There’s always one. Or two. Or three…

I don’t know anybody in the hobby who hasn’t had an occasion when things didn’t go quite as expected. Yes, when this happens it can be infuriating, sometimes possibly temporarily soul destroying. However, we tend to become inventive to find a solution that works for us. Sometimes these can be incredibly simply and obvious we later wonder why it took so long to address.

The big board has the most point motors.  Going against conventional wisdom, the baseboard was built without any strengthening cross-members. The idea being they would be added later, after the point motors and wiring were installed to avoid the situation of either having a tiebar above a cross-member, or a crossmember where a point motor needed to go. This has, so far, been remarkably successful. The ply used for the frames and surface hasn’t warped.

There were a couple of tiebars that got a wee bit close though1A682FDA-FB35-48C0-BAB6-65C8A8D7970B

A bit of lateral thinking, and the light bulb goes on! A minor change to the operating bar, relocating the tiebar wire to the end, instead of between the two guides, solves the problem



One material I’ve very rarely seen modelled well is concrete. It has incredibly subtle original colouring and weathering which is far, far too easy to loose at the painting stage. It’s something I need to get right for the platform coping stones and the carriage cleaning platforms and support.

Some time ago, I bought one of the dark grey acrylic washes used by military  modellers. The idea looks quite promising, and needs more experimenting and then to get a better colour matchF473B8A9-4025-41E1-BC02-21357FAC5F91

You do have to make sure you apply the wash in one go, and don’t stop for a coffee. Otherwise you’ll be cleaning it off and starting again,  unless you want puddle outlines!646054D0-B6C4-47FC-8DD8-F2E47432BFF1

Take care and stay safe


That’ll teach me ( or maybe not….)

It doesn’t seem like nine months since my last update. A lot has changed in the world. Sadly, not always for the better. Hopefully, mankind will come out wiser.

Before Covid-19, the group where I’m a member were discussing  preparations to take the group layout to Model Rail Scotland. It came as a bit of a surprise when the usual van driver announce he was now too old to hire a van! The realisation dawned that nearly 50% of the group are 70+, 25% have health concerns that prevent them assisting in transporting a layout. My intended operating crew were getting old. After a long hard look at the layout, I revised my original intent of no deadline for completion, to having it advanced enough by early 2021 to decide if it will be exhibition ready for 2022. Assuming anybody wants it that is!

When last provided an update, everything on the layout seemed to be progressing nicely.

However, a couple of tiebar breakages at the operating hole has resulted in the 7CD29B11-29F5-4630-A443-6585386BEFF0decision to replace all of them with what should be a more robust design. This required a change to the mechanism below baseboard, which wasn’t always happy with the existing point motor-mechanism connection. 7DC46BEF-59C1-4087-BAFB-1D9011D4698CThe sub board assembly is my take on an article in MRJ. The new style tiebar ignores all the sound engineering Dave Franks incorporates in his, on which this is based. Added to this I grew frustrated with the time being used up trying to get a single point motor to work both points in a facing or trailing crossing 100% satisfactory. Ultimately deciding to use a pair of point motors for each crossing. I know other people have used a single motor and achieved the consistency I sought, but suspect they made those crossings the first thing to be connected up and proven, rather than trying a pseudo retro fit in a diminishing space.BDBF4B75-F14E-41A9-ACD6-DFE188EEAC7B

Still to fit servo boards and servos.

While in lockdown, I’ve start work to replace the somewhat chunky carriage cleaning platforms that first appeared in Modellers United. Cut by the Silhouette cutter, and laminated from 4 layers of 15thou, more plastic arrived today to get the rest of the supports completed over the next 2-3 weeks.58B9F8A5-1B06-4DF7-8455-77A3E000D7C5

Finally, thoughts have commenced on how to represent the inside of the roof. Actual work is limited until the curved trainshed wall is rebuild to the correct dimensions.

Take care and stay safe.3415BDFF-F82D-4FBC-ADC1-E884A16571CA


Lets say “Thank You” more often

It’s been a long time since my last post. Sadly, a terminal illness in the family and it’s inevitable outcome removed focus from the layout for a considerable time. It has made me aware of the number of modellers who unknowingly, to them, have been part of my modelling inspiration who are no longer with us, especially those we have lost over the last couple of years. Modellers that I now wish I had the opportunity to thank if I met them, for the positive effect they had on my modelling. Although I suspect many of us still feel quite young, our reflections  tell a different story, and the clock is ticking. For everybody.   So, next time you see a layout at an exhibition that inspires or educates you, or  you find particularly  enjoyable watching,  consider a “thank you”. It’ll make the exhibitors day.

In a previous blog I mentioned that Rapid sold spare microswitches as used on Fulgurex and Lemaco point motors. A visually similar design but with black moulding is used by PECO. Rapid have discontinued the product, but they are available in Europe from a company called TME, at a very attractive price. I’ve used them as a customer, and found order deliver times no worse than uk suppliers.


I was privileged to be invited to participate in the EMGS/S4 Skills day in Linlithgow a few months ago. A hugely enjoyable day from my perspective, and a good turnout of modellers to support the event, especially as a certain rugby match clashed with it. As per my reputation with certain people, my one table, quickly became three tables filled with the Silhouette cutter, a laptop and various buildings from Princes St. New buildings for the corner of Morrison St and Gardner’s Crescent, although still very basic, were identified quickly by a few people that walked past the real ones on a daily basis. The nature of the stonework resulted in the Silhouette being used to scribe the dressed stones. Having been impressed by the success of that, a small example of scribed brickwork in various courses was prepared. The potential of that  seemed to generate a fair bit of interest. 72932CB9-F533-4EE4-B267-11445130B6A6

With the ability to do this, resisting the temptation to clad the signal box, SSEB workshops and gasworks hasn’t been easy. However, it has provided the basis for the best solution so far to the challenge of the trainshed walls. The originals turned out to be too high (proportions were wrong between rolling stock and screen end) and the palisades to support the roof cross members were too far apart. Work has commence on the new walls built to accurate dimensions. Scribed initially with the Silhouette, then hand scribed to increase the width and depth to get a better representation of the stonework. The challenge of a one piece or several components that will plug together to form the trainshed is still ongoing…. B0C61317-4D46-4145-8824-9DF68EAEC138

The process also has potential for modern day modellers who wish monobloc standing for cars. You can replicate any of the designs laid for drives/parking areas and scribe to that design using the correct scale sized blocks.

Slightly later than thought

Those who have followed from the days of Modellers United, may by now have noticed that my predictions for completing the wiring and have something move under power, are , well, lacking. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never won a lottery.

Happily, all the point motors in the station throat are now fully wired and working as required, feeding back to the panel for route indication. Work is progressing relatively quickly through the traction feeds. I find that working upside down under a baseboard, having a target of one feed per session is easily obtainable allowing for issues, there have been a few – computer extension cables frequently, and the time required to get back “topside” to check electrical continuity. I’ve also decided to replace the original thin and narrow  copperclad  tiebars with a variation of those used by Dave Franks on his Wharfside layout. The first two originals failed at the hole drilled through them within a couple of hours testing. Not a good omen!


LEDs and cameras, never a good mix. Panel indicating an arrival fron Down Main to platform 6, and an ecs movement from platform 3 to the carriage headshunt. The indicator under the signal gantry shows which carriage siding the manually operated points are set to. Replacing tiebars isn’t likely to delay full running, still have the rest of the layout to build first!

In one of the forums, there has been comment recently with unsatisfactory  experiences with certain pointmotors. On Princes St I use a combination of Fulgurex Lemaco and Colbalt IP. The Cobalts were purchased due to the non availability of the others, and do seem a bit slow compared to the others when they all use a stabilised 11.6V supply ( that’s the voltage that made the others run at what I consider a realistic speed) The Lemaco’s are the best part of 30 years old, and have never given a problem. The Fulgurex are up to 34 years old and have suffered only two failures – a diode and a stalled motor that wasn’t noticed for twenty or so minutes, by which time the motor case was too hot to comfortably touch. After this the motor always needed help to start running in both directions, taking about a minute to get to normal speed with no load. It then would be fine that night. A replacement motor resolved that.

I’ve also had a couple of additional auxiliary switches need attention. These were bought at Exhibitions, and are not moulded in the same colour as the original switches. The holes for the mounting screws didn’t clear the screws. On one switch the outer contacts were misaligned so that it didn’t act as a changeover switch. On the other the common wiper was free to move in the moulding. I did feel that the exhibition bought switches required a greater force to get them to throw.  Recently I discovered and purchase more auxiliary switches from Rapid Electronics ( these appear as good as the originals, and will be used as required.


To good to be true?

Some time/years ago, I misplaced my 1” drill used to  create the recess for baseboard joining dowels.

Recently, while browsing a large internet retailer’s website, in amongst the plethora of metric sized drills, I found a set of three flat wood drill bits in 1/2”, 3/4” and 1” sizes according to the description. All for the princely sum of £2.53 including postage.The size could be read on the drills, so the order was placed. A couple of days later the order arrived with the packaging proclaiming it included 1/2” (13mm), 3/4” (19mm) and 1” (25mm) drill bits. Not quite so impressed!

Checking with a micrometer didn’t help much either

1/2”.            0.545”.         13.87mm

3/4”.            0.774”.         19.67mm

1”.               0.991”.          25.18mm

In use, the 1” bit produces a recess that is a firm fit for the dowels, with no slop whatsoever.  Impressed again. Whether an 85p drill bit is up to making the 12 recesses required remains to be seen.


Every so often….

I’ve taken bits of Princes St that were work in progress to a few exhibitions previously.  They seem to generate interest, and often result in obtaining information that hasn’t previously been identified from research up to that point. Examples of this include the “beer train”, the repeater signal on the carriage headshunt, and the existence of windows in the rear of the signal box. Such is life, some of the information is gleaned after the Model has been started.

This year at Model Rail Scotland my demonstration included part of the trainshed. I was describing the process to a visitor that had been used to prepare the drawing for the Silhouette cutter to prepare the laminations, and commented that there was a balustrade along the edge of the trainshed, but not having any clear photos of what it looked like, would probably leave it off. I  felt this was a better option rather than invent something then would look wrong or silly.

Trainshed being tested for size

The response to this was completely unexpected. “I think I’ve got a length of it in my garden”.

The gentleman expanded that it had been sold as part of an internal balustrade, but on inspection exhibited signs of external weathering. It matches what little can be identied from photos in three different areas, so I’m pretty confident in its origin. A couple of days later, the following photo arrived

Section of balustrade from end of trainshed

Attempts to trace it’s outline in Inkscape were not particularly successful. The pebble dash was one of the culprits, so an interpretation was drawn up, and after minor tweaking managed to cut to a degree. The short lengths of some of the cuts were insufficient for the blade to penetrate the whole length of the cut. It took longer to remove some of the small bits of plastic than to cut. I was quite please with it.

A very cruel close-up showing further work needed on the ‘C’

Took it it down to check for size and a slight problem – it was twice the  size it should be. I’m now investigating if it could be laser cut to the correct dimensions.  However, this isn’t a failure. I now have a much better idea of the limits you can go down to with a Silhouette cutter.

In the beginning….

It’s strange how dreams can embrace people who are complete strangers.

My dream was to build an interpretation of part of the former Caledonian Railway Station latterly known as Edinburgh Princes Street.

During its early construction a thread was started on the Modellers United forum and work in progress has been shown at the Glasgow and Perth model railway exhibitions, generating an embarrassing amount of interest and enthusiasm. So say nothing of questions asking when it will be finished to an exhibitable standard.

With the news that MU will become “read only” from mid February, this blog has been started in order to continue the story of the build

Let the learning curve of blogging commence!