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David Holman

Clogher Valley Project

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Setting up for exhibitions

 Despite a lack of postings, things have nevertheless been busy hereabouts, though a week in Croatia [very nice too], put the modelling on hold for a bit. Iain Rice's latest book 'Cameo Layouts' has been at the centre of my thinking for a while now & am aiming to make Fintonagh fully framed, so that is what recent work has been all about.

 Apart from a pelmet to hide the lights, Arigna Town has little in the way of 'framing', but to me, there is now no doubting the impact such things can have visually. A bit like when you crop holiday snaps [or indeed stuff for this site] on the computer, a frame round the layout is very useful in blocking out all that you don't want to be seen. The problem with such things is that, when exhibiting, they are just more stuff to take with you. Hence have been trying to both minimise the individual pieces and make sure as much as possible is fixed using flush mount plates - which are exponentially quicker than using M6 bolts and wing nuts.

 Hopefully the pictures show what I've been up to. 

 Firstly, the layout sits on two adjustable decorator's trestles, giving a track height of around 48"/120cm. Two folding longitudinal beams support the layout itself, the three sections being held together by just two M6 bolts. The pelmet slots on the front wings with two flush mounts. It is hinged in the middle and will have an LED strip to light the front edge of the scenery. Also on the pelmet are two hinged arms, one each end, which swing out to eventually support another LED unit. There is a central bracket, at the back, which both keeps the back scene aligned and [with a small drop in bolt] the pelmet nice and straight. The lower edge of the layout will have drapes to hide the trestles, but there will also be a slot in display board giving information about the Clogher Valley Railway, layout construction & so on. Current thinking is that the join between the two scenic boards will be hidden by a couple of removable plaques - one with the layout name & the other the CVR crest. Show badges and the like will be banished in order to keep an uncluttered fascia. The sage green colour was chosen to reflect the greens and greys of the foliage and buildings, though still needs at least another coat.

 Fintonagh's debut is now starting to feel close. Mid October sounds a way off, but it is nearly August and Arigna has two show before then too, so lots still to do!

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Nice David

I like the display height, it's looking at trains at the right height- side on, and not down onto roofs!!

I hope you will consider supplying a small step ladder for the younger viewer?

- there was a chap who came to the shows here, he brought his grandchild and a step ladder under arm, when they came to a layout to view the ladder was erected and the boy elevated to view, best bit was- the ladder was placed a safe distance from the layout- out of arms reach!

I've not seen him recently, reckon the kid has grown up and now has extended legs!

Eoin

 

 

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Hi David,

Looking very nice - looking forward to seeing it in the flesh in three months time.

Are you looking at using the Philips Pentura LED Strip Lights we talked about at Derby or are you thinking of deploying something else?

Adrian

 

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Decided to stick with LED strip Adrian. LED Hut now do some neat conduit with a clear cover, so am guessing that does the same thing.

 Feel a bit guilty about the height, Eoin, but many folk now bring small folding stools and we have a couple at home I could take too. Doesn't help the wheel chair users though, so might have to make a periscope like the St Alban's club ones.

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Let there be light!

Ordered Thursday evening, delivered Saturday, such is the service of LED Hut, so quickly tempted to set everything up. I bought a 5 metre roll of 'cool white' self adhesive strip, along with a 2 metre pack of conduit. This comprises a length of extruded aluminium, the same width as the LEDs, a similar length of clear plastic cover for the aluminium, which slots neatly into place, plus some end caps and sprung mounting clips.

 I cut the aluminium and plastic cover in half to make two one metre units and fitted LED strip in each. A further 2x one metre LED strips were stuck to the underside of the pelmet framing, in order to light the front edge of the layout. Using Arigna Town's LED transformer, I then wired the four sections together, starting from the central support bracket. This has a nine way computer socket fixed to it, enabling the leads from the transformer to be plugged in, out of sight at the back of the layout. At the moment, chocolate block connectors split the incoming leads, one going to each aluminium housing. Further connectors then link each housing to the front pelmet. These connectors will be replaced with jack plug & socket once I can buy some. Not that long ago, there were three Maplin stores locally where you could even shop on a Sunday. No more sadly & the only option now is shopping on line or waiting for a model show.

 Anyway, much to my surprise [I am always surprised when my electrics work], it all works just fine and the two  [2 metre] LED strips provide what seems to be the right amount of light, though I'll leave the final decision on that to the punters at Uckfield in October. The rear strips are about 15cm from the back scene. 

 Buoyed by this success, I've been attempting to fill in some of the details still required on the scenic section. I'd liked to have put another coat of paint on the fascias & pelmet, but 30c+ heat hereabouts is stopping the earlier coats hardening properly, so I've got to wait. Instead, I've made and planted a load of nettles, which now adorn the base of the hoarding and are around the big tree. This afternoon, made up some basic [cosmetic] point levers, plus some boarding to cover the point mechanisms. Haven't yet decided whether Fintonagh merits a ground frame. The branch would probably have been one engine in steam, so simple ground levers may well suffice.

 Photos hopefully illustrate my ramblings!

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Fettling and finishing touches

It is now less than a week to Fintonagh's exhibition debut at Uckfield next weekend. Not the largest show in the country, but definitely one of the finest in terms of layout quality. Manager Adrian Colenutt has become a past-master at fitting a lot in the space available, while the hospitality is very good too. 

 However, this means the layout has to not just look right, but it must run well too, hence the last few weeks being spent in trying to iron out all the faults! I've written elsewhere that this is very much a problem with hand built stuff - or at least it is for me, for I am no expert, but I do work at things in the hope of getting them right, while experience helps too and I have approaching 100 shows under my belt now.

 Fettling essentially involves running the operating sequence over and over again, making notes of where things go wrong, then investigating the cause in the hope of putting things right. Faults manifest themselves in various ways:

  • Derailments - mostly these are down to back to backs on the wheels. I use 4mm fine scale standards, which means 19.3mm b2b and not much leeway either. Less than 0.5mm out and wagons in particular derail on either the point blades or the crossing vee. Easily solved with a vernier gauge, thankfully
  • Hesitant running - mostly cured by compensated/rocking axles on locos, plus pick ups on all wheels.
  • Couplings - I'm using Kadee No 5s and though they are fairly reliable, they do need careful setting up, especially as I'm also using small 'rare earth' magnets for uncoupling. Practice also important too, stopping trains within a 5mm space requires a degree of concentration.
  • On top of the above, one also has to create a sequence that works simply and effectively, for as well as running the layout, it is always enjoyable talking to visitors and they have paid to come in, so you owe it to them to put on a decent show.

 In addition to the above, there is of course Sod's Law, which can strike at any time - usually when there is a video camera operating! When [not if, note], this happens, then you just have to grin and bear it, though it is just as well visitors can't hear what I'm thinking! At them moment, the layout is running at about 95% efficiency. Derailments are now only operator error and the locos [as long as track and wheels are clean] are running nicely - even Blackwater, which has had large amounts of lead added to enable it to pull a short coach and two wagons [!]. The problem is it has 30:1 gears as opposed to the 40:1 in sister Erne and it makes quite a difference. Blackwater has caused further headaches, by repeatedly suffering from a loose wheel nut [hopefully now cured with some gloss varnish in the threads] and a broken lead on the motor. The first class bogie coach has caused much head scratching and many rude words, because in one direction, it was derailing on the point entering the station. No amount of wheel checks could sort it, but eventually cured it, by reversing the bogie, so the troublesome wheels were in the inside, not the outside. Fingers crossed now ok. 

 The photos show some of the small details that I've been adding:

  • A small [dummy] ground frame on the platform to operate the points
  • A small section of point rodding [along the platform] and boarding elsewhere to cover the rest, which I really don't want to do!
  • Figures, including a rakish fellow outside Forbes Bar, a flagman guarding the exit from the station and a lady promoting the Temperance Movement outside the tea rooms. 
  • Road vehicles are mainly from Arigna, including donkey cart, small lorry and Austin 7 saloon, plus the Model T Ford truck seen earlier.

In addition, there has been organising packing and transport, with new stock boxes and trial fitting in the car. Talking to Christopher Payne [also at Uckfield with Pyn Valley Railway [in latest RM], he opined that a layout probably shouldn't be exhibited until it has done at least three shows, to iron out the faults that only ever occur away from home. Difficult, but I know what he means!

 Wish me luck, or better still, come along and say hello. Uckfield really is a great show.

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Defiantly echo Davids comments on the Uckfield Show,i've had Valencia and Castlederg there and throughly enjoyed it.There again this year with Llanfair Caereinion.Andy.

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Those of you on the other side of the water need to get to Cultra this year, where Andy is showing Castlederg. Super layout, accurately portraying a delightful prototype.

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Excellent detailing David-Its these smaller items that really bring a layout together.

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First day of layouts debut largely ok, though a short caused a bit of consternation first thing.  A few issues with the Kadees, but motive power acquitted itself well. Here's hoping Sunday is at least as good.

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Uckfield

By and large, Fintonagh's debut went well, though not without a couple of early problems. Setting up was quick and easy, but trying to run trains was a different matter, with a short as soon as power was applied. Not good when there is less than an hour before Joe Public arrives...

 Happily, the problem was soon traced to two tags behind the controller socket touching each other. A quick tweak and all was well; am guessing I must have pushed them together when carrying the layout to/from the car. However, no sooner that problem solved than the turntable stopped working! Lots of noise, but no movement. Fortunately the gearbox is easy to dismantle and just putting it back together again cured the problem.

 So, third time lucky and we were away. The only problems after that were down to the couplings. The rare earth magnets largely work well with the Kadee No5s, but are not perfect. The main issue is sighting the uncoupling points obliquely from either end of the the layout, which is front operated. The 'window' is probably less than 5mm, so it is as well that all the locos run nicely, though there was a bit to much to-ing and fro-ing to begin with until we got our eye in. One or two wagons were reluctant to couple up, so I guess things were about 80-90% efficient.

Equally, as a first experience of operating from the front [with 90+ shows under my belt], it turned out not bad at all. Sitting on high stools certainly saves aching feet at the end of the show. The LED lighting strips, one towards the rear and one just under the front pelmet, seem to give just the right amount of illumination, with the 'cool white tones' giving a good colour balance too. Meanwhile, as a small layout, just eight trips are needed to/from the car and much to our surprise, we were driving away just 15 minutes after the show ended. There are only four trains at the moment, but the plan is to add a couple more locos, to provide a bit more variety and a degree of insurance in the event of any failures. Lots of people took details, so looks light Fintonagh will be out and about over the next few years.

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Well done.   It's a super layout and the detail is sublime. 

I find it difficult enough to keep locos moving on my small layout at home, so trying to get them to perform in front of the public really adds pressure.

Perhaps one day, I may venture out with a layout;  most likely to embarrass myself!!

 

Best of luck with the future outings.

 

Ken

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Well done. This is a masterpiece of a layout, as is Arigna. 

What next from this stable! A Blessington tramway branch? Courtmacsherry? Glenties? Achill........... now I'm drooling again. Mop needed.

See yiz at Raheny tomorrow!

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