May 26th - One signal fitted and wired up, with the second and third signals substantially complete. The lever frame has levers for all eight running signals (distant, home, platform starter, advanced starter in each direction), and my plan is to have repeater indications in the fiddle yards (using LEDs) so that train drivers can see all the signals, even though only the two platform starters are actually on the layout. I’m hoping that this will make operation much easier, particularly when I have the block instruments working as well.
I hadn’t intended to make these repeaters, but in a spare moment I put together a little test piece to see how things might work, and an hour later I have one finished panel - just needs wiring to the fiddle yard. The photo shows the ‘London’ fiddle yard with the up and down lines on the right and second from right respectively. The LEDs above show distant, home, platform starter and advanced starter (bottom up for the down line, and top down for the up line).
May 27th - Two more signals finished, installed and wired up, and all the signals on the two central boards tested under power.
It’s getting a bit crowded under parts of the layout (photo right)- Tortoise motors for two turnouts, one ground signal, and (horizontally) for the two running signals in the photo (left)
Still a few things to do - mainly finish the second fiddle yard.....
May 29th - A bit of work on the second fiddle yard. The wood-work is finished, and a start has been made on preparing to lay the four sections of transition track between the layout and the cassettes.
June 2nd - Track laid, wired up and tested on the second fiddle yard. I now have all the components finished in my aim to get Plumpton Green to an exhibitable state within two years. The layout has been tested as it has been built, but it hasn’t yet been set up in its entirety with either of the fiddle yards, so the next stage is to set it up and give it a full test with full length trains - something to be done during the forthcoming week.
So what have we achieved in two years? Quite a lot I think:
- research, including history of the line, maps, plans and photographs, both current day and historic
- on-site measurement surveys.
- track-work designed, drawn on Templot, built, painted, laid, ballasted and wired up
- point motors for turnouts installed and wired
- buffer stops built and fitted
- lever frame and interlocking researched, designed, built, wired up and tested.
- base-boards and fiddle yards built
- display boards built
- stream and culvert completed, accommodation crossing completed
- station buildings and signal box substantially complete
- platforms built and fitted
- footbridge built
- basic landform and scenic work complete - embankments, fields, grass, fencing, hedges, and a few trees
- running signals and ground signals built and installed
- lighting, trestles and transport boxes modified from Brighton Road
However, still a lot to do - mainly finishing the buildings and adding scenic detail, not to mention the inevitable adjustments to trackwork to make sure it runs well.............
June 4th - The layout is now fully set up for the first time in the garage - back-scenes fitted, lights fitted, and all wired up. Time for some extensive testing..........
After an hour or so of testing, we have one broken wire, and a dead section of rail, one signal mechanism which is a bit flakey, one signal which doesn’t work at all, and one possible under-gauge section of track, plus a broken tie-bar. Not too bad. Fixed the broken wire, and the flakey signal mechanism and worked out why the other signal doesn’t work - something to fix tomorrow.
June 21st - First day out for the layout at the S4 AGM. I’ve spent most of last week making a few adjustments to the layout, cleaning locos and giving the stock to be taken to the AGM an ‘MoT’. I don’t check my carriages and wagons very often, and perhaps shouldn’t be surprised that the wheels need cleaning, or that some of the AJ’s might need a little tweak, but I am surprised that quite a few wheel sets are out of gauge. Have they always been like that? Have they moved on their axles? Am I using a different gauge?
The layout took a bit longer to set up at the AGM than I had hoped, and there are a few things to be done to help - for example, labelling trestles, to get them the right way round etc.
Inevitably I didn’t run much at the AGM - instead I spent a very pleasant day mostly talking or demonstrating the locking frame frame. However, I did run enough trains to identify a couple of problems which weren’t evident before.