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I'm working in four phases.

Track wise, phase one is basically complete, and runs between two terminus stations one by the house and the other in front of the shed.

Phase two is the shed. The twin tracks enter though the hole you've seen in the photos and then runs along the left side (which is 6 foot) and then along the back (12 foot). This will fan out into sidings, I'm thinking six lines before returning to two to exiting the shed at the back of the right side.

Phase three will run back towards the house along the fence on the right hand side of the garden. There may be a terminus station at the end.

The forth phase, and most ambitious, will extend phase three back to phase one running along the outside of the conservatory creating a loop as it joins the current track about a metre down from the throat of station by the house. Neither of the phase one stations will be on the loop.

At the moment I'm constructing the base board in the shed. It's progressing well and I've even laid some more track. There are a couple of challenges in there and I think I will have to use set track in the corner, but 67mm is a big gap for a 6 foot when you're used to streamline.

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Thanks for that Chris, I can see what you're up to now.

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Weather conditions have certainly been against us garden railway types recently. I've managed to get some time in the shed and made some progress on track laying. I've spent a fair bit of time kitting out the shed for it's new purpose, which has basically been a wiring up the place for power and lights. I started with lots of temporary stuff but kept having to move lights around or had to duck under a cable that was strung across at head height. I now have a couple of lights fixed in sensibel locations and a couple of others that can be hung/pointed where required. I also have a 4 way socket extension screwed to one of the roof beams, it turns out plugging something in above where you are using it can be very handy, soldering is a lot easier without the cable getting in the way!

Without a camera I thought it would be helpful if I knocked up a diagram of the track plan in the shed...

shed-plan.png.973e5432c00e04d8106c406d5ccba734.png

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The weather hasn't been good recently but look at it this morning - what's all the fuss been about? It's cold but sunny and the underfoot conditions are nice and crisp. If I'd got the time I would have had something running today - it seems ages since I was last out there.

You've certainly made more progress inside your shed than I've managed to do within mine. I've yet to lay a single point in there :oops:

A 12 feet wide shed doesn't go far does it? especially with all that lovely stock now available, but with a few sidings you can at least have several trains out at any one time. A 2+5 HST should look fine if you can accommodate it on one of the storage roads. Here's hoping all your Xmas wishes come to fruition and I'm looking forward to seeing some action in the New Year.

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The rules for rolling stock on Amblethorpe are simple, if the prototype has passed my back garden then it's allowed on.

However, having a house between York and Colton junction rules a lot in rather than out, so to begin with I did need a wish list. Which was:

Northern Rail 153 (hornby), 156 (Hornby) and 158 (bachmann)

Cross Country 4 car voyager (Bachmann)

Grand Central HST (Hornby)

I swiftly purchased the three Northern Rail units and they have been excellent for testing out the track and DCC control. I was hoping that the other two could be 40th Birthday pressies, but neither were released in time, so that hope had to transfer to Christmas. Sure enough on Christmas morning I opened a present from my wife and it was a shiny new pair of Grand Central power cars. She had also coordinated gifts from other family members so a pair of 1st and a pair of 2nd class coaches were also received. With Hornby still to roll out a buffet car I was more than pleased with a 2+4 unit to play with. But another present arrived and marvellously I received the 4 car Voyager as well :D

The HST is DCC fitted so that's ready to roll once the weather improves, while the Voyager will require 3 chips! I think I may to the lights as well, as per this web site, which is rather good.

http://s110605900.websitehome.co.uk/railindex/trainsindex.htm

Seen as the temperature has been above freezing (just) for 24 hours now I think I' head out to the shed and see how long I can last out there.

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chris said:

The rules for rolling stock on Amblethorpe are simple, if the prototype has passed my back garden then it's allowed on.

East Coast Mainline....? Good idea to establish some limits ;)

chris said:

The HST is DCC fitted so that's ready to roll once the weather improves, while the Voyager will require 3 chips! I think I may to the lights as well, as per this web site, which is rather good.

Congratulations with the Voyager too. The lighting mods on that website look very interesting and well worth the effort involved but it looks like something that I personally would be better off leaving well alone. Fiddly tasks are best avoided with me unfortunately.

chris said:

Seen as the temperature has been above freezing (just) for 24 hours now I think I'll head out to the shed and see how long I can last out there.

It's been pretty mild today - been out in the garden myself and minus a coat at that.

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Just come back into the house after a running session that lasted a good few hours. I was delayed this morning because I locate a track rubber. I just couldn't find it, so almost gave up on running, but I really didn't want to spend the day in the shed with the soldering iron, I wanted to make use of the sunny day. Eventually I remembered that I had last used the rubber while I was test running my new trains on an indoor oval on Boxing Day, but a search in the house bore no fruit. Finally I remembered that I had shoved a load of bits and bobs into the flight case I keep my controller in when I took it back out to the shed, and that is where it was hiding. Lesson: own more than one track rubber

The track came up nice and clean without much effort. I've not bonded all my joints yet so I needed to slide a few fish plates back and forth with pliers to get the power to flow. But after that things worked fine all day.

I added the moveable baseboard which is a terminus station (well just the track at the moment) and I was off and running. I ran my Northern rail fleet out of the shed and back a couple of times and then I was on to the main business of the day, giving my new Grand Central HST a run.

Having only run 1 or 2 coach units previously, stepping up to 6 was great fun. My two turnback sidings were only just long enough to hold it, this wasn't a problem in the shed, but judging where to stop it when I was 10 metres away was a bit of a challenge.

A couple of mates joined me for the afternoon and we spent most of the time admiring the HST

I might write a timetable for my next running session and see how that goes. Then again, I should have got round to chipping my Cross Country Voyager by then so I'll have enough to keep me occupied.

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A reserve supply of track rubbers is certainly handy as they don't seem to last 2 minutes. In use I prefer the Peco ones but it has been suggested that the Gaugemaster type are more suitable and less abrasive on the rail surface. I did read somewhere that the Hornby ones were less abrasive too but having ordered three of them I found they're just too thin and flexible for my liking and don't slide along the rail tops like the Peco type.

I remember how eager I was to get my first train operating but having started out running end to end it's not until you get a full circuit of track completed that you can really sit back and enjoy what you have done. Okay, so you wouldn't normally see the same train doing several circuits at a time but there's just something about a train running continuously that's really satisfying.

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Garryflex blocks are very good for track cleaning, available in different grades, I use the brown fine grade and occasionally grey medium grade. They're big enough to cut in half so you get two for the price of one! C&L Finescale also do an excellent track rubber which doesn't seem to leave as much debris behind.

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As mentioned elsewhere Amblethorpe has moved into the 21st Century with computer control. Using a NCE USB interface and JMRI software I can now control trains on my MacBook. I've had some success using my iPod Touch as a Throttle, but the accessory decoder I installed in the shed a couple of days ago is no longer playing nice so I can't test that side of the computer control. It's now raining so I'm not going to hook up my other accessory decoder because its not in a waterproof housing. Time to debug the one in the shed.

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Any chance you can attach a screengrab of the control panel software as I'd be interested in seeing what you have to do to operate from the pc screen? Are the accessory decoders located outdoors too?

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Just playing around with the software tipped me off to why my the function decoder I put into one of my units wasn't working the lights. Changing the CV's was a breeze, just a couple of clicks of the mouse on the right checkboxes and Save Changes - I've no idea what the actual CVs were.

I plan to house three the accessory decoders in the shed, one of which will control points that are outside. The forth decoder is on the moveable baseboard so is only outside when the weather is fine, so not today!

I sorted the issue with the acc dec quickly enough. I put it on the programming track and reset it's number and that sorted it.

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I'm back in the shed with the laptop.

One of my accessory decoders (AccDec) is causing me issues. I took it bakc to the shop and they tested it and couldn't find anything wrong. I've just reinstalled in and it worked fine. But has now started playing up again. The issue only presented itself when I linked up the laptop, so that may me something I'll have to look into.

Anyway, with a AccDec controlling 4 points in the shed it has given me the chance to test out the laptop as a signal box. Previously I had managed to throw points using the laptop, but the feature seemed very basic, I was sure there was a more sophisticated way of doing it.

The first step was to register the points with the system. Once this was done I then had a table listing all the points with "Thrown/Closed" buttons which I could click to change a point. This was a vast improvement on previous methods of control.

Screen shot 2011-02-06 at 16.37.43.png

Screen shot 2011-02-06 at 16.29.53.png

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I can see how interesting this could become. The visual confirmation of the position of the points is certainly a bonus and I'd assume it's easier to understand than a bank of DPDT switches. I can also understand how exciting the potential is for getting the whole layout under computer control. If I didn't have so much to do and had sufficient time to devote to it then I might just be tempted to look into it myself. Even with just a small number of points the ability to set a route and have visual confirmation of how the points are set would be a godsend. I take it that some form of inter-locking could be implemented to prevent conflicting movements?

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It's getting a bit chilli now, but I've managed to sneak in a hour in the shed with the laptop. I've had a play with the Panel software and here is a screen grab of the diagram style view (at it's most basic).

587a47ee165a5_Screenshot2011-02-08at17_41_22.png.83be8e95abc5ddef0346f265cbecb316.png

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Looks very interesting Chris. You must be a computer whiz and I'm exactly the opposite can't even get photos right on a PC.

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It turned out nice this afternoon so after work I grabbed the MacBook and headed out to the shed. Not having much time I was at a bit of a loss as to what to get on with. I with trains on the tracks I picked up my iPod Touch and moved a couple of them out of the shed and into the garden. In a idol moment I swept my finger over the screen and to my surprise function buttons disappeared and were replaced buy a list of points. A tap of the screen later and had thrown a point.

The control of points (and routes) had not be available before because I hadn't set them up on the computer software. It's apparent to me that I'm going to be discovering new features in the system for weeks to come.

My iPod is fast becoming my preferred way to control a train. It's wireless, so I can follow the train round the garden, I select trains from a list (rather than typing a number), the throttle is easy to use (although not perfect) and controlling points is far quicker and easier than my regular NCE throttle.

To give you an idea of the "user interface" here's a screen grab from the WiThrottle web site.

shapeimage_10.png

This discovery has give me fresh impetus to get point motors on to my outdoor points. I've spent a bit of time cutting a small plastic box which will house the motor and it's looking promising.

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Crikey! All this wizardry is making my head spin! Very interesting though. I just think I'm coming out of what seems like the dark ages (tongue in cheek) by going DCC (and having sound too), then all this sort of stuff is happening! Man, I cant wait to see some video of all this going on. very exciting. Iain

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With the weather still against working outside I've been spending some time on the scenery. I purchased a couple of kits a few months ago and I (actually we, my wife has been doing them as well) finally got round to making them.

We have done a few Metcalfe kits and I must say I'm impressed with the results. They are card kits, so very inappropriate for a garden railway, but the plan is to keep then inside and plonk them in position when we have a running session.

I've also started the Peco Overall Station Roof. This will form the centre piece of station on the removable section, a station that finally has the name Colwick. I've got two kits which will make a metre long structure. So far I've spray painted all the roofing joists and put together one kits worth of roof. I'm very happy with the result and I now have something that will give me a good idea of where platforms and buildings will be going.

Pictures will follow, when we get a camera... Frugal February is almost over.

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