Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A Days Deliveries

Today - 22nd June 2011 - has been an interesting day for deliveries.

First I had a box from Gaugemaster (UK supplier) which had these Ratio parts in it:-

If you enlarge the picture you can see what has arrived. Sorry about the shiny worktop in the kitchen. I bought from Gaugemaster because they had everything I wanted in stock and if you chose the least quick form of postage then the postage was free. And as the box turned up in a couple of days it didn't bother me too much.

More importantly what also came was what is to me a rare Heljan kit. It came from Germany and took a while and certainly was not Freepost! Its this peculiar looking building here:-

Now I've never seen this kit before and the illustration is certainly made up from Evergreen and Tichy Train parts but the kit exists:-

The base, which probably will not get used.

These are the roofs and the various platforms - two sprues.

The buildings walls. This is one sprue but it's cut into two to fit the box.

These are the windows, in green, and the dark grey parts are loading platforms, roofs etc together with some essential parts found in the bottom of the box.

So here we have an N gauge building which has a HO size cyclone and each building seems to have a water barrel with no water feed. Anyway there is no knowing how this building will end up. I rather favour putting it in position 33 on the layout drawing in which case it will want/get some modification.

And talking of modification look what is happening to Heljans Superior Bakery. Ever so slightly re-built and its having a corrugated material extension added. With deepest respect to Art Curren whose book "Kitbashing HO Model Railroad Structures" is a constant source of inspiration.

This is the building that will go in position 34.

Happy Modelling,

Mike Beard.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Roundhouse Fun

In the preamble I mentioned that a lot of work had to be done to the Atlas Roundhouse so that the main incoming/outgoing track could squeeze past it and the turntable. So I started off by buying the smallest commercially produced N gauge turntable I could find and that is, of course, the Peco one which is British in design and build. (I could do with some hints on how to move it across the Atlantic!) Now despite what it says in the blurb the overall diameter of the Peco table insert is 163mm and the Atlas equivalent is 216mm so a little bit of land has to be made up. See below.

You can see that I have drawn up the relationship using AutoCAD so I can position the two correctly. The semi-circle at the very bottom of the picture is a waste paper basket! You can also see that the Atlas base has had terrible things done to it in the name of narrowing and shortening. This is the smallest it ever got. So from here I added the abbreviated side walls:-

The sidewalls have had the largest part cut away and the remaining parts have been re-joined. The removed piece of wall was dropped in the spares box. As usual the gap between the two parts did not turn out too well so I covered it using a piece of capping material from the kit. That covered the joint nicely. Now the centre rear wall has also been fitted and I forgot completely that the rear walls would have to be modified. A single moments thought and I would have realised that they have moved forward so as they fit into a wedge they are bound to get narrower. So I cut pillars off and narrowed down the plain brickwork adding the pillars when enough had been removed. The 3 wall sections are designed to only go in one place even though they are basically identical. I didn't realise this until it was too late! So having got this far it's a goof idea to make sure a loco fits:-

At this stage I added the steps up into the roundhouse. Being short of space I thought it better to take one step moulding and split it in two and have them parallel to the building rather than sticking out. It saves a little bit and also produces a complete set of spares for use elsewhere! The loco - a LifeLike SD-7 - the only loco type I have just now is too narrow to hit the wall. You'll see that I have added the new apron between the roundhouse and the turntable:-

Now a few years ago I was given a Digital Caliper and I would not be without it now. That and a razor saw, together with a scalpel, a file and a straight edge are all I ever seem to use. In this instance as the caliper has sharp points I simply made a centre point in 40 thou sheet plastic - Evergreen - and twirled the calipers around it first set to 108mm and then 81.5mm. You keep scribing and eventually you get a semi-circular section that you can pop out, cut up and glue in position. I finished off the job by surfacing the new piece with Ratio(UK) block paving. I also rebuilt the foundation edges with the same material. It's one of my favourites together with their corrugated sheet.

Galloping on a bit you can see the rear wall is all positioned and fitted. I had to drop out one window in each of the angled end walls. It was just not possible to keep two windows as I had removed the angle on one side. However, another contribution to the spares box! I fitted the supports along the median between the roads. I'm not convinced. They seemed to come out at different heights. And you have to remove the tallest bay and then add the front one onto what remains. If I were doing this again I'd probably scratch build it from Evergreen Strip. You can see the odd bits of re-enforcing in the lower picture to hold it together.

Now the roof needs to be removable so you can track lay on the layout and rescue the odd errant locomotive with the minimum of fuss. These pictures show the front roofs cut to fit the remaining building and with the "North Light" windows fitted. The roofs needed a good deal of work and I began to wonder if scribed Evergreen sheet might not have been better, and easier! The white on the roofs is a 20 thou thick strip to replace the one from the kit which is lost when the roofs are chopped about. It is necessary as it covers the odd deviation in angle as does the 40 thou square batten at the sides of the roof. The North Lights had to be shortened and made less high as they have to fit under the main roof and that is lower than originally planned. I used some 40 thou half round to decorated the join between the North Light sections and on the cover between roof sections. It gives it life somehow and also covers any failure to achieve the somewhat strange angles produced. The pillars that support the roof were chopped out of the Atlas moulding and positioned and then the crossbars were added. A strip of 1mm planked 20 thou thick Evergreen covers a multitude of sins! While the side pillars still slip into the slots in the wall and give plenty of clearance the two main supports need thinning to allow the SD-7 in or out and probably even more for other locos. We shall see with each new purchase.

It turned out to be easier to cut the Main Roofs than the smaller ones. Because the centre section angles have not changed I took the centre section and positioned it in its place in the centre and marked the rear and cut off the rear. You don't have to remove anything from the front if you are careful or lucky. Now you have to narrow the roof as its moved forward. I did this by cutting about 0.5mm off of the moulded on cover strip. I checked the angles and that when it was in position about half of the support showed. Then I added the cover strip as you can see. The outer roof sections can be trimmed in the same way but the excess angle against the wall needs removing. I glued all three sections together, added the 40 thou half round cover strip to the centre strips and then covered some cutting errors with the 40 thou square Evergreen on the roof up against the wall.

Yes, the work desk is a mess but I find it comforting!

This is a birds eye view of the roof being glued together.

And this is where I am now. The roof has been fitted and trimmed over the North Lights at the front. Incidentally I added a 10 thou trim to the fronts of the roofs, both large and small, to cover the odd less than perfect joint. I cutting up the roofs I lost the holes for the ventilators and I was a bit concerned about cutting square holes in the roof for them to slip into. I should have not been concerned as I simply razor sawed off the part that fitted into the hole and positioned and glued the 4 ventilators onto the roof. I put the forced ventilator in the centre towards the front. I'm sure in real life there would have been more. I've capped off all the walls using Evergreen #156 1.5mm x 3.2mm positioned so I can lift the roofs off.

From the rear all the errors can be seen. I think if I were doing this again I'd tighten up the angles from 15 to 10 degrees as it all looks a bit odd from here. I've added a little steel chimney. I worked on the London Underground in the 1960's and in the depots we had pot bellied stoves that glowed white hot and only warmed a radius of about 3 feet. Viciously warm it was and freezing everywhere else so I assume that something similar is fitted here.

Now you may have noticed a little yard office building creeping into the pictures. With the Atlas kit you get an office on a base but it's only designed to be glued onto the side of the roundhouse. Now I wanted a certain amount of flexibility and I didn't want to fill in the windows so I cut the longest wall in two and with a bit of filing and fitting I got this square office. The roof is a bit of redundant roof from the roundhouse and the base is a bit of my favourite Ratio(UK) Block Paving.

The whole building requires painting, hence the questions recently about CNW building colours and then the windows require fitting etc and the details, like doors, need adding.

And lest I forget this is what I started off with, and I could not have started without it. Thank you Atlas.

Friday, 17 June 2011

A word or two from the Originator.

Giles Barnaby was kind enough to add this:-

"The AD&N (aka the Greenbrier line named after a nearby W. Virginia river) was the third layout I built that was designed to be taken to model shows back in about 1981; with your resurrection of part of the design it probably turns into the longest-running of all the projects I’ve started. Originally the layout was going to go around two walls of a room at home (when not on show) but a combination of a different use for the room, the fact that a very long layout with only one train on it didn’t really work at shows, and other emerging interests all eventually led to the layout’s abandonment. Some of the equipment later re-emerged as another layout:- Mettrick Yard, but by then I realized that N was too small for me to enjoy; in particular it was the clumsy Arnold-style couplers were just not satisfying, so I moved on. Perhaps Micro trains couplers would have been better.

Looking at the design for Alderson, I have a feeling that the right hand end was based on another design, but can’t now recall what that might have been. I added the other end with the roundhouse as a complete fantasy idea, just to complete the line on paper, but I think I always knew I’d never get to build it. Incidentally in those days “Shortliner” Jack Trollope was also modelling in N gauge (a line called the Greenbrier Midland), and he had also chosen the real town of Alderson, on the C&O, as his junction. In our minds the three lines interchanged, and I lettered up a couple of cars for the GM – though as my layout was set about 10 years before Jack’s I designed a different livery but used a logo that Jack had come up with but wasn’t using himself. The whole concept for the modular system was sparked off by a two-part article by Robert Lutz on a similar theme, with a large number of assorted modules, that appeared in Model Railroader in January and February 1977. Kalmbach seem to be able to supply ancient back numbers from stock, so if you can’t find copies second hand in the UK you may have more luck there if you want to follow up on the original inspiration."

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Friends of Alderson

I should thank Chris Mears of Prince Edward Island out in Canada who has sent me a built up Heljan Furniture Factory and a long shed of his own design together with a Japanese coach and a Bachmann heavyweight combine. JJ Schnell who has provided several locomotives and Sy Berger who has gathered far too many purchases together in Mass. for onward transmission to the UK en block.

Bill Adlington also comes in here for relieving me of my 3mm stuff in return for locomotives, freight cars and riches beyond the Dreams of Avarice!

I should also thank all those people who have bought and continue to buy my "tat" on eBay at hugely inflated prices who have made this possible. May they long continue to do so.

There are also those members of the American N Gauge group on Yahoo whose assistance and advice has been invaluable up to now.

In the Beginning...............there was Giles Barnabe

I got here unwittingly many years ago. A long defunct British model railway magazine called "Scale Trains" ran a series of articles by a certain Giles Barnabe about building a modular layout with an American flavour. It ran from March 1983 through to September 1984 when it came to a natural end. Then it popped up again in August 1991 Continental Modeller as a complete article and thereafter silence.

I went about my business for many more years modelling trams and other things that took my fancy and as part of that fancy I bought a Lifelike SD-7 in CNW livery to study it's drive system. But here was a nice locomotive and so I started idly roaming the web wondering if a home could be found when I can across:-

and there was the AD&N in all its glory. Now I knew that Giles had modelled the country portion so I looked into the possibility of modelling the "town" end and it turned out to be a very attractive proposition. But it all hinged on getting a single track past a roundhouse all on a 10 inch wide board. So before I started anything I had to see if that could be done. Now I found out that the smallest diameter turntable on the market in N gauge is the Peco one so I bought one of those and then I bought an Atlas Roundhouse. It was immediately obvious that I was in deep trouble as this building was vast and designed to be easily extended. So I started by removing one length bay from the Atlas side walls and cutting the equivalent amount off the rear of the base. It was still vast! Then I investigated moving the side walls forward so they started at front of the apron. This was good because the Atlas roundhouse is designed to fit the Atlas turntable understandably so there was just over an inch of new apron needed to join the Atlas roundhouse to the Peco Turntable. Then I slit the base of the roundhouse so that the side walls were parallel to the outer tracks rather than at 15 degrees to them. There was no room for expansion here! After a lot of fiddling it became apparent that the project could go ahead because there was now "lots of room" on the 9 inches baseboard width available for track. In the meantime we had also decided to move home from Shrewsbury in deepest rural Shropshire to the Bristol area where both of our children are domiciled. So who knows how much space I will eventually have for model railways so this project may well prove a boon.

The basic module for this project is 39" long x 10" wide and each baseboard can be cut from a sheet 48" x 24". I am using half inch 5 layer plywood checking it for straightness as I go. Up until now I have bought two boards worth which I have had slit up to suit and they await my attention but until I had worked out the roundhouse it was not worthwhile assembling them.

I have examined the Alderson track plan carefully and I have elected to make just one modification. If you read Giles Barnabe's original article it is apparent that Alderson was intended to be worked as an interchange station between a major road and a minor line and the only stock that passed between them was freight stock working to and fro the major road. In my scenario the whole line is worked by the major road so it is necessary to add a crossover to avoid the factory where boxcars would be standing. Now I have roughed out this and tried to keep the layout on two boards but it becomes too "busy" for a country town station with loads of space around it so I've added a 12" insert between Giles two boards. The track I have chosen is Atlas code 55 and I have standardised on a #5 point which makes sense in a small yard with low speeds. Each point will have its own Tortoise point motor. Extravagant I know but I just happen to have them by me! Don't ask.

If I keep to the established 39" x 10" format then by taking 12" off 39" I am left with a 27" cassette fiddle yard. Allow at the most 6" for a locomotive and the most each train can be is 21" long! And the interposing baseboard and the cassette baseboard will bolt together for transport in a 39" format.

So here then is the beginning of what looks like a really fun project.

Happy Modelling,

Mike Beard