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shaung75

Leasingham Poacher

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Thanks for the replies chaps. Are points really that much of a pain then outdoors even without ballast? Obviously I'm brand new to the game of outdoor modelling so I'm very much open to advice from people on here.

With regards to the modules Mick, although I was going to insulate and weather proof them for running sessions I was planning to make them hot-pluggable anyway. I don't fancy leaving £100+ of PCB out for theives, let alone the weather!

It's only the planning phase at this stage Mark that's full steam ahead, the build process will take much, much longer! And don't worry, I've been called worse!

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Hi Shaun, I have been running outdoors for over 15yrs now and I have not had that much trouble with points. Yes to be fair you have to maintain and clean them and the worse thing I find with Peco ones is the little spring that keeps the blades over to which ever side the points are set (it tends to rust away) keep them coated with something like WD40 and they will survive ok. (but just like Network Rail you will have to replace bits of track from time to time) :) As for the motors themselves, I tend to use H+M solenoid motors, they are quite old nowadays and can only be bought S/Hand but they are fairly bullet proof. I usually put them in a building trackside or mount them under the boards if possible, again sprayed with WD.

Oh, I'm not running DCC though so not sure how that effects point motors if indeed it does! :)

Keep asking questions by all means, but in the end you're just going to have to "go for it" chap! You can rest assured we're all still making mistakes, and some of them are real "school boy errors"! :lol::lol:

Nige.

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Cheers Nige.

To be honest, before I saw this thread on http://www.oogardenrailway.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=84' rel="external nofollow">operating points outdoors I was just planning on building a double loop around the garden. However reading through it and the success had with using central locking solornoids I think you're right and I'm just going to have to give it a go and see what happens.

Pondering on it overnight I've come to the conclusion that if the points don't last for an acceptable length of time then I'll simply fuse the blades in the desired direction of travel, electrically bond the rails and no longer use them as working points. If that doesn't work, rip them out completely. I think that a railway with points (whether they work or not) will be more aesthetically pleasing than just a plain double line on it's own.

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Shaun, I also solder a fine wire from the switch blade to the stock rail on each side, I know this then makes the points non isolating but it ensures that there is always electrical connectivity and you don't have to bother about cleaning the inside edge of the point blades, this ensures that the trains do not stop just after the points.(really frustrating, especially when it's at the other end of the garden)! Then of course I have to install insulating fish plates immediately after the points an electrical track feed (just a jumper from the toe end of the point) and a switch which is then built into the control panel, sounds more complicated than it is, and it is a bit of a faf but you only have to do it the once, and then you have in effect restored the isolating function of the points.

With regards to replacing the points I think that we have only ever replaced about 3 or 4 due to component failure in the whole time we have been running out doors, sun damage is the worst offender, followed closely by myself! :lol::lol:

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I agree - the points themselves should give you few problems other than perhaps the little spring already mentioned, although I have yet to loose one through exposure to the elements. I did manage to dislodge one through my own heavy-handling and the little spring was a bugger to replace. Keep those springs lubricated (silicone grease was recommended to me) and they should be okay. I operate my two outdoor points as 'Live Frog', hence my need for some form of power switching (Frog Juicer) for the point frog itself.

The car central locking motors are also ideal for operating points outdoors and have proved very reliable in use but I still keep mine covered inside an enclosure.

On an indoor layout you could add as many points as you liked and you'd have few worries. There's really nothing that can affect them indoors. Outdoors is a different story altogether, as you'll no doubt discover. Everything needs protecting from the elements and there's times when it's damp for days, if not weeks, on end. Every point you add will have associated electrics that are just another area open to potential problems. If you're going to build in detachable modules then you should be far better protected but I'd find that having to attach and detach modules might mean the layout was used less than it otherwise would be.

My advice would still be to start with a minimal layout with as few points as possible and without the need for delicate electronic circuits. It's all too easy to become disheartened before you've barely got started when things go wrong.

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EngineDriver said:

I also solder a fine wire from the switch blade to the stock rail on each side, I know this then makes the points non isolating but it ensures that there is always electrical connectivity and you don't have to bother about cleaning the inside edge of the point blades, this ensures that the trains do not stop just after the points.(really frustrating, especially when it's at the other end of the garden)! Then of course I have to install insulating fish plates immediately after the points an electrical track feed

Yep, I get what you mean and exactly what I was planning to do, good to know my research is paying off by having my thoughts confirmed! Reassuring to know you've had so few failures too, I want the points to be functional rather than just scenic.

mick said:

the points themselves should give you few problems other than perhaps the little spring already mentioned, although I have yet to loose one through exposure to the elements. I did manage to dislodge one through my own heavy-handling and the little spring was a bugger to replace.

I'm currently in the process of reading through your Worsley Dale write up and I've just got to the point of your spring issue - you couldn't sense the frustration at all. I don't have any Peco points yet so I couldn't comment on the springs, but if they look anything like the Hornby point in front of me right now it looks like they could bring a world of fun when they rust - comment of silicone grease taken on board!

mick said:

If you're going to build in detachable modules then you should be far better protected but I'd find that having to attach and detach modules might mean the layout was used less than it otherwise would be

I'm not planning on using electrofrogs for the points initially due to needing juicers which effectively doubles the cost per point - having 12 points in Phase 1 this is significant damage to the wallet in one go so I'm going to see how I get on with insulfrogs and upgrade should the need arise. With this in mind I'll only need 2 inputs from the power and 8 outputs to the green rails on the plan, so I'm planning on housing the module(s) in a weatherproof container and using a single GPIO block as the plug meaning only a single connection to plug in. Using a GPIO plug will then give the option of adding more modules for electrofrog juicers in the future should I need them. If this method does end up becoming either a chore or impractical due to vegetation then I'll house the modules in the office 6ft(ish) away.

mick said:

The car central locking motors are also ideal for operating points outdoors and have proved very reliable in use but I still keep mine covered inside an enclosure.

I agree, not worth the risk of leaving them unprotected if it can be avoided. I was thinking of housing them in signal boxes with mercontrol to operate the points.

mick said:

My advice would still be to start with a minimal layout with as few points as possible and without the need for delicate electronic circuits. It's all too easy to become disheartened before you've barely got started when things go wrong.

Thanks Mick, I really do appreciate the advice (hence joining the forum). Please don't think though by the fact that I'm going to carry on with the plan to have points that I'm being cocky or arrogant - I'm really not. I have no expectations of this working well or forever on the first attempt (or 50th for that matter), I'm just looking forward to getting stuck in and trying stuff out. Although I'm only technically a software engineer, I'm still an engineer at heart and I love tinkering with both code and electronics - the amount of daft Raspberry Pi contraptions I've built in the past is crazy.

For me the main aspect of this hobby (apart from building it for my son to enjoy) is the maintenance side of things, don't get me wrong seeing the trains running will be an added bonus, but it's not what I'm looking to get out of the build the most. In all honesty I'm likely to get bored after seeing them run for an hour or so, then I'll be onto programming the layout, then the next thing etc. Sounds crazy now that I'm saying it out loud "I want a garden railway but don't care much for the trains", but it's about getting it right. It's the same with code I guess, I don't care about the website but if something doesn't work correctly, iteratively test fixes until it does.

Each to their own I suppose :D

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Firstly may l add my welcome to the group, you have been busy hav'nt you.

Everything said about points here is perfectly valid but dont let that stop you haveing them. Until last year l had several manually operated outdoor points and they survived uncovered perfectly well. The only problem being that after a while you do need to "hotwire"as l put it, rather than use the point blades for electrical conection. Not a problem unless you are using the points to isolate a section. The outdoor points now are mostly covered which protects them from the worst of the elements. All are manual at present but when l can pick up some cheap motors l shall experiment with powered points. Although l run DCC the thought at present is to run them old school DC, it is extra wireing but l dont think the DCC control modules will like it out side. Any way l like the thrill of throwing a leaver to pushing a button.

Points need not be expensive either if your prepared to by second hand. I buy most of mine at exhibitons or shows. Peco ones can be had for around £5 - £6 and you can check that the springs there etc. E bay is much more expensive and you cant play with them. Hornby ones are even cheaper but make sure you dont buy the older steel ones though.

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Shaun, this is just a personal thing but I would not use the Hornby points, particularly outside, as I don't think they as as well put together as the Peco ones.

I do have a couple of Hornby points in some sidings inside and they are just not the same, get yourself a Peco one and make a comparison and you will see what I mean. :)

Nige.

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shaung75 said:

....Please don't think though by the fact that I'm going to carry on with the plan to have points that I'm being cocky or arrogant - I'm really not....

I don't think that at all. The hobby, or at least the outdoor aspect of it, needs people who are willing to experiment and who are keen to try new things. I know my own limitations and I'm probably close to that with where I am with my layout right now. I know that my plain track requires just a quick going over with the track rubber in order to have it fully operational but I know the two points require extra care and a good deal of attention in order to keep them working correctly. Let's be honest, none of this is designed to be operated outdoors, or even left outdoors, so from the very outset we're facing an uphill battle. My philosophy is to keep things as simple as possible because when I go out there I just want to be able to run trains and not have to spend too much time cleaning or repairing. I feel obliged to pass on that advice to others.

I don't know off hand of anyone else who uses reverse loop modules in an outdoor environment so I couldn't say how successful that might be. I know what happened to my frog juicer so I do know you'll have to be very careful with their installation. I don't have anything against using points outdoors as I've said, they add operational interest which is why I incorporated a passing loop, but I would add them only where absolutely necessary.

I second Nigel's advice about using only Peco points and my preference is for the large radius ones.

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Why do I get the feeling I'm being railroaded into something?

Sorry, seen a lot of puns on here so thought I'd keep on track with everyone :ugeek:

I'll get me coat....

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:lol::lol: Just keep "steaming" on with it Shaun mate! You'll soon see the" light at the end of the tunnel"!! :lol::lol: I know! Bad jokes! I perhaps "shunt" have used them! :lol::lol:

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Well it's been a stunning day here in Leasingham today, and as Granny had the boy for the day I thought I'd spend some time outside on the layout. All posts for phase one have now been inserted, and as I still had some posts left and couldn't do anything else without plywood I carried on towards the shed. 2 more posts to go and that'll be them ready for phase 2.

I have to say I'm pleased with myself having never done this sort of thing before, where the two lines split and then rejoin there was only 4mm difference in height - I'm just hoping I have the same success when the lines meet in the shed! It's quite nice getting down to post height and seeing them all level with each other. With the posts being roughly 1.1m apart, when phase 2 is complete there should be approximately 17.5m (57.5 feet) of outdoor running line plus the length of the loop inside the shed.

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20160312_172859.jpg

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Congratulations on your progress, i will need to get on with my civil engineering as the weather improves.

My nearest pub is the Lessingham Star, Lessingham being the next village to mine.!

The pub being out of the way is a gastro pub as the only way to survive.

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Ok Shaun. It's officially now a 'Garden Railway' :) Just edit the title of your opening post if you want to change the name in the future.

Good to see further progress. Garden railways would be so much fun if we could hold on to the weather we had yesterday.

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Took the trip over to B&Q today and picked up the ply and got them to cut it into strips. I was planning on having the boards 200mm wide to get 12 out of a sheet, but their new company policy meant they will only cut to a minimum of 230mm. Ah well. I would have cut them myself if I had the tools / patience to do so.

As our nearest B&Q is 45 minutes away in Lincoln I'm all out of time now to coat the boards despite the glorious sunshine, so that'll be next weekends job (weather permitting). Still, laid the boards down to see how it looks. I spy the beginning of a track bed :)

20160313_162733.jpg.d79b8fee6a228db3ba5d6dfd3fef3a07.jpg

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The office banished me to work from home the last couple of days as I'm still suffering from this chesty cough, so it's been nice to get out on my lunch break to work on the layout for an hour each day. Plus, without the hour travelling time at the end of the day I could get out for a bit after work before my wife and son came home.

So I've now made a start on cutting the boards to size with the hope that I could give them coats of bitumen paint at the weekend, but the weather here doesn't look like it's going to permit it. One thing that did become apparent though when trial fitting the boards is that although the level from post to post is nice and flat, I didn't take enough care with how level the posts were on the left-right plane which gave the boards a bit of a negative camber - especially around the left of the loop. It also meant that where some of the boards met on the posts they didn't have a nice flat join. If you take a look at the picture above of the post-height view and zoom in, you can see some of the squiffyness (ignore the bit directly in front of hose reel, that's a bit of scrap wood). Luckily I realised that I hadn't taken as much care when I should have done previously when fixing the posts towards the shed so they're pretty good.

Half an hour out with the sander and a boat level then rectified the problem without affecting the levels between posts apart from one which ended up dropping by about 4mm - over a distance of just over a metre that's a gradient of 1:250 which hopefully won't cause me any issues.

After getting my way through Mick's Worsley Dale post and seeing his images of the point motors it has got me concerned over the size of the things, Ian's post on the 'operating points outside' thread didn't really give any indication to the size in the pictures. I was hoping to hide them trackside buildings like a signal box, but now I'm thinking I'll struggle to fit one in a building let alone multiple motors! I have to order a couple and revise my plans.

All a learning curve this game...

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