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WeekenderSteve

The Weekend Railway

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In the last substantive post, I was laying track, but failed when I reached the woody nightshade dogleg. I just couldn't get an alignment that fitted the trackbed I'd laid around the front of tree 6. Clearly I'd been too optimistic in my surveying. So I burrowed a hole through the fence-supporting timber behind the tree, and installed a straight trackbed through the hole, and gave up for the evening.

Which is good, because it gave me some thinking time. And I realised I dodn't know whether it was the route between the trees that was impossible, or just the presumptive trackbed I'd laid. So what I needed to do was dummy up a 'worst case' trackbed in situ; if that could be made to fit, I could install timbers in the right place to support the rack where it needed to be.

The minimum track centreline curvature on this 'branch line' section is 23" (because that way a semi-circle of 2" wide trackbed can be cut from a 4-foot sheet of OSB); so the 'worst case' alignment to go behind-in front-behind these three trees is a 23" radius right-left-right curve. Only trouble is, I don't know how long to make the middle curve. But what I can do is make the two S-bends, and overlay the end of one with the end of the other, sliding one over the other until the middle curve is the right length.

So I needed two 2"-wide curved plywood strips, which curved first one way, then the other, at minimum radius. But of course on tight curves bogie coach bodies overhang the inner side of the curve, so I need to allow for that too. A bit of geometry (Brian, you might wish to look away for a moment!) indicated that a coach body of length L between bogie centres, and body width W, will overhang the inside of a curve of radius R by W/2+R-sqrt(R**2-(L/2)**2). That's the overhang from centreline, so as my templates were already going to be 2" wide, I could subtract an inch from that. My worst case coaches are Hornby Pullmans, and once I'd done all the calculations it came down to needing to allow an extra inch on the inside of curves.

So this was my cutting diagram (scaled at 4mm to the inch!):

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Comparing this with the trackbed I originally laid (first photo in post 38) shows how far out I was with my estimate of where the track should go. My biggest error was not realising how far off-centre the apex of the middle bend needed to be.

This close-up shows the lines that indicate where the trackbed itself lies within the template:

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So now I needed to hack away some bits of tree - and a bit of the post behind tree 5 - and install a trackbed that actually went where the templates needed it to, thus:

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And finally, track laid, test Pullman in place, and the upper trackbed timber reinstalled. Don't think KelloggCam's going to fit under this, the timber's going to have to be relieved:

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Next day, the timber's been relieved now, and I've installed some 'bridge supports' to tie the two levels together:

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Then the new lower-level Scary Bridge 2 could be installed. The timber's even narrower than the original Scary Bridge - and very slightly curved, too:

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And then I could re-install the original Scary Bridge, suitably cut away beneath to clear the lower track. This left it rather thin at that end, so a bit of dexion strip does the job of the previous lower mounting screw to keep it upright - and a couple of chains take some of the weight, so that in theory the narrow bit's only working in compression:

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That's a fascinating article, Steve, and the photo-essay makes everything clear.

It was particularly helpful to see how you did the drawing-board stuff first, then transferred it to waste timber to test the fit on-site, and only then went to the final construction. That's a very useful lesson in how to engineer a trackbed for an awkward situation, which I shall hope to emulate if/when I build my northern extension.

Hope you have fun running the railway too!

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The trouble with creepers is that they creep over the track! I've already discovered that ivy leaves are plenty strong enough to tip Kelloggcam off the wagonwheel curve. At the moment very little will grow between those treestumps. They were cypressus leylandii, which are not only big woody weeds, they also kill the ground beneath them. To help the ground recover I let anything that wants to grow there. So far, several woody nightshade have tried, but the recent dry spell has knocked them back; there are a couple of holly trees (one each side of the stub fence), the ivy, and the whatever-it-is broadleaf (what is that? it drips sticky stuff that ants love. Birch?), all self-sown, and all at the downhill end of the old treeline. A couple of buddleia are making progress the far side of the fence, but the ground's dry, very free-draining, poor quality and ruined by those conifers. So I think my chances of decorative creepers are pretty slim for the time being. I agree more background greenery would be good though.

Doublecee, Mick and this forum have an awful lot to answer for!

Andrew, glad to be of service, expecially to the Dorking Garden Railway. I envy you that earth bank! What a thing to build a railway along. I should also point out that I only designed that triple curve properly after I'd built it by eye and got it wrong! It amuses me that the original (upper) trackbed was thrown into place in about 3 hours flat and it's beautifully well-aligned; and the lower one that's taken ten times as long is also nothing like as sweet. My own fault for wanting a bendier route I suppose.

Overall, I'm aware that our approach is very different to most on here, borderline slapdash and using whatever comes to hand; so I'm trying to document it reasonably thoroughly by way of a scientific experiment, to see what you can get away with and what you can't. As I've already noted, the track laid directly on timber without any sort of 'ballast' tends to move around a bit, to the extent that a perfect straight one weekend develops ripples by the next. I've also found that even treated OSB absorbs water and swells quite noticeably, creating steps where track transitions to from 'proper' timber. I've also seen the proof (if any were needed) of what Griff said about curves and gradients in post 29 - but now I'm getting ahead of the plot.

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And that must be a cue for another progress report. Post 42 shewed the final part of the upper trackbed reinstated (Even Scarier Bridge), so now all that remained was to complete the tracklaying. Most of the lower level, and a lot of the upper level had been done, so both railheads were pushed on towards the return curve by Old Mrs Grumpy. Eventually it's hoped to recreate something like the original 'express' circuit, with removable sections for access, but in the meantime the other remaining part of it is a long spur across the fronts of the sheds, which now remained to be connected to the new circuit. Although much of the upper level of the new circuit is more-or-less the same as the treeline section of the old circuit, it's been lowered quite a bit as it approaches OMG, to achieve the height difference necessary for the first bridge (the narrow arch). So the OMG end of the shed spur needed to be lowered to match the levels at 'Grumpy Junction', where the spur joins the circuit. The drawbridge abutment was dropped a little, and a section of trackbed laid to match. This section drops at about 1:75 from drawbridge hinges to Grumpy Junction. The high-level line in the circuit in the trees drops at about 1:80 to Grumpy Junction, then steepens to 1:60 for the rest of the return curve to achieve the necessary height drop. This shews Grumpy Junction; the various gradients can just about be discerned:

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and here's the operating lever, within easy reach by the Shed drawbridge:

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There's only one train in this one, but it shows the arch bridge clearances nicely:

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This makes me chuckle everytime I pop in to read any updates posted. Its model railways at its best, Just knock it together and see what happens, bloody fantastic. I think that someone must have a perverse hate of Anoraks, Rivet Counters and Armchair Modellers, as if any of them was to see this they would have a major heart attack. :lol::lol::lol:

Ian

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Simply, if your happy don't give a dam about anyone else. I love to "operate" trains and love the layouts there on, but am always up for a bit of freestyle modeling and playing trains as well.

Love what your doing looks loads of fun !

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Grockle, the funny thing is, there's a pretty deep vein of rivet-counteriness in all four of the Weekenders. We all variously work with pernicketty accuracy, and that extends into other things we do. Yesterday afternoon Chris and I were discussing how the "Dolomite" on the garden that's actually a (FWD) Triumph 1500 can be distinguished as a very early car because it has tempered (not toughened) glass in its side windows. And when I posted the picture of the two auto-trains I paused for a moment wondering whether any 2721 Class panniers were actually auto-fitted. So I think if it's a reaction against Anoraks and the rest, it's a reaction mainly against ourselves. It's great to be able to build something that doesn't need MoTs, safety inspections, planning permission, tax discs and all the other red tape that entangles almost everything else we might ever want to do.

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I do need to make more of an effort to check the latest developments on the forum! What I have just seen over the last few pages is just nuts! Seriously impressed withe those feats of engineering. Gets me looking at ways to extend my layout, but did get a grilling from my wife when I had the tape measure out. Quickly followed by some cutting remarks on the lack of gardening and too much time spent on railways :D

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Have to agree with previous comments. You have what on the face of it is an 'unworkable' area that most folk would have spent months trying to clear in order to find 'space' for a railway.

You Guys have broken the mould in making the railway fit into what you have & at the same time giving us all a wonderful insight into your technique & methodology. I'm guessing that the power source to run the trains will be....... A plywood 'Windmill' with elastic bands driving a Dolomite Alternator to charge a 12v battery giving power to a 1978 H & M controller :-) BUT, I could be wrong!! Great stuff, looking forward to seeing it completed & running (but it's going to need some very skillful 'driving')!!

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Brian, I like your thinking. The original viaduct suffered from crosswind problems, so a windmill on the exposed end of the stub fence ought to catch any breeze that's going. You might have something there. Chris wll want to get a Stirling engine involved as well.

So far, train control has been by a bench power supply effectively rescued from a skip. Somehow, in over 500 photos, I'd never managed to take its picture, so I've just done so:

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The tender-powered 4-4-0 County makes a mockery of comparisons with reality though, simply strolling up and down hill with that same load, quite unperturbed.

Other weekend progress involved realigning the lower-level curve round the small stump before the arch bridge, and re-levelling the troublesome triple-23" curve around tree 6, where all the different trackbed timbers at different angles - one with a serious twist I hadn't spotted - had resulted in a rather irregular deck. It took a lot of shims under the track to get it right, but even Chris was impressed when he inspected it yesterday, during a break from creosoting the front of the big Shed (in lieu of rent for clogging it up with ghastly Volvo bits).

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I'm guessing that the power source to run the trains will be....... A plywood 'Windmill' with elastic bands driving a Dolomite Alternator to charge a 12v battery giving power to a 1978 H & M controller :-) BUT, I could be wrong!!

Definately needs a Stirling engine...

Though, I do wonder if the flame powered torch would make enough overall power, Steve, next time I'm round we can have a look at current consumption of various locos at 3ish volts.

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Time for some more video links. These all date back to the original circuit again.

First, Neil''s Western class diesel-hydraulic, in unusual (inexplicable?) 'desert sand' livery:

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And then a circuit or so for wagoncam, attached to the rear of a mixed goods hauled by a Mainline 'Dean Goods' loco. A slightly dicky wheel on the camera wagon gives an idea how much speed changes with the relatively mild gradients of this circuit. The motion of the brake van relative to the camera gives a good idea of the state of the trackbed, a week after it was first laid. As mentioned in post 16, the OSB is the main culprit, having swollen when it got wet; but the worst is the piece of MDF used in 'Grumpy Bank', which is now about an eighth of an inch thicker than when it was installed, with commensurate damage to the gradient profile. Note also an addition to the trackside 'scenery' by the small shed on the second pass - an identification challenge?

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The next day, after Chris had re-tidied the track alignment, another mixed goods, this time in the charge of Chris's Bachmann 56xx. There's a still picture of this model in post 18. A beautiful slow runner, it took some serious experimentation before we found the Class 31 was the best motive power for the camera wagon which the 56xx is chasing. The 31's speed varies a lot more with voltage than that of the 56xx, but the 31 requires a much higher voltage before it starts to move. Therefore, with some judicious driving, a relatively constant gap can be maintained. Well, some of the time, at least:

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And now that the 31 has hauled the camera to film the 56xx with a train of wagons, it's time to reverse the roles, and let the 31 loose on a rake of vans. Hooked on the trees in the background just after it climbs Grumpy Bank (more like Grumpy Steps by now!) is a 4-foot hoop of copper brakepipe, which had just been used to establish whether, and where, the long climbing bend could be located at that end of the treeline, in anticipation of 'Plan B':

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And finally, for now, that Hornby Hall proving just how many coaches it could cope with:

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More to follow ere long.

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Griff, I feel for you. Dare I ask, any progress with the Hole?

More videos, the first following directly on from the last one in post 56, Neil's very odd-sounding A4 proving that it's not just Halls that can pull a score of coaches. 20 this time not 21, as the second autocoach was just too unstable to persist with - you can see its continuous wobble in the previous video. For a change, I've embedded the videos themselves this time rather than just providing links. Let me know which you prefer.

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Next, a night-time chasecam. This is the minicam blu-tacked to the LED torch again, this time being chased by a Hornby King with realistically King-sized rake - enough of a load for gradients to have a noticeable effect on its speed. That ivy leaf is getting bigger, too. Eventually it became resilient enough to tip Kellogcam off the track. Inevitably, the camera wasn't recording at the time. The track past the power clip had to be shifted away from the Shed slightly to permit the King's cylinders to clear the featheredge cladding. I've just realised there's quite a colourful sunset in the distance, too.

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And now the other 4-cylinder GW express loco. A still photo from this run appeared in post 20, with an awful pun in the caption. As noted in that post, it was only at Cheltenham Flyer speeds that we could match the speeds of Castle and chasecam; but that's a treat for another day. For now, a couple of clips from fixed camera positions. It's noticeable how much better the picture is in bright sunlight. I like the clearance - or lack of - to the the fencepost at this location. And the shadow preceding the approaching train towards the end of the first video.

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The growing hump at the top of Grumpy Bank is apparent in this one:

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The hole is half full again. My plumber has gone AWOL for now. I do have an idea how to fix things cheaply. But prefer to have a pro do it. I've done most of the indoor plumbing myself so far, but this may take a special knowledge for things.

Thanks for the video's. I don't often have much to say but like to let you know I am looking at them. :)

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Those are, once again, great videos. Thank you, Steve.

Since you ask, I found that on my laptop the embedded videos can't be expanded to full screen size - they can only be viewed at their smaller, embedded size. One occurrence doesn't justify you changing back to providing links (computers can be arbitrary and cussed), but it would be useful to know if others find the same.

As for the trains, I'm impressed at how good the LNER livery of that A4 looks next to the blue and grey of what look like BR Mk3 coaches. While formally an anachronism, the effect is great! Perhaps something to do with the valances on the coaches suggesting a link back to the streamline era.

And sympathies to Griff as the great plumbing/railway disaster drags on.

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