Tag Archives: Corner Board

Seaboard Southern Annual Exhibition 2017

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.

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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!

Making the Jumpers

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.

2015-08-24 20.18.43Here’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.

2015-08-24 20.18.52I 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!

1" of stripped wire is twisted ... ... then folded in half and twisted again ... ... and finally one more time The plug or socket is firmly screwed onto the end ... ... and the cable cut to 18" including the body of the connector

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.

Track and Wiring

Progress on the modules has been slow, for which read non-existent. With the looming date of the Seaboard Southern show in September, at which these are expected to not only appear but be operational, it’s high time to extract the digit! A sunny Saturday afternoon with fellow moduler Brian Daly saw:
  1. 11330019_1077673618914249_9158954348490870863_nfeeder droppers added to two yard lengths of Micro Engineering Code 83 0n30 flexible track
  2. said track pinned to the boards and soldered to the Gapmaster GM006 units used as end ties
  3. droppers on the straight boards soldered to the slug tape on the underside
  4. alignment tested by bolting boards together in various orders and running a skeleton log car
I’ve still got to add droppers to the curved boards and, having had some fun with the alignment, I think I’m going to make a jig for centring the track, just for my own sanity. The fact is that my eyeballs are rubbish at measuring! 549232_1077673665580911_7544881282843041056_nHere you can see the two 45° boards and one straight all bolted up together, with the other straight board standing on its end to the right. The flowing line of the track can clearly be seen. Module standards discourage connecting the two corners reversed without a straight between them. Before paint is applied, I think I’m going to put the supplied 3mm plywood fascias on, if only to hide the finger joints and screw holes. Then it’s time for some scenery!