Cessy-en-Bois: Une petite gare de triage

Discussion in 'Entries' started by chrisb, 11 June 2018.

  1. chrisb

    chrisb Western Thunderer

    A modified Classic Inglenook (5-3-3) shunting puzzle layout in HO (1:87 scale) based somewhere in south-eastern France in the early 1970s.


    I've long wanted a shunting puzzle layout and the competition provided the impetus to build one. Inspiration came from Ree Modeles' impressive ready-to-run models:


    and “Le Dépôt de Poinzéraut”, a stunning HO scale model of a motive power depot located near Dijon built by Francois Dubois:

    Before starting to build the layout, however, I had some requirements that needed to be tested first - namely unobtrusive automatic couplings and dynamic ambient lighting and sound...
    Last edited: 12 June 2018
  2. chrisb

    chrisb Western Thunderer

    So, unobtrusive automatic couplings...

    The Ree models come with NEM coupler pockets on a close coupling mechanism and Roco-style couplers that work extremely well but they're pretty ugly and highly visible as you can see:
    especially when compared with scale screw link couplings:

    Given I don't want/can't have a manual method for coupling/uncoupling the stock, I investigated some alternatives - specifically Alex Jackson and Sprat & Winkle. The Sprat & Winkle couplings worked reliably but I found them a little too obtrusive. I liked the minimal appearance of the AJ couplings very much but found them very hard to fit partly due to the large amount of underframe detail on the Ree models and partly due to my ham-fistedness.

    Luckily I found an article on a simplified AJ-type coupling by Vincent de Bode (MRJ 123) that seemed to fit the bill and some experimentation confirmed this type of coupling would fit my needs perfectly.

    The components required include very fine guitar string (1st/0.008) from Amazon, HO scale etched screw link couplings from AMF, Alan Gibson 4mm scale long handrail knobs and 0.56mm soft iron wire from Eileen's Emporium:

    The following photographs hopefully demonstrate how the couplings are assembled and fitted:



    And the end result - very unobtrusive and easily and reliably uncoupled using a magnet fixed beneath the track (video to follow):
  3. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    Interesting couplers. I wonder if nylon fishing line (which would be invisible) could be used instead of wire between the buffers if it was taut.

    Impressive rolling stock. Is it all ETAT and PO or a mixture of all of the French pre nationalisation companies?
  4. Richard H

    Richard H Western Thunderer

    Chris - thanks! - I've been fretting about couplings on a shunting layout, and I think you may have solved my coupling problems with this post,
  5. chrisb

    chrisb Western Thunderer

    It's a mixture - Ree do a good job, I think, of making multiple variations of the same prototype and in different liveries for various time periods as you can see here. I'm settling on a slightly vague time period (epoch III-IV) although there shouldn't be many visual clues other than the rolling stock itself so I should have a bit of flexibility to run a wider range of stock later on if I want.

    As Vincent de Bode explains in his article, his couplings have limitations but I think for a shunting layout they're well worth considering.
    Last edited: 15 June 2018 at 12:47
  6. chrisb

    chrisb Western Thunderer

    Because of the way I've built the baseboard and back scene (more on that later) I need to complete the scenery at the rear of the layout first. This will include retaining walls and rocky outcrops primarily to get a lot of height at the rear of the layout without sacrificing a lot of depth (given the baseboard is only 0.3m/1ft deep.)

    I've not modelled rock since cork bark was considered state of the art so I needed to experiment with some more modern techniques and I've settled on using Hydrocal plaster with rock moulds such as those from Woodland Scenics and Noch. This test piece was painted with Tamiya acrylics (XF-19 Sky grey, XF-55 Deck tan, XF-57 Buff, XF-59 Desert yellow, XF-68 NATO brown), given a coat of Vallejo Model Wash 76.517 Dark grey and then dry-brushed with Tamiya XF-2 Flat white:

    The gorse bushes in the foreground are another experiment with Magigras from Microrama (more on that later too.)
    Last edited: 15 June 2018 at 13:58
  7. adrian

    adrian Flying Squad

    That's pretty damn impressive - I had to do a double take to make sure what I was looking at. Is that straight out of the moulds or is there a little additional sculpting?
  8. Dikitriki

    Dikitriki Flying Squad

    The rock is excellent indeed, both in the basic structure and the colouring - probably the best I've seen:thumbs:

  9. chrisb

    chrisb Western Thunderer

    Thank you for the kind words and likes.

    It's straight out of the mould - all I had to do was run a dry brush over the surface to remove any little bits of plaster that had come loose.
    allegheny1600, 3 LINK and adrian like this.
  10. chrisb

    chrisb Western Thunderer

    Dynamic ambient lighting, another requirement...

    This all started when I came across Vikas Chandler's layout lighting website - incredibly serious and sophisticated, well beyond anything I could attempt but a seed was sown and I decided to investigate LED lightstrips (and RGBW LED lightstrips in particular) that can be controlled using an Arduino board:

    Each 'lamp' in the RGBW lightstrip is made up of 4 LEDS - one red, one green, one blue and one white - that can be addressed or controlled individually (not just on/off but also brightness) meaning it's possible to display over 16million colours and by using an Arduino board to control each LED it's possible to create dynamic effects - an excellent series of examples can be found here.

    For the most part these effects are too garish for layout lighting but dramatically slowed to be nearly imperceptible some of the effects are extremely subtle and just what I wanted.

    Unfortunately it's hard to demonstrate with a short video and a time lapse sequence rather negates the subtlety but once the layout gets more established I should be able to demonstrate at least some of the effects here.
    allegheny1600, jonte, AJC and 3 others like this.
  11. Steve Cook

    Steve Cook Flying Squad

    Great stuff Chris, there are lots of things to like about your approach and subject. I'm particularly impressed by the Ree wagons too, especially when fitted with the new couplers.

    I'll be interested to see how the layout copes with having 5 tracks across its comparatively narrow width at one point (well, technically between two points, but you get my drift), I suspect that being 3.5mm rather than 4mm will help with rolling stock on the track.
  12. allegheny1600

    allegheny1600 Western Thunderer

    Hi Chris,
    This is looking superb already! Those REE models are sweet, aren't they?
    I'm glad to see another follower of Vikas on here, he's one clever chap.
    Good luck with this,