Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lower Deck Benchwork

After deciding that I didn't need to have a lower staging yard I ran some numbers and operational running scenarios on a track diagram and came to the conclusion that I did need some staging on the lower level. As well as staging I am going to change the track layout at the base of the helix to allow trains to be turned around on the layout. I have used a variety of methods and materials on the benchwork on the lower level as you will see in the photos below.
I decided to use the spline method to form the lower staging yard as it allowed me to span large gaps in the benchwork and naturaly formed the best curve avaliable to the space. I used 3mm thick MDF cut into 40mm wide strips of various lengths.
 I purchased some metal shelf brackets to support the benchwork and screwed them to the support posts, I then screwd some timber pieces to the to better support the roadbed. I didn't fix the spline roadbed in place as I went along but instead just clamped it down and when it was finished took it outside to sand it and give it a coat of paint to seal it
 Almost finished and fixed in place and wide enough for three tracks and big fingers, I will put some sides on it to prevent falls after I get the track down.
 Putting in the cross supports after placing the bridge to estimate height and placement, it is 19 x 40 pine and will be covered with 6mm ply wood.
The supports for the gravel facility are made of the same materials, I did some test placements but forgot to take photos.
Base in place and painted to seal it.
I have cut and fit the first piece of foam board for the big bridge scene and have stacked some stuff on their to provide a level surface to work out the next lot of track placement.
Working out the lower crossing loop.
At the moment I am planning to put a small service track off the lower loop at the south end of the crossing loop as well as a house track for M.O.W cars and the like. I am toying with the idea of a snow shed at this location possibly from the middle to the north end of the loop.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Scrap the Drawbridge

After a lot of frustration I have abandoned the two drawbridges across the access way to the layout, I was never really 100% convinced it would work so I have just taken the hinges off and converted them to lift out sections. I also encountered issues with the Printed Circuit Board copper sheeting being pulled off due to the tension created by the curved track and lifting due to the excessive solder required to keep the track in gauge over heating it. A search on the Internet revealed a simple but genius solution, screws! infinitely adjustable and easy to put in and solder track too.
 Finished and in place with some minor modifications the lift out sections (Hoo Ray).

 Positioning the screws for the joint.
 The section of track from the helix glued and soldered to the joint screws are quite solid, you can see the bits of wood added to guide the section in to place now the hinges are not there to do the job.
West side lower level.
East side lower level.
Running the track over from the helix to the lift bridge, don't worry I will put some skirting up to prevent any derailments hitting the deck.
The points are growing roots.
After the tedious task of mixing and matching all sorts of track and points I have finally arrived at the point I can actually wire up some of the layout. I have started doing the switching line that serves the industries on the top deck near the yard. It will also be an isolated power district one of several on the top deck to prevent an issue shutting down the whole layout. This is how I attach the feeders to the main power line I just strip some wire off the feeders and twist and solder them to a short piece of main power wire and then I cover the join with heat shrink tubing. Then it is a simple case of connecting it with displacement connectors to the main power line.
I am also mounting the point machines to the branch because they need to be wired for the frog polarity and as you can see I have also fitted the rod to the machine to switch the points. It is a control rod for a model air craft or boat and I brought a kit containing two rods and four of the connectors shown. The rods are fairly long and will allow me to do five or six switch machines and you can also buy the connectors separately. There are only three sets of points on the branch and this one is the last one that serves the Mill / Brewery.
The above and below photos show one of the points serving the sand transfer yard and you can see the feeder wires for the siding on the other side of the switch machine.

I made a slight error when I assembled the Bullfrog switch machines, the photo above is how the cam should rest on the micro switch for the frog. I thought the cam just had to pass over the switch to change the polarity and mounted the switches accordingly but I discovered my error when I tested the first switch machine to be mounted and wired with a multi-meter.Get a multi-meter people it will save you a lot of time and effort.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

So you want to shunt do you?

These past month or so I have been planning and laying track on the industry spur on the top deck with a mix of finished buildings and mock ones, I worked out where the track would go and how many wagons the sidings will need to hold. I didn't feel the need to make it over complicated with run around tracks and the like and I also made a few business like decisions about the length of the line serving industries.
Like getting the railroad to store my wagons in their yard rather than building a long section of track to hold them myself, as long as I turn them around quick I will save a heap of money. I also decided to put in a R.I.P track at the east end of the yard to add a little bit of operating variety for the yard switcher and road crews.
It is good to see some real progress and I seem to be able to find an hour or two every couple of days to lay the cork for the yard and then some track and soldering feeders. It is tedious work but it will pay off in the end with smooth running and few power issues for locos in the yard. I have previous experience from a club n scale layout with sharp curves and tight points and don't want to experience that again.
I have also been laying the track in the top lift bridge and I can honestly say don't ever make a joint on a curve in N scale if you can possibly help it.

The siding above will be used for a sand trans loading facility and will hold eight wagons at a time for unloading. In the right hand corner  near the gondola is the switch leading to the flour mill or beer plant, I haven't decided which yet.
 From front to back we have the yard, main line, branch line and the flour / beer siding which can hold twelve wagons for grain unloading.

 East end of the yard and over to the left you can see the branch running along the main, this will serve a large cold storage center and another warehouse down the west end of the yard. I also decided to add a dead end track to the yard off the no 4 yard track in the middle of the photo and the line from the bottom of the photo is the RIP track. When the track is completed I will do another track plan and post it to give people an idea of how the layout will work.

 To provide a solid base for the joints on the lift bridge I used flat aluminium bar 3mm thick that is the same height as the underlay. I then used epoxy to glue the track and the trimmed P.C board to it and let it dry over night. To maintain the rail alignment I connected the track with joiners while I tack soldered it then pushed them clear of the joint and soldered over them.

Not pretty but it does the job