Newport Model Railway Society

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Little Mill progress update page

13 February 2013

It’s been a while since any of us updated these pages, so apologies if you’ve been looking to see what’s been happening and nothing appears to have moved.

Here’s the story to date…

Having appointed Eccles as project manager, it soon became apparent that he was not the idiot he claimed to be, no, he was the idiot that we claimed him to be. So, Eccles was sacked. Rod Hall and Dave Hagger took over the lion’s share of work. The boards were built as described, no variation. We now have robust, flat boards to lay our track on. Track work is copper clad sleepers cut to length and then the rail soldered on top. We built jigs for this and found that by completely building the finished block it was far easier to lay than putting down half track and then soldering the other half of the rail to it. Yes it meant that it all had to be checked but that would have to be done anyway so nothing lost. We used a few track jigs to check the track if they didn’t pass muster on these then the track work was pulled about - some may call it fettling – the Scalefour roller jigs and Roger Sawyers track jig were the main ones used. What a difference these have made to the running of the layout. Totally and completely recommended for anyone wishing to lay track.

Laying the track was down to the Templot plan that Rod had so carefully prepared for us. This involved attaching the plan to the individual boards – having been printed courtesy of a department sitting on the banks of the river Usk, part of a well known steel company. We did give a donation to St David’s foundation for the phenomenal amount of printing required. Then having attached the print we then cut out a tint square of the print – on the rail line - and then put a marker pen line so that we could join these up into a straightish line. You get the idea.

The next area of trouble was to build the 13 odd points that were needed for the fiddle yard boards. This is were if you have experienced heads for this sort of job you have a head start. Thanks to Tony Bennett for taking on some of the tutelage duties in teaching the club’s luddites in how to build points. It was fortunate for us that Tony saw the fruits of his labours before he was taken from us in such an untimely manner. Our club is much poorer for his passing and we have lost a good friend.

The Youth Section then stepped up and set about putting electrikery through the boards and sorting out the servos which would be used to change the points. Hopefully Steve will update his page with the how to’s of this in order to give definitive answers on how all this great technology was installed. We still have points to electrify and servos to bring on line. The beginning of the end, of the beginning, is now in sight.

On here you will find just what's happening with LMJ. From baseboard design, to the selection of the track we use. Basically everything that'll bring this layout to fruition.

To start this section I'm including the basic design of the fiddle yard baseboards. This was put together by Dave Hagger, so if anything goes's his fault! Basically, it is a framed door. The door is of a high quality, and has been sanded flat, so that the surface that the track will be mounted on is as close to perfect as it can be. If we can't get the fiddle yard to work then building the rest of the layout will be a waste of time. So, a lot is riding on the success of this part of the project. Here are Dave's designs as they were presented to the club and NAGNAG members. If you want a fully dimensioned drawing please email Dave, using the address on the contacts page.




The next thing to be considered was the track, not the prototype, as this was already known from the research - elsewhere in this page - but the different types available to us and the actual cost per unit. The fiddle yard was always going to be plain copperclad, anything else just did not make sense either financially or timewise. The point work the same. So, what was the front going to be?
The candidate systems we considered were Joe Brooke-Smith (ply, rivets and cosmetic chairs), Exactoscale, Masokits, plain copperclad and C&L.

The qualities we were looking for in trackwork on the scenic parts of the layout included ease and speed of construction, reliability and fidelity of appearance. There are no surprises in those criteria but more specifically in terms of reliability we want a system that will allow some degree of adjustment and we weren’t convinced that a glued plastic system would offer use the ability to make fine changes that we might need for especially in pointwork. This precluded Exactoscale and C&L. The look of plain copperclad track took that out of the running.

All of the trackwork has been specifically designed for the locations based on BR(WR) practice of the period so it’s unlikely that any point kit will be of use to us (‘a B8 defines a turnout in the same way as two-cylinder 4-6-0 defines a steam engine but we don’t think that a Manor looks like a King Arthur’). This then narrowed the field down to two options for the pointwork – Brook-Smith and Masokits.
In choosing between these two alternatives we looked at the cost per unit on the turnout comparison as seen here:

As you can see the difference in cost per unit is not a lot and talking to fellow modellers who have used both systems suggests there is little difference in construction time to achieve fully chaired track what did we decide on and why...Masokits' point work won through and here's why. Because, we think that it’ll be adjustable, being soldered to copperclad sleepers. So, doesn’t Brooke-Smith track have the same properties? Well actually, no. On our previous layout 'Belle Vue' we found that adjusting the rail on the rivets soon charred the timbers and led to the whole thing becoming, well, broken. In fact some of the more temperamental points were taken up and rebuilt because of this weakness.
For plain running track our initial choice was C&L, with a layout that's 40 feet long and double track, anything else would be to tedious to complete and interest would wane...quickly!  However some trials with C&L track has shown that the track gauge can narrow on curves (where of course you want it to be wider), so we may have to restrict C&L to straight sections and find an alternative for the curved sections (the minimum radius on the scenic section is around 6’, with 4’6” in part of the hidden area). Masokits running track, which is some of the nicest and robust track I've seen, is just too long winded to build for a layout such as this, but, as this photo shows, it looks quiet fantastic.

Just a small sample that's been built to the acceptable standard required for LMJ.

Where are we now?
Well, as at the beginning of October 2010, the completed half track count is now up to about 70 half metre lengths, 3 of the 5 fiddle yard boards have been completed/built and sealed with varnish. We have all the materials to make the remaining 2. Filing classes are now being given for the point work required on the fiddle yard, the use of jigs is mandatory! We need to appoint a CME, who will adjudicate as to what is acceptable and what is not. Every project needs someone to be in charge, so I nominate Eccles! We'll be in safe hands then! I dare say I've missed something out in this introduction and I'll have to amend it in due course, so keep looking thru for my goofs and gaffs!