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Author Topic: North Derbyshire Raliways - It begins  (Read 1380 times)

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Offline trevis

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North Derbyshire Raliways - It begins
« on: August 12, 2018, 02:32:58 pm »
A number of years ago I decided to get back into modelling after dabbling as a kid. I got a fair distance in terms of planning and boardwork, but then various things overtook me and it was all put on hold.

In the past 5 years I have demolished one actual, real, full size house, built another on the same site and laid down a formal Japanese landscape, so it's not as if I've been sitting around, but rather just not a lot of time or space for modelling or railways. The North Derbyshire is based around the world of my mother and father, from Chesterfield down to Langwith Junction. Who knows maybe even to Lincoln.

I have now got the baseboards back out and it has given me a chance to refocus and correct things that were simply not right on the first try. Particularly ensuring my gradients were not the equivalent of driving up a cliff face   ::)  So this has meant ripping up all the track and revising my grand plans into something a little more realistic. A bit of a shame as I had gone a reasonable way down the track (pardon the pun) to building the landforms and laying all the rail. But I am sure this will be much better. And, I'm not building another house in the next 20yrs so I figure I have a good opportunity to get it all settled and tinker onwards...

Still some hills, rivers, valleys and tunnels and the same basic 40s/50s coalfields location, but with a renewed vigour to get a working layout in place. The track bases are now in place and I am working on my first landscaping points. It's amazing how simply putting down the wire frames gives an entirely new sense of the lay of the land.

I had been blogging this into another site over the past couple of months, but have decided to bring it over here as it seems to be a much more active community, and may both motivate and advise. Therefore, in the interests of being able to get it all in one place, perhaps I can have the indulgence of reposting a number of items over a few weeks that paint the picture.

So, here we go...





Online sp1

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Re: North Derbyshire Raliways - It begins
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2018, 02:38:21 pm »
That looks like a very good start.

Offline trevis

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Land Ho!
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2018, 02:40:13 pm »
Finished 2017 with a bang.

Got the bulk of the wireframes in place, on one half anyway. Still have all my fingers, but blood has definitely been spilled from more than one finger. Wire is not always a friend.



So, full of renewed enthusiasm thought I would give plastering a crack. How hard could it be? Turns out not that hard at all! I had been putting it off for no good reason. I was worried that the plaster cloth I bought six years ago would have lost its zing, but seems as good as new, although it was still in its original sealed plastic bag.

Managed to get the first layer down over the field that runs down to the river. The cloth is fairly easy to work once damp. A light damping, lay in place, then smooth out with wet fingers to activate and distribute the plaster.

Just as I thought, the first solid ground gives real life to the layout, albeit looking a bit like siberia in the middle of winter until we add a touch of colour to the anaemia. And it's not taking long to dry either in this 35C weather. Be ready for a second layer in no time.



The drop at the edge of the bridge looks a bit odd in the pic, but it isn't just a sudden drop, just a bend in the river.


Offline BramptonBranch

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Re: North Derbyshire Raliways - It begins
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2018, 02:40:55 pm »
Horns Bridge? the Central, Midland or Market Place? including Tube works Markham's and Brampton Branch...

Sorry but I'm a town lad after all, one day maybe an attempt at a part of the Brampton branch, station up to Queens Park....with a 4F propelling its train at a steady trundle....Happy days.

Offline trevis

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The Hills are alive
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2018, 02:43:20 pm »
Not with the sound of music however, as much as random expletives. Some trying times as I find out not all plaster cloth is created equal. The first lot I had purchased awhile back from somewhere in Queensland was a dream, quite a firm gauze and probably not as much plaster. This made it easy to handle, it kept its shape after wetting and allowed fairly simply placement. The second lot I purchased from Jacksons art supplies is a really weak gauze and what appears to be much more plaster. The result of which is something that turns to a wet mush when it is even in the same room as any source of moisture, making it very difficult to handle and place. The tradeoff being that if by some minor miracle you do manage to place it effectively, you get a much better coverage and very few evident holes in the gauze.

The first layer is now complete on the first baseboard, with a second layer over about a third.


A sense of scenery now starting to provide the possibilities. Can't wait to get this bit finished and add a bit of colour and texture. I like the way the plaster/wire hills are starting to turn out. I think some textured paint over the top will really add some life.

Offline trevis

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Terraforming and other bruises
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2018, 02:45:49 pm »
Finished the plastering on the mainboard with a second layer across the lot, which has added a definite solidity to the ground. I will apply a layer of flexible acrylic textured paint to at least the natural areas to protect the plaster, but not just yet. I am keen to commence painting, but decided it makes more sense to get all of the plastering out of the way given the amount of mess it makes (ie. dust). No point in painting only to have the equivalent of a volcanic eruption all over everything. Therefore, today I started the wireframes on the second board. Because I have two distinct boards that I want to be able to pull apart for possible transportation I am overlapping the hill forms rather than trying get a perfect fit. I reckon this will make it dead easy to pull the boards apart and reattach.

The two modules are connected via clamp beneath and ideally that will remain the only key linkage (other than wiring bus).

Forms in place for wireframes


The wireframe overlap, including the beginnings of a tunnel. Once happy I will lay the tracks through the "underground" space and then run a blackened cardboard tube into the hill form. I don't expect you will be able to see into much of the tunnel body, but if you can I don't want people seeing the underside of the wireframe.


I also have started up on a few kits I have had stashed away for a number of years. I know a lot of people don't like them, but I really think the Metcalfe models provide a top notch starting point. I will take the basic kit form and then add my own touches to them when I am ready to place them. Things like the white edge joints are easily overcome as part of the aging process.

Offline trevis

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Underground, overground Wombling free
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2018, 02:48:47 pm »
Put in some effort on the second board in the 38C heat. Not only hot, but a nasty cyclone passing north bringing rain. Bleh. However, the aim was to get the wireframe on the tunnel area, and it took a little time, but seems to have come together.

With the southern half of the frame already laid I started off by painting the track bed black and laying a length of underlay. I use the Trackrite foam underlay made here in Australia. It is really adaptable and allows you to bend it around corners without leaving any kinks, just a spot of PVC. I am not going to be able to get in there easily once the wire and plaster is on, so this was important to get laid correctly. My aim is to ballast into the tunnel as far in as I can once it is ready to have tracks laid. The two tracks will be single 900mm lengths with the droppers at one end or the other outside the tunnel. Laying the tracks now the underlay is in place will be easy. A good feature of the Trackrite is the very small lip it has either side of the track bed, meaning tracks tend to fall into place (on straight bits at any rate). I only glued down the bit in the actual tunnel, leaving the two ends loose until I start laying track.



While the underlay was drying I put together a cardboard form and painted the inside black to form the actual tunnel. Once all dry slipped in into the space and put a few drops of PVC to secure it in place. The tunnel mouth isn't fixed yet, just trying it out for size.



Then I set about cutting and shaping a couple of bits of foam to sit on top of the tunnel to give some stability to the hill above. Probably didn't need this but it ensured a fairly flat area on one side at least. Glued those in place and then laid out the second wireframe, leaving me just a few small areas before I can roll out the plaster and get onto much more exciting things.




And finally whilst the heat forces us into the house, with either cricket or other mindless possibilities on TV, I set about another building. This time a bog standard butcher for one of the towns. Obviously, still requiring touchups.


Offline trevis

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Winter is coming
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2018, 02:51:22 pm »
I think all the plaster is now done, second board included. There are still lots of small gaps, but I will fill these with foam and filler. It means the trackwork could be started. Just painting the gray ground for the track beds will be a big psychological boost. Took awhile to get here but I am happy with the end terraforming. It has given me quite natural rolling countryside with plenty of variation.



You can probably see the join between the hills of the two boards. Looks pretty chasm-like at the moment, but I am confident I can hide it away with scenery and still maintain the complete separate nature of the two. I know there are many varied means of joining boards and there are lots of advantages and disadvantages to each, but we'll give it a go and see where we end up.


I was a little concerned about how easy it would be to get the tunnel entrances right, but they have so far turned out nicely, just a bit of gap filling required around the edges


Offline trevis

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Winter is going
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2018, 02:54:30 pm »
Finally got all of my plaster cloth down after a restful sojourn in my home away from home in Japan, knee deep in powdery snow.



So I got to work laying down some base colour and texture on the plaster, for a couple of reasons. Firstly to start to bring it to life, but secondly to prevent the plaster from starting to flake away and break down. Rather than faffing about with additives I went with a premixed textured paint, in this case sandstone effect. Yes it costs a little more, but a one litre tin did this whole layout with recoat and probably 20% left. Sandstone was the finest grain texture they had, which worked well for N scale. Unfortunately because it's designed to match the rock it only comes in one colour. Would've been nice to be able to add a tint. However, that colour basically matched the colour of MDF and plywood, so it did provide an immediate sense of "wow". Ignore the first attempt near the paint tin, once I got the hang of it the end effect is a nice, even grainy surface.




I did one full layer of the paint and then spot double layer where the plaster cloth was still showing any holes. It really gives you a sense of getting somewhere towards the terraforming completion. It went from a full on Siberian winter scene to Desert Storm in about an hour.





Once dried I then have started adding some colour, sponging on firstly a light brown, and then a dark green/brown. I'm very pleased with the results so far, even though it's just a beginning. The sponged effect over the textured paint has given a real depth to the ground form. Don't forget, you won't see hardly any of the ground in the final product, so perfection is not required. I think I will add another one or two shades of base colour before then applying any appropriate groundcovers. I have left the urban areas clear at the moment as I think they are less likely to have that grainy textured feel. I will build that up as I determine exactly what's going where. Likewise the river is left untouched because that will require special treatement. Sometimes you do something quite simple and you feel like you have made a massive leap forward.



Offline trevis

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Tunnel of love
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2018, 02:57:49 pm »
This was all about putting in the final infrastructure (as much as anything in this infernal hobby can be considered final  :P  ). In this case it is the rear "hidden" fiddle yard platform behind the background. Pretty straightforward - a few brackets and two long bits of pine. That provided the ledge. Then I had to tunnel into the structural pine supports at both ends to create entry and exit tunnels. The theory being that I am not only creating a yard, but also a hidden path for locos to run. They will run the full length of the layout, which should provide a real sense of an unknown train appearing out of nowhere once they arrive.

At the town (Chesterfield) end I am contructing an elevated piece of townscape that will sit above the tunnel entrance. Just provides a bit more interest and differing elevations, plus more efficient use of space. You can see the tunnel opening at the very back. I will add some red brick retaining wall to seal it off, and probably a footbridge between the two heights. I hope to leave it as a freestanding section so I can simply pick it up if required to salvage any derailments, There's also a long station platform yet to come in the centre of the tracks.



At the other village (Whaley Thorns) end it will be a simple tunnel entrance that just needs to be built up around the stone mouth. There will likely be two short rail sections in the adjacent pit.



Then at the rear I will locate both my controller, plus a range of track layout, with one mainline running right the way along.


Offline trevis

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Fat Controller
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2018, 02:59:18 pm »
Well it's only taken around 5 years I reckon, but I have finally taken my controller back out of the box and found a permanent space for it. And it still works! Now I have my rear fiddle yard space I want to be able to control everything from the rear.

Initially I thought to run the through line as close as possible to the backboard and place the controller in front of it. However, on reflection and in order to minimise the curves and maximise the space for track I went the complete opposite.

My main concern was then accidentally knocking a train off as I controlled the show, so I needed a little tunnel, or cover, in front of the controller. Worked out quite nicely. Who knows I may even have at length of powered, working track up soon. No sense in rushing things....



A couple of brackets to hold it all steady, and then a couple of pieces of MDF to make the shelter. Liquid Nails is magical stuff. Now I can create some additional trackwork out the back (eg. programming track, holding lines, etc.)


Offline trevis

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Riding the bus
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2018, 03:00:50 pm »
Miracle of miracles, I have had a train actually running on my layout! Yes, it was only along one foot of track, yes, it stuttered a little because it hasn't been run for 5 years, but I'll take it as a win...

I reconnected the bus wires to the new controller location. I have setup two bus wires that run around each of the two baseboards. I can now use inline wire connectors to patch in the track droppers as I put them in place. These are all joined back at a connector block.



Although I have owned a soldering iron for the past 40 years I have never been able to make effective joins. It is one of those skills that has eluded me. So  I took a piece of scrap track and did some practice. I also watched a number of videos and actually listened to the tips. This necessitated a trip to the electronics store to pick up some flux, magic hands and assorted other useful stuff. And whaddya know, in an hour I am soldering like a champion, making neat joins first time. Probably should've put in the practice a couple of decades ago.

I am soldering the droppers to the bottom of the rails and then placing a single small hole in the centre of the track bed through which they are fed under to the bus. I did have some connectors that would happily take two droppers into them, but the new ones I managed to get hold of can only take one each. I would rather cut into the bus wires as little as possible, so I will have to search out some of the larger ones.




Offline trevis

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Cleaning the rails
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2018, 03:03:16 pm »
A lot of rail work going on. I have been recycling a lot of the track I pulled off the original layout, which had been sitting in a storage unit for a couple of years. I managed to hook most of them into the main bus. So far my levels seem to present no problems to my one working loco pulling a few carriages.

However, I have now been cleaning the rails up as there was a lot of stuttering and dead spots. I have taken a very fine sanding blcok to the rails and they immediately turned gleaming bright with only one or two passes. This has aided the running immensely, although there are still some dodgy areas that require a little work. Likewise one of the point areas is both not quite aligned and not quite as clean as it could be, so a bit more endeavour required there.

All in all though I am now further forward than I had been on the previous layout, with a pretty good moving train along the tracks. So I take that as a big win and a motivator to keep keeping on. Next effort will be getting track through the main tunnel and getting that girder bridge fixed in place. Not sure whether the river should be filled with "water" first though.




Offline trevis

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The yards redux
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2018, 03:05:02 pm »
I have laid a lot of track and connected a lot of droppers. The last section to work on to this point was the yards (or Langwith Junction). In its heyday its was a hopping place.



I am going for a modest pseudo re-creation, with enough lines to keep wagons stacked up in public view, but without some of the additional more intricate trackwork. Who knows it may develop over time. I doing this on the run. Six lines going in with room for a seventh if required. It may even be possible to run it back through to the mainline on the very outer line once I get it in. Not sure if it's necessary or even possible. Onwards and upwards, with each session in the workshop a new learning experience.





Looking back, five years ago on the first attempt at a similar layout this is what the yards were looking like. It's similar, but I do believe I have actually moved forward!


Offline trevis

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Making tracks
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2018, 03:07:09 pm »
Which brings it to today. Had a bit of time off this week and spent it avoiding the cold and rain by laying tracks. Pleased to say I now have all the core rails now down and wired. And what's more I have trains running on all of them quite smoothly. The final piece of the puzzle was the colliery lines. Had a minor conniption when I turned the power back on after connecting the droppers to the three new lines and got a power conflict. Took a little while but I narrowed it down to one line which is now isolated. My only guess is that some glue under the rails is still damp and forming a short circuit. I will wait it out for a day and see if it remains. Other than that I can now concentrate on the modelling, which is to me the more interesting part of the game. I have a mountain of scenic items to construct, starting with the Chesterfield townsite.

With trains running there are still some lumps and bumps that need ironing out. A little filing here, soldering there, gluing. She'll be right mate, good as a bought one.


I have some DCC Concepts SS turnout motors on their way to prevent me having to shuffle rapidly around the layout to set points. Whilst this keeps me fit, it is an activity I would rather avoid.

One of the issues that some will no doubt see is the use of a wye style layout, that causes short circuits of the power bus. How have I overcome this. At the moment it is limited to some insulating fish plates at two key points. I also have an old PSX-AR that I will hopefully get around to installing to cater for the auto reverse conflict. For the time being the straight piece of track running at the right of the wye is inactive. But looks nice  :D  Likewise, there is an uninstalled through line/siding from the yards back to the mainline. All catered for, just haven't connected it up yet.







In the meantime, proof that we have movement at the station.


Whilst I was busily running back and forth from controller to switches to derailments, I thought maybe there was some help to be had with my phone. Low and behold there is an app on Play Store that allows me to control my ECOS remotely! Probably old news to most people, but a world of difference to me that saves having to buy a remote cab. Works a treat with locos and switches - ECOS Controller by Erkan Valentin. And it's free... Love those kind of bargains.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2018, 03:25:39 pm by trevis »

 

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