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East Coast Railway - Members Personal Layouts. - Model Railway Layouts. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Thu Sep 28th, 2017 08:17 am
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Bunkerbarge
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Again thanks for the input gents.

I really like the look of those Wago connectors but one concern I would have is the fact that the bus has to actually be physically cut to tap into it.  This means that the integrity of the bus is now dependent on going through all the cable connections in the ring and, with a long ring, could start to affect the clarity of the DCC signal.

I think I am pussyfooting around the inevitable, which is the only totally sound connection that maintains the best possible cross sectional area of the bus, is to solder the tails.

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 Posted: Fri Sep 29th, 2017 09:03 am
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Spurno
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The Q wrote: I'm with Max on this one for permanent connections, if there is a chance you may wish to undo the connection, and / or  it might be difficult to solder in there,  then I'd use Wago connectors.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Connectors-222-413-3-Port-Lever-Terminal/dp/B00DUJ96N0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1506583490&sr=8-1&keywords=wago+connectors



 The three lever connections are common inside the block, they're rated for 32A and they are only about twice the size of Scotchlocs so not huge..



They also do them in 2 and 5 lever versions.


My son is an electrician and he uses these,much better than scotchloks.



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 Posted: Wed Oct 4th, 2017 01:46 pm
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Bunkerbarge
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Not a huge amount of progress but a significant step in the build.  The gap across the staircase is now completed with a shelf, which will eventually hold the live steam line on the outside and the DCC mainline on the inside.  Care will be taken to ensure that anything untoward happening on this section should not result in a loco and its carriages flying down the stairs so probably a stone wall and a fence will eventually be fitted to protect against this.  The upper level is now almost complete along three walls so not too much to do now to complete this level.  The wooden brace is temporarily holding a bracket in place while the glue sets!









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 Posted: Fri Oct 6th, 2017 03:21 am
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DaveH_Murcia
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How neat it all looks. Very interested to see how this project develops. If the woodworking standard reflects in the rest is should be a cracker.

I did some work on a visitor attaction layout in Birmingham a few years ago and we used scotch locks to connect the dropper wires on that, mainly due to time constraints on getting the place open. I have to say in the main they worked well but only if you test each one carefully and are sure they won't be disturbed over time. I bought bags of them for the large layout I am just starting but on balance, as time isn't an issue, i'll be soldering them all. That's another item in the stacks of boxes I have which probably won't get used. Just need to make sure the boss doesn't see me getting rid of them or they could be questions in the house.

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 Posted: Fri Oct 6th, 2017 07:20 am
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Bunkerbarge
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Just a word of thanks for everyone's input.  I think while it is tempting to go for the significantly easier route of either Scotch Locs or Wagos I think the best connection that guarrantees the best possible cross sectional area of the current path is maintained has to be to solder them.

As for boxes of redundant items I think we all have those.  Ideas change as we develop the project and, despite the time and effort we put into the planning and preparation, we will always make changes when we actually see things in reality.  I started off buying a number of old locos then decided to change direction and go for DCC so I am sure that a number of them will not make economic sense to convert and so will be either decoration or be resold. 

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 Posted: Fri Oct 20th, 2017 04:56 pm
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Bunkerbarge
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I have finally managed to complete the loop and now have a higher level all the way around the layout.  The Live Steam line power bus is in place and I have started to assemble the control bits and pieces at the control board.  The DCC controller is not in place as yet but I have been using it to test run a loco on a simple piece of test track.  I very much like the Sig-na Trak ACE DCS 2044 control unit and find it easy to use while maintaining a high degree of accessibility and flexibility.  I particularly like the seperate hand held units and while I am only likely to be using one at a time you can plug in four and have four locos individually controlled.

I have also assembled a test piece to try to determine the best process for laying track and ballasting it.  I have gone for Peco code 100 flexible, mounted on 3mm cork, both held in place with neat PVA and track pins.  The ballast is a trial of two different types and a number of different glues and strengths.  I have decided on using the ballast in the centre of the lower track, which is Woodland Scenics, as it looks the best to scale and it is the easiest to get in place.  I wanted to sort out a reliable and consistent technique that can be applied to the entire track to ensure the most consistent and reliable track is achieved, which I think I now have.















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 Posted: Tue Nov 7th, 2017 09:53 pm
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Bunkerbarge
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With the higher level completed and a test loop run for a week or two it was time to take it apart again and start work on the track laying.  First job is to glue the cork underlay down.  I have gone for 3mm cork by Gaugemaster as it is relatively straightforward to lay and being pre-cut in half makes following curves quite easy.  I marked out the track by centre line then laid the first half of the cork up to the centre line from behind.  When that had cured it was relatively easy to lay the second half of the cork up to the edge of the first piece.  I offset the two halves to stagger the joints.  With a handfull of old gel bateries to hand to hold the cork in place while it set sufficiently progress wasn't too bad.  The intention is to get the two higher level circuits fully operational before going any further as lower levels will cover the cabling so I want to be sure all soldered joints are robust, secure and most of all reliable before covering them. 

The two curves at this end of the room will be 600 mm radius on the inner track, intended only for freight and suburban traffic and the two outer curves will be 670 mm radius, which will be for the main line locos.















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 Posted: Sat Nov 18th, 2017 10:21 pm
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Bunkerbarge
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With the progress of the cork laying being fairly laborious it soon became apparent that an alternative task was required to fill in the regular gaps while the cork cured.  Consequently it was time to turn attentions to the track laying.
First up was the decision of what track to use.  It had to be flexible at least for the live steam ring as a dropper was going to be connected to every single piece of track so minimising the number of pieces was an important consideration.  I figured the same may as well apply to the DCC ring and layout to ensure the highest levels of reliability.  Eventually I decided on Peco code 100 Flexitrack and Peco code 100 Electrofrog points.  I went for Electrofrog for reliability and looks, without limiting myself in the future with potential rolling stock with code 75 track.

Having decided on the track next up was to decide how to operate the points.  As I have mentioned almost all my wiring and electronics is going to be above the board so surface mounted points motors was also necessary.  All the reading and research eventually led me to DCCConcepts Cobalt SS points motors and the two below board motors could be DCCConcepts ip Digital motors with their neatly built in decoders.  Consequently I put together a starter order with DCCConcepts for a pack of six Cobalt SS Points motors with decoders and accessories, a crossover pack for the two crossovers, two of the six pack would be used for the other crossover, and a couple of below board Cobalt iP digital motors.  The order arrived this morning.












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 Posted: Sat Nov 18th, 2017 10:25 pm
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Bunkerbarge
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When I opened up the six pack of Cobalt SS motors I was very surprised to find such a comprehensive set of accessories.  There was a two way and a three way splitter included as well as an extension cable giving quite a bit of flexibility.  There was also a bag of various link wires for mounting either on ballast or on the base board and plenty of screws to put them all together.  The decoders are supplied in pairs on a single board and are a substantial size but they do fit comfortably underneath a Bachmann barn so will be arranged around the layout with buildings simply dropped over them.







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 Posted: Sat Nov 18th, 2017 10:36 pm
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Bunkerbarge
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When the order arrived I decided to have a play, which eventually developed into fitting one of the Cobalt iP Digital motors to the first piece of track to be laid, namely a point.

First up was to mark out the base where the point was going to be fitted so I could then drill the two holes for the droppers and the larger hole for the tie bar actuator. 






The two link wires were removed from the points blades to isolate the frog and two droppers were soldered to the outer rails, with links being incorporated to jump to the inner rails. 















The centering spring was also removed so avoid the motor having to work against it. I didn't want to rely on contact with the outer rails as they were going to be painted so a direct feed would be far more reliable. 

The Cobalt iP motor was mounted onto a wooden plinth rather than directly to the 3mm ply base to give the screws something to hold on to plus giving complete flexibility when finally permanently mounting the motor.  The plinth will be simply glued in place below the base board.




With the droppers soldered onto the base of the rail a test fit showed the point sat where I wanted it with the tie bar right in the centre of the large hole and the operating arm clear all around.



Consequently the point was glued and tacked into position.  With my first piece of track actually permanently fixed in place I really couldn't help myself as I wanted to see how a length of track was going to look.  Consequently I marked out the next piece and soldered two droppers to a piece of flexitrack.  The chairs were cut back and fishplates were fitted and the piece of flexitrack was also fitted and glued down.  I wanted to see how the droppers looked and was pleased to see that they are neatly tucked away below the rail.  I might experiment with soldering the droppers with the bend in line with the rail but I will see how ballast covers these up first to see whether it is necessary.  I hope the ballast will cover the ends of the droppers up easily and they will be completely invisible.






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 Posted: Sat Nov 18th, 2017 10:47 pm
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Sol
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Once rails painted, track ballasted & weathered, you won't see droppers.
Watching this as I want to see how you get on with the top mounted SS units.



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 Posted: Sun Nov 19th, 2017 12:23 pm
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Marty
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Good progress. Try staggering the cuts in the frog rails, it provides a bit more structural stability to the point.



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 Posted: Sun Nov 19th, 2017 04:36 pm
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Bunkerbarge
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Hi Marty,  I'm not sure what you mean, the cuts in the rails are factory done and cannot be adjusted.  Am I missing something?

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 Posted: Tue Nov 21st, 2017 10:47 am
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Bob K
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This layout is coming on a treat. I like your neat ballasting too.

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 Posted: Tue Nov 21st, 2017 11:06 am
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Bunkerbarge
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Thanks for that.  The Gaugemaster cork underlay goes down very well and, being split in the middle allows you to very easily line it up perfectly with the drawn centreline.

The ballasting is going to be quite a job but I have decided now how I would like to do it and what materials look best.  I was a bit apprehensive about the idea of spraying water everywhere before glueing but, when I had overcome the nerves and gave it a go, it actually works very well.

I am nearly half way around the two main loops with the underlay so progress is slow but steady.

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 Posted: Sat Nov 25th, 2017 07:43 am
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Marty
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Bunkerbarge wrote: Hi Marty,  I'm not sure what you mean, the cuts in the rails are factory done and cannot be adjusted.  Am I missing something?

No, you’re not missing anything, I’d forgotten 00 comes pre-cut. In N gauge we have to cut our own frog rails, they don’t come pre-cut.

Carry on... loving how this is coming together.

Cheers



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 Posted: Fri Dec 1st, 2017 05:24 pm
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Bunkerbarge
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As the underlay slowly progressed it was time to turn my attention again to the track and, first of all, decide on the processes I wanted to adopt to lay it.

Initial playing around with it soon identified the challenges of trying to get it to remain in shape so soldering droppers to curves and marking out the base for drilling became quite a challenge.  I also noted that laying straight lengths was far from easy as the Peco flexi-track is exactly what it says on the tin, namely very flexible!  I found that glueing the straight lengths worked better and nailing the curves made life a bit easier there.  Everything would become consolidated at the end when the ballasting was glued in place so I made a decision to glue the straight lengths while using a straight edge to ensure the piece remained true but to nail the curves, while following the join in the underlay. 

I also realised from a lot of reading and watching far too many YouTube clips that there are as many methods of laying track as there are people doing it so I would still need to make my own mind up as to the process and I think everyone has thier own little pet preferences that are important to them.  As an example I really want the droppers to be invisible so they have to be soldered to the base of the rail.  This means they must be soldered before fitting, thereby making the soldering and fitting significantly more tricky.  I notice many solder the droppers in place but the ends can never be really hidden then so that is just my own little thing.  A point I did take on board was to stagger the rail joints on the curves.  This again makes things much more tricky but the curve is definately much smoother.  I decided not to bother on the straights as they didn't really need it and it saves at least that job.

Consequently I ended up with the following process that I am reasonably happy with.  It may be modified as I go along but the most important part for me at the moment is to establish the procedure, which I can become familiar with and then follow, which will hopefully prevent me from making so many mistakes.  Pitfalls I have fallen into so far are as follows:

1) I forgot to put an insulating fishplate on the track joint at the frog rail of the point.  I had to remove the metal fishplate, cut a gap with a Dremel, insert a cut down insulating fishplate and seal the joint with epoxy.  Luckily I was able to do this with the track in place.
2) I hadn't realised how critical it would be to get the dropper wires in exactly the right place for the drilled holes.  I could use a larger drill but for my first attempt I soldered the tabs of the dropper the opposite way around and it put a significant 'S' bend in the track.
3) I forgot to file the track before soldering.
4) I mixed up the red and the black cables on one piece.
5) Drilled the baseboard between the wrong pair of sleepers!

Etc...etc...  All a learning curve.

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 Posted: Fri Dec 1st, 2017 10:17 pm
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Bunkerbarge
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So with those learnings in place this is the process I have settled on.  This is a straight piece without staggering the joins:

1) Remove the chairs from the end sleeper on both ends of the track.



2) Remove the tabs from two gaps below the track.



3) File the surface of the rail to enable a better soldered joint.



4) Mark the underlay at the exact point where the dropper is going to be, bearing in mind the right angle on the end of the wire.



5) Drill the holes for the dropper wire in the baseboard with a clearance drill that enables a nice easy fit without being too sloppy.



6) Tin the underside of the rail with a good sized blob of solder ensuring the rail is hot enough to wet the solder.



7) Tin the end of the dropper wire.



8) Bend the end of the dropper over at 90 degrees.



9) Cut the tab on the end to suit the gap in the sleepers.



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 Posted: Fri Dec 1st, 2017 10:20 pm
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Bunkerbarge
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10) Place the tab on top of the tinned rail and apply the soldering iron tip again to fuse the two together.



11) You should end up with nice neat droppers solderd to the base of the track.



12)  Next is to fit the droppers to the holes in the baseboard and pull through just enough to leave the track upside down.




13) The two fishplates are then fitted to the fixed track ends and pushed up to the first complete sleeper, ensuring that they will sit firm as the track is fitted.




14) A bead of neat PVA glue is then run down both sides of the track below the rails before the track is then flipped over, the ends slid into the fishplates, the droppers pulled through the base and the track aligned with a metallic straight edge.




15) Finally a straight piece of wood is placed on the track and weighed down until the glue has set.




 
Not a great deal to show for the efforts so far but at least I now have a process I am happy with and the track I have down so far seems to be neat enough and I am happy with the fact that every piece has a pair of droppers soldered to it.




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 Posted: Fri Dec 1st, 2017 10:41 pm
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Sol
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A neat job Richard



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