The Problem With Tides…

There is only one small problem with the tide of progress; it may come in but it bloody well goes out again just as often. After seven days of fairly steady work on Morpeth’s track I feel like I’m about where I was two days before I started. Let me start where we were at the end of the video I posted over a week ago…

I’ve owned this CIL 60′ turntable for about 10 years and it’s only been installed on a layout for about 12 months of that time. After I removed it from Morpeth I no longer had the box it came in to store it so it took a little damage over the years. This photo shows how I glued the one of the handrails that had come adrift back in place at the same time I was gluing one of the rails back into position.

If I’m not mistaken (not having watched my own video again) I was saying in the video update that the track was essentially all down in Raworth and that I was testing 2002 through all the points and on the newly laid track. What a saga that’s turned out to be!

After completing some minor repairs to the turntable in Raworth yard I moved back to the triangle at the entrance to the storage sidings and installed a PSX-AR unit from DCC Specialties which switches the polarity under the trains on the triangle. This replaced another polarity switch I had installed in this area that didn’t like working with the PSX zone cut off switches I’d installed for the whole layout, in spite of the fact that this original “budget” unit was from the same manufacturer. The PSX-AR worked beautifully, so much so I decided it was time to start testing the track and points that make up this most complicated section of track-work, something I hadn’t really been able to do up to this point. This is when the problems really started.

I ran 2002 around the entire triangle and the electronics worked fine so thumbs up DCC Specialties and Tony’s Train Exchange who have done a roaring trade with me over the last few months 🙂 However while I did managed to determine that the PSX-AR unit was working as prescribed I found that 2002 kept derailing on the curved Peco turnouts that sit on all three approaches to the triangle. I need you to be aware that the triangle is the core of the operational design of Morpeth: a train can’t travel too far from somewhere to anywhere else without running through the triangle. And my beloved scratch built loco, the loco that is synonymous with the Morpeth line, can’t get through the turnouts that infest this part of the layout. As I pointed out in the most recent video I did some modifications to her but she still kept derailing.

To cut a very long story short I tried to implement some fixes on one of the turnouts and after a very unproductive morning over a week ago I decided to pull the thing out and build a replacement!

This photo shows the Peco turnout about to be uninstalled and my hand-built replacement. Things have progressed considerably since this photo was taken with the hand built unit now installed with a Tortoise sitting under it ready to be wired up.

To build a curved turnout I needed to download and learn how to use Templot, the track design software that is available free if you are so inclined. Because I was only trying to design a paper template for a single turnout and not something truly complicated it took me only a few hours to churn out what I needed and I had the turnout built about 24 hours after printing out the template. This turnout has the same outside radius as the Peco turnout it was replacing but the inner radius needed to be about 200mm tighter than the Peco variety, but this is still above my minimum radius. The reasons for this are a bit complicated but are bound up with the fact that I built my turnout as a #6 whereas the Peco turnout has a frog number somewhere in the 5s. This track in this area of the layout was the first track I laid when I started building Morpeth and I’d been telling myself that when I came back and built the bridge that will sit about 700mm further down the line from this turnout that I’d replace the Peco track with hand made track. As the track had mostly been lifted and I’d replaced a Peco turnout with a hand made one I decided to pull all the track up along the main line and replace it all with hand made code 125 track. That’s been going on for about 6 or 7 days.

This photo shows one of the areas where the Peco track has now been replaced with hand laid. I’d only run a few locos over this transition point and hadn’t really been happy with the way the trains behaved so I decided to not just replace the Peco track but also lift about 150mm of the old hand laid track on Queens Wharf and re-lay new track right across the baseboard join to give me a nice smooth crossing. Before I could do that I removed Lawson’s Stores from it’s foundation (built by my friend Stephen Reynolds and named after my mother Joan whose maiden name was Lawson) so it wasn’t damaged. You can see the foundation of the shop in the foreground.

So a couple of days ago I’d reinstalled track from Queens Wharf round the curve and over where the bridge will eventually reside, then installed the new point, in went new Tortoise motors under this and a Peco turnout that was still in place and then I started to work on the track that curves into Morepth yard. This was another transition point where Peco track meets hand laid and another spot where I was less than happy with the way the trains travelled across the join. Everything was going well till this morning when I took the last lengths of track out to the layout and commenced laying it. Well I tried to lay it but the bloody stuff refused to go in and I discovered I’d made a mistake and made 2 yards of track to the wrong radius. This isn’t flex track, you can’t just bend it a bit tighter to make it fit! It needs to be completely remade from scratch…

What did Fred Flintstone used to say when he swore? &*$#%^! I rarely drink and never alone but as I write this I’m sipping on a very pleasant whiskey blend that goes by the name of American Honey.

Till next time, happy modelling. You do the modelling, I’m taking up Macrame! 🙂

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