Finally back into the routine after something of a hiatus during the Christmas period. I had been looking forward to the break to get ahead, but the opposite occurred. Not only due to a lack of spare time, but space was in short supply. With the eldest back from Uni, I lost my workspace, having requisitioned his bedroom and large desk. This meant any work had to be done in a study – with stuff brought out, and packed away afterwards, not ideal or conducive to concentration.
Now as the annual celebrations slide into the past, the liver starts to recover and the routines return, I have reclaimed the bedroom and can continue. I had not expected the location/working environment to be so important but having the peace, room to spread out and not have to pack things away was key to moving from an activity being a hassle to enjoyable.
Progress – well the cycling/motoring saga continued. To recap, the first surface was a number of pieces of thick photo paper with relevant markings printed on.
Ok for the cars, but unslightly joins which were a trip hazard for the cyclists.
Having removed the previous surface and replaced it with clear plastic, the items worked better, but seeing all the mechanics was never going to pass test. They still stuttered over joints, so I added a layer of art paper – a single sheet so no joins.
First attempt at gluing the paper used wallpaper paste – it turned out like parchment, rough and creased and not stuck! Second go with a pritt stick was better and it held.
I painted the roads, using the smoothest matchpot I could find – turns out it was matt paint, as they don’t seem to come in gloss. The cyclists and even the cars hated it – the cars scratching a line along the track, the cyclists throwing themselves right off the shelf! I hunted out two rolls of oven protector – black and slippery (steady RP), and stuck that to the current surface. Hey presto, they’re up and around 99% of the layout (watch the video to the end to see what I mean).
The top of the ramp may need to be taken up and relaid, it is built upon a 1mm thick sheet of balsa so it curves up to flat rather than a sharp edge changing from slope to flat, but not quite right just yet.
The railway track and cars are now just about fully working – the shunter seems to only pick up power from one wheelset, stalling on points at low speed, so may need some work. Having them working is a distraction to making further changes – any excuse to just move them around instead.
I’ve been shopping again, this time some electronics. The first set is the smallest 12v battery I could find (MN10 used in your car keys); battery holder; the smallest switch I can find and an LED that gives a blue flashing light – all hopefully will fit into the black Mariah for the Sweeney. I think it’s going to be rather snug. First attempt with the battery holder was a failure due to some internal structures blocking. I’ll try to solder wires direct to the battery and possibly remove some of that structure for the battery to fit. If that’s not good, then I’ll look for some button batteries that can be chained to make at least 9v.
The second electronic item is a flashing light for the crossing, something that was introduced from 1963 onwards, so within the era modelled. The signal, officially known as a ‘wigwag’ has a quite long circuit board beneath it so it reaches the full depth of the shelf. There is also an infra-red sensor on the track next to the crossing that detects trains, triggering the signal. Due to the point configuration the sensor is closer to the crossing that is ideal, but at shunting speed isn’t an issue. I may disconnect the loudspeaker as it quickly becomes tiresome!
A power cleaning circuit has been added to keep these electronics safe from badly converted AC to DC. Most of the circuits require single core wiring, as the locations for solder are tiny and delicate. A final LED that mimics a welder’s torch is yet to find a home. As you can see the wiring is starting to get like rats nest.
The last piece of work started is The Sweeney – the cars are prepared for movement, I need to buy some cardboard boxes for the Jag and will video it.
Finally one image to show you how small the cyclists are – the cutting board is marked in centimetres.
I really must build the house or shop that sits at the top of the ramp – the cyclists or vehicles are meant to drive around the back of them (may need rather strange holes in the walls to let them through!) to then circle around the front. The ballast and scenics have to be last as tipping up the layout to add wiring to the underside will mean a shower of loose material that has not bonded to the base and it soon gets messy.
I’m sure this will be complete by summer, though it may be an Indian summer by this rate.