19 October 2009

What happened to the branch line?

Having re-read yesterday's post about track laying, I realised that there is a gap in the story. My previous post talked about finishing the branch line and then starting the track laying. So what happened to the branch line?

Basically, nothing. The more I have thought about the branch line, the less convinced I have become that its course along the front of the layout is the right one. Scenically it gets in the way of the mainline, especially the bridge on F2; operationally it doesn't add a great deal of interest. I really want the branch line to come in from a different direction to give more visual interest and more scenic scope. A possibility is to build a branch-line trackbed on top of the spur carrying the new loop from F1. This would take the branch line along the side of the loft and make a separate little vignette that is more or less independent of the main layout. Branch line trains would run through this, past a scenic break of some sort, and continue onto the main layout past the F1 sidings and into the mainline station.

Well, it's an idea, and I have to think about it some more before committing myself. In any case, the branch line is now also, like the new loop, temporarily on hold. I have plenty else to do: laying track and turning this pile of wood into a working railway!

18 October 2009

Track laying #1

The past couple of weeks have seen slow progress as I get to grips with the skills needed for track laying. I had naively thought it would be an easy task. I have started on the storage sidings with the intention of doing all the under-cover stuff first before putting the lid on.

Because the layout has so many section breaks it's important to keep everything as level as possible. My first attempt has not been altogether successful:

It isn't too bad, in the sense that it doesn't derail trains (although in this shot one might think it would), but (in the language of another universe) it doesn't pass my own QC check for smooth running. So I'll be working to improve my technique over the next few weeks.

In the course of the track laying I am also installing the PL-10 point motors under the trackbed. All the points in the shot below have holes cut, and motors attached!

I have managed to get power into the track and run a train up and down the short section that's been fixed so far. It's all a bit cobbled-together (as the photo below shows) but so far, it works well enough.

The relict Hornby R900 (still in good condition though!) was donated by my brother-in-law and serves a useful function as a 15V AC power source to drive the point motors. The Select DCC controller has no such output. When I build the control panel I may install a custom power source but this will do for now.