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mick

Worsley Dale Garden Railway

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I managed to run a number of trains yesterday afternoon and every single one of them ran perfectly through the sprung point but now that I've discovered that it will work I need to think of a more reliable way of making it work. I don't feel I can rely on a piece of elastic so I have a couple of ideas that I'll be trying out later.

Here's a quick hand-held video of a train passing through the points, showing that the points successfully revert to the normal running position.

 

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Despite getting the sprung points working I just knew there had to be a better, perhaps much easier way. I kept going back to what @ThomasIsaid about fastening a spring to the points and to a screw alongside the track - it's most simplest form. I'm just making things far too difficult for myself! So overnight I'd come up with a couple of methods that I thought I'd try this morning using materials I have to hand - well materials is hardly the word because what I've now done requires just one thing - a short length of springy wire (and a soldering iron!) It really can't get any simpler than this.

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This is the other point that I've tested this out on and the reason I've soldered the springy wire to the rail ahead of the point is because it's a left hand point and the stock rail curves round. I just couldn't get it to work the same as on a straight length of track. You can fiddle with the wire itself to adjust the tension and it requires little effort to move the points over. This is an old point and there's a bit of resistance between the point blades and sleepers that I need to ease before I'll be satisfied it's good to go. Just occasionally the points don't move fully back across but I can see which sleeper is causing the problem.

I think I need to do this with the first point now as it's a much more reliable way to spring the points.

 

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Getting the point blades moving freely across without resistance from the sleepers below took some doing and in fact I'd almost resigned myself to buying a new point. In the end I've had to cut out the section of plastic from immediately in front of the tiebar because no matter what I tried the point baldes just kept catching on it. I also discovered that the points were not quite level as I had a couple of derailments when trains were travelling through the point onto the left hand road so after checking with a small spirit level I added some packing beneath the far row of sleepers.

Once I was happy I decided to run two trains at once and to keep holding one in the loop whilst the other train passed, just to ensure that the points worked correctly and that the blades returned to the normal running position. 37025 was held in the loop with a freight as 45010 ran past with coaches on the mainline and as soon as it crossed the newly sprung point the whole layout shut down with a short circuit. I thought there had been a derailment but all the stock was fine and on the track. I moved 45010 clear of the points and they returned to normal but the short remained. I was baffled. I'd just soldered up the autofrog module and wondered whether that was causing a short but I couldn't see how it would. Had I got my wires crossed somewhere? Had I overlooked an isolating rail joiner? I couldn't see anything wrong at all. I couldn't check for rail continuity until I'd cleared the short circuit as the whole layout was out. I thought it best to shut the track power down and start up again so went to the shed only to be greeted by a loco that had passed through the loco shed and was hard pressed up against the shed wall. Another loco had left its siding and was straddling the points on the terminus station which were set against it - the source of the short circuit! Why two loco's would just suddenly move I don't know but at least everything else was fine and I was soon back up and running.

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Oh this hobby! That would be me - scratching my head as to why something wasn't working, then finding a very straightforward reason, in the last place you would look!

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DCC runaways are usually down to the decoders thinking that they are on DC analogue for some reason. Turning off DC (CV29) on your decoders can stop that.

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1 hour ago, Clay Mills Junction said:

DCC runaways are usually down to the decoders thinking that they are on DC analogue for some reason. Turning off DC (CV29) on your decoders can stop that.

Cheers Barry, I'll look in to that but I believe the problem is my wireless handheld controller, or most likely the way I'm using it. 

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I almost forgot about this but after I'd temporarily fitted the autofrog module a couple of days ago I'd left it sitting inside a plastic box by the side of the track for protection. Today I finally soldered it up permanently to the power bus so it really needs a better cover to keep out the rain and so forth. I have a few buildings stored in boxes and this Railway Cottage is adequate to house and conceal the plastic box containing the autofrog module. It needs properly setting in to the ground when I've decided on the best orientation but for now it's certainly better than nothing. Maybe I should get the windmill out too?

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I've just been out planting the little railway cottage in the ground - best done before the weather turns - and looking at the track round the loop I'm starting to think I'd be better off buying some new and replacing it once Peco products become readily available again. I only need 10 lengths to replace the ones where I've cut the sleepers free and it's going to be easier to get it nicely curved rather than trying to do so when all the sleepers are loose and restricting its movement. There's no hurry to do so because it's working as it is but obviously the sleepers are all over the place and will always be until they are secured in place. I'm not sure it's worth all that effort but I'll have a think about it and see how I feel later.

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I've just removed the spring and elastic from the first 'sprung' point and changed it to the later method which is proving to be a big improvement. Using the short length of springy wire there's less force required to push the points across when wagons are running through them and even the lighter wagons are now able to handle the points successfully.

The points are beginning to look in a sorry state after all the pinning, lifting and relaying they've endured over the years but they're still working well and at least there's now less about them for me to worry about. There's no longer an over-centre spring and there's also a big chunk of plastic missing from immediately in front of the tie-bar where the over-centre spring was located - but I found that necessary in order to get friction free travel. The only problem with removing that plastic is I believe it holds the tie-bar/point blades in place and without it they can work their way forwards until the heel comes adrift from the wing rail so a little dab of glue was necessary just to hold them back. It doesn't prevent movement in the blades themselves. The heel of the point blades fits inside the wing rail and that's where I've applied the dab of glue.

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I'll fit a spare sleeper in the empty void ensuring it's kept clear of the tie-bar so that it doesn't create friction.

I've done a lot of messing around on the layout, creating unnecessary work, doing things that really weren't important, but I feel that springing these two sets of points has been really worthwhile and it makes operating so much easier than before. I don't have to worry about the points anymore, there's no switches to flick, buttons to press or anything. Trains running clockwise stay to the outer track of the double track section and anti-clockwise trains automatically switch to the inner. For my needs it's perfect. I just need to remember that when there's two trains running I need to hold one of them in the double track section!

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The railway cottage protecting the auto frog module now has a base and a driveway and I've turned it so that the front door faces away from the railway which I imagine is how it would have been. The residents will certainly get a great view of passing trains.

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I know it is nowt to do with me, but 'm really pleased the you have that twin track section back up and running. The spring points idea and implementation is genius. I hope you get a lot of enjoyment from the sight of trains passing in the garden and you ain't too hard on yourself when you crash trains into each other, cos it's going to happen, it always does.

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Thanks Chris. Yeah, I'm glad I've got it back up and running too, though even more pleased that I've been able to do it without needing to motorise the points. I'm sure the spring points idea has been done before and maybe even using the same method but it's nice to be able to say you've worked something out for yourself rather than having to Google the answers. It remains to be seen how the points cope in the future and I'm sure there'll be problems at some time (was going to put 'point' there) but it could be something garden railway modellers can look to implement on their own layouts to save motors, wiring, decoders, having to set points, and having to change those pesky little springs.

For sure there'll be a head on one day. I might forget, the points might throw a wobbly, who knows, but yes, I'm sure it will happen eventually unless there's a way to signal that they haven't set correctly?

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Just a few clips from yesterday of the sprung points using the short length of GEM Mercontrol steel wire soldered to the rail sides. You can see the tie bar moving back and forth as each wagon passes through in the first clip of the class 20. Apologies for the rather extended whistle from the Black 5 in the final clip!

 

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It's not long since the loop line was reinstated but today I've taken most of it back up and replaced it with some new concrete sleepered track. I've left two lengths of wooden sleeper in place where 'the loop' joins the points immediately after Low Shott viaduct as those 2 lengths hadn't been altered so it seemed a waste to discard them.

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I suppose now that the track has been reinstated, the point motors removed, and with the points themselves acting as 'spring points' I should refrain from calling it the 'loop' as it now forms a double track section. I'll have to decide whether it's going to be the up or the down.

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I was never going to be happy with the old wooden sleeper track so I'm really glad I decided to replace it. I feel like I can safely move on now and begin thinking about ballasting.

Although there's not been much happening outdoors I have managed to fit sound to another class 37/4 as well as to the Scotrail HST which has now been joined by its set of coaches. I was hoping maybe to run one or both today but I've run out of time so that's for another day.

 

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47 minutes ago, scoobyra said:

Where did you get the arched bridge from Mick? 

Jon Price at The Bradnor Branchline.

I bought my first stone cast one going on for 10 years ago and more recently the resin cast one as seen in the above photos. Looking at his website it appears his online store is going through an extremely lengthy 'refurbishment' so perhaps if you're interested it would be best to drop him an email or phone. I wouldn't expect an immediate response to either an initial contact or a future order - it does take some time getting through to him and receiving your goods.

http://www.thebradnorbranchline.com

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I was looking forward to posting some footage of the Scotrail HST and my latest class 37/4 but typically it's been a day spent faffing around trying to get things working properly.

I'm sure Hornby are well chuffed with their Scotrail HST power cars and reasonably priced matching coaches but unless you're prepared to accept a massive gap between coupled vehicles you are going to want to change the couplings to bring the coaches closer together. I was delighted to see the coaches now have NEM sockets so it's a simple matter to pull out the tension locks and replace them with my preferred Kadees but how on earth do they expect you to couple them to the power cars? Pull the tension lock from the power car, replace it with a Kadee, and it ends up much lower than the adjacent coach - so low in fact that the Kadee trip pin is between the sleepers. I've had to fashion a scrap piece of plastic, drill through the shank of a Kadee coupling and the plastic, glue them together and insert a track pin through the previously drilled hole for additional strength and then secure that on top of the power car coupling drawbar so that the height of the Kadee is correct. It's a £400 rake of vehicles and I'm drilling and gluing bits of plastic to them just so they couple closer together.

When I eventually got it coupled together it would run for a while and then stop abruptly as if there was some resistance in the motor. I ended up removing the body only to find one of the pickup wires had come adrift on the PCB. Out with the soldering iron this time! £400?

Anyway, all's well that ends well as they say and from there on in, apart from a slight annoying wobble from coach B, it's run perfectly for the best part of two hours.

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There's clearly going to have to be diversions in place for me to justify this on Worsley Dale but you've got to love the HST's haven't you? It's fitted with twin TTS sound decoders that make quite a noise even outdoors, though I'm not sure how prototypical it is. Next job is to fit corridor connectors to hide the remaining gaps between vehicles.

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I've never been entirely happy with the alignment of the track coming off Low Shott viaduct and onto the points where the track changes to double. The track on the viaduct really needed moving over slightly but because it's been ballasted it's always seemed too much trouble however, today was the day I decided to do something about it. I cut the track on top of the viaduct and removed a section probably 15 to 18 inches in length which I replaced with a spare length. I'm really pleased with the exterior varnish I used for the ballasting - it was still solid but not too difficult to remove, even from the strip of roofing felt which I was able to reuse.

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It's been a very frustrating time on the layout over the past few days as I seem to be spending a lot of time re-aligning sections track that until recently hadn't seemed to be a problem. I've spent 2 days running trains and filming them at various spots on the layout only to find upon playing the footage back that the loco and wagons appear to be bouncing around all over the place. Watching them running from the lineside you wouldn't think there was a problem as everything seems nice and smooth, it's just when they're viewed closer up on video that you notice how rough it all seems.

Perhaps the warmer weather has distorted some sections of track and maybe there's just more dust around than usual but I've been round with an old paintbrush sweeping between the rails and checked the track itself for straightness. I've even lifted some sections and relaid them in an effort to iron out the unevenness because I really don't like to see it on film. I think I took in the region of 25 video clips on Monday and when I watched them back later in the evening there wasn't one of them that seemed worth uploading.

I'll just post a photo of 37025 on a freight and wait until the rain stops before I go out again in the coming days and see what I can do about it.

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Maybe I should also tell you about a couple of mistakes I made the other day.

After cleaning the track on Monday morning I sent 26024 out propelling the CMX track cleaner and as it passed through the inside of the shed there was a noticeable bang from within. Upon inspection I discovered that while I had opened the covers at the rear of the shed to allow trains though I had completely forgotten about the one at the front and the poor loco had propelled the track cleaner straight into it.

In fact 26024 must be thinking I've got something against it because later that evening, it was past 11pm, I suddenly remembered that I'd left it parked up coupled to the track cleaner on the newly laid section of running line. It looked a sorry sight in the torch light sitting there all covered in condensation but fortunately neither the collision nor the climate have caused any noticeable damage.

I think someone needs to keep an eye on me.

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I've managed to salvage the following footage taken over the past couple of days although there's nothing featuring the new Scotrail HST worth adding. I need to sort out those wobbly coaches at the very least before it can be seen.

 

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The sleeper waiting for the freight to clear was a real highlight.

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