Christmas is always a time that makes me nostalgic, harking back to the time when you looked forwards to presents that didn’t induce a hangover or keep your feet warm. It’s also a time when, once the turkey is cooked and the relatives are pushed out of the door, you end up with a few days of spare time in the hiatus between Christmas and New Year.
Go to the sales? Are you mad? Similarly you can’t do much outside as the weather is usually poor, the garden a quagmire and the roads icy.
With Mrs. SD taking her mother to Boundary Mill, the kids locked onto their Xbox/iPad/tech. It’s time to have a look at the layout.
It was left in a working condition but with one or two jobs to fix. Since last year it has gathered dust in the spare room, with the odd thing thrown near/on it causing damage. I cleared a space, moving various discarded boxes, bags quilts etc. into the loft to allow a working area.
First item was to fix the breaks. The most annoying was a sensor that controls the railway crossing lights – it is meant to trigger them automatically when a train gets near, but it was not responsive. Having been put into the clay cobbles, it refused to work. At £25 it was not one to just discard quickly. I had checked the wiring and solder joints to no avail, so a new one was ordered from the amazing www.train-tech.com on Christmas Eve, arriving on the 28th.
With dark nights all around, it seemed appropriate to introduce some period street lights, I purchased a set of three at a model show, with small LEDs that do look like tiny light bulbs.
Wiring them up wasn’t too tricky, with tiny wires joining the spaghetti under the board. In this picture you can see the thin yellow and black wires running down to the connector. The large steel cylinder is actually the motor that drives the cyclists, one reason for the raised section was to find room to site it.
The three were located one at the bottom of the ramp, two up at the top, wired to an on/off switch drilled into the side. That is becoming an increasingly crowded line of mismatched switches, but I’m still avoiding putting anything on the front face.
The lights are all set up – Wooshy preparing piano wire for WOTY winners.
Other than that, the spaghetti took a couple of breaks – the soldering iron out to repair a few wires that’d been dislodged, the front point solenoid being susceptible to damage.
There was initially some method to this mess – two power supplies – a 12v dc and 16v ac feeding all accessories and controllers. It was supplemented by a power cleaning element, with point switches at the right hand end, all the others to the left. The idea remains that when all in place, only two wires go into the board (an ikea shelf) with a clean front and underside and the gubbins out of sight. Over time necessity and laziness meant any colour coding was long forgotten, so understanding what is going where means tracing wires through from source to destination.
Time’s up – work beckons but a few things are planned. The track has poor conductivity at the moment, engines stuttering to stop/start, so I am looking at adding extra power points when I can remember where the spare wire went – they need to be the right way around or it’ll blow something up! The new sensor has arrived and I need to wire it up. So far signs aren’t good as it is behaving just like the ‘broken’ one. I hope after paying £29 it’s not just a broken wire somewhere…
The next big challenge is a look at the barrier crossings – I’d like them to open and close automatically with the lights. At present it is a standard non-mechanised Peco plastic kit, so I’ll have to devise a way to have them turn all at the same time by linking them a small motor that can move them 90 degrees when the sensor is tripped, and back again when it completes. Hmmm. That’s going to take some thought, particularly as the location of the crossing is directly above some of the controllers, meaning little space below to work with.. I’ll mock up a prototype and photograph it when done.
© Sweaty Dave 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file