When Your Fiddle’s a Faff….

My layout ‘First’ will be appearing at the Steam in Miniature event at the Bure Valley Railway on the 9th and 10th September. I’m really looking forward to the event.

However, the current fiddle yard arrangement with it’s reverse curves (see picture above) is a faff. It works, by I have to run trains in and out of the fiddle yeard at a really low speed. And, to be honest, I don’t fancy working operating the layout like that for two whole days.

This has spurred me on to finally bite the bullet, rip up track and organise better access to the fiddle yard.

After much gazing at the layout I came up with a plan. A purple plan.

I decided to move the fiddle yard to the other side of the layout and install a point on the left hand side so that the access to the fiddle yard is virtually straight. Then, rip up the existing curves and the existing point and relay the track on the curve. I will have to move some of the electrical connectors (partly covered by the paper point template) so that the track can run to the fiddle yard. It won’t be the perfect solution, because I’m retro fitting everything to an existing layout, but I think it will be better than the current arrangement.

Decisions made, I drank a strong coffee and removed the track.

I tested the position of the new point, removed a little more track and then fixed the new point and new curve in place.

Connecting the track to the fiddle yard was pretty straightforward – it is virtually a straight length of track. Here it is pinned in place, before I soldered the joins to the copper strips.

I repositioned the electrical connetions. (The two connectors on the left power the point motors and those on the right provide the power to the track). I checked the clearances to check the trains will run trains past the plugs. No problem.

Finally, I soldered the wires to supply the track power to the toe of the point and did some test runs. I’m very pleased to say everything worked. Best of all it is so much easier to use that the previous arrangement. I can ‘zoom’ trains in and out of the cassetes very quickly rather than having to run them at low speed round the reverse curves.

In many cases I follow the old rule of: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. In this case a fix has been the right thing to do and I’m really looking forward to running ‘First’ for two whole days!

If you go to the Steam in Miniature event please drop by and say ‘Hello’.

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Track Completed

Baseboard November 11th

Permanent Way crew (that’s me) have been busy. The trackwork is complete. The Clerk of Works (that’s me) may ask them to remove some of the sharper curves….

The Electrical Crew (yes, that’s me too) have started work and various switches and connectors are in place. The Missile Switches were for sale on Ebay and, although they are very big, I couldn’t resist them.

Some Layouts are Planned, Others…..

A Layout Emerges

Some layouts are the result of careful planning, others just emerge.. somehow.

I brought an oval of set track on eBay so that I could test the models I am building. Every time I wanted to test something I had to get the track out, assemble it and wire up the controller before I could start.

I decided to put the oval track on a baseboard so that it was available instantly. A quick rummage in the garage and I found some thin plywood for the base and a length of 25 x 32mm pine for the frame. These were ideal and a simple 78 x 58 cm baseboard was quickly created.

When I stood back to admire my work  and I realised that I have seen whole 009 layouts of this size.

Perhaps I could be a bit more ambitious and create a small layout on this board?

That’s when the fun started. Out came some track, points and I created paper templates for the curves. What emerged was a simple oval track plan with a country station featuring a passing loop, a goods siding and a loco siding. It seems to fit (!) and will be a much more interesting than the simple oval test track.

Now all I need to do is build it.