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 (https://www.rapidonline.com/marquardt-1010-0101-momentary-microswitch-2a-spdt-main-actuator-solder-0-6n-59-4077) 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!