridges in place. We glued our track down with a 50% water 50% white glue mix as we usually do. This negates the need for track nails/pins which can work their way out sometimes and lodge in a loco's mech. So it was time to run some trains for a change.

Early in 2009 we decided we'd have a big mountain down this end of the layout with a coal loading facility in the center being serviced by a mine that would be out of sight "on the other side of the mountain". So we started to lay some track down and worked out what we wanted.

Our plan was to have a large mountain down this end, large enough in fact to get our head and hands inside to be able to clean track and fix derailments etc. We wanted a coal lading facility with about 6 tracks and a nice loader. A mining town would be good as well.

By June, Peter in the club had built up some nice paper/card workers huts and rec hall. This will go in the mining town.

By August, Chris had built up the Walthers Coal Loader for us and the tracks were in place ready for wiring up.

So we wired them up and got all the drop feeds in and wired back to a switch panel so each of the six sidings could be isolated should DC be in use at the time. And we were running trains in no time at all.

So that's what we are up to as of now at the left hand end of the layout. The mountain will not be built for a while yet, as we want to concentrate on the town and container yard area at the other end of the layout. So for now, we have a coal loading yard that is operational and takes a good many wagons to fill - so it's a good one for us.

Friday, November 6, 2009

First it's a Coffee Cup, then like a Volcano it Rises

March of 2009 it was a coffee cup.

Little did we know what was brewing away in the background. Mother Nature in the guise of the N Scalers was up to something - something large, something solid, something to change the landscape of the layout forever...

First it was such a little intrusion. We just didn't worry about it.

Then it started to grow more. By the beginning of April even vegetation was starting to sprout!

Then it began to collect more mass. Like a black hole it attracted all things, even bridges and automobiles.

The centre of gravity began to shift! We were now very worried. Industrial glue didn't seem to be able to stop it spreading. It attracted more mass.

Then an opening started to show where it all began. Green growth appeared around this mysterious maw and it beckoned.

By May we had begun to understand what was happening - It was horrible - a MOUNTAIN had deposited itself on the layout and was molding all around to suit itself! First the nakedness of it made us turn away in disgust.

Then a thin pasty white skin began to form over this nakedness - we couldn't turn out eyes away, this moist pale flesh crept over all.

By the beginning of June it had so ingrained itself on the layout that even the automobiles were queuing up to pay homage.

Then nature started to assert herself and trees began to appear and it all began to seem like a dream, like I was standing in the shower and it was a dream...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Bridge Too Far


By the end of November of 2008 we were really getting into the bridge building. We used some balsa wood to make up some formwork for our two bridge pillers for the double track bridge. We had received a donation of two double Kato truss bridges which would look good.

The use of balsa allows us to get a nice "grain" to the "concrete" we are making so as to imitate the timber boxing used in real life. It also allowed us to create some concrete cancer (even if it was by accident) as can be seen in the right hand pillar. Originally I was going to fix the cancer, but after looking through a lot of prototype photos, it's there in real life, so why not in the model!

The concrete cancer came about because I took the timber formers off before it was dry enough - I should have given it another hour to dry that little bit more.

We were also using balsa wood to form up around the holes we had now also made in the river banks that would have the pillars mounted into them as well as abutments poured onsite for the bridge.

Here is a hole for a pillar that has just had chux/plaster plonked into it to act as a pocket for the pillar itself to go into.

After the pillars and abutments were poured and installed we did a bit of minor patchup around them with plaster, to meld them neatly into the river banks. We then thined down some "Aged Concrete" paint about 50/50 or a bit thinner, and painted the concrete.

Here is the right hand river bank.

And here is the left hand river bank.

Here we see all the bridges as they currently stand. As you can see, only one (the Kato double truss) is completed. The other three are still just timber painted grey for now until we get around to building some more real ones.

And here is a view that the down and outs would have or the likes of train spotters. I can really associate with that (train spotting Craig, train spotting!) having just spent 6 days looking and climbing in creeks and river beds at bridges and all things railway related on a recent trip to Canberra and back for the Australian N Scale Convention in fact.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Twas the Month before Xmas

Well, as the month of November 2008 began, we had the three mainlines up and running. Temporary wood bridges were in place over the river and everyone was ready and able to have a run.

So we all loaded up the main yard ready for a spin on the layout under DC control.

In fact, we had gone out and purchased a 5 amp NCE DCC system as well and had that in place under the layout too and ready for use.

To protect the DCC system we put a couple of tail-light bulbs in parallel with each other and placed this inline with the output to the track. This would give us about 1 amp per bulb, so about 2 amps protection. Hence we were way safe on our system and in no chance of blowing the DCC system should a short occur.

In the long term we will get nice tail-light holders and wire 2 bulbs in parallel and place inline on EACH of the 3 mainlines in such a way that whether we use DC or DCC, it will be protected and not able to draw more than 2 Amps on a mainline if a short happens.

Every passing loop and track in the yard had a switch wired in so we could turn off a track if required. This of course is very handy in DC mode and not required in DCC. At the far right of the switch panel there are 3 large switches. These control each of the 3 mainlines and switch between DC and DCC on each line. This way we can have any combination of DC and DCC running on the layout at the same time - we just make sure we don't cross over from one mainline to another if we are on disparate systems.

For the DC use, we built some simple controllers. These are cheap to build and we can build more of the same any time and easily. It's just a simple controller circuit that has 2 transistors some diodes, resistors and the usual dollop of black and white magic smoke inside.

We have wired up a 14.4 volt AC circuit around the layout to supply power for DC controllers and wired these at a few locations to simple 5 pin DIN sockets in the front facia of the layout. This is driven from an old large printer power supply we had kicking around. A light bulb or two is also in this system to protect it too. From each of the 5 pin DIN sockets we then wire the output of each controller back to the main control panel and into the three tracks.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

All Seems Quiet and Slow Going

It might have seemed and looked on the surface as not much was going on through May, June, July and August of 2008. But underneath the layout I was getting mighty dirty and sometimes very frustrated, while up top some more track layout and cork laying was in progress.

Yep, I was doing wiring. I had three mainlines to put wiring in for and it had to cater for DC and DCC operations on any/all of the lines. So there was a lot of drilling holes through all the timber to draw the cables through and keeping it as tidy and logical as I could. I looked like I worked at a saw mill with all the sawdust over me every day.

Don't you just hate it when you get a section done and then realise you missed something? Hate it at times, but you keep going and it's all for a good purpose in the end.

We used some black and red coloured speaker wire the club had lying around. The HO'ers had purchased a hugh pile of the stuff and were not using it, so we N'ers appropriated it for our layout. I was wiring up the layout primarily so the outside mainline could be used as we'd gotten it's track down and wanted to be able to run a train while we continued working on the other two mainlines. But it took longer to wire as it was best to do the wiring for everything at the same time.

All our drop feeds were done using solid core bell wire which we bought by the roll from Bunnings. We decided to isolate all passing loops and station stops so that the DC operations would allow a lot of locos to be stored on the layout as well as the sections could be used as very simple speed controls so more than one train on a mainline could run at a time.

We have not setup block control on the layout as that would have confused us a bit too much in the wiring department. We figured that since we have three mainlines and can at least turn off sidings that that would be good enough for the DC operations.

For the DCC operations it is so simple. On each mainline there is a master switch that dictates either DC or DCC operation for that mainline. When in the DCC position, it connects the mainline to the DCC system the club was going to buy.

To get the river crossing ready, we made up some temporary bridges out of MDF and painted them grey. They will do as fillers until we get into making some real bridges.

So by the end of August we were able to run some trains on the outer mainline.