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After months of working on locos and rolling stock, attention now turns to the signalling department. Belmullet currently only has the Arigna Town, three arm signal which was modelled on that one on the Sligo Leitrim that controlled three level crossings. Here, it covers arrivals to each side of the loop and also acts as an advanced starter. However, both the main platform and bay need departure signals, while the single slip ought to have at least a couple of ground signals, so these are forming the next projects.

 An order to Wizard Models quickly secured enough etched and cast parts to supplant what I had left over from the SLNCR signal construction, in the form of a set of Saxby and Farmer arms, a couple of cast posts and a couple of ground signal kits. The latter are actually GNR/LNER versions, but look very similar to the County Donegal ground signal from Alphagraphix. They are actually MSE kits and can be made to work. Was hoping to connect them to the blades of the single slip, so as these moved, they would make the discs turn. Unfortunately, the blades only move a couple of mm, but the signals should turn 90 or even 180 degrees, so quite how this can be made to happen, I currently have no idea! 

 Anyway, the kits themselves are simple enough once you've read the instructions a few times & have been placed in what I hope are appropriate positions. The discs can be turned by hand for photographic purposes.

 Elsewhere, while I had black and white acrylic paint out, the Irish Shell tank wagon has had the bare metal on the strapping touched in, while the undergrowth on the front edge of the baseboards has been significantly embellished with a mixture of postiche, coarse and fine crumb to represent weeds, dog roses and the like - though I'd still like to add some nettles eventually too.

 The photos show the existing signal, plus the new ground signals and a sketch of what the starters should eventually look like, plus the new ground cover and Irish Shell tank.










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The vans have now been through both the paint shop and the weathering process. First step was a spray of Halford's grey primer. Next came the lettering and numbering, using a dipping pen and white acr

Nearly there  The J19 is almost finished, with just a few things like cab window glazing and wiring the tender pickups to the motor. It will also need some lead weights in the boiler and some run

Slow progress with the GS&WR brake third. The Markits buffers were decidedly disappointing. Being lost wax brass castings, the shanks had a huge lump of sprue attached which needed a slitting disc

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Trackwork flowing very nicely in these shots, David. Nice to see the signalling being enhanced too. The Shell wagon looks right at home- sustenance for the Belmullet trawlers ? Please tell me that really is an SLNC large tank poking into view and I’m not hallucinating....after 9 months I’m seeing the things everywhere !

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Regarding the point throw and rotating ground signals, perhaps a lever or bell crank to multiply the linear movement of the points.


 then a link to a crank or rack and pinion (or small geneva wheel?) to convert that to rotary movement. It'd take some adjustment to get it spot on though.

Or you could put a servo motor to rotate the ground signal triggered by the same switch as the point.

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Thanks Brack & especially for taking time to do the drawing. Must admit I had to look up what a Geneva wheel was/did, but what a clever thing it is!

 The photo shows my Megapoints control panel. If I'm honest, the system requires more logical thinking than I possess, but is certainly very effective & clever in the right hands. Indeed, though I thought I'd worked out what I needed, I didn't get the specification quite right and now realise that the separate starter for the harbour branch was probably better as a ground signal on the single slip. Meanwhile, I don't have enough ports left in the control panel to add extra switches for the ground signals. I could fit 'Y' connectors so the push buttons for the slip points also operated new servos for the ground signals, but the panel processors control the amount of movement of each servo, so the extra required would only be possible via a lever/bell crank, so it is easier to try and do it straight off the point blades.

 Unfortunately, the ground signals need to rotate 90 degrees, so I'll need to do some experimenting to see if that is possible. For now, they will have to remain cosmetic.


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On 14/4/2021 at 9:26 PM, Galteemore said:

Trackwork flowing very nicely in these shots, David. Nice to see the signalling being enhanced too. The Shell wagon looks right at home- sustenance for the Belmullet trawlers ? Please tell me that really is an SLNC large tank poking into view and I’m not hallucinating....after 9 months I’m seeing the things everywhere !

You can stop taking the medicine, it's Sir Henry lurking in the background. However, there are problems with the space-time continuum, as it is actually sitting fifty years on the future!

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Made a start yesterday on the two doll signal post. Am using Model Signal Engineering etchings of Saxby and Farmer arms. Have built a few signals over the years and the one word that best sums up the process is - fiddly!

 I began with the post[s], using a 22ft cast white metal post for the main one and then sawed a second post into sections to make the other. Once assembled with 5 min epoxy, the two posts were drilled through about 2' from the top to take the pivot wire for the arms. The latter are etched in two parts [arm and spectacle plate], which need soldering together with a pivot wire attached. This is then fed through the hole in the post and fixed in place with a small washer on the other side. At the base of the main post two etched brackets are folded up and soldered in place with low melt, then the post is again drilled through for another wire pivot for the operating levers.

 Thus far, simple enough, but things now get complicated as the operating wires and pivots are added - plus the two lamps. The latter need careful positioning, so they are behind the two spectacle plates when the arms are up/down. The operating wire on the main post is fairly simple - just a matter of getting the length right, but for the subsidiary post [or more correctly 'doll'], which is the bay starter, this needs two pivots to get the operating wire down to the main post. Some railway companies were happy to take a robust operating rod straight down to the ground, but I prefer to route the wire to the base as, like the SLNCR signal, this means the entire unit can be removed for transport - or even to be shared with another layout.

 The photo shows progress thus far, though I need to rethink the linkage to the second doll as the weighted lever should pull the signal to danger should a wire break, whereas it is actually the other way round at the moment...

 As for linking the signal up to a couple of servos and the control panel, I may will need a lie down in a darkened room before doing that!


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Spent the last few days fettling the signals, so that both balance arms worked correctly, then added the operating mechanism, which goes below the baseboard. Basically, a piece of 0.8mm wire goes from the other end of the balance levers to pivots soldered below the base plate. Another 0.8mm wire will go from each pivot to a small servo, worked by the Megapoints control panel. This arrangement means the signal can be lifted out for transport, maintenance etc.

 So, cut a hole in the baseboard surface to enable the unit to sit level with the surface, then set about adding the all important details - in this case the platform [and ladder] for someone to climb up and attend the lamps, plus the finials. After that, it was a clean up and quick spray with primer.





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Signals may be fiddly, frustrating things to build [for me anyway], but they are a delight to finish off because they transform with only the minimum of painting. In this case, a coat of matt black from a spray can, then I hand painted the white bits, then added the red and white stripes to the front of the arms with black and white to the rear. Next came red and blue [not green, yellow light from the lamp turns blue green] gels to the spectacles, with some textured cement coloured paint for the base.

 The operating mechanism is yet to be fixed up, indeed it is something I'll need to psyche myself up for, involving as it does separating the boards and lifting No2 up to get at the underside to fix the servos. However, Belmullet at least now has an almost complete set of signals, though have just noticed that the point to the end loading dock ought to have a ground signal too.



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Filling gaps

 I don't know whether other folk do this, but I often find myself pondering and brooding over the make up of the trains I run on my layouts. For Belmullet in its early 1900s guise, a lot of time has been spent recently on the MGWR Mail Train, which is now finished. There are seven tracks in the fiddle yard and there have been more than a few furrowed brows over the last few months about how I might fill them. Some were fairly easy, such as a Sligo Leitrim freight, hauled by 'Small Tank' Fermanagh. This is made up of SLNCR cattle wagons, or private owner coal wagons from the Arigna mines, so that's three roads done. 

 A fourth road is occupied by a Waterford, Limerick and Western 'Mail Goods', with 0-6-0 Shannon at the head, with a 6w parcels van, 4w carriage truck and horse box from the same company.. However, have only recently realised that I only had two passenger trains, so have decided to turn the Mail Goods into a mixed train, by adding a 4w third class coach - more of which later.

 The fifth road was originally occupied by my Coey 101 class 0-6-0, but have recently decided to put this loco on freight duty - which is where a few more gaps need filling. Currently, I only have one GSWR van, plus a brake, so a couple more need adding to the stock building list. At least one open topped livestock van, plus an open or two are currently favourite.

 As for the GSWR passenger, this comprises two six wheelers & have decided I would now like them to be hauled by an F6 2-4-2T. These were really built for the Valencia Harbour line, but [had it been built] the Belmullet route would have been similarly twisty, so an F6 moving north is not out of the question, while Galteemore of course has one on Rosses Point! Alphagraphix do a kit though it will need adapting to its original [oven type] smokebox doors. A couple of fish vans would complete things nicely.

 So that is six roads covered. The seventh is split in two, with in 1950s guise the railbus at one end and the railcar at the other. For the 1900s, the short [railbus] end will eventually be occupied by 0-4-2T Sprite and its semi permanently attached pay coach. In the longer road, there is room for a short goods train and news that Alphagraphix are due to re-release the E/J26 kit offers the chance of doing a MGWR goods, with the loco in lined green too.

 I quite like the idea of having each of the independent railway companies operating their own trains & stock. This side of the water, wagons in particular eventually all got mixed up, so that by the 1923 grouping, you could find a variety in most trains. Suspect it was the same in Ireland, so the GSWR freight, hauled by the 101, will have a variety, but the WL&W, MGW and SLNC ones will stay 'independent'.

 Among the stock I've built, this is not a problem, but having acquired two Richard Chown Dublin & Meath brake vans, I've wondered ever since how to include them. These are the ones in purple lake with salmon pink ends [!]. Richard ran them with Shannon on the Mail Goods, but the Dublin & Meath was taken over by the MGWR, so by 1900 should I suspect, be in brown livery. So, one at least can be repainted as the brake for the MGW freight, plus I have a horse box from the same company. A couple more MGW wagons should complete the line up.

 So, where does all this lead - and apologies if you are now bored to tears with my ramblings!

 The latest mini project centres on the WL&WR Mail Goods. In Ernie Shepherd's history, there is a nice picture of a four wheel third class coach which [unlike the parcels van] has plain panelling and doesn't need an awkward lattice cutting out, so can all be done with micro strip. Alongside this, am building a Waterford and Central Ireland Railway brake van. This company was actually in open conflict with the WLW for a while, over access to Waterford station, but later the former took over working its trains for a few years, before the WCIR became independent again. In the end, it was absorbed by the GSWR, so am hoping my model is vaguely plausible. One thing for sure, early brake vans are not easy to find, so this one is a bit of an amalgam of the WCIR and D&M prototypes. However, the rounded tops to the panelling nicely match those of the 4w coach, so fingers crossed!

 The models very much follow techniques used by David Jenkinson in his book Carriage Modelling Made Easy. Plastic sheet and micro strip make up the bodywork for both, while the spares box seems to have enough white metal castings for W-irons, springs, buffers etc. Deciding how my trains will be made up may cause a bit of head scratching, but if you can make stuff yourself, at least you don't have to wait for a manufacturer to produce one.






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Absolutely inspiring again, David!

You mention the Dublin & Meath brake vans taken over by the Midland. If these are strictly passenger vans, then brown as you say - but if they are goods or mixed train vehicles, grey or possibly a dark green colour, though I am uncertain when the MGWR abandoned green for brake vans in favour of brown. If you use the green, there's a model of Fry's in Malahide with this colour. I've to call in there soon, so I'll take a pic of it.

And yes, wagons inevitably got mixed up. I've seen pics of a GSWR van in Derry (Foyle Road), a DSER and a GSWR one in Achill, and a GNR one in West Cork!

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Seriously impressive fiddle yard David.  Great ideas & some eclectic collections not seen elsewhere.

I agree with the sentiment regarding building yourself.   The realisation you can build it if you can't buy it, really opens up the older eras of the hobby.

Well done & keep up the good work.

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