So, the first official exhibition appearance for the layout has come and gone.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I had done a little additional work to add some colour to the layout, and to my mind this made it look a lot more completed than it had done previously.  Also the addition of a curtain brought the whole scene together nicely, so thanks to my mum who made it for me!

The colour added to the layout, mainly the blue backscene and the painted sea to simulate different depths of water.

A few days prior to Sparsholt the layout was tested.  All the sections of track were tested, and cleaned up where required.  Some of the sections that had the das ballast applied were a little rough and needed the flangeways clearing out, but other than that it was minor surface grime or paint that needed removing and then all was fine and running nicely with the addition of a little graphite to help matters along.

The night before Sparsholt. Here you see the full layout assembled with curtain attached, looking a bit more presentable than before.

I had very little time to concentrate on building stock for Sparsholt, so I put out a request on NGRM for the loan of anything that people were prepared to bring.  I was a little overwhelmed by the response, so thanks to those of you who brought something!

What was particularly nice to see was my own stock mixed in with that provided by Mick Thornton and Ted Polet to create what someone described as a ‘Hebridean stockfest’.

Some of the stock on loan, on the left is Ted Polet's Campbeltown & Machrihanish Rly 'Atlantic', assembled from the Backwoods kit. On the right the 'terrier bash' that Charlie Insley has been working on to run on Isle Ornsay. More stock by Ted features at the rear, including his lovely railmotor/pugbash Colonel Lopez.

One of my own locos in charge of some of Mick Thornton's own ratiobashes, the inspiration for the rake that I've been working on recently.

For a bit of fun at one point we had a train running on Isle Ornsay which had ratiobashes made by myself, Mick Thornton, Julien Webb, Charlie Insley, Brian Ellsmore and Ted Polet.

Another train of ratiobashes, this time by both Ted Polet and Mick Thornton.

My favourite loco of Ted's, 'Shaka Zulu', a Lawley 4-4-0. This is what I hope to build on my recently acquired Liliput diesel chassis. It's accompanied by my own 'work in progress' RT Models Peckett, and Mick Thornton's snowplough.

Unfortunately it was a rather busy day for me, so I didn’t get more than 20 minutes to have a quick flit around the exhibits and do some brief shopping, consequently I didn’t take any pictures.  However there are plenty appearing online courtesy of Julien Webb, Ted Polet, Michael Campbell, and of course Mick Thornton will have some online in the coming days on his blog.  There are many more in the exhibition thread on NGRM.

So, things I’ve learnt having now tested the layout in anger:

  • The two 12″ radius Peco points are useless for propelling things through and are going to be replaced with ‘mainline’ ones to improve running and reliability of operation.
  • I need to produce a list of locos and the addresses of their DCC chips.  It’s fine for me to know that that loco is #3, but it’ll save a lot of confusion, and time, for other operators.
  • The point operation codes need to be standardised for the entire layout.  I have to confess I thought that I had done this, but it’ll be easy to rectify by reprogramming elements of the ESU Switchpilots I use to throw the points.
  • Mark where magnets are located more clearly, perhaps with subtly coloured sleepers.
  • There were, at times, up to 4 different types of couplings in use on the layout.  This lead to difficulties with coupling heights.  I have to confess that I’m not very good at assembling and fitting couplings, so I’m going to have to think some more about what I want, and how to improve reliability.  I’ve already begun the slippery slope of looking at DCC controlled uncoupling.
  • A sequence to operate to might help control operations a little and coordinate moves between the two controllers a little better.

Testing the replacement of the two 12" radius points with the larger 'mainline' ones.

Still, it wasn’t entirely unsuccessful, totally unexpectedly I was given a Cerficiate of Merit from the 009 Society AGM in recognition of the research that sits behind the layout.  I was very honoured to say the least!

So, that’s where we are now, and a little of what might be happening over the next few weeks to improve things.  I bought 6 of the Society’s new Tralee & Dingle cattle van kits which will be on the workbench soon, expect a blog post about them in the near future.

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5 Responses to Sparsholt

  1. Geoff says:

    Lovely work Tom and very nicely presented as well. I do like those ratiobashers and “Atlantic”
    Shame about the Peco points, have you ever considered building your own and having a little more freedom with track planning ?

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Geoff.

      ‘Atlantic’ belongs to Ted Polet who built the Craigcorrie & Dunalistair Railway which has featured in RM many times. It’s a Backwoods Miniatures kit.

      The 12″ radius Peco points are a problem for propelling stock through, but the newer versions with larger radius are ok, so I’ll swap to those. I would like to try building my own, but would rather that the entire layout was done with them so that all the track matched.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As I said on the NGRM forum, it looks great Tom! It looks like installing the new Mainline points where the 12″ ones are is going to be in interesting fit… Too bad they didn’t work out. I know that the one’s I used on my oldest’s first layout were awful.

    Your RT Models Pecket is looking great too… Keep up the good work!

    • Tom says:

      Thanks. I think the mainline points will fit ok, I’ve already tested it with the templates I produced. It just needs the servos relocating, and maybe setting the siding back from the edge of the quay slightly, or having a slight curve in it.

  3. Pingback: Progress at last | Isle Ornsay

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