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Things have been quiet of late on the modelling front - though I have done two exhibitions in three weeks, with another next Saturday too. However, have decided to start a new broad gauge thread, post Arigna Town, as have made the decision to call the revised layout Belmullet. And it will remain that now, as I have invested in a bespoke control panel which now carries that name. The rest however, is as outlined in the brief thread called Blacksod Bay.

 As can be seen from the photos, the new panel is being supplied by Megapoints and will use servos to work the points and signals. Am hoping that using this system will cut down significantly on the amount of soldering required to set up all the controls, with a lot less wiring as well. Time will tell.

 The other thing I've been spending my hard earned cash on is a bespoke piece of track work, namely a double slip from Marcway of Sheffield. At least, that is what has arrived, even though I actually ordered a single slip. I realise of course, that either piece of track would have been pretty rare on any Irish branch line, especially one in the far west of County Mayo. Nevertheless, with only 11'8" of scenic space available, compromises are required and a slip of one sort or another was the only way to make the track plan work. Whether I stick with the double slip as supplied, or convert it to a single, I'm not yet sure - though the former certainly gives me more operational flexibility.

The former Arigna Town boards are now about as stripped down as they can be:

  • The display boards at the front have been removed, as this face will eventually be the back scene. This will have a profiled inner board, following the contours of the distant hills on Achill Island and the Blacksod peninsula, with taller sky boards slotting in behind
  • All buildings have been removed apart from the station itself, though the signal box will eventually go back where it was, with the water tower, Co-op warehouses and Railway Inn moving to new locations. A loco shed and a warehouse/distillery will be new.
  • Trackwork is undergoing some radical changes, with the new slip temporarily in place in the photos, plus the turnout it replaced now enabling an end loading dock  by what is now an island platform.
  • All points have had their tiebars removed. New ones will be fitted below the baseboards, with dropper wires from the point blades connecting to them, so the operating servos are kept out of sight. Eventually, there will be three new signals controlling departures at the platform end.
  • A large hole awaits the arrival of a new, electrically driven turntable. This is a laser cut plywood model from Kitwood Hill Models Store. Two tracks will lead from the far end - one to the loco shed [a mock up of which can be seen in one of the photos], with the other running just in front of it, which will be useful for stabling stock in the open.

 So, there we are, Belmullet it will be. Am hoping to get busy making up some half track, so I can at least get the new rails along the front of the model laid - by which time maybe the turntable and all the wiring components will have arrived. 

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The MGWR used double slips usually as part of a crossover from a main running line to goods yard or a loop at several main and branch line stations. The arrangement on your layout is not unlike Broadstone or Galway on a slightly smaller scale.

You may need to build some Emerald Green or Royal Blue engines to offset the GSWR black of your time period David!

There is a Hamilton-Ellis colour print of a train on the Clifden Branch with a MGWR 2-4-0 in the short lived royal blue livery in "The Trains we Loved" (Allen & Unwins version)

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That's good to know, John. As for black, I like it better than the grey, but MGW 4-4-0 Wolfdog is down to be my next engine and it will be in green!

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Belmullet is a lovely name for this new revised project, good luck with it.

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On 5/13/2019 at 8:33 AM, David Holman said:

That's good to know, John. As for black, I like it better than the grey, but MGW 4-4-0 Wolfdog is down to be my next engine and it will be in green!

By basing it pre-1915 you can avoid grey entirely, as GSWR locos are lined black. Midland engines had been green for yonks, but as you know a few became lined royal blue 1905/10. From about 1918, most Midland loco repaints were lined black, while the carriage brown gave way to a very deep maroon.

So, round 1915-18, you could have a Midland loco in black, one blue and one green, alongside a black GSWR one, and possibly a WLWR one still (just about) carrying lines maroon.....

Colourful!

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That's the idea, though compared to weathered black (which covers a multitude of sins), a pristine, lined finish requires a lot more effort. There again, it is all about challenging myself, so fingers crossed!

 Not much been happening with Belmullet recently. Am still waiting for my control components to arrive from Megapoints ( no point in doing scenery before wiring is completed), while four shows in quick succession for Fintonagh has taken up much of my spare time.

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Organised Chaos

 Or wiring, in other words. Wiring for me is a necessary evil. Trains won't run without electrickery, but my knowledge is of the 'just enough and no more' variety. However, the biggest problem is my mild dyspraxia - or at least that is how I think of it. Clumsy, a bit, but the main problem is really struggling with anything 'handed'. If there are two ways to put something together, I will do it wrong first, no matter how many times I think about it, while anything with rotational symmetry is a nightmare! Assembling flatpack furniture always takes twice as long as it should do...

 Wiring a layout is an exquisite type of agony, because you have to reverse what is on top of the baseboard when you wire underneath and likewise plugs and sockets. So, am feeling rather pleased with myself today, because I've managed to rewire the Arigna boards and they work!! I should have taken pictures of the bird's nest of spaghetti that had grown under the original boards, but suffice to say what you can see below is a whole lot neater. Those who know about such things will no doubt have done the job differently, but it works for me. Changes from Arigna are as follows:

  • There is now just a single controller socket on the front of the station board, instead of the four that were there previously. This profligacy was simply because firstly Arigna was operated from the rear at shows, but I needed a front socket for home use. Doubling up both was to accommodate my spare controller, which had a different plug on it. I am sure you are already wondering why I didn't fit the same plug to both controllers, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I have long realised my mind doesn't always work logically!
  • A Tag strip with 72 loops [2 x 18 double strips] has been fitted under each board. All wiring goes to these first & this is then split and sent to track feeds and baseboard sockets. Staples help keep the wiring fairly neat.
  • Wiring is now just red and black - one colour for each track, with a wiring diagram that tell me which tag strip goes to which feed, socket, etc. Under the Arigna boards, colours were rather mixed at random, using whatever I had to hand at the time. I know...
  • While only 8 wires goes from Baseboard 1 to Baseboard 2 [and only 4 wires from 2 to 3], I have used 15 and 9 pin computer plugs and sockets to keep any stray wires away from touching each other. 
  • Baseboard 2's tag strips have leads going from them to the other two boards. In storage or transit, these leads are kept tidy by using clothes pegs hot glued to the underside of the boards.
  • Point and signal control will be by servos, using Megapoints units and a custom made panel. This will be on Baseboard 3 at the fiddle yard end.
  • The Fiddleyard operator will also be the signalman, with the driver at the station end, where all the uncoupling magnets will be too. Although I have no intention of using DCC, it would be nice to have a steam whistle/diesel horn unit, for the driver to call attention to the signalman. Better than shouting down the layout, methinks...
  • Chances are, the signalman will also work the turntable, as it will be easier to align the tracks than from 10 feet away, where the driver will be.

 Anyway, the above has taken me much of the last week and a lot longer thinking about it. And yes, I did get everything back to front on the first board and had to redo it. Needless to say, a few rude words were uttered. More than a few, in fact. The photos show the undersides of the boards and the chaos that reigned all around me while I was doing it. It took rather a long time to tidy up!

 

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Posted (edited)

I do sympathise, David, and I suspect Catweazle was on to something. I imagine he was a clockwork or live steam man. I’m always glad when the DC is flowing where it should be - one of the jobs I hate doing! As for ‘knowing just enough and no more’ - well that’s what I aspire to!!

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Edited by Galteemore

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More Wiring Trials

Spent the last week faffing about with point control wiring. I've invested a fair wedge of my hard earned on a Megapoints control system. This has included:

  • A custom made control panel, complete with Belmullet lettering and mimic diagram
  • A master control board, switches and LEDs to go in the panel and which work all the points and signals via a single network cable.
  • Three Servo Driver boards, each controlling four points or signals, which go under the baseboards.

 The Megapoints stuff also requires its own 5 amp, 12v supply, plus several network cables to join the Servo Drivers together. Hence the under baseboard wiring has grown a bit, to say the least. However, the servos only cost £1.80 each [about a tenth of the price of Tortoise point motors and associated switching], while the entire system is pretty much 'plug and play', requiring the minimum of soldering. It is expensive though. So, what I now have is as follows:

  • A mimic control panel with a lot of spaghetti inside. This comprises leads from the push button switches and LED indicators [green/green for point routing and red/green for signals], which go to terminals on the main processor. A 12v supply goes in from the transformer, with just a three strand network cable going to the layout, instead of around 30= wires if I had used ordinary point motors and toggle switches
  • Baseboard 'C' [nearest the fiddle yard] will have the mimic panel fixed to it with a couple of quick mount plates. A single servo driver has four leads going from it to the three arm signal as seen on Arigna Town, plus the main turnout on entry to the station. There is then another three strand network lead going to the middle scenic board 'B'.
  • Baseboard 'B' has two servo drivers. The first one has two leads to the double slip, with the other two going to what will be two new starter signals at the platform end. The second servo driver covers the point to the loco shed on Baseboard B, then two more network leads go to Baseboard 'A' to work the loco release crossover and the point to the end loading dock off the bay.

 On the one hand, much of it is fairly straightforward, but with my aforementioned ability to get things back to front, there has been a fair amount of bad language and a lot of head scratching to get it all set up. The system is quite clever, because it enables you to reverse the switches to ensure the lights on the mimic panel are going the right way, while the signal controls allow you to have them bounce and do the 'double pull' as seen on the real thing. In addition, the range of movement on the servos is controllable too - handy for ensuring points close properly. The downside appears to be that the servos, while cheap, may not be all that reliable, so  I have ordered some spares already! It may well be prudent to protect the servo drivers with  some sort of cover too, eventually.

 The photos may, or may not make the above clearer...

 

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A trick of the light, Mick. Track wiring is red and black, network wiring is red, white and black, while for some reason, the servo leads are red, brown and yellow.

 My mobile phone case is VERY pink though, but only because that was the only colour they had. Even so, still manage to lose round the house!

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Getting creative at last

 Having spent what seemed like an age with the electrics, even though they are not yet complete, I really needed to do something creative for a change. The recent focus has been on the back scenes, as these will go a long way towards defining the setting of the layout. However, before that I needed to get the layout set up as it will eventually be when exhibited again. Arigna Town had built in legs on all baseboards, but these required lots of coach bolts, plus I wanted to be able to use the trestles and beams from Fintonagh as storage space in my workshop is tight.

 A slight problem is that Fintonagh is just under 3 metres long, while Belmullet [like Arigna] is nearer five. Therefore what I have done is to make extension pieces to the longitudinal beams used under Fintonagh, so they now take the three scenic boards of Belmullet. The sliding/rotating fiddle yard keeps a single pair of hinged legs, adjusted to match the 120cm track height, and piggy backs off the end of the three scenic boards. With that settled, I could then focus on making new back scene boards.

 These will eventually be in two parts - a permanently attached 'landscape' layer, with separately attached 'skyboards', behind. If I had gone with an all in one back scene, high enough to be covered by the front pelmet, it would have made the baseboards too big to get in the car for transport. I did think about having the sky on a separate, fabric back scene and may yet still go for this, but the structure the latter would require would be complicated and require more setting up time at shows.

 At the moment, the back scene includes sky on it, simply because I am 'blocking in' the main scenic elements, to help me visualise what the scene will look like when it is finished. Had a railway actually been built to Belmullet, like as not the station would have been parallel to the Blacksod Bay shoreline and a right angles to the canal built to join it to Broadwater Bay. Hence the scene tries to represent a bit of the Belmullet peninsula on the right hand side, with it then opening out to the dark and brooding Achill Island in the distance. The latter section is one I'm so far fairly pleased with, but the peninsula section is currently looking too bright - even for Ireland's vivid greens, so will be toned down as more detail is added. However, I don't want the back scene to dominate the model railway.

 Other 'blocking in' work has been to make shells for the new buildings and cut out spaces for ones that are being recycled from Arigna. The latter include the signal box, station building, water tower, cottage and barn. The new loco shed and goods shed will both be covered in Wills 'random stone', while in the corner, next to the goods shed will be a 'co-operative' warehouse clad with corrugated iron from the same source. Front left will be a small representation of a distillery - offices full relief, the rest very much low relief. Not exactly prototypical, but it adds a useful extra source of traffic for more interesting operation.

 One other thing I've done is to transfer the LED strip lighting from Arigna to the underside of the shelves above where the layout mostly lives. This is important as I need to paint the back scenes in the same light as they will be exhibited - it is amazing how much difference different sorts of lighting can make to your palette.

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Posted (edited)

A good impression. A lot of backscenes seem to be taken too high too soon. Even in hilly areas inclination is not really that much, outside of an Alpine valley. Sea inlets too, modernist geometric shapes with lots of straight lines and acute angles, just as you have it.

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Thanks JB, it is all soldered construction. The plain track is my work, but the double slip is by Marcway - all £180 worth of it. Well outside my abilities, so a necessary investment.

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Adjusting tone and topography

 A quick comparison with last week's photos should show that the land has shrunk and the water level has risen. Fortunately not global warming just yet, so nobody needs to go out to source gopher wood or animal pairs for now. However, it was obvious that for this part of the Mayo coast, everything was just a bit too big and bright. Google Maps and Google Earth are very useful in helping to get an idea of a landscape far away from home and there are some excellent pictures online too, so the last week has been spent adjusting things accordingly. It is not in any way 100% accurate, but I hope I'm starting to capture the feel of the low lying, almost treeless Mullet peninsula, with Achill Island brooding in the distance. The latter should really be even lower on the horizon, but the back scene topography needs to be as high as the loco shed roof, while as mentioned last time, the sky behind will be on separate boards.

 I've pondered long and hard about the relationships between the 3D scenery and the 2D back scene - including doing away with the barn and cottage. A long of time has been spent just sitting in front of the layout, trying to visualise things and several sketches have been done too. At the moment, the buildings will stay, though I've angled the cottage to be parallel with the track in the look. The goods shed has been made longer, but also lower, so its roofline roughly matches that of the Co-op store next door. Mrs H has given her approval - she has a good eye for proportions, though  this perhaps begs the question of what she sees in me. An unfinished project probably!

 Perhaps the biggest problem has been how to hide the baseboard joins in the back scene. I considered making the buildings removable [as on Fintonagh], but they would take up a fair bit of extra space when transported. Well painted trees can do the trick, but the area seems rather tree-less. However, checking photos again shows a few conifers, while some of the farmsteads look like they have windbreaks planted, so this is what I've done. 

 The tones of the distant peninsula have been build up with numerous thin washes of acrylic, while I've done away with all the hedgerows and drystone walls. The more distant the landscape, the easier things get as everything tends to blur into a blue/grey, but middle distance requires a bit more colour [albeit pale] and detail. Whether additional washes will be added, depends on how it looks when I next go in the workshop, though the foreground certainly needs more work  [it will probably wait until I start the actual ground cover, so I can best match the colours] and the two ends have had little done to them yet.

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 More 'blocking in' work recently. not very exciting, but gradually builds up the overall scene. The goods shed and loco shed have both been covered in Wills 4mm scale random stone, while the other buildings are rendered stone from the same source. The goods shed is about 3/4 relief, so a very odd shape, which has been done very much by trial and error - lots of both in fact! The windows on the loco shed are from York Modelmaking. With micro strip now costing around 50p for a 30cm length, ready made, laser cut frames are increasingly both attractive and cost effective.

 Other work, if you can call it that, has been a case of spending quite a lot of time just looking at the layout. Not hours on end, but little and often, in an effort to try and visualise the scene and get the overall balance looking right. Hence the cottage will probably now move to the right hand end of the middle board, so there is room for a bit of hard standing/goods yard effect next to the goods shed.

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On 8/18/2019 at 8:50 PM, David Holman said:

Other work, if you can call it that, has been a case of spending quite a lot of time just looking at the layout.

Yes, yes.........that's what I'm doing at the moment with my layout - Visualising.........just imagining what it wouild look like, if I ever got a chance to do some work.........☺️

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I always find it hard to see a wonderful layout being dismantled but recycling certainly accelerates the time to complete the next building and limits cost on duplicate items. The control panel is a nice touch and the double slip is definitely the way to go. Who knew they were use on the MGW (maybe others, I didn't, thanks John as always). Very nice layout, coming along nicely, love the board gauge as always, wish so much there was a purchase option rather than a scratch build for track work. Looking forward to further updates!

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The purchase option is there, DC. Marcway will do custom pointwork in 4mm and 7mm for a fee, usually about 50% above standard gauge, which actually not much more than Peco. Coaches, wagons and diesels not much of a problem, though steam outline conversions of RTR more difficult I think.

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17 hours ago, DiveController said:

..........  The control panel is a nice touch and the double slip is definitely the way to go. Who knew they were use on the MGW (maybe others, I didn't, thanks John as always). 

It's surprising just how many unusual sets of points were to be found in the past, as well as, of course, square crossings at Dundalk and Limerick junction.

There were curved points at several locations, and diamond crossings, slips, and three-way points to be seen here and there. None were common, though, certainly compared with England.

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More visualising

 Having got a fair way with the loco shed, I next wanted to sort out how it will 'sit' in the lefthand, rear corner of the layout. In an ideal world, both the landscape and separate,  sky, back scene boards would be curved at about 10-15cm radius, to avoid a right angled corner in the scenery. However, this is not practical [at either end], so a bit of subterfuge is required. What I'm doing is to use a 'flat' - essentially a 1 cm deep gable end of what is meant to be part of a whisky distillery. This is angled slightly, so that when viewed, the lack of depth won't be apparent. In addition, I've painted another section of this building on the back scene, but at right angles to the 'flat'. Between the signal box and the white building [which is the admin section of the distillery], there will be a scots pine, about 20cm high, which I'm hoping will help to hide some of the above too - including the hole in the sky, where the main line exits to the fiddle yard.

 The Belmullet Distillery - home of Blacksod Bay Whisky - will be a useful source of traffic to the railway, with not just grain in & booze out, but also peat to fire the boilers. There are of course peat workings nearby and this also gives me the excuse to build and run two or three of those splendid 'peat wagons', made from converted WL&W six wheel coaches, by boarding up the windows & removing the roofs.

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