Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Kato track a reality

 I am amazed that times has flown whilst we were locked down. Getting free at the end of August still seems like a non-event as I am pretty much locked in still. I get out to go to the supermarket and the model railway shop. However, even the supermarket is now gone as our favourite store started online on 1st September. So, it is just the model railway store - oh dear. I did go elsewhere just once a few days ago but that trip will get its own blog entry.

The board was built, as usual, using 5mm foam core which works really well for me. I am fortunate to have a desk that is 1.6m x 0.8m, height adjustable, so this is a really firm base and the board is so light that I can pick it up. Also, I can match the desk height to that of the dining room table so I can spin the whole lot round and support it that way when I need to get to particular areas of the board.

Since then, I have laid a grass mat over the board. This didn't go too well as I used double sided tape to hold it down and it got stuck in folds a few times. Peeling off and starting again still left some little ones so I left them, on the basis that they will probably be covered by scenery as I go along! 

Right, so, I bought all the Kato track and laid it out as shown the the Amhurst layout. I made one change - I added an interchange track on the fron of the layout so that I could b ring new stock on and take old stock off. The Kato track needed little in the way of wiring and everything went down as expected. All the points come with a built in point motor so all I had to do was to add some DCC accessory decoders. As I had some ESU SwitchPilot boxes to hand, there came into play and worked really well except for two problems - the built in wiring and the four point crossover. Kato points work from two wires, not three like most UK motors. Instead of being given a pulse from separate polarity wires, the Kato units need a change in polarity on the two wires for the point to switch. To change the SwitchPilots over to thise means of operation required each point feed to have a DCC Concepts DCD-SDC in the line. This converts the three wire SwitchPilot output to the required two wire. These come in handy 6 packs and weren't expensive. Now, we come to the crossover. Kato kindly wire this as a single unit so there are only two wires coming from it. Following my experience with SwitchPilot units when trying to power SEEP twin solenoid motors (the units failed to make the switch on about 8 out of 10 tries), I pulled out one of the Train Tech units that I had bought to solve this issue. These Train-Tech accessory decoders provide four outlets the same as the ESU units but have a capacitor discharge unit built in so get a bigger bang for the buck! I put one of these on the crossover and everything worked fine.

I then cut into the baseboard to make the river that flows under the two girder bridges. I made the river come down the hill from the backscene. The river was made using Woodlands Scenics Realistic Water. This came out very well but I had to use about five layers to get the depth and effects that I wanted.

OK, so lets have a look at where we are and where we have been.

First off we have Jacobs corn and feed mill. This was built from plans in a Model Trains book that I have had since the 1950s. It is scratch built using Evergreen corrugated Iron sheet. Next to it is the tank farm which was built using toliet paper inner rolls coated with strips of printer paper. The signs on the tanks were printed on the computer but the sign on the feed mill is a computer printed  decal which nestles down nicely into the corrugations.

The sacks on the deck were made by rolling DAS clay out into a thin snake and cutting in where needed. The cut pressure makes the pieces look like sacks.

Blums Lumber gets its name from  my book my Frank Ellison. It is an industry on his Delta Lines and, again comes from a book that I have had since the 1950s. It is scratch built out of plastic card with the wood coming from Hobbycraft matchsticks. Again, the name on the roof is a printed decal. I would like to say that it was purposely non-straight but it ended up like that and I couldn't correct it so I left it!

This is Schmidt's coal yard. Again, built from plans in the 1950s book.

Here is the exit to the lumber yard. The trucks are 3D printed in China and bought off EBay. Four trucks for $9 including shipping! The lake is made using Realistic Water.

This is the stream that feeds the lake. The girder bridge is, yet again, made from plastic card but to my own design. The decals is another home made one.

This is the tunnel that feeds into the interchange track. It doesn't go anywhere so there is about 6" of track and then a bumper!

Well, how about a little video of the whole thing in its current state?