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Blog posts tagged in Empire Mills
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.
Ben - layout co-leader
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.