Friday, 31 December 2010

Point operation

In the build up to this layout, point operation was always going to be one of my first major hurdles. How to set the distance between the switch blades accurately was something I was struggling with especially when working to P4 standards. My previous attempts go back a number of years to copperclad points with a sleeper sized tiebars. I now wanted a more realistic solution. I understood that the switch blades would twist slightly when moving, this movement would, in time, break any solder joint on the blade unless there was some built in flexibility between the blades and the device used to move them. Even though I'd read many descriptions of different solutions, I still struggled with how best to go about it and which materials to use. It was not until I'd discussed my problem with two guys from the P4 group that I started see how to put a solution together. Also having access to layouts in the local area group has helped, I've been able to look, listen, and hopefully, learn.

My method is nothing ground breaking, all ideas have been borrowed from other modellers. I decided at an early stage to adopt Tortoise point motors and install all motors under the baseboard using Exactoscale's Tortoise Mounting Plates which gave me the horizontal motion. I just needed to decide on how to transfer this horizontal motion vertically through the baseboard to the switch blades.

Also a couple of guys stated that on their P4 layout they used 16.5mm as the distance between switch blades. This sounded too narrow to me but in checking dimensions it seemed OK for the centre to centre measurement between blades. My rough calculations are - P4 standards state a distance of 17.47mm between outer faces of the check rails - in reality on my points this has become 17.38mm - minus 0.9mm for width of rail gives a nominal 16.5mm. No doubt purists will put me right but at the moment it seems to work for me.

Hopefully the diagram below will help to explain the following verbal description.

I've used 0.5mm brass wire for the wire droppers soldered to the blades. Both wire droppers are bent slightly so that they are vertical to the centre of the blade when they pass though the baseboard. I then drilled the motion arm from the Tortoise mounting plate with two 1.5mm holes at 16.5mm centres. The hole was drilled to pass though the arm. Into each hole I then glued a 13mm length of 1.5mm brass tube. An 18mm length of 1.0mm brass tube, with an internal dimension of 0.5mm, was then soldered into the 1.5mm tube (18mm being the distance from the base of the motion arm to the top of the balsa wood track base). When installed, this will leave just the 0.5mm brass wire passing though the ballast layer. To help with installation when threading the motion arm onto the wire droppers under the baseboard, I cut the wire droppers to different lengths, 24mm and 22mm. When fitted, the wire droppers will protrude through the motion arm which means that the motor cannot be directly under the point but will be offset to one side of the point under the baseboard.

Elements described above ready for installation.

It is all very simple really..........that is, once you know what to do, what to use and how to use it.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Additions to my Reference Library

While viewing St Merryn at Scaleforum with my partner and having discussions with a couple the SLAG guys the book below was purchased. Unfortunately for me I had to wait until Christmas Day to get my hands on it.

We have spent the last few days away visiting family but in quiet moments I've managed to skim read through most of the book, picking out a number of helpful tips in the process. I will need to read the book in more depth but it comes across as one that any budding P4 modeller (or possibly any modeller) should have in their collection. It is especially useful for myself due to the area in which St. Merryn is based covering many aspects that I need to consider: differences in track in the area; LSWR tiebars; Bachmann 45xx conversion to P4; Airfix 'B' Set conversion/detailing; Cornish hedges; layout lighting; and stock boxes being just a few. St. Merryn is a fine example of P4 modelling by an accomplished group of modellers and the book is written in a easy friendly style that should encourage rather than discourage. If it had gone into more detail it may have become a tome of information but unfriendly, certainly to the P4 newcomer. It is one book in my library that will not spend much time on the shelf.

The second book that Santa brought me was Colin Marsden's, 'The Diesel Shunter'.

This was a book that I discovered a couple of months ago while kicking my heels in Lincoln waiting for a new timing belt being fitted to my car. Apparently fitting the timing belt was a specialised job requiring special tools which non of my local garages had, so a trip to the main Peugeot dealer was arranged. I had to wait about 4 hours and while browsing W.H. Smiths I came across the above book. Having very little knowledge of anything relating to BR shunters, knowing I will need an 03 and an 08 for Tredethy Wharf, I immediately thought 'I need that one'. Unfortunately the dust jacket was damaged so, noting down the ISBN number, it was one destined for my Amazon Wish List. Then, when searching on Amazon, I realised that it was out of print...... second hand fetching a price far higher than its RRP. After mentioning this to my partner she came up trumps again by making a visit to W.H.Smiths to purchase the book, apparently getting a good discount in the bargain.

The little lady is a true treasure.

Friday, 24 December 2010

A barren few weeks

I recently had a gentle reminder that I haven't posted an entry for a while but the title of this post says it all really. To progress the layout I needed a few items from Squires and Exactoscale. There was some confusion with the Squires order, all down to me I hasten to add, which delayed me finding the items by a couple of weeks. Then I posted the Exactoscale order which took a respectable fortnight to arrive.

While waiting for the above orders to arrive a WWII war game was arranged. This awoke some interest in looking though my mass of unpainted lead and I was side tracked a little by a couple of gaming projects. First a building that had been languishing in a box for many a year. I slapped a little paint on it and after gaining a feeling of achievement, I then picked up a second building to complete. One thing led to another and before I knew it I'd also started and finished a German artillery unit. Wargaming has definitely taken a back seat during this last year and I was gradually loosing interest in picking anything up to paint or finish off. So it was good to get stuck into some old projects that had been hanging around for far too long. I think it has also helped to clear and refocus my mind on the railway project. As they say 'a change is as good as a rest'.

With a little bit of luck I'm back on track (pun intended). I'm definitely not on schedule as I had hoped to have finished laying the track during Christmas with wiring completed and something running. I have made a start on finishing the switch blades for the second point, and now the extra bits from Exactoscale have arrived, I can start on the final point. A little progress has also been made on the 7 plank wagon but not enough to shout about. I've also been looking at some Bill Bedford W irons to see where I've gone wrong in folding them, more of which later........

May I thank all who have read this blog during the last year and for the encouragement and comments left. I truly hope you all have a happy and memorable Christmas.