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Plumpton Green
I already have one of the MSE 14 lever frames, and although I have been advised against using these (they are badly designed and drawn) I feel I can’t simply throw away this investment and start again. The downside is that I have to buy another 14 lever frame, plus a 7 lever frame. Will I regret this? I also need to decide how to operate the four locally operated turnouts in the yard which are not interlocked with anything.

At Scaleforum I have just bought a very useful book ‘Signalling and Lever Frames’ by Jeff Geary on signalling and interlocking, which includes a programme called Trax. This is very simple to use to create a signal and track plan together with a locking table, and then to operate the lever frames to check that the interlocking does what it should. It’s taken just a few hours to create a drawing of the proposed layout, and the locking table – and it seems to do what it should, so I think I’m ready to start cutting metal!

Building the up waiting room has not taken long, although I haven’t yet made the windows. Working from my drawing it’s only taken a few days to cut the main components and assemble it. I’ll put it to one side for painting at a later date when the other buildings are finished.

As a break from trackwork, I’ve also made the main components of the three buffer stops - something else to put aside for painting at a later date.




October 2012. Trackwork is proceeding very quickly – all the sleepers are in place, and most of the rail is in place on two of the boards. Making the crossing V’s and switch rails for the turnouts takes a bit of time, but there are only 15 to make, and we’re about halfway through.

The functional chairs are being glued to the sleepers using a strong plastic adhesive – Butanone, or Plasweld. This dissolves the plastic sufficiently, so that with the aid of some heavy-ish weights on top, the base of the chair ‘melts’ into the grain of the wooden sleeper, and makes a reasonably strong mechanical bond. The trackwork for Brighton Road was built like this, and has given very little trouble. If the track gauge needs adjusting, the bond can be broken with a scalpel blade, and subsequently rejoined.

If a stronger bond is needed, then a dab of Polypipe cement on the sleeper (and allowed to dry) before gluing down the chair, will provide an almost unbreakable joint.

I’m still a bit puzzled about one aspect of locking in the ground frame. From the up line there are two potential crossover routes – either to the down line, or into the yard, but only one ground signal. Did this cover both routes, or was only one permitted? I suspect the former, but I don’t know.

However, Ian White has turned up a couple of documents at Kew PRO relating to Plumpton. One of these is the Inspector’s report from the track modifications and re-signalling from 1891. By an amazing bit of serendipity this report recommends a change to the labelling of one of the ground frame levers, clearly indicating that one ground signal covers both possible routes.

Having sorted out this final bit of detail, progress on the ground frame locking frame has been very fast. With the aid of a milling machine and a few hand tools it’s only taken me a few days to get the basics done. It needs a lot of fine tuning to make it work smoothly, and I have still to make the associated lever frame.


I’ve started to think about the scenic elements of the layout, and what to use as ‘book-ends’. There aren’t any road over rail bridges round here so I’ll have to find something else. To the west there is a rail over-bridge over an accommodation crossing, and to the east there is a stream crossing under the railway. Although both of these are too far away to be within my 16ft, but they’re nice features so worth moving them inwards to be included on the layout.

A short walk and a few photographs later, and I have enough information to draw these two crossings. As a break from making track work Chris has made the wing-walls for the accommodation crossing.


Diary of a Railway Layout
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