Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Winter Work.


29th April 2014.

Most of the work during the winter and spring has concentrated on the raised section through the rose bed and into the Barn. The Barn is our name for the shed on the left of the picture, with a double-pitched roof like a dutch barn. The gap in the viaduct houses a light-weight removable section of viaduct on running days. To the left of it in the picture, the line rises at 1 in 50 from the removable viaduct, while curving first to the left through 45 degrees, then right through 135 degrees through a watertight hatch into the Barn. The sharpest curve is 5ft radius.

A panoramic view of the north viaduct and the elevated section through the rose bed.
A Dänenholzbahn 2-10-2T descends from the Harz mountains, past the lake and approaching the viaduct.

The Dänenholzbahn train approaches the north entrance to the Barn.

The transition from Peco to C&L Finescale flexi-track. The difference is remarkable!
The uphill track (the only one laid at present) from the removable section to the Barn, has been experimentally fitted with DCC Concepts Powerbase steel plates. To maximise their effect, C&L Finescale flexi-track has been used for this section, as its height from sleeper base to rail head is 1.5mm less than Peco. This might not sound much, but can make a significant difference to magnetic attraction, which falls off very rapidly with distance. 
The only test of Powerbase so far was to fit a single magnet on a Bachmann S&D 2-8-0. Before, it could not manage more than six 150g coaches on 1 in 50. With Powerbase it pulled the equivalent of 9 or 10. It was a very rough test though, more controlled tests will come!

I don't normally go for "foreign", but last year visited the wonderful Harz metre-gauge railways in north Germany, and travelled in 4-wheeled end-balcony coaches behind massive 2-10-2T locos. These H0 standard-gauge coaches and loco look remarkably similar, and I couldn't resist them!

The Barn has a 2' wide shelf across the back across which runs the railway on movable sections if track. This allows locos or trains to be marshalled, changed or turned by sliding the track modules around on the shelf. There is another entrance/exit the other side of the Barn. The scheme is as yet untried in regular service, and it remains to be seen how well it works in practice, though I have done experimental trails and the principle seems to work. Under the shelf is storage space for the two removable viaducts and tunnel liner. The rest of the space is storage shelves, DCC electronics, and a chair!

The first three viaduct arches are cut out. It's a very messy and time-consuming job, so as the remainder will be largely obscured by flowers and shrubs, the painted arches seemed a good compromise, and are likely to be stronger too. You will have noted that the vertical and horizontal blocks are identical, each being half a lightweight building block. This minimised the amount of cutting and carving required!

I am now within days of achieving the milestone of running a train round a complete circuit, Barn to Barn, albeit with some single-track sections still to be doubled. They must be fine days though, so it might be a week or two.
An engineers' inspection train awaits clearance to exit the Barn through the north entrance.


  1. Hi there
    I've read through your whole blog with enjoyment. It has revived a boyhood interest in model rail long left behind after the age of 13. It began when I stumbled on the OO gauge garden website (a surprise as I thought it the domain of O gauge and larger). Thence to yours which has kindled even more interest partly thanks to your blog and partly 'cos we've 'retired' into a suburban bungalow that happens to have a larger garden than we had.
    I'm going to begin from scratch perhaps with a simple layout in the dry in the loft but have nothing at present.

    Any work must satisfy the General Building Committee which needs to supervise a rather disruptive extension before any garden work is considered or even any locos or stock bought. So another year perhaps!

    I'm also keen on photography and have much appreciated your approach through pictures and video which, as you say, gets one closer to the eye-level action. Well done!

    I've a couple of questions which perhaps you could explain at some stage through your blog.

    - Could you explain how you shoot those captivating loco driver video shots - as I'm imagining quite a small camera/phone is needed for that.

    Could you give an inventory of the locos you have found which cope well with the stress of hauling long trains up 1 in 50's with those 5ft curves? This may well guide my purchase plan once I can get started.
    Thanks again

  2. I hope I replied to this at the time, but for the benefit of other readers:

    Filming is with a "keyfob" camera - search on ebay for best spec at best price.

    The best locos for 1 in 50 tend to be those you'd expect; Bachmann 9F 2-10-0, Hornby Gresley P2, for example. The limitation is almost always adhesion rather than motor power, so lots of driving wheels and lots of weight are good. There have been some surprises though.....