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SKEW BRIDGE - Attic Layout


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Thanks Andrew.

Yes I'm well pleased with the operation of the signals. I didn't want to be involving myself in any overly complicated wiring and initially thought I'd be using basic toggle or rotary switches to change the mainline aspects but then noticed the MAS sequencer module which takes care of everything for me and it works just as it stated it would. I do operate the loop and sidings signal aspects manually via switches but they are much less of an inconvenience.

I quite like the EWS 66's too and the HTA wagons are great runners - sounding so realistic over rail joints. Just need to lightly weather the cleaner set and get some loads added to the dirty one!

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A short 60 second video of 60048 and MGR wagons through the new landscape  

I've ordered some small bags of scatter material and static grasses in order to try them out before deciding how I'm going to tackle the embankments. In the meantime I've been painting up some more to

Things are now taking shape on the small scenic end section despite me saying that there was no rush to finish this part of the layout. I began this morning by painting the bridge that has been i

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Mick, My friend Jannie in York just sent this photo, which looks rather like your layout so may have been taken on Skew Bridge:

large.1045243537_WhatsAppImage2021-02-25at16_24_21.jpeg.ad11e0b1d2c3f861d17e94e07f1a2888.jpeg

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Holgate Bridge - I remember it well and on one occasion especially when we passed beneath the bridge heading from the North Yard at exactly the same time as 3 other trains were negotiating the same junction. Pretty scary that seemed at the time with trains either side of you and you going directly between two approaching trains.

Sad to see the HTA's minus their brandings as I remember their introduction. Mine will definitely retain the EWS branding. And even though the photo might resemble Skew Bridge in a small way, there's absolutely no chance of me installing overhead wires!

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3 hours ago, mick said:

Holgate Bridge - I remember it well

I used to go up to York in my early teens to the BREL/ABB works on odd occasions. My Dad would send the works Chauffeur to pick me up from the station in a Vauxhall Senator. Don't know how many kids got such red carpet treatment from their parent's employer.

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Despite the spell of warm sunshine, a stiff neck has unfortunately prevented me from going outdoors today. I really couldn't face the task of crouching down to ground level for any videos so instead I decided to spend a couple of hours in the attic where I am able to perch on a stool and film at a more age friendly height.

I've been trying to film from some different vantage points, though all around the bridge area which is most easily accessible for me, especially when I can barely turn my head. I quite like the low angle shots but there's some refining still to be done. And in spite of the relatively large amount of lighting I've installed up there now it still sometimes appears too dark unless I turn on some additional LED spots. The brighter it is the better quality footage I can get. I've been slightly dissatisfied with the video quality I've been getting to date making me wonder whether it's all worth it or not when I have to delete so much material but things are beginning to look much better with the additional lighting. I'm quite pleased with it now.

One thing I have noticed, which I found strange, is that 2 of my signals appear to fade in and out slowly when they are filmes as part of the action. I thought at first there was a problem with the signals themselves but I went back up to take a look and they're working just fine. It seems they either flash or fade depending on the camera settings.

So here's a video from today which seems to have taken an age to upload and is now processing. I'm waiting to go for my tea! I'll check back in later if it's not visible.

 

 

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32 minutes ago, Stese said:

Hi Mick, 

I've had a look at the previous video and I can't see any flickering or fading, so it might be the screen that you are viewing these on....

I haven't included the clips in the uploaded video because it just didn't look right with two of the 3 signals fading in and out.

Here's one of the clips in question....

https://youtu.be/mcPk4ZZxWrE

I think it's something to do with how I've got the frames per seconds setting but not sure yet.

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I've decided to remove some of the wagons from the layout in order to put some different ones on so that I can ring the changes a bit. It's kind of getting back to what the layout is supposed to be about so the container traffic is now sitting on the floor until I can find somewhere to store it away and in place there are now MEA wagons and Plasmor wagons. Must try to remember not to step on them!

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I do remember container traffic passing through but it seemed to be mainly during the evening while the movement of coal, especially that destined for local power stations, was almost non-stop, apart from perhaps a short break from Saturday lunchtime until Sunday morning. In fact speaking of container traffic, and apologies if I've told this before but it's what I think of each time I mention them, but one evening me and a workmate were standing by a foot crossing while a freightliner train passed by. The crossing was only dimly lit and the lighting was partly obscured by the train but we could see the containers going past and when it seemed the train had gone we were about to step out only realising at the last moment that there were still empty flatbeds going by....

Anyway, I've also taken the opportunity to swap some loco's around, again just so that things look a bit different from previous videos. It doesn't really bother me that the loco's may be hauling the same sets for weeks on end but I imagine to viewers out there it might just do. The trouble is the problem of couplings rears its ugly head again and where one loco worked perfectly the exact class of loco with the same coupling on the front just doesn't. I'm currently in the process of trying to get a Heljan class 58 to remain coupled to a set of MGR's after removing a Heljan class 58 previously. It's a right pain!

I'm actually wondering if proper couplings would work better, say something like 3-links that you could just slip over the coupling hooks. There has to be a better, more reliable way, so that you can change loco's around without having to start faffing about with the couplings again. As I've said before, it might be okay having flimsy plastic coupling attachments on a loco if the user is going to do nothing more than haul half-a-dozen wagons around a circle of track but once you start increasing the trailing load the flimsy coupling mounts are just unable to handle it. I bet there's almost 0.5cm of vertical movement in the Heljan class 58 coupling mechanism, and when it starts hauling a heavy load it rises up under the strain and becomes uncoupled from the leading wagon. On a straight length of track and against the Kadee height gauge both loco and wagon couplings are at the correct height it's just the amount of free play in them that causes problems. I suppose the manufacturers answer would be that they work just fine with the supplied tension lock couplings.

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I finally managed to cure the Heljan class 58 coupling simply by adding a single wrap of electrical insulation tape around the shank of my Kadee coupling before inserting it back into the NEM coupler pocket. It now stays level even when hauling a rake of MGR wagons and so far it has remained coupled. I'm not sure what will happen when I decide to change loco's again but for now everything is up and running.

I was taking a few photos earlier in order to select one to use as the next video thumbnail and decided to pose 56095 on the mainline coupled to the Cawoods PFA container set. I've been filming it this afternoon so it seemed appropriate, even though in the actual video it's not the loco seen hauling the Cawoods train.

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I really do like the above photo. The class 56 is just how I remember them, though a driver in the cab wouldn't go amiss. Likewise the Cawoods PFA wagons which, along with the Gypsum wagons, I feared we might never see in model form. Before I'd even made a start on Skew Bridge the scene depicted above is what I had in mind and what I hoped I could recreate. I feel as if I could walk across there and climb aboard though I must admit that I'm ever so pleased I no longer have to.

 

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I've left the video camera alone today and made a start loading some of the Cawoods containers on the PFA wagon set. I was perhaps being optimistic by removing 15 containers from the train in readiness, but we'll see. You may notice I have already made a start on one of the containers shown here. I didn't see any point in weathering the interior of the containers as very little other than the top section will be visible once they are loaded.

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The bases for the coal load have been formed from pieces of foam similar to the remnants shown here. I seem to accumulate a lot of this packing material with various orders for model railway items and it's just the right size height wise.

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A piece of foam just slightly larger than the wagon interior was cut to enable a nice push fit.

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I use a car aerosol spray can to paint the pieces of foam black and when dry they can be placed inside the container. Here's a couple of containers, one before painting the foam and one afterwards.

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I then paint PVA glue on top of the foam and sprinkle on some fine real coal dust to disguise the foam itself before building up small heaps of coal and securing with a PVA/water mix.

I remember these containers being slowly loaded under a conveyor belt and the wagons needed moving forward at intervals as the container gradually filled usually resulting in 3 or 4 peaks which I have tried to replicate in the example below.

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And as optimistic as I was at the outset by selecting 15 containers, I had to go and pick another two and have now actually almost completed 17! That's just over half-way through them. Not only that but I have also used the same method to load 3 of my HTA wagons so only another 15 HTA's to go as one was already loaded. HTA's are slightly different as there's no need to use larger pieces of coal - I just use the dustings for power station traffic.

I'll take some better photographs once the PVA glue has dried as they don't look that good while it is still wet. Anyway, a big improvement I think and worth the effort though I still haven't weathered the PFA wagons themselves.

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It's a bit nippy up in the attic today, in fact it's the first time I've had the heater on for a while but that's mainly because the coal loads from yesterday are taking an age to dry. I'm hoping that a bit of heat will make a difference. Yesterday evening I cut the remaining pieces of foam and sprayed them all black in readiness to make a start this morning which saved some time.

I left it yesterday with 17 containers loaded but I was almost out of suitable pieces of coal to continue adding loads, so this morning I was out on the greenhouse slabs bashing away at some larger chunks wrapped inside some old cloth. Then, using a couple of garden sieves and a strainer I was able to grade the pieces and place into some plastic bags for use.

I've now completed the entire rake of 33 wagons and I'm amazed at just how quickly I've been able to do so. I thought it was something I'd need to keep revisiting over several days or perhaps even weeks. I suppose I should crack on and make some more headway with the loaded HTA set now.

I don't think there are any other coal wagons that need loads adding after that although there are a few HEA's to finish off when I decide how many wagons the set will comprise.  I'm undecided about the MEA wagons - not sure whether to leave those empty or not just yet.

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I've made a short video of the loaded PFA's in action this afternoon and tried out some new viewpoints around the short curved section that I started work on a couple of years ago. Perhaps I need to get that section finished now as it does make a pleasant alternative to the long straight views.

And from earlier today, here's a photo of 16 recently loaded containers awaiting placing back onto the PFA wagons.

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I've got nothing to show just yet but I have been making progress with some of the stock on Skew Bridge.

My HEA set has been refreshed a little with some blue 'Mainline' wagons added to it. In their later days HEA's could be seen in a multitude of liveries and I've now got a good selection to give it some variety. I'm still undecided as to exactly how many wagons to include in the set or whether to leave myself the option of adding and removing wagons as necessary.

I've begun weathering three more loco's, one class 60 and 2 class 37s. Nothing too drastic but they look better than when they're all pristine.

My Gypsum PFA wagon set has had some gypsum dust applied - but then I had to go back and try remove some of it. My recollections go back to the beginning of this traffic flow from Drax power station and in those early days there was always spillage on the container tops and on the bufferbeams of the wagons. You were extremely lucky if you didn't have to shovel a great pile of Gypsum off the top of the container simply in order to be able to close the top doors. Looking at more recent photos it seems they finally got the hang of loading the containers without throwing Gyspum all over the place and so mine did look a bit too much - maybe they still do. 

My loaded HTA set now has 10 wagons with coal loads added so only another 9 remain to be done. I then need to weather the empty set as it's far too clean at the moment.

I've been looking at possible ways to add some additional storage roads but without making access to the existing roads difficult I'm not sure how I can do it. I would ideally like to have another 5 or 6 roads to play with so that I don't have to remove wagons from the layout in order to put others on. It's the same old story isn't it - there's never enough room!

 

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I can't recall what I had in mind when I made my way into the attic this afternoon but once up there my thoughts turned to weathering. It would be great to put a bit of colour on the three loco chassis' I began weathering yesterday just to tone down the shiny black plastic and so I got the airbrush out and assembled it. With everything set up and ready I thinned down some 'frame dirt' colour and made a start on the loco chassis. It didn't take too long and then I thought perhaps I could do the HEA wagon chassis too so I continued spraying and eventually all the HEA's I had previously loaded had their chassis weathered too. Why stop there I thought - now the airbrush is out I may as well make full use of it and so using the remaining 'frame dirt' I started on the empty HTA set, weathering the bogies and lower bodywork. Now why not add some black too and weather the body sides so I did just that.

So the empty HTA set is now almost complete and I don't see any point in doing much more with it. The three loco's are weathered to a degree and I'll see how I feel about them later, especially after seeing the photos I took of them afterwards. I've also yet to do the loco roofs. The HEA's are also almost completed but I still want to add some bodyside rusting to some of them.

Here's some photos...

60005 SKIDDAW in Transrail grey with a slightly wonky buffer hauling the Gypsum train

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Trainload Coal liveried 37698 COEDBACH stands in the headshunt at Skew Bridge down sidings

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Trainload Coal liveried 37692 LASS O'BALLOCHMYLE passing Skew Bridge sidings with the loaded HEA wagons

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The two class 37s were actually intended for working outdoors on Worsley Dale but they look quite at home in the attic even though they are probably some distance from their rightful homes. It is amazing what a difference just a little bit of weathering does to the loco's and if you're going to enjoy them then you might as well go about it the right way and make them look the part.

It's been a really productive week with the Cawoods containers loaded, the HEA's loaded, 10 of the HTA wagons loaded and so much weathering done. I've enjoyed it.

 

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On 27/02/2021 at 22:11, mick said:

I haven't included the clips in the uploaded video because it just didn't look right with two of the 3 signals fading in and out.

Here's one of the clips in question....

https://youtu.be/mcPk4ZZxWrE

I think it's something to do with how I've got the frames per seconds setting but not sure yet.

Hi Mick, 

I've had a look at that video, and and first, i'm going to assume that you can't see the effect with the naked eye.

I think you've actually already spotted the issue, in finding that the results are different with camera settings... So, it's got me wondering, how are you supplying power for those LED's?

Would I be correct t assume you've pulled the feed from your DCC supply, and have some kind of switching system in place, or you've got a PWM (pulse width modulation) dimmer involved? 

I believe that the issue you are seeing here, is that the frequency of the supply (either DCC or PWM dimmer) and the frequency of the camera are coming in and out of phase, causing the effect you are seeing. 

With the assumptions above, I think you've got two options :-

  • Fit a DC Supply, and use relays to separate the DCC from the DC.
  • Put a bridge rectifier and capacitor between the anode and cathode of each led, smoothing the feed. You'd probably also want a load resistor between the LED legs as well, to stop the LED's fading out when the supply is removed. 

 

anyway.... those are my ramblings on the problem...  may be way off with the assumptions!

Regards, 

Steve. 

 

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8 hours ago, Stese said:

Hi Mick, 

I've had a look at that video, and and first, i'm going to assume that you can't see the effect with the naked eye....

Thanks Steve. Yes you are correct with your assumption - to the naked eye the lights appear normal so it's obviously something to do with the phasing between the camera and the LED's. As you will have seen on the video link, the mainline signal isn't affected but that one is connected to a MAS Sequencer which automatically controls the aspects as trains pass. All 3 signals are powered through the same standard transformer with the two problematic ones controlled manually by switches. There's something on the MAS Sequencer board which corrects the problem so it's just finding out what it is.

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Okay, I feel like I've achieved something again today. Perhaps it's not a lot but in my mind the layout is beginning to feel more like a miniature of the railway as I remember it rather than a model train layout.

I've had the airbrush out again so that I could add a bit of colour to the roofs of the loco's I've begun weathering and also to a couple of other items that needed some colour on their frames. The two class 37s and the class 60 have had a dusting on top while two class 66s have also had their bogies weathered to rid them of that prominent blackness.

Now whether 37692 ever looked exactly like this I really don't know but I'm very pleased with how it's turned out, especially at the head of the loaded HEA wagons. It just feels so right when you watch it circling the layout and hear that throaty roar from the fuel tank mounted speaker. 37698 looks much the same too so I'm chuffed!

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Having got round to finally weathering the empty HTA set and making progress with the loaded one, the two class 66's looked somewhat out of place so it was time to put some colour on the chassis and some dirt on the roof. They now look more like a complete unit although I'm going to have to do something with the door operating bars on the wagons where someone has damaged them by placing them in their boxes the wrong way round. Here's 66068 with the empty HTA set now lightly weathered.

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I've really enjoyed myself putting the HEA set together. I remember a few months ago where all I had was a rake of pristine Railfreight red HEA's and now the set is barely recognisable with each wagon being different from the next. It now looks aged and worn but still workmanlike as it heads into its sunset days. I remember a class 56 was the more regular power for this working but I'm going to have a hard job taking that 37 off the front!

There are now 31 loaded and weathered wagons in the HEA set which I think is just about right for the 37. Whether I will do any more I'm not sure just yet though I have about 10 spares. This one below was added today despite it being my initial intention to keep the set to 30. It was sitting there in the siding with a weathered chassis and a brightly colored top so I decided to partly obscure the Railfreight branding and dab some rusty bits on with a sponge. It was then loaded to cover the moulded load seen in the photo and added to the train. A 10 minute job.

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30 minutes ago, mick said:

Thanks Steve. Yes you are correct with your assumption - to the naked eye the lights appear normal so it's obviously something to do with the phasing between the camera and the LED's. As you will have seen on the video link, the mainline signal isn't affected but that one is connected to a MAS Sequencer which automatically controls the aspects as trains pass. All 3 signals are powered through the same standard transformer with the two problematic ones controlled manually by switches. There's something on the MAS Sequencer board which corrects the problem so it's just finding out what it is.

What's the standard transformer? 

Other than the power, is there any interconnection between the MAS Sequencer signals, and the Switched signals?

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1 hour ago, Stese said:

What's the standard transformer? 

Other than the power, is there any interconnection between the MAS Sequencer signals, and the Switched signals?

I'm using the plug/transformer part from a DC train controller so it's outputting 16V AC I believe. Other than that there's no interconnection between sequencer and switched signals.

I emailed Clive at Heathcote Electronics where I purchased the sequencer and he has very kindly responded with the suggestion to use a regulated DC power supply or fit a diode and capacitor to the output of existing power supply to smooth the output similar to your earlier recommendation so I'll look into that.

It will be good to be able to film trains approaching the signals instead of only filming from the rear of them!

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