2mm Found in the Attic!! - FS160 Switching Layout.

Discussion in 'Area 51' started by JimG, 14 July 2019.

  1. Brian McKenzie

    Brian McKenzie Western Thunderer

    Bravo Jim, what a stunning comeback after such adversity.
    There's nothing like an impending exhibition deadline to accelerate the creativity.
  2. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I've had a little bit of a lay-off from the layout over the past week or so - partly awaiting parts from Coastal DCC who were waiting on a delivery from the US, and partly being diverted back onto the new 3D printer to do some 7mm and 4mm work for others.

    The next job to do was set up a small bus to feed all the micro-switches on the servos.


    The bus uses 2.5mm single core copper wire stripped out of twin and earth cable. At this stage the blue wire has been laid in.


    A closer shot of the bus supports - made out of 2mm plywood with the parts cut in the CNC machine and glued together


    The cable was stripped using my trusty old BIB stripper. The advantage of the BIB stripper is that it cut the insulation along the length of a piece of wire. Most strippers work off the end of a piece of wire. You can just see two cuts on the cable below the jaw end of the stripper.


    ...and here's the cable stripped. It's fairly easy to cut the bit of insulation lengthwise with a knife and peel it off the wire.


    Here's most of the servo micro-switches wired up to the bus, which has the second brown cable installed.


    This is the left-hand end of the baseboard now, with a MERG EasyBus output module on the left controlling the servos and the MERG DCC cutout in the centre. I've never liked the NCE PowerCab method of overload cutout and I now fit the MERG unit to protect everything. It can be set to 1.5 amps which is more suited to the low amperages of today's motors in the smaller scales. The NCE terminal panel is to the right.


    At the right hand end of the baseboard there is the other MERG Easybus output module on the left controlling the servos at this end of the board. At the right are the Tam Valley Hex Juicer and Dual Juicer. These will control the crossings on the four diamonds on the layout. I had problems fitting the juicers. They come with rubber feet on the underside. These feet are quite soft so when you screw down the holding screws and try to pinch them tight, the boards would tend to bend. So the rubber feet were dispensed with and eight brass spacers were turned up, which you can just see under the fronts of the boards. But they can now be pinched down tight with no threat of distortion.

    I've also managed to start whittling down my pile of stuff gathered over the years. The 6BA bolts holding down the juicers were bought from Whiston's catalogue about fifty years ago. Older - correction, very old :) - members may just remember Ken "Where's my Cat" Whiston, a purveyor of all things wonderful on the surplus market. A colleague in BBC Glasgow was a regular user of his catalogue and used to browbeat anyone with an interest to add to his order so that he could reach the amount which got a free gift. :)

    Now I can get ahead with wiring up the track and getting something running. I will tidy up the wiring when everything is working properly. :):)

    TimC, Rob R, ScottW and 5 others like this.
  3. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I haven't had a great month or so trying to get things running. With three diamonds and a tandem on the layout I needed frog juicers to work to give flexibility in working a switching layout. I had a couple of email exchanges with Tam Valley who supplied the juicers and they gave me some pointers. The main problem is that frog juicers cannot control adjacent track sections - they interact with each other and become unstable. With my track complexes I had areas where the juicers were controlling adjacent sections. I then had to try and create buffer zones between the juicer sections and that required a lot of messing around with the original track and the end result wasn't great. I also had to consider that the track was going to be street trackage, therefore hidden under cobbles so running repairs and adjustments might cause a fair bit of damage to scenic work.

    So about a week ago the big decision was taken to re-lay the trackwork from scratch and to take into account everything I had learned so far. I also took the opportunity to make some small adjustments to the track layout to make sectioning for the juicers a bit easier. These adjustments should be accommodated by slight adjustments to the existng turnout servo installation - I don't want to redo that again. :):) I also made the decision to use the 2MM Society Code 40 FB rail. The original track had been laid using their Code 40 wire rail which I remembered being a bit fiddly to work with.


    Most of the track plan was printed out of Templot and taped down to a bit of Contiboard, I couldn't get all the track on this board but the other parts will be built separately. The PCB materials are 2mm Association sleepers and timbering and they are stuck down onto the plan with a weakish PVA solution which is strong enough to hold sleepers in place, but will allow the paper to be removed with no too mush difficulty. Laying down the sleepers and timbers took a day or three since a fair bit of time was spent working out where all the insulating cuts should be made. I wanted to get all the cuts done while it was an easy job on individual bits of timbering while on the workbench. I found that making PCB insulating cuts on built up track was not an easy job in and around the complex pointwork on the original trackwork.


    And to help out I got one of these - a continuity tester which buzzes on a short. I found it getting a bit of a hassle using my meter to do testing since I had to have it close at hand to see the read out. The tester is a kit by MitchElectronics and I got mine from Rapid Electronics. I got a couple of test leads off Ebay to go along with it.

    MitchElectronics Continuity Probe Kit

    I'm going to have to find or make a wee box to put it in. :)


    Tracklaying has started and the FB rail is good to work with. I haven't made things easy for myself since the whole track layout is laid on a large radius curve. So everything has to be eyeballed to get it right. Templot also can print out the flat bottom of the rail, as can be seen on the upper rightt turnout, and this can be used to align the rail.


    I'm also trying an experiment for me and using solder paste to solder the rails to the sleepers. I'm still getting the hang of how much or how little to apply to each joint, but I find the method a lot neater than using solder wire. The solder paste came from Ebay and it's now probably getting a bit old so making it slightly difficult to apply to the copper. I might get a fresh pot to see if that makes things easier. the roller gauge is a 2mm Association 9.42mm one which has been cut through, cleaned up to size, drilled through and has a 6BA bolt put through it to hold things together to give the 9mm gauge with correct flangeway measurements. I machined the small slab style gauge next to it which I find a bit easier to work with, especially in tight corners.


    No crossing jigs are used. :) Just a Templot printout and a couple of toolmakers clamps. The rails are shaped in a method suggested by Martin Wynne in his Templot forum - second message down in this thread

    Making Common Crossings - how should the tip appear?


    Another essential tool is a block of wood with a slot in it made with a Stanley blade to hold the FB rail base for filing - much easier than using a vice. :):)

    It's quite nice to get back to a bit of tracklaying again. :):)

    Last edited: 29 May 2021
    ScottW, allegheny1600, TimC and 9 others like this.
  4. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    Nearly a month gone and I'm slowly getting there. :) Various things are slowing me down - like trying to tame the garden/jungle after nothing getting done last year and a warm wet May this year. So the tracklaying was having to be done in the evening and my lighting setup in the room wasn't all that good and this was really slowing me down and I was having to lift and re-do some stuff when I viewed it in the cold light of dawn. But I've almost got the most complex part done.


    All the crossing work and closure rails on the pointwork at the right and the slip and diamond in the middle rightare done and I'm almost finished the work on the tandem in the middle of the picture. No blades have been fitted yet since the tiebars will require a bit more room than available on the building board. Also laying in all that continuous check rail is a right pain in the butt. :):) But I am getting on very well with the solder paste - so much easier and neater than wire solder.

    And to get round my lighting problems I've just taken delivery of this...


    ...which can clamp onto my track board and give me a much better working light. My other Anglepoise has a very large and heavy round base which almost needs a table of its own. :):)

    I was turning my mind on how I was going to deal with the street trackage - i.e. the cobbles/setts around the rails and the concrete or tarmac pavements in between. So the Emblaser was fired up after about eighteen months gathering dust and I had a wee bit of an experiment. And here is the result.


    I exported a DXF file of the rails only out of Templot and used this to generate an outline of the shape to fit between the two tracks at the end of the layout. I then added the setts by the sides of the rails.


    ...and luck was with me and the assumptions I had made when doing the drawing turned out well and the parts fitted well between the rails. It would have looked better if the 0.8mm ply hadn't warped. :headbang: Funnily enough, last weekend @Dikitriki and I were discussing the warped plywood he had found in some of his narrow gauge kits and I had thought that my plywood was flat. I should maybe have checked. :) The rail is 1mm high so the 0.8mm ply, sitting on the PCB sleepering, will give a bit of clearance to avoid the possibility of wheels being lifted off the rails.


    This is a closer shot of the laser etch and I've just given the tests a quick scoosh of grey primer and the etch looks fine after that. the grain of the plywood shows up so that will require a bit of filling and sanding.


    I will weather the pavements and probably dry brush a slightly different colour onto the setts.

    I've also withdrawn from exhibiting the layout at Thornbury in November. At the current rate of progress, I might have working trackwork but not much else. I've researched suitable buildings and a bridge to cover the baseboard join, but these will take a fair amount of time to build - especially the bridge. I've also got to convert several locos and most of the rolling stock to FS160 which means a fair bit of lathe time re-profiling wheels - at the moment I only have one loco and half a dozen freight cars converted so far.

    Last edited: 25 June 2021
  5. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    The tracklaying on the section is almost complete but I thought I would take a break from it since I seem to have been doing it for months. :) Now that I had the laser cutter up and running I thought I would take a look at what buildings I would be needing on the layout. The main one on the one board would be a long warehouse to be adjacent to the sidings and disguise a fair chunk of the turnout servo drives. So I had a session on the Internet with the search engine and came up with this - the Baltimore and Ohio warehouse at Camden yards in Baltimore - a long brick building which could do the job.


    The warehouse still stands and has become an integral part of the Oriole Park baseball ground in Camden Yards.


    B&O Warehouse - Wikipedia

    Once I had got these details I was able to refine my searches and came up with a good sketch of the warehouse with a scale. :):)

    ...which saved a lot of brick counting. :) And North American brick sizes varied quite a lot in the 19th and 20th centuries so you are never quite sure what the actual brick size is that you are using as a measure. :(


    I was then able to draft out a possible building using the sketch. It worked out at around seven inches high to the top of the bricks and the roof would add another inch, so just about the size I was looking for. The building design also lent itself to sectionalising down a line through the centres of the windows.

    I started working out final dimensions on the two sections at the right to match up to my brick sizes. I had to design a slightly oversize brick. The kerf of my laser cutter is just under 0.2mm, which is a bit too thick for scale, so I finished up with a brick size of 1.9mm x 0.85mm x 0.5mm which equates to about 12" x 5.35" x 3.1" - so quite a chunky brick, but it looks not too bad with the 0.2mm mortar line. :) The 0.85mm width matches the 0.8mm ply I'm using so I am able to make properly interlocked corners.


    A section was finalised between two window centre lines and fine tuned to match the brick sizes, both in length and height.

    A good shot of the present day building gave me a lot of detail of the brickwork - especially the arches on the windows.

    Two sections were laser etched and cut...


    ..and then tried together and they seem to work well. The joints follow the mortar lines, so should be able to be disguised after painting, etc. I can see one or two errors - like missing bricks next to the right hand end of the window arch, but on the whole I'm quite pleased with the first attempt. It means I can churn out as many sections as needed to match the length I require.

    The recesses in the brickwork will be built up with layers of 0.8mm ply and the whole lot will sit on a sub frame of 2mm MDF to try and keep the ply flat. One thing the brick etching does is make the ply more flexible, so it's a bit easier to persuade it to be flat.

    Last edited: 6 July 2021
  6. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I've got on a bit further with the sides.

    I generated the additional layers to represent the layers of brickwork.


    The two re-worked outer sections are shown in the centre and the next layers down are outside them. The part in the arch with the windows is shown central. The two small parts upper right will go behind the tops of the main sections to represent the brickwork in the recesses.


    The larger parts are stuck together. I used aliphatic glue to give me a bit of wiggle room to get them positioned properly. I find that modern fast-acting PVA is now getting so fast setting it's almost like working with super glue. :)


    Some of the edges of the lower layer are offset at the brick joins to give support at the joint when they are pressed flat during setting.


    And the final result with all layers stuck together. I think it's beginning to look like the prototype - I'll now have to start working on how I paint the parts. :)

    The joins through the brickwork are dead level but look a bit obvious because of the additional charring caused by the laser cutting through the parts at much higher power. I'll have to think about disguising them since I can't reduce the laser power in the cutting operation.

    I'm also going to add projections to the top and bottom of the larger parts to aid alignment of the parts when gluing them together, which can then be cut off afterwards. I'm now waiting on more supplies of plywood but I've got enough scraps around at the moment to experiment with painting.

  7. Bazzmund

    Bazzmund Active Member

    It's not a timesaver, it's a timetraveller
  8. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I thought I would try working round the corner. There's a good picture of the warehouse - looks like in its early days judging by the box cars bottom right..


    So it was back to a lot of CAD work again to generate the sections for the corner and the end.


    Note the locating projections top and bottom so that the top and bottom parts of each section can be aligned easily.

    And here's the end result with the previously made sections added in.


    This is just a trial build since I've found a major c*ck up when gluing the corner - I didn't get the ends fully interlocked when gluing. They did interlock well on the dry run but things must have moved when I clamped things up to let the glue set. But there were one or two other things I wanted to improve and had pretty well accepted that I was going to do another run. I had made the end narrower than the prototype, taking an educated (?) guess at what I thought would be right on the layout. But on trying it on the baseboard it looked like I had cut it a bit fine, so the new end will be built to match the prototype proportions.

    I'm also beginning to think about that fire escape. :)

    I've also noticed in the picture at the top of the message that all the windows have shutters. I'm not sure when they disappeared since there is no sign of them in the modern day building but I might have to make an executive decision about when they disappeared. My modelling era is late 20th century so they could have been gone by then. :)


    ...and a picture with a couple of box cars to give some impression of the size of the building.

  9. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    Well, the hot week just gone certainly didn't encourage even the lightest of physical work so I spent most of the time on CAD, CAM and the laser cutter with a large fan up my jacksi. :) I don't know how many bricks I etched, but well into five figures. :) I had thought of making the building about 400mm long but I worried that it might appear a bit "boxy" so opted to lengthen it to 500mm which will just fit on the track plan on the layout.

    Here are the side and end propped in position, but not glued together yet. I've still a lot of work to do in internal framing to support the plywood which is even still quite flexible with two parts glued together as most of the wall parts are.


    I think adding the extra 100mm in length has improved the look of the building - it added two "arches" to the length.


    I then tried an wide angle, low angle, "up your nostril" shot for a bit of effect...


    ...and then a more "architectural" shot" which might be impossible to take when it's plumbed in to the layout.

    I was also experimenting with painting the model - I've got a few bits of spare brick etched wood around. :) I tried spraying everything a fairly light mortar colour then dry brushing brick colour on the brick faces - which "sort of" worked but it was quite difficult to get a fairly even spread of the dry brushing which I thought would be required on the building. I then tried painting everything brick colour, then filling the mortar etching with light coloured MIG powders by brushing them on. But that didn't work too well. The powder in the mortar etch was hardly noticeable probably because a fair bit of the powder stayed adhered to the matt surface of the painted bricks. So I'm going to try wicking some light coloured acrylic ink into the mortar courses to see if that might work.

  10. Rob R

    Rob R Western Thunderer

    Jim, I your 3rd colour photo of the real building the mortar is quite "in your face" but it does look as if it has been recently repointed. The other 2 views, admittedly at a greater distance, the mortar is barely visable at all. Less may well be more.
    Either way, it's a grand looking building
  11. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I suspect that the brickwork in that third picture has been sandblasted as well. That's the side of the building which overlooks the baseball park. I've also had a look at the present day building on Google Maps and

    ...and the mortar lines are quite obvious. :) It probably looked like this when it was first built at the turn of the 19th/20th century, but I'm not sure how it would have looked eighty years later when still a railroad warehouse.

    I also might hav eto re-visit the colour of my brick paint looking at this. I had been looking at either Halford's red oxide primer or the Vallejo German Red primer but both are much too dark. I'll have to have another dig around. :)

    I've also just had another go using the Mig powders on all over brick colour and got quite a good effect with fairly obvious mortar, but the pigment fixer really darkens the pigment down and I might have to wait for a day to see how it dries. That will tie in with an enforced day or two off modelling as I'm off to Bristol Eye Hospital tomorrow to get a cornea transplant - should have been done over a year ago but other things got in the way. :):)

    Rob R likes this.
  12. AJC

    AJC Western Thunderer

    Superb work - and all best wishes for the op’ and a speedy recovery.

    Rob R, jonte and simond like this.
  13. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    A really imposing structure, Jim, both prototype and model! Amazing.

    Good luck with the op and look forward to your earliest return to modelling :thumbs:

  14. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    Very best wishes, Jim. Hope we'll see you back here soon.

    (And that warehouse is superb).

  15. Ressaldar

    Ressaldar Western Thunderer

    Best wishes for the op Jim, and a speedy recovery. That warehouse is something else isn't it.


    jonte likes this.
  16. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    Many thanks for the good wishes.

    The operation went off successfully on Monday afternoon and I was back home yesterday lunchtime. So I've been taking it easy with plenty of lying flat on my back to allow the bubble of air inserted behind the cornea to hold the transplant material until it heals in place; and plenty of eye drops - about twelve a day for the next week or so.

    The operation was quite interesting. The operation on my right eye three years ago was done under general anaesthetic. But they have improved their methods since and this one on my left eye was done under local anaesthetic. The surgeon had a colleague beside him during the operation and he was giving him a running commentary on what was being done, and I could sort of co-relate what he was saying with what I could see through the eye as he was working on it. The whole operation, with a cataract procedure thrown in, took about half an hour. So I am now a world expert. :):):):)

    I haven't started any modelling since the bubble behind the cornea is opaque and vision through the left eye is like looking through a heavy mist and the brain is having problems sorting that out. But the bubble is diffusing all the time and it should be gone by tomorrow.

    I had a quick trial of injecting ink into the mortar lines and it worked quite well but the only problem was that the smallest gauge hypodermic needle I had to hand was still a bit big so there was a bit of excess on the brick faces where the needle was applied which was difficult to remove without leaving a stain. So I ordered the following from Amazon...


    ... a bit of overkill just to get the smsllest gauge needles. :) And they come in a nice wee plastic case


    ...which was a good thing. Amazon emailed that they had delivered it yesterday afternoon, through my letterbox. But no amount of searching around the house and outbuildings could find anything. It was only when I popped out today that I saw a small brown cardboard envelope on the ground outside my back gate, utterly soaked, since we had some bursts of torrential rain overnight. But the plastic box was sealed with a plastic shrink-wrap cover so there was no problem.

  17. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    Glad to hear it all went well, Jim, and that you are in good spirits.

    JimG likes this.
  18. Ressaldar

    Ressaldar Western Thunderer

    Great result on both counts Jim, just don't push the eye too much too soon, the modelling bench will still be there waiting to be sorted!


  19. oldravendale

    oldravendale Western Thunderer

    Delighted it went well, Jim. I was at the optician on Tuesday and have the same thing to look forward to in due time. It looks as though I'm OK for a year or two yet, though.

    jonte likes this.
  20. michael mott

    michael mott Western Thunderer

    Jim, just catching up, I am gobsmacked by the amount of fine detail you have achieved on the warehouse building. The track-work at such small scale is now beyond my abilities, Age and motivation with the smaller scales seems to be inversely proportional to my advancing age. Good wishes for continued recovery on the eye surgery.