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WeekenderSteve

The Weekend Railway

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Andrew, thanks for pointing out the un-enlargeability. Same thing on my desktop: there's a 'full screen' icon to click, but clicking it doesn't do anything. Maybe it can't expand beyond the size of the rectangle in which it's embedded. On that basis, I've reverted to links for the next few videos, so they can be full-screened.

First, carrying straight on from post 58, here's some chasecam of Chris's Castle being a Cheltenham Flyer. Weird sound effects are the result of the weird motive power combination required to pace the Castle.

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The video you see being recorded as it passes the small shed the first time is the one that was linked in post 20. The link's repeated below for convenience as it also shows Kelloggcam being double-headed by the A4 and a Pannier. Incidentally, I've since discovered that the reason the A4 clattered is that someone had managed to install the tender's training pony truck upside down...

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We were so smug about finally finding a combination to pace the Castle that we though we'd better film it going round the other way too:

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And now, the last video ever recorded before work started on Plan B (see post 27):

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So a few weekends later, we could record this one:

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and inevitably, a matching one in the other direction:

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Those last two were recorded before the final levelling and alignment of the newly-laid track, hence the occasional uncomfortable kinks and humps - as you've probably already noticed. Wagoncam footage seems such an effective way of finding faults in the track that I thought making a recording as soon as possible was a lot simpler than all the usual tedious squinting along the track.

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The next day, and now the alignment's been tidied up. I also realised I could ease the gradient of the loop around the tree, as described in post 53. Having done so, I set one of Bulleid's Battle of Britain class running with a rake of five, and tried the camera in all sorts of odd corners to capture as many different views of the new circuit as possible. The ones that worked are strung together in the next two videos.

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Many of those views aren't available any other way - the camera will go in a lot of places my head won't!

With its steeper grades and tighter curves, we won't be running unrealistic 21-coach trains on this circuit; but the Hornby Hall will manage a realistic nine up the 1:66 corkscrew climb around the tree - albeit with some fairly frantic wheelspin as it nears the summit:

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And finally for now, a night-time run with the camera lashed to the LED torch:

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Some of the overhead clearances are very tight with this set-up!

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There have been a few little changes recently, so we've made a couple of new videos. See if you can spot the difference!

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or use this link for the full youtube experience:

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and now the other way.

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Or this link:

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More details to follow in a bit, but I wouldn't want to spoil the challenge.

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Truimph 2.5PI Estate, a collectors car if ever there was, but will it ever see the tarmac again, or is it going to end up being raced to its own funeral on the track by the Banger racing boys :)

Ian

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Love the wagon cam shots, they remind me of the old "CinemaScope" runaway train films (no offence meant) but I may just be showing my age again. Nice to points out doors as well.

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Grockle, she's not actually a PI estate, just a 2000, or at least she was (no engine or box her her since 1995). I couldn't have let a PI get into that condition! I feel bad that a 2000 has, but she came to me 20 years ago as a non-running source of spares. The shell was beyond saving even then. She's contributed a lot of useful bits, including trim to several cars, her overdrive gearbox to the 2000 saloon that I ran for 10 years, rocker shaft, pushrods &c to a friend's 2000, and so on. She won't go banger racing either though: the shell's dropped in the middle. She's mostly resting on blocks. If someone came along with a serious intention to perform the world's most challenging restoration project they'd have her with my blessing and help; but realistically I think the old girl made her last journey a long time ago now.

Jimbob, It does look a bit 'runaway train' in places, mostly because many of the curves are unrealistically tight I suppose. The original round the garden 'express' circuit looked a lot more realistic, if you refer back to the earlier videos.

Peco's website says their points are suitable for outdoor use, so we'll see how they cope. I'll post some construction details and photos in due course, including the point control linkages.

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Right then, now that you've all seen the new track in the latest videos (post 63), perhaps I'd better pick up the story in text and photos again.

The last construction update was back in post 53, when I'd eased the gradient on the tree curve, and evened out the variations on the woody nightshade dogleg, with lots and lots of shims

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But by the time that circuit was running sweetly, I'd done the dangerous thing and started thinking again.

The original high-level line was as well-aligned as it could be; but to make a circuit it dominated most of the garden. So then we went to the opposite extreme, with a return route through the trees on the most challenging alignment possible. With a bit of fettling it works, but it's very much a branch line, and longer trains look rather awkward around the tighter curves.

The stub fence replacement hasn't got far (anywhere!) yet, so I started wondering whether a second, smoother, circuit could be built within the trees, as well as the first. And then I thought about scissors-type crossings, and if the highest point of one circuit met the lowest point of the other, then a scissors-type junction could allow the two circuits to run independently, or (with the scissors running like a diamond) as a single extra-long circuit with a diamond crossing in the middle.

A second return curve at the tree end could be fitted in above or below the existing one, but the other end, by Old Mrs Grumpy, was more of a problem. A loop above the old one would foul her roofline, and there's not enough space between her, the fence, the trees, and the Shed, to fit in a return curve outside her. So the new circuit would have to be at least partly inside, and below the old one - and then I had a flash of inspiration about how to do the new Grumpy Curve, and having had the idea, it had to be built.

The two return curves would still have to be on unrealistically small radii (much the same as before), but some time with tape and spirit level indicated that the rest of the curvature could be rather smoother, and the gradients could be a bit easier too: I could work to a nominal 1:76 (4mm to the foot, of course, which seems rather pleasing for an OO garden railway!)

So it was time to spend some real live money, buy another sheet of 18mm OSB, and make some more return curve trackbed sections. Here the initial cuts are marked out, and the first couple already made:

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And the 'good' bits rearranged to lay out the two new return curves:

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And in fact, with a bit of thought, it was possible to take the opportunity to ease the curvature through that section a little:

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The more I see of this garden railway the more I'm liking the 'Heath Robinson' build. Considering that some modellers take years just to get a certain part of their own model correct this just works for me. Surely you could now extend to building a station inside the 2000 estate. At least then it won't be going completely to waste, after giving up its more usable parts to keep other classic's on the road.

Ian

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Grockle, careful, adding a station is getting a bit too much like a proper model railway! And Grumpy Terminus sounds rather downbeat...

I can only admire the modellers who have the patience, dedication and singularity of purpose to make a proper model railway. This isn't a model, it's a toy - it's more analogous to the child laying track that winds between the dining table legs. One day, when I tire of lying under cars with oil in my eyes and grit in my teeth, it would be good to do the job properly, but in the meantime it's just a matter of pushing the bounds and seeing where track can be laid next, what the trains can cope with, whether we can make it work. Currently pondering whether a train-length passing/run-round loop can be fitted in somewhere, and/or carriage sidings. Or whether the protruding gears under 70s Hornby 0-6-0s could be engaged to make a rack railway section. And something else even pottier, but I'll save that one till I've tried it. Inevitably, it was inspired by an earlier throwaway remark in this thread.

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You'll know soon enough, once I've had a chance to try it! I'm far enough behind with the construction log anyway, never mind describing things I haven't even tried to make yet.

So, picking up from post 68, having got the single slip in place, the obvious thing was to press ahead advancing the trackbed; but a simple approach like that was going to make laying track very awkward later, because I'd be constantly trying to work underneath what I'd just built. I was going to end up, for most of the length of the treeline, with track on 4 levels: the two directions on the existing circuit, and then two more on the new circuit underneath. I've taken to calling these A, B, C and D, from the highest to the lowest. Therefore the upper circuit comprises A and B, and the lower one C and D - hence the names of the videos in post 63. I could have numbered them, but I'd already numbered the trees (it's the way my mind works) so letters made more sense for the levels. Then I can refer to something like D2, and that's the point at which track D passes tree 2. Makes perfect sense to me....

B and C meet at the scissors junction, of course; but if I just pressed ahead building the C trackbed away from there, by the time I came to build D, which is generally closer to the fence than C, access would be very difficult. So I did a lot of careful measuring and levelling, and then some more, and then started building the lowest part of D, in the hope I worked it all out right, and it could climb up to meet C without exceeding the target gradient. So this shews one length of timber for C heading away from the scissors, but quite a lot of D already in place below it, with track already laid while I can get to it:

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I can't remember why I cut it so wide - error I think - but it turned out useful later when I realigned this section (the second time), and when I was laying track - I could reach an arm through this hole!

I've got slightly out of sequence here, for the sake of the photos making sense; in fact all the measuring/levelling before I started the middle (lowest) part of the D trackbed also involved checking that the gradients would work at the other end, both lines meeting up OK with "Inner Grumpy Bend." Getting that curved trackbed at the height it needed to be clashed directly with the Shed end of the 3x3 beam that supported Grumpy Junction, so that beam would have to be cut away. And before I did that, I needed to install a new support for it. Conveniently, that support not only needed to be skew to the Shed at one and and the existing beam at the other, the beam was also on a significant slope and one end of the prop had to be shaped around the cladding on the front of the Shed. Suffice to say, I made several adjustments to the cuts on this prop

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It's very difficult to photograph them, so I'll try to describe the weird gradients through the junction. The route furthest from the camera - from the pliers to the grey knife - is climbing at around 1:60 all the way, including through the single slip. In contrast, the lines in the foreground both need to descend from this point, at about 1:76. This means quite a noticeable summit and gradient divergence by the grey knife (hence the slot in the baseboard), but also that the two parallel routes through the scissors are on different gradients, so that the track leaving the junction nearest the photo will be at a slighly higher level than the one by the pliers; both are decending to the left, but the far one at a steeper gradient. More baseboard slots would be needed with time, but for now I knew which points I needed to buy (two SL-89).

Further to the right from that photo - and as trailed above - I changed my mind slightly about the route for D, and took out all the track and trackbed I'd built the previous day adjacent to trees 2 and 3, and then cut away most of the deep beam under B, so that D could run directly beneath it:

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And that seems a good place to end this instalment.

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Next step was the level C trackbed, on a caterpillar-avoiding alignment. It rather boxed-in level D, though:

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This move also involved changing the way the level C trackbed was anchored to tree 3, but not actually moving the track alignment itself by more than a fraction. I'm rather pleased with the double crossing that resulted, and there's a good little wiggle in the D track to get it through the squeeze between the two trunks of tree3, just out of shot to the left in that photo. I seem never to have photographed that (!), but it'll show up in the videos back in post 63.

That meant that now both C and D trackbeds reached the ends of where the new, lower-level, return curve at that end would go, so there was nothing for it but to install it and try to get the gradients right. There aren't any 'work in progress' pictures of that installation, because I needed all the limbs I had, plus a few more besides, to hold the thing in place. I also had to rethink my levelling strategy. Rather than the blocks of shims I'd used before, I thought it would be much simpler just to put screws in, and leave them sticking up the right amount. Same principle, simpler execution. It would have worked, too, if there weren't all the supports for the upper curve in the way. Couldn't get a long spirit level across between any pair of screws that were remotely opposite; and not even between most of the adjacent pairs, either. So the only option was to take the lower curve heights from the upper one, which took some thinking about, given that the upper one rises towards the fence at about 1:66, and the lower one drops in that direction at about 1:80 (1:76 was target but I'd tried to err a touch high with the D trackbed). 1:66 one way and 1:80 the other diverge at about 1:36, meaning the two trackbeds should move vertically apart about 8.5mm per linear foot of track. It's asking a lot of the top trackbed, but it wasn't long since I'd re-graded it (post 62), and I could just about check the final gradient a foot at a time with a tiny spirit level across adjacent pairs of the levelling screws that I'd put in before I realised how useless they were....

Anyway, after the requisite amount of swearing, and wishing this 3-d geometric challenge involved less intimacy with a holly tree, it all came out OK in the end:

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The supports for the lower curve are all just cantilevered down from those for the upper one, which came out a lot stronger than I expected - as I discovered when I slipped and fell against it.

This meant that the new low-level circuit trackbed was now complete from the scissors junction all the way to the stub fence and back again, to what would be its lowest point. The next day was spent roughing-out the scissors junction layout, to get the point at the right edge of this photo in the right place, so that I could then lay track all the way round from there to join up with the level D track already installed (top of photo):

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Just for a change, the track South from the junction can have a nice big radius - something over 20 feet, I make it:

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Time then for the next thrilling instalment. Now that I've put the missing letters into 'cantilevered' in the last one...

As threatened in the last post, the point control linkage for the scissors crossing. Although there are four separate sets of point blades in the junction, there are only two combinations of settings that are operationally useful: the two circuits running separately, or the crossing working as a diamond junction to unite them into a single long circuit. If there are only two settings, that only requires one operating lever. Otherwise someone's bound to get it wrong one day, and derailments at this altitude are not desirable.

The obvious approach would involve point motors, a single switch, and electrickery. So instead this installation uses relay levers, copper wire and old bits of brake pipe, in an evolved version of the system used for remote control of the points in Grumpy Junction (post 47). True to the original, this too will be operated by a lolly stick. It's an excuse to have another ice cream, after all.

Each point tiebar is operated by a relay lever cut from the same broken numberplate as before, and pivoted in the same way. I had to thin the perspex for the levers on the single slip, as the tiebars are further above the trackbed - and consequently, closer to overhanging King Class outside-framed bogies - than for the simpler points. Anyway, here are the two levers for the single slip, linked by a stiff wire to a rocking lever long enough to reach below the support beam:

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This wire then joins one end of the lolly-stick control lever, and a similarly brakepipe-guided wire from the lower end of the rocking lever from the single slip joins the other end:

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Then beams could be installed, one resting on a prop on the Shed corner, and a second resting on the first, to take the trackbed to where it needed to be for the start of Inner Grumpy Curve. At the time I built this lot, my surveying indicated that these beams could be level. Later, when I came to install the curve I discovered I'd boobed somewhere, and all this lot had to be raised slightly, so that D maintained a steady 1:85ish upgrade all the way from the bend under the scissors junction. Still not sure how I slipped by that much. I've measured and levelled everything so many times that there are several little level marks on every fixed object in range; so maybe I just got my marks mixed up. Or maybe I took a level with the bottom of the spirit level and then marked the top. Either way, in the end, I was lucky to have the spare headroom to be able to raise this part of the trackbed by almost two inches. You'll see from the photo that the magnifying glass had been used again to indicate which bit of the upper crossbeam was safe to stand on.

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More brake pipe hoops would be added over the top once the track was laid, to keep the sides the right distance apart. I've no idea how long this will last. I suspect the nails will just fall out of the sides of the OSB once it's been wet for a while, at which point it'll sag horribly. Call it another experiment, a holding operation until we can come up with something even less practical.

A bridge like that has to rest on something substantial at both ends of course, so before I could install it I had to build the rest of the C trackbed, between its North end and Grumpy's side window. I also laid the level D track before access got any worse. Rather wished I hadn't when I subsequently discovered level D had to be raised. Anyway, with the D track laid, the how-long-will-it-last bridge could be installed. If you compare this photo with the last you'll see I've had to take the sides off and swap the long and short bits because one of the joining hoops was foul of the bridge above. You can also see the marks by the scissors junction lever to indicate which way it operates:

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You will be totally snookered if somebody wants to buy Mrs Grumpy. In fact I think I shall make an unrefusable offer, just to see how you get out of it. I just love what you are doing, While I enter my second day trying to fit points motors to the first point, you go and make four sets work with some rubbish and a lolly stick. British ingenuity at it's best.

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Steve,

Loving all this hi tech engineering.

By the way...All those trees are deceased I take it? Just an observation!

My butchery with my own Yuka Trees (viaduct build) keeps me on observation duties for expansion.

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Roddy, I look forward to the unrefusable offer! If someone really wanted to put her back on the road, I'd be quite happy to dismantle and rebuild parts of the trackbed. You've also put your finger on one of the reasons I didn't fancy electric point operation. Checking back dates/times on photos, there was at least 4 hours' work in building the mechanical linkage though. Not sure whether it's actually ingenuity, or just congenital awkwardness. I do enjoy finding 'original' solutions to problems. Speaking of which...

Rossi, those trees are indeed dead, cut at about 8 feet above ground level. They were a row of conifers planted about 40 years ago by the previous owner. Once they were a useful hedge and windbreak, but they'd got out of hand, too tall, too wide, and the lower branches had died anyway. I couldn't prune them back to a more manageable size, because Leylandii won't grow green from brown wood. And in any case, a fence was a much lower-maintenance solution. I couldn't face an ordinary fence though: there are no fence posts as such, it's all supported by the old tree trunks, using as little extra timber as possible. Consequently, it's not remotely straight or particularly vertical, it just follows the trees as far as it can. I presume the trees will rot with time, but it's 4 years since they were cut, and they seem pretty solid so far. The small amount of live greenery - the birch(?), the holly inside it and the ivy around it - has grown since the conifers were cut, and it's not strong enough to use structurally. I'd've quite liked to anchor trackbed to a live tree to see how fast it distorted, just as an experiment, but the three or four conifers that weren't cut are pretty inaccessible to the railway, up the side of the big Shed. The fence terminates against one of those, and the trunk has noticeably grown around the end of the fence already.

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You've also put your finger on one of the reasons I didn't fancy electric point operation. Checking back dates/times on photos, there was at least 4 hours' work in building the mechanical linkage though. Not sure whether it's actually ingenuity, or just congenital awkwardness. I do enjoy finding 'original' solutions to problems. Speaking of which...

I carefully laid the trackbed, then covered it nicely in felt. When I knew where the points would be, I carefully marked and double checked for slots. Drilled small slots as recommended and fitted the points and the rest of the track. Points motors arrived yesterday morning. I spent all afternoon, and all of this morning trying to get two sets of points working. The motors had been tested and were working. The points were moving freely with a wire through the slot, but put the motors to the points and ---- nothing. So you got 4 sets working, in half the time that it took me to get 2 sets working. I have two sets ready in the shed with three more to come, but here I have drilled a ruddy great hole under the points before fixing them. Let these ones snag up tomorrow when I add the motors.

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Griff, you're not so far from the truth there. At least once whilst reviewing photos for a post I've spotted something I left outside and gone to fetch it. If you ever see my original little bag of track pins in the corner of a photo, do let me know. They're out there somewhere.

Roddy, good luck with the next set of points. I think we both know that electrickery is really just legalised black magic. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's found the lamps on his car will happily earth through rubber or carpet, but not bulb holders, wires or bodywork. Best thing to do with wires is strip off the insulation and use the cores as push-pull rods!

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