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Sunday, 24 February 2008

Motors and Locos

This photo shows the outcome of my efforts at building a circuit. Modratec use SPST switches and they showed a circuit using an Op Amp that can power a Tortoise which would usually use a DPDT to switch the current. I don't really understand how it works but it does. A pair of LEDs were used to show which way the point had motored; these will be used to show the route chosen on the control panel for the layout.

Apart from a Chivers Russell on a slightly dubious Minitrix chassis this is my current loco stable. the Ruston and Hunslet were aquired through Ebay but the Avonside was built by me for a previous layout based on the Penrhyn Quarry Rly. The lining looks better in the photo than in real life! Unfortunately both the Ruston and Avonside are too late for the period I'm modelling but I'm sure they'll still come out for the odd run. I'm a big fan of the Hunslets but this one has two problems; firstly it has massive flanges which become a bit of an issue through some of my points with the increased back-to-back sizings and, secondly, it doesn't have outside frames like the original. I may think about trying to fabricate some and fitting extended flycranks but that's all for a much later day, especially as 0-4-0 Hunslets were not a feature of the NWNGR.
In the mean time I have a Chivers kit for the NWNGR Single Fairlie, Moel Tryfan. This has been bought alonside a new Dapol GWR Prairie chassis which is lovely. Runs increadibly, has fine rods and the chemically darkened metal looks great. Technically it's 2mm short and the drive should be to the rear axle rather than the centre one but I think it'll be ok. Even better is that it has fine flanges and a 7mm back-to-back so I won't have to adjust the wheels on the axles, phew!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Points, Signals and Lever frames

Trackwork has progressed but really isn't that interesting. More interesting is the way that my mind has started wandering. I was trying to work out how to arrange the interlocking and control of the points. Doing a bit of research I came across these lever frames from an Australian company called Modratec.

They come as a custom-made kit that you assemble. With a clever bit of software you design the interlocking and functions you want and they provide all the tappets and locks to give you a proper lever frame. I could then use this with the point motors, signals and even facing point locks to operte properly. They're not cheap but, compared with a lever frame from MSE or similar, they become quite reasonable for a load of operability. Even better my dad, as an FR trained signalman, would hopefully help with organising it and getting me to run it properly.

All of this has also led me to look at signals. Assuming Bethania is at the joining of 2 block sections and with the quarry line as well this starts getting a bit complex; incredibly complex compared to the NWNGR who had essentially given up on signals by the 1920s! Oh well, off to research whichever McKenzie and Holland signals they used and try to work out how it would operate.

Friday, 15 February 2008


Things have now started. The track-plan is now finalised and construction has begun. Colin Lea has rightly pointed out that this would have been an unlikely line in reality but from the point of view of a developed model railway I'm happy enough! It is true that about a mile of the Glaslyn has been compacted into something like 150m to enable the river crossing and entirely fictitious tunnel on the other side. Similarly it has removed the long horseshoe that would have taken the line to the SSSQ's incline rather than the branchline off to it that I have created. Isn't Narrow Gauge modelling great when you can just make stuff up. Hopefully there is a strong hint of reality in it and I shall try to be strict with myself in the future.

The first baseboard fram is now done. 2x1 with 1.5x1 strengtheners. It'll be open frame with a plywood cross section raised 3/4 of an inch above the frames to allow the Glaslyn to run underneath.

Exciting picture, eh? More interesting might be the trackwork. It's all being laid on copperclad strip using Peco Flat Bottomed Code 60 rail (Z gauge normally). To be similar to the original 41lb/yd rail would need to be about code 40 which is prob too small and nard to get hold of. The code 60 is available and relatively low profile. It is also high enough that the flanges won't run on the ballast! So far I've almost completed the point into the top siding and I've started putting together the main line crossover at the Beddgelert end. In another effort to increase realism I've moved the checkrails closer to the stock rails. It looks better but now I'll be pushing all my wheels out to give a 7.5mm back to back gauge. Almost to scale! Another advantage is using XTrkCAD I can produce templates for the turnouts involving odd curves and build them accurately away from the layout much like settrack. The tie bars are inverted copper clad strip with brass track pins pushed through from below and the blades soldered to them, as recommended in the 009 handbook. Plan is to use tortoise type motors to drive them and I'll aim to interlink the motors to give some form of interlocking.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Watkin Path/Khyber Pass

Further up the mountain the Watkin Path climbs alongside the South Snowdon Slate Quarries' inclines. Although this isn't going to be modelled I coudn't resist putting it in. For those that don't know this bit of the path was used as the Khyber Pass in Carry On Up The Khyber. So here's a piccie!