Track plan patchwork


Today has been spent tweeking the ‘plan’ in Templot and although this is primarily for building prototypical track plans for the more discerning modeller however I am rather abusing that premise. There are other programs available but I like doing all my noodling with it and use it to see how and where the track joins need to be place although this is now defined by the choice of base board length that I have chosen due to a number of choices that include size, weight and portability. The plan does fit into the space pretty well and I haven’t cropped all the pages so that I am not getting a completely accurate picture but at the moment I am just checking clearances both for track and stock.

Once I have the final plan I will only print out the crossover as this is the only part of the layout that I will be building and its at that point I will tighten the placing of ties and check rails etc. The rest of the track will be laid out once glued down but it will only act as an aid to general position. I will be able to work on the crossover once I have the supplies which I will get from the Warley Show next month.

One of the changes required is the straightening of the road coming out of the crossover and given that that road is much longer than I had expected now seeing it in the flesh so to speak, I may add another road, a team track nearest to us. There are also a few tweeks elsewhere but these are just minor. Not shown here is a template for a six axle loco based on a SD40, probably the largest loco to do any switching on the layout which I am using to  highlight the pinch points. I am not one for the huge AC44’s or SD90’s and much more a fan of the smaller Geeps and if and possibly when it is attached to anything else then the big horses will just be passing trough.

I just need to get on now by finishing the boards and legs off and as usual life is interfering with me playing but I’m not sitting around idly and count the time spent on the computer in the evenings as modelling time, it’s just a digital version.

Till next time..

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First branches


Following on from yesterday I post my interpretation of the track plan I have been noodling around on back of envelopes over the last few weeks and gives me an idea of the setting for the layout. As I sit here with Autumn settling in around me, the trees are changing colour but not in the way they do in the location that I am trying to capture but I have been noting and grabbing some pics as a sort of reference, yes I know I don’t need to leave the comfort of my armchair but it helps to have reference even if only for future projects. So I have been concentrating on looking for locations via the wonders of online mapping services that will conjure up a shoreline with small towns and small trains and by that I mean not half mile long ones. I have plenty of saved images of proto short trains saved from image archives my favourite being nerailorg

With the width of the boards being eighteen inches I have some space to have a life away from the tracks and although the buildings in HO are going to be fairly big I have to see what fits in that space even if I have it as low relief but the trees are going to be an important feature.

The basic plan is for two industries yet to be decided, and then two exchange or interchange? tracks nearest to us where freight is swopped to another railroad yet to be decided also, yes its all pretty much up in the air at the moment as I would like to base the location on somewhere semi prototypical although I am not adverse to completely free styling it. And finally a possible loco servicing point on the nearest track at the far left. Maybe I should have jotted this on the sketch 🙂

The plan is to use Peco code 83 flexi and a mixture of #6’s for the main and #5’s for the yards and the crossover for the industries which will be hand built on PCB ties. For the moment the switches will all be hand operated and I am considering either complete hand operated or under board rodding with operation from both sides but not sure about the knobs sticking out but will wait to see when I get there although thinking about it it would save leaning over scenery etc.

For the moment that’s all and tomorrow I will have the track plan finalised and printed out for when the boards are complete and I have the board legs to stand it all on, although the bulk of modelling is probably going to take place on the kitchen table board by board. Till then..

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Rrrrr rr restart!

Ok so I can come off the naughty step, take the dunces hat off and take the walk of shame back to the land of mojo. I really hadn’t realised it had been so long since my last post and that this blog has been running since 2013 with virtually no progress concrete or other wise modelling going on. However that is all about to change he said and in this one post I am going to re-ignite the flames of progress and get back to that fifteen minutes (at least) a day as proclaimed in the title of this blog.

When I set out and started my blog having seen many others extolling the virtues of a small chunk of time a day set aside for modelling or hobby time I decided that this would get me going and banish the analysis paralysis that had plagued me. As a very settled some might say stuck armchair modeller I got my enjoyment out of the endless planning and noodling and virtual modelling allowed via computer driven simulator sessions. I have in the past started many projects that with good intentions never quite manage to get beyond the embryonic stage, don’t get me wrong I have modelled for others completing the task(s) adequately but when it comes to my own work I seem to have a mental block. However with all that said I/we are here for a fresh start and a new start it is as I have taken up an idea that kind of popped in there whilst I was least expecting it.

What is that idea I hear you ask. Well the genesis for it started back last year well I was reading this thread and had a kind of “Uhh-huh” moment and then again it was cemented when I was visiting a friend and the discussion got to his US layout. I had remembered that  hidden in the railway boxes were some HO Kato Geeps and mentioned to my friend that this might be an interesting idea to design a HO shelf layout for him based on an L to start with. Coming away I didn’t give it much thought and it wasn’t till I travelled down to see him again with said locos that the itch that needed scratching returned. He was taken with  those smooth running locos and the leap to HO was made. Then time went by as we pasted ideas and plans backwards and forwards, again the planning stage engaging me with the creative juices flowing on what we could achieve. But this was on someone else’s layout not my own. Through various events over the last few years organising my modelling has been somewhat difficult and this has been the main reason why things have not progress in any kind of fashion however that is about to change. It was a kind of light bulb moment for me when I realised that the best way forward would be a modular layout that could be moved at short notice if needs be and that could be adaptable to the space it lives in. I’m not sure if it will ever leave here but having read about modular meet ups it does sound fun, but that is someway off in the distance.

So to a bit of background for this latest attempt. HO; check, US; check, New England; check, Fall colours; check. Yes I know nothing original here and the majority of UK modellers will either model NE or Desert railroads but for me it is the greenness of New England that resonates with my British sensibilities and I also want to sneak a covered bridge in at some point. I have deliberately kept the modules small and at 30″ x 18″ they are more manageable and will fit into our little Ford easily. I have been also thinking about the scenery and more to come on that as and when I get that far.

So till next time..


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Hello again..

So logging back into my blog I am both shocked and not so shocked that it has been over a year since my last posting here. So much for 15 minutes of modelling a day. Well hopefully that’s all about to change with the advent of the return of mojoness after a visit to a local-ish to me model railway show, well local to me as its pretty much a days pony ride to anywhere out of here. Ok I jest a bit but it is a trek to shows as there are not that many in my vicinity.

Nothing like seeing some great layouts and chatting to some excellent modellers to get the juices flowing. I met up with the 2mmFS roadshow chaps too and had a chat which also encouraged me to get on with things. At this time of the year when the nights are long the is when I should be most productive. However this last year has seen virtually no modelling activity apart ironically some virtual modelling and when I look back at my postings I see many exuberant beginnings but no completions. This in part with a life being in flux at the mo and an uncertainty of location but also a rather heavy dose of apathy and laziness after all how long can or could 15 minutes of modelling really take?!

So I have cut back on all the rambling ideas and projects I had in mind and am going to stick to two that I know I have and outside chance of completing something next year. At the moment I am gathering my thoughts for one of them and the other is in an advance stage of planning and moving to the sawdust creating stage. I will leave it at that now and post more once I actually have some progress to show.

So tonights fifteen minutes.. write this post.. no.. design a portable workbench that can be placed on a table or fit armchair modelling.

I will leave you with some pics from Railex that inspired me to get back to it.

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Ok after a frustrating couple of days and a plan not coming together I have decided to ditch my lightweight baseboard (well I thought it was so) as the flex is just too much even with more screws although I have not glued it on so I made the decision to scrap it and start again. There is no shame in doing this in my view as to recognise the error and rectify saving time and money it is far better than doggedly follow a plan that ultimately ends in failure and loss of mojo in my case.

So how do I move forward? There is always a way out and a cloud with a silver lining and all those other cliques abound and that route was found in the form of a Vid on TrainmastersTV if you have been there roll on over and take a look. There is much content that is informative and although the bulk of it is US centric ‘we’ can learn from all modellers and techniques and there  are meany things on there that i had no or little knowledge of but have been educated.

One of the episodes is about modular board building and this is what I am going to adopt as my process. The questions then arise shall I build modular and do a couple of boards rather than one monolithic one.. a bit of pondering needed before I set off to lumber merchants once again..


Out with the old

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5RJF5Y: 50 Railways for 50 Years

Some time ago, well earlier this year I was sorting through a number of family and personal pictures that had been in storage and only started going trough when I had got round to sorting through the boxes, however one of the items I came across was a photo from a holiday I took way back with a mate of mine where we inter-railed round Europe with a small budget, a big rucksack and a winning smile. That was one of holidays that you never forget and brought many happy memories back and I should really right something down at some point for future family members maybe.

Anyway this lead me on to an idea that kept coming back and from it’s initial inception in my usual fashion it ricocheted from the kernel of the idea to a galaxy consuming juggernaut. So to the meat of this post, next year I will turn 50 and that is something I never thought I would make it to when I was in my late teens and into my twenties due to a rather reckless attitude and a succession of ever increasingly powerful motorbikes. However here I am or soon to be 50 and I thought that I should really do something to commemorate this rather amazing achievement, well somewhat amazing, ok pretty mundane to most. Being a railway modeller and having a Life long interest in trains I thought what better way to celebrate than to visit railways in anyway shape or form a kind of pilgrimage. Not quite a bucket list but one that would be a dream list with a number of prototypes that I have wanted to see over the course of time. Where do you start with a project like this, well the obvious one is here in the UK as there is an abundance of heritage railways and many related subjects, however I wasn’t going to limit myself by this and I have a number of locations, things I want to see that are further afield.

This takes some considerable planning and not an insignificant amount of money. Well where do I start? So I am looking at doing things I haven’t done before but this is not a complete blanket rule and I am going to be realistic and have a plan B if my original intentions are unable to be carried out probably due to financial reasons. But 50 railways in a year equates to one every weekend, now this is just impossible obviously. However it is possible to do a number of activities at one go and this is where my starting point will be. So getting out the atlas and looking to stick pins in I thought of what are the prizes of this journey and for me they are the journey rather than the place and it is on the journey that one has the adventures. In fact the more I think about it the more it seems to be about the experience than purely ticking off a list of a bunch of things on a crumpled piece of paper that had been reworked and worn out by endless possibilities that came and went. Remembering back to the InterRail holiday it wasn’t the journey that was the important thing it was the experience around it and the people and places visited, the international football match in Innsbruck where no one spoke very much English, the night at Lake Constance(Bodensee) with a monster that my friend was shouting at and hitting with a shoe (no really) to try and give the rest of the dorm some sleep who in the morning awoke and greeted us with a cheery Guten Morgen oblivious to the previous nights interruptions, to the Machine Gun totting Italian border guards, to the most memorable couple of days in Strasbourg; 1ltr bottles of Kronenbourg, Philadelphia Phil, Bones Jones and Birgit the bouncy barmaid, the stories go on and I guess in some way it would nice to recreate some of these experiences some what later in life.

Moving along I have jotted down some of the ideas and places I want to visit and in no particular order they are  or would be; Seven Valley Railway, Ravenglass & Eskdale, Great Central, WHR, Talyllyn, then on into Europe with Swiss Metre lines including RhB, BVB, WAB, MOB, ZB and many others also the rather unique 750mm Waldenburgbahn. In Germany the Harz Railway, travel the ICE would be on the list and then a rather longer hop to over the over side of the pond to visit the railways of New England and Canada. As I have never really been a fan of the desert railways but never say never. I would particularly like to see some short-line railroading and would love to ride the Amtrak somewhere for the experience. Now that the idea is out there I guess I need to actually do something about it!

I plan to do it during the year of my birthday so will be April to April to give me some time to organise, plan and try and finance! and progress will be posted here sporadically as there is some. Would love to hear any feedback..

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Over the hills

Due to the on going man cold I have shied away from getting tools both hand and power tools out today as head colds and tools don’t make for a good recipe. So in order to keep the flow going and to keep the mojo moving on I set out to find my Canon PIXMA IP4000 printer that has been through a number of moves and stayed in storage for a while. Not being confident that it would a) start up and b) print I was pleasantly surprised to find it did both, in a fashion. It took 3 power ups and once on advised me that virtually all the ink tanks were empty or faulty so no surprise there and was surprised that it even got that far I was thinking that I would have to buy a new printer completely. I am as every waiting so waiting for some ink will be no biggy and looking forward to doing some structure modelling having seen the efforts I made over 30 years ago..

I have been enthralled with pics mainly on Facebook from tram systems across Europe and the ones I am interested in are the Swiss metre gauge but I have been admiring the heritage systems. But it has lead to thoughts of Swiss Alps mountain village halt and buildings close together. In fact I think I can transpose this scenario into many different locations and scales. But thats of the future!!

So if this is working you can see some of my inspirations

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