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Author Topic: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout  (Read 468 times)

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Offline Jonathan Prince

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Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« on: February 13, 2018, 10:03:59 am »
Somewhere Junction

Hello everyone!

Finally after lots of sneaking around and asking questions, I think I've done enough to start a project page, albeit without a name yet...


Background

I've been on the verge of starting something for a while and finally I've gotten round to it. We have to do an "Extended Project" (EPQ) so I thought why not kill two birds with one stone and use it as an opportunity to build this (and who said model railways isn't a subject?  ;)). As with all marked work, there's plenty of paperwork to do: a diary, bibliography, timeline...


Plan

I first started planning the track last summer but it took until January to start construction. This plan is a kind of a running plan, so don't take anything as set. The criteria for the layout are:
  • To build a portable exhibition layout which can be displayed the EPQ showcase (the 'project fair') and in theory exhibitions.
  • To make use of existing resources for board construction.
  • To avoid buying lots of ready made things and experiment with kits/scratchbuilding.
  • To develop DIY and woodworking skills.

And in more detail:
  • It is set in the 50s/60s, as the 4 trains I already have are from that period and it allows quite a range of traction; however, I won't rule out the odd train arriving from overseas or 'the future' if I particularly like it... especially if my 00 is anything to go by :D
  • The location modelled is... fairly flexible: a station on a mainline with a diverging branch line, as well as a goods yard and a bay platform - hopefully lots of operational interest! It's set on the outskirts of a medium sized town so there's a reason for a fairly large amount of traffic, but I don't have to model too many buildings.
  • There are variations in height of the landscape (bridges and tunnels) so it doesn’t look too flat and table-like.
  • It has to fit through the attic hatch (avoiding the ladder which protrudes over the hatch), which through a mixture of extremely careful planning and pure luck it does... just.
  • It is built out of recycled materials, from beds to airing cupboards, but some parts such as the plywood top are new.
  • The fiddle yards are built with extra capacity in mind (but not as much as some layouts I've seen). I'm trying very hard not to buy any new trains but I doubt I'll manage too long...


SCARM

SCARM has been of great help through this and the current plan is version 4.2...


The whole thing is built on two boards, with the backscene running parallel to the edge. There is indeed a loop in there if you follow the branchline behind the backscene - the dead end will be wired to whichever track the points are set.


Wiring

As previously mentioned, everything is very much up for change as I go along but here's my current thinking.

My locos are old and my budget is small so DC is probably best. My 00 layout is DCC so I know the system quite well, but if I can understand everything mechanically then hopefully I can fix it more easily with wires and tinkering. However, none of the traditional DC wiring systems seemed to do quite what I wanted, so I've come up with a slightly unusual design to hopefully provide more flexibility, if not just to challenge my wiring skills!

The entire system is divided into around 20 block sections. Both rails in each block are wired to a jack socket in the control panel (a schematic track diagram). Each controller is wired up to a bunch of jack plugs. To control a train, the controller is plugged into each socket leading to the blocks in the path of the train, effectively making that one large block. To run a train in a continuous circuit, the controller is plugged into the ~7 blocks which make up the circuit. This method allows full flexibility of controllers and trains so almost any necessary movements can be made. It also protects against separate controllers being accidentally connected (I'm not sure exactly how bad this would be, but it sounds like a good thing to avoid...)

Within some blocks are isolating sections, wired up as normal with a gap in one rail and a switch. These are for areas where one train needs to be isolated whilst another moves, but it's unlikely two need to move at once. There are probably plenty of problems to point out with this idea, but I think I'll at least try it, as it sounds like fun challenge. Unlike the majority of modellers I've encountered here I find the wiring side quite interesting.


In the diagram, each colour is a different block (two blocks the same colour are still separate) and the red lines indicate isolating points.

Hopefully that all made sense - there are still plenty of things I haven't thought of.


Progress

I'll link all update posts here, so future readers don't spend ages trawling through pages to find out what happened months later!
« Last Edit: February 13, 2018, 10:07:22 am by Jonathan Prince »

Offline Jonathan Prince

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2018, 10:04:49 am »
Baseboards

The design has been 'magpied' from the Railway Modeller, Baseboards from Ply (May 2017). The basic premise is that the legs slot into the inside corners of the frame, but the weight of the layout is supported on cross-beams across the top of the legs. I've cobbled the whole thing together in 3 or 4 weekends - the 9mm plywood for the top and sides is brand new, but the rest of it is from random bits of wood lying around (as mentioned before: a bed, an airing cupboard, old stuff from house extension, etc.). The only reason I finished it so fast was the great and mighty mitre saw - wood trimmed to length in less than a second!  :D

The entire layout can be disassembled into two baseboards, 3 pairs of legs and two leg joiners, all flat enough for the back of a car (hopefully...). The boards have to fit through an attic hatch, made awkward by the sloping ceiling above and the ladder sticking out into the hatch.

The dimensions are 60cm by 122cm for each board as 60 cm was the width of the hatch. However, past-me did not account for the plywood panels on each side, and then the toggle catches on top of that... but it still fits barely! :)

The boards are aligned by bullet dowels (a very satisfying process!) and held together by toggle clips. Another modification on the original design was to add triangle guides to the inside of the frame to push the legs into the right place - a slightly more difficult procedure when the panels on the outside cover the legs as you're lowering the layout down. The great thing about the design is that other than bolting the legs together, there is not much assembly required - the boards slot on top and are held by gravity... and you've finished! I would recommend this to anyone else starting an exhibition layout (although saying that I've yet to take it anywhere...)

The whole structure is held together with screws so in theory it can be completely disassembled. Useful as far as the backscene is concerned as it is currently removed for track laying - once I know where the holes for the track are I'll put it back on. Another unfinished part of the baseboards is the river - I've supported the rest of the board so the valley area can be cut out just as soon as I know exactly where the bridge is.

And now for far too many pictures...

Cutting the plywood up with a delicate balancing act of flower pots...
Spoiler: show


The first time the boards came together. Excuse the mess - not technically my workshop...  ::)
Spoiler: show


The magic mitre saw - or as I call it, the laser cutter!
Spoiler: show


The legs slotting into the corners of the frame. Note the legs don't touch the plywood top - the weight is supported on the wood across the bottom.
Spoiler: show


The legs are built in pairs and held together by these removable pieces of MDF. I admit it isn't the most beautiful thing to look at, but painting is pretty low on my list of priorities.
Spoiler: show


Cutting the river profile with the jigsaw.
Spoiler: show


...which leaves this rather odd looking offcut!
Spoiler: show


The mostly finished board standing on the floor. The plywood panels mean the layout can stand on the floor, so I can work on it in the attic (where the legs don't fit).
Spoiler: show


The board with panels attached sitting on the legs. One pair of legs is not attached, which means one board can be set up in a smaller space. It's a little wobblier though...
Spoiler: show


First 'train'!
Spoiler: show


The framework under the non-river board where everything is above track level.
Spoiler: show


The framework under the second board, with the area for cutting out reinforced.
Spoiler: show


Stubby legs in the corners under the boards which hold the plywood together, making it stronger to hold onto when carrying.
Spoiler: show


The dowels after two weeks of running back and forth getting the right diameter drill bit. Turns out 12mm dowels slide straight through 12mm holes, don't fit in 11mm holes and no-one sells 11.5mm bits nearby. Good old sanding dremel to the rescue!
Spoiler: show


The dowels' results: a perfect flat join - very satisfying!
Spoiler: show


The hardboard supporting the base of the river (once the top plywood is cut away). It isn't too hard to remove to access the underneath of the boards during construction.
Spoiler: show


The triangle wedges which help guide the legs into place.
Spoiler: show


The tops of the legs sanded down so the wedges slide smoothly over them.
Spoiler: show


Shelf brackets holding the backscene up. I'll have to find some way of disguising two bolts floating in the sky! :D
Spoiler: show


The layout fully assembled in the attic - no room for legs here! Now to get on with some track...
Spoiler: show


Offline Jonathan Prince

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2018, 10:05:15 am »
Track Laying - Part 1

This is the bit I'm probably the worst at - all failed layouts so far have come to halt when I had to lay track. That said all is going surprisingly well so far... *crosses fingers*

I'm using code 80 as this layout is really not aiming for technical accuracy - everything is quite old and doesn't enjoy running at slow speeds... ;)  In the corners under the hills and behind the backscenes (the alternative "Thomas" theme?) I'm using old black sleepered steel flexitrack and/or setrack which looks rather train-set like. In the front however, I've ordered some lovely new peco flexitrack to keep everything looking more uniform and better running.

So far I've just been laying the corners and beginning the fiddle yards, and then I ran out of non-peco fishplates... so that's on hold for a few days. :(
As I said, not too many issues, although my very old tank didn't like going over the longer points.

Now... there's a £5 lesson here which I hadn't learnt: the larger flanges of the wheels of the older trains ride up on the base of the frogs, breaking the electric connection to the wheels. As it turns out, that surface at the base of the frog is quite important as the flanges of all the other trains use it to roll across the frog...

...so carefully removing it with a dremel may not have been the best idea  :worried:
Oh well - lesson's learnt and a new one's on the way!

On a brighter points note, I wired up a set of electric points to a switch which worked out nicely - very satisfying to operate.

More updates on the way once fishplates arrive!


Some pictures:

I tried my hand at some ballasting to see if the track really needed a cork base to give a ballast shoulder. Results are: I need a finer ballast, and it doesn't look too flat so I don't think the extra hassle/cost of cork underlay is worth it.
Spoiler: show


First track laid!
Spoiler: show


Point wiring surprisingly successful - OK the wires are a bit of a mess but once proper wiring starts they'll get tucked away. However, the small corner where the lever is, is the only space I have to put all controls and levers... I'm thinking of gantry controllers above the tracks? Perhaps like the old gantry signal boxes?
Spoiler: show

Offline newportnobby

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2018, 10:30:46 am »
Thanks for the excellent update on your progress. Things are looking good! :thumbsup:
A small tip - don't fit any under board cross bracing until you have mapped out where your points will be as if you use any underboard point motors there's a high chance a cross brace will be just under the point :doh:

Offline Jonathan Prince

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2018, 11:03:07 am »
A small tip - don't fit any under board cross bracing until you have mapped out where your points will be as if you use any underboard point motors there's a high chance a cross brace will be just under the point :doh:
Good advice, although I'm not planning to use under board motors at the moment.

Offline AlexanderJesse

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2018, 12:28:55 pm »
Controlboard... Depending on the number of connections needed you could make a mobile board and connect it to the layout using multipkn connectors. Eg. DB25 for controls
=================
have a disney day
vapour is just water and therefor clean

Online ntpntpntp

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2018, 01:32:34 pm »
Having your trackwork separated into blocks is a good idea. You are on your way to traditional "cab control".

The way I switch controllers to blocks is via "radio button" groups: 3 double pole latching switches linked in a frame and interlocked so that pressing one releases the other.  This way I can route any of three controllers to any section (up or down main line controller or yard controller).   If I want to turn a section off I kind of "half-press" a button so that all three come up. It's worked for me since the 80s!

This kind of thing:


The button groups are arranged on the control panel mimic diagram so it's clear which section is controlled by each button group.
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Online Novice41

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2018, 02:05:45 pm »
What happens with the bug dip on the left-hand side of the front board - it looks as if the baseboard crosses it?  :confused1:

Offline Jonathan Prince

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2018, 03:58:45 pm »
Controlboard... Depending on the number of connections needed you could make a mobile board and connect it to the layout using multipkn connectors. Eg. DB25 for controls
Sounds like a good idea! I haven't thought too much of the specifics, but there's not much space for the control panel so having it separately sounds like a good idea. I think there are probably around 50 wires though!

Offline Jonathan Prince

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2018, 04:05:01 pm »
What happens with the bug dip on the left-hand side of the front board - it looks as if the baseboard crosses it?  :confused1:
Not quite sure which bit you're talking about - there's the dip where the river meets the edge of the board which is below track level. I will cut the top board away here later - at the moment it looks a little odd!

Offline AlexanderJesse

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2018, 05:36:38 pm »
Controlboard... Depending on the number of connections needed you could make a mobile board and connect it to the layout using multipkn connectors. Eg. DB25 for controls
Sounds like a good idea! I haven't thought too much of the specifics, but there's not much space for the control panel so having it separately sounds like a good idea. I think there are probably around 50 wires though!
If you look at (just for example!!!) these Molex-connectors ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molex_connector ) You have 24 pins,secured against wrong insertion and capable of transferring quite a bit of power. 4 of them give you 48 high-power 2 wire connections...
=================
have a disney day
vapour is just water and therefor clean

Offline colpatben

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2018, 06:57:18 pm »
Track Laying - Part 1


I tried my hand at some ballasting to see if the track really needed a cork base to give a ballast shoulder. Results are: I need a finer ballast, and it doesn't look too flat so I don't think the extra hassle/cost of cork underlay is worth it.


 


My Topic on Ballast from 2 years ago may help or not  :confused2:

http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=32112.msg367713#msg367713

Sorry but all the pictures are from an earlier incarnation of NGF and I am not  :no: going to go back and resize them.
We never have problems, only solutions!
My Layout Link
Colin

Offline Jonathan Prince

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2018, 05:24:03 pm »
I too am a confirmed dc fan and enjoy the challenges which that brings.(All my 00 layouts have been dc).That isn't to say I'm knocking the DCC fans.... I just like to know what I've wired up! I wonder what Jack's you are using..... audio types could give problems with shorts when plugging/unplugging but I look forward to seeing your versatile block system developing (feels reminiscent of those early analogue synthesisers).  :thankyousign:
I was thinking of audio jacks but I hadn't considered shorting. I'll have to do some testing - I don't think controllers don't mind if you join the outputs whilst the dial is off?

Offline DaveGlew

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2018, 06:57:14 pm »


 :beers:

Offline Jonathan Prince

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Re: Somewhere Junction - an attempt at an exhibition layout
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2018, 07:00:15 pm »
That's amazing! I shall aspire towards this complexity! :D

 

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