I’m not sure whether Brighton Road is much quieter than Pulborough, but the downside of camping mat is that it is not very stable, and we have had particular problems with rail joints across base-board joints.
For Plumpton, I’ve reverted to cork for the underlay to provide better base-board joints, but fixed down with synthetic latex glue (used for flooring) which doesn’t set hard like PVA. The track has then been glued down with the same adhesive, and because it dries very slowly, there is plenty of time to add ballast - this time using Carr’s and Greenscenes products (crushed nutshells I think) which is very light (in weight) and better colours I think. Before each track panel was laid we fixed the dropper wires, and drilled holes in the base-boards to suit.
It remains to be seen whether the use of synthetic latex glue and lightweight ballast is quieter than PVA and granite - it certainly should be. Laying track and ballasting at the same time is certainly quick - we have laid and ballasted all the track on two base-boards in just two weeks, complete with dropper wires.
All the track has been built on Templot templates, and I was a bit concerned that I would damage the track removing the paper templates, and particularly that the turnouts would lose their shape because they use interlaced sleepering which is inherently less rigid than more ‘modern’ trackwork using full length sleepers. My fears were not realised - using Pritt stick to fix the sleepers to the templates has been successful in that the template can be removed easily (much better than double sided sellotape). I think also that painting the track edges helped fix the functional chairs to the rail, and hence kept the turnouts reasonably rigid.
The lever frame is also now complete, with addition of the section controls and other switches at the front. I can now start wiring up all the levers, switches and cables, so that we can test the track, turnouts and signals as they are added to the layout.
July 2013. Lots of progress this month across all fronts.
Firstly I have finished wiring the control panel and lever frame. This has been quite an extensive task, fitting opposing diodes to all the microswitches in the lever frame (to give half-wave rectified AC, positive or negative, depending on the throw of the lever, to drive point and signal motors one way or the other). All the section switches and AJ magnet push buttons have been wired in, and I have also made made up all the cables connecting the lever frame/control panel to the layout, using 25 way ‘D-connectors’ for control wiring, and DIN connectors for power (15V AC, 5V AC and 21V DC) and earth. I have two earth networks on the layout, one for trackwork, and one other ‘technical ‘ applications.
I’ve also built the third of four baseboards. This has been a bit more complex than the first two because it features an accommodation crossing under the railway (in reality a ‘green lane’). This is now ready for laying track (which was built a while ago), so I’ve been able to start fitting dropper wires to the track ready to start laying in the next few days.
The first two base-boards are fully wired up and functional. All the trackwork is operable and Tortoise motors have been fitted for point operation. With everything wired up and connected together, I’ve been able to run the first loco on the layout, and check out the operation of parts of the lever frame (ie the bits on the two baseboards so far completed). Everything works fine from an electrical perspective, and the trackwork looks pretty good so far - just a couple of places where the rail joints are not properly aligned, and one section causing mysterious derailments, perhaps due to gauging problems. However, nothing to be concerned about at this stage, and all can be fixed once the other two baseboards are fully functional.
I’ve also fitted and wired up the AJ magnets on these boards. For Brighton Road we used some electromagnets made by another railway club (can’t remember which) which were effectively homemade. These have proved to be less than reliable at uncoupling, and only work about 50% of the time. In particular, they are not strong enough to uncouple a wagon from a loco, where the loco has a short, fixed coupling. In these circumstances, there is very little side movement available on the loco coupling, and hence quite a lot of down-force is required to reliably uncouple.
Sometime ago I bought an electromagnet from Wizard Models (MSE) with the intention of experimenting with it on Brighton Road. Unfortunately the core of the magnet only protrudes 13 mm above the base plate. The total track-base thickness for Brighton Road is about 25 mm (plywood plus camping mat), so the core is nowhere near long enough. Plumpton on the other hand has a 9mm ply top plus 3mm cork, so the 13 mm long core is not a problem.
The instructions say that the magnets are designed to work with 6-12V DC. I tried 6V DC (using a bridge rectifier with the 5V AC supply), but this did nothing at all. I then tried the the 21V DC supply with various power resistors, progressively reducing the resistance until I got to about 12V. This proved rather difficult, since these magnets have very low resistance, and hence draw a high current. At a voltage of about 12V these magnets seem to draw about 2A and since my transformer is not able to deliver 2A, the voltage drops very rapidly and everything gets rather hot. I still didn’t get very reliable results.