On Saturday 30th September, the members of the Surrey & Sussex Black Sheep set up their largest modular layout to date, some 66′ or 20m around four sides of a room at the annual Seaboard Southern exhibition.
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.
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!
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!
After another long hiatus, and with the Seaboard Southern Show now only a few weeks away, I sat down this evening with a film on Amazon Prime, two rolls of cable, a bunch of banana plugs and sockets plus some chocolate blocks and proceeded to make up the jumper cables for connecting power to adjacent boards.
Here’s the work area and tools laid out, with three cables already made up. It’s not a big tool kit for this job; ruler, cutters, strippers and screwdriver.
The cutting mat is just to keep the tools up together, rather than spreading them around the entire floor as I work!
Each board requires one plug and one socket each in red and black, so I’ve got four full sets to make up.
I jury-rigged a cable reel as well, to stop the two large spools rolling around the room. You might recognise the IKEA Komplement shoe rack from their Pax wardrobe range!
The folding wooden ruler is ideal for jobs like this, as it’s heavy and sturdy enough to remain where it’s placed.
There’s a lot of jumper cables left on those spools, as I bought 100m of each!
Here’s the basic process of making up each wire. This process was repeated four times for each of the four boards, so 16 cables in total.
Tomorrow’s job is to solder them to the boards.
- feeder droppers added to two yard lengths of Micro Engineering Code 83 0n30 flexible track
- said track pinned to the boards and soldered to the Gapmaster GM006 units used as end ties
- droppers on the straight boards soldered to the slug tape on the underside
- alignment tested by bolting boards together in various orders and running a skeleton log car