Christmas Lull – Shunting on slowly
Last time you saw a relatively quick transformation of my winter project – from bare shelf which was hollowed out, wired up, a baseboard added, ramp, rails and magnorail installed. This time it has rather less to show for progress. Many reasons for that – not least being thrown out of my work-space by the Christmas return of the eldest from Uni – how dare he need his bedroom back! That has meant the project is homeless, currently residing in the study, a place used by others, so not able to set everything out and make a right mess. Having said that there have been occasional bursts of activity and more purchases.
We left it as so – looking fairly well advanced, but the cyclists flinging themselves in all directions, rarely along the ‘road’, no motive power or anything to run on there and all manual.
I did make some progress with electrics – adding more and more wires to give all points and switches hidden electric control – there are three points that needed motors fitted below them, and an electric double switch – a complicated crossover that allows you to go across or onto the other line – motor built into that one. Four burst switches are fitted to the end of the shelf to control the four items – pushing them up or down gives a small burst of power to the point, the switch then returning to the centre. Getting those points lined up with a motor a few centimetres below had to be very precise or no switching. It was something of a challenge, taking a few days to fettle so all would work properly. Once happy with it, the track was glued down and the wiring added and soldered, the initial colour coding ending up out of the window as the colours ran out!
Back to the cyclists. The car and van ran OK on the rough surface – a slider below them sticking to the magnets in the chain. They weren’t too fussy about crossing joins. The cyclist are a very different matter – two in particular throw themselves under traffic at the slightest provocation, stick, falter and generally fall about. A new plan was needed. First thought was that not only does the top surface need to be smooth, but the underside too, as there is a level of friction on the chain where the magnets hold it up against the ‘road’, the motor struggling and slipping with more than two or three items running at once. I tore up the card ‘road’, replacing it with the clear plastic you find on the front of presents, cracker boxes etc – a smooth, but fairly rigid material and not too thick. Joins were minimised and made as flush as possible. Doing that improved the chain movement and the cyclists do run on the top, though the magic is lost when you can see all the workings. To further smooth the top surface, I bought a long roll of art paper – thin stuff but long enough to cover the whole area with one sheet, putting a couple of layers down. That meant they ran on a surface without joins, but no good loose – gluing and painting needed.
I tried using wallpaper paste to glue the paper down, not easy to bond thin paper to a plastic base. It appeared to be OK until it dried and the paper crinkled up like parchment and did not bond to the foundation at all. A fresh set of paper was glued using a drier Pritt stick and showed greater promise, but when a coat of acrylic paint was added, it warped again… The latest incarnation is to do away with a paper surface, just going back to the clear plastic. I will get some black gloss paint and go with the one layer. Hopefully that will be sufficient to get an inflexible smooth surface.
What else? With too many family around work has been slow, but shopping has been productive. I secured a weathered shunter (class 04 couldn’t afford an 03) for £40 plus post via eBay. Weathered means someone has already painted it to look mucky and they have done a nice job. Running it around the track shows up a dead spot in the fiddle yard – the hidden bit in the tunnel. It stalls on points if driven too slowly but that is not a huge problem.
I’ve also picked up a couple of NE coal trucks from the local model shop and have splashed out on working level crossing lights, a welder torch, and a blue flashing light for a police van and a Jag Mk 2 and Gold Ford Consul as used by the Sweeney – I’ll set them all up to race around the roads.
Next jobs are to paint the road, add some filler to smooth off the join between cork and baseboard, paint and add ballast. Wire up the new toys, plus a lot more yet to go.
© Sweaty Dave 2018