4mm Life in a Northern Town - Testing, testing ...

Discussion in 'Area 51' started by Neil, 18 August 2016.

  1. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    I had wondered whether I should have attempted to sand the paper. In the end I got the liquid poly out and made sure that all the edges of the individual sheets were firmly fixed down. This has improved matters as the thickness of the paper isn't as noticeable. I'm also aware of the deliberate mistake but like lots of the other bits and pieces built for the layout it's a nod to one of my mates.
    John Duffy and Jon Gwinnett like this.
  2. Jon Gwinnett

    Jon Gwinnett Western Thunderer

    I had assumed as much, made me smile. (But I'll stick to the stuff made up here, all the same :))
    steve1 likes this.
  3. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    I think I'd stick to the proper stuff too.
  4. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    Yesterday I made myself a vibrator, this morning I got to try it out. Here it is.

    vib 1.jpg
    It's an old 3v motor with a brass insert from a choc bloc fixed to the shaft. It's on a long wander lead from an old Hornby train set controller. I had an idea that it might help with ballasting the layout. You should be able to tell from the photo that the motor is fixed to a brass plate bent over at the edges to straddle the rails. You should also be able to see that the track is pinned down to a dense foam underlay, a 4mm thick yoga matt.

    First job was to paint the rails and sleepers, Halfords red oxide and matt black spay cans made short work of this.

    vib 3.jpg
    The rail heads were burnished with a Peco track rubber before ballast (tinted sharp sand) was spooned on and roughly smoothed out with finger and brush. The next stage is where vibrator comes into its own. I sit it on the rails of the ballasted portion then turn the speed up gradually until it's possible to see odd individual grains of ballast which sit on the sleeper tops start moving. As long as one hasn't been heavy handed with the ballast a pass or two with the vibrator seems to even out the ballast between the sleepers and that on the shoulders and rattle it away from the chairs and sleeper tops. It's not perfect but it does help.

    Finally a shot of the ballast done, misted over with water from a perfume atomiser and soaked with diluted copydex (an experiment). It's a bit hard to tell what the final result will be yet. It's probably going to take overnight and maybe some more to dry off from this state.

    vib 2.jpg
  5. steve1

    steve1 Western Thunderer

    What a novel idea Neil. Patented and production to start soon?

    steve :)
  6. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    Thank you Steve, no patent, no production, ideas should be shared not hoarded.
    steve1, Lancastrian and adrian like this.
  7. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    We left the tale of Northern Town with the test patch of ballast drying out. I'm happy to say that I was very pleased with the result, the dilute Copydex giving a firmer fix than I had hoped for while still remaining flexible. I've had three further sessions ballasting the track doing relatively modest sections so that it doesn't become a chore. To date the main approach tracks to the yard, the link to the exchange sidings and the sidings pointwork have been completed.

    yk 135.jpg
    It's fairly obvious that I need to waft over everything with some more matt black as some of the colour of the dyed sand ballast has leached out.

    Over at the industrial site similar progress has been made with all the inset track and wiring completed. The board is now screwed down in place. Buildings have started to acquire a more finished appearance too.

    yk 131.jpg

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    Over in the area between the approach tracks and exchange sidings I've roughly blocked up the height of the road and buildings to see how it might all hang together. So far I'm fairly pleased though I'll need some further structures behind, perhaps slightly taller ones, to hide the Truman Show style hole in the sky.

    yk 133.jpg

    yk 134.jpg
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  8. steve1

    steve1 Western Thunderer


    Did the Copydex still smell? I've always avoided the stuff as the dead fish stink makes me feel nauseous.

  9. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    Steve, you'll be pleased to know that the smell goes once the Copydex sets.
  10. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

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  11. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    Thank you Simon that's useful to know, however I have sufficient stocks of the smelly stuff to last several years.
  12. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    With my mojo bubbling away quite nicely I've had a few more sessions working on the layout. The far end of the yard now has it's track laid, point operating mechanisms connected and all the feed wires I need applied.

    yk 136.jpg

    yk 137.jpg

    In the second photo you might just make out troughs cut into the plywood at the far side of the tracks. these will take the wires to a terminal point where all will be connected up and concealed under the flat roofed building which I describes a few pages ago. Also tackled as part of the same program of work is the connection to the industrial complex I fitted last weekend.

    yk 138.jpg

    Since the photographs were taken I've done a bit of tidying up, concealing the wire runs in the ballast area with thin black card. I've also prepared some microswitches, soldering on the tails ready for installation and connecting up.
    Geoff, steve1, y6tram and 1 other person like this.
  13. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    Over the last month the British Railways part of the layout has had the track has been fixed, wired, ballasted and this afternoon, tested. As I predicted earlier it's been necessary to paint over the ballast. I ended up using Liquitex spray paint as I was just about out of Halfords and unlike Halfords it's available mail order. Rather than just get out my test tank engine I took some boxes of stuff out to the garage as I wanted to see how the look of the layout was shaping up. Here's the result.

    yk 142.jpg

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    yk 150.jpg

    Attached Files:

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  14. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    This last week I've pottered rather than grafted.

    Some of the time has been spent at the keyboard downloading and printing this image and some at my upstairs workbench sticking it to cereal box card. Like the art deco fruit wholesale warehouse in the post above it's done so that I can judge the composition at the right hand end of the layout.

    yk 151.jpg

    It may end up being moved further towards the rear of the layout as I'd like to include this long gone warehouse at the front edge of the layout here.

    Skeldergate warehouse 1.jpg

    Also ticked off this weeks to do list were buffer stops all round. These are nothing more sophisticated than the Peco examples which must date from near the beginning of time itself. They've been stuck together with Evo stick rather than just relying on a clip fit and have likewise been firmly fixed in place. Some of my mates shunt in quite a robust manner so it's as well to make sure all is tough enough to withstand the odd bump.

    yk 154.jpg
    Finally we see the engineering team heading off towards a cup of tea and a spot of dinner in the works canteen. Note that because Northern Town is set in the centre of God's Own dinner is taken at mid day and will be followed by tea and then supper. The only other proper meal will be breakfast, lunch is for effete southern jessies and is not mentioned hereabouts.

    yk 153.jpg
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  15. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    More gentle work, a half hour at a time. The road surface that you've seen in previous photos has been cobbled together from off cuts of mdf and ply just so as I could get an idea of what would work and what would look clumsy and contrived in the final version. If I'm honest the final version has been something I've been putting off for a while but the time had come to knuckle down and make a start.

    The zone around the exchange sidings was covered in lining paper and I made a couple of templates to help me set out road and footpath widths.

    yk 157.jpg

    Using these and with the structures in place to guide me I first drew out then cut out a paper template. Next I transferred the outline to a sheet of mdf the same thickness as the coal drops base which I ten cut out in sections with my jigsaw. While mdf this thick might seem like overkill, if I ever need to reach into the far corner of the layout to get at the track or point motor the area of hardstanding between the taxi office and the engineering works will be a useful strong flat place to steady myself. A thinner surface may well give way; I'm no lightweight. Here's the road surface in place, temporarily blocked up.

    yk 158.jpg

    yk 159.jpg
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  16. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    I just went off down a rabbit hole trying to identify the blue lorry. Is it a Rowe-Hillmaster, one of Liskeard's finest?
  17. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    I bought it a good few years ago and it's taken me a while to work out what it is. Thankfully the internet came to my rescue and I remembered it was a Base Toys model and a bit of googling tells me it's a Guy Warrior.
  18. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    Ah, that makes sense. :thumbs: The Rowe-Hillmasters were always a rare beast, even in their heyday at the end of the Fifties. It would make an odd choice for a mass-produced "toy" truck.
    Neil likes this.
  19. AJC

    AJC Western Thunderer

    The Motor Panels cab (whch is what that's meant to be) was generally a Guy feature. Rowe Hillmasters usually used a narrower version of the Jennings cab employed mostly by ERF which is quite a handsome thing. I have a Road Transport Images casting for one which will, one day, end up as a lorry.

    Last edited: 16 October 2020
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  20. Heather Kay

    Heather Kay Western Thunderer

    Now look again, I can see the Guy shape. Just! :)