Friday, 12 January 2018

So, the world turns - AGAIN!

I was feeling a bit off about US outline modelling over the weekend. The cost of buying anything that isn't a box car, a passenger car or a loco is out of all proportion because of the costs for shipping, added VAT and the Royal Mail/Parcelforce £8.50 handling charge. My mind started to wander and I found myself wondering if I could knock together a small N Gauge British outline layout. By small, I meant around 3' 6"" X 12".

I didn't get far as I started to work out what was needed and suddenly the word "budget" loomed large. However, the advantages are many as everything is available locally here in Ipswich, or at least 90% of it as we have a good model shop here - was Scograil but more of that later. I gave it a bit more thought and then started to be a bit creative on the money side. Without going into details, I felt that I could justify the expense of a few items. This got a bit out of hand, as these things do.

I started playing around with the idea and, rapidly, found that 3' 6" was a bit tight so expanded it to 4' and then out to 4' 3". I have now designed quite a nice little terminus running into a "fiddle yard" - the UK name for "staging".

This has a single passenger platform, a goods line, three industries, a goods shed and an engine shed so quite a lot going on. I thought that I could run this on two locos and a few wagons. Well, that didn't last.

I went off to the local shop and found that all had changed over the new year. My friend Kevin of Coastal DCC had joined forces with Brett from Scograil to buy out (as I understand it - if I am wrong, then sorry) Neil Scoggins and run the UK model side under the name "Orwell Model Railways" (OMR)- nothing there yet on the Internet but there will be. Meanwhile Neil is taking what used to be ScogBahn and now has a dedicated European model railway shop, on the same premises.

Anyway, back to the story. I bought some fresh 5mm foam core from Hobbycraft (4 A1 sheets for £10 - bargain). I then hit OMR for the real stuff. Well, £355 later - 7 points, 4 yards of track, one loco (Graham Farish Ivatt 2-6-0), one passenger coach, three wagons, a brake van and a decoder for the loco. Oh, and I ordered a 3F shunter for the town pilot. This tiny stuff ain't cheap!

I then found a cheap, new, LMS 4F which will arrive by Saturday. I took it all home and started building the base. Knocking foam core together is easy - all you need is a sharp knife and a hot glue gun. I have a special foam core cutter which keeps the blade at 90 degrees for a better fit. I then spent a couple of days laying some track and here we are:

I have installed all the wiring to make it DCC friendly. Last night, I put the decoder into the loco and - nothing happened. In fact quite a lot happened but not what I wanted. Firstly, I was able to change the address using JMRI but then, when I took it off the programming track and placed on the N Gauge layout (connected by jumpers to the main layout) it instantly shorted! I spoke to Kevin but we didn't get very far. I took it into him today and it turned out that one of the tender wheel axles was shorting.Not enough to stop the programming but enough when full power came on to short. He fixed it but when I got home, I still couldn't run the loco. It didn't short out but just sat there. After a lot of fiddling and speaking, again, to Kevin, it finally jerked into action. I have absolutely no idea what I did but it runs now.

I found that it runs very intermittently so I looked into a rolling road, but at £60.00 that was too rich for something that has short term uses. I decided that I could quickly put together a test track as I had two yards of track sitting there ready for the fiddle yard. 

Good old foam core. In 10 minutes, I had a 24"square baseboard built and a circle of track installed. The Ivatt is now running around that and I am hoping that the jerkiness will come out now that I have oiled it and it has been running for a few hours.

Tomorrow, I get to run some trains and then install some wire and tube point changers. I am also building a Metcalfe Engine Shed. See you then.

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