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SKEW BRIDGE - Attic Layout


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13 hours ago, Andrew said:

Your trees are looking great, Mick.  Silver birch, perhaps.....

They are whatever they turn out as Andrew! Silver Birch are perhaps the only trees I can immediately recognise so there's no point me trying to produce anything else. I just want something leafy to fill in the background and they do the job nicely enough.

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On 25/09/2020 at 23:20, Riddles said:

....Have you seen the new HAAs from Cavalex announced today?....

Have you heard that Accurascale are doing likewise? Strange old world isn't it but I'm still sticking with my Hornby versions.

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1 hour ago, mick said:

Have you heard that Accurascale are doing likewise? Strange old world isn't it but I'm still sticking with my Hornby versions.

I hadn't heard before you mentioned it, and it's only been confirmed today, so you are certainly keeping your eyes on the ball. I tend to agree about sticking with Hornby. Much of the new stuff is lovely to look at close up but can be rather delicate when you pick it up, especially outside in the garden.

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I've already been 'reprimanded' on YouTube for running a loco with snowploughs when it never actually received them and so I hope this one doesn't stir up more trouble for me. 

I know nothing about class 50's (and very little about other classes) but I fully expected them to have been fitted with snowploughs while in service. Alas it seems not to be the case and the only photo's I've seen of a 50 with ploughs have been taken much more recently. Still that doesn't have to stop me fitting ploughs to my sole class 50 loco as it is going to be used only for excursions and in the preservation era anything goes - so here's 50037 with its front end detailed up and fitted with ploughs.


Of course the 50 isn't the only thing that's new in that photo as there's also a signal on view, one of three currently planted on the layout but all non-working at the moment. At the very least it's a valid reason for the loco to be standing there.

I hadn't given the positioning of signals a great deal of thought when building the layout and have had to move the lineside trunking sideways slightly in order to make room for the one on the down mainline. This has meant digging out some of the ballast.


There are 3 signals on the downside at this end of the layout and one still to be planted on the up main just before the tunnel at the other end. Later I'll need 3 ground position light signals - one to signal towards the headshunt from the sidings and 2 for the mainline crossover

Another photo below that's similar to the first but this time with the chocolate and cream BR Mk1's behind. This rake of coaches performs brilliantly outside in the garden but I've had to work to get them running as well up in the attic. They actually derailed on their first circuit as they came over the series of points into the storage side of the layout.


The coaches are fitted with the R8220 bar type close-couplers but the cam couplings just don't slide smoothly from side to side. I've had a file out to them again and added a smear of silicone grease to aid the cam-coupling's movement and since then they've stayed on the track. I'm confident enough now to turn my back and leave them running.

One other thing I have done is secure the loco cam coupling to prevent it moving sideways. The loco and outside ends of each end coach are fitted with Kadee couplings and I've found there's no need for the loco coupling to move sideways as it just tends to lead to derailments. All now running very well.

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18 hours ago, Andrew said:

Nice Class 50 pics, thanks, Mick.  What make is that colour light signal please?  Looks very authentic.

They're Berko signals Andrew, and yes, they do look more authentic than the Train-tech ones I installed in the shed. The two 4-aspect ones on the mainlines I'm going to couple up to MAS sequencer's so that they change automatically with the passage of trains. The 3-aspects I'll just use manual switching.

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Today I've been fitting two MAS-sequencer's to the 4-aspect colour light signals that I'm fitting on the mainline - one on the up line and one on the down. The MAS-sequencer has built in infrared train detection which operates the 4-aspect signal sequence automatically so there's no need for me to add switches or long lengths of wiring to get them working and there's no additional input required to operate them once they've been installed.

This is the side of the module that fits against the underneath of your baseboard with the infrared emitter and detector protruding upwards. It is necessary to drill an 8mm hole upwards from beneath the baseboard to accommodate these, having first drilled a small pilot hole down from above between two sleepers.


Once the module has been secured in position it's simply a case of wiring your signal to the screw terminals seen to the right and adding a 12-16v DC or AC power supply to the respective power terminals.


Unfortunately one of my modules didn't work correctly when first installed as there was no green light displaying in the sequence. After swapping modules and signals around I was able to determine that it was the module at fault and discovered an unsoldered joint on the circuit board (below). A quick dab with the soldering iron and it was up and working perfectly.


Here's a photo of one of the signals in operation. I'm quite pleased with them.




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Installing the signal on the up main at the tunnel end of the layout proved to be slightly more difficult than installing the one on the down line near the bridge end. It was my intention to place it just before the tunnel entrance but the arrangement of baseboard cross members and strengtheners meant it was going to be extremely difficult to find room for the MAS-sequencer. In the end I decided to place it further back on the approach to the tunnel where there was better access and more clear space beneath the boards.


It's amazing how the addition of a couple of signals suddenly brings the layout to life.

Meanwhile, the two class 40 loco's have both operated perfectly since I added the phosphor bronze pickups a few days ago. There hasn't been a single occasion where the sound has cut out or the loco's stuttered. I'm now satisfied that they will both become regular runners on the layouts once I have upgraded their soundfiles and so I added the few remaining details from the detailing packs.

D211 'Mauritania' now has its headcode discs in place and etched nameplates, though the plates are so small that the name is barely legible. Bit of a wonky buffer that needs straightening I see.


And D369 typifies my method of working. After detailing up the front end and sitting back to 'marvel' at my handiwork, I noticed that the driver was sitting in the rear cab! Yes, I'd actually detailed the opposite end. I couldn't leave it like that so, for fear of damaging something by trying to extract the driver from his seat, I just changed over the bogies with them being so easy to remove. All done.

D369 is seen below just pulling away from the down mainline signal as an empty HTA set speeds by on the up. I haven't checked to see how easily the headcode can be changed.




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I've run out of large pieces of seafoam so I'm unable to make any more trees right now but I've been left with a lot of smaller pieces and trimmings that I've been able to form together into small bush like shapes that, when covered with some fine scatter material, really do look the part.


I'm not sure if I'm supposed to shake off all the tiny seeds that are invariably attached to the Seafoam pieces but when left on they resemble tiny fruits so I'm happy to leave them as they are unless I learn differently.


The trouble is that these latest examples are in many ways superior to my initial attempts at creating bushes but I can always replace them over time.


I've also made a little more progress, or perhaps I should say I've had a slight change of heart, in locating my signals. I had initially sited the down loop signal, which is the central one in the photo above, about 2-3 feet further back from the one on the main line because I didn't want them all standing in a row. However, with double-headed loco's and a rake of MGR wagons it didn't leave me with a great deal of room to clear the points at the rear and while I could have worked with it, it just didn't look right. So here we are and this is how they'll have to remain. I just need a shunt signal to accompany the 3-aspect from the sidings so that I can legally shunt towards the buffers. The mainline signals are still working perfectly while the others are at this time awaiting final installation.

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My Hornby class 60, 60048, has been operating on Skew Bridge for a few months now and first featured on the old Selby Garden Railway back in September 2009 but today, after only 11 years, I've finally managed to add the bufferbeam deflector and air brake pipework!


Here's 60048 alongside sister loco 60007 - both of which could really do with driver figures adding to the cabs.


I'm setting up the majority of my loco's with detailing at one end and a standard Kadee coupler on the rear meaning they can only be used in one direction.

60048 and 60007 are just part of my collection of class 60 locomotives and hopefully over the coming weeks and months I will be able to bring more of them into use. I just wish that Hornby had used the same chassis throughout their class 60 models and not produced some with 21-pin and others with 8-pin decoder sockets. It would have made swapping things around much easier. To Hornby's credit, they have produced a very fine model which even after more than a decade in the case of 60048 still performs perfectly straight from the box. If only they could have made a decent coupling arrangement for each end of it.

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Getting more loco's out brings with it the realisation of just how much work there is still to do but with a hobby that's currently taken up in excess of 11 years of my life in garden railways alone, looking on the bright side it means I've got plenty of things to keep me occupied for many more years to come.

Yesterday evening I took a look over my class 60's in an effort to decide which ones to concentrate on next. It appears they are all equipped with 8-pin decoder sockets so I'm not able to swap things around with any that are currently on the layout so with regards to sound installations it means more expense.

I had considered the possibility of adding TTS sound as a means of saving money but I'm not impressed with the one I installed in 60087 'CLIC Sargent' a few months ago. In my opinion I prefer the factory fitted sound from back in 2009! Here's 60087 pictured yesterday evening on the layout awaiting a time when I can add the bogie log wagons behind it that we regularly see passing over Ribblehead. It's not really in keeping with the era that Skew Bridge is supposed to vaguely represent but it's just one of those trains that holds special memories.


Also posed on the layout last night were the following two loco's beginning with coal sector liveried 60090 'Quinag'......


...and Transrail liveried 60066 'John Logie Baird'


I didn't photograph any more and haven't specifically earmarked the above two for attention next. I'll consider what liveries I've got and try to go with something different from what's already on the layout.

Thinking about it I don't suppose things have changed a great deal since I began with my first garden layout back in 2009. The level of detailing on certain more recent models has increased and there's been a small increase in the standard of DCC sound installations but other than that most of the models I purchased all those years ago can still pretty much hold their own alongside models of today which, after a decade or more in boxes, is something of a relief.

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3 hours ago, traingeekboy said:

Really enjoying the layout and all the locos.

Thanks Griff. After all the years I've been collecting them I'm just happy to be a stage where I feel able to get locos out of their boxes and onto the tracks.

Moving on, I'm sure we've all heard the old adage about testing a loco to make sure it runs perfectly on DC before moving on to fit a decoder? Well me too but I rarely ever take notice of it. All my locos appear to run just fine straight out of the box so what's the big deal?

Well yesterday I decided to fit some spare standard non-sound decoders to the two analogue Hornby class 60s above. 60090 Quinag was okay and ran perfectly as I expected but 60066 just sat their humming and making no attempt to move when suddenly there was a small flash from the decoder and the smell of burning. It turns out the bearing on top one of the bogies was seized, similar to the problems I've had with most of my Hornby class 56's, which surprised me as it's the first time I've experienced it on a 60.

Anyway, after cleaning and freeing off the bearing I popped another old decoder in and tried again. Away it went on the rolling road all nice and smooth - until I changed the direction when it just sat there doing nothing - no movement, not a sound. Everything was free enough and I could slowly turn the motor with my finger tip and the wheels revolved. I tried again and it was fine in one direction but nothing in the other and then another flash and another decoder was gone!

So I left it at that for the night because my section of DC test track/controller is outdoors and I'd had enough for the day.

It's these little kind of problems with loco's and rolling stock, and there does seem to be a fair few of them, that often makes me question why I spend my money in this way. I know it's my fault for not testing the loco on DC first, I'm just relieved that the more expensive and most recent decoder went into 60090 first. Thank goodness I hadn't purchased a sound decoder.....doesn't bear thinking about.

So you've all heard it yourselves before I'm sure but as a reminder, test and ensure your loco runs perfectly on DC before attempting to fit any decoder.


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3 hours ago, Clay Mills Junction said:

60s have the same mechanism as the 56 I believe. Being in a box doesn't seem to prevent them from drying up either....

Yes Barry, the seized bearing is exactly the same as the ones fitted to the 56s and appears to have the same type of lubricant around it.

I'm heading to the shed shortly to test 60066 on a short length of DC test track so I might as well take the rest with me and get them all checked out before contemplating fitting an expensive sound decoder to any of them.

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It's taken longer than I'd hoped but I've now got 60066 running in on DCC round the attic layout.

I took the loco out to the shed and placed it on the DC length of track and, as on the attic layout, it would run in one direction but not the other. Then the DC controller began cutting out so I knew there was something seriously amiss. I decided to remove all wired connections to the PCB and to try again with the bare minimum wires as I wanted to know whether the fault lay in the board or in the wiring. I labelled each wire so I knew where to reconnect them.


I ended up removing the board altogether and holding the wires together to see if the motor was receiving from the pickups. In one direction it was fine but in the other there was just 'sparks' flying. On closer examination of the problematic bogie I noticed there was a bare section of wire which you can hopefully make out in the following poorly taken photo. It's the topmost of the two pickup wires.


Looking at the bogie from sideways on you can see how proud some of these connections stand and they actually rub on the underneath of the chassis, which is probably how it sustained damage in the first place. Most of my other class 60's are similar I have now discovered.


I redid the soldered joint and applied a shorter length of heat shrink over it. - placing it back on the DC test track it still failed, though without the sparks as earlier. And then I noticed that if I gently touched the capacitor that's situated on top of the motor the loco would move so it seemed there was a bad joint there too. I removed the heat shrink over the soldered connections but it all appeared to be okay so I took the decision to remove the capacitor altogether and resolder the whole joint. Bingo!

So a wire shorting out on the underneath of the chassis and a loose joint somewhere around that capacitor - and all on a brand new, never before used loco.

I dread to think what else I'm going to find as I work my way through some of these loco's.

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I decided it was time to add some of the remaining point motors, especially those furthest away from the 'control' area of the layout. There isn't an actual control panel on Skew Bridge only a place where the DCC controller sits, above which are a few lever switches for point operation. It's all very basic and prone to signalman error but it's also a very basic trackplan so there's really no need for anything more sophisticated. My experiences have shown that delicate electronics aren't entirely happy in cold and damp conditions anyway.

I was about to order some cheap solenoid point motors when I remembered I still had some previously used Tortoise slow-action motors removed from a previous layout and so it seemed sensible to use them. I did need to purchase some switches in order to operate them but unfortunately they have yet to arrive which is one of the drawbacks with mail order. So although the motors are now installed I'm unable to make use of them until my switches arrive.

I've been taking a look at my class 60 locomotives and it appears that the soldered connections to the pickups are all similar, though some have a longer length of heat shrink for protection. I'm concerned that the shorting issue I experienced with 60066 might potentially be a problem with some of the others. Where the wires have a short length of heat shrink protection there's the possibility of the exposed vertical wire rubbing on the underneath of the chassis whereas the longer lengths tend to be bent at a 90 degree angle which keeps the now horizontal wire away from the chassis. I might add some insulation tape to the base of the chassis as additional protection against any shorts.

Here's three more class 60's that I've had out of their boxes for inspection.

60014 Alexander Fleming in two-tone grey livery and the EWS 'beasties' logo


60077 in the two-tone grey livery but with the Mainline logo branding


And finally 60078 in Mainline blue livery


It's likely that one or more of these have been seen before, perhaps outdoors on Worsley Dale, though none of them are yet DCC fitted so it would have only been in a 'posed' situation as here.

You might also be able to make out that the track has undergone some weathering in the above photos. It's actually a bit heavier than the photos suggest. I used the airbrush to spray track colour along it and you'd be surprised at the amount of loose ballast that I managed to dislodge so yesterday evening I was using some spare ballast to fill back in the holes!


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