Power to the people

Modelling has taken a bit of a back seat over the last few months following the birth of our grandson Ruauri in May – weekends seem to be taken up with visiting, family social events, various jobs around the house and garden and the railway room has seemed a bit of an alien place to be honest.

However a timely reminder to get on with things arrived the other Wednesday evening with the return to base of the layouts operating panel. Although I’ve wired the layout myself, the club has a dab hand in panel wiring in Martin Edmondson and on a quid pro quo basis (I’ve got a lot of his parcels stock to airbrush and weather) he has wired up my pre constructed box for me and produced a very nice panel fascia as well.

panel 1

The underneath of the panel shows just how good Martin is at this job (He’s currently building the far more complicated panel for RMRG member Ian Worthington’s Glaisden layout). Its going to be freestanding on a small table at the back of a layout rather than mounted on the layout itself – and that’s all to do with the logistics of making the layout packable into two cars, the result of some very careful measuring of Octavia estates!

panel 3

The eagle-eyed will have noticed the inclusion of an “odd” toggle switch in the top left hand corner. This is a three pole double throw switch and is there to enable (when no ones looking) me to switch in DCC power. Bearing in mind that at shows where there’s non DCC people operating, it will be strictly DC, this allows me some noisy fun at home. Martin – who’s not a great fan of this digital malarkey – has labeled the positions accordingly. Bearing in mind its a centre off, I can see lots of opportunities and motivation to actually leave it in the centre position.

panel 2

To be honest my original idea was to have a bloody big knife switch to swap between DC and stress, but it was a tad impractical 😉


On the workbench, construction of the signals has been gathering pace. Over half of the signalling scheme is off scene, but the platform starters and the down home are on the baseboards. I’ve done the down starter and down home as standard 20 foot Caledonian Stevens & Co lattice posts. The up starter which also controls entry to the Kinlochleven branch is a 27 foot bracket.

The posts and arms are MSE products – the bracket supports are scratchbuilt as will be the platforms. The finials and lamps are also MSE. The signals will be operated by the Smith and Finney “Hoffman” motors which I just happened to have on stock. The wiring looms to these are already in – it’s a case of installing the motors once the signals are finished.

Its soldered construction throughout – the single 20 foot posts are cut down from the 27 foot etches simply by soldering a new base at the 20 foot mark (I used one of the post construction jigs as a base) and carefully cutting underneath the new base with a razor saw.

The pictures in order – Down platform starter, Up/Branch bracket starter., Down home. There’s a Caley “flap” ground signal to go in yet to control exit from them yard

I can’t plug my reference source highly enough, Its been quite a few quid well spent!

sig 4

Small packages

At the Rochdale club evening last night I took delivery of a couple of welcome packages, both picked up from Scalefour North last weekend by co conspirator Ian Worthington who was my proxy at the show – a busy weekend meant there was no way I was going to be there!

First of all some Brassmasters etches for the point rodding cranks and signal pulleys, very fine work indeed, but the real bonus ball was the packet of rodding stools from Alan Buttler at Modelu  http://www.modelu3d.co.uk/shop/

These are 3d printed by Alan and are truly stunning – none of the faffing around with soldering etches – straight ready to go stools which just need the square section threading before glueing to the stool bases. These are the mutts whotnots, unfortunately the phone camera can’t do them justice and the Canon needs a battery recharge! I’m looking forward to seeing these laid over the next week or two.


Also last night at the club work on the signals restarted – this is the down starter in its position – still loads of work to do, not least cutting the post down from its current 27 foot to the standard (ish) 20 foot Caledonian post. The Caley lower quadrants are being used – resignalling has yet to reach this backwater!


Building upwards

Since the show at the weekend, construction has now at last started in the vertical plane – with the addition of Lanarkshire Models excellent Caledonian buffer stops. Dave Franks has really produced some exquisite moulding here, well worth the price and a bit more besides – but dont tell him that. Next job, the signals.







Panic button avoided

The wiring on North Ballachulish was completed tonight barring a few tidying up jobs – a bit of a close run thing. but hopefully our working demonstration will be up and running this weekend. So if you are building a layout or just want to know a bit more about wiring up or soldering come and ask the guys manning North Ballachulish at the Rochdale show this coming weekend. We may even get the DCC up and running as well. (The layout is wired so it can work both off analogue and digital control)



The last few weeks have seen a fair bit of activity on wiring North Ballachulish- Ive been starting at source (the mains) and working in. The power box, a veteran off Spotland and New Hey, has been rebuilt to provide the voltages required for the track feeds, points, signals and magnets. Then working to the panel ,which has now been fabricated and is out for wiring to my sub – contractor, Mr Martin Edmondson.  That’s the great thing about being in a club, some people are brilliant at things you may not be, and whilst I’m no slouch at wirng, Martin produces some of the neatest and correct wiring jobs in panels I have ever seen. In return a rake of his parcels stock will be winging its way up from the village for me to paint and weather. The track feeds have already been dropped from the plain track and now number one board needs to be taken down , turned upside down and work commencing on the wiring loom.


panel first draft

The panel diagram (Drawn by Martin Edmondson)


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