Nicks workshop mutterings

Various railway orientated modelling projects in my new workshop/railway room.

Lakebank video

Lakebank, the ex Furness Railway branch line built by the Launceston & District MRC has now been sold and has moved to a new home in North Wales. It is hoped that when things return to some normality it will exhibited in the North West including the Lake District.

Before it departed we made a video showing the history of the layout and a flavour of the operating. This can now be viewed on Utube either by searching ‘Lakebank’ or using the following link

Have a look and enjoy

Tinworthy- April progress report

I haven’t posted much recently but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been active.

Firstly I have built the footbridge which spans the two platforms between the end of the station and the goods shed.

It is constructed from Plastikard and is interesting in that the supports on the up platform end span the stone wall which goes along the back of the platform. The wall is still to be painted and weathered as well as the platform surfaces.

Secondly I have finished an LSWR A12 Jubilee from a 3mm Jidenco etched brass kit. This forms a Southern branch train diverted through Tinworthy due to problems on the Southern Railway line.

The loco is finished as one of the last of the class which survived just into nationalisation. It was allocated a new number but never carried it, being withdrawn for scrapping in December 1948.

Finally, I have converted a 57XX built for 12mm gauge to 14.2. The chassis was one built by the late Rodney Pearce and has a Portescap motor whilst the body is a GEM whitemetal converted to the later Collett style. I acquired this many years ago and have no idea who originally built it!

The model is finished as 3686 which was one of the panniers shedded at Laira shed in Plymouth. It is seen on a short pick up goods. The loco is awaiting some weathering.

Tinworthy progress-a bit of fun!

Following on from my last post here are a couple of ‘posed’ photos with their prototype inspirations. Enjoy…….

45xx Prairie on a through train takes water at Tinworthy

Tinworthy-more lockdown progress

Having finished the main station building my thoughts have now turned to the main goods shed. As with the station a reduction in space has of necessity meant a proportional reduction in the size of the goods shed while at the same time trying to preserve the feeling of the original. Tavistock had quite a sizeable goods shed with two tracks running through it. It was of a timber construction with a brick built office at one end and a wooden lean to office at the other end.

I used a plan of Chipping Campden shed from Ian Allan’s book on Great Western Branch Stations to get general dimensions and pictures of the original Tavistock structure to get a suitable representation. The model is constructed from card. Unfortunately the card I used for the main roof is a bit thin which resulted in some bowing which I managed to reduce to a degree by using internal bracing. Hopefully it doesn’t show too much.

The shed has now been installed and the water tower and Down starting signal as well. The water tower is a cut down version of a typical GWR conical tower. This was originally a 3mm Society kit and is recycled from an old layout of many years ago!

The final part of this end of the station will be a covered footbridge which sits between the station and the goods shed and connects the two platforms. This is the next project…..

Tinworthy-Station Building

The original Tavistock GWR station had an overall roof. My interpretation of the station for necessity of space involves a shortened building. There are no plans of the original station but looking at pictures in a very good article published in the Great Western Journal I could see comparisons with the buildings of Henley-on-Thames. They are in brick whereas Tavistock is in stone but the window and door sizes appear quite comparable. There are very good drawings of Henley in Paul Karau’s book on the subject.

The building Is constructed from card to which I stuck a brown manilla envelope turned inside out onto which I scribed the stone courses. This is a method I learnt from the late Peter Gentle-a superb building modeller. The brown paper gives a very good texture and takes watercolour very well. The stones are painted on using various shades of grey and brown

Here shows the effect before and after painting

The outer wall of the train shed is constructed from a sandwich of Wills sheets and planked plasticard with the windows made up from thin card and set into openings cut in the sheets.

The overall roof is made from mounting board with plastruct girders and trusses soldered up from 0.7mm brass rod on a marked out jig. The outer surface is covered with corrugated plasticard. The whole roof is detachable to allow access to the inside of the shed.

I think it portrays an atmosphere of the original building.

The roadside entrance to the station.
An aerial view of the completed train shed.
Pannier tank 6414 waits in the UP platform with an auto train bound for Plymouth. Compare this to the picture below!


In lockdown again but there still seems to be multiple jobs to keep me away from the modelling room!

However, there has been some progress. The track has all been ballasted and painted, the platform basics are in place and I have started on the station building and overall roof.

Initially the track and cork base was airbrushed with a mixture of grey and earth colour. I use the Vallejo paints which are already thinned for spraying.

The ballast is then added dry and gently brushed into place. I use Attwood Aggregates ex fine ballast which is produced local to me.

The ballast was then fixed in place using a PVA based laminate floor polish. I originally found out about this method from a thread on the Scalefour forum. The original polish was Johnson Klear but this is no longer available. However I found an equivalent from B&Q made by Stickatack.

Using a pipette the polish is dribbled along the edge of the ballast and immediately is ‘sucked’ across without disturbing the ballast. It dries far quicker than the messy method of using diluted PVA and is much easier to remove if necessary.

For the areas between the tracks I used very fine, almost dust, granite chippings mixed with grey weathering powder applied to ordinary PVA brushed on. Finally the whole lot was airbrushed again with a rust coloured paint and some black over the areas in the platform where locos would stand.

Work has started on the main station building. More about this later. …..

Servos-analogue or digital

Three signals and two points on Tinworthy are driven by servos. When first installed two signals and a point had digital servos and the third signal and one point had analogue servos. All the servos are driven by Heathcote servo driver boards via relays switched by the MERG CBUS system.

I found that the two analogue servos ‘twitched’ when a loco was driven past but not the digital ones. According to the Heathcote web site, they recommend digital servos as they do not twitch at startup.

I am not an electrical expert but I understand that the amount the servo moves is determined by the control pulse coming from the control board which has controls to determine the start and end points of travel of the servo. However there appears to be a degree of overthrow before the servo cuts out and the position is then maintained by the gearing in the motor. This is fine when working a signal but with a point the end point needs to be set so that the point blade is hard up against the stock rail (which is why in the prototype there is a facing point lock) and therefore the digital servo is continually trying to reach the cut off position and the result is ‘chattering’ of the servo. This doesn’t happen with analogue ones. If the throw of the servo is adjusted so the point blade only just reaches the stock rail then the chatter is eliminated but there is the risk of trains derailing because the blade is not ‘locked’ in place.

So do I twitch or do I chatter!

Recent postings on the forum of MERG suggested that by using omega loops or ‘Z’ loops the chattering of a digital servo can be eliminated and the loop keeps up the pressure of the point blade on the stock rail. I have tried this and it has solved the problem.

So now I don’t twitch or chatter!!

Tinworthy-was Tavistowe- update

Yes, a change of name. Comments by my wife has led to a name change as she didn’t think Tavistowe was appropriate and suggested an alternative!!

Tin because Tavistock is a Stannary town and ‘Worthy’ because it is a typical Devon place name. So the layout will now be known as Tinworthy.

I have now finished laying all the track and wiring it all up. I can now have UP and Down trains.

Here we can see the extent of the station with an auto train at the Down platform.

I have temporarily laid in the platform bases and marked out where the goods shed will sit incorporating a point servo.

The first train is an auto train which consists of an auto coach of 1927 and a 64xx Pannier tank. Both recently constructed from etched brass kits.

Great Western Railway 1927 Diagram A27 Autocoach recently outshopped in Blood and Custard livery
64xx pannier tank no. 6414. This loco spent all it’s life based at Laira shed in Plymouth

Next jobs are to paint the track, add cosmetic chairs to the point work and add ballast……..

Tinworthy was Tavistowe- trains move…

Track laying has continued and I have now completed two boards. I have also wired up those two boards complete with all the associated point motors.

I have programmed the main CBUS module in the control panel and the modules on the two boards which control the point operation and all the section switches and which controller of two controls that section. This wasn’t without its problems as two of the modules had the wrong version of firmware in their PIC controllers and stubbornly refused to be recognised by the computer used for programming! After many trials and tribulations where I was literally pulling my hair out [useful as I can’t get a haircut at present!!] I managed to upgrade them and now have a fully working system. All with only a 4 way cable connecting the control panel to the layout. You can see a 64xx pannier and a diesel railcar which have been run all over the existing tracks.

I intend to hide the point motors at the front of the layout with a removable scenic board and the ones at the back with suitable buildings. I have mocked these up in paper and they include warehouses, a stable block and a garage for the local bus.

Also shown here is mock up to show where the platforms and station building will be sited.

One more board and the fiddle yards to go.

Tinworthy was Tavistowe-work in progress

In lockdown and in between all the jobs in the house and garden, work is progressing on laying the track work on Tavistowe. It’s amazing how much mess accumulates on the boards while working;

The main line at the Plymouth end is complete up to the single slip which allows access to the goods yard. This end has been wired up and all the point motors added. I have decided to mount the motors on top of the board to allow ease of adjustment if needed. This area will be covered by the local cattle market on a removable piece of scenery. The main track is the 3mm Society 14.2 plastic sleepered track with code 60 bullhead rail. The points are all handmade with a mixture of copper clad strip and 1/32” plywood strip. Cosmetic chairs will be added later using the ones produced by the 3mm Society. All the trackwork is glued to the cork base with a PVA based Tacky glue.

The motors are Hoffmann point motors which work on 15vAC and have built in switches for the frog polarity. The relay to the side of the motor is the interface between the point and the MERG CBUS modules. The relay switches the point motor and in turn is turned on or off by outputs from the CBUS. The actual CBUS module [a CANACC8 for those interested] is mounted under neath the board. One of the points seen here is servo operated as there wasn’t room for another Hoffmann.

I fear that the wiring underneath is a bit of a ‘spaghetti junction ‘. Luckily the baseboards include holes to carry wiring around the layout. I am basically trying to keep the CBUS data wiring to the front of the board and the track power and AC feeds to the rear in order to reduce any interference between the two. Here you can see the twin servo board on the left which drives the point and the intermediate starter signal when it is installed. The relays on the right switch the servos on and off in response to an output from the CBUS. In the middle is the connection of the CBUS and its associated 12vDC power

That’s enough for the moment. The grass needs cutting………

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