St Columb (or how to re-write history) The ideas for St Columb, a station on the Newquay & Wadebridge Railway, were formed thirty to forty years ago though despite some quite detailed plans being drawn up, never actually materialised - until now! It has varied down the years between being an extension of the North Cornwall Railway and a narrow gauge line. Now it is coming to fruition, it is the narrow gauge that has come out on top, though also including a standard gauge branch running from Padstow to St Columb. The premise is that after waiting for the North Cornwall Railway to proceed on from Padstow towards Truro, and being disappointed when that wasn't going to happen, the burghers of St Columb got together and approached Sir George Newnes to ask for his help to build a narrow gauge line, the Newquay & Wadebridge, between those two towns along the lines of the recently completed Lynton & Barnstaple line, though to a gauge of 2' 3". The line was duly built after which the North Cornwall Railway, fearing loss of revenue if traffic went to and from St Columb via Newquay and the GWR, eventually built a branch from Padstow to St Columb. The line, built on a shoestring by the same contractor as the L&B, J Nuttall of Manchester, opened with a motley collection of second hand locomotives and rolling stock, much to the displeasure of the local population. Upon the Grouping the Newquay & Wadebridge was absorbed into the Southern Railway, which did much to improve the permanent way and station facilities, but nothing to improve the rolling stock in use. Then in 1935 the Southern closed the Lynton & Barnstaple, re-gauged a couple of the Manning Wardle tanks (Exe and Taw), plus the better items of rolling stock, and transferred them from the L&B to the N&W. The rolling stock suffered from lack of maintenance during the war resulting in two of the engines needing to be taken out of service for heavy overhaul in 1946, so to help maintain services they bought a Baldwin 4-6-0T, 'Hummy', from the Ashover Light Railway when that line took it out of service. Come 1948 and the N&W is now a part of British Railways, Southern Region, though with an uncertain future as traffic wasn't picking up as expected in the late 1940s. Then the news of the Tall-y-llyn Railway's rescue inspired the Southern Region to re-visit the past and market the line as a tourist attraction. A pick-up in traffic, plust the age of the two "old ladies" prompted BR(S) to build a third engine to the Manning Wardle design, with the later form of cab as had been fitted to Lew. One of the Manning Wardles was repainted in original L&B livery and another in Southern livery whilst the third, named Lyd, was in BR black, along with the Baldwin. Map of the area The fainter dotted lines are the standard gauge line to Padstow above and the narrow gauge one to Wadebridge below, both in tunnels. So much for fiction......... The model is being constructed using three of the boards formerly used for my Boscarne Junction layout. It seemed, once having finished stripping and reconstructing them, that this was a more difficult task than was building new ones from scratch! The three boards are constructed so that they fold down into self-contained boxes which may be easily handled by one person - and will also fit in our car! A couple of photos of the boards in their storage or using modes below. This layout is being DCC operated, a first for me though I did assist my grandson with building one. As far as "it's only two wires" goes, hah! For the electrics I'm using a Digitrax DCS 51 All-In-One Throttle/Command Station/Booster with a DC Specialties PSX-2 Solid State Circuit Breaker with two outputs. One is the bus for the Narrow Gauge circuit and the other the bus for the Standard Gauge branch. The DCS 51 clips on to the back of the middle board and has just one connection to the layout. Something else I have salvaged from Boscarne Junction is the level crossing, which I was surprised, and pleased, to find has fitted into the board well. It's all very well drawing things on paper (and approximating in SCARM) but will it all really fit? That's the big question. Having laid the cork base for the hidden sidings and round to the front of the board, out came rulers and a pencil and the answer to that all important question was - yes. Phew! Next to see just how well it'll work I put some stock on the boards, which showed me that I could actually move the standard gauge about an inch forward, giving a little more space for the scenicing behind. Here is where it was at by June 2017: The view from the Wadebridge end of the layout The view from the Newquay end The controls on the left are for the level crossing. The blue switch is the gate lock that allows current to flow to the servo controllers whilst at the same time cutting off the current to the track, hopefully avoiding any accidents through trains hitting closed gates! The white switch operates the servos which move in sequence, first the one nearest the camera which controls the gate on the 'outside' of the track, then the other which controls the gate on the 'inside'. The box in front of them is to step down the voltage from 12v DC to 5v DC. These will, of course, all be hidden once the scenery has been built. The track was laid on board one, and all the electrics connected. What two wires? Above is the underneath of board 1. After this things went on hold for quite a while due to family circumstances, and really only got going again in October this year. Two big problems did make themselves apparent though, both now sorted. The first of which concerned a short circuit. The track on board one was wired up, tested and working satisfactorily but then suddenly started creating a short circuit. But where? Try as I might I couldn't pin it down, I even undid much of the wiring, then replaced it one connection at a time until the short circuit re-appeared. The culprit turned out to be one of the points where a tiny piece of metal chaff had lodged between one point blade and the frog section, though this could not be seen until I had gone so far as to lift the point having decided to replace it! Problem number two was to do with point motors. Due to the track plan not being optimised for the re-used boards it is not possible to have precisely placed under the baseboard motors in several locations so I opted for some above board ones on boards two and three. This was about the time that Cobalt released the Cobalt-SS above board point motors and as I'd been very pleased with the traditional analogue Cobalts I'd used previously, plus having a pretty small, quite easy to disguise, footprint, I decided to use them. Installation was not that difficult but the first problem to rear its ugly head was that unlike the previous Cobalt motors these only have one SPDT built in, which means that without additional relays I couldn't switch power to the frog area and also to the isolated sections leading up wrong road to the points. So I invested in some Cobalt REX relay extension boards. Boy, did this require a lot of wiring - so much for "DCC only needs two wires"! However, they did the trick with the SS control board sending the signal to the REX which in turn switched the power as required. Next thing, though, was the SS motors themselves are not as robust as I would like and infuriatingly had a habit of re-setting themselves. Setting them up in the first place wasn't too difficult but it is a real pain to have to go back under the board to set them up again. And again. Apparently I was very unlucky here as they are supposed to be very reliable, but mine certainly caused me more than a problem or two so I decided to change tack. I purchased six Cobalt iP Digital motors to replace six of the SS ones where the under-board motor can be located close to, though not exactly under, a point's tie bar, some utilising the 90° adapter that Cobalt sells. For the other four points (in the fiddle yard) I have used Gaugemaster BPPM20 point motors controlled by Train-Tech PC2 controllers with Gaugemaster GM500D relay switches to switch the power for frogs and isolated sections. I am given to understand that the release of the next batch of Heljan Manning Wardles may happen sooner rather than later so it will be good to be able to run them. First, though, I'll need to source some correct DCC sound decoders. I have had the Bachmann Baldwin "Hummy" for some time and have fitted it with the Digitrains decoder designed for this engine. The Manning Wardles do not yet, as far as I am aware, have a dedicated sound decoder though with the Ffestiniog built Lyd available for sound to be recorded I would hope one will soon be marketed. Alternatively, I understand that the Adams Radial sound decoder is a suitable choice. My original order was for three engines though I have now increased this to four - one in L&B livery, two in Southern and one in BR black. This latter was a welcome addition to the range as I had been thinking of repainting a green one - which may be thought of as sacrilege! I've been working on a track diagram to show the positions of the various points and signals with the route set being indicated by green LEDs. Points 1 to 4 are standard gauge, 5 to 10 narrow gauge with 7 to 10 being the "hidden sidings".. I did consider adding LED displays for the signals but decided just showing these for the points is all that is required as the aspect of the signals themselves will be more than obvious, so I've just noted their places and numbers, 11 to 13 being 'up' signals, 14 to 16 'down' ones, the distant being a fixed signal. It may seem a bit pretentious showing a Signalbox at the foot of the diagram but ..... that's where the Controls and Mimic board will be. By mid-November the wiring of Board 2 was complete (which means the Standard Gauge section was now complete) and I moved on to Board 3 where the rest of the track for the "hidden sidings" was been laid and the crossover points 7 wired up and working. Above are the works for the crossover points 7. The TrainTech DCC Controller is the black box in the middle whilst the Gaugemaster GM500 Relay Switches are the small green cards either side. The footprint for all these, and the wiring, is substantially less than for the Cobalt SS point motors that I gave up on. The white wires feed the frogs whilst the isolated sections ahead of a point when set the "right" way are fed by the black wire on the left side of the left hand GM500 This is a view of the crossover points 7 above the board. Not a pretty sight for "out in the country" but for the "hidden sidings" they are ideal and work with a nice positive click. The cork underlay tells where plans have been amended a couple of times! The two points 8 and 9 on Board 2 are similarly set up though the crossover points 10 on Board 1 are controlled by two of the analogue Cobalt point motors salvaged from Boscarne Junction, with Cobalt AD-2fx DCC decoders. The very last piece of track, the short narrow gauge siding from the station, was laid on 15th November. As can be seen, the glue beneath the track was still wet when this photo was taken! The point motors have since been fitted and the board is now ready for wiring.