Finally finished (?)
When is a model railway layout really completed? I have been debating myself on this topic for a while. Should I spent the extra effort to add many small details, and thus delay working on my Wagga layout/models, or do I stop working on the layout once it has reached an acceptable functional standard?
|View from the northern end, looking south. The up and down tracks on the left weave to gain clearance for the crossover bridge. The level crossing is also not quite complete|
My answer is at the end of this update
The white foam visible on the front fascia was always meant to be covered. My original idea was that I could paint a suitable fascia colour on the future perspex. Well, without the perspex, this was not a good idea. So I fashioned up an MDF profile to hide the foam, and after fitting, found gaps that needed to be filled with more scenery. It would have been better to have installed the fascia earlier, so I wouldn't have had to try and match existing terrain.
The colour was a representation of the "red brown" clay that is typical of this area. A 250ml sample pot from Bunnings, and a roller to apply.
|What did we do without grip clamps?|
|Fascia board installed - secured with screws and painted.|
The H&M clipper control had previously been placed above the layout, with wires running direct to the track. Whilst this was OK for testing, it was not going to work once the perspex was added to the front. So I made up a shelf under the extension board out of scrap timber. The control to activate a train has been agreed with the Museum. Using a Clipsal “push button” timer light switch, will activate the clipper transformer. Being 240 volt, this needs to be wired by a licensed electrician, so I will leave that task to the Museum.
The other way to do it is to wire this plug up to the controlled 12 volt wires leading to the track. This doesn’t need an electrician – but it also means that power is constantly on to the Clipper, and relies on the Museum volunteers to turn the 240volt AC supply on and off. Risk of fire from an overheated transformer is significant, so whilst there is more cost with the electrician, safety is the route forward.
|I am assuming that the museum will want to install curtains at the bottom of the fascia board to hide the transformer, and wiring.|
As trains had not run on the layout since I started scenery, there was around 13 metres of track to clean. Some of it had been affected by glue during the ballasting. So armed with my block of wood, I slowly polished my way around the circuit. I do not use an abrasive cleaner, as this introduces scratches into the surface of the rail, and becomes a groove where dirt can accumulate. The tunnel scenery inserts were popped out to expose the “hidden” trackage. A vacuum clean then picks up any loose ballast etc.
|The tunnels, after removal of the inserts.|
I own a few N scale locos that need good clean track to run. So these are the best locos to test the track. All was going well, until the loco stalled in the tunnel. Turns out that one of the tunnel scenery inserts had too much foam extending downwards from the tunnel roof. Very easy to fix. There was also a fair bump over the track join between the main board and the extension. An adjustment on the screws holding the track alignment plate in place, cured this. Once I had a few laps under my belt, I added a couple of test carriages and again, a few more laps.
The Passenger carriages all used Rapido N scale couplers mounted on the bogies. All the museum locos use microtrains couplers. So I converted one end of a passenger coach to microtrains. I cut off the Rapido coupling off the bogie, and body mounted a microtrains coupler direct to the underside of the coach end. Amazingly, the coupler height was spot on.
Obviously, this modification also needed to be tested. The best running loco in the museum fleet is an Atlas GP38. After coupling the carriage to loco, a few more trips around the layout were successful.
A layout tour.
|Our train passes over the #1 tunnel|
|Continuing down the hill, the other 2 tracks are for the spiral.|
|As before, the track at the bottom of the hill is not sceniced, as it is purely there to turn the train back up the hill.|
|Our train starts it climb up and around the loop - about to enter #1 tunnel|
|A view of the loop, showing the unsceniced section (the white foam, and no ballast track) at the back of the hill. I couldn't really justify spending time on an area that would not be seen form normal viewing angles. The train has climbed the hill.|
|Our inspection train heads towards the crossover bridge|
|Finally, our train reaches the olympic highway level crossing, and end of the scenery|
|The Museum owned NSW freight train drifts down the hill. It would be nice if they had more than 4 NSW freight wagons.|
What lessons learnt
Construction of a model layout has refreshed a lot of my skills, and allowed me to try out some ideas that could be used during the construction of my Wagga layout.
- Install the fascia early, not after the rest of the scenery has been done
- Polystyrene foam is effective for creating landforms, but messy to work with. Hot wire works, but extruded foam may be better than white beaded foam
- Storing things for 20-30 years on the offchance you will use it is false economy.
- Sculpt-it “plaster” is excellent for rough rockwork
- Large areas of scenery are not something I enjoy building
- I am not a fan of tree making
- Forced perspective works nicely
- Hidden trackage MUST be accessible
- I need more experimentation with my static grass techniques
It was good to put some theories into practice. Perhaps the best advice is to trust yourself, for even if it doesn’t work, you will learn something.
|Probably my favourite angle to view the layout. The forced perspective on Bethungra hill is quite effective, and the shadows from the trees along the road looks good. (Sorry to show the clutter in my garage - spoils the illusion).|
It has been been 9 months since I accepted the challenge to rebuild the Bethungra Loop layout for the Broadway Museum, and I think it is time for the layout to return to the Museum. I have contacted them, and they are arranging the transport. However, with the current COVID19 restrictions, this may take a few days (or weeks), so I will keep adding details until then.