Saturday, June 4, 2022

Container depot

With all the track now laid on the layout it was time to re examine to see how it all works together. A purchase of 13 bogie container wagons gave a reason to incorporate sidings somewhere on the layout to create some shunting interest. Ideally both inside and outside corners are ideal for this purpose. The container sidings were laid out on the inside of the curve and were within easy reach for shunting.

Early design days

As can be seen by the above photo the outside of the curve will have a siding for cement and a private siding general goods. Having a siding that would only have capacity for 10 container wagons meant that a shunt would be required to load/unload the remaining three wagons. This is not a problem as it adds interest and a lot more shunting required.

Two sidings for containers

While the idea of shunting to unload the 13 container wagons was ideal and added interest , with a growing fleet of wagons it was considered more ideal to provide extra container wagon capacity in the actual container area. To achieve this an extra siding could be attached to the front of the existing two sidings laid.
Can we squeeze in an extra siding?
It was easy enough to attach the timber for the extra siding and the end result turned out for the better. The only downside was that the control panel only shows two sidings. This is not really a problem as the points to these sidings are hand thrown.

A wye point would lead into the third track

The new Y point in position

The third track to the container depot came off the dead end track closest to the edge of the baseboard. This was the only work around to get the extra capacity. Not 100% ideal as to shunt the inside siding this track has to be clear enough to get the required number of container wagons into the siding. Again it adds some interest to shunting. Luckily there was enough room behind the control panel to squeeze in this extra track

The third container track now in place

It was fairly straightforward to add the extra track and next job was to add some paving around the tracks. This was done by using cork sheeting which is easy to cut and takes colouring well. As a guide to cutting out the cork sheeting the top of the rails were painted and then the cork rolled over the paint as a cutting guide. Afterwards the paint can be cleaned off.


Cork sheeting is laid between and around the tracks

I think the cork works well and the sheeting was purchased from the Spotlight store. It is certainly easy to colour. I decided to go for a bitumen look rather than doing a concrete finish.


Cork in place ready for colouring


Colouring added and ballast added to inside track

Marvellous how hindsight works. In the above picture I have laid solid loading areas around tracks 1 and 2, what I should have done is have the loading areas around the inside and outside tracks and have the middle road ballasted and available for the overflow of wagons. This would have meant loading on the edge track and further loading on the inside track where the ice cream bucket is. Oh well live and learn.


Weeds are starting to grow already and two dogs turn up


AN8 has the honour of shunting the first container train

There is a lot more detail to go into this area, such as containers, lighting etc etc. That will be on another blog in the future.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

The Last Bit

 Well finally the last and most important bit of the puzzle has been completed. That bit is the liftout section that completes the double track around the room. It is only a short piece that lifts out across the doorway. This then allows access to the room when the layout is not in operation.

This section has a facing crossover on it which allows trains on the outer circle to crossover to the inner circle. This will be used mainly for locomotives heading towards the loco depot. At the moment it is not powered but the panel has provision for its use, the buttons already in place. It is planned to use top mount Peco point motors as it will be easier than mounting them underneath.

Liftout section in place and outer track under construction

Facing crossover in place

Cork is laid under the main line tracks mainly to provide a shoulder for the ballast. At each end of the liftout section the track has been soldered to printed circuit board to ensure a stable link between each baseboard, so far it has remained stable and still lining up despite the recent rain which hasn't effected the timber.





As can be seen in the above photos 'safety boards' have been installed along the edge of the liftout section as a definite safety requirement. A derailment or a bump or a misalignment across the join could result in the train heading towards the floor. Better to be safe than sorry.
One end of the liftout has a tapered edge that easily allows the section to be lifted out from that end.
A rather large white bolt lock has also been installed as another safety measure as can be seen. Once the bolt is secured across the unit is locked into place. Unless a smaller tight fitting replacement can be found this will have to do for now. It will be painted and blended into the scenery.
Two VR B class locos wait for the last section to be built, then trials begin.
So now the layout has been completed around the room and all that is left now is to start running a few trains. The hard part has been done.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Board Number 6

 Finally board Number 6 has been reached. This board connect to the long board 5 and is where the tracks fan out after crossing the liftout section across the door. There is also the need to lower the tracks down to zero level to match up with the level across on board number 1.

This meant the grade had to start lowering or raising dependent on direction at the end of board 5 just before coming around the 90 degree corner. This lead to some awkward carpentry but it worked out okay.



Board No 6 is secured into place

This baseboard has been made and bolted to board 5 the long straight. Towards the door it was necessary to actually screw into the timber of the doorway. This was to hold this board in place as it was to hold the liftout section across the doorway and I didn't want any extra movement. A single leg is sufficient to hold the rest up.



Boards 5 and 6 finally joined

As can be seen in the above photos I have continued to use cork under the main line but not the relief or other sidings. This also helps define the mains from the other tracks visually and they will be ballasted. Printed circuit boards have also been placed across the joints. It is proposed to solder the rails to the pc board but not cut at this stage. That will happen one day when the need for dismantling takes place.


Trial laying of the tracks

Before any track is secured down, loose lengths of track and paper points are laid out to visualise how it will all go and more importantly - fit.

It is intended to fit a coal siding on the track closest to the wall. This track veers slightly away from the main to give room for a coal loader, what it will eventually be or look like is anyones guess at this time. There is a shunting neck at the end of the loop as can be seen in the  photo above. This coal siding can be accessed from either direction so it is possible for coal trains to be run either way.


Pardon the mess but we are getting there

Peco curves points are put to good use on this layout. Straight points just wouldn't work and there is also something nice about the flowing curve using curved points. The points on the board have been all motored and controlled from a panel at the start of board 5 near the window.


With the mess gone the board start to look a lot better, don't worry it was only removed for the photo. Another job to do is the insertion of the missing sleepers, there always seem to be plenty hanging around. They also come in handy as spacers to get the tracks completely parallel. It seems a sleeper width is enough to give two tracks plenty of clearance.


So the basics are done and it just needs the liftout section to be done to complete the full circuit. Although the liftout section will be the smallest board the tolerances will be critical.

So we will let you know how it goes when it is done.






Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Long Board

 As mentioned in the previous blog Board No 5 is a long 3.2m baseboard that has the mains and relief roads plus two roads for storage. Mid way down the board is a crossover that takes the outside track to a future loader for the coal train.

Just the shear length of this long board seemed to chew through a box of track in no time. Some second hand track was available and this was used mainly in the sidings, leaving the new for the mains and relief lines. Once the outer track for the relief line that leads into the coal siding was laid it was just a matter of equal spacing the next set of tracks towards the front. I used offcut Peco track sleepers as spacers and also a 600mm ruler to ensure the track was straight.

So it was fairly straight forward doing this board and won't require a lot of scenery work to complete it. It is planned just to have the ballast for the mains and dirt for the sidings. A line of telegraph poles will probably complete this section.

Here is a series of photos that shows the progress on baseboard No 5.

Track laying on board 5 has begun

You need a straight edge to get straight track

Railmotor is sitting inside the coal siding

The two steam locos so far on the layout

Looking down board 5

Track is all laid on Baseboard 5

42220 heads out of the coal siding with a train


Sunday, September 5, 2021

The Home straight

 The corner track that sits over the server has virtually been laid. On the inside corner will sit a two road container depot sidings. The head shunt for these two sidings will come off two dead end roads that run down the inside of the long baseboard that sits on the opposite side of the room from the loco area. The photo below shows how the tracks will be laid out. This will also form the control panel for the points on this side. It has been decided that only the crossover and points to the loops will be powered. Other siding will be hand operated as they are within close reach of the edge.

Schematic for freight sidings

The control panel shows that there will be seven tracks across the long section of baseboard. Unlike the two separate baseboards that form the loco area on the opposite side, this baseboard is just over three metres long. This is partly due to the fact that a bed needs to fit in the room somewhere and the less legs there the better. Once again these boards were constructed outside where there were no obstructions. Pine was used for the framework which is easy to work with. The top was fitted with ply and painted to seal the surface. The colour was just left over house paint and colour was irrelevant as it will eventually be covered up.
Frame work constructed

Top is covered with ply and painted


The corner module was taken outside once again and laid up against the long baseboard No 5. This was done so that the tracks could be laid over the two boards to see how the track layout will go. The tracks leading to the container depot will start on board 5 and cross the join between boards 4 and 5. The only way to get the right positioning for this was to have the boards sitting together and the only place at this stage was outside. The adjoining tracks on baseboard 4 in the corner needed baseboard 5 to be finished and set up to be able to run the tracks across the joint. This allowed positioning of the printed circuit board under where the tracks would eventually be soldered and cut for removal one day.

Setting out the tracks to see how it all fits

Looking down the long board No 5
As can be seen in the photos the tracks into the container depot come off the Down Through road. This will mean to shunt this siding there can't be any train in this road to block access. These sidings will provide some interesting shunting and take away the boredom of just going around in circles. If there is a container train running anti clockwise then it will need for the locos to run around and then shunt the train into the various roads, any overflow container wagons will need to be placed in other siding to wait their turn to be loaded/unloaded.

Container train on the other hand running clockwise will just use the crossover on board 4, run into the down through road and then shunt back into the sidings. So two scenarios for the two directions.

Track laying progresses
Once I was happy with how the track went across the joins and the baseboard had it coat of paint, legs were made and the board moved into the room to be butted up against board 4. At this stage looking around the room is was good to see how the layout was progressing and after the tracks are laid on this board there is only one other board plus the liftout section to go.

The first track to be laid across the join was the Up relief track. This then allowed the remaining tracks towards the edge to use this track for spacing. The spacing was done using many offcut sleepers as spacers, this seemed to work well in conjunction with a long steel ruler. You often see layouts with track all over the place and not straight, how hard is it to use a straight edge and make it look right?

Tracks are finally laid across the join and onto board 5
The above photo shows how all the tracks fan out across the two boards. As it was not possible to extend baseboards into the centre of the room it was necessary to have long storage roads along the long wall. And having this baseboard so long meant one set of joins and legs less which had to be good. The use of the diamond crossing adds some interest to the trackwork and I thinks looks good. You can also see the microswitches installed to provide power to the frogs. They will be eventually covered with scenery when that stage is ready.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

In the corner

 After constructing the relatively easy two track narrow section that is situated at the rear of the monitors on the desk, the next section is also custom made to fit above a computer server. This is also where the layout will reach the maximum height which also allows a grade to be built. 

This board is designed on the corner to fan out from the double track across the join to a multi track yard that will run the length of the room and provide tracks for storage, an up and down relief road. Also two industry sidings have been provided into the corners. One will be for cement wagons and the other for a private industry. It is planned to serve louvre vans and will take about two wagons. And in the inside corner it is planned a container depot with two dead end sidings. The head shunt for these will require that siding to be vacant so that the container wagons can be divided and shunted into the two tracks. As there are currently more container wagons than the sidings can hold it will be necessary to hold the overflow in the storage sidings until the others have been unloaded or loaded and then shunted into position. This all adds to the operation interest.

Corner baseboard has been made


The corner board

All lined up for a feed

A ritual that happens from morning until dark is the feeding of king parrots where bowls of sunflower seeds are put out once their squaking is heard. There have been up to 14 at a time and it is true what they say about the 'pecking order' They will move around the bowls and squak at each other until they finally settle down and start eating. Naturally when they come all work on the layout stops as they have priority.
A male king parrot gets his lunch

Dry fitting where the tracks might go

Now connected to the previous section
As each baseboard is constructed outside it is then painted, gaps filled, sanded and then moved inside and if ready is bolted to the previous section. Legs are provided where required as some baseboards share a set of legs.

To get the feel of where the tracks will go a set of Peco point templates were printed and then put into place on the board. Doing it this way makes it easy to see what type of point is required without actually buying them initially. Old lengths of track from a previous layout can be bent into place to see how it all fits.

It is intended to lay the main line with cork sheet under. This is so the main can have a shoulder of ballast and be higher that the yard tracks and easily provide some distinction between them. It is intended to just use dirt around the yard tracks. If you observe yard tracks on the real thing ballast is not used.

This shot show the tracks on the corner board

After some time the tracks were finally laid on the corner board. The above photo shows how the tracks fan out from the two tracks at the top of the photo. The container depot tracks haven't been laid in as yet as can be seen they will come off the next baseboard to be built. It has been decided that only the major points on this side of the room will be controlled by point motor with the points to the sidings to be finger operated. They are within easy reach and will only need moving when shunting takes place.

Trackwork nearly complete


Cement plant and industry building in place

The above photo shows the two buildings for the cement and industry sidings. It is planned to heavily weather the cement plant. Although it may not properly represent a cement plant once it is weathered I think it will look the part. The other building is a leftover from another layout and is designed as a low relief structure and will go up against the wall of the room.


Looking back to the previous board. The join can be seen.

The Peco point motors are installed on the main line points and will be controlled from a panel which will be attached to the next baseboard.
So with the build of this board this represents about half way on the build, a lot more to go.