Thursday, 25 August 2016

A Long Overdue Update! 

A lot of the progress with South Pelaw since our last posting here has been unseen but nonetheless dramatic.
We had a problem with our turnout operating system. We adopted an Iain Rice method favoured by some P4 modellers of having the point tie-bar under the baseboard with droppers from the switch blade toes, all made to look realistic with cosmetic tie bars above the baseboard. This meant making our own point machines utilising servos. The outcome was disappointingly unreliable so we went back to old fashioned PCB tie bars. This involved a lot of work in retro fitting the tie bars and motors, about 40 in all. The servo mounts are MERG 3D printed.

The other major trauma was the decision to abandon the installation of DC cab control and go for DCC. The ripping out of lots of wire and relays was quite painless and the rewiring with heavier duty wire has gone smoothly. Nonetheless it has taken time. Whilst the fiddle yard track plan had been decided many moons ago we never had a clear mind about how it would be controlled. This indecision with several daunting alternatives was partly instrumental in changing to DCC. As a result the fiddle yard track and pointwork is complete and the wiring is about 50% complete.

The front side of the layout works pretty well but it has meant that the scenic work has been slowed down whilst baseboards have been upturned for rewiring. However two of the baseboards are now scenically complete but are erected with the next one for continuity of treatment in one of our crew’s garage. Now for the first time in many months we have been able to erect 8 of the 11 scenic boards as a unit. Another ‘behind the scenes’ activity has produced the LED lighting system. All this was squeezed into the room we use for construction. We were rather in each others way.
We have made a number of signals including the Stella Gill Flatts gantry. We have completed the lengthy painstaking building of one set of cottages. Two of the three bridges are now complete and fastened in place whilst the third has taken significant strides forward recently.

We have been running our version of the MICs by passing on various model making skills within the group. The building of the NCB shed is part of this process as is the building of signals.

We have also progressed the building, modifying or finishing off of locos and rolling stock. We have fitted DCC decoders to some. Others to follow.

The following photos show some of the progress.
What it's all about - Iron ore to Consett and coke backing out of Stella Gill ready to follow up the bank - with assistance of course.

Talking of assistance, a Class 40 in the 'shove' mode. This is a Modern Outlines kit built brass loco. It doesn't need a sound decoder - it makes enough noise as it is.

A remarkably clean loco - not unlike 'The Tyne Docker' final steam hauled train.

An interesting oddment of rolling stock in the Stella Gill reception sidings.

A view from across the tracks.

A similar view just a few months later.  What the express passenger headcode is about, I don't know!

And another 24 to the rescue!

The box that controlled that gantry. Long gone of course but the bridge remains, filled in underneath and surrounded by trees and undergrowth. We think it survives because it still carries the pipeline (water or gas? We know not).

A bit of truth stretching here. There was a turntable at Stella Gill, two in fact, but we have put this in a location that is not really accurate. The passenger train is reasonably accurate but running late - by a few years!

The first set of cottages has been finished but has yet to be fixed in place in the gardens. The adjacent structure is a balsa wood mock up representing the other terrace of cottages. It needs to be recessed into a lower ground level

These two photos show the cottages before the gardens have taken seed. Close examination  of the upper phot shows the two bridge plates - nos 2 and 27. The scenic work in this area is the basic first cover before the detailed treatment.                                                            

A closer look at the Pelton Lane bridge with the Class 40 banker just going underneath. As mentioned above, this bridge has two bridge plates. The tracks nearest are passed over by bridge no 2 (from Ouston Junction), whereas the other side is bridge 27 over the branch which comes via Washington. (Part of the original Stanhope & Tyne).

This is where bridge 2 and 26 cross the tracks. It's a bit like this today, no bridge but no tracks either, just a cycle way.

This is still a work in progress. It has taken a long time to work out how to make the wrought iron parapet panels. They have a rolled over top edge. One panel is at the far end.

The same panel moved to the other end for the cameras. It gives us the opportunity to show another signal. A relatively modern replacement for a slotted wooden post which was sited at the other side of this bridge, consequently even taller.

You've seen these signals before but the signal box has a new roof, still being finished. Work on this model was halted to divert effort into the completion of the Pelton Lane bridge which needed to be in place first. The signals have yet to be fixed in place. They have been in and out several times to take them to the MERG stand at exhibitions.

Two more recently completed signals. The real ones were removed in the sixties and replaced by tubular posts. The nearest one became a colour light signal in a different location. It controls the entry to the junction whereas the far one controls the entry to the line towards Tyne Dock.

A view from bridge 1/28. The replacement tiebars in the point work are visible. they need to be painted and disguised.

Another view showing the down branch starter, below it a subsidiary signal for allowing a loco to pass the signal at danger to reverse across to the up line and the distant signal for the next box in the down direction (Biddick Lane, I think). All these are modern replacement upper quadrant arms on the existing, originally slotted. post. On the little bracket is a lower quadrant slotted post shunting signal for locos traversing the crossover in the opposite direction. Not the easiest signals tackled.

A lovely slotted post shunting signal controlling the exit from the Up sidings. The 9F is not a Western region one despite the brass chimney. It's a Bachmann in the process of conversion!

There are two even smaller signals that have been modelled, NER pattern rotating lamp ground signals. Unfortunately they don't show up well on any of our current photos. That will be attended to. They will have a dozen more for company but of the LNER rotating disc type - eventually.

An unashamed look at the gantry at the other end of the layout. By this stage in its life all the arms were shunting ones. The yard beyond had 38 roads in its heyday!

Eight of the 13 arms on the model do work, from servos. We don't have enough roads in our fiddle yard to justify the extra complications. All of the other signals on the layout work (or will do) from servos driven by the MERG CBUS system.

We must apologise for some of the photos showing locos that have passed signals at danger. Once the layout is up and running properly, such offences will be punished. The penalty will be 'drinks all round' for the rest of the crew.

Hope you enjoyed this trip.

We'll try to update things more often.