The Ticking Clock

About nine months ago I agreed to take Morpeth to the New England Convention in November. That’s nine months away, then six months away and now it’s less than two weeks away. A friend is booked to help me load the layout into the trailer in under two weeks and when that happens the layout has to be ready to roll because work must cease. Shiver me timbers!

As the clock has ticked and the weekend of the 17th and 18th of November draws closer I tried to make sure that all the really big jobs that needed to happen prior to departure were well and truly done. I mentioned on the blog a few weeks ago that I’d got the layout downstairs into the workshop and it was set up. Well in the intervening weeks I’ve steadily worked my way through a to do list of smallish jobs. I didn’t want to hook the DCC system up to the layout until most of the dirty wood cutting and shaping jobs were done. Well the DCC system was connected last weekend and I got the layout’s curtains hung and I have to admit that she does look good.

This shot shows the layout set up and ready for action. The DCC system is hooked up, the lighting rig installed, the new control panel is set up and trains are running.

I will admit to working at a fairly relaxed pace over the past few weeks: I had a list of jobs to finish but long experience told me I had more than enough time to get these completed and still put a bit of time into the ship which is most definitely going to accompany the layout no matter whether it’s finished or not. Then an Auscision 48 class turned up in the mail last week and I had to make a decision: if I could get a decoder installed in good time and have the loco running I might be able to take it with me to Armidale. If I couldn’t then I wouldn’t touch it and it would remain in it’s box. I had very limited time left to get done what I needed to do and the worst outcome would be to devote several hours to installing and programming a DCC decoder only to find I couldn’t get the bugs ironed out in time. I bit the bullet and decided to have a shot at installing a decoder which I had on hand and while the sound file is not exactly the correct motor noise it’s pretty close. A week after starting this job I was ready to take the loco out to Morpeth and give it a run. It seemed to be running ok inside on my test track but the bloody thing wouldn’t cooperate on Morpeth and kept stopping and shorting the DCC system on every turnout and even occasionally on straight, plain track. My instincts told me that there was something shorting across the wheels and sure enough it turned out that the brake blocks were touching the wheels faces at spots on the layout where that variations in the rails pushed the axles slightly one way or the other. A bit of judicious leverage with a small screw driver appears to have solved the problem.

4821 sitting at Morpeth station platform. This Auscision model is a beautiful piece of work. The plug in DCC board has simplified the installation of a DCC decoder although getting two speakers into the body was still a challenge. It runs beautifully and looks the part on the layout. Auscision are to be congratulated.

Today I had another friend visit to help me lift sections of the layout in and out of the trailer in preparation for the final loading next week. I’ve come up with a way to transport all 5 sections of the layout in the four slots available in the trailer however getting them all in the trailer and secured had my friend Peter and I scratching our heads today. I think I’ve come up with an answer to the dilemma but we’ll find out over the next couple of days as I finalize preparations and start to tear the layout down.

This is a slightly different view of Morpeth from the stairs up to the first floor. I’m very happy with the way the layout looks in this mode but exhibition preparation is a lot of work!

Oh and if you’re wondering, I have made some progress on the ship but nowhere near enough for me to be happy with it. I’ll keep plugging away and post a photo of the ship in place when the layout appears at the convention in a couple of weeks.

I should thank Peter, Phil, Chris and John for their help and advice in getting the layout and the 48 ready for the convention. Any glitches, hiccups and problems have all been my doing and without their valuable assistance the layout would never have come down from its second storey home and it certainly wouldn’t have had a brand new brass 48 running on it over the upcoming weekend.



Binnacles, Bulwarks and Cabins

Work proceeds apace on the Louise, the name I’ve christened the ship model on Morpeth. Well “apace” might be a slight misnomer, progress actually proceeds at a stately pace as befits a refined lady of calm, coastal waters. Louise, my partner, doesn’t know she’s having a ship named after her yet but I’m currently looking for the worlds smallest bottle of champagne which she can crack over the bow before launch. Once the decals are applied to the prow it’ll be too late for her to object 🙂

As you may be able to tell from the title of this post I’m still struggling with the the terminology of ships and their various bits and pieces, but I’ve really started to enjoy building the model now that I have the decks installed. As such it’s a little like the stage in building a locomotive when you’ve got the wheels turning: from this point on it’s all just about building on the foundations. I’m sure to run aground on my own growing self confidence now that I’ve said that. The model was supplied with a wide variety of wooden sheet and strip, along with different types of metal wire and tube and about 10 or 11 bags of mostly white metal parts. While there are a lot of parts, and the vast majority are unfamiliar to me as to their purpose and names, I feel I’ve managed to choose the correct ones for the tasks I’ve been undertaking over the past week or so.

The Louise has two bridges; a large, open one at the top of the central structure and a smaller enclosed one which you can see in this photo. The cabin has windows fore and aft and a small side cab which I assume is the head (that’s the toilet to land lubbers). The ceiling of the enclosed cabin is the floor of the bridge above. the wires you can see sticking out of the top of the cab will allow it to be lit along with a red and green LEDs either side of the bridge as per the prototype.

The problem I’ve found with the kit, aside from the names of everything being unfamiliar and the labeling being basic at best, is that the descriptions in the instructions tend to be fairly light on detail. For instance, I’m well aware that a bridge on a ship would need to be supplied with a steering wheel/tiller arrangement of some type, a compass and a speed communication thingy (a telegraph), the type you see in all the best WWII movies about the navy. You know, when the captain says “all ahead full”! a seaman will push the handle on this round thing that has a full, slow, stop, reverse slow, reverse full written on the side. There’s a corresponding display in the boiler room so the bloke shoveling the coal into the boiler can…well I’m not sure what he does but I assume he shovels faster and pull some type of lever 🙂 However the instructions say (and I quote) “furnish the inside with binnacle, wheel and telegraph as shown on the flying bridge plan”. That’s the sum total of the textual assistance provided by the instructions! What the #$^&@!% a binnacle? 🙂

I’ve spent the best part of a week gradually assembling the small enclosed lower bridge cabin and assembling the associated bridge furniture for this and the upper bridge. You see, if you have two bridges then each has to have it’s own set of bits to make it look authentic; a wheel, a speed thingy and a compass (that’s binnacle for us in the know). I’ve also assembled and started to install some bulwarks which is what us old sea dogs call the hand rails and associated rail walls. Each of these has to be cut from a sheet of 1mm ply, glued up and then installed in its location. It was as I got the glazing installed in the cabin and glued the first bulwark in place (while I waited for the paint to dry on my binnacle and steering wheel) that I came to the realization that you’d never be able to see the bloody things in there as it would be so dark. So of course I decided to light the cab and as an added touch I also decided to install red and green sea lights to either side of the flying bridge (the upper structure that I can’t install until I have the cab furnished with it’s own instruments). What’s a binnacle I hear you ask? Well read on…

This shot shows the bits and pieces that will eventually populate the lower enclosed bridge (used when the captain doesn’t want to get wet from rain and cold weather I assume) and the open, upper bridge. The binnacle is the part with the green and red testicles hanging on either side of it. These are iron balls (I kid you not) that evidently “balance” the compass in some way. Google it if you don’t believe me 🙂 In addition to these strange contraptions the wheel goes at the back of the cabin! Why the heck sea going loonies want their steering wheel at the back of the cabin I do not know but I’m going to glue it at the back just like the real thing!

So I’ve been cutting, gluing and assembling parts for a week and before I’d really done much I decide to complicate things enormously by adding lights. I’m sure it will be worth it in the end. I’m currently working on a small circuit board to simplify the installation of the lights as they all need resistors to ensure they don’t burn out. I decide to use LEDs rather than incandescent bulbs mainly for their longevity. Once the cabin light is installed it will be permanently entombed in there with no access for maintenance.

So until next time, avast ye hearties! Whatever the hell that means 🙂



“If I say yes slap me will you…”

It’s been a while since my last post, not because nothing has been happening on Morpeth but because I’ve been a bit busy doing train events. It’s very gratifying putting something back into a hobby that has given me so much but I’ve got to admit that the urge to say yes to people asking whether I’d be willing to give a talk or display Morpeth has led to me placing quite a bit of pressure on myself. But a deadline is always a good thing isn’t it? 🙂

I’m delivering a talk at this Saturday’s Modelling the Railways of Queensland convention (in spite of the fact that I don’t model Qld railways) and then I’ll be flying to Sydney the following weekend to deliver another talk at the six monthly Aus7 Modellers Group O-scale Forum. However these are minor blips on my do-as-little-as-possible radar when compared to the upcoming New England Model Railway Convention in mid-November. I’ve agreed to take the layout to this event so that means I have to actually do some work and the weekend approaches at an accelerating rate. As I’ve documented here over the past month or so I’ve put some work into making a control panel for Morpeth and this is now completed and ready to be taken to Armidale and I also crawled about under the layout to make sure the portable section was disentangled from the main, permanent layout so that when the time came to move Morpeth and set it up in exhibition mode (in preparation for packing and loading it into its trailer) there’d be a minimum of work to do to get it downstairs to my workshop.

Well that time arrived yesterday.

This shot shows the layout upstairs minus Morpeth which a couple of friends and I managed to man-handle down the stairs so it could be set up for me to work on in exhibition mode. The removal and set up went well although this wasn’t because of long term planning as much as due to me rushing around over the past month or so working at fixing the self inflicted problems I’d caused by being sloppy in building the new parts of the layout. The “new” parts are essentially everything you can see in the photo.

The last time I took Morpeth anywhere to display was to Sydney in 2014. The trailer that has been sitting in my garage (in a number of different homes over the years) since about 2004 has seen very little use to haul a layout, the main reason it was purchased. The layout that was supposed to fill it and be taken to shows is Morpeth. I did take Queens Wharf to a couple of events in the trailer but the long term plan was to make a layout to fill the trailer and to show it and Morpeth is that layout. After 2014 I set myself two conditions that needed to be met before I’d show the layout again; one was that I would have a 20 class loco to run on it and the second was that the layout would have to be scenicly complete. Well both of those conditions have now been met so I had no real excuse when Warren Herbert asked me if I’d be prepared to bring the layout to Armidale. I ummed and ahhed for a while but said yes: after-all the layout was finished wasn’t it? Cursed be all exhibition and convention managers! Will someone slap me the next time they hear me utter the word “yes” to their hell spawned requests please? 🙂 As anyone who has an exhibition layout knows, the word “complete” is a flexible and too easily applied term. Morpeth is finished scenicly but I haven’t spent the past 4 years getting it ready for its next show. If anything, by chopping and changing it about over those years, it’s probably less ready to show than it was in 2014. The scenery is complete but it has no fiddle yard and the pier module doesn’t even have legs!

This shot shows Morpeth this afternoon set up downstairs in the shed. I’d spent the morning making a tour of local hardware stores trying to get all the items I need to make a new fiddle yard and legs for the pier and so no work has actually happened as yet. That all starts tomorrow. It may not be apparent in this photo but Morpeth sits a good 10″ higher in exhibition mode than she does when she resides upstairs in the layout room. The heavy wooden benchwork she sits on upstairs is not suitable for an innovative and nimble modern layout like Morpeth 🙂

There are a dozen little jobs that need to be completed before the layout can be packed and transported to Armidale in about 5 weeks time. The most important of these are legs for the pier module and a fiddle yard of some sort. Both of these are well in hand and will accompany the layout to Armidale. I have to reconfigure the DCC system, get my sewing skills honed to rearrange the curtains I made for the layout in 2014 and half a dozen other holes need plugging. However I know what some of you are thinking: what about the ship model that’s supposed to be tied up against the pier?

Well believe it or not that’s gradually emerging from the briny depths too…

It may not look like there’s been a great deal of progress on the ship but I can assure you that a major milestone has been passed with the installation of both decks. Work is now commencing on the cabins and some details have been installed. While the kit is still a SOB to work on it now feels like I might eventually finish it at some distant point because I’m just building up layers of detail from a very difficult base. I’m still making it up as I go along half the time and have come to realize that I’d do a lot of things differently if I ever built another ship but I’m satisfied that progress is being made, even if it probably won’t be finished by the time of the show in Armidale.




Scrub On The Point

Other modellers may have found a simple, effective and relatively cheap way of adding thick scrub to a piece of their layouts but I’m not one of them. When I commenced building Morpeth (the portable section of my permanent layout) about 10 years ago I had a vision of a pier based on the one that stands at Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast, the second station building that had the name Morpeth applied to it and a creek with really thick scrub and trees around it. I’ve lived in the bush (the thing we Australians call the “real” rural areas of our continent) for a good proportion of the past 33 years and I’ve got to admit that I’ve rarely (if ever) seen a creek populated with vegetation in the way I see it every day of my life as I simply drive around. I don’t know what people in cities see but I see creeks, well to be more accurate I don’t see creeks, because the trees and plants that surround them crowd in on them and block the view of the water. In fact in Australia you can tell where the water courses are by the presence of a wandering lines of gums. I wanted my creek to be scrubby in the way I know Australian creeks are scrubby. Today I finally finished the creek scene.

A couple of months ago I purchased a bag of trees from a Chinese firm on eBay. I could provide you with a link but just go onto eBay and search for model mulberry trees. You’ll find them for sale at around $8 for 5 and with free shipping. They look awful (they have glitter on the limbs for Heaven’s sake!) but they can be turned into something looking like a reasonable gum tree with a few snips, a bit of white and grey acrylic paint on the trunks and the application of some foliage mat. I use a Heiki product. I wanted to use these small (about 15cm high) trees to cheaply bulk up my creek’s foliage canopy.

I spent the first part of the week finishing off the small cabin I posted about last week. I made some brick steps for this model and started painting a white metal figure to stand on the small landing at the front of the building. I also started to review the scenery materials I had on hand and took to some cheap Ebay sourced plastic trees I’d purchased a few months ago with a set of flush cutters and paint. I wanted to use these to help me bulk up the scrub around the mouth of the creek on the real estate that surrounds the cabin.

In addition to deciding that the line at the entry to the pier would finally receive its final layer of scenery I also decided that the ship model needed to be secured to the “water” next to the pier. I wanted a way of bolting the wooden base of the ship to the scene to allow me to display the ship tied up to the pier but in a way that would also allow me to remove it as I worked on it. I settled on two small blocks of ply with t nuts driven into their upper side and with bolts coming up from below the water. The ply is glued in place because these small blocks will eventually be entombed inside the ships superstructure. The forward block of ply is under the deck of the fo’c’sle.

After fiddling around with securing the ship to the water I gathered my amazing collection of scenery storage boxes around me, mixed up a batch of PVA and water with the obligatory drop of washing liquid and made a start. I don’t have a technique for ground cover beyond painting the foam yellow, gluing on a thin layer of Woodland Scenics Earth Blend ground foam and then covering it all up with as much crap as I can throw at the area till I run out of time or scenery materials. That’s about as scientific as it gets. Lots and lots and lots of PVA used neat and then I just keep ripping up various mats and clumps and gluing till I’ve covered everything up.

The one feature I did want to capture on the area in front of the mill was some willows sitting near the water. They sat in front of the real Portus mill at Morpeth so I wanted the same look for my version. I purchased the two that now reside in that spot a couple of years ago and almost gave myself a heart attack when I looked at what I’d paid for them. I could have got 20 or 25 Mulberries for around the same price 🙂

After temporarily positioning the 5 or 6 trees I was going to use in the area I pulled them out again and then set to gluing the thick mat of foliage I wanted to cover this part of the layout in place.

The plan is that Pioneer and an Ixion tank loco will come to share exclusive duties on the pier run. I haven’t yet chopped, changed and dirtied up the Ixion model but I’ll get to that eventually. This shot provides a good comparison with the photos I’ve posted in previous posts on the blog.

I’ll let the model do the talking for me with this one.

I have a great deal of admiration for modellers like Geoff Nott who who did (or do) a great job of capturing a forest setting deep in the woods with huge trees. While I don’t model a forest I still want my models to look as if they’re in a landscape that, while it may not sit under towering red woods, is no less densely populated by trees and foliage in various locations, invariably close to water. I’ve never seen a redwood but I’ve seen plenty of creeks in the Australian bush.

A Suitable Piece of Real Estate

As the SE Qld NMRA convention’s self drive layout tours and Morpeth’s visit to Armidale for the New England convention race toward me like a speeding goods train it seemed like a good time to actually finish the scenery on Morpeth. The layout does need a few projects completed, one of these was the now complete control panel, however before I moved to my current home 18 months ago, I hadn’t yet completed the last small patch of scenery where the pier module butts up to the main layout at a right angle.

This last small corner of Morpeth has sat unloved and minus scenery for over 3 years, around the time I made the mill building you can see in the right background. This shot shows the patch of ground prior to any work being done this week. The land-form is complete and I painted this and added a layer of basic ground foam the last time I worked on it but it’s sat like this for almost three years.

This section of the layout has been in progress for a few years but there’s nothing like a deadline to help get work moving. The small segment of shoreline and a short length of yet-to-be-ballasted track were crying out for a bit of attention. After this the last two jobs left to complete will be the portable train turntable/fiddle yard MkII, which will butt up to the layout just beyond the building you can see in the photo (where those wires are running on the permanent part of the layout) and the ship model and associated pier detailing.

I didn’t just want to cover this transition point with ground cover and foliage alone. I felt it needed a small feature to draw the eye away from the obvious 90 degree angle of the layout’s fascia. I’d got half way through assembling this hut over 2 years ago but it had sat in a container for the intervening years. So much time has passed had passed that I seem to have mislaid its roof and some details for the model so I was forced to scratch build a replacement along with a set of new steps. I’ll find the missing parts the day I complete this scene 🙂

I set to work this week and completed assembling a small kit of a watchman’s hut that had been intended for the gap I’d left in the scenery when I last worked on the area. However I couldn’t just plant the hut, I also needed to fill in the gaps behind the retaining wall that hold the lead track out to the pier. It was the work of a few moments to fill these gaps and glue some paper towel over the gap but then I discovered that the inch or so of paint at the bottom of the tin I knew I had left of the colour I use for my ground base colour had set solid in the can. This required a trip down town for a new can. The mix had been written on the can when I bought it about 8 years ago so it took no time at all to fork out way too much money for this vital colour. I’ll be using the whole can and then some when I commence work on the permanent layout’s scenery.

This shot shows the hut in place in front of the freshly painted ground and newly laid ballast. It was so new that I’d only finished flooding the ballast with white glue and water about 2 mins before I took this photo.

I wanted to get this little section of ballast glued down because it normally takes about 36 hours to dry. I’m visiting a friend tomorrow so everything should be nice and dry and ready for a base layer of foliage and perhaps a bit of tree planting on Tuesday when I next get a chance to work on the layout as I’m very unlikely to get any work time on it tomorrow.

Morpeth Control

After taking far longer than I’d planned, the final wiring for the Morpeth control panel was completed today and given a full test. To be clear; this is the local panel for the yard at Morpeth, not a panel to control the entire new much expanded Morpeth Line. I think I’m going to have to christen the whole layout the Morpeth Branch and thus Morpeth will simply become a destination on the line, in this case the terminus. I haven’t yet managed to run a train on Morpeth partly because I have to trim the point motor actuating wires in a couple of places as they are still sticking up above the rail head. However the main reason I didn’t get to running a train is that I got diverted onto another task and didn’t get to it.

I’m quite pleased with the way the panel came up. After lots of experience with working on layouts that have nothing labelled I went all out and labelled everything that I felt was needed. The main line out of the yard is labelled “To Queens Wharf” so as long as an operator knows that they are heading to Queens Wharf as they leave town there should be no need to ask the fat controller how they get out of the yard. I’ve also labelled the main industries and where the station is located. All the routes are indicated by LEDs except the double slip. while there are ways to wire up routes with LEDs for these pieces of track they seem to require a Mini Panel and while there’s one located under Morpeth it had already taken too long to get this far. I decided to skip it and put in two simple SPST switches and hope the operators can work it out. Yeah that’s going to happen 😉

I purchased an Alps printer many years ago and, while it has never received the use I had expected it would, for printing water slide transfers/decals in white there’s nothing to beat it in my experience. It requires me to get out an old laptop with Windows XP with a Word 97 on it to allow the printer driver to work on it but the look and clarity of that white lettering is certainly worth it. Remember the office assistant paper clip on a skate board in Word? (It must have been about as popular as Ja Ja Binks because it disappeared long ago) Well it pops up every time I turn my old Compaq laptop on to print decals.

After I’d got the wiring done and the novelty of flicking the switches and watching the LEDs go on and off wore off I moved onto repairing the final bits of damage to the pier I wrote about causing a few months ago. I’d chopped off the end of the pier module to get it to fit into the layout room but I’d never relaid the last few inches of track at the end of the pier or wired it up properly. One of the lines also needed a detector to be installed in contact with one short section of rail, so while I was spiking a few inches of rail and installing the wiring permanently I also installed the detector and ran the wires from this back the Mini Panel that sits under one of the modules. I’ve never programmed one of these before but John my DCC guru assures me it’s a snap. I can feel that dreaded cold tingle crawling up my spine I always feel when he says things like this 🙂

Finally I stood and contemplated the yard at Queens Wharf and made the final decisions about how I was going to rip the track up at one end and relay it to give me more length in the passing loop at this location. The yard needs a loop that will allow a middle length train to pull off the main and at the moment it simply isn’t long enough. After the NMRA convention at the end of September is out of the way and I’ve got a few loco projects off the to do list I’m going to lift a crossover in front of the dairy in QW yard and relay these 1.2m further along the line. I’m also going to install a goods loop at this location as the extra length will allow for this.

Luxury! 🙂

Morpeth Control Panel

I had a couple of friends over last week and told both of them to “bring something to run”. I had about 5 days before they arrived and was working on re-wiring a section my portable layout Morpeth. “5 days will be plenty of time to get this done,” I thought. I don’t have to look up the meaning of the words “falling short” because I know. A week later I reckon I’m almost where I needed to be for their visit but I still don’t have trains running round the layout so perhaps I do need to get the dictionary out 🙂

The one truly wonderful thing above all others about having Morpeth incorporated into the larger, permanent layout is that I can still tip it on its back and work on the wiring for big jobs like this one. No crawling about under the layout!!! 🙂

In a fit of exuberance I agreed to open the layout up for the SE Qld NMRA Convention in September, deliver three talks (one at the some convention on a day the layout isn’t open) and take Morpeth to a convention in Armidale, about 7 hours drive up onto the New England plateau from my home in the next few months. As Morpeth has only ever made one brief day long public appearance in 2014 I decided to agree to the layout appearing at the New England convention in November but before this happened I had resolved that the layout needed a control panel to control the turnouts. Hence the wiring job.

Now deciding you want to install a control panel and actually doing so are two separate processes and when my friends arrived to run trains last week it turned out that the second was a lot more work than the first and I was at least 7 days short of getting it done. I’d managed to get Morpeth into the condition you can see in the above photo when they arrived but I hadn’t even completed the re-wiring of the layout, let alone the construction of the control panel which was a completely new item. Up to this point I’d relied on the “temporary” solution of throwing the turnouts by entering their DCC address into the throttles. This worked fine but it was not terribly visitor friendly and so I felt a control panel was required. People just “get” switches whereas entering DCC addresses into the system can be a little overhwhelming. I would need to get an NCE Button Board to let me hook up my Switch 8 to some physical DPDT switches. Operators could still throw the turnouts via the throttles but a control panel would be “safe”. Then I discovered I had a Switch 8 Mk I I had under the layout and that Button Boards require a MK Switch 8! 😦 In addition to this I also needed to rewire the section of layout where the control panel was to be located because this is a portable layout and portable layouts have wiring requirements that permanent ones don’t. One such requirement is having to get the wires along the layout via plugs and sockets rather than just running the wires from one place to another.

There are probably many different ways to get your wiring to cross baseboard joints but I settled on using 8 pin DIN plugs and sockets many years ago and I’m still using them. I have a standard way of wiring up both the sockets and short jumper cables I use (there are about 8 or 9 such jumpers on the layout now) so all I need to do when I have to add some more jumpers is get my notes out and repeat the way I’ve wired them before. Here you can see three sockets on the left (two of which are new additions) and the single socket on the right. I only needed one socket before but getting the wires to the control panel which is located adjacent to the layout segment on the left means that two more connections are needed. I added the two extra sockets on the right after this photo was taken. The hole on the board next to the bottom socket is for later expansion if ever needed.

After I arrived back from my cross country jaunt to Canberra and all points frigid the NMRA open house and Armidale layout appearance were only a couple of months away rather than half a year away. I had most of the components I needed for the construction of the control panel so I grasped the nettle and got stuck in. The main design challenge for the panel was that it was on a portable section of a permanent layout. When in portable mode it would be in a spot that wasn’t really suitable for use in permanent mode. It needed to be easily detachable and relocatable and out of the aisle on the home layout. It was going to hang off the front of the layout and the aisle where it needed to be wasn’t really wide enough to allow passage of operators when it was in place. In an exhibition environment there are no such constraints but I did need to be able to remove it for transport. I’d considered making a separate stand for it but felt this was overkill for small a 300mmX220mm panel (12″X9″) so decided to hang if from the layout through the use of a French Cleat.

A French Cleat is no more than a length of timber that has been champhered along one long edge with a 45 degree cut. This piece of 12mm ply has the 45 degree cut on its inner side and is permanently attached to the layouts fascia. This small section of ply will fit into the layout trailer with no modification to the rack the layout sits on for transport. There’s a corresponding cleat on the back of the small, wooden control panel.

In this photo the panel is set in place. It’s a little difficult to photograph the inner cleat but the strip of timber you can see on the upper side of the rear of the panel housing has a corresponding 45 degree cut to the one attached to the layout. The panel simply lifts off when it needs to be removed. I can assure you that the panel itself is extremely secure attached like this. There are no screws of fasteners needed, it simply slots in place and stays there till I need to remove it. The electrical connection to the layout is made via more DIN plugs and sockets, the wiring for the two needed you can see in the photo. Why is it called a French Cleat? Don’t ask me, I’m just a railway modeller 🙂

I’ve made a good deal of progress on the panels top and the wiring for the connections but I think I’ll leave that for another time.