Friday, 13 August 2021

August 2021 Meeting

This month there was a certain optimism that we could at last see a possible light at the end of the Covid tunnel, maybe a perceived chink of light was enough to spark speculation that we might be able to meet face to face again in a month or two. Our Zoom contact has been very worthwhile spanning over a year and to great extent keeping the spirits up. Reuniting Lightermans Yard both physically (the main parts of the layout are currently located either side of London) and with ourselves, and replacing our 40 minute Zoom sessions, with 4 hours of convivial discussion and running trains, is something worth looking forward to. 

Alan: Apart from the work done for the 2mm Association - major shed work has been taking place with the big hammer!

Howard: Tom wants to use servos for the track he is building for Richard’s cameo. I suggested some HobbyKing servos based on advice from MERG.

  • For semaphore signals, we [MERG] recommend the HobbyKing HKSCM9-5V digital servo. This completely eliminates any tendency to twitch at power up and is completely quiet when the drive pulses cease.

  • For turnouts, we [MERG] recommend the HobbyKing HK15178 analogue servo. Although this can suffer from a power-up twitch, it is ideal where a small amount of pressure is desired to hold the switch blade against its stock rail. Again, it is completely quiet and draws no current when the drive pulses cease.

    There is only a small difference in price between the two HobbyKing servos recommended above, so it makes sense to choose the most appropriate servo for the job.

    Tom intends to control the servos with MERG’s SERVO4 board, and the latest version has eliminated power-on twitching. (HobbyKing are currently out of stock of the HK15178).

    1. Howard also supplied a servo tester to be powered with 6V of AA batteries. He made up a 6way connector for the power supply – this only fits one way so avoids incorrect polarity. The tester is very useful as a standalone test to ensure servos work; it can also set the servo horn to its mid-point to maximise movement in either direction when in use. Where the servos connect to the tester, he marked the edge of the PCB with a black pen to indicate where the brown wire should go (on some servos this lead is black).

      Yet More Experiments with trackwork

      Having watched Laurie Adams’ “2mm Track Talk” Youtube videos, I decided to experiment with his method of feeding power. Laurie used 0.7mm brass wire flattened and soldered in place of the outside Easitrac plastic chairs (2mm magazine p 38 April-May 2017). I had some 0.8mm brass wire but found it impossible to squeeze flat with pliers. Perhaps my wire is hardened; furthermore I do not have a strong grip.

      I found I could get a reasonable effect using single stranded wire of 0.6mm (Rapid Electronics 01-0601) using the ends of a ratchet crimping tool. I was then able to get a good effect on the 0.8mm brass wire using the same technique.

      Molex Crimping tool (Rapid 85-0262)

      flattened wire and brass wire (below)

      A reasonable approximation to a chair can be made if the flattened end is first trimmed.

      Obviously, using them to bond the switch rail to the stock rail still needs the wires to be connected together. I used the brass rod on one and the wire on the other to compare them – the wire is more flexible and I have lots of it! The appearance is acceptable, and would probably be un-noticed after painting and ballasting – I found it hard to get a decent photograph.

      I also used brass sleepers on a piece of copper clad point sleepers.

      I have abandoned my idea of drilling and tapping the Finetrax cast frog to take 14BA bolts, but instead just drilled the hole and pushed some of the wire into it and soldered it to the top of the cast frog. I can use the same idea for the Easitrac cast frogs. I like this method as it is easier than soldering the wire to the underside of the cast frog and having to thread it through the baseboard. My preferred method is to lay the track and then attach the droppers later.

      Richard and Tom: An interesting locomotive from Kato appeared in the press, feels like another diorama  might be forming in the mind - Poplar Docks anyone?

      Progress on 'Clyde'; A companion way for workers' access to the hull, and a way to close the scene.

      Pete TownsendI'm sorry but there is nothing to report from Somerset this month. 

      I have been so busy with the garden that modelling has had to take a backseat.

      I was also a bit dispirited, a while ago I got a nice looking 3d printed Lord Nelson class from Shapeways.  It was advertised  as n gauge, but as it's one of my favourite locos I went ahead. When I got it I checked the overall length of the loco and tender and both were exactly correct for 2mm. Like a fool, I didn't check any other measurements. I went ahead and built a chassis, painted and lined it and was quite pleased with the results. The first time that I ran it on the layout  it fouled the road bridge. Too high.

      I then checked all the measurements.  The tender is spot on.  The loco is right in all dimensions including the footplate height, but somehow the designer has managed to make the body a full 2mm too high. I can only think that this was to take some proprietary mechanism.  It towers above the rest of the stock. A lot of time and effort wasted. Any future 3d printed bodies will be thoroughly checked before building.You have been warned! 

      Next meeting, Sunday 12 September. Location to be announced

Sunday, 25 July 2021

July 2021 Meeting

Amongst the continuing uncertainty and confusion over COVID 'Freedom day', comes the promise of meeting for real in the near future. A welcome piece of news is the prospect that our Church Hall base will be open for a real meeting in September.

Alan expresses our collective hope; "...... I cannot wait to meet up again and share ideas and banter. Let's hope the goal posts are not moved in the meantime."

Howard: continues with more experiments with track work.
I was having problems deciding which was the top of bullhead rail. I showed this picture to Alan Smith, and he pointed out the bottom rail was upside down flatbottom rail. Somehow I had got some flatbottom rail stored with my bullhead rail.

Looking at the differences between the cast frog on Easitrac and Finetrax, Easitrac has drilled and tapped holes for the supplied M1 bolts, whereas Finetrax just has locating pegs in the same position. I have decided to use 14BA bolts instead of M1, as I can use longer bolts which will be easier to screw in, and can be below the baseboard. I like this idea rather than soldering wire to the frog, as the bolt can be screwed in once the point has been laid, so I decided to adapt the Finetrax cast frogs.

I used a Dankroy Optical centre punch to create a starting hole, then drilled with a 0.8mm drill and tapped 14BA.        

Finetrax cast frogs, with 14BA bolt in drilled and tapped peg

I have made 2 Easitrac B6 points intended for my test track. When positioned as a crossover, the “6 foot” gap is nearer 14mm then 12mm. I could remove some sleepers to make them fit but decided that as it was only for a test track it didn’t matter. I don’t know if B8 turnouts would suffer from the same problem.

Tom Cutting: has been moving ahead with the track work for 'Clyde' the shipyard diorama, working on the points and crossover.

 and Richard has been working on the buildings for 'Clyde'  

Also acquired a 3D printed traction engine for the diorama, as yet unpainted.

Pete Townsend: More from Leigham Road - views of the overall layout. The scenic section on the left is 9 ft long, but only 1ft deep.

The curved boards leading to the ten road fiddle yard are 3ft radius. At present the fiddle yard is reached by simple 2 road traversers at each end. This was a relatively quick and cheap solution as I coul not face building all those points. The traversers are built on the standard baseboard frames so can have a flat top and points added if and when I feel inclined. I intend to extend the scenics onto the two front curved boards eventually, but wanted to get things running first. The loco depot  is set at a lower level, but the track leading to it rises to the same level as the other tracks to enter the fiddle yard.

Next meeting Sunday 8 August at 13.00


Friday, 18 June 2021

June 2021 Meeting

Just as we were hoping to come out of COVID lock down and meet up face to face again, we have been put on hold once again for at least a month and possibly longer.

We received a very nice letter from 'Virtual Railex' thanking us for our Lightermans Yard contribution to their virtual show last month and inviting the Yard to the next 'real' show.

So, to report on another Zoom meeting! This session could be labeled 'points' as discussion covered two approaches to turnout construction.

Howard: Playing around with points - Easytrac and Finetrax. I have experimented with curved pegged pointwork, all these examples are using B6 Finetrax points but similar observations apply to Easitrac.
The Geoff Jones method works fine, but means I have less point base between all the sleepers. 

I prefer to keep as much of the point base between the sleepers as possible because I like to paint & ballast the point, then add the rails.

I later discovered the Rod McCall method but when I tried this a slit appeared right across the point base. 

For my N/2mm test track I plan on having a crossover for each gauge. Finetrax do a complete crossover. 

To align the plain track and the point base, I had to cut the sleepers on the plain track at the bottom right, otherwise there is a large gap (shown at the top left). It might have been better if the crossover had been extended by about 3 sleepers. I may have to use some PCB point sleepers and solder the track at these positions.

Unlike the Easitrac points, the milled crossover in Finetrax does not have a tapped hole for the dropper. I intend to drill and tap a 14BA hole for this.

I also need to experiment with soldering brass chairs to point sleeper base in order to electrically join the switch rails with the stock rails. I intend to use this instead of filing the point base and adding some copper strip. 

Alan said that both Easitrac and Finetrax are to include the chairs in their point bases replacing slotted chairs so only the rail needs to be added.

Tom Cutting: Showed progress on the point and track work for the Richard's cameo layout 'Clyde', adopting a more traditional way to produce bespoke turnouts and a crossing using Templot templates. 

 The point template. The proposed angle of crossover was discussed.


Alan S: Just one picture of some of what Alan has been up to this month. More jigs (quartering) for the shops.

Pete K: I have just spent a very pleasant long weekend at The Isle Of Wight Steam Railway for their 50th anniversary gala. These guys model at 304.8mm/foot and it’s very impressive. The weekend featured 2 Terriers and an O2 and they ran beautifully.

As we all know locos with a 0-4-4 wheel arrangement and Terriers, because of their size, are difficult locos to get running smoothly but they managed it brilliantly. I asked one of the drivers what sort of stay alive unit they used but he was just obsessed with cleanliness and all he kept repeating was “Muck Off!”, at least I think that’s what he said!

Meanwhile the Island’s electric railway was not running at all. The official word was because of engineering work but you only had to look at the track and it was obvious….. it just needed cleaning!


Pete Townsend: Locomotives under construction in Somerset.

In the above photo are 5 locos that I started building before moving West.

I have taken advantage of some spare time and made progress with all of them. They are two E2's one with extended tanks, a C Class that predates the Farish model, 
A Q Class and a Lord Nelson.
All except the C Class are 3d printed bodies from Shapeways. The C Class is a N Brass Models kit. 

All are mounted on Farish chassis converted to finescale using the Association replacement bearings.
Next meeting Zoom? on 11 July


Thursday, 13 May 2021

May 2021 Meeting

May is the first anniversary of our monthly meetings in cyberspace courtesy of Zoom! On the whole these meetings, shortened to 40 minute online get togethers, have been interesting ventures into the modeling we been doing during lockdown. From track laying, rolling stock building and RR conversion, cameo layouts to DCC point motors and tool manufacturing.

There is a strong possibility that face-to-face meetings will be possible again within a couple of months. We are long overdue for putting Lightermans Yard together again. The layout has spent the last year separated north and south of the river.

The video clip of Lightermans Yard has now had movie action added (kindly contributed by Ian Morgan) and edited into the slideshow. The final version has been sent to Railex who are very pleased to have it for their Virtual Railex exhibition.

To watch the final version on YouTube click on the image above, or use this URL in your browser; 

Alan Smith: Modelling!! has progressed slowly however progress is progress. I mentioned last month my mini drill had broken and despite many web visits I could not make my mind up what was a good tool to buy. So I bought a replacement chuck and I am now up and running again.
One of the tracks through the station has been laid in and stuck down I CNC machined a plastic template to aid the curve through the station so the track should now match the platform edge. The central track between the main running lines is very tight, not giving the 'six foot' at the buffer stop end. I hope to make some 'six foot' gauges to set this correctly unless the S&D broke the rules and had tracks less than six foot apart on main running lines. This may effect the other running line in that it may require moving a couple of MM.
Point blades have been made and a little more progress made on the 3 turnouts but I needed my drill to work on the holes for the droppers and track feeds.  

Another visit from Alan's 7F  (loco of the month).

Alan claims not to have much to show for this month, however, a lot of Association work has been done. The tooling Alan showed last month worked out and the shops now have stocks of the 16T mineral wagon. From this run he collected the tooling and made further parts and modifications to take a whole bunch of further tool plates. At present these are still with the moulders.
As there were 4-5 kits to 'shoot' and the bank holiday he doesn't expect to see anything for a week or so. Work has continued on jigs and parts for the shops a lot of this is now packed and ready.

Richard Doust; Some progress is being made on the shipyard cameo, mainly on the buildings, now to be painted. Tom Cutting is starting on the track.


Pete Townsend: Another image from Pete's layout, 'A busy morning at 'LeighamRoad' (below)

Next meeting June 13 at13.00

Monday, 26 April 2021

April 2021 Meeting

 At last out attention turns to the possibility of a 'real' meeting in the months ahead. A chance to closely inspect and handle, and discuss techniques and practical solutions.

The blog will still play it's part, as it did before restrictions, a running digest of our work around Lightermans Yard and individual projects.

Here is April's account;

Pete King; Brixham. I’m not exactly breaking any records here but the track is now laid on both the main station boards (below). On the lower right of the layout (as viewed in the photo) the track will carry on up a 1 in 78 incline for a short distance before diving through a hole in the sky. The incline starts just past the first turnout (lower right).

I have also been working on an adjustable mount for the crossing polarity micro-switches. Photo below shows the assembly with the centre screw locking the switch to the adjustable base. The other two screws pass through this base into the fixed base and hold the whole assembly together. By slackening these outside screws it allows the adjustable base to be rotated right and left via the radial slot. Photo 3 shows how it will look when fixed under the baseboards.








Alan Smith: Evercreech Junction. Progress has been slow as I have been tied up on other projects.
From last month the track through the station was laid but not fixed down. I needed to check for clearances against the platform edges. As there is a central track I had nowhere to go if things got tight.

After a couple of attempts at the platform I clad both facing edges with stone Plasticard, only to find that the up platform was indeed built from brick. The stone facing was duly stripped off and brick facia applied. I now have to fabricate the platform flag stones and line the edge. At least now I have a uniform curve with the platform edges from which I can lay in my track and know that locos and rolling stock will pass through.

The sidings and point work in the station yard have progressed a little I have now to fit the point blades and open out the tie bar areas on the underside of the boards to allow the servo arms to fit.

Because of the location of some of the points an extended arm
will be required, more of this next time.

The other projects....
Are a die set for the association tools.
The main blocks for this are supplied precision ground all over and bored to fit the guide pins and bushes. The pins and bushes are a press fit into the blocks the rears of which locate further blocks behind. My main job was to machine a socked in each die plate to take the tool plates.
As received from the original moulder and maker of the plates only the front edge and rear edge were parallel to each other. The sides of the tool were just rough sawn and looked like they had been attacked by a hungry beaver! the sides were duly cleaned up to make the plates 95mm wide with the ingate in the centre. these then had to be fitted to the die plates and secured with screws. It was found that some of the proposed screw holes interfered with old existing tooling holes, these were duly plugged up and re machined flat so that the new screws could fit unhindered.
The next job was to fit the push pins and ejector pins. The location of these was already laid out in the tool plates so these were duly transferred into the main blocks 4mm pins for ejectors and 6mm for the push backs. A further 2 off 1.5mm pins were also duly transferred. Drilling through 38mm of steel plate with a 1.5 drill was achieved by multiple 'pecks' and lots of cutting oil. Not applying too much feed also assisted in keeping the bore straight. All the holes were then reamed to their correct diameters.

The pins themselves are precision ground and hardened and as supplied are about 50mm too long so would need cutting down. Before I could do this I had to drill and counterbore the pin plates.
Again these are precision ground and one plate needs to be drilled and counterbored to fit the heads of the pins. These pin plates are screwed together trapping the base of the pin between them to drive the pin assembly back and forth, so the counterbores need to be fairly accurate or the pins could become sloppy in their action.
I made a few small CNC programs which enabled me to centre up each hole in turn and counterbore for the pin bases. Once I had the pin plates completed the die set was assembled and I could determine the final length of the pins. As I mentioned earlier these pins are hardened and ground so I had to grind these to length. I dug out my home made cutter grinder and duly rigged up a contraption to assist the grinding of these pins. This set up enabled me to get the lengths fairly consistent we shall see if they need any adjustment when the tool is run,
Fingers crossed....

Richard Doust: Following on from the animated stills of Lightermans Yard for the Virtual RailEX. Ian Morgan has come to our rescue with some great video footage of the layout. I am currently incorporating this into our video.

Next meeting; Sunday 9 May at 13.00 online

Saturday, 27 March 2021

March 2021 Meeting

It's almost a year since we found ourselves in Covid lockdown and unable to meet face-to-face. At the time we probably didn't think we would be in the same place a year on. Enter Zoom and other Internet meeting software. Our meetings went online and provided a means of maintaining contact and keeping up to date with our projects.

One of the casualties of maintaining our distance is that the exhibitions and events that we would normally visit or take part in were suddenly canceled or postponed - all that planning etc...

Lightermans Yard was to have been exhibited at RAILEX this spring. Railex canceled the live exhibition and have invited would be exhibitors to contribute to their alternative web based show. Of course, although well photographed, just as you need video footage all you have are stills! Below is a link to what has been made so far, it needs some more work. There are a couple of corrections to make before we submit the animation
to Railex.

To watch the movie in your browser,   password:  LIk51g





The wagon photo is a steel coil conversion of a standard bogie bolster D, this really just involves the addition of two wooden cradles over the bogies, these are made from various scraps of plastic strip rubbed over with course wet and dry paper to give the hint of wood grain, the coils are rolls of paper covered with painted squares of tracing paper to represent the tarpaulin the coils are wrapped in, not entirely happy with them so a bit more to think about the base kit is the usual Stephen Harris etch.

The next photo is a bit more of a long term project!




Here is a picture of me scanned by Modelu, and (below) 3 figures - 2mm, 4mm & garden railway scale. "I borrowed a railway cap and waistcoat but forgot to wear a tie!!!"












Photo 1 shows progress on board 2. This is the main station area and goods yard.
I found when laying track on board 1 there was a tendency to move as it was transfered from the building board to the layout. Copies of the plan were glued to the cork base and sleepers and track glued to this to eliminate the problem.

To check clearences of the 3 tracks through the station the platforms were fabricated from ply. The first attempt being cut on the band saw was not up to the job. The platform edge was anything but a smooth curve. Plotting from coordinates into CAD and cutting on CNC was much more successful.

The length of the platforms cut into 4 to fit the machine. Further experiment allowed the ramps at platform ends to be machined also.
Upon fixing stone sheet to platform faces it was noticed from studying photos that the platforms are indeed different in that one has a brick face with stone continuing about half way down the up platform. Some ammendments are to be made and once complete track laying can continue.

Pete Townsend

Most of my progress this last month has not been particularly visible. I have been tidying up the wiring, now that I know that it works correctly. 
One thing I have done is build and fit a couple of working semaphore signals. They are not up to the standard of some of the works of art that I have seen in the 2mm Magazine,  but they work well, servo powered, and look OK to my eyes. I can't show you a video of them working at the moment as I've got bits of the electrics disconnected to fit some sensors in the engine shed to stop me hitting the back wall with my locos.



Additional notes; Howard mentioned Posca pens for fine detailing, in this context - figures. They are available in "extra fine" with a 0.7mm tip. He bought his from Hobbycraft, (although currently out of stock).
They are currently on special offer here;

The Lifecolor acrylic paint sets are available from here and here; The most useful for us are "Dust and Rust", "Flesh Paint", "Weathered Wood", "Rail Weathering", "Shades of Black"
David mentioned Molotow pens with an even finer point.

Howard also showed a novel cut out and locomotive personalised birthday card


 Next meeting Sunday 11 April 2021 13.00