Back On Track

Probably the most overused first sentence on blogs of all types is: “It’s been a while since my last post…” and then the author goes on to explain why it’s been a while since their last post. Well it has been a while since my last post but I’m going to spare you the self serving explanation of why, trying to pretend my life it so busy and full of rich experiences that I haven’t had time. The truth is that I’ve been a bit lazy, I’ve been doing other things and I’ve been enjoying summer to do a great deal of modelling and write blog posts about it. However I’ve been getting back into the modelling recently and I’ve finally reached a stage where I have something worthwhile to post.

As mentioned in my last post I’ve been getting together with a couple of friends on Wednesdays over the past few weeks to build some turnouts and we’re probably about half way through the building process of my two friend’s turnouts. In spite of my last post they didn’t get to eat any ginger nuts because I’d eaten them all before they arrived, however I made some lovely walnut and date slice with a lime icing that was a real knock out and which helped overcome their bitter disappointment at the lack of ginger nuts.

This photo shows Peter and Phil pretending to be doing some work on a turnout in between drinking coffee and scarfing down freshly baked walnut and date slice 🙂

Just after I’d completed the full circle of track round the layout room I decided the loop in QW’s yard wasn’t long enough. I only have a fairly paltry collection of rolling stock and the loop at QW couldn’t accommodate the moderately long train I’d made up to test my newly laid track. So I needed a fix and came up with a plan requiring some new turnouts. One R and one L, code 125, #6 turnouts to be precise. The last thing I wanted to be doing was building more turnouts but I’d agreed to build some for a friend who wanted to make a start on laying track on his layout so it was a good time to be making a couple of extras for myself. I happily made three new turnouts and commenced work on three more, one of which was to be a code 100 #6 when I decided it would probably be a good idea to go up and see how the ones I was building for myself would fit in their new home.

This photo shows the arrangement at one end of the yard at QW. The original cross over at the end of the loop is about 1 m to the left of this photo. I decided to leave this in place because removing it would have been far too disruptive and probably would have led to damage to the dairy you can see in the photo. The plan to lengthen the yard required the turnout in the photo to be pulled up, turned 180 degrees and have a second turnout butted up to its diverging end to allow QW yard to have a main, a loop and a goods loop.

It was at this stage that I became aware (because I’d bothered to walk out to the train room to take a look) that both of the turnouts I’d been constructing were essentially useless for their intended purpose. One was no good because it was being built on a base that would have made it impossible for it to be mated up with the pre-existing track of QW’s mainline. I built the track on QW many years ago on 3mm MDF bases and I was now make track on 5mm ply bases. Even the fairly forgiving, large-ish wheels on O-scale trains wouldn’t handle a 2mm height difference in the rails. The second turnout was useless because I’d managed to overlook the fact that the track in QW’s yard was actually code 100, not code 125. Luckily I’d been also been making a code 100 #6 turnout for the coal branch (which is also laid using code 100) and, even more luckily, it was of the correct orientation. So this turnout could be pressed into service on the loop lengthening project. However there was nothing for it but to start from scratch on a new code 125 turnout, built on a thinner base that matched the track on QW. Perhaps the most fortuitous factor was that, as I was also making the turnouts for my friend, I could foist my excess #6 turnout stock onto him and pretend I was doing him a favour by making him more turnouts and at a rate far faster than I’d originally said I could 🙂

This photo shows the original code 125 turnout turned 180 degrees and the new, partially completed turnout built on a thinner ply base in approximately their new positions. There’s still a bit of adjusting to do but I’m hoping these turnouts will be installed and trains will be running over them in the next week.

So the lesson from all this is that you can entice friends to your home with the promise of ginger nuts only to spring walnut and date slice on them and you can offer to build them turnouts and then foist your dumb mistakes on them and they’re grateful to you. Friends, what would we do without them? 🙂

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