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Plumpton Green
I’ve also started to look at how to make the signals. The photographs left and right show two alternative height signals for the down platform starter - standard height, or very tall. The tall signal could be easily seen over the footbridge, but would be very difficult for the enginemen to see from below the signal, waiting for the right of way. The left hand, slightly out-of-focus, shot seems to show a tall signal with no ladder to get to the top of the post. However, there is a dark shape at about head height at the bottom of the post which could be a rotating lamp co-acting with the signal arm, to make it easier for the enginemen to see. More research needed I think, before I decide what to build.

April 2013. Not a lot done in April because of holidays. However, I have now finished the lever frames and locking frames, completing the catch handles, painting, final assembly, and adjustment of the locking frame. I’ve also fitted the microswitches, driven by the levers, which will activate the electric motors for points and signals.

Having re-assembled it, there are a few bits that needs a little adjustment, but nothing serious. I think the next phase is to actually use the lever frame, pulling levers appropriate for particular train movements, to make sure it is robust, and that nothing will break when it is finally wired up and attached to a functional model railway.




In addition to the lever frame, Chris has been working on the footbridge. It’s not an easy kit to build, but it is quite a complex prototype. However, progress has been made, and the over-bridge and steps are more or less complete. The supporting stanchions on the real Plumpton footbridge are a little different from the kit, so a bit of scratchbuilding is required. The photo (right) shows the main span and supports more-or-less complete.

One rather curious feature is that the bracing wires on the stanchions are part buried in the platform surface (see photo left). I’m not sure why this would be, unless perhaps the original platform was considerably lower than it is today, and when platform heights were raised towards the end of the 19th century, the bridge was simply left in position, and the new platform surface built around it.


May 2013. With the arrival of some warmer weather I’ve been able to get outside and start building the baseboards. Both Pulborough and Brighton Road used 12mm ply, for sides, ends and tops and are cross-braced from corner to corner with more 12mm ply. At 900mm wide and 1200mm in length (longer for Pulborough) they are heavy and awkward to move around. The boards for Plumpton are smaller (1200 by 600 mm) and I’ve decided to use 9mm ply, except for the ends which will be 12mm.

The most important elements of baseboard design are: to prevent the boards twisting; to make sure that the tops don’t sag, and to make sure that the ends are true, square and level (so that the rail joints across the baseboards are trouble-free).

The corner to corner bracing on Brighton Road has prevented twist and sag, but caused a few problems when trying to fit point motors under the baseboards - and finding that the bracing is in the way. For Plumpton I’ve developed a slightly different approach. I have used cross-bracing , but it isn’t corner to corner. The photo of the underside of one of the boards shows what I have done. In this example, the bracing is central, but it could have been moved in either direction to avoid crossings and signals etc, and would still deliver the aim of preventing twist. It also provides support to the board top to prevent sag, and the other (perpendicular) struts provide further support.

This method of bracing also provides support for the baseboard sides, which can thus be thinner (9 rather than 12mm thick).

I’ve kept the ends at 12mm because these need to be absolutely flat to ensure a good joint, and also need to be thick enough to fix the dowels (obtained many years ago from the EM Gauge Society).

June 2013. With two baseboards complete we can now start laying track - a year to the day from when we started the layout. There are many approaches to laying track, and I think I’ve tried most of them, with greater or lesser degrees of success.

For Pulborough we used a cork underlay, fixed down with PVA, and then glued the track in place (with PVA), and then finally ballasted with granite using dilute PVA (with a little detergent to reduce surface tension) dropped onto the ballast. This worked ok but is very slow to do, fairly noisy in operation, and heavy. Dropper wires were fixed after the track had been laid, but before ballasting.

For Brighton Road we used a different approach. The underlay was camping mat (in the hope of reduced noise). Track was laid and ballasted simultaneously using PVA. This is possible with plastic underlay because the PVA doesn’t soak in and dry immediately - there is enough time to lay and align the track, and then apply the ballast. Finally, dropper wires were added. We used granite ballast again.
Diary of a Railway Layout
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