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Old 04-05-2018, 08:31 AM   #1
Bunkerbarge
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The idea for this layout starts with the need to build a layout for the two Hornby Live Steam Locos I have. This would be incorporated into a DCC layout with a change-over switch to enable the Live Steam Line to be used as either DCC or Live Steam. The two systems can never meet so the thinking around the crossovers, to be used in normal DCC operation, was always going to be a bit of a challenge. As the Live Steam Locos I purchased were an A3 and an A4 I decided the layout should be set in LNER days and in an area where the Lincolnshire Loop was located, which just so happens to be where I live. I went for a period of the 1940s, possibly the second half just after the end of the war as I really like the very heavily weathered look of the black locos of the time and the very heavily used and abused rolling stock on the main lines.

Anyway the project started a year ago so the first few posts will bring it up to date.

I thought I might start off with a couple of pictures of the base board. The base is Wickes Kitchen units on one wall with cut down MDF book shelves on the opposite wall with cheap B&Q doors on top of them. This means the underside of the base was not to be available however I intended having almost all of the layout at higher levels above the base. The outside mainline ring was to be at 100 mm above the base, a lot of the next level down was to be at 50 mm and there were then to be low lying areas at 25 mm. A few bits and pieces such as the canal basin would be on the base board itself. This meant that points motors and wiring would not be immediately accessible after the layout had been completed although there should be little damage needed to get to anything.

The west wall needed completing with the six inch wide shelf that was to hold the outer main lines but that was to be done when the rest of the shelf was fitted. This will give a complete ring, needed for the live steam line.

When I finally received the pre cut wood for the construction it was time to do a bit of more serious pondering. I had decided to go for the back 'shelf' as being 100 mm high but the more I thought about it and the more I read about it the more I was unsure of the idea. While 100 mm would give me a lot more scenic options in the future as regards bridges and tunnels etc. my big concern, and the one which I read more warnings about than anything else, was the challenges with gradients, in particular when using full length main line traffic. Consequently I decided against 100 mm and while 75 mm would be a good compromise 50 mm allowed me to cut my wood stock in half and double the quantity of bearers. I could then use the whole 17 foot length of the layout to arrange the transition lines between the main line and the branch lines. One would be on one side of the layout and the other would be on the opposite side.

Consequently I cut the wood in half and started to build the 'shelf'. The first piece was going to be a simple arrangement of a solid corner so the ply was marked out and cut and bearers prepared to support it. The ply is only 3 mm thick, to allow easier cutting and shaping, so it was going to need good support to prevent any flexing so, despite a lot of scenic material on top that will solidify the structure, the bearers were placed quite close together. The bearers are simply attached to the base with a bead of 'No More Nails' and the ply was stuck on top in a similar way. The holes in the bearers were for the cable for the steam circuit 'Bus' and was to allow the whole bus to be installed and made operational before moving on to the installation of the lower levels.

After a bit more playing around and a bit more pondering the shape of the first corner changed to give me an even larger radius for the main line and so the bearers were extended. I also increased the width of the shelf to allow for two main lines side by side and around six inches behind it for a backscene and its transition. The very regular lines were to be broken up in the future when scenery was added to the layout as well as increases in terrain levels above the base and the shelf level. In front of the 50 mm level was to be an area of 25 mm high which will provide a suitable foundation for the more intricate levels to be added with easier to work scenic materials. To start with the main aim was an operational ring of two main lines and a period of proving before progressing to the next stage.

After the bearers were progressed along two of the main walls I decided to have a go at installing a part of the steam line ring bus. This worked better than I had anticipated and it allowed me to fix the first piece of ply in position. The ply is simply held down with beads of "No More Nails" on the top surface of the bearers and a good weight to keep it all in place intil it sets.

The bus was then pulled through to the point whereby the bearers need continuing and allowed me to get a feel for feeding it through the holes in the bearers. I also decided to fit some new lights to the ceiling to do away with the grim old flourescent tubes so they were replaced by some new low power LED units to give much better lighting.

Next job was to be to work out how to create the transistion in the corner to the narrow shelf across the wall adjacent to the staircase. I wanted to put a geat deal of care into the construction of this part to ensure perfectly smooth trouble free running as a derailment across this stretch wiould end up with rolling stock flying down the staircase. I decided a suitable retaining wall and a perfect straight run should ensure no such problems.

The next job was to remove the bus and twist it together, based on advice I gratefully recieved on another forum. The cable was twisted in the garden in a battery drill and then rethreaded through the holes in the bearers.

The next step was to complete the outside loop to the same level so this meant building the shelf across the staircase. This will eventually hold the live steam line on the outside and the DCC mainline on the inside. Care was taken to ensure that anything untoward happening on this section would not result in a loco and its carriages flying down the stairs so carewas taken in ensuring a perfectly level surface and a smooth transition from the curves either side. The upper level was at this point almost complete along three walls so not too much to do finish the structure of this level. The wooden brace was temporarily holding a bracket in place while the glue set!
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Last edited by Flashbang; 04-05-2018 at 08:07 PM. Reason: Multi posts on same topic merged
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:10 AM   #2
Walkingthedog
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You don’t have much space under the boards to work on the bus.

Are you going to have point motors, if so I guess they will be surface mounted?
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:15 AM   #3
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Looks very good so far. I hope you will not regret not being able to access the wiring underneath though. R-
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:47 AM   #4
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Impressive, but agree you need to be able to access underneath. john
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Old 04-05-2018, 10:04 AM   #5
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Itís hard enough when you have a 3ft gap under the layout.
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Old 04-05-2018, 10:05 AM   #6
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A lot of things will become clearer as I post more to get to where I am now. Access to both busses, DCC and Live Steam, is fine for installation and will be also good enough when finished. I actually included loops in the Live Steam bus every meter to allow for easy connection of the tails. The DCC bus is completely different. Points motors are surface mounted. The crossovers between the DCC and the Live Steam lines are where it gets really interesting as power for the points and the frogs have to be completely different when on Live Steam and when on DCC. I will progress this a bit more later.
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Old 04-05-2018, 12:22 PM   #7
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It certainly looks impressive to me and it the ideal room for such a layout. I love the way you've made it into a continuous run. Very good plan indeed.
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Old 04-05-2018, 12:27 PM   #8
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At this point I managed to complete the loop and so had a higher level all the way around the layout. The Live Steam line power bus is in place and I started to assemble the control bits and pieces at the control board. The DCC controller was not in place on the control board at this time but I had been using it to test run a loco on a simple piece of test track. I very much like the Sig-na Trak ACE DCS 2044 control unit and find it easy to use while maintaining a high degree of accessibility and flexibility. I particularly like the seperate hand held units and while I am only likely to be using one at a time you can plug in four and have four locos individually controlled.

I also assembled at this point a test piece to try to determine the best process for laying track and ballasting it. I have gone for Peco code 100 flexible, mounted on 3mm cork, both held in place with neat PVA and track pins. The ballast test piece was a trial of three different types and a number of different glues and strengths. Although while favouring using the ballast in the centre of the lower track, which was Woodland Scenics, as it looks the best to scale I ended up going for a completely different ballast that I had not even tried at this point. I did however want to sort out a reliable and consistent technique that can be applied to the entire track to ensure the most consistent process. I am a geat believer in using sample pieces like this for weathering and testing out processes before committing to the layout.
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Old 04-05-2018, 12:51 PM   #9
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Busy time ahead. Ballast looks good. Donít forget to wire the track before you paint and ballast it.
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Old 04-05-2018, 01:17 PM   #10
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With the higher level completed and a loose test loop run for a week or two it was time to take it apart again and start work on the track laying. The first job was to glue the cork underlay down. I went for 3mm cork by Gaugemaster as it is relatively straightforward to lay and being pre-cut in half makes following curves very easy. I marked out the track by centre line then laid the furthest away half of the cork up to the centre line from behind. When that had cured it was relatively easy to lay the second half of the cork up to the edge of the first piece. I offset the two halves to stagger the joints. With a handfull of old gel bateries to hand to hold the cork in place while it set sufficiently progress wasn't too bad. The intention was to get the two higher level circuits fully operational with the Live Steam and the change overs all working before going any further as lower levels will cover the cabling. I wanted therefore to be sure all soldered joints are robust, secure and most of all reliable before covering them.

The two curves at this end of the room will be 600 mm radius on the inner track, intended only for freight and suburban traffic and the two outer curves will be 670 mm radius, which will be for the main line locos.

With the progress of the cork laying being fairly laborious it soon became apparent that an alternative task was required to fill in the regular gaps while the cork cured. Consequently it was time to turn attentions to the track laying.

First up was the decision of what track to use. It had to be flexible at least for the live steam ring as a dropper was going to be connected to every single piece of track so minimising the number of pieces was an important consideration. I figured the same may as well apply to the DCC ring and layout to ensure the highest levels of reliability. Eventually I decided on Peco code 100 Flexitrack and Peco code 100 Electrofrog points. I went for Electrofrog for reliability and looks, without limiting myself in the future with potential rolling stock with code 75 track.

Having decided on the track next up was to decide how to operate the points. As I have mentioned almost all my wiring and electronics is going to be above the board so surface mounted points motors was also necessary. All the reading and research eventually led me to DCCConcepts Cobalt SS points motors and the two below board motors at either end of the staircase causeway could be DCCConcepts ip Digital motors with their neatly built in decoders. Consequently I put together a starter order with DCCConcepts for a pack of six Cobalt SS Points motors with decoders and accessories, a crossover pack for the two crossovers, two of the six pack would be used for the other crossover, and a couple of below board Cobalt iP digital motors.
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Last edited by Flashbang; 04-05-2018 at 08:08 PM. Reason: Multi posts on same topic
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