Kingsvale, NSW 1963

Kingsvale, NSW 1963
A view of Kingsvale station, looking north towards Cowra c1963. Courtesy Ken Ames, "From Grease to Gold Braid".

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

A short story

Hi all,
Haven't posted anything for a little while, but I've been quite busy on the layout.  I've been wiring. 

I thought it was a simple layout - three tracks, two turnouts, DCC. And relatively speaking, it is simple, but I had a few dramas which took a bit of fiddling around to rectify. More importantly, I learnt a few lessons which I should share with you.

1. Check that there are no shorts between the rails before the wiring is connected.
This was the most important lesson. I did a grand job of wiring, replete with terminal blocks, colour coded wiring and inspired utilisation of the tortoise point motor outputs. I was very proud of my efforts - electronics has never been my strong suit, but feeling that the is nothing inherently difficult about it, I merrily charged ahead. Before applying any current, I found that every rail was electrically connected to every other rail. Not at all what it should be! A dead short, or shorts. Of course, I had to dismantle much of my good work to facilitate trouble-shooting!

2. Even with only about six meters of rail, I wish I had isolated some sections to help locate the short. (Clever readers will already have deduced that the most likely place for shorting is in the turnouts).

3. I want my wiring to be neat, orderly and labelled. At the moment, I can flip the module over to work on the wiring. But when the landscaping is done this won't be so easy. So I don't want to be crawling around under the layout trying to work out what's connected to what for any longer than I have to when there's a problem. To this end, I think a dot matrix in permanent marker at a 50mm spacing on the underside of the baseboard would help to place terminal blocks and wire runs in a neat grid. Might be a bit obsessive/compulsive, but not much extra effort for a lot of benefit.

To cut a long story short (pardon the pun),I had brass tie-bars connecting the point blades - these were replaced with pcb sleepers. A second short was caused by incorrect wiring of the lead rails shorting to the outer rails through the cast-brass rail chairs.

All fixed now, though I haven't yet put all the wiring back and applied power. Readers will have to wait for that exciting instalment.


Monday, 13 June 2011

Real or imaginary?

Hi all,

I had an interesting discussion at the Epping exhibition yesterday, about the pros and cons of a layout which represents a real location, or one which is "fictional" - somewhere which never existed, but recognisably follows NSW practice.

I've always wanted to model a specific place, to re-create the feel of a location I like being at.  To do this would be a kind of labour of love; you would really need to know the place intimately to capture its character in model form.

The alternate view put to me, was that this is too limiting.  With the inevitable compromises imposed by space, time or budget, modelling a real location can be frustrating and difficult.

Furthermore, the public want to see layouts which have the "wow factor", and real locations are generally pretty dull, especially on country branchlines.  I can accept that, but my goal is to model a location on a country branch, dull or not!  Besides, I'm not really that interested in satisfying the tastes of the general public.  Most of them would expect to see trains charging around the layout (one every 10 seconds or less), with the KFC hard up against a bright green tunnel.

I'm not dismissing the vital role that exhibitions play in bringing new people to the hobby.  Nor am I criticising those who exhibit month-in month-out, which must be a pretty thankless task.  But I'm not building an exhibition layout.  It's for me.

Would a rose by any other name smell any different?  If I build a real location, with a few compromises, but give it a fictional name, what does that do to the perceptions of the viewer compared with the same layout given the name of the location it's intended to depict?  Does it attract a more critical eye, looking for those errors and omissions to expose the modeller as a fraud?

In my limited experience of building layouts (this being the first serious attempt in my adult life), I like building real locations.  I see the advantages of the limitations this imposes.  It constrains my tendency to add too much to the layout.  It prevents me from buying every piece of rolling stock that I happen to like.  I don't have to think too hard about what would be consistent with usual NSWGR practice, because I'm just building it "off the plan".

Anyway, it's a subject I think about a lot and am quite interested in.  A number of high-quality layouts over the years with fictional names have captured the essence of the NSW landscape and NSWGR practice; it was not hard to guess the location they depicted; would they have been perceived as "better" or "worse" if they  used the real name?  East Matelend, Warratoo and Hawkesbury River are examples.

Should I change the name of my layout to "Queens Vale" or "Kings Vail"?

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Track re-alignment

Hi all,

Following a suggestion a few weeks back about the insufficient space between the goods loop and the passing loop (thanks Craig!), I have realigned this track to be more like the prototype, as the photos below show:

The line on the right is the goods siding, and I have enlarged the gap between it and the passing loop.  If you look at the image below and compare it with the Ken Ames photograph a the top of the blog, the spacing looks more correct now (it's subtle but prototypical, and definitely noticeable).

That Ken Ames photograph is very valuable.  The more I study it (each time I open the blog), the more stuff I notice.  For example, the pots in front of the station building, the signal pulley posts in front of the platform, etc.  Perhaps this is a good reason to put a picture like this in the dunny or on the fridge so that I see new details several times a day!

Tonight I have been wiring up the rails.  I am sure I have used an unconventional process, necessary because all the track for this module has ended-up as a soldered, one-piece assembly.  Anyway, it seems to be working so far.  For those interested, here is the process I have used:
1.  Determine the position of the track on the baseboard, paying careful attention to the proximity to the platform (rollingstock should be prototypically close without collision)
2.  Mark the baseboard with the position of the rail where "droppers" are required.  Droppers are the feeds to the rail from beneath the base-board
3.  Mark the rail to coincide with the markings on the baseboard, so that later the droppers will line up with the holes in the baseboard.
4.  Drill holes in the baseboard for the droppers, coinciding with the marks made in step 2.
5.  Solder insulated multistrand wire to the underside of the rail (so that it cannot easily be seen from above).  I have used wire with red insulation for one rail and black insulation for the other.  Areas which are to have switched polarity have mauve insulation (for example, the point frogs).
6.  Place the rail assembly in position and feed the wires (each of which are about 15cm long) through their corresponding hole.

At this stage, I now have the situation where the rail assembly is sitting about 50mm above the baseboard, supported by the droppers.  This makes the thing look a bit like a rollercoaster; rails in mid-air!  Very cool.  I will take some photos to show you the Kingsvale "Wild Mouse".

Tomorrow I can pull the rail down to the baseboard, finish detailing the points, install point motors and DCC and run a bit of a test.  Then I can paint the rail, put sleepers in place and ballast.

Tomorrow, it's the Epping exhibition - looking forward to that!  A new AJRM will be a bonus.

Until next time