Why Have One When You Can Have Two?

I mentioned in a post the other day that I was working on a new control panel for the storage sidings on Morpeth and work on this objective continues. However in working on this project I’ve had niggling away at the back of my mind that Queens Wharf also needs a control panel. What kept going through my mind was that if I was making one control panel I may as well make two because making two at the same time is only marginally more work than making one… isn’t it? 🙂

As I was going to be installing new control panels on Morpeth I decided it was time to do a few upgrades while I was about it and labels on the diagram and hinges on the panels were a definite must have. Not that you can see either of these in this photo. The labels will be applied when the other panel is at the same stage and while the hinges are installed you’ll have to take my word for it 🙂

Thinking about making a couple of control panels is easy, actually doing the job throws up all sorts of problems. Not the least of these is that while the storage siding’s panel sits on top of the layout and only needs an angled wooden housing (made from 12mm ply) before it can be installed, the QW panel needs to sit on the outside face of the layout’s fascia. As no fascia has actually been installed on the layout yet the first order of business was to install some which will allow the installation of the control panel. So in making a move to install a control panel I end up installing fascia!

Before I could start installing about 8m of new fascia I had to first remove the last of the old fascia from Queens Wharf’s days as an exhibition layout. This was at A where you can see the silver/grey of QW’s aluminium benchwork. I then tested the location of the new control panel by temporarily clamping the 12mm ply housing into position at B. C is new layout and I decided to add fascia here because as I’m installing it along the front of the layout anyway, doing a bit more is only marginally more work than doing just one section! 🙂

After a bit of testing and tweaking I cut up some 1×1 battens which would be screwed along the front of the layout in soldier fashion to which the new pieces of 3mm mdf fascia would be attached. I’ll paint this mdf to match the overall yellow base colour I use for the scenery before I attach such items as throttle holders, plug points for the throttles and control panels.

This shows the battens installed to the front of the layout. They are all 1×1 pine cut to a length of 170mm.

I cut two lengths of 3mm mdf from a sheet I’ve had in storage for just this purpose and carried these up and down the stairs a few times while I chopped holes in them to run wires and allow for the installation of plug points and the like. I could probably do this cutting in the layout room, thus saving me trips up and down the stairs, but little metal wheels don’t like mdf dust any more than my lungs do so I carried them downstairs and attacked them with a jog saw down there.

After cutting the fascia to fit I clamped it into position and began screwing through it into the battens. I used 30mm & 40mm long wood screws to attach the battens and 12mm long screws to attach the mdf fascia to these being carfeul how deep I drilled the pilot holes so I didn’t blow through the thin fascia material. This photo shows the job about half done. The A shows the position of the control panel when it’s installed.

After a recent bathroom and wardrobe reno I had some of those little plastic buttons carpenters use to hide the heads of wood-screws in chip board left over. It occurred to me that these might be used to cover the heads of the screws giving the fascia a much neater appearance than left as is. In the past I’ve always used Polyfilla to fill such imperfections but this is always a messy and rather drawn out job. After I screwed the fascia into place I installed the plastic buttons and I’m very pleased with the look. You can just see these in the photo above along the far piece of fascia. I’ll give painting the whole thing a test, mdf and buttons, to see how it looks. I can always go back to the filler if the little plastic buttons don’t work out or won’t take paint. You can get brown ones but they are far too dark.

Storage Roads Control Panel V2

I really dislike starting a blog post with “it’s been a while since I last posted” because it’s self evident if you haven’t posted for a while that it’s been a while! But it has been a while and as usual with me it’s because I haven’t really been doing much modelling or layout work worth writing about. I’ve been caught up doing a couple of significant woodwork projects but I finally finished the most important of these today and I was able to swing my attention round to addressing the need for a control panel on the storage roads of Morpeth. I snapped a couple of photos of the control panel today as I applied contrasting coats of paint and thought I might quickly go through how I make my panels.

There’s probably some very high tech way of doing the artwork for control panels, I know there is, I’ve seen YouTube vids of such techniques, but the method I use is cheap, simple and effective. I’ve also been making control panels for over 30 years sing this method so as it works for me I can’t see a reason to change the process. It also uses my preexisting skill set so I don’t have to spend 2 months learning a new computer program to produce them. I start with a piece of 3mm MDF, glue a 12mmx12mm pine frame to the read side of this and then the upper side is sprayed over with a white coat of paint from a pressure pack can.

I spent a couple of hours yesterday drawing out a plan for the new panel on two pieces of trying paper which was a good thing because I decided after looking at it that I didn’t like the way the triangle was crowded on the left hand side. So I stretched the plan out, giving this side more room. One of the problems with the first version of this panel (which I wrote about a couple of years ago) was a similar problem to the crowding on hr plan I drew yesterday. And just as a reminder, the reason this is V2 is that I decided to change out all my solenoid switch machines for Tortoises after my last operating session. As I was changing the way I would be throwing the turnouts I had to alter the panel anyway and I took the opportunity to the address the problems with the first version. This one includes the mainline triangle which will have route indication included and it also includes the two new storage roads I’ve installed since I made the last panel. I’m also going to throw the yard ladder using a mini panel and one button routing so this panel is not only longer (at 520mm), it will also be quite a bit simpler to wire up. He says with his finger firmly crossed 🙂

After drawing up my full sized paper plan and making any adjustments I felt were needed I then cut lengths of blue masking tape into 4mm wide strips and cut these on a 12mm thick pane of glass I keep for this and other jobs. I laid these along some pencil lines I’d drawn on the white surface of the control panel and trimmed these with a scalpel that had a new blade in it. I then took the panel back out to the shed and gave it a couple of coast satin black paint.

After the paint dried I brought the now black panel inside and peeled off the masking tape. Simple, effective and handsome (a bit like me) 🙂 The reason the panel is on the dining table rather than the workbench is because it is a bit long to work on at my modelling table easily.

The next step will be to mark and drill some holes for LEDs and push buttons and then I’ll print and apply some white decals using my Alps printer. Then I have to wire it up. As the next operating session is scheduled for the 4th of Dec I have just under two weeks. Easy Peasy!