Thursday, 30 April 2015


Only two photos from today because I spent from 10am till about 4pm with my hands covered in clay! I managed to get almost all the clay put down on the layout. The bits left to do are those bits of scenery on the upper level not glued down, and also any walling (So the Ashlett Creek quay/mill pond walls, and also the high level walls). Then it's a matter of covering the trackbed (and in between the sleepers of the track as well).

Other important progress I carried out today was to finish laying all the narrow gauge track even on the jetty. The jetty trackbed isn't secured down yet because I need to fit the support underneath. However, I was extremely careful in lining up the track on the board join and I'm pleased to say all the track on board joins has been cut with complete success. Rolling stock rolls smoothly over every join, even the dual gauge shed line! I'm absolutely thrilled about this, as I really thought with my luck (as it has been lately) that it wouldn't work.

So what's left to do before the show on Saturday? Here's my thoughts:

  1. Finish putting in all the track feeds in and wire them up to connector blocks underneath the boards.
  2. Rig up a temporary wiring system from the control panel connecting one controller to the aforementioned feeds.
  3. If the clay has dried, try painting the basic colours on.
  4. Remove point motors that are not sat correctly.
  5. Test the trackwork completely.
Added Bonus:
  1. Try painting the flat wagons, the oil barrels, and install Greenwich couplings
  2. Build the shell of the rearmost buildings
  3. Install the jetty supports
  4. Install wooden posts on Ashlett Creek board and on the jetty
  5. Fit the backscene
  6. Lay the standard gauge track
  7. Install the lighting rig
It's a long list, and those are the most important tasks!
That being said, I'm relieved that the trackwork seems to be all sound, and that only a few pieces of polystyrene are visible now.

On the days of the exhibition, here is what I plan to do:
  • Not fit the fiddle yard board, and for the majority of the time just have a loco and wagons trundling along the main line loop. The option to shunt is there should I feel like it!
  • Spend my time at the exhibition working on the buildings for the layout, and generally demonstrating my techniques to the general public.
  • Answer any questions about the construction of the layout or about the prototype.
This way I figure there is still enough to hold the public's attention, and hopefully they will also learn something interesting and/or useful.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Two days left!!

Apologies for the delay in posting any progress the last two days - I'm afraid I spent them both mainly sorting out a computer issue. Sadly, model-making does not take priority (even with an upcoming exhibition!)

Anyway, to make up for it (and in light of the fact that I only have tomorrow and Friday left to work on the layout til the exhibition) I tried to get as much done today as possible. I didn't take too many photos as I was more concerned in getting stuff done, but I have a few to show regardless:

Above: Here we can see the most difficult section of track after installation. This is the NG line leading to the dual gauge engine shed (which sits on that rectangular section). As you can see, there are numerous things working against me here. The most major being the board joins and the steep gradient, but also the fact that it is on a curve doesn't help matters! We'll see when it comes to cutting the track whether it works as intended or fails spectacularly.

Below (next 2 photos): The simple way to make land forms! All I do is to roughly cut a piece of polystyrene the right shape (using either a small saw or long bladed knife). Then it is simply a case of slicing away bits of it with a hot wire cutter until you are happy with the end result. Of course, it is important to check clearances if the scenery is around track-work like this.

Below: And so let's move on to another problematic area - the lighting!
Dad and I were racking our brains to come up with a support for the lighting. Then I noticed behind the layout was my mic stand. It doesn't see any use anymore so I figured it would be perfect for its new use as a lighting stanchion! Our current thinking is that we can simply dangle the lights on an old coathanger off of the top of the mic stand. We also plan to secure the stand to the layout with a bracket for extra stability.

Above: Oh yes, and i've also been working on a design for a new hand held vacuum cleaner...

... well it looks like one! It is in fact the trackbed for the jetty. This was cut out at 9pm tonight (I hope the neighbours didn't mind!). Getting this to sit on the clay supports I made will certainly be a challenge (but i'm up for it!). Oh, and yes, as you can see I finally attached the jetty board onto the layout. It's been long overdue (and I had almost forgotten about this board) but it makes a big difference to the look of the layout. I can see some interesting view points as the result.

Below: A late night overview of the state of the layout so far. Tomorrow my aim is to completely cover the layout in clay ready to paint on Friday morning. This should vastly improve the look of the layout! That's what I'm hoping anyway...

So that about wraps it up for tonight. As you can see, a lot done, but also a lot left to do. The layout will be appearing at the exhibition at the weekend, even if it isn't as advanced as I'd like it to be. I'm hoping people will appreciate it regardless and I'll do my best to talk to people and explain my vision for the layout.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Running out of time!

Another relatively busy day today. I finished all the trackbed (excluding of course the jetty board) and decided that if I am to attend our exhibition, it is likely to be just the Ashlett Creek board. It all depends what happens in the next 4 days really. If I can get a lot done than maybe I'll consider bringing some of the other boards.

So with that in mind I continued working on the Ashlett Creek board. This board had not been touched for a few weeks (yet it is still the furthest advanced out of all the boards!

I know a few of you are probably going to say "Why didn't you just get this board ready for the show?". Well, I mentioned one reason earlier, but if I didn't have a deadline to spur me on, progress on the other boards would've been non-existent! Also I'm not sure how I'd feel about having one board complete and the rest in a bare baseboard state. Knowing myself, I'd probably find it incredibly hard to motivate myself by then.

All things considered, although progress has been slow the last couple weeks, the amount of the layout complete in such a short amount of time is pretty good in my honest opinion. Sure I would like to have done more, but there are only so many hours in the day, and sadly almost everything else takes priority.

Anyway, let's get on with a few photos whilst my internet is still alive!

The real sticking point on the Ashlett Creek board was the standard gauge track crossing the narrow gauge. The standard gauge track of course being for the 5 ton quayside crane. As the rail of the SG is obviously much higher, I decided to lay the narrow gauge first. To do this, I stripped some sleepers where the two tracks joined and put in some brass screws much in the same way as I did for the board joins. I should've taken a close up of this!

The standard gauge was taken off of its sleepers completely and was soldered into place only on the brass screws.

I do plan to add some checkrails in, but those can wait till tomorrow. Oh, and yes the gaps will be cut for the relevant flange spaces needed, I will also cut the standard gauge track in the middle to prevent shorts. Whereever there is a planned cut in the rail, I have one screw either side to support the rail and stop it from moving.

More to come tomorrow hopefully!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Wiring - Part 2

Just the one photo for tonight because I'm downloading a rather large file (it'll be done Monday morning!) and my internet is awful.

So, after the disaster that was both wire strippers breaking yesterday, dad went out at lunchtime to buy a new pair. And so the wiring continued on the control panel!

It's not as neat as it could be (mainly thanks to the orange point motor feeds) but it's not too bad, and should look a little better once I can pull all the table ties tight. As you can see, I have made extra precautions and noted where every wire is connected to once it reaches the terminal blocks. From left to right, we have the point motor feeds, the isolation track feeds, the right hand controller feeds, the black (common) feeds, the red (section) feeds and finally the left hand controller feeds.

The green and white wires are the directional switches for the point motors (they have yet to be cut to length and attached to the inside of the box). I just hope this all works first time!

Tomorrow I aim to finish the wiring in the box. In the meantime, I'm hoping dad will fit the rest of the point motors so that I can start wiring them up tomorrow evening.

Oh, almost forgot, I have almost completed the trackbed for the main 3 boards (i.e not the jetty board). I'm hoping tomorrow I can finish it off and start laying the standard gauge, and the narrow gauge line to the dual gauge shed.

I'm still undecided about whether the layout will make its debut exhibition. It's not the end of the world if it doesn't but it would fill a small space in one of the back rooms. We'll see!

Edit (11pm):

The control panel is now all connected up to the inside of the box! All that's left to do here is to drill a hole for another 25 pin D sub connector, and channel all the remaining wires to it.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Wiring - Part 1

OK, time for more updates finally. Just a small one today, but I only started an hour or so ago.
It was time to begin the long process of wiring up the control panel today. I haven't done a lot so far, but I've worked out where the wiring looms need to go to keep it relatively tidy (I did say relatively!).

I've connected up the centre feeds for all 17 point motor switches. These will need soldering into place as I have just looped wire around the holes for now.

All the other wire will be routed around the cable tie holders you can see and will exit the control panel bottom right (of the photo above). The orange wire exiting bottom left because it is closer to the CDU (where it will be connected to). That is why I've done these orange wires first.

With regards to the panel itself, I have fitted all the switches into place. I've decided that I will not paint it (I like the rustic look). I will find some other way to make the sections more visible.

Let me know any thoughts you may have!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Control Panel - Part 5 - Taking Shape!

A huge amount of progress was done today! I spent from 10am till 5pm in the garage working on the control panel box. The basic shell is now complete, and the only things that need doing are the holes for the electrics and attaching the control panel itself and the surfaces that the controllers sit on.

I didn't bother taking too many photos, but I have included a few showing my process of construction. Lines drawn onto the ply help me avoid the pine (got it right this time!) struts when drilling the holes through for the connectors.

The basic shell is shown in a complete stage (minus the stuff mentioned above). You can see the shelf for any cups at a low level to avoid spillage onto electrics. Also visible below that is a small shelf for bits of paper. Often when I take a layout to exhibitions I will be handed flyers for other shows, or important documents for the current show. The slot means I can keep it relatively safe until it's time to pack up.

Below you can see a last minute idea where the controllers would be. I decided it would be the perfect place for a little bit of storage. The lids will simply slot into place with a bit of the pine stripwood locating it properly. The controllers themselves will be supported using two bits of dowel.

And I also did a quick test fit of the panel, controller, and mug to make sure they sit where they should!

And now finally we see how I drilled the holes for the controller sockets. As the overhang on the table was not big enough, I had to clamp a bit of wood onto it and balance the control box on the end. This is to prevent the ply splitting horribly when I drill the holes!

And last but not least, my order from Parkside Dundas arrived today! 24 sets of wheels, two packets of couplings and some magnets to try out. So at last Old A.G.W.I Road will have the rolling stock it deserves!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Control Panel - Part 4

After another troubled nights sleep, and also having promised myself a break I didn't start work on the control panel until the evening. I wasn't going to do anything today but I was excited to see my idea for the control panel put into action so I did a few hours anyway.

I've changed a few things from my original design (mostly thanks to my incompetence!). As the control panel itself was wider than the trolley we had to come up with an alternate design. (2 small lengths of softwood (might be balsa?) are now the locators instead of the ply sides. I also raised the level of the control panel just to ensure it is comfy to use for most people.

Due to another error I may have to rethink my cup-holder slot. My brain is definitely elsewhere thanks to my sleep depravity! I forgot to add a bit onto the base for this, so I'm going to have to think of another design for it.

Anyway, on with the photos:

I won't go into too much detail on construction as it is very simple. Everything is held together by nails (from a nail gun). Quick and effective! Mitred joints on the softwood/balsa was cut using a bandsaw, and then tidied up with sandpaper. And that's about all there is to it. Tomorrow I hope to finish the basic shell off (once I have worked out how to hinge the panel itself etc.)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Control Panel - Part 3

I wasn't able to get anything done today thanks to a headache induced sleepness night. I did however pop into town for a couple hours and picked up the rest of the track to finish off the layout, and also made a trip to Maplins to get some connectors. In the end I got a variety of them to try out, from D sub connectors to DIN connectors. I know the D subs will be hard to solder, but I would like to try them anyway otherwise I would have to buy about 3 DINs per 1 D sub!

In an effort to reduce the amount of connectors needed (and also to simplify the whole process a bit), I came up with an idea. I had this idea in my head for ages but wasn't sure about it in practice. The idea is to mount the control panel as a removable entity onto the movable stack of drawers that I take to exhibitions:

As can be seen by the photos, it means I can operate the layout from wherever I choose. Yes, this means the fiddle yard won't be able to be used if you're operating from the front but I have an idea for that too. Basically I would use the 3 workshop sidings (upper level) as the fiddle yard when operation from the front. I have also bought some magnets for uncoupling and some Greenwich couplers for the 3D printed wagons.

The sketch below shows my intention. Note the cup holder between the two controllers (and away from the electrics!). A must for exhibitions I find. Thankfully, I won't need to permanently attach the control panel onto the unit as I can simply slot it on top, using the four corner posts that already exist on the unit to stop the whole thing from sliding off.

So enough waffle. Whilst it may not be physical progress today, I'm really glad I had a while to step back and think about the siting of the control panel. Oh, by the way, the wiring will all be routed to the centre board for ease of connecting up the control panel to the layout.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Control Panel - Part 2

The last update of the day. The routering has been completed using a smaller bit and anything too small to be cut with that bit was carefully chiselled away. The chiselling took under 2 hours in total, and I had quite forgotten how calming it is. Sort of a laborious but rewarding thing - much like most of railway modelling!

Above: After the smaller router bit, but before the chiselling!

Above: Freda comes to inspect my handiwork! All as approved luckily.

Above: The control panel loosely held up roughly where it will be fitted. Note the extension for the fiddle yard was detached in this shot.

Above: An aerial view for size comparison with 009 track and OO track visible.

So far, so good! A little bit more sanding down, some polyfilla and a bit of paint and we should be almost there. Oh, and I ought to build a frame for it to sit on, too!

The Control Panel (routering)

Today I started routering out the control panel. I was worried how the ply might react to the router, but for the most part it seems to be absolutely fine. I won't explain the images below as they are all self-explanatory, but as you will see, the only issue so far is where the ply had not been glued properly when it was made, with triangle sections missing at the top. This was not a result of the routering. Still, I'm sure I can fill it in and smooth it off with some filler.

So that is the large majority of the panel routed/routered (whatever the word is!) out. I have a smaller cutter for the router to do the rest. Hopefully it will all remain intact. That very much depends on the quality of the ply! Then I will need to sand it down and maybe paint it (not sure on that yet). Finally I can drill the holes for all the switches. So far I'm really happy with the result.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Having a Fiddle!

A fiddle yard that is!

The basic frame was built a couple days ago and we made the mistake of screwing and gluing it before we had attached the two angled sides to the layout. This meant that when it came to bolting it to the layout, I could only bolt the two ends because there was not enough room to get the drill in! It seems to be strong enough though, so I'm not overly worried.

The next step was to add a bit of bracing to support the extension (for the travertable), another bit of 8mm ply was simply glued and clamped:

Then it was  time to attach the extension onto the fiddle yard board. Again, as it was already glued and screwed I couldn't get a drill in, so I had to risk it and drill the holes on each bit separately. The first hole was a success, the second not so much! Still, as they are held on by wingnuts, it isn't going anywhere, no matter how rough the hole is...

...which is just as well as I realised I had made a big error! I had not allowed for the depth of the travertable well when attaching the extension. I forgot that I hadn't yet notched the fiddle yard board which is why I didn't even think about it:

So I had to make the holes even bigger and even more untidy than they were before! Still, it holds tight so the sturdiness hasn't been compromised luckily. The photo below shows the current state of affairs, with the ply tops precariously balanced in place (awaiting internal bracing).

And so the end of the day rapidly approached, and I decided to print out the control panel onto two A4 sheets of paper. The printer has decided it no longer wants to print blue, so the colours are wrong.

But fear not as I have (what I hope) is a good idea. Basically I have access to a large number of tools and I looked at the printout and thought "You know what, this would be perfect for routering out". So that is what I am going to try!

It's gonna be fiddly and very time consuming, but I'm going to try and route out all the space around the trackplan (i.e. recess it about 2mm), thus leaving it stood proud. I can then paint the trackbed sections in the appropriate colour. That black border will also be raised to give a nice edge to it.

I really hope it will work in practice as I can see it in my head. Hopefully I can start on this tomorrow.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Up the Slope

Today saw the remaining track used up (I didn't make it to the model shop in the end because my car was boxed in) and the line up the gradient to the upper level laid. This was quite a long process because we had not yet made the ply trackbed for it. Originally I was just going to lay the track on the polystyrene, but in the end I opted for some 6mm ply instead:

In the photo above you can see the first roughed out ply put temporarily into place. It took quite a while to get it all smooth, and whilst the gradient probably isn't constant, it looks alright and more importantly it works fine.

After it was soldered and pinned into place it was time to test! Here we can see the flagship of the line hauling a mixed train (all my current stock, with the exception of those without wheels/couplings!). Clearly the carriages have been sent to the wrong railway, these should've gone to the RAF base at Calshot!

I really love the running qualities of that loco, it can slowly creep up that steep gradient fully laden and it doesn't even seem to take any effort to do so. On the other hand, the "Tin Turtle" seen in the background can just about haul two carriages. It runs on a tiny Caramel (I think that's right) chassis and whizzes around but has absolutely no pulling power. If I had the skills I'd of course buy Nigel Lawton's simplex, but alas, sadly not! 

And so another day quickly draws to a close. Still more trackwork to do, but that will have to wait for a couple days. Tomorrow I might try and work out how big the control panel needs to be now that I have the switches. I also hope to make a lot of progress on the fiddle yard (Dad made the basic frame today whilst I was track laying).

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Another bumper update

Another day full of great progress! I now have a large percentage of the track completed on 3 of the four boards. I have however run out so I will need to get some more to do the jetty board, the line to the dual gauge shed, and the two sidings on the Ashlett Creek board.

So without further ado, here are the photos to prove it. Firstly, the 3rd completed board join - this is the join between the centre board and the Ashlett Creek board. First job was to roughly mark out the position of the loco shed so I leave enough clearance (you can just see the thin pen line bottom left).

Then I soldered on the track straight to the point (off camera to the right), and bent it to its approximate final position. As usual, locations for screws were marked and then screwed into place. The track was again roughly laid back into place to get all the screws at the correct height.

Then came the important part, getting the track as straight as possible between the screws. For this I used push-pins and the edge of a square:

Whilst this was all still in place, the first side of screws were soldered:

And the steel square removed and the other side soldered. The other end of the track was soldered onto the next point, leaving us with the complete section:

You can also see in the photo above the completed power house siding (left of the photo) and the inspection pit (of course, soldered onto the point before bending into place).

I also managed to glue the upper level narrow gauge track into place, with the sidings also soldered, pinned and glued into place!

Well that about sums up today's progress. Tomorrow I'm hoping a visit to the model shop will prove fruitful with track and more plasticard.