30 March 2009

Board notation

Unintentionally, a notation for the baseboards has evolved in the preceding posts. The diagram below shows the complete notation and how I will use it in future:

So when I talk about, e.g., board B5u, it should now be clearer what I mean... or so I hope...

The first feeder tracks

The first section of the feeder track is now in place.

This picture shows boards B5 and F5 with the double-track feeder from the storage sidings (B5l), eventually destined for the station (B1u). The track is not fixed; I only put it down to test the alignment through the curved sections. The final elevation of the feeders in this picture is about 5.5cm above base height, and the maximum gradient (~3%) is about half what you get using Hornby inclined piers at their standard spacing. I want to avoid going any steeper than that if at all possible.

Eventually, all of the track bed shown here will be covered by scenery, and the track will emerge from a tunnel portal into a cutting just to the left of this picture.

I have not paid any attention at all to the front boards since I first built them months ago, and I found that I had to put a lot more front-to-back bracing on board F5 before I could fix any track beds. I will of course have to do the same for the other front boards when I get to them.

The plan of attack is to complete the entire outer mainline loop, right round to the LH station approach, and then work on the inner mainline loop which connects the RH station approach to the LH storage sidings.

19 March 2009

The secrets of board B5

The entire of the back section is now constructed. Board B5, the right-hand section, went in most recently. This means that all of the solid-top area of the layout (basically, the station and its approaches) is now ready for final alignment, fixing and track laying.

Here is board B5 with the lid off showing the supports and the storage siding approaches. The small spur in the foreground is the feeder for the branch line, the larger one behind it is for the main line.

Until recently I thought I would have a break from construction once I reached this stage, and lay track in the storage sidings. But I have decided that, instead, I will push to complete the constructional aspects at the front, put in the track beds and scenery supports, and get the frame completely ready, before I lay any track anywhere. This is partly because I don't have all the track I need yet, partly because of the danger of getting sawdust into the mechanisms, and partly because I don't want to run the risk of forgetting how I've built things if I have to come back to it later. Having got the hang of this cutting, glueing and screwing lark, I am in the mood to complete the woodwork and get it all out of the way so that I can turn my full attention to the fun bits. So now I have to start thinking about gradients again to build the storage approaches, and about track courses and the shape of the scenery along the front sections.

I'm enjoying the construction side of things more than I expected, but I still want to get it done so I can turn the frame into a railway.

03 March 2009

It's been a while...

Much time has passed with little progress; other commitments have intervened. But the past few days have at last allowed some progress again. The fourth baseboard is now in place (seen below with added train for scale!). When I eventually got time to work on it, it went together pretty well and retains the level of the others without any adjustment being required.

That leaves the right-hand-most of the back boards still to do. In some ways it will be the hardest because this section is a little bit wider than the others, i.e. a few cm wider than a standard 606mm plywood sheet. But now I know what I'm doing, I should be able to complete it smoothly enough, given the time.

Cue arty shot of the train in the above photo...

(It looks better if you don't blow it up to full size.)

Every time I complete a milestone (even a mini one like this), my desire to get trains running comes back. And it's good to know that the next major expense will be track and pointwork, rather than wood and screws.

In the last post I promised an update on the track plan. Well, here goes. Like all good track plans it is still evolving, and there are some problems I haven't found solutions for yet.

Comparing this with the previous track plan (see this previous post) reveals a number of important changes:
  1. The trackwork has been upgraded to Peco Streamline, so the pointwork is smoother and more convincing. The plan now calls for two double-slip points
  2. I have broken the link between the mainline tracks at the bottom right. Previously there was a way of getting from one to the other, to allow an artificial tail-chase. I liked that less the more I looked at it
  3. The branch line now follows a different course and now diverges at (1.8,0.3) just before it disappears off the plan. The RH branch goes into short storage sidings underneath the scenery. The LH branch is supposed to link up with the storage sidings under the main station, but there is a lot of height to lose and I'm not sure how to do it yet. One possibility is a helix - not a particularly realistic construct, and one for which space is not readily available, but a good way of packing lots of gradient into a small space.
  4. The plan has fewer sidings. This is not necessarily a good thing as most real railways have lots of sidings around stations, and operationally I will need some. But it's better for avoiding too much layout clutter. I am sure the final siding arrangement will change again before being committed to the model.
  5. There is also a bit of rudimentary scenery (i.e. a river and a bridge!). I am still learning how to make the most of the scenic features in XTrk.
The plan is almost certainly not final yet, and it will need to be before I start tackling the five front sections. I'm not thinking that far ahead yet.