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SKEW BRIDGE - Attic Layout

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Just to illustrate one of the problems with the coupling between loco and leading wagon, here's a class 56 about to start coupled to one of the new PFA wagons using Kadee couplings.


And this is after it had negotiated the first curve out of the storage sidings. Note how the wagon coupling is now much lower than the loco coupling. I had to cut the activation pin off the wagon coupling as it was fouling on pointwork.


Now that I've added a packing piece beneath the wagon NEM pocket the Kadees remain in alignment.

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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

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

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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Here's another example of significant vertical movement in the couplings with a PFA wagon coupled to 60007. Here it's mainly the class 60 at fault with it's droopy coupling.


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Despite all the problems with couplings I did manage to put a short video together featuring the PFA wagons and even captured a class 56 on MGR's. It's good to have the 56's back doing what they're best at.


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1 hour ago, ba14eagle said:

Mick, were these the same containers that used to get carried 2 on a bogie wagon - possibly KFAs? I think they used to go to Mountfield in Kent or Southampton 

Yes they were Iain. I can recall there being three trips per day from Drax Power Station, 2 running up the Settle & Carlisle to British Gypsum at Kirkby Thore and 1 down to Mountfield. There were 3 sets of wagons in use, the PFA's with single containers, KFA's carrying 2 containers and the FCA's with 3 containers per wagon. 

From looking at more recent photographs it appears that the wagon types have since been amended and confusingly some of the old PFA wagons are photographed as KFA wagons, the KFA wagons I remember now appearing to be FBA wagons. The British Gypsum KFA wagons from my time were not like the current Hornby KFA container wagons! I believe even the containers themselves evolved and that a different type was later introduced but for the 1990's into early 2000's period the Accurascale containers are the ones.

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I wasn't sure where to start today. I've got a few more lengths of track and a couple of points to expand the storage roads and some concrete lineside trunking to run along the scenic section along with some lineside electrical boxes. In the end I decided to have a go at painting some background trees and bushes onto the backscene!

I think the priority at the moment should be to get the scenic section finished so that I can get the ballasting done. Adding bushes and trees shouldn't be too difficult to do afterwards. I've painted a line of background vegetation along the top of the embankment with a few more prominent taller trees. I will then be adding my own bushes and trees in front. Unfortunately they all look like pine trees at the moment so I might try alter some of them. It's not brilliant but it does add depth to the overall view.


The tunnel section needs a bit more work as the trees I've painted immediately above it all seem to be leaning to the right due in no small part to having to lean round to get to it.


I wasn't too bothered about going into much detail but decided to buy some concrete lineside trunking and some electrical relay boxes. I really should have worked out how much I would need before deciding to do it because the 5 packs I ordered are nowhere near sufficient to run even down just one side of the main line. I'm going to need a lot more.

The Gypsum train has now been extended to 42 wagons and the class 60 doesn't have any problems hauling them and there's been no problems with the couplings.

Another thing that I would like to start is the installation of point motors even if it means doing just the far end of the storage roads so I don't have to keep walking the full length of the attic just to change a set of points. I don't mind manually changing one end for now but it would make operating so much easier.


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A few more photo's showing today's progress.

Having painted the backscene I decided to glue some of the previously made bushes into place rather than having them loosely laying around the layout. I want an overgrown look along the embankment but I'll be adding bushes bit by bit seeing which ones fit where best. Some of the padding material I made the bushes from was rolled up to create a hedge along the top of the embankment adding just a bit of foliage on top so that they look rather bare. They do create a nice border between the embankment and backscene but there's quite a few more to make and fit yet. Everything you see on the embankment in the following photo has now been glued into place.


The next photo shows 56127 hauling the Cawoods/British Fuels PFA container wagons. This rake has also been extended with the addition of 6 British Fuel container wagons bringing the total to 30. Also visible in the two photos is the lineside ducting which will be added shortly.


Below depicts a busy scene at an apparently sunny Skew Bridge Sidings and shows just how far I've managed to get with the grass on the embankment and the trees along the backscene. There's still a fair way to go.


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I've resisted the temptation to run any trains today so that I wouldn't get distracted from doing other tasks. There's still a heck of a lot of work left to do on the layout but I'll keep chipping away at it and I'm sure it'll eventually get done.

There's now a long section of lineside ducting in place in front of the embankment and I've altered the backscene slightly around the tunnel area to create a denser backdrop of trees. The trees still need going over with a highlighter to suggest leaves.

The lineside ducting can be seen in the following photo and there's also a couple of relay boxes which you might just be able to make out near the tunnel. I'm not sure where to position those just yet. I think when it's all ballasted it will bring everything together and look much better.


On the storage side I've added some more points enabling me to bring the available storage roads up to 9 on this side. The two latest roads are yet to be connected to the power bus so that's a job for tomorrow. If I'm lucky I'll probably be able to add another 3 roads once I've extended the baseboard width fully but in order to retain maximum storage length they are going to be dead end roads. I could probably do with a total of 18 or more but I suppose I'll just have to rotate stock every so often. There are already 10 rakes of wagons on the layout, the 7 you can see in the photo below and another 3 stabled on the scenic section.



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I've fitted another 3 Gaugemaster auto-frog modules today and, along with the points I installed yesterday, they have now been added to the power bus so electrically at least I can now run out of the nine available storage roads. I've taken some point motors out of their packaging in readiness for fitting at the non-scenic end, which is the end to the bottom as you look at the previous photo. I'd just like to get the furthest points motorised for now as at the moment I tend to perch myself at the top end in easy reach of a whole bunch of points at that end of the storage yard. I can do those manually until I get round to motorising the whole lot.

I've had a go at highlighting some foliage on the trees along the backscene near to the tunnel entrance. I've not yet got the hang of it but I'm getting there.


Through trial and error I worked out that I needed to thin the paint when trying to add branches otherwise I just ended up with a very thick blocky line. It doesn't really need much more than this I don't suppose - I'm happy enough with it as it is.

It's now heading towards 8pm but I think I might just go back up and see what else I can do.

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2 hours ago, ba14eagle said:

Your painting of foliage on the backscene is amazing. I really love it.

Thanks Iain. I've been watching a few painting videos online and copied ideas from there. I was going to say it's more luck than anything that it's turned out the way it has but I think I could probably do it better if I were to do it again now that I understand how the paint works.

So anyway, 8pm or not I've been back up in the attic and stuck down another long section of lineside ducting, this time between the main lines and the loop. I don't want to detail it too much, in fact I don't really want to spend much time doing any detailing but I think just adding a few little railway signatures helps fill in a lot of the otherwise empty spaces. I've 'broken' one of the top covers but I'm not going overboard with having covers all over the place even though I know that's generally how things are and used to be.

The following photo shows part of the ducting, some newly added bushes and the relay boxes near the tunnel entrance. I'm really glad I took the plunge and painted the backscene now - it looks much better than before when it was just a blank area.


Here's a similar photo but this time with 56128 hauling the TEA 100t tank wagons. I've only just taken these out of their boxes again so they've been packed away like much of the other stuff for close on 9 or 10 years! It's a good job I didn't decide to dispose of all these wagons when it seemed I'd never have a layout large enough to ever run them.


The TEA's derailed on the first curve due to the bogies being very tight so I've had to go round loosening the bogie retaining screws where required to loosen them up. They're fine now. 


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I was looking forward to making more progress today but as sometimes happens I seem to have spent ages up in the attic and achieved not a lot. I remember not so long ago saying I was content with the Hornby buffer stops at the ends of the scenic storage roads - well I changed my mind and have replaced them with some cheap Peco ones that look a bit more realistic. I thought I'd taken a decent photo of them but it's not as good as I thought though it shows I still have to cut the pips off the buffer face.


This area has changed slightly since the photo was taken as there's now a bit of grass in the space behind the stops.

I've made a start fitting point motors on the storage side. It seemed a good idea to keep as much wiring as possible above baseboard so I'm trying it like this for now to see how it goes. It's much better than crouching down underneath. I still haven't decided how I'm going to operate them as decent point levers like I've used in the shed are quite expensive. I imagine it will be either stud and probe or passing contact switches. I'm not really bothered about anything fancy so as long as they work reliably they'll be fine.


It's the first time I've used these Gaugemaster surface mounted point motors but at least installing them is easy enough.


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I've managed to motorise two of the points using bits and bobs that I had to hand. It isn't how I would choose to do it but I think it's necessary to keep costs to a minimum now, especially in areas that aren't intended to be publicly viewable.

For the point operating switches I want something that indicates which way the point is set and I don't want to go to the expense of fitting panel LED's or to create more work for myself as I have enough of that as it is. Before deciding to use the Cobalt point levers in the shed I had purchased a couple of Peco passing contact point levers to try and as they're still not being used I decided to try them in the attic. I've connected them up via a Gaugemaster CDU running off an old Hornby train set transformer and they're working just fine. Not fancy but functional.

I've had to think about the train operating position, as in where to position myself in order to control the layout when trains are running. I was going to position the controller centrally along the storage road side of the layout but I'm now thinking of staying at the far end of the storage road area (the east end) where I've been temporarily plonked. I've actually wired the two Peco point switches to a position mid way down the storage roads but now feel it would be better to move them right along to the east end which is easy enough to do. By doing that, as I think I've suggested before, I can then manually change the points at that end and not have to worry about the financial aspect of more point motors and switches and so on.

I managed to source some Peco point levers today at half the usual price and have ordered some more Gaugemaster point motors in order to motorise the remaining points at the west end of the sidings.  Being able to route trains into any siding without the need to walk back and forth across the attic will be a real boon - not to mention a huge relief.

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Another unproductive day on the layout mainly due to messing around with my remaining class 56 and trying to rectify another.

I purchased a 'brand new' Hornby 56003 in Loadhaul livery which proved to be anything but when it arrived. It had the correct body but a replacement chassis which had had modifications done on it. Some of the detailing parts had been fitted while the rest were missing. One of the cam couplings had broken clean off (not a bad thing really considering their usefulness) and both of the bogies were seized solid just like my own had been. I'll spare you the remaining faults. Anyway I finally got the bogies stripped, cleaned, and re-greased and it's now pretty smooth but sourcing spare parts to replace those missing or broken isn't proving very fruitful just yet. I just need to construct a coupling base to accept a Kadee and it can then commence its duties while spares are located.

My own remaining 56059 has also now been stripped, cleaned, and re-greased and it too is now working well, albeit minus 2 of its buffers. I've managed to locate one buffer head but I'm still missing the little spring and without a reliable means of securing them in place. When the loco was reassembled there were no lights working so I had to remove the body again, clean the contacts, and eventually they were there - thank goodness.

I used to think of the class 56 as one of Hornby's better diesel locomotives but I'm now thinking otherwise. 6 seized locos is beyond a joke.

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My point motors and lever switches arrived and it took me from early afternoon until late evening to wire them all in. I now have 7 operational points at the west end of the storage yard with just the cross-over still to do.  I've been able to test them and confirm they work but it got so late that I just didn't have the energy to run any trains through them.

I used some offcuts of MDF and 2x2 timber to add a narrow shelf in front of the points at the east end - nothing fancy by any means - so from this position I can now manually change the points directly in front of me and remotely change the points at the west end via these Peco lever switches. How long they will last remains to be seen but for now at least they work perfectly. I might countersink those screw heads and tidy the shelf up a bit later.

The only downside today is that one of the Gaugemaster point motors doesn't work and will need returning - it's solid and doesn't move. Luckily it's not required at this moment in time.


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I've got nothing to show again today which might make it appear that I've been doing very little but in fact I feel as if I've accomplished quite a bit over the past few days. I've now got all the points at the far end of the storage yards motorised, including the crossover, and so I'm trying to get used to which levers I need to change for a given route. It caught me out earlier when I thought I'd set the route correctly for No.5 road and the train ended up going along No.4 where a train was already standing. I scratched my head for a good while before finally realising that the point wasn't switching at all! I could hear the solenoid thump so assumed the point had thrown but there was no movement on the tie bar. A bit of realigning of the point motor was required to make things work correctly.

With everything working fine it was time to tidy up the wiring, cutting wires shorter where I'd left them over length so that they all ended up neatly secured in the terminal blocks. I also made a start securing the controller wires so that they don't get in the way but I still need to build a shelf to house the controller itself in order to get it off the cardboard box it currently rests on. The receiver for the wireless controller has been fastened in the apex of the roof.

My faulty point motor has been returned and I await its replacement which will probably be installed at the far end of the scenic loop which is beyond the backscene. By the way, it's amazing how much wire I've got through just installing the point motors!

Hopefully I can now get back to the scenic side of things and have time to perhaps capture some trains in action once again. 

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I've spent about 3 hours up in the attic this afternoon playing around with the scenics near the tunnel. A few more bushes have been added along with some patches of longer grass and eventually my first couple of trees!

You'll have to excuse the puddle of PVA glue around the bases of the tree trunks - I'm hoping it will dry clear otherwise I'll have to put some scatter over the top of it.


I've used Gaugemaster seafoam for the frame of the trees and just added some Woodland Scenics scatter materials held in place with lots of hairspray - hopefully it will stay put.

The box of Seafoam contains a number of pieces suitable for trees as well as lots of little pieces which can be used elsewhere on the layout. Here's a small clipping that I've planted along the lineside - it's had a bit of scatter added but it also looks fine without.


Looking at what I've done today and considering the time it's taken I wonder how on earth I'm ever going to get it all finished! Perhaps that's the reason why lengthy layouts are usually club layouts and sole modellers usually end up with a simple circle of track. Have I bitten off more than I can chew or rather than hoping to get this finished before the garden layout season begins should this also be a long-term project?

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A third tree has now been planted close to the previous two and can be seen just left of centre in the following photo. Not many more to go now......!


I've been busy painting up some more polyester toy filling in order to create bushes using a dirty brown acrylic paint. I'm sure a spray paint would be far better as the brush sticks to the polyester making it extremely difficult to paint - I'll have to have a look in the local DIY for something suitable. Anyway, after I'd done as much as I could be bothered to do, considering how difficult it is to paint, I decided to use up the surplus paint on the end section backscene and add the outline of some trees.


I'll go over with some greens to bring out the foliage tomorrow. A bonus is that the ends of the plaster bandage that I stuck to the backscene actually look like a wall now it's been painted. I'm not sure what to do about the end sections because painting at such an angle never seems to look like so it might be best to leave them alone and just have trees on the back.

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I don't think you need to worry Mick - coming back to this next Winter will be very easy, judging by the progress you've made - and if we have a typical British Summer, you might get the opportunity to work on it, sooner rather than later!

I love the S&C feel the scenery  is now taking on (especially in the picture of the Loadhaul Tug) 

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14 hours ago, ba14eagle said:

....I love the S&C feel the scenery  is now taking on (especially in the picture of the Loadhaul Tug) 

If the scenery itself in any way resembles the S&C then I can assure you it's purely unintentional Iain but in my opinion, and notwithstanding the fact that it ran via other routes, the Gypsum train is synonymous with the Settle & Carlisle. 

A few more trees have appeared today along with lots of other vegetation and the area in the corner adjacent to the tunnel is filling up nicely


I intended taking a set of photos this evening featuring different trains emerging from the tunnel but only succeeded in obtaining the following two that were anything like decent. 



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