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Plumpton Green
Whilst working on this end of the layout, we have also added the last few missing chairs and all the fishplates. More importantly (or at least with more visible effect) I have made and installed all the point rodding associated with the signal box - just the boardwalk in front of the signal box to add.


I have a few sheets of Colin Waites’ rodding supports and also Brassmasters. I had a trial run making some of each, and concluded that both designs are extraordinarily fiddly and difficult to make. Eventually I opted for the Brassmasters’ design, partly because they are smaller, and I think closer to scale size than Colin Waites’ effort, but more realistically because I don’t think I have enough Colin Waites to finish the point rodding on both the signal box and the ground frame, and they are no longer available The Waites etches have been posted on eBay for some other lucky modeller to wrestle with.

Finally, having got the electronics on the crossing gates working, I have turned my attention to the operation of the rotating ground signals. These have been through two versions so far: Fulgurex motors (too noisy) and Tortoise motors (difficult to adjust for 90 deg rotation). For the baseboard I’m working on, there are three ground signals, so a MERG Servo4 unit is ideal, easy to make and perfect for providing 90 deg rotation. The photo left shows the assembled kit in place under the base-board, with one of the adjacent relays used to close the switch which operates one of the servos. The photo right shows one of the servos fixed in place by a slightly modified MERG servo mount - a useful comparison between the size of a servo, and a Tortoise motor. There is more detail here.

If you’re interested in using electronics devices to operate a model railway, have a look at the MERG website.

March 2016 to August 2016
Not much activity on the layout for the past few months because I’ve been working hard on finishing a few locos and completing repairs to some of the older ones. However, in testing my engines I’ve been able to identify a few little niggles with the trackwork which I have been able to rectify.

I’ve done some more work on the crossing gates to get them working to my satisfaction - including replacing one of the electronics units which I managed to short-circuit. I’ve also continued with the replacement of Tortoise signal mechanisms with servos. The rotating ground signals are straightforward enough, but the semaphores have proved a little more difficult. A direct drive from the servo arm doesn’t work very well, because the required movement on the signal operating wire is so very small - less than a millimetre. This is only one or two steps of the servo, making the movement very difficult to control.

I’ve opted instead to use a lever mechanism to effectively gear down the servo movement, described in more detail here.

Whilst working on the electronics I’ve also fitted a smoke unit to the creamery chimney, controlled by a MERG timer. That’s prompted me to find and paint a couple of road wagons and some figures to add to the creamery scene.



Finally we have completed the D&S Sheldon & Cowan crane and its tender.

Next on my list of things to do is to improve the presentation of the layout - additions to the information displays.

September 2016 to January 2017
September and October were spent preparing the layout for the Tyneside Model Railway show - running the layout and improving its operation - trackwork and AJ couplings in particular. The layout ran reasonably well, but some improvement is still required - particularly the fiddle yards. We seemed to have more than our usual number of problems here, caused mainly by poor alignment of the transition track and cassettes. This was probably not helped by my decision to (yet again) relay the transitional tracks, but this time properly ballasted so that transition from scenic baseboard to fiddle yard was rather less intrusive.

On the left, before, and on the right, after.






We’ve also added the gate and sign to the private siding for Plumpton Brick and Tile Works. The gate uses yet more MERG electronics - an EZYpoints driver and servo.





Since the Newcastle show in November I’ve spent most of my time on converting the rest of the signals to servos, to improve their reliability and robustness.  I’ve also added the final running signal to the layout - the down home.

Details of how the running signals work is given here, and ground signals are here.
Diary of a Railway Layout
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