Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Oh its just one of those days.
In preparation for the predicted weekends rain I have printed off my Scalescenes goods shed.
Except I forgot to switch the scaling on the printer off so everything was shrunk to fit letter size paper.
Luckily I do have plenty of paper and ink available....

Monday, June 29, 2009

Matters Arising

So things are chugging along "behind the scenes" so to speak.
I've placed an order for an Ultrascale conversion kit for my Bachmann 08 (14 weeks delivery quoted on that). As well as the required track components from Exactoscale to enable to make all the track for the visible section of the layout, and on Saturday I downloaded the Scalescenes goods shed. In the end I opted for brown brick. It was a difficult decision brown or red. I did spend quite a while thinking about it. In the end I plumped for brown. Sometimes I think the red is a little too pale. I'm sure I'll be happy with it. With the 4th July holiday weekend looking and rain forecast I may even get a start on building it!
One interesting that has arisen from displaying this plan over at RMweb is that a few people have remarked on the fact that the plan has a feel of Outwell village on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway. I'd never considered that and indeed my W&U books have stay firmly packed away for a long time. Having thought about this some. The idea has some appeal that the East Lincolnshire Light Railway could have something of a W&U feel to it With the J70 "Toby the Trams" and class 03's with skirts and cowcatchers. I think I need to dig my Wisbech and Upwell books out again...

Friday, June 26, 2009

More Pink Thinks...

I've spent the last couple of days giving thought to how I would make the baseboard for this layout out of pink foam. The first and most obvious was is to get layout sized slabs of foam cut to shape and glued together. Which I dismissed as quickly as I thought of it. I searched for a magazine that I thought I had that featured construction of foam baseboards but couldn't find it. But what I remember of the article the structure was designed for miles of Appalachian forest. I think I don't really need that level of substructure. The next most obvious way to look at the foam is to treat it as if it were good old 2x1 timber or similar. I think the sketch below explains it the best.
Strips of the 1" thick foam would be cut to the required shapes as if it were timber and glued together much as you would glue and screw sections of 2x1, 4x1 or whatever your preferred method of using wood is. I'd then glue pieces of foam where the river and the ground would be this would then give it the rigidity it requires. The exact form of the interior bracing isn't decided but I expect that towards the rear the bracing would have to be taller. Other than that I think it will work. Now to work out how to cut all I need out of an 8' x 4' sheet of pink foam.

P.S. I wonder If I could get away with 1/2" foam instead...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Think Pink...

Flymo said "I certainly hope that the pink extruded polystyrene is suitable for a P4 layout as it's exactly what I'm planning on using".
That makes me feel a lot better, knowing I don't have to dismiss the material out of hand. I feel confident in using pink foam. In the past though my "baseboards" were just slices of foam cut to shape and any land contours that were needed were just extra pieces of pink foam cut to shape and stuck on top of each other. Crude but effective if not without problems...
I really think I need to put a bit more thought into this one this time. Somewhere at home I have an article in an old N scale magazine that described working in pink foam in great detail. In that 1" thick foam was used to produce a box girder type structure. I'll have to look into that. Not only will be using one inch thick foam be easier than using two inch. It will also be cheaper.
Once I have the baseboard complete I will then lay some cork sheet on the surface because in my experience pink foam baseboards can be rather noisy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lots to think about

Oh boy. Now I've put my foot down and decided on the layout plan, things are getting serious.
What type of baseboard construction do I use?
I am, without a doubt. One of the worlds worst woodworkers. So getting a square and level baseboard will be a task of Herculean proportions for me. You wouldn't believe how bad some of my wooden baseboards have been, even using 2x 1. I did like using pink insulation foam for my Gn15 layouts and used it to great effect. Except when I had to exhibit the layouts that entailed construction a wooden box or frame for them... That took me back to square one. I doubt that a pink foam baseboard is feasible for a P4 layout. Foamcore board is gaining great favour amongst modellers who favour smaller layouts. Chris Nevards Catcott Burtle is the prime example of this. Perhaps I might be able to use that. I can easily cut a straight line with a Stanley knife and straight edge on Foamcore.
Next up to think about is how to operate the points. After 20 plus years of modelling I have only just got around to electric point motors. When I built a previous EM gauge layout I used DPDT slide switches to change the polarity and both operate the switch rails by means of a wire drilled through the knob on the switch. I liked this, it was simple and easy and not much you could do wrong. Hopefully I can remember how to do that and find a suitable sort of switch over here in Radio Shack.
I need to give these things some thought over the next couple of weeks for tomorrow I'll be down at the post office mailing a couple of orders off for some P4 bits and bobs...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The ballad of Arthur "two sheds" Jackson*.

Not unlike Arthur's garden, my layout will only have one shed. Goods shed that is. But I have 2 in mind. Firstly there is a very nice looking structure available from Scalescenes that I'm really quite taken by. I like Scalescenes a lot. I've made a few of their kits and even messed around with conversions. If you are unfamiliar with Scalescenes you should check them out. You purchase your building kit online, download it and print it off on your printer. You only need to download one for a few quid and you can make as many as you like. Great for rows of terraced houses for example.
The Scalescenes goods shed looks terrific. Though not based on a prototype structure, it certainly looks believable and has shades of Great Central and Great Northern architecture about it I think. It wouldn't look out of place on a layout based in Lincolnshire.
My second choice is to go the more prototypical route and model a local goods shed. Something like Mablethorpes brick shed or maybe even Sutton-on-Seas' or Huttoft Mumby Roads' timber shed. I think I have enough photographs to enable me to produce a model of the Mablethorpe shed. The trouble is I just know that I'd want to get the interior absolutely correct as well and I don't have any pictures of the interior. As you will be able to see directly inside the goods shed from that front of the layout there will have to be an interior to the shed. So unless anyone can help me with pictures of the interior of Mablethorpe goods shed. Then Scalescenes it is.

*That's a Monty Python reference if you were wondering

Saturday, June 13, 2009

We needed time apart...

Our planned mid-week break came just at the right time from my railway modelling point of view. Having planned and planned for weeks and just come up with something I really like. I needed a break from model railways and in particular that latest plan. So my wife and I headed up to Duluth, Minnesota, one of the most beautiful cities in the States for a well earned break. While we were there we got to photograph some of the huge great Lakes freighters, as well as some interesting rail scenes.
above: The Paul R Tregurtha at just over 1,000 feet, it is the largest freighter plying its trade on the Great Lakes.
above: An old SW1 switcher working the CHS grain elevators in Superior, WI. A subject for a layout in itself. So we returned home refreshed and I looked at the plan anew. Guess what? It still looks as good as when I left it. This is a very positive sign. If I'd have stayed at home I may well have tried to tweak it and as a result destroyed any enthusiasm I had for it. I've done that many a time before. Come up with a good idea and kept tweaking it and tweaking it until I didn't care for the idea any more.
No more tweaking. I have a good plan. Lets order some track components and get building!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Do it... Jump!

Here is a further development of last Fridays design. Something that I am rather excited by. I'm getting a feel from this design that I didn't quite get from the previous one.
This design is pulling together some of the scenic ideas from the larger Saltfleet haven designs into something half the size that will still be interesting to operate and will give the viewer plenty to look at.
The most obvious feature lifted from previous Haven designs is the inclusion of the river and its bridges. Now two rail bridges rather than a rail bridge and road bridge (I always felt there was something awkward about that arrangement anyway). The anonymous structure front left acting as a view block could well turn out to be the tin fishermans chapel mentioned in earlier versions.
The Inglenook arrangement that forms the main part of the layout illustrates something about layout operation that I wish more people would pay attention to. That concerns the "unloading" of wagons. Unloading is a bit of a misnomer really as model railway wagons aren't unloaded per se; as 4mm scale working people haven't been perfected yet that could unload a van. So we have to resort to subterfuge that suggests these things happen. With vans its easy, they can be unloaded in the goods shed so you can't see that nothing actually happens. Likewise with the warehouse. At the outside loading dock you can't see that the doors of the van aren't being opened because it's happening out of your view. The problem comes with open wagons such as coal wagons at a coal yard. Unloading of those takes place in the open. So in this case the cheat is to tuck the coal yard out of the way around the corner of the warehouse so that you can see the coal staithes but you won't be able to see me reach in there and by some secret method yet to be devised (but will probably include magnets) remove the load. It's only a little matter but its one that has bugged me for a long time. This is my way around it, not perfect but at least a full wagon is delivered to the coal yard and an empty one collected.
So will this be the final design? You know I can't promise that. A lot depends on how I can arrange the buildings on the model. One thing that could change is that it could be built as a mirror image as this design is drawn with two LH turnouts whereas I have two RH. With, at last count, 10 4mm scale wagons and a class 08 I only need to buy track components, wheels, buffers and couplings I will certainly make up a shopping list for it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Make your point...

Feeling rather pleased with myself today. I just completed my first P4 Track Co. kit for a A6 right handed turnout.
In all honesty I have to say that I don't know what I was worried about. Yes, the instructions are daunting at first look. But read them a few times, identify all the parts and follow them to the letter as you build and you will be rewarded with a realistic looking piece of railway track.

Now I don't want to bore anyone with a full on review of the kit or a "how I blew my nose" description of the construction. Just a few observations.
Firstly, I was really impressed when I pulled the kit out of the parcel all very neatly packaged in a clear plastic box. You could see all the bits and pieces without opening things up.
Then, when it came to the instructions I will freely admit I was quite daunted at the prospect of what I had set myself up to do. The instructions are very detailed but do guide you through every step of the way. I read the instructions several times before starting, and still followed them as I built it. This however did not stop me missing the placement of the crossing chairs out. I ended up sticking them in place just before I put the curved stock rail in.
Really though construction is a breeze. No more difficult than an Airfix model kit. All the advice you need to assemble the kit is in the instructions.
Before I started on assembly I decided to solder dropper wires onto the switchblade and vee constructions. My soldering abilities are not the greatest and I thought there would be less chance of melting chairs if I did that first. Next time I think I will try to solder dropper wires to the rails before assembly too.
My confidence grew as I progressed along. I was excited to get the job finished. Then as that time approached I tested things out. I found one of my wagons and nervously pushed it through the pointwork along both roads...
Perfect! No derailments. No bumps or lurches.
That makes you feel good.
With this boost to my confidence in my abilities I feel ready to start on a layout...

Friday, June 5, 2009

(Yet) Another idea

You'll pretty soon be sick of all the schemes that I come up with in trying to build a P4 layout.
I wasn't meant to be planning at all this afternoon. I was just resting my lunch before popping out for a 4 mile run and I was leafing through Iain C Rice's "Light Railway Layout Design" and it happened...
I just looked at one of the plans that I had studied many times before in a different way (perhaps it was out of the corner of my eye) and I thought I saw something slightly different to what was there. So I had to sketch it out. Above you see what I came up with. It's basically an "Inglenook" of some description, with what I call an "orphan siding" at the rear. (That means it has no apparent connection to any part of the layout).
I've always had fun with "Inglenook" layouts and have built a couple myself. So I know that there is a lot of operating potential to be had there just working those three sidings at the front. Working the orphan siding at the back opens up some other opportunities as well. Perhaps it would be a couple of extra spots for wagons. Perhaps it could be the "main line" and after a train has been made up on the inglenook sidings and has been run offstage onto the sector plate it could then appear running through the scene at the rear of the layout. I dunno. Something to think about. Another plan to file away...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Disturbing the tumbleweed

Better post something here lest my followers think I have quit on my layout project. I haven't but 2 marathons in 4 weeks takes it out of you. With another one in three weeks time I might be quiet a while longer yet. But things have been appearing in the mailbox though. I have a set of track gauges, some more wheels and no less than two P4 track company kits. Looking forward to assembling those in particular. I've had a look at the instructions and was initially quite daunted at the project. But after a second and third reading things seemed clearer. I will, of course write about the whole sorry or exciting adventure (depending on the final outcome) here.
The wheels are for my Bachmann 16T mineral wagons. Though it looks like they will not be the relatively easy drop in project I had hoped for. I was hoping some simple filing away and trimming at the back of the W-irons would suffice, as some members of the S4 society said it might be. But it might be that some heavyweight filing might be in order. If that fails then it will be back to the Scalefour stores for some wagon compensation units.