The Low Quay Yard

Discussion in 'Entries' started by Richard H, 12 August 2017.

  1. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    Hi Richard

    Sadly, unless I experience good fortune on the Lottery, I shall never have the pleasure of owning something as wonderful as this.

    I enjoyed reading your post and especially the possibility of a link to your entry. I agree it looks like a gaff-rigged cutter in full sail and although not a scale drawing, from its transom-hung rudder, I suppose it could be anything over 12’ or so in length, although in all likelihood between 20 and 30 feet overall. To my untrained eye, it looks like a working boat of some sort, possibly a Crabber or Oyster boat or even a Smack with its east coast location. You could be right about the reefing lines but I suppose it could be a ‘naive’ impression of the ripples in hung sails. Who knows.

    Going back to the Pilot boat in the photo, it’s incredible to think that once the pilot had transferred to the incoming vessel, it returned with a crew of merely a helmsman and a young boy to set the sails.

    I look forward to further progress.


  2. Threadmark: Cassettes, and keeping things on them
    Richard H

    Richard H Western Thunderer

    One of my traversers accommodates one fixed track and one cassette, and I have built a total of four cassettes of two different lengths to use with it. Rolling stock, though, has an inherent tendency to ... roll, and so the use of cassettes requires some means of inhibiting this unfortunate characteristic if we do not want to see trains behaving like lemmings.

    As a temporary measure (which may yet become a permanent solution), I've devised a simple, clip-on end-stop that will fit any of the cassettes and is cheap, quick and easy to make. The Mk1 version requires a sprung wooden clothes peg and a lolly-stick of decent quality. First dismantle and reverse the arms of the clothes page so that it acts a clamp with straight inner faces. (This is in any case a very useful way to making versatile clamps for small tasks.) Cut a small groove the width of the lolly-stick in one of the side faces of the peg and glue an appropriate length of lolly-stick into it, so that when the peg is clamped on vertical side of the cassette, the lolly-stick projects across the track at about buffer height, and essentially acts as a buffer stop. This clamp can be used at any point along the cassette, and thereby immobilise rakes of any length. See the first photo.

    Clothes peg cassette block Mk1 04 - demo - reduced for forum.JPG become

    The Mk2 version (below) is intended for use at the ends of a cassette; it has the 'buffer stop' in a different orientation and has the added refinement of a piece of foam padding on the outer arm of the peg. In this version a piece of 4mm ply replaces the lolly-stick, glued into a small housing cut in one arm of the peg:

    Clothes peg cassette block Mk2 04 - the clamp - reduced for forum.JPG

    The photos below show the clamp in use. It allows for some small variation in position but is essentially only an end stop. The inner arm of this particular peg is just narrow enough to miss the side of the vehicle - the arm could be further thinned if necessary.
    Clothes peg cassette block Mk2 01 - demo - reduced for forum.JPG

    Clothes peg cassette block Mk2 03 - demo - reduced for forum.JPG

    To give the photos a slightly more specific sense of scale, the width of the ply trackbed is 45mm.
    All of this activity, of course, is little more than an amusing diversion from the real job of tracklaying, which is going rather slowly.
    chrisb, Steve's Shed, jonte and 3 others like this.
  3. Richard H

    Richard H Western Thunderer

    ... there's also an even lower-tech solution, which doesn't actually require a clothes peg at all, nor even lolly-sticks - a cunningly-cut piece of foam pipe lagging has a reasonable braking effect on a rolling wagon, and can be placed at any point along the cassette:

    Clothes peg cassette block Mk3 - not a peg - reduced for forum.JPG

    Where's William of Occam when you need him?
  4. Threadmark: Track laid at last - and a compromise accepted
    Richard H

    Richard H Western Thunderer

    May 31st, and I've reached another milestone; the tracklaying is finished. Here's a photo to compare with the original plan posted on the first page of this blog:

    Track laid 04 - main board 180531 - reduced for forum.JPG

    I realised, once I'd started, that I had an unanticipated problem; my original intention had to use small radius Peco points which are only available in flat-bottomed rail with unprototypically close sleeper spacing, and to use the new Peco bullhead track for the rest of the trackwork to take advantage of the more protoypical sleeper spacing and a more prototypical rail section. It was soon apparent, though, that the different sleeper spacings simply looked wrong when mixed, especially given the number of short sections of plain track.

    Given that I have no realistic choice at this stage about the points, I considered different ways of using the bullhead track (for instance on the longer front sidings) but the effect was always an unsatisfying and rather disquieting visual jumble. In the end I concluded that neatness and consistency was more important than having accurate sleeper spacing in only parts of the layout, and I decided to adopt 'standard' Peco Code 75 flat-bottomed track throughout. This is essentially an '00-gauge' compromise and a result of my original decision to use proprietary track system.

    I ended up using a stock of track that I bought many years ago for a layout based on the Stadtbahn in Vienna. Although the track had been laid and electrified this became one of those unfinished projects with which my modelling career is littered. To finish the Low Quay Yard I had to use every decent length of track I had to hand, but luckily there was just enough, and to illustrate that, here's a photograph of everything that is left:

    Track laid 07 - what was left 180531 - reduced for forum.JPG

    What might appear to be subtle weathering on the sleepers, isn't - it's a layer of dust which corresponds to the age of the track.

    On the up side, the track works. To get from end to end of the layout a vehicle has to exit a traverser, cross two board joints, negotiate up to four turnouts and some relatively sharp curves, pass through two narrow apertures, and enter the other traverser, one of the tracks on the left-hand traverser being a cassette.

    To give an idea of the track between the left hand traverser board and the main baseboard, here's a photograph showing the board joint, a short length of track to link from there to the traverser, and the end of the traverser itself. In this picture the cassette (on the right in the photograph) is aligned with the siding it serves.

    Traverser LH - entry to traverser 01 - cassette track aligned 180531 - reduced for forum.JPG

    The fixed track on this traverser (on the left in the photograph above) aligns only with one of the entry tracks, whereas the cassette road can be aligned with either of the entry tracks.

    The photograph below shows the same joint from the baseboard side; the wagon is on the running track and the traverser is set to align its fixed track with the running line. The track on the left of the picture is the end of the front siding, which can only be used beyond the board joint if the cassette is aligned with that track, and the photograph shows that the cassettee ia not aligned.

    Traverser LH - entry to traverser 03 - fixed track aligned - reduced for forum 180531.JPG

    The most unforgiving test I could devise to check the trackwork was to use a single, very light (and very expendable) wagon as a test vehicle, and persuade it to hurtle along every route on the layout at the highest speed I could contrive. Happily, I found that even when projected at the speed of an APT it would stay on the tracks, running from end to end of the layout and having to be caught at the end of the fiddle yard to prevent any emulation of that lemming behaviour mentioned in my last post. Not at all like the scale speed operations seen on fine-scale layouts, but great fun.

    So, I have track that works. The next major step is to install point motors, electrics and electronics, and get the DCC working - a whole new area for me. Then, all I have to do ....
    Last edited: 2 June 2018
  5. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    All very neat, Richard, and the sleepers of the Code 75 look quite wide on the entry to the cassette track in that last shot.

    Judging by your masterful efforts thus far, I’m satisfied you’ll do the Peco proud.

  6. Richard H

    Richard H Western Thunderer

    Thanks for your encouragement, Jonte.

    I'm currently wrestling with cabling etc. DCC is a new world for me, so progress is slow.
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  7. Threadmark: Electics and electronics
    Richard H

    Richard H Western Thunderer

    We're entertaining friends this weekend, so the railway had to be taken off the workbench and put back in its normal habitat, and my "Light Railway Workshop No.1" was once again relegated to its less exciting secondary role as "the spare bedroom". This was the first time the layout has been re-erected after rebuilding the fiddle yards as traversers - it worked, and everything fitted as it should. I know that this is as it should be, and that there was no rational reason to anticipate a problem, but I was deeply apprehensive that I'd missed something, or made some fundamental miscalculation, or the foundations of the house had moved, whatever. Anyway, my fears proved unfounded and my sense of relief was almost as profound as my anxieties (it never quite catches up).

    Before this I had managed to determine a location for the Gaugemaster base unit underneath the baseboard and fix it in place. People who read the early stages of this blog may remember that I had made a cunningly-contrived housing for the Gaugemaster and the switch panel, which would sit on the front of a fiddle yard; this cunning contrivance went the way of most Cunning Plans when I converted the said fiddle yard to a traverser. I belatedly decided that integrating the electrics and electronics into the main board was more in the spirit of a cameo layout anyway (thereby rather dubiously reclaiming the moral high ground) and set about working out how to do it.

    Not as simple as it sounds, for the stylish Gaugemaster base unit has no fixing points, but as the operating (and relatively valuable) heart of the layout it needs to be secure and safe, and it needs access for connections at both ends. It also requires its own power source. I realised, though, that as an electronic device with no moving parts it could operate upside down, standing on its side, or even "the right way up". (This seems to work in the International Space Station, so there's at least a chance that it should be OK on a small model railway.)

    The solution was to identify a site under the main board where it was safe, accessible, and adequately clear of other structures, wiring runs or anything that might need maintenance or attention, and then to tie it in place. In the absence of fixing points, I used cable ties and cable tie mounts, like these:

    Gaugemaster system mounted under baseboard 06 - 180607 - fixings - reduced for forum.JPG

    These are readily available, cheap, easy to use, self-adhesive but with holes for a reinforcing screw, and very strong. They also, by chance, fit rather well around the feet of the Gaugemaster, which makes it easy to secure the unit against lateral movement. The next photograph below shows the base unit in place, with the power block mounted nearby using the same technique.

    Gaugemaster system mounted under baseboard 01 - 180607 - overview - reduced for forum.JPG

    The mains supply is clearly marked and 240v wiring kept as short as possible. The yellow cable is a 'tail' to connect the mains input. The Gaugemaster power source is mounted on a small ply panel fixed over the drawer runners which support one of the fiddle yards (but removable if necessary). The next photographs shows more detail of the mounting system:

    Gaugemaster system mounted under baseboard 03 - 180607 - detail - reduced for forum above.JPG

    Six cable tie mounts are used under the Gaugemaster base unit, each reinforced with a screw. The four mounts at the corners locate against the Gaugemaster feet to prevent lateral movement, and the ties are narrow enough not to impede ventilation to interfere with the slide switches.

    Nothing will get done over the weekend, but getting to this point feels like progress,
  8. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    Simple but brilliant, Richard. Pleased that it all works perfectly too.

    May I ask why you chose Gaugemaster? I presume it gives excellent slow running performance, essential no doubt for a small layout.

    I have an older unit of theirs but performance in that respect isn’t as good as it could be. A couple of years or so ago, I purchased a feedback type of controller from a smaller manufacturer (Black Cat?) that works off an AC output and which is wired up to my American HO layout. It gives exceptional running with my Bachman GP38, so much so thatI’m thinking of removing it and using it for my next British based layout. However, I have been toying with the idea of buying another controller especially for it when the time comes, and have considered going back to Gaugemaster as they seem bullet proof and reasonably priced.

    As you’re the owner of a newer model, Richard, I’d value your opinion but in your own time of course, especially with your busy weekend ahead.

    Many thanks,


    Edit: Just realised, this is DCC isn’t it? Doh! Please ignore the above then, Richard, as I’m still back in 1066 with my DC stuff. Jonte.
  9. PaulR

    PaulR Western Thunderer

    That all looks incredibly neat Richard. It illustrates what a wonderfully diverse hobby this is. You have a knack for spotting something in B & Q (which I would walk straight past) and seeing a use for it.
  10. Richard H

    Richard H Western Thunderer

    Hi Jonte - apologies for the very slow reply. Thanks for your comment about neatness - I try to keep things neat because otherwise I get easily confused at later stages, and the neatness helps me think things through. The disadvantage of all this is that I'm slow, slow, slow!

    Yes, I'm using DCC, but also struggling with some of the concepts - I'm hoping that the practice proves much easier than reading about the theory suggests!

    I know you said to ignore your question, but the answer to why I opted for Gaugemaster is that it seems to be fairly widely-used, and I could talk to the people at their stand at Warley - but also that in the end I had to opt for something and I do not have the technical understanding to make a really informed judgement about different systems. (To be perfectly honest, I don't really understand half the words used in the digital world.) I suppose that at the lowest level, opting for Gaugemaster was a "best guess" for a first step into DCC.
    jonte likes this.
  11. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    Hi Richard, and no apology needed, but thank you for your kind response anyway.

    With your claims of slow progress, and lack of technical know-how and terms, your response could easily have been written by me, believe me. However, I think you underestimate yourself as evidenced by your excellent continuity in the progress department to date, which at worst is steady.

    Your reasons for opting for Gaugemaster are as good as any, and perhaps when you’ve more time, you could post a short video of the Prodigy’s performance for those of us at the ignorant end of the spectrum ;)

    Keep up the good work.

  12. Simpas

    Simpas Western Thunderer

    Richie, good to see you at RailexNE last weekend (how long has it been?) and looking forward to seeing more of this - crack on...!

  13. Richard H

    Richard H Western Thunderer

    Hi Mick,
    Sorry about the slow reply - I haven't logged on for ages. Yes, it was good to see you again. I'm sorry I had to dash off at the end of our conversation - I realised that I was running over the time I had available before setting off for a concert that afternoon. Thanks for the encouragement. It looks as if your trip to Wells went well - many congrats on having Callerton in such an excellent state,
  14. Threadmark: DCC and other updates
    Richard H

    Richard H Western Thunderer

    My recent quietness resulted from my struggle to install and begin to come to terms with DCC. Despite having read about it I soon discovered that I had very little real understanding of the actual practice of DCC. However, thanks to the kindness, tolerance, guidance and good advice offered by the chaps at DCCConcepts, I now have a working layout, albeit one that uses DCC at a pretty basic level. This also involved building a new design of control panel which can be mounted in either of two different locations, primarily for home use but with a different location for use should the layout ever reach an exhibition. I found myself unable to focus on other aspects of the layout until I had the DCC sysem and all the other electrics/electronics working.

    So, the track has power and the test locomotives move under control, and the digital point motors points driving the successfully modified points are operated from a mimic control panel fitted with LED route indicators. The LED layout lighting is in place. I have a power take-off dedicated to a rolling road, and a programming track fitted with a different sort of connector to those on the main layout, so that it is physically not possible to connect the programming track to the main track circuit and thereby blow up the Gaugemaster. Although the wiring underneath the baseboard is horriby amateurish I can follow its function and maintain/repair it should it become necessary, and everthing is contained under the one main base board.

    Wiring under baseboard - 180714.JPG

    It was chastening - and to some extent depressing - to realise that some aspects of my original planning simply did not work, and required either modification or a complete re-think as I went along. Perhaps the most visible example of this was arrangement of tracks in the left-end fiddle yard; after empirically testing and re-evaluating the design concepts in practice (which really means, "playing with the layout a bit") I decided to (a) ensure that both the exits from the layout aligned with a track on the traverser at the same time, and (b) discard the cassette idea in favour of fixed tracks, which required me to modify the traverser itself.

    Having got to that stage a couple of weeks ago, I then felt able to tackle some scenic work, and opted to start by kit-bashing a small trackside goods store. I'll describe this and current projects in a separate posting.
    Last edited: 18 August 2018
  15. Simpas

    Simpas Western Thunderer


    Now I know you understand the twang so "keep a haad youngun an crack on, thiz deein champion...!" (I think you're doing famously here)

    Keep this to yourself mind - I confess to no in depth knowledge of DCC using it simply to control the trains with turnouts and most other things that might be persuaded to move being prompted to do so either by 12v analogue or manually, keep it simple I say.

    Power to your elbow or whatever else it is that gets you modelling, the idea is to enjoy yourself - well done.

    Mick S.
  16. Threadmark: First two buildings
    Richard H

    Richard H Western Thunderer

    It's almost a month since my last posting; I'm a slow worker anyway, but that rather fraught month has included some major household re-decoration, family commitments, and a couple of "interesting" domestic plumbing emergencies. Progress on the Low Quay has therefore been limited but I can now report that my first two 3D buildings are complete. The photos below show them painted in a base colour; they will be weathered at the same time as other structures to help achieve a coherent appearance.

    The larger building completely masks the "hole in the sky" through which the rear siding exits the layout at the right-hand end, while the smaller wooden building partially masks the exit of the main running line at the right hand end, and distracts attention from it. There will be another structure to help mask the actual hole. The bulk and height of the larger building also creates a strong visual "full stop" at that end of the layout.

    Hasties Building 180912 01 - reduced for forum.JPG

    The building is based upon, but is not an entirely accurate copy of, the headquarters of R. Hastie & Sons, trawler owners, chandlers and fisheries. The original was built in 1913 on an irregular site to replace an earlier building destroyed by fire. The visible end of the model is a fairly close copy of the prototype and the general structure of the building with its large lift-tower is also representative, but the side walls are not prototypical, the side steps and entrance are an invention, and the entire structure is modelled as a mirror image of the original. It is constructed entirely in plastic (largely Wills' rendered concrete) with windows modified from Wills products. Parts of the building that will not be seen by the viewer are not modelled.

    Hasties Building 180912 05 - reduced for forum.JPG

    Detail is yet to be added to the roof, which was used for making and repairing large fishing nets, hence the need for the lift and the staircase access to the roof - the net-making clutter will help disguise the fact that the building is truncated by the backscene.

    The lower, wooden building represents a small goods store owned by the railway company, and is a deliberate contrast to the mass of the concrete building. In the imaginary world of the Low Quay Yard, this shed is thought to have been re-built by the Blyth & Tyne company when they acquired and developed the line, the original structure having been associated with the Whitley waggonway. It is painted according to the pre-1937 LNER colour schedule. Squeezed into a very narrow site, it accommodates the limited traffic in small consignments, most of the quayside traffic actually being handled at the locations of the various industries. It lies on a siding that originally led to a boatyard, but was truncated when the boat-building ceased and now serves only the railway goods store.

    Hasties Building 180912 03 - reduced for forum.JPG

    The goods store is constructed from parts of two Wills generic small goods store kits and additional plastic sheet representing the additional weatherboarding and the English Bond brickwork of the plinth. It is modelled with front and rear doors open and some interior detail (the goods inside are HO continental details left over from an unfinished earlier project.) so that the viewer can look through the shed to see a locomotive passing behind it. This is seen in a photograph taken during construction in unpainted condition:
    Goods shed development 180804 03 - interior with engine passing - reduced for forum.JPG

    Caveat: the photos show the buildings simply placed in their respective locations. They will only be fixed in place as the track ballasting and the surrounding ground levels and textures are developed and put in place. Once in place, ancilliary details will be constructed, such as a stock yard for Hastie's and a small crane somewhere along the goods store siding.

    While making the model of Hastie's building I have realised that my initial estimate of the scale of my scenery was wildly inaccurate - essentially I had lost my intuitive sense of scale. As it has slowly returned, I have been forced to modify my ambitions for the scenic area in the centre of the layout. My next focus will be the view-blocker at the left end of the layout and the frontage of the range of 18thC buildings lying west of the Newcastle Arms at that end. This will "anchor" both ends of the scenery and help me to determine the detail of the central area ... I hope.

    It's quite a relief to find that signing up for the competition has had the desired effect in helping me to reach this stage in the layout; while there's a huge amount yet to do, parts of it are now taking shape and becoming intrinsically rewarding.
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  17. PaulR

    PaulR Western Thunderer

    The concrete building is very dramatic and imposing. It's all beginning to take shape Richard and looks fantastic. I'm really interested to see how the layout of buildings and scenery develops with your cameo. I know exactly what you mean by recognising the scale of the setting in a cameo layout. How long would it take a 4mm character to walk the length of a layout 4'3" long - less than five minutes?
    Lyndhurstman likes this.
  18. Richard H

    Richard H Western Thunderer

    Thanks, Paul - you're absolutely right about the scale issue, and your question set me thinking; I reckon that a 4mm character with a dressmaking pin up his trouser leg would walk the distance easily in 5 minutes, and still have time to (a) disentangle himself from any trawl nets lying around, (b) trip over a couple of fish boxes, and (c) walk into a lamp-post while leering at the housemaid at the Newcastle Arms (a thoroughly kind and decent young lady who suffers daily from the dichotomy of having the soul, morals and aspirations of a good, Presbyterian girl trapped in the body of a particularly voluptuous Goddess, a complexity not fully recognised by the average, lusty young deep-sea trawlerman of the 1930s).
    Last edited: 13 September 2018
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  19. PaulR

    PaulR Western Thunderer

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  20. Simpas

    Simpas Western Thunderer

    Very well done Rich, this is coming along very nicely and oh, I do wish I could write such prose.....
    az away off doon the quay t see if ther's owt knockin aboot - fillys tha knaas...! (I'm off to do some talent spotting at the fish quay..)

    Mick S.