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January 2011: Pendolino!

As a leaving gift from the BBC I have been given a Pendolino, to remind me of all the trips to and from Manchester over the last year.
Here it is alongside the BBC News container!

July 2010: Tedford Diesel Depot Expansion

Overview of the new expansion I have expanded the diesel depot yet again!

This time I have changed the turnout at the end of the head shunt to a three way point and added two extra lines, with a double slip to give access. This gives four extra sidings in total and gives room for about 6 new locos and finally somewhere to stable my Roco DCC crane.

At the same time, I have added a small control panel by the depot. This uses a ZTC 505 controller which I purchased second hand from the Nottingham show this year. The problems with the older ZTC controllers as masters are well known, but as a slave on a Lenz system they work pretty well and this now enables me to shunt the yard much more easily.

I have not added another touchscreen at this panel, but instead I have built a simple mimic panel. This has a USB keyboard encoder in it and is connected back to the main control PC via a single USB cable. The various buttons are set up to give different characters as if from a keyboard when pressed, and the control software detects these and 'presses' the buttons on the main software panel, so it is easy to control the points in the yard from this panel. The diagram on the panel is printed onto sticky paper and covered with 'tackyback' and then stuck onto the metal panel, after the holes had been drilled.

The track plans on the website don't yet show this update.

The new sidings The new control panel

April 2010: Improved Scenery

I have added a small factory complex into the area between the door to the room and Bearham station, which was previously unused. This is built from Hornby Scaeldale buildings and the additional small section of baseboard has to carefully fit around the swinging section.

The new factory A tanker leaves the factory

I have also reworked the scrap yard area and relaid the tracks. It has been extended by 8cm which actually gives a lot more room.

The rebult scrap yard The 03 shunter is on its way into preservation!

February/March 2009: Tedford Diesel Depot Rebuild

The original layout in Tedford Diesel Depot The track layout in Tedford Diesel depot has never been ideal. The original plan was designed to fit in as many engines as possible for display purposes but it was also designed to use pointwork that was available from my previous layout. This reesulted in a very unuseable layout that made getting locos out almost impossible. Added to this, the points in the depot were controlled by re-used SEEP point motors which had proved not to be very reliable.

The original layout is shown in the picture to the left, just as demolition was about to start. As can be seen from this picture and the diagram below, the problem with the layout was that track 'E' in particular was almost impossible to access. The new design fixes this by using a three way point and a double slip. This means any of the tracks can be reached either directly or with one reversal on track 'F' which becomes an access track.

The depot building was also moved back to cover tracks 'B' and 'D' instead of 'D' and 'F', and it was moved slightly to the left so that the tracks extend out the other side a little, making recovering a stuck loco easier. In its new location it also helps to disguise the tight curve on the main line at this location.

The first stage of the reconstruction was to remove the old track - the building and details were taken off and put to one side. Then the track was pulled up using side cutters to pull out the track pins followed by an old chisel to lever it up - it was old track that had already been used more than twice so no attempt was made to salvage it. As the track was laid on cork sheet which had been stapled to the plywood baseboard, it was easy to lift it all and get back to clean baseboard. The left hand point that was replaced by the three way point was carefully cut out with a dremel to avoid needing to replace track on the main line or on siding 'A' which was left as it was. Also, most of sidings 'C' and 'E' were left as they were.

The original layout:
The new layout:

New cork sheet was then laid down and the new track layout was marked out. Holes were cut for Peco point motors attached directly to the points and these were cut with a Bosch multi tool with a reciprocating saw blade - very useful for this. The photo on the left below shows the area cleared out with the baseboards exposed ready for the new cork sheet. The holes are were the pits were in the depot - I covered these over as the new arrangement will not have pits. On the right the new cork sheet has been stapled in, the track layout has been marked and the point motor holes have been cut. Care was taken to line up the track so that the point motors avoid the beams below the baseboard. The Mk3 coach in the photo was used to check clearances between the main line and the back of the depot building.

The old track is gone and the baseboards are exposed  ready to lay the track

Next the new track was pinned down and soldered. Droppers were connected up to the DCC track bus and the point motors were wired up. In the old layout the point motors were wired in pairs so I had to add another MERG decoder to drive all the points individually. Whilst doing the rewire of this area, the opportunity was taken to rewire the whole junction off the direct track bus and via a current detector. This means that trains can now be detected on the junction and the signalling logic will be adjusted to know this, making changes to red when a train leaves the platform more immediate as previously the trian wasn't detected until it got over the junction. As the whole junction has to be one detection block, trains going either way will be detected - time will tell if this will cause problems with the signalling, but it can probably be fixed in the software if necessary.

The new track is down  All finished and waiting for locos

With all the track down and wired up, a thorough test was made using a few locos of different lengths. Once all was proven OK, a hardstanding was made for the building. This is a layer of cork with a layer of card on top. The card is black but is painted concrete colour. This gives an ideal height, just a tiny fraction below the track surface, which makes cleaning easy. Balast was then added - a mixture of colours with some grass here and there, all blended in with a spray of track dirt colour. In the final photo on the right, things are almost finished - all that remained was to fix the doors back onto the depot (they came off when I removed it), rewire the yard lamp that got moved and park some more locos - not bad for a few days work!

January/February 2009:

It's been a busy couple of months. I purchased one of the new Hornby HSTs at Warley and got another one as a present. I wanted to run these with my Lima Mk3 coaches which I had already converted to use Kadee couplings. The NEM pocket isat thewrong height and too far back but conversion is actually simpler than it sounds. All that needs to be done is to take the provided plug in coupling and cut off the tension lock leaving a stub. Then take a Kadee No. 20 and cut off the tail. Finally weld these together with a soldering iron (line them up in the jaws of a 'helping hand' to get them exactly square whilst doing the weld). I suggst doing a very slight weld first to test with a Kadee height testing block, before doing the final joint. The end result is shown below and works very well - see one ofmy videos for the HSTs going round.

The new coupling   The end result

Whilst demonstrating this it is probably also worth showing how I did the Kadees on the Mk3 - a simple case of gluing No. 20s to the top of the stubs on the Lima bogies after the tension locks were cut off.

Lima Mk3 Bogie   The end result

And for Hornby Mk3 coaches...

Lima Mk3 Bogie   The end result

Also being worked on this month are a number of wagons - in particular the 'BBC Box' container built from a C-Kits plastic kit and an FNA flask carrier that's been lurking in the kit box for a few years. This is built from an S-kits kit. I had particular problems getting the bogies square but the fnal result is quite pleasing.

The BBC Box   FNA