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Old 04-05-2018, 01:24 PM   #11
Walkingthedog
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I know you probably know this but it is advisable to make sure you have enough clearance on the curves. Test with your longest rolling stock. Some loco overhang on curves more than others. Once you have glued the track and cork down it may be too late to change.

You mention soldered joints being robust I take it you are referring to wiring?
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Old 04-05-2018, 01:25 PM   #12
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When I opened up the six pack of Cobalt SS motors I was very surprised to find such a comprehensive set of accessories. There was a two way and a three way splitter included as well as an extension cable giving quite a bit of flexibility. There was also a bag of various link wires for mounting either on ballast or on the base board and plenty of screws to put them all together.

The decoders are supplied in pairs on a single board and are a substantial size but they do fit comfortably underneath a Bachmann barn so will be arranged around the layout with buildings simply dropped over them.

When the order arrived I decided to have a play, which eventually developed into fitting one of the Cobalt iP Digital motors to the first piece of track to be laid, namely a point.

First up was to mark out the base where the point was going to be fitted so I could then drill the two holes for the droppers and the larger hole for the tie bar actuator.

The two link wires were removed from the points blades to isolate the frog and two droppers were soldered to the outer rails, with links being incorporated to jump to the inner rails.

The centering spring was also removed so avoid the motor having to work against it. I didn't want to rely on contact with the outer rails as they were going to be painted so a direct feed would be far more reliable, which is easily available from the contact block on the motor.

The Cobalt iP motor was mounted onto a wooden plinth rather than directly to the 3mm ply base to give the screws something to hold on to plus giving complete flexibility when finally permanently mounting the motor. The plinth will be simply glued in place below the base board.

With the droppers soldered onto the base of the rail a test fit showed the point sat where I wanted it with the tie bar right in the centre of the large hole and the operating arm clear all around.

Consequently the point was glued and tacked into position. With my first piece of track actually permanently fixed in place I really couldn't help myself as I wanted to see how a length of track was going to look. Consequently I marked out the next piece and soldered two droppers to a piece of flexitrack. The chairs were cut back and fishplates were fitted and the piece of flexitrack was also fitted and glued down. I wanted to see how the droppers looked and was pleased to see that they are neatly tucked away below the rail. I did then experiment with soldering the droppers with the bend in line with the rail and subsequent pieces were done that way as the wire is even less noticeable and will be easily hidden by the ballast.

Last two pictures from above

Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkingthedog View Post
I know you probably know this but it is advisable to make sure you have enough clearance on the curves. Test with your longest rolling stock. Some loco overhang on curves more than others. Once you have glued the track and cork down it may be too late to change.

You mention soldered joints being robust I take it you are referring to wiring?
The curve radii were all tested for interference with the longest bogie rolling stock and well clear of each other. All bus and dropper connections will be soldered. The aim is for a dropper on every piece of track with it all being soldered.

As the underlay slowly progressed it was time to turn my attention again to the track and, first of all, decide on the processes I wanted to adopt to lay it.

Initial playing around with it soon identified the challenges of trying to get it to remain in shape so soldering droppers to curves and marking out the base for drilling became quite a challenge. I also noted that laying straight lengths was far from easy as the Peco flexi-track is exactly what it says on the tin, namely very flexible! I found that glueing the straight lengths worked better and nailing the curves made life a bit easier there. Everything would become consolidated at the end when the ballasting was glued in place so I made a decision to glue the straight lengths while using a straight edge to ensure the piece remained true but to nail the curves, while following the join in the underlay.

I also realised from a lot of reading and watching far too many YouTube clips that there are as many methods of laying track as there are people doing it so I would still need to make my own mind up as to the process and I think everyone has thier own little pet preferences that are important to them. As an example I really want the droppers to be invisible so they have to be soldered to the base of the rail. This means they must be soldered before fitting, thereby making the soldering and fitting significantly more tricky. I notice many solder the droppers in place but the ends can never be really hidden then so that is just my own little thing. A point I did take on board was to stagger the rail joints on the curves. This again makes things much more tricky but the curve is definately much smoother. I decided not to bother on the straights as they didn't really need it and it saves at least that job.

Consequently I ended up with a specific process that I am reasonably happy with. It may be modified as I go along but the most important part for me at the moment is to establish the procedure, which I can become familiar with and then follow, which will hopefully prevent me from making so many mistakes.
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Last edited by Flashbang; 04-05-2018 at 08:09 PM. Reason: Multi posts on same topic merged
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Old 04-05-2018, 01:39 PM   #13
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Just checking


I only mentioned it because all was well with me until I ran a King class on the inside. It derailed a coach on the outside.


Your work looks great, youíve obviously put a great deal of thought into the layout.
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Old 04-05-2018, 01:40 PM   #14
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So with those learnings in place this is the process I have settled on. This is a straight piece without staggering the joins:

1) Remove the chairs from the end sleeper on both ends of the track.

2) Remove the tabs from two gaps below the track.

3) File the surface of the rail to enable a better soldered joint.

4) Mark the underlay at the exact point where the dropper is going to be, bearing in mind the right angle on the end of the wire.

5) Drill the holes for the dropper wire in the baseboard with a clearance drill that enables a nice easy fit without being too sloppy.

6) Tin the underside of the rail with a good sized blob of solder ensuring the rail is hot enough to wet the solder.

7) Tin the end of the dropper wire.

8) Bend the end of the dropper over at 90 degrees.

9) Cut the tab on the end to suit the gap in the sleepers.

10) Place the tab on top of the tinned rail and apply the soldering iron tip again to fuse the two together.

11) You should end up with nice neat droppers solderd to the base of the track.

12) Next is to fit the droppers to the holes in the baseboard and pull through just enough to leave the track upside down.

13) The two fishplates are then fitted to the fixed track ends and pushed up to the first complete sleeper, ensuring that they will sit firm as the track is fitted.

14) A bead of neat PVA glue is then run down both sides of the track below the rails before the track is then flipped over, the ends slid into the fishplates, the droppers pulled through the base and the track aligned with a metallic straight edge.

15) Finally a straight piece of wood is placed on the track and weighed down until the glue has set.

Not a great deal to show for the efforts so far but at least I now have a process I am happy with and the track I have down so far seems to be neat enough and I am happy with the fact that every piece has a pair of droppers soldered to it.

At this point in time the underlay was finally completed on the two main tracks of the higher level with the crossovers also done as well as a line to the engine shed. At this point I still needed to do a siding on the North side to run along the loading bays and warehouses but the main underlay work was done.

The next job was to fit the second points motor below the staircase 'causeway' and wire it up to the DCC bus. Armed with the knowledge gained from the first one this went in fairly quickly and, after a couple of calls to the guys at DCC Concepts to help me address the first one I was able to set this one up very easily and quickly. All remaining points motors will be Cobalt SS units.

The next thing I looked at was working out how to complete the soldering of the bus connections, which can be a bit tricky with pre twisted cables. I wanted to displace the connections by a couple of inches to minimise the risk of any shorts being experienced so simply cut open the insulation for a few milimeters, tinned the exposed cable and soldered the end of the dropper to it. I really wanted to avoid cutting the bus to minimise any resistance losses in it so opeing it up with a wedge of wood allowed me to work on it while maintaining the access and achieving a strong joint.

Finally the soldered joints were sealed with liquid insulation. One thing this process taught me was to try to minimise the numbers of connections directly to the bus as the twisted cable was quite tight and opening it out for numerous connections adjacent to each other was going to be even more tight. Consequently when I move on to the Cobalt SS motors I will be looking at a single dropper connection for a control board and take the power for the points from this dropper rather than the bus.

Last two pictures for the previous post.

Next job was the first play around with the Cobalt SS point motors and controllers. I first of all I rigged up a temporary test by taking power from the bus to feed into the controller and connecting two of the Cobalt SS motors. The controllers can actually power three motors comfortably on each address however there are only two addresses available on each board. Consequently for a crossover both point motors can be arranged to change simultaneously on the one command, which is very convenient and, of course cheaper.

In the case of the first one I was playing with I wanted one address to operate the two points of a crossover and the other address to operate the point for a siding. The test set up included the board and two motors on one address coinnected together with a 'Y' lead and an extension. After only a little bit of playing around I soon found out how to asign the address from the DCC controller, which, once the order of play was understood, proved to be extreemly easy.

DCCConcepts even thinks to include a reversing connection on the 'Y' leads to give you even greater flexibility with the plug in arrangement.

Next job was to decide which of the many linkages supplied with the motors to use to connect to the point. These all give you flexibility depending on your underlay, scale etc..etc.. however they do require the motor to be mounted alongside the track. In a number of my own situations this would not be possible so I had to come up with a new linkage that would traverse an adjacent track. All I have decided so far is the fact that I want the motors to be hiden below various assorted track side huts with the linkages arranged to at least represent realistic rodding and interlocks.

I was therefore at a point of needing to decide how to extend the linkages from the motor to the point operating arm while maintaing a degree of realism.

Final picture for the last post

As mentioned above firstly a loose set up was connected together using temporary dry connections to the bus. My first use of the Cobalt SS units was going to be the crossover to the live steam circuit so there is quite a lot going on at this particular part of the layout. Not only do I have the points operation to consider but I also have to be able to change the power supply over from the live steam transformer to the DCC controller and back again. When the outer loop is on DCC the points and the circuit has to operate as normal and when on live steam the points have to be completely isolated from the DCC system. More about that part in later posts but for now the main objective was to simply get the crossover operating as a DCC set up.

After the challenge described above was addressed by using the reversing 'Y' connector and the motors proved to be operational when sat loose on the layout the next consideration was how to connect the motors to the points. The supplied linkages are only good for having the motor very close to the edge of the track and I particularly wanted then to be hidden. Consequently longer linkages were going to be required and, despite the Cobalt SS instruction sheet referring to available linkage extentions, DCC Concepts seemed to have no knowledge of these and repeatedly tried to tell me I was misreading the instructions as this was referring to remote operation electrically. I'm afraid the instructions specifically refer to remote mechanical linkages. Realising therefore I was on my own with this I started to experiment with possibilities and purchased some brass 0.8 mm square section rod and a couple of differing sizes of plastic. The plastic turned out to be a non starter as it is way too flexible. So I was left with brass square section rod. I filed the ends down to a round profile before bending them into some sort of acceptable shape to roughly represent real life linkages.

A couple of failed attempts later and I managed to come up with something I was happy with. On one point the rods will have to run below the adjacent track in a fairly prototypical manner so the underside of the track will have to be insulated to prevent the rod shorting out the tracks. This will be done with small plasticard plates glued onto the base of the rail.

The two motors were then mounted on the base board in an appropriate location to enable them to be covered and disguised by static rodding and tested. After a couple of misfires as a result of parts of the rods interferring with other bits they started to work well and have proved to be fine since. I will leave the temporary connections for now as I still have the change over arrangements to put in place for the live steam power supply.
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Last edited by Flashbang; 04-05-2018 at 08:43 PM. Reason: Posts of same topic content merged
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Old 04-05-2018, 01:43 PM   #15
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It is a common practice to pass the droppers through a single hole in the centre of the track. Ballast covers the wire and hole. I do the same as you.
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Old 04-05-2018, 08:03 PM   #16
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As often seems to be the case with such things parts of the project seem to be inter-dependant and such was the case with the upper level of the layout. On the one hand I want to locate point motors below suitable buildings but on the other hand building locations will also be determined by the backscene. Consequently while the building has been going on creating the backscene has also been progressing.

I started off by looking closely at a couple of possibilities from the ID Backscenes catalogue, which seemed to fit the bill. I had also toyed with the idea of taking my own pictures but finding a suitable printing firm that understood what I wanted seemed to be a challenge, despite a number of phone calls. It was then that I noticed on the 'Art Printers' web page that they would also consider making a bespoke backscene from your own pictures. That was just what I was looking for.

Next job was to take the pictures and that involved chatting up a friend who has 'contacts' in the local church and was able to help me by arranging to allow me access to the top of the church tower on a Saturday morning while the clock was being wound up. I therefore took my camera up to the top of the tower and took a great many sequential pictures at varying focal lengths while I tried to maintain a consistent perspective field and horizon position without the use of a tripod. When I got home I studied the shots, picked out the best focal length and forwarded the set to 'Art Printers'. Of course I wanted a backscene of 1 foot high by 29 feet long, times two, so the part of the shots that would be used was going to be only a narrow band either side of the horizon from my shots. John at 'Art Printers' stitched all the shots together before a few e-mails were exchanged to fine tune the results. John very cleverly copied and flipped a couple of parts of the scene to give me a bit more length and therefore allowed a wider band of the original pictures to be used, thereby increasing the resolution of the final scene. When I explained that I was looking at a 1940s era he also produced some further magic by removing some obviously new bouses as well as removing the solar panels from many of the house roofs.

Despite all this work he did not charge any extra for the editing and the resultant backscene cost me no more than an 'off the shelf' one would have cost. He even gave me a discount for a large order! I cannot recommend his service highly enough.

I must admit that when I first recieved the rolls I was a bit dissapointed as they looked quite indistinct and too soft however recent reading has taught me that the backscene should not be too sharp or high contrast as it will detract from the foreground and look unrealistic, bearing in mind that real distant horizons are not clearly defined. I decided to trust to the expertise of 'Art Printers' and reserve judgement until it was on the wall.

For mounting I decided to follow the advice given by 'Art Printers' and use Foamex foam board in 3mm sheets, which can be puchased from the supplier recommended by 'Art Printers' at 2440 mm long by 300 mm high. This arrived superby packaged and in perfect condition so was unpackaged ready to fit. I used a high grip sealer/glue mastic and ran it over the back of the foamex before placing it against the wall and rolling it down with a small paint roller and a seam roller. I decided on a corner radius that enabled a smooth transition of the backscene without loosing too much of the available surface and held it in place with some masking tape overnight. The mastic proved to be particularly sticky however and it went into place easily. The blue is a protective film on the face of the Foamex.

Next job was to place the six 1500 mm pieces of backscene on to the foamex and this was a bit trickier. I started in the centre and ensured that the rolled up piece remained square on the base at all times while it was carefully unrolled and pressed down simultaneously. An assistant makes this very much easier. I did the three pieces to the left of the centre line and the first piece to the right and the more I looked at it the more I thought it fit the bill perfectly. There were a couple of areas that I thought may require scenic breaks to hide but they are significantly fewer than I feared and I am certain that with some careful blending in and perspective assistance the backscenes are going to look better than I could have hoped.

Then I came across piece number five of the first scene, which had a cut out in it to go around a wooden post in the wall as well as go around the corner, while I was straddling the open staircase and leaning across the corner of the board. I didn't get it square and so decided to try to remove it and try again. I ripped it while removing it so a phone call to 'Art Printers' saved the day as they keep all customers files and can reprint any part of your bespoke scene. Huge relief!
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Old 04-05-2018, 08:14 PM   #17
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Looks very good . Nice to have the long baseboard to lay the backscene on.
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Old 04-05-2018, 08:40 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Looks very good . Nice to have the long baseboard to lay the backscene on.
The foamex board actually cost more than the backscene itself!
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Old 04-05-2018, 08:53 PM   #19
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Itís good to have a backscene that you recognise.
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Old 04-05-2018, 10:04 PM   #20
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Itís good to have a backscene that you recognise.
I agree, it has even got my house on it!
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