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Plumpton Green
Whilst I’ve got the woodworking machinery out I’ve decided to make the display boards - not part of my original plan, but only a few hours work with the band saw.

Having taking apart a significant amount of Brighton Road, I now have rather a lot of spare Tortoise motors. The ground signals on Plumpton are all driven by Fulgarex motors, but these are proving rather noisy to put it mildly. I’ve decided to bite the bullet and replace all ten with Tortoises -  a few more hours work that I hadn’t planned........

As we near the end of May, I still don’t have any running signals on the layout - an essential feature to fit in with the interlocked lever frame. I have two signals from Brighton Road which I can reuse - one is a short calling on arm, which can be fitted immediately, and the other is a taller signal which needs a new arm. The final signal will be very tall, and needs to be built from scratch.

May 26th - One signal fitted and wired up, with the second and third signals substantially complete. The lever frame has levers for all eight running signals (distant, home, platform starter, advanced starter in each direction), and my plan is to have repeater indications in the fiddle yards (using LEDs) so that train drivers can see all the signals, even though only the two platform starters are actually on the layout. I’m hoping that this will make operation much easier, particularly when I have the block instruments working as well.

I hadn’t intended to make these repeaters, but in a spare moment I put together a little test piece to see how things might work, and an hour later I have one finished panel - just needs wiring to the fiddle yard. The photo shows the ‘London’ fiddle yard with the up and down lines on the right and second from right respectively. The LEDs above show distant, home, platform starter and advanced starter (bottom up for the down line, and top down for the up line).



May 27th - Two more signals finished, installed and wired up, and all the signals on the two central boards tested under power.  

It’s getting a bit crowded under parts of the layout (photo right)- Tortoise motors for two turnouts, one ground signal, and (horizontally) for the two running signals in the photo (left)

Still a few things to do - mainly finish the second fiddle yard.....

May 29th - A bit of work on the second fiddle yard. The wood-work is finished, and a start has been made on preparing to lay the four sections of transition track between the layout and the cassettes.

June 2nd - Track laid, wired up and tested on the second fiddle yard. I now have all the components finished in my aim to get Plumpton Green to an exhibitable state within two years. The layout has been tested as it has been built, but it hasn’t yet been set up in its entirety with either of the fiddle yards, so the next stage is to set it up and give it a full test with full length trains - something to be done during the forthcoming week.

So what have we achieved in two years? Quite a lot I think:
- research, including history of the line, maps, plans and photographs, both current day and historic
- on-site measurement surveys.
- track-work designed, drawn on Templot, built, painted, laid, ballasted and wired up
- point motors for turnouts installed and wired
- buffer stops built and fitted
- lever frame and interlocking researched, designed, built, wired up and tested.
- base-boards and fiddle yards built
- display boards built
- stream and culvert completed, accommodation crossing completed
- station buildings and signal box substantially complete
- platforms built and fitted
- footbridge built
- basic landform and scenic work complete - embankments, fields, grass, fencing, hedges, and a few trees
- running signals and ground signals built and installed
- lighting, trestles and transport boxes modified from Brighton Road

However, still a lot to do - mainly finishing the buildings and adding scenic detail, not to mention the inevitable adjustments to trackwork to make sure it runs well.............

June 4th - The layout is now fully set up for the first time in the garage - back-scenes fitted, lights fitted, and all wired up. Time for some extensive testing..........

After an hour or so of testing, we have one broken wire, and a dead section of rail, one signal mechanism which is a bit flakey, one signal which doesn’t work at all, and one possible under-gauge section of track, plus a broken tie-bar. Not too bad. Fixed the broken wire, and the flakey signal mechanism and worked out why the other signal doesn’t work - something to fix tomorrow.

Diary of a Railway Layout
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