Monthly Archives: September 2015

Seaboard Southern Annual Exhibition 2015

Steve Cobb, Alan and Erik Rogers, Brian Daly, Tim Neale, Ian Lampkin & Mike Peace
Steve Cobb, Alan and Erik Rogers, Brian Daly, Tim Neale, Ian Lampkin & Mike Peace

Well, that event‘s been and gone. Thankfully, it appears to have been a huge success. Here’s what was learned on the day:

  1. It is possible to set up 23′ of modular model railway that’s never been together before in under two hours, including consumption of bacon butty and coffee
  2. A line token, or warrant, makes control easier for those operators that don’t get the whole single track main line concept
  3. A Work In Progress is well received in an exhibition environment, if it’s quite apparent what the end result is supposed to be
  4. It is actually possible to have too many trains, at least for the immediate occasion. One per fiddle yard road plus a spare would have sufficed
  5. We’re not the only nutters who are inspired, interested or intrigued by this project. At least three people loosely attached to the group have committed and we took enquiries from visitors too

Feedback from the show organisers has been positive too, which might result in a repeat invitation for next year. That’ll mean more modules and more progress on existing modules will be required!

Transit board modifications

To transport the module boards safely, I made some transit boards out of off-cuts of 12mm MDF. These were always going to be a Mark 1 version, consisting simply of a square with a line of holes drilled to match those on the interface plate on opposite faces and a hand hole in the middle. These worked, and well, holding the boards a small distance apart and making them easy to load. However, very quickly two limitations were noticed. 2015-09-04 17.20.05 Firstly, the hand holes are all but useless, because the boards are held so close together that there’s nothing for your fingers to grab hold of anything. However, I don’t intend to do anything about that, because these are Mark 1 and were going to be replaced later with newer ones out of thinner ply. And that was the other weakness. The 12mm MDF meant that the bolts, when used with two washers to protect the wood, were difficult to engage the wing nuts and, when done up, only just picked up enough threads to be secure. The solution was simple; embed tee nuts into the transit boards. It works a treat, but is still Mark 1.

First test run

Have I mentioned that it’s only two weeks until the first showing of our modular layout at the Seaboard Southern Annual Exhibition at Horsham? Having progressed to the point of electrical continuity, it was felt that a full test was long overdue.

So the car was loaded, two straights and two corners crated together together with five sets of legs were all loaded into the boot of the car and carted off to Caterham for a trial run with Brian’s modules and fiddle yards.

Setting up on the deck outside the shed was very quick, especially as Brian had already set up one fiddle yard and his two boards. We added my four in as straight a configuration as could be managed with two corners, and added have of his other fiddle yard on the other end. Sadly, the deck wasn’t long enough for a full test but Brian had already confirmed full functionality of his complete set.

2015-09-04 10.20.56

Having plugged everything together it was all looking good, until the locomotive on the first train crossed the joint between Brian’s boards and mine, stopping dead with that annoying ticking from the command station notifying a short circuit. Thankfully, it was very easy to spot – I’d managed to get the plugs and sockets the wrong way round.

Sorting it was equally easy. Swapping the plug and socket on each end of my four module stretch confirmed that to be the problem and the train proceeded to the far end of the layout. Five minutes later and all of my plugs and sockets had been swapped so that, whichever of us was wrong, we are now at least the same!

All in all, the test was an outstanding success. It was pleasing to see how quickly the layout went together, and came apart again. That it worked almost straight out of the box was a bonus. We’re ready for the exhibition in two weeks, which is a huge relief to me at least. No electrical or mechanical changes will be made now!

Testing for continuity

Have made up all the jumper cables the other evening, the last remaining electrical job was to solder the dropper cables on the corner boards. These hadn’t been done because I wasn’t happy with the track alignment. However, with the first exhibition looming …

I’m still not happy with the alignment of the track, because it’s not centred exactly. However, to do it to my satisfaction, I need to invest in a Code 83 roller gauge and construct a jig to ensure the accurate centring of the track at the ends of any board. That ain’t gonna happen before the Seaboard Southern exhibition, so it stays as is.

All that said, the boards were laid loosely on the floor and plugged but not bolted together. The connectors at the far end were plugged together as well, to create a ring main, and the connectivity tested. The resistance dropping from infinity proved that current was flowing the whole way round. Result!