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Posted by on in Empire Mills
Empire Mills - Feb 17

We've had a couple of good operating evenings at Keen House already this year, and the picture above shows my Class 08 on shunting duty this week.

Members will have read in our last Bulletin that Empire Mills has new trackwork and a colourful new turntable fiddleyard. Over the next month or two we will be carrying on the refurbishment by rewiring.

As with the earlier work we've carried out over the last few months we think that some of the remaining operational issues can only be solved by a pretty thorough bit of work here. So the first stages will be to record how the layout is wired now and from that create a track plan and wiring schedule. Then we will switch on the soldering irons.  If all goes well we should then be ready for our trip to our next exhibition at Quainton Road at the end of April.

If you would like to get involved then come and see us on Thursdays at Keen House and talk to me or Tom, or drop us an email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ben  - layout co-leader

 

Posted by on in Minories
Sticking point

There are six points on Minories, all operated with Tortoise slow action point motors with Exactoscale baseplates transferring the movement of the motor through a tie-bar under the baseboard to wires soldered to the underside of the switch rails. b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_5758.JPGThere are stretcher bars between the switch rails, and although these do provide some mechanical joints between the two switch rails, the core drive is from the under-baseboard tie bar. If you want to find out more, these instructions via the C&L website might help:

 http://www.finescale.org.uk/pdfs/Tortoise%20instructions1.pdf

Posted by on in Minories
Converting Heljan Class 23 to EM

TOut of the boxhe Heljan Class 23 is one of the simpler conversions to EM gauge. I don't think there are any revolutionary ideas here, but hope this may be of use to anyone else contemplating the conversion or looking for an easy one to start with.

Tagged in: EM gauge Heljan Minories

Posted by on in Empire Mills
Empire Mills Summer 2016

As we indicated in May, we have an exhibition in Peterborough in October, and so the summer has been focussed on getting ready for that. As we started to fiix some problems with the track with (including some damaged track ends at board joints, the fiddle yard and some unevenness in the track itself) we encountered more problems. After some soul searching we realised that trying to fix the specific problems would probably just create more and that without decent working reliable track we would struggle to operate the layout well. So the decision was taken to relay all of the track. b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_5541.JPG

As we lifted it, we realised that some of the problems were caused by delamination in the camping mat foam used as underlay (possibly the glue?), and that whilst it looks good the butanone bonding of plastic chairs to woopen sleepers isn't as strong as using plastic sleepers. I used the same techniques discussed in previous blogs  for points and board joints to build the track in situ using some 1/8" cork as underlay. The added challenge here is building track in situ on wider boards than I'm used to or easily have space for in my workshop (who knew 6" made such a difference..) and with the scenery in place.

Posted by on in Empire Mills
Empire Mills gets a turntable

Following our last blog in May, we have unpacked the layout from its hibernation and a group of members gathered to go through the list of stuff that we thought needed doing. Now as we know, there is no 'right way' to build a model railway. There are certainly some wrong ways but most of us have a preferred way, generally one that is proven to work for us. And with a pretty much new team there were various ideas of how things that need to be sorted out could be done differently from the original plan.

One of the things on the list was to improve the track around the entrance to the fiddle yard, and the fiddle yard cassettes themselves. The current system is L-section aluminium fixed to foamboard which has warped, and it's all a bit tight around the entry to the layout.

Posted by on in Empire Mills
May 2016 Update

It's all been a bit quiet since the layout visited Portsmouth last Autumn. As is the nature of Club layouts, unfortunately some of the key team behind the layout have had to step back from the project for a while, and as the layout had been up and being worked on for most of 2015, we decided to give it a break whilst we take stock and build up a new team to take the layout forward.

However we've been invited to the National Festival of Railway Modelling in Peterborough in October, and there's nothing like an exhibition to focus the mind, so we'll be putting the layout up shortly, to work through a reasonably sized list of things that could do with improvement to make it more reliable, and to finish off the scenery. We also need to finish off the rewiring, to make it possible to operate the layout with DC locos, as well as DCC. We've had a couple of offers to help, but we'd be delighted to welcome new members to the team - you don't have to be an EM modeller, just an interest in helping or operating the layout. Please drop me an email or speak to me at Keen House.

Tom

Tagged in: EM gauge Empire Mills

Posted by on in Minories
Track building

One of the more frequent questions I get asked at exhibitions is how the track is built. Modelling in EM there isn't much choice for anything other than plain track, but my track building goes back to my teenage OO days.

Despite living only a couple of miles away at the time, I originally stumbled across The Model Railway Club at a Model Engineering show at Wembley Conference Centre when I was probably around 11 or 12. A demonstrator (to this day I can't recall who) was busy making track, and after a moment of asking myself why would anyone bother, I suddenly saw why, as it looked infinitely better than the Triang and Hornby track I had at home. The demonstrator explained what he was doing and why, and encouraged me to 'have a go', and in the process encouraged me to visit the next IMREX (also at Wembley at the time) and Keen House.

Posted by on in Minories
Class 127 DMU

 

Class 127 4-car DMUs formed the local passenger services on the Midland main line south of Bedford, so have always been on the list of stock required for Minories. A club member started work on a unit back in 2007, but it didn't get very far. In the interim, I made a 3-car 116 which provided the Midland service pending the arrival of the 127 - which made it's first exhibition appearance at the National Festival of Railway Modelling in October where we got some very kind comments and questions about how it was made, prompting this blog.

 

Both the 116 and 127 units are made from Lima class 117 bodies, b2ap3_thumbnail_127-5.JPGand the techniques are similar, the key difference between the models of the 116 and 127 on Minories is the windows used.

Posted by on in Minories
On our way to Peterborough

Our invitation to the National Festival of Railway Modelling has been the incentive to get a few more things progressed on the layout.

 

A major resignalling scheme has seen searchlight starter signals mounted on an etched brass gantry installed, replacing the Berko 3-aspect signals originally installed as a temporary measure hours before the first proper exhibition in 2007. The LEDs in the new signals have common anodes whereas the old signals and the remaining ground signal were common cathode, which meant reconfiguring the wiring on the 'interlocking' which clears the correct signal based on the route set. I hadn't written down how it was originally wired, so the most tedious part was working out the existing wiring had worked...b2ap3_thumbnail_Signals-Oct-15.JPG

 

The original signal box, again built as a temporary stand-in from a Prototype card kit, has been replaced by a small cabin, kit bashed from a Peco kit.

Tagged in: 4mm EM gauge Minories

Posted by on in Empire Mills
When you want water on your layout...

Water runs down hill. So, front and centre should be the wettest part of the layout because it it the lowest. I always find myself drawn to water on layouts so I thought I'd add something. The first problem is that there is no space for a sizable water feature. Adding to this, most of the basic landscaping had already been done, the hills are in place along with brambles and a tree so really all that can be done is the hint of water beyond the layout. The edge of a pond or marsh, even a small stream, just out of sight.

Started off simply enough.

Posted by on in Empire Mills
Grass laying on Empire Mills

Early on we decided to cover the front and back of the layout, most of the actual scenery, with carpet underlay. This produced a good effect, especially with a little bit of effort. It did, however, leave us with a dilemma about the middle of the layout. We tried a few different techniques for the ground cover round the various sidings, static grass, ground foam, but these didn't really produce the effect we wanted. There was too much contrast between the different materials and the change in colour certainly didn't help.

Empire Mills - Getting ready for Portsmouth

I haven't posted for a while - this doesn't mean we haven't been doing anything we have - well I haven't but the team has. However, with an exhibition looming we have had a burst of activity that quite frankly puts our gentle summer progress to shame.

The show - its all about the show after all - is the South Hants MRC's exhibition in Portsmouth on 21 November 2015

Posted by on in Minories
Baseboard Joints

 

Baseboard joints are a necessary evil if you ever have to move your layout. Scenically they create what is often an obvious rift line across our otherwise beautiful handiwork, but operationally they can be a major cause of unreliability. So I try to make the joints as unobvious as I can, but robust enough to stand the knocks and bangs that happen to all portable layouts and maximise the chances of good operation.

It is very difficult to make a board joint better later – so I spend time getting the basics right.

Posted by on in Empire Mills
Empire Mills post Ally Pally 2015

Yesterday we had our first official layout group meeting. Probably should have done it sooner, but better late than never. In this we discussed follow up from Ally Pally, things that went well and things that didn't. We also covered what needs to be done before our next outing (Portsmouth in November) and who is to do what. Up until now the layout has gone in the back of a 7.5T truck with other stuff/layouts for AP, but this has to change. We had originally intended to have the layout fit in the back of an estate car, and now I have six months to figure out how to do it. This will possibly include some modifications to how the layout goes together so that it can be set up more easily and by fewer people.

Duncan produced a comprehensive list of all the tasks that need doing and they have mostly been allocated. They range from simple things such as "This building needs a bit more detail around the base" to middling difficulty "We need a box for the large clay dry to transport and store it safely" to the complex "How on Earth do we fit all of this into the back of a car?"

After the current option had been "finished" we moved on to discussing what we wanted to do next. The layout is designed so that

Tagged in: EM gauge layout