The Old Man's Workbench - trackwork... though no longer on the bench

Discussion in 'Workbenches, including workshop techniques.' started by Dog Star, 31 January 2017.

  1. Threadmark: Inner city loco servicing yard
    Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    A small S7 layout, no more than 10' x 20", has recently left the workbench - the design of the trackwork is intended to represent practices of the 1880s and hence the result has some "interesting" features. This topic is to illustrate and describe the Victorian features rather than track-building methods. So to start, this is an overall view of the two baseboards:-

    wal 13.jpg

    Farthest from the camera is the entry to a yard with a history... built originally as sidings to a warehouse on the right hand side that warehouse was served by a single siding from a loop (of 1880s vintage). Not long after the siding was installed there was a serious fire and the warehouse went out of business. At this point the railway company decided to utilise the area as a small yard for servicing locomotives and thereupon laid a second siding (that in the middle of the picture). After a few years, say 1895-ish, the capacity of the engine yard was exceeded by the growth in commuting to the nearby city terminus and the railway company was forced to extend the yard again - hence the left hand siding.

    There is little written about the S&C practices of the Victorian era and so construction of these turnouts necessitated considerable research in photo collection, on-line archives and proceedings of "engineering" societies from around 1900-1910. Features to consider in the following photos include:-

    * loose heel switches;
    * interleaved timbering under the closure rails;
    * short stock and closure rails of variable lengths to fit what can be seen in contemporary photos.

    wal 10.jpg

    wal 8.jpg

    wal 7.jpg

    wal 6.jpg

    As might be expected of trackwork for "inner-city" yards of the nineteenth century the switches are rather short as is the planing length...

    wal 11.jpg

    My method of driving the switch blades is to solder a wire under the switch rail... that wire fits into a tube that is part of the turnout control unit (under the baseboard). The wire is lubricated with silicon grease on initial assembly and does not require, generally, any further attention.

    wal 12.jpg

    Next post shall consider the plain line track and pits within the yard.
    Last edited: 31 January 2017
  2. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    The previous post outlined the history of this engine "yard" and gave some details of the turnouts from the Victorian era. Sources used for the turnouts were, predominately, photographs, drawings to be found in the proceedings of the International Railway Congress and drawings from a book, on modern permanent way, that was written by Allen circa 1910.

    In this post there are photographs of interesting features of the plain line in the yard... the prime source for this work was the Railways Archive website where can be found Board of Trade reports into "railway incidents" from the 1880 to 1890 period. Several of the reports for derailments in this period make interesting and frightening reading... interesting in that some of the reports detail rail lengths / number of sleepers per rail and frightening in that there are reports where the Board of Trade Inspector found chairs fitted to sleepers by one or two trenails and with the trenail cut in two by the side pressure on chairs from passing rolling stock. Using the information about rail lengths the plain line laid adjacent to the warehouse is done with 21' 0" rails whilst the plain line to the centre siding is done with 24' 0" rails. The most recent plain line, for the third siding to the front of the boards, has been done with the contemporary (to 1890s) 30' 0" rail lengths.

    21'0" rails with 8 sleepers per rail for the earliest, warehouse, siding. wal 2.jpg

    24'0" rails with 9 sleepers per rail length for the initial siding of the engine yard. wal 3.jpg

    30'0" rails with 11 sleepers per rail length for the engine yard extension (the third siding).
    wal 1.jpg

    In this photo the near side track is laid with 30'0" rails and the far side track is laid with 21'0" rails, the siding between those two sidings is laid with 24'0" rails. When the engine yard was first created, circa 1885, the locomotive department specified a pit which was long enough for three of the contemporary tank engines... as traffic demands grew the need for additional engine stabling and servicing facilities was met by a new siding with a pit for a single tank engine. The rails over the pit are laid on 60 thou plastic, to match the thickness of the ply sleepers used elsewhere, so as to represent the concrete walling of the pit.
    wal 5.jpg
    BrushType4, jamiepage, jonte and 6 others like this.
  3. Scale7JB

    Scale7JB Western Thunderer

    Very nice Graham,

    Coming soon to an exhibition near you..?

    JB B
  4. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    Unlikely, no longer on my bench... Or the folding table... Or even the garage. This layout has gone to a new home.
    Rob Pulham likes this.
  5. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    Fo complete this topic, here are some photos of what is underneath. The first two photos show how the track feeds are arranged to (a) avoid crossing other cables if possible, (b) connect to a "central" tag strip and (c) keep out of the way of the turnout motors and drive. As this layout has been wired for DCC then track feeds are either red or black... with the feed to the live crossings being in green from the switches that are part of the Fulgurex motors.

    wal 16.jpg

    wal 17.jpg

    There is one tag strip per board, all of the tags on a side are interconnected by a tinned copper wire. The two copper wires are terminated in a junction block for the power into the board. wal 18.jpg

    A typical installation of a Fulgurex motor for the drive and an Exactoscale mounting for the under-board stretcher and connections to the switch rail droppers. Power to the Fulgurex is through the junction block - 12v DC with change of direction through reversal of input polarity. Wires to the left hand side of the motor are feeds from the stock rails (red / black) and output to the crossing vee (green).
    wal 20.jpg

    The context of this layout is rather unusual in that the owner was not sure of the amount of available space nor of the most suitable size of the baseboards. We agreed that I would build the track on the minimum size of board "tops" with removable bracing so that the track can be installed into the real structure at a later date. These boards are 20" wide and 60" long so ten feet overall - support is by fold-up trestles from the major DIY stores. Given the price /stability / adjustable height of these trestles then Peter and I have decided to use similar for Scrufts Junction.

    wal 14.jpg
    daifly, jonte, 3 LINK and 4 others like this.
  6. Overseer

    Overseer Western Thunderer

    Looks good but you haven't said anything about the weight/height of the rails or the type and weight of the chairs. Presumably the earlier, shorter rail lengths were also lighter sections on smaller chairs. What do the available components actually represent? From past reading most are based on early 20th century main line practice so are too heavy for 19th century track.

    I think the lack of choice in rail size in 7mm scale (and 4mm for that matter) really limits what can be modelled accurately. Even representing the differences other than the sleeper spacings seems not to be possible. Maybe there are there more options that I don't know about.
  7. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    Fraser, you are on the button with your comments - there are several issues with trying to reproduce track from the Victorian period:-

    1) lack of information;
    2) lack of 7mm product;
    3) conflicting information.

    In the absence of company drawings we have to rely on what has been published in engineering journals of the day and what has been written in Board of Trade reports. There is little about permanent way fittings in the press. The BoT reports limit themselves to generalities of weight and size concerning rail, sleepers and chairs unless those items are the cause of an incident - of course if there is no incident in your chosen area / chosen period then there is not going to be a BoT report (and even if there was, easy access to available reports is bounded by what has been made available to the Railways Archive web-site (link in earlier post). Photographs can help us in our research although the contributions from such sources are primarily about appearance.

    There are few sources of pw fittings from the major 7mm suppliers and those sources offer a very limited range. We can try to use what looks reasonable... or prepare 3D work for 3D printing. For this layout I have used GWR plain line chairs from C&L (not the Exactoscale product) as the appearance looks reasonable. Given that those same suppliers offer the same rail section then there is little choice which is easily available and at an acceptable price.

    Conflicting information may not be so... where the source is from an engineering publiction then we need to remind ourselves that the content was written more than one hundred years ago and for an audience which did not include the fastidious modeller of the 21st century. Further, what the journals published is what the railway companies were prepared to offer for publication - so does the drawing or specification reflect a future intention or an actual instance for the date of publication. In the case of this layout I found several drawings of turnouts from journals of late 1890s and those drawings did not seem to be what I could see in photographs - however the general arrangement of parts in the drawing could confirm my interpretations of photographs. A good example of this is the interleaving of timbers - I found no drawing, just five or six usable photographs; the drawing that I did find for turnouts from that period gave sufficient detail that I could work out probable placing of rail joints and from that deduce the most likely arrangement of interlacing.

    In the end, if I could not find 100% accurate information or parts then I have built what has the most reasonable appearance.
    Bob Reid, Overseer and Stevesopwith like this.
  8. Andrew

    Andrew Active Member

    Hi Graham,

    As a devotee of early PW , London and South Western circa 1895 in my case, I have been following your thread with great interest. You have described the classic modeller's dilemma perfectly. To be fair, I was more fortunate than you in having both accurate and fully accredited drawings dated 1891 complimented by a brilliant article published in the South Western Circular in April 1999 by Peter Bedding in which he fully covered the development of its PW from 1850 through to 1918. So issues 1 and 3 didn't apply in my case.
    Issue 2 was, and clearly still is, the problem. However, when you consider that between 1850 and 1918 there were at least 6 different rail sections alone ranging from 50lb per linear yard DH (double headed rail section) in 15 foot lengths of wrought iron to the more familiar 95lb bullhead section in 45 foot lengths of Bessemer steel, not to mention a similar evolution in chair specifications, it is no wonder that we modellers of the Victorian era struggle to find the components we need to accurately represent our chosen period. However, and in all fairness, it would be unrealistic to expect manufacturers to accommodate the many and varied specifications I have mentioned, so we end up with our old friend 'compromise'. However, as you have diligently modelled the correct rail lengths and sleeper combinations together with very short, loose heeled switches, you have effectively reduced the compromise to the absolute minimum. An observation if I may (not a criticism), I don't see any tie rods between the switch rails which were quite a prominent feature on early S & C work. Another feature that marks out early trackwork was the practice of ballasting to rail level thus obscuring the sleepers with just the occasional exposed sections for drainage. Incidentally, when I did this on my model, it imparted a very pleasing and prototypical lightweight appearance to the track which made the oversize rail section look more acceptable. I would anticipate that the same would apply to your trackwork. Finally, as a fellow S7 modeller, I have no doubt that working in this discipline has added an extra layer of fidelity to the result ( but then I am obviously biased).

    I would fully endorse Overseer's remarks - you have done a great job with a challenging subject.