The Next Steps

About six weeks ago I arrived home from the New England Convention where Morpeth appeared as a layout display. I wasn’t exhausted by the experience but I’d done little else in my free time in the lead up to the convention but work on the layout so I’d been putting off a list of jobs that I needed to get onto once I got home, and frankly, I just wanted some time off modelling. Two things happened today that sort of drew a natural line under this hiatus.

The first of these was that I’d been building and installing some vegetable beds in the garden and I managed to fill them with soil today and plant some seedlings. The walls of my new vegie boxes are built from genuine railway sleepers (what else?) and as the beds now have plants in them I should have a little more time to spend at the modelling bench. Secondly, after a six month wait, my electrician rang yesterday and asked if he could come out and install the emergency cut off switch on my “new” (67 year old) Myford lathe. I set the lathe up on its stand months ago and had a light installed over it in preparation for this day, but I’m yet to actually cut any metal on it. I could have done a few small metalwork jobs on the lathe if I’d chosen but I’d made a personal resolution that I wouldn’t use the machine until it was safe to do so. Knowing me, setting the tail-stock in place and making parts would have meant the switch never got installed, so while it took a heck of a lot longer than I’d anticipated, the lathe is now ready for to be fully assembled and used.

The stand that the lathe sits on has a steel plate welded to the front in anticipation of the installation of a safety switch, one that obviously never got installed, because it had no holes in it where the switch could have been mounted. The only issue around using this plate to mount the switch on would have been that doing so would have meant the switch projected out from the front of the lathe about 100mm, right a crotch height. I attached a timber step-back plate to the steel mount to allow the switch to sit nicely tucked in at an appropriate location: easily accessible but with little opportunity for it to enable me commence a new career as a castrati.

while not doing any work on the layout I have actually been working on a modelling project for a friend; the refurbishment of a hand built, South Australian S class 4-4-0 steam loco built to 1:48 several decades ago.This locomotive was sitting on a section of my friends layout that consisted of plywood when I visited a few months ago and somehow or another I ended up bringing it home with me to see if I couldn’t get in running nicely. I flatter myself that there isn’t a locomotive in existence I can’t get running well but I prefer an achievable challenge over a difficult one and this little 4-4-0 has proven to be a pleasure to work on. I’ve spent a lot of the past six weeks waiting for parts to arrive from various parts of the globe and at the time of writing I still hold out hope that a package with some small BA bolts and a plug tap will arrive before Christmas day. We’ll have to see about that. Other than this the loco is essentially ready to reassemble and give a test run. I’m considering making a new bogie for the front of the loco but I will make a decision about whether this is necessary tomorrow when I do some more work on it now that I don’t have to go outside and shovel barrow loads of stone or garden soil 🙂

When the owner of the S class spoke to me about it he said it didn’t run very well. I feel one of the reasons for this poor running was that it used the “American” pickup system of half the wheels on the tender collecting current from one rail and the loco drivers on one side collecting from the other rail. In my book this simply means that you’re essentially only using half the available pick up points for current collection. After replacing all the wheels on the loco for modern, insulated versions (the wheels on the tender were chunky solid brass models) I installed pickups on all available wheels. This photo shows the tender with my standard current collection system; pickup wipers on the backs of all wheels, insulation provided by copper clad sleeper material (in this case left over sleeper material from some Marcway points I made 15 years ago) and more copper clad used to transfer the current to the front of the tender.

I’ve been gradually working on the S class over the past couple of weeks and enjoying myself immensely working on a model that is not intended to go to sea 🙂 I installed new wheels on both tender and loco, improved the current collection by installing pickups on all wheels and worked on installing DCC sound into the loco rather than the tender where the decoder was when I was handed it.

Normally I would use a Jaycar high bass speaker for an O-scale loco such as this however there simply isn’t room to fit one unless I place it in the tender. In a choice between putting a smaller speaker into the loco body or a larger one into the tender the smaller speaker won out. I’m reinstalling the speaker that came with the loco into the boiler. Luckily the smoke box door popped off easily so I’m planning to glue the speaker (which already has its own enclosure) to the back of this. That way it will remain accessible in case the owner chooses to upgrade to a larger speaker in the tender later. I’ve made up a small Vero board circuit to mount the L series ESU decoder to which is held in place with some double sided tape. The masking tape is simply to hold the wires from the decoder I haven’t utilized out of the way.

With luck the loco should be running by the new year. I’ll write a post and possibly make a short video of this when it happens.

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