Ballasting is finished on the '0' gauge layout Dewhurst and has been painted. JohnB has started putting foam edging to the 'public' side of the layout, with the intention of producing a shallow bank at the edge of the baseboards. He has now 'grassed' it.
On the 00 gauge layout JohnB, Martin, and Geoff are moving on with the scenery. JohnB has ballasted the East Goods Yard. Martin has completed the rail edge painting, a Herculean task! He then moved on to relaying the main lines on the two curved end boards at either side of the station. These were laid many years ago and have suffered with the constant expansion and contraction caused by the wide temperature variations we get in the club hut. They now look a lot better with all the kinks in the geometry of these curves smoothed out.
Tim has started the ballasting on the new station baseboards, another Herculean task! He has done all of the branch line and most of the goods yard. There are patches on the main through lines awaiting his attention, but he has been held up here by issues with the joints across the baseboards.
We have had a lot of problems with the heights varying on these new station baseboards. They seem to have shrunk vertically by over 2mm. It is probably due to the long hot summer but it has concerned Geoff who made them with Malcolm a couple of years ago. We may be victims of our desire to be able to lift the boards up (they are hinged along their long side) so we can work underneath them. This means we cannot use dowels to lock boards together horizontally where they join; so they are free to expand and contract vertically. Much further thought is required this autumn as we expect the boards to expand again as they absorb moisture. The unexpected result is misalignment of the tracks across the join, despite being firmly soldered to PCB strips in a lot of cases one rail has become out of line, very puzzling.
More scenery has been completed with static grass fibres applied around the station platforms, the area to the right of the station and up behind the West Yard, where Geoff has been fixing the coal staithes.
There is currently considerable discussion on what to surface the platforms with, wet and dry sandpaper, or individual paper flagstones. As the platforms are mostly curved whatever we decide to do is going to be tricky!
The branch line is now energised. It has also been tested and proved OK to be driven by DCC. MikeB has loaned a Gaugemaster Prodigy handset that plugs into the normal controller socket, so DCC is a bit crude at the moment! A simple remote control operates the points in the branch side of the station and provides on/off switches for the sections, but change is on the way.
The goods yard area is now live including the sidings in both yards. The goods yard itself can be accessed at both ends from the inner main line and trains can be driven into and out of the yard with the inner main line controller. A changeover switch puts control over to the yard controller once the stock is clear of the mainline points. A small control panel handles the yard, a similar one will be provided for the branch line.The East Yard has its track in place, and we have ended up with three sidings. The Cattle Dock will be sited here, and the existing Goods Shed that used to be in the original yard has been moved here too - it fits better and it leaves the West Yard for coal only. JohnB as well as building the cattle dock has also added a timber store giving us plenty of scope for wagon deliveries and shunting.
MikeB meantime is continuing to wire up the main frame that sits under the central station baseboard. All the cabling from the baseboards will congregate here. Consequently there is a large backplate to this frame carrying all the sockets, this is what is in the process of being wired up. Most of the point motors and sections have now been connected to their distribution boards. The final design for the station area involves a some automation. Changing the mainline points will determine which controller is used, so for example it will be possible to run a train into the goods yard using one of the mainline controllers, and on restoring the access points the control would then reverts to the goods yard unit.
This is proving to be difficult to develop, and MikeB has in the meantime put together a temporary control panel that has no automation, but at least gets the goods yard to be useable.
On the 009 layout JohnB has now added the quarry baseboard that fits at right angles to the main run of boards. Several successful running sessions were had. The baseboards have now been put into store again, while further work is done by the Chairman on the old 00 station baseboards.