Mounting a point motor

To make the job of mounting the new points on the layout easier, I’m experimenting with a method of attaching the point motor directly to the point, allowing the whole assembly to just be dropped into a suitable hole on the layout.

The first stage is to glue some thin plastic to the point sleepers – I used a bit of case from an old 8″ floppy disk (left over from the very early days of computing…):The plastic is wider than the hole will be, so should cover any gaps. There is a small gap in the plastic to allow the control wire to move the tie bar.

On the underside, a 38mm x 45mm piece of 6mm plywood is glued to the plastic, and the point motor (Conrad) screwed to this:
Wires from the point frog and rails are soldered to small pins in the wood. This allows a switch inside the point motor to change the frog polarity:
Two more pins allow a connection to the point motor itself:You can just see a spring steel wire on the right, which connects the moving arm of the point motor to the tie bar on the point.

Finally, wires are attached to the pins; the red ones will go to the point motor driver, the other pair to the track power:I’ve used a different arrangement for the spring steel wire on subsequent points:

This uses a much thinner wire, constrained by the short copper tube under the motor. This produces enough force to move the point, but no so much that the point could be damaged should a problem occur.

Making a point

Things have been happening “behind the scenes” on the railway…

One of my long term plans was to replace the current track with more realistic looking track. Last year, I was fortunate to acquire a selection of hand made points which had been removed from another layout:
These points are beautifully built (far better than I could do), but there were not enough of the right sort of points for my layout, so after buying a couple of “kits”, embarked on making some myself.

The first stage is to fix the printed template to a bit of board, and cut strips of copper clad board to make the “sleepers”. These are stuck on with double sided tape to hold them in position:
The far right sleeper has been left off as this point needs to be installed very close to another point:
To get the first rail straight (and vertical), I used some aluminium angle as a reference:
The rail is soldered on to the sleepers:
This rail acts as a reference for the other rails. Note the two roller gauges on the left – these are used to get the right distance between the rails.
This picture shows all the fixed rails fitted:
And finally, the point blades are fitted, soldered to a “tie bar” on the right hand side. The tie bar will be moved by a motor, causing the point blades to direct the train in the correct direction.
This looks a bit untidy, but once most of it is hidden under paint and ballast, it’ll be fine!


Canal Area Finished?

I was pleased with the results of the canal basin rebuilding, but the area the other side of the warehouse left much to be desired!

In the end, the best solution seemed to be to build yet another low relief warehouse to fill the space.


There will be a buffer stop at the end of that siding as soon as Ebay deliver!


Canal Basin Reworked

I was never fully happy with the canal basin, so have spent the last week or two redesigning and rebuilding the entire area.

This is the area with no buildings:


A low relief warehouse and a new custom warehouse with an angled tunnel through it has been built. In this photo, the platform hasn’t been finished:


This is the platform finished off, with some lights in the main warehouse:


On the other side of the main warehouse, the far siding has been cut back, and more low relief warehouses have been added:


This is an overall view of the area:


As with all these things, there is still much to be done, but at least the core stuff is now place.




Canal Hill Installed

The new canal hill has now been painted and installed on the layout. See Canal Hill Version 3 for construction photos.

First job was to add a base layer of grass:


Then an initial layer of scatter was added:


This is the space on the layout where the hill will go:


And this is the layout with the hill installed and finished (for now):




The adjacent track has also been tidied up and weathered.


Canal Hill Version 3

Time for the third rebuild of the hill by the canal…

This is made of insulation board stuck on a cardboard base (see Making a grass mound for the method used).

The left hand section will be rocks based on a local(ish) sandstone outcrop:

Stone Farm Rocks

So far, it has been painted with white emulsion. The separate section will go on the wall behind the canal:

Canal Hill Version 3

This is a closeup of the rock section:

Canal Hill Version 3 Closeup

For reference, these are the previous attempts:

Polystyrene (never finished)
Canal Tunnel Entrance
Wooden base with plaster overlay

A New Train!

It’s been a while since I bought any new trains for the railway, but this one caught my eye (and was on special offer!):

Class 128 DPU

For the railway minded, it’s a Class 128 DPU (Diesel Parcels Unit). There were never many of these made, but they were used in many different regions. The last one was withdrawn in 1990. Unfortunately, none survive in preservation.


Frog Juicer

The frog on the one point on the 009 (Narrow Gauge) track has never been very reliable electrically. I was going to replace the point, but it would have been a lot of work…

So after a bit of experimentation, I added a small electronic board (Frog Juicer) that automatically sets the frog part of the point to the correct state.


It only needed one more wire adding to the layout (and unless you know where it is, you’ll never see it), and the point is now very reliable in operation.