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entry 6 Jan 2018, 14:04
Not with the sound of music however, as much as random expletives. Some trying times today as I find out not all plaster cloth is created equal. The first lot I had purchased awhile back from somewhere in Queensland was a dream, quite a firm gauze and probably not as much plaster. This made it easy to handle, it kept its shape after wetting and allowed fairly simply placement. The second lot I purchased from Jacksons yesterday is a really weak gauze and what appears to be much more plaster. The result of which is something that turns to a wet mush when it is even in the same room as any source of moisture, making it very difficult to handle and place. The tradeoff being that if by some minor miracle you do manage to place it effectively, you get a much better coverage and very few evident holes in the gauze.

The first layer is now complete on the first baseboard, with a second layer over about a third.

A sense of scenery now starting to provide the possibilities. Can't wait to get this bit finished and add a bit of colour and texture. I like the way the plaster/wire hills are starting to turn out. I think some textured paint over the top will really add some life.

entry 1 Jan 2018, 13:11
As is often the case on the Xmas/New Year break one tends to have time on one's hands, which this year have been tossed towards the mighty North Derbyshire Railway Co. It's a little hard at the moment to take a decent picture that accurately depicts the differing levels of the scenery or the shapes of the landforms. However, progress continues with almost the entire main board given its first layer of plaster. I have also put together a great idea for running a line out behind the backboards into a hidden fiddle yard and re-entering down the other end of the railway. With one of my aims to make this a layout that can be taken to shows, it will provide a great option for controlling it all from the rear, whilst also enabling trains to run completely out of view for over three or four metres.

The layout

The marshland/lake entrance

The river bend

entry 31 Dec 2017, 08:02
Finishing the year with a bang.

Got the bulk of the wireframes in place last night, on one half anyway. Still have all my fingers, but blood has definitely been spilled from more than one finger. Wire is not always a friend.

So, full of renewed enthusiasm thought I would give plastering a crack. How hard could it be? Turns out not that hard at all! I had been putting it off for no good reason. I was worried that the plaster cloth I bought six years ago would have lost its zing, but seems as good as new, although it was still in its original sealed plastic bag.

Managed to get the first layer down over the field that runs down to the river. The cloth is fairly easy to work once damp. A light damping, lay in place, then smooth out with wet fingers to activate and distribute the plaster.

Just as I thought, the first solid ground gives real life to the layout, albeit looking a bit like siberia in the middle of winter until we add a touch of colour to the anaemia. And it's not taking long to dry either in this 35C weather. Be ready for a second layer in no time.

The drop at the edge of the bridge looks a bit odd in the pic, but it isn't just a sudden drop, just a bend in the river.

entry 29 Dec 2017, 14:24
It has been a while since the last post, but the North Derbyshire Railway lives!

In the past 5 years I have demolished one actual, real, full size house, built another on the same site and laid down a formal Japanese landscape, so it's not as if I've been sitting around, but rather just not a lot of time or space for modelling or railways.

I have now got the baseboards back out and it has given me a chance to refocus and correct things that were simply not right on the first try. Particularly ensuring my gradients were not the equivalent of driving up a cliff face rolleyes.gif So this has meant ripping up all the track and revising my grand plans into something a little more realistic. A bit of a shame as I had gone a reasonable way down the track (pardon the pun) to building the landforms and laying all the rail. But I am sure this will be much better. And, I'm not building another house in the next 20yrs so I figure I have a good opportunity to get it all settled and tinker onwards...

Still some hills, rivers, valleys and tunnels and the same basic 40s/50s coalfields location, but with a renewed vigour to get a working layout in place. The track bases are now in place and I am working on my first landscaping points. It's amazing how simply putting down the wire frames gives an entirely new sense of the lay of the land. Once I've done some I will move onto putting down the track beds.

I don't know what's happened to the old image galleries in the intervening years, but Flickr will do the trick. If anyone is interested in any of the old pics let me know and I can repost.

entry 4 Jun 2012, 06:57
Visited the WA Model Rail show on Saturday which reinvigorated my enthusiasm to get moving. There were some really neat layouts on show and a number of vendors flogging their goods. Nice to be able to buy things all in one place instead of traipsing around the countryside for a piece here and a piece there.

Finally laid out the Langwith Junction yards. Hopefully there is enough space to house a variety of rolling stock, although in the long term I can see Lincoln terminus as having another significant place to house both wagon and passenger cars. I am still thinking about whether I should drop in a reverse section or maybe a turntable.

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You might also see in the background two pit head lifts. I have toyed around for quite awhile about whether to buy or scratch build. Despite the outrageous price I finally bit the bullet and purchased a couple of the Farish models. To be fair they are well made, but it still seems a lot for two bits of plastic... I can now work on building some outbuildings to complete my collieries, of which I suspect there will be at least two.

entry 13 May 2012, 13:49
Got back into the swing this weekend. Trying to settle some track down in "permanent" place on the layout, getting those angles better. The corner of the track near Langwith Junction provided a key element in terms of wiring as with so many converging lines it was inevitable that I had mixed polarities at more than one point. This has hopefully been easily solved with the addition of a PSX-AR now made by DCC Specialities. It is fairly simple to install, two wires for the input power attached from the main bus, and then up to three outputs which go to isolated sections of track.

As can be seen I screwed this to underneath the baseboard and ran track wires up through one of my access holes. At the moment I have attached two auto reverse sections, but will certainly have need for all three. I can see the need for possibly another one of these once everything is in place. Pretty good value from Digitrains in the UK for GBP 38.

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Seems to work as expected, instantly switching incorrect polarities to the correct rails, without missing a beat as far as the trains are concerned.

Now I will concentrate on getting the actual junction railwork down so I have somewhere to park the rolling stock...

entry 29 Apr 2012, 08:29
A little off topic and far removed from North Derbyshire. My wife and I spent the past month in Japan being tourists. Starting off in Tokyo we moved down to Kyoto, across to Kanazawa, then back via Takayama and Matsumoto to Tokyo. All of this was achieved with the help of a Japan Rail Pass, which is only available to foreign visitors and allows use of most of Japan Rail's network of trains and buses. So we spent a lot of time soaking up the fabulous and very punctual Japanese railways. This began with Shinkansen (bullet) to Kyoto past Mt Fuji. I must say it's a little too fast for my liking as the scenery whizzes by taking away one of the big benefits of train over plane.

Perhaps the highlight railway-wise was the trip between Kanazawa and Takayama which weaved its way through valleys, surround by 1000-3000m mountains, following wide rivers all the way. Spectacular scenery in very comfortable surrounds, and relatively few people on-board. The snow was still all around us even though most of the places we went had broken through to Spring. Highly recommended.

entry 18 Feb 2012, 13:52
Thought I would give drilling and sawing and wiring a bit of a break this weekend. I have moved onto some modelling and in particular some of the Metcalfe card buildings. In anticipation of stuffing up at least one thing in my infancy I have started with the simple shed to a railway workers semi. It was all surprisingly straight forward so long as you take your time and follow the instructions closely. The hardest part is managing the glue. I was recommended an acetate balsa/cardboard glue by the hobby shop which is proving somewhat difficult to work with. It comes in one of those metal-style tubes like toothpaste used to come in - you press it and the tube stays the shape you pushed it to. This does not lead to a great deal of flow control with glue continuing to ooze out even when pressure has stopped. I resorted to a combination of direct from the nozzle and transfer to a matchstick applicator which has seemed to do the job adequately. I think I have a handle on it now.

With the confidence high following the Wren-like proportions of my shed, I moved onto the actual railways cottages themselves. Again pretty easy, if not a little fiddly in N scale. Especially when it comes to rolling and affixing those pesky chimney pots. They look great once they are in place, but it takes a little work to get the knack of rolling them to identical'ish diameters, even using a nail as template.

I guess it has taken about two and a half hours to put together one shed and house and there are four of each in the one pack. I will put everything together and get them in their final locations before looking at any weathering and added touches. It's great value too when you import them from the UK at only GBP5.50 each, at today's rate less than AUD$10. Here I would pay between $17 & $24 for the same kit.

Today it took around three hours to do one set of terraced housing, and yes the chimney pots are crooked by design. After all, whoever heard of a row of houses all with perfect aligned chimneys? I like this set which has lots of options built-in, like bay windows or flat, slate or flat roofs on the bay windows, dorner windows in the attic, different coloured curtains and doors, paving or cobbles, etc. It means you can eaisly set up a lot of row housing that doesn't look like lots of the same thing. This is just the trick for the Whaley Thorns Pit Road which is just line after line of this style, all the way up the hill.

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Now I can move onto the more substantial projects awaiting me - the rest of the terraced housing, loco shed, farm houses, platforms, corner shop, pub, etc. I might have gone a little overboard in the lead up, but they will all find a place in the layout. If there is one thing I have got it's plenty of space. The beauty of N scale.

entry 12 Feb 2012, 09:11
Had a fair whack of time available this weekend, so I tried to get some of the less desirable aspects underway. In particular wiring, especially the bus connectors underneath the layout. Managed to get the double switches wired up with droppers hanging in abundance from the one area. Doing the maths, we have two for track power on each double slip, four turnout motor cables, plus the two polarity wires that go back to the motor. So, with two double slips linked onto each other that gives me - 16 droppers in a space of about 300mm of track. Let us hope they are all pointing in the right direction.

I have also had my first chance to throw some power at a Cobalt motor and to be fair it looks pretty straightforward and has a nice smooth action. Haven't got them in situ yet so time will tell as to how well they actually switch turnouts, but I have great faith...

So, a lot has been going on, but probably not a lot of difference to the naked eye. I think until I actually start to get some of the topography in place it's going to seem very underdone to me, but I realise that a lack of preparation at this stage will cause endless grief once the plaster cloth is in place. So, softly, softly.

In an effort to quell my scenic modelling urges I have another order on its way from Hattons - mainly Metcalfe gear - platform kit for Chesterfield station, low relief row housing for up the top of Whaley Thorns, a few railway cottages and an engine shed for Langwith Junction. Oh and finally bit the bullet with an order of my first Bolsover coal wagons form Dapol. A little concerned at the specified weight of these. Most Farish and Peco rolling stock is 22gms or thereabouts. These Dapol wagons are showing up as 90gms each! Be lucky to pull two up a hill at that rate. No doubt all will become clear.

On the issue of weight I hooked up all my wagons and carriages at once to see how the new inclines would go. At first it seemed as though there was still some reluctance in one or two spots. However, I stuck a 20cent piece to the top of the tender (such scientific methods in action) to see how a bit of extra friction might work. Hey presto, she will easily crawl or gallop up and down any of my tracks, so it all comes down to grip and slip. Looks like I need to add a bit of lead to the tender...

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entry 3 Feb 2012, 13:24
Gainsborough it may not be, but with the temperature pushing 40C for the best part of a week I decided to take some time out and commence preliminary painting of the backdrops. A nice simple light blue is acting as the base coat, over which I have added some uneven white washing, to be followed by cloud work. That should get me to the point where it can wait for the foreground of the background (double-dutch) to follow once the actual 3d hillwork has gone on. Even just the stark blue has lifted the layout dimensionally, so assuming I am not a complete mural-deficient clod, it should provide a whole other aspect to the scene once completed.

On the positive note it poured down two nights ago and made for a much cooler, if not humid day. I really must examine air-conditioning in the garage...

A large 20m roll of Trackrite arrived at my door this week, so the roll out of trackbed continues as the NDR cuts through the countryside. I have placed nearly all of the points to the East now and as soon as I get some power to the double slips I should be able to get a continuous test loop run going for the first time. My double Lincoln-Warrington mainline crosses the Sheffield - Shirebrook loop line at Langwith necessitating two double slips in succession.

I tried running a long, loaded train around the loop today and I am still unhappy with the inclines in a couple of sections. With a bit of fiddling I have managed to spread the rise over another 500mm and it seems to have made it a lot easier on the loco. It still won't take a ten car passenger express, but then that line was never intended for that. At least she gets up and down now quite comfortably with the expected configuration. Unfortunately the time spent on that meant the slips will have to wait another week. Probably for the best as I am still unsure of how to wire them up, how to set them up on the controller and how to fit four turnout motors in the available space. Combined with the supports for the tracks it should make for an interesting time in geometry and physics.

The layout of the Langwith Junction yards is the next big job. I had it planned on paper and in my mind, but I can already see how it can be made better now I am actually laying down track on the board. In theory this should be the simplest part of the trackwork as it is all on the flat and in a big open space. The trick I guess is getting the authentic feel and looking at the photos it was a pretty manic area with rail going every which way. Happily I have figured a way to get an entry in from both lines in accordance with reality, if not in quite the right geographic locations, but we do what we can.

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