Archive for the ‘Westerooge’ Category

A while ago, Stephen over on the Fairlight Works Blog mentioned that he had a scale strategy: he builds layouts in different scales to suit the story he wants to tell. This spilled over into a discussion on the Narrow Gauge Railway Modelling forum.

If only I was that well organised, or that accurate. I have trouble making one model to a specific scale.

My original plan was to work in roughly 0-16,5 (1:43,5 scale on HO gauge track).  It wasn’t my first choice: I’d often thought 5-6mm scale on 16,5mm gauge (about 1:55 scale) would be better for my modern image aspirations but it was only after starting to make models and having conversations with Stephen that I realised there were other people using it. The smaller 1:55 models look more acceptable on HO chassis and are about 1/3 shorter than in 1:43,5 which is an issue when a 7mm scale van can be upwards of 250mm long, so the KÖB went down a bit in size.

About the same time Colin Peake’s ‘Shifting Sands‘ convinced me that 09 can look realistic, and in such a small space, and as it was 7mm scale I could move figures from one model to the other… Not that I’m that good, but I can delude myself for a suprisingly long time. The next thing I knew, I was buiilding ‘Westerooge‘.

So my ‘Scale Strategy’ is now completely blown out of the water, my first model was in a gauge combination I never planned to use, and my next one will be in a scale I’d never heard of. And I keep having to fend of pipe-dreams of 1:32 scale “I could use spare 16,5mm gauge chassis…” and the occasional thoughts of a ‘system’ layout in TT9…

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A couple of days ago I took Westerooge out with a view to having a play, and also to think deep thoughts about what I’ve learned. Overall I’m really happy with the model. It’s the first model where I had any kind of baseboard join, the first with a traverser, and the first where I took the electrical side seriously enough to do things like install electrofrog points or remote point control, and it contains the first level crossing I’ve ever built that hasn’t caused locomotives to stall on it. Finally I finally felt the overall colours fitted together, and that I’d captured the ‘atmosphere’ of a small railway near the sea. (The Picture above, for example, is based on this one taken near Dagebühl) Even the ground cover worked.

That said, there are a few niggles, mostly connected to the lightweight materials and inexperience: The traverser/baseboard join was made with plasticard and card: It’s okay but could be a bit more reliable -I have more mystery derailments than I’d care to admit- while the traverser seems to have warped a bit in the heat. I can see why this happened given the materials I used, but on the other hand I gained a lot of confidence in the building, which made it worthwhile.

Finally the loco and stock all work, remarkably the buffers and delayed uncoupling work too, which astounds me even now, I think they will probably see use again, maybe sooner rather than later…

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Through Train

Westerooge Through Train

A rare through train on Westerooge: The causeway on the western side of the line sees little maintenance these days but Meik is seen taking the diesel and a couple of wagons to the end of the line. Perhaps some debris is caught in the stones. They obviously aren’t going to be long as the mess van has been left in the siding.

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Nearly there…

Less than a week to go, but Westerooge is almost complete. The scenery is down and the track works- most of the time. It isn’t as smooth as I’d like but better than I thought I’d manage, so that’s not too bad. Even the bit that went wrong is working this time around.

The remaining jobs are to repaint the overly vivid sky, (maybe with a representation of some houses in the distance, and the road continuing, but only if I’m feeling brave), add some bushes and a small ‘shed’ to hide the points switch, paint the black band on the lighthouse and maybe add a crossing sign. On the other hand, I do have a heck of a lot to do before we get on that train on Monday, so I’m not sure I’ll even have five minutes to stick things together, and of course I now have a distraction: I want to just play trains…

(For bigger views, click on the picture, for comparison with the planning stage, click here, here, and here)

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DG couplings

DG couplings

Mechanical and Electrical things don’t usually work for me. When I was in school I could follow my technology teachers instructions (when he gave them) to the letter, and work alongside other students doing exactly the same thing, only to find that whereas everyone else had a working transistor radio, I had a water level detection circuit. And that was on a good day. When an article says that a job is “quick and easy” I know it probably won’t be: somehow I’ll manage to warp the laws of physics and bodge it up.

When I came to couplings, I installed them in hope rather than expectation of the things working. I was slightly encouraged that other people had found them reasonably simple to install using the method described by Steve Bennett, which thankfully removed the need to solder anything, but on the other hand, I’d just had to make a complete rebuild of the sector plate to make it fit on the layout, and I was using a permanent magnet instead of the recommended electromagnets, because I had 10mm space and the electro magnet is about 60mm plus wires.

So you can imagine my surprise when running the train over the magnet, the little loop on the coupling sprung up and down, allowing me to leave my desired wagon in a siding and pull away. (said wagon promptly rolled backwards, but that’s another story). We had a couple of problems on that awkward bit of lumpy track, and one or two of the loops are still a bit sticky, but overall they have been remarkably successful, especially after some weight (old roofing lead) was stuck into the under frames of the wagons.

The magnet slides back and forth on a strip of plastic card, which is marked to show when it is under each track. On the picture above you can see it sticking out of the side of the sector plate. I carefully adapted the sector plate to allow for this, installed the magnet on the side I’d be operating the model on, and the realised that this is where the jack plugs that provide the power plug into the box. This is not the best bit of design I came up with -it makes uncoupling a very fiddly operation- but on the other hand it does the job it is supposed to, which makes this the first model railway I’ve owned with hands-off coupling, so on balance I’m happy.

Besides if everything worked, I’d be thinking I’d bent the laws of physics again…

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Well, it can’t always work…

So I started to make the scenery by putting newspaper all around and in between the rails. After everything had dried, on goes the diesel, and it ran fine except for one little section of track on the end of the sector plate which was dead. Very dead. I suspected I’d broken a wire when building and painting the scenery, so off came the newspaper and yes, there was the broken wire. It was a choice of digging up all the scenery until I exposed enough wire to cut back to, or running a fresh wire under the sector plate to power the line directly. I opted for the latter so, in theory what I needed to do was de-solder the wires on the track, run the fresh wire into place, and resolder. What happened was that the soldering iron was too hot and heated the rails, melting the sleepers and eventually causing the whole lot to fall of in mangled mess.

Well, I wasn’t totally happy with the way it was stuck down anyway, and at least on something so small, it isn’t too much to replace. It still slows me down a bit though which isn’t helpful when I’m so close to the deadline…

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It Works...

After some fairly intense bodging, filing, soldering, and at least one length of mangled track, the first train on ‘Westerooge’ wobbled and lurched its way onto the sector plate this weekend. This in itself was good, but that it managed this without spilling itself onto the desk in an unpleasant mess was a real surprise.

In the event, the biggest problem wasn’t the sector plate but the join with the scenic section I made last week: the rear track goes up dramatically as it approaches the edge. As I’d already managed to melt rails off their sleepers in a previous soldering attempt I went for the bodger option and filed down the top of the rail a bit so it doesn’t make the train wobble quite so dramatically, and decided to ignore the rest.

Extensive ‘testing’ (playing) by daddy and eldest son have got most of the bugs out of the system, although the mess van has a habit of clouting the side of the box file when I pull it out of the middle siding. Never mind: I can finally get on with the fun part: scenery.

And I’ve got two weeks to do it…

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Head of Steel

Head of Steel 01

If I seem a bit excited today, its because a couple of nights ago night I laid the track in the scenic section of ‘Westerooge’ This is not only the first working model railway I’ve owned in the last 16 years, but also my first successful attempt at soldering in at least that time. I’ve decided I like variable temperature soldering irons.

I also moved into uncharted territory by using electrofrog points which have the advantage that they are live everywhere so your locomotives don’t stall and embarrass you, but the disadvantage that if you don’t wire them up the right way then they short-circuit the whole model and and embarrass you. After drilling a hole through the switch to take the brass rod, I wired it up to the track and turned the power on in the confident expectation of seeing the layout disappear behind a cloud of blue smoke. Remarkably, not only did that not happen, but the blue diesel moved, and in the right direction as well…

Point control and baseboard join

Point control and baseboard join. Not pretty, but it works...

So, having conquered this mountain, we can now start adding the ground cover and adding the bits and pieces that will hopefully make this look less like a box file and more like a model railway, and move onto the brave new world of the sector plate fiddle yard.

32 days to go.

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While I wait for the electrical gubbins to arrive I’ve been working on the lighthouse that will hopefully set the scene and hide the fiddleyard a bit. Actually the model is not of a traditional lighthouse as much as an ‘Unterfeuer’ which I think translates as a ‘Navigation light’. An Unterfeuer tends to be smaller than a lighthouse, and works with an ‘Oberfeuer’, which is much taller and usually further inland, so that ships can line up the towers or lights to guide themselves through river or sea channels. The model is based on an Unterfeuer at Baumrönne, one of several which work in conjunction with the Altenbruch Oberfeuer, and is not too far from where Westerooge is supposed to be. As an added advantage the height of the Baumronne Unterfeuer in 1:43 scale is almost exactly the length of a standard tube from a roll of kitchen towels.

I’m debating if I should have the windows clear or of they should have a card backing, as the picture of the original seems to show the windows being largely shuttered. I know I could make a detailed interior, but ‘Westerooge’ is supposed to be a short-term project and I’d like to finish it before we go to visit my family in mid-May. This isn’t as ambitious as it sounds: I’ve ordered the remaining electrical parts so they will arrive any day now, and I already have all the track and scenic bits for finishing off what will be a fairly flat model, so I think things will speed up now, as long as I don’t keep procrastinating.I’m already planning the summer project: I’ll tell you about it in the next blog entry.

[Update: Just as I was about to publish this entry, DHL delivered a box of electrical goodies]

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I’m stuck. It’s inevitable when working in a different country where things aren’t always the same as you are used to: Sometimes there is an annoying delay while you hunt for bits. This time, the bits in question are electrical -an area I’m not too confident in. I’ve found a shop on the internet that sells what I’m after: plugs, and slider switches, which is a step forward in that I know what to ask for, (Thanks to Zabdiel for the Wiki tip) but lack of knowledge makes me a bit cautious about forking out €20 in one go, which is the minimum for an online purchase. I’m searching for a local electrical shop where I can have a good look at the components first.

Which is a bit frustrating, so let’s talk about something more interesting. I’ve got a train ticket to go to a model railway and toy exhibition with Eldest Son this weekend, where I’ll hopefully be able to meet Alexander Rainer, a German member of the Gnatterbox, who will be exhibiting an model railway in a shoe box. He wants me to take my mess car along for a visit. I just hope it fits on his model.

Meanwhile I’m still hoping to get this model done by May, after which we will go to visit my family in the UK. After we come back, I’ve got another idea for a project, which is just a few sketches and a vague idea at the moment. I’ll give more details as I know them. It is another attempt at the Körschtalbahn, although Sägewerk Pfeifle will have to wait still longer until my boys desist from climbing up the furniture.

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