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SKEW BRIDGE - Attic Layout


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8 hours ago, mick said:

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!

That will be the problem then! :-)

I'd advise the same... but i think he means a rectifier rather than just a diode!

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A big thank you to Steve on our forum and to Clive at Heathcote Electronics for pointing me in the right direction.

I have replaced my existing power supply to the signals with a 'regulated' DC power supply and the problem with my two manually operated signals fading in and out on video has disappeared! I should now be able to film videos with the front of the signals open to view.

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Yesterday I made a start on sorting out loco's for Skew Bridge, beginning with class 56s. Some of them I purchased myself from new while others were obtained in used condition. I know that buying used models can be fraught with danger, and on occasions there have been disappointments, but I have enough bits and pieces and spare parts now to put a decent selection together and hopefully keep them running well.

A while back I went through my collection of 56s and discovered many of them with seized bearings. This wasn't a problem that affected only the used models, several of my 'brand new' models were similarly affected, and all had to be cleaned a regreased. I've now got some 'rolling road' rollers so can have a couple of loco's running in at once rather than them tail chasing round the layout.

I want to get as many of them operating on the layout as possible and currently there are 6 fitted with sound decoders, all but one of which are factory fitted soundfiles. I tried yesterday swapping loco bodies around but found that fitting the body from 56059 onto the chassis from 56127 resulted in no working lights. 56059 is based on an 8 pin chassis while 56127 is a 21 pin chassis, so like the class 60s there must be a difference between the two chassis versions. However, I can still swap loco bodies where the base chassis' are the same so that's something I can bear in mind.

I also discovered that 56040, a 'new' purchase, had working tail lights but no head or marker lights. This was eventually traced to a defective solder joint and rectified.

I have 2 duplicate loco's - 56003 in Loadhaul livery and 56127 in coal sector livery. I intend to renumber/name one of the Loadhaul loco's as 56006 'Ferrybridge Power Station' but I've yet to decide on the spare 127.

Oh and another task that took up quite some time yesterday was changing the cam couplings around. Several of my used examples had apparently been worked hard by previous owners and were missing the cam couplings from the rear of the loco so it meant removing them from the front, where pipework detail had been added, and putting them on the rear. I know they're not the best type of couplings but I've found that by restricting the cam couplings sideways movement you can get them to work reliably enough.

Final task now is to get the factory fitted decoders reblown with some better soundfiles.

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It was 23:20 by the time I emerged from the attic last night.....doesn't time fly?

Couplings are still proving to be an issue when swapping loco's around, a problem that led to two derailments yesterday. On the first occasion I had 2 MGR sets running and the class 58 from one set became uncoupled, and before I'd noticed it had circled the track and collided with the rear of its train derailing a couple of wagons into the path of the other approaching MGR train. A mess but luckily no damage.

On the second occasion a class 56 cam coupling flipped over the leading wagon on the Cawoods container train. The 56 coupling has yet to be modified to limit sideways movement so should be an easy one to rectify.

On to progress and there's a few more weathered items of stock. Railfreight liveried 56049, coal sector 56127, loadhaul liveried 60007 and 56003, and Railfreight 58041 have all been worked on to give them a workmanlike appearance which is the effect that pleases me the most. A couple of them still need some pipework detailing adding and hopefully I'll get round to that some time today. I also managed to weather 16 of the Cawoods PFA wagons but that was all I could do last night.

The fact that it was gone 11pm by the time I put the airbrush down meant there's no photos of anything to show just yet but that will be something I do today. I'll post them up later.

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Here are the loco's I was working on yesterday. I've just been in the attic sorting out couplings and adding bufferbeam detail where required so took the opportunity to grab a few photos.

58041 'Ratcliffe Power Station' in Railfreight livery


56049 in Railfreight livery


60007 in Loadhaul livery, seen regularly on the layout but up to now always in very pristine condition


56127 in Coal Sector livery. Another loco seen regularly on the layout but again, now in a more workmanlike condition though only lightly weathered


And finally 56003 in Loadhaul livery with an added driver of Chinese origin!


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2 hours ago, ba14eagle said:

Lovely weathering Mick - particularly like 60007

Thanks Iain. Like DCC sound, weathering isn't everyone's cup of tea but I think it's well worth it for the added realism it offers. You just have to be careful not to overdo it which I am prone to doing at times. It was certainly different attempting the black 'Loadhaul' locos as my usual methods seemed to have very little effect but they've turned out okay.

I've just added another video though not the one I had intended doing. I had everything set up ready to film each individual set of wagons currently on the layout but ended up with so many clips that I thought it best to split them and put the MGR's on their own rather than have a full 20 minute or so video! I'll sort the rest out at a later date. I enjoy watching long rakes of 2-axle wagons anyway.


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More Skew Bridge stock has been on the weathering desk and I'm pleased with how these are progressing.

Apart from MGR trains, of which there were many, there were some trains that I remember passing by no more than once per day and one of those was the Tilcon stone train comprising JGA hoppers and hauled by a class 60 loco. I believe it was the Rhylstone to Hull working. I've had my Tilcon wagons since approx 2009/2010 and they've always merited a place on the layout but their pristine appearance means they've always looked a bit out of place, especially since several other sets of wagons have now been weathered, so over the past couple of days I've been working on them to make them look a bit more 'used'.

They're not finished yet as I will return to add some more weathering on some of the chassis where I've missed bits and I still have to add the 'stone dust' weathering powders but they are beginning to look as I want them to.

First off is a photo of the loco at the head of the train, EWS liveried 60048, which itself has been undergoing some weathering. I actually forgot to do the roof when I had the airbrush out yesterday so that will be done the next time.


And next there are some photos showing individual wagons beginning with one of the later 'Tarmac' branded  ones. I'm not entirely sure that these and the Tilcon branded ones ran together but I'm sure they must have at some point - certainly in my little world they do.


Most of the weathering was done yesterday but today I've been adding the yellowish staining along the top edge of the wagon just beneath the doors. 


I was being careful not to overdo it because results always seem to look different depending on the lighting but I do think some of the chassis and bogies need a bit more color. The one pictured below I appear to have missed then buffer end altogether.


I believe this is the same wagon as depicted in the 3rd photo but from a lower angle.


So that's another rake of wagons almost complete.

I also managed to load another 5 HTA coal hoppers yesterday leaving me with another 4 to do on my loaded set.

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10 hours ago, ba14eagle said:

The great thing about the Tilcon / Tarmac JGA' you have Mick, is that they dont need a load or the interior to be weathered! 

...which saves me a heap of cash, as well as a storage road, because I don't need a loaded set and an empty set! If only all our modelling tasks could be so simple.

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Nothing is ever straightforward on Skew Bridge. I have a Hornby TTS class 60 sound decoder and decided to install it in my Mainline blue 60078 which I obtained in 'as new' condition. Unfortunately 'as new' didn't cover the fact that one of the bogie frames was broken in two places resulting in the loco grounding on the sleepers. I was able to dismantle the bogie and superglue the offending bits back together and it does appear to be working so far but I'm not impressed with the performance of the TTS decoder - it sounds very poor despite many people remarking how good it is.

Once I had 60078 up and running satisfactorily I added the bufferbeam details and then made a start on the weathering using a black wash and wiping off with kitchen towel. I'll do the chassis the next time I get the airbrush out. I've also started weathering the MEA wagons with the same wash technique and again they'll wait for the airbrush.

The only photo worth posting this evening features none of the above items but depicts 60007 with an empty MGR. I'm not sure I've ever run a class 60 on MGR's before but I want to be able to change things round as much as possible and in my days it was quite common for a 60 to be working coal, in fact they were often the loco of choice. The photo looks slightly misty but that's just fog on the camera lens due to the low temperature in the attic, which I forgot to wipe beforehand.


I had to do some modifications to the couplings as usual in order to get them working together but I've now got them to a point where I can swap them back without needing to adjust the couplings again. I've found with the Kadee couplings that if there's the slightest difference in height between two facing knuckles then there's the distinct possibility that one or other is going to either ride up or drop down out of alignment, leading to unexpected uncoupling - sometimes with dire consequences. So now I'm taking extra care to ensure all couplings are at the same height and watching carefully for a couple of circuits to make sure they remain level.

Almost forgot! I've also given the stone hoppers a light dusting of limestone weathering powder so they are just about finished.


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I've been a busy bunny so far today.

Although I made a start weathering the MEA's yesterday they're not a particularly enjoyable wagon to work on and yes, I know they have to be done at some point but I was tempted to have a go with another wagon this morning and so I began dismantling the BZA steel carriers. I thought it would make them easier to work on and I was right, it does.

So it was out with the airbrush and before long I had 7 of them lightly weathered and they are now up there drying off. I'm looking forward to comparing the 7 I've done against the 9 I still have to do when I manage to get them back together and add some strapping to the steel rolls. Here are the 7 I've dismantled and weathered.


While the airbrush was out I did weather the underframes on the MEA's I started yesterday as well as the chassis on Mainline blue liveried 60078, seen below hauling the stone train. This is supposed to be just a light weathering but I may have got slightly carried away though not in an 'over-the-top' way I don't think.


I'm not sure the TTS chip is behaving itself because sometimes when I bring the train to a stand it stops and then after a few seconds it moves forward again a few inches. Likewise sometimes when I instruct it to move it's plain stubborn and you have to wait for it. I suppose I need to try it in another loco to determine if it's the decoder or the loco. Once it's moved off it runs okay so for now it will have to be a non-stopper on any videos.


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I've spent the majority of the afternoon and into the evening working on the BZA wagons and some of them are getting close to completion so I thought I'd post these before and after photos so you can see how they are coming along.

This is one of the Bachmann BZA's looking much as it did when it was taken from its box.


And now after airbrushing, brush washing, and paper towel wiping, but still in need of its wheels replacing they're beginning to look like I want them to.


I've still got some finishing touches to do to the cradles and the bogies and there's still the straps to add to the coils themselves but I'm hoping that by this time tomorrow I should have some finished wagons to show!


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Time for a coffee break and so an opportunity for an update on the BZA wagons.

You'll see from the photo below I have managed to get 6 wagons reassembled so far and I'm pleased with how they're looking. I should be able to manage to assemble another 6 by this evening.


In close up I can see a few areas that need attention where stray blobs of paint appear like giant puddles, and the left hand cradle in the photo below looks much more prominent than the rest but that's more to do with the attic lighting than anything else.


Getting a finish that's acceptable on the layout isn't quite so difficult as one that withstands much closer inspection but these look fine to me and are much more representative of the recollections I have in my mind than the out of the box models.


I thought the job of cutting all the straps would be most tedious but it was actually quite enjoyable and I was gradually able to make them finer as I progressed. I've done all 96 straps and fitted them around the steel coils.

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The BZA set is almost complete and I'm just waiting for some of the cradles to dry before adding the final steel coils. I'll then take a close look and see if any of the wagons need any further colour or weathering but they're not looking too bad at the moment.

I think the rake would look better with some variation in the size of steel coils rather than them all being the same. A lot of the photos I've seen appear to show various size steel coils so I'm not sure if there was a standard load or not. Steel wasn't really my thing but I'm not a fan of uniform loads and a bit of variation always looks better.

This type of train used to pass by me, often slowly as they approached the junction, and you always got the impression of a heavy vehicle. Looking at the photo of the pristine model above it doesn't portray that feeling but now with the added dirt and grime, to me it looks a true heavyweight and instead of being parked up in a siding it's going to be running regularly.


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I've put two videos together today, one featuring the Tilcon stone hoppers and the other the BZA steel coil wagons. Both are just about finished (though some of the BZA's are not quite dry) so unless I see something that bugs me I'll move on to something else shortly.

Here's the Tilcon hoppers.....

....and here's the BZA steel coil wagons.


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  • 6 months later...

I've just been up into the attic to put some boxes away and to tidy round a bit as it had gotten a bit untidy up there. I'd sold a number of models earlier this year and that's where I try to do my packing as I tend to cut large boxes up to make smaller ones and it can get a bit messy with bits of cardboard all over the place.

Anyway while I was up there I noticed this set of 3 Bachmann BAA steel carrier wagons I'd purchased on ebay earlier this year but hadn't even taken from their boxes. I got them to add to the 16 BZA wagons I already have and which I had previously weathered and added straps to the steel coils.


I have no idea how many of these wagons would make a full train but 19 is looking like a decent load and is perhaps sufficiently realistic. I'm not sure if these 3 are factory weathered but they have been lightly weathered so they don't look like they'll need much doing to them other than the straps around the coils. Maybe I'll even get them running one day soon.

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It's been a while since I posted any images of the attic railway so after adding the 'electrical insulation tape' straps to the steel coils on the BAA wagons seen in the photo above I ran a couple of class 60s with MGR empties and the steel coils simply to grab a few photos.

60048 was in charge of the empty canopied MGR wagons



While 60005 took charge of the steel coil train now made up of 16 BZA's and 3 BAA's


Very similar photos to what's gone before but this is the most convenient place for taking photos especially with the larger camera.

The photos are a reminder that I haven't got round to finishing the painting of the rail sides in the sidings yet but at least it's only a small section at this end.

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There was such a clattering up in the attic earlier this evening that I had to dash up there to see what the heck was going on!

It was only flippin 'Dick Hardy' shunting some MGR wagons about in the sidings. Making a right racket he was.


09012 was attached to an empty canopy set on No.3 Down Side and to my astonishment it was able to drag the whole lot down towards the headshunt! I really expected it to struggle but there was just a bit of slipping as it passed over the points.


With their shunting duties completed the crew made their way over to the shunters cabin where a brew had been prepared by the driver of 60048 who was waiting for his path. To be fair he's been waiting there a few days as the storage sidings on the other side are chocca.


I really shouldn't be out walking alongside the mainline but I just fancied a look at things from the other side, as it were, while there were no trains about. Don't those rafters spoil the view over yonder?


I wouldn't mind a go in that little yellow van later. It's been parked up here for ages now, probably since the early 80s, and it never moves anywhere. Last year it was parked up on top of that bridge in the distance behind a double decker bus of all things!


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I've had an hour up in the attic this afternon and taken a few videos but now discovered I can't reinstall Windows Movie Maker on my PC so at the moment I'm stuck trying to put them together without getting my old PC set up and back in use. Why do they have to keep messing about and removing pieces of software? Everytime they do it means we have to go out and get something else when what we had originally was perfectly adequate for our needs.

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