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Dichotomy - a dual scale layout

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Like many modellers, I have catholic tastes, though they rarely manifest themselves beyond drawing layout plans in my case. However, with relatives in British Columbia, I have been fortunate to make several visits, including Vancouver Island, where the Forest Museum, near Duncan is home to a splendid collection of logging equipment, including several logging engines of various kinds, plus a working 3' gauge tourist line which gives a nice ride over a figure of 8 route around the museum. If you manage to get to BC, the Museum is a must. On one visit, I achieved something I never thought possible - a cab ride on their Shay. For those of you who don't know, these are geared logging engines, low in speed [about 10mph max], but high in power and able to climb 1 in 10 grades with ease. At full speed, they sound like a Pacific doing 90...

For these reasons, I acquired a Bachmann 0n30 Shay a while back, very similar to the one at the Forest Museum. Ideas for a small layout/diorama were playedP1000200.JPG around with but, then discovered my loco model shop was selling off a Bachmann HO shay, with a Tsunami sound chip for £110. Given the chip alone is worth that, it was too much to resist. So, could I then make a small layout on which I could run both shays - if not at the same time?

Track gauge is the same of course, so it was a case of devising a simple plan, with the minimum of buildings that could work in both scales. thus Dichotomy yard was born.

The track plan is a loop with two sidings, one in each direction & the layout is a completely self-contained shunting puzzle. The design came from a Gauge 0 Guild 'Small Layouts' book. The loop holds just one wagon, the headshunts each end a loco and a wagon, with one siding holding 4 wagons and the other three. A set of cards, one for each wagon are shuffled and dealt out to hang on pegs at the front of the layout. It is then a case of trying to shunt the wagons in the correct order. Easier said than done!

The baseboard is just 4'6 x 1', track is Peco and control is DCC, though only to take advantage of the sound system on the HO loco. The Dichotomy warehouse at one end is 'multi-scale', at the other end the water tank is removable, so I have built two - one for each scale. Different road vehicles are used for each scale too. A hand painted backscene sets the layout alongside a narrow lake & the yard is assumed to be a small corner of a larger system. I'd just bought a static grass machine, so much fun was had experimenting with it to produce the ground cover. Normally, the layout sits on a shelf in my study, though it does have short folding legs and is exhibitable.

I've bought a few HO and 0n30 wagons, so can operate happily in either scale as the mood takes me. The full range of sounds on the HO shay really expand the experience, though it is also nice to work in peace and quite - especially as the shunting puzzles are serious brain ache at times!

Hopefully, you will be able to work out what scale each of the photos is.

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  • 1 month later...

The shays run beautifully, Warbonnet. The sound is very effective on the HO one, but it did need fine tuning to get a decent effect. That was an interesting project in itself. The tsunami hand book runs to over 200 pages! The On16.5 sound can be even better, because you can fit a bigger speaker which deepens the resonance.

Must admit, it took me months to even realise there were non Irish sections to the site. Was amazed to see 15 000 though, which is why I was surprised there were no comments either way, especially as I haven't come across the 'dual scale' concept anywhere else. Probably only works on a micro layout like this, but does give me the chance to operate both sets of stock . Equally, with Arigna Town almost finished, thoughts turn to a fresh project and there are a fair few ideas to fill the space Dichotomy presently occupies. Maybe even Irish 3'...

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That's a very nice little project, David. I like the idea of the cards allocated to each wagon for shunting. My own preference was always for a layout on which the locos and stock seem to be "doing something" rather than chasing their tails.

 

I look forward to whatever ideas you come up with... I am sure you will not be lacking in ideas. Once I get a lengthy and convoluted house move over with, I'm torn between a rural terminus in the "black'n'tan" seventies, a similar terminus based on Achill or Clifden in the early 30s, or Austrian narrow gauge 009.... it will depend on what room I have once all the other container loads of stuff which constitute my study are installed.

 

When you started posting details of Arigna Town, I happened to be reading a new book about the Blessington Tramway, another SLNCR-type quirky one-off, more railway than tramway, and like the SLNCR running steam, plus due to lack of money, a hotchpotch of small railbuses and a railcar. I often thought that would make a fascinating project.

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The shays run beautifully, Warbonnet. The sound is very effective on the HO one, but it did need fine tuning to get a decent effect. That was an interesting project in itself. The tsunami hand book runs to over 200 pages! The On16.5 sound can be even better, because you can fit a bigger speaker which deepens the resonance.

Must admit, it took me months to even realise there were non Irish sections to the site. Was amazed to see 15 000 though, which is why I was surprised there were no comments either way, especially as I haven't come across the 'dual scale' concept anywhere else. Probably only works on a micro layout like this, but does give me the chance to operate both sets of stock . Equally, with Arigna Town almost finished, thoughts turn to a fresh project and there are a fair few ideas to fill the space Dichotomy presently occupies. Maybe even Irish 3'...

 

We have a silent majority on the site, our members and active posters figures suggest that anyway! Interesting about the Bachmann Shays considering how rubbish a lot of their American outline is. Though their recent products are earning much better reviews. Never tempted by BR at all David, it being on your doorstep and all?

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As it happens, all but two of my 12 layouts have been English, Warbonnet, though only one was BR. That is the previous project, Eatonswell, which is East Anglia in the late 50s. Will post a few pics soon, though they need compressing as they are all 5m plus. All the rest were light railway and/or narrow gauge practice. Have always been a fan of the Colonel and we do share a name of course!

Could easily be tempted by all your ideas, JB, especially after visiting Achilles and Clifden last year. Blessington would make an unusual and attractive project too, while Kenmare has long appealed, as does Timoleague and Courtmacsherry, this now very do able thanks to the Tyrconnel kits. One day...

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Lovely project David, the scenic work is particularly fine.

 

I'm partial to American HO myself, although I'm not a steam afficianado! Could you give some details on how you tweaked the decoder in the Shay? I have a couple of Bachmann locos with factory fitted sound which needed a bit of playing around with to get good slow running.

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Re decoder tweaks...

First of all I'm no expert on DCC, despite having a dozen locos with chips on my Eatonswell layout. This is one way of saying - 'done a bit of dabbling, but don't quote me!' However, seemed to me that the key of changing the CVs which control the top speed of the loco and when it will start coasting.

On some chips [& certainly on my Bachmann Prodigy controller], there is the option of 'shunt speed', which obviously keeps things under close control. On the Shay, the issue was stopping the loco 'chuffing' all the time it was running, because after a certain amount of time, the driver will shut off steam and let the engine coast, or apply the brake. Hence the chuffs fade to nothing and the hiss and clanks come to the fore, along with the squeal of brakes. If I can make this happen on a layout 1.5m long, then there is hope for everyone! Can't remember which CV/section it was, but try looking up in the instructions where this part is and alter accordingly. Am guessing that if you let up know the loco and chip, there will be someone out there who will have the quick fix. details are important, as it tends to vary from one manufacturer to another.

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  • 1 year later...

Gawdloveus IT, have only just looked at this thread and see it is 18 months since your post! Am guessing you have found the answer to your question by now, but just in case...

Was amused to find that the CD that comes with a Tsunami sound chip runs to over 200 pages if printed out. No chance of that, of course [not with my printer ink, anyway], but the main point with tuning a steam loco's sound is to avoid the 'chuff' happening all the time. The regulator only stays open while the driver is moving away/accelerating [especially on a small layout] , so what I did was adjust the coasting & braking settings on the chip. Hence when operating the loco, i give it an initial burst of speed, then reduce the controller back to zero. Chuffing dies away, leaving just the hiss, clank, brake squeal etc. Takes a bit of practice in terms of judging where the loco will stop, but adds to the fun and you can always open the throttle again briefly if the loco is coming up short.

The little layout is due an outing shortly at the village 'Crafts Day', so have treated myself to a small diesel switcher [also with sound], which I got second hand for just £60. Will take some pictures and give an update shortly

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