Monday, 19 September 2016

September 2016 meeting

Our September meeting in Glasgow was well attended: Alisdair, Alistair, Graham, Andy, Stephen and new face Simon started the session at 11am with tea and cake. Simon had brought some intriguing and beautifully-made examples of handbuilt point and crossing work for his chosen North American prototype. I was too busy looking to get my camera out, and then he distracted us by unrolling a large coloured plan of Mallaig station, just to show he has more local projects in mind as well. Sorry Simon ... I'll try to post some photos in future.

Alisdair has been progressing his small folding layout developed from a test track. A cassette fiddle yard has been produced and the track is down. The small plywood-framed sections are aligned by brass dowels and clip together with over-centre flight-case catches. There is some suspicion it will be transportable by bicycle.

Alisdair is making an effort to reproduce HR prototype track at the turn of the 19th century 
– so much for a quick test track! – therefore decided on traditional PCB sleeper strip and solder construction to get a wider sleeper spacing than Easitrac offers. Fishplates are placed at prototypical 30 foot spacing. The sharp-eyed will spot a recycled, reduced P4 point template pressed into service, betraying his original 18.83 leanings.


Of course, the disadvantage of modelling HR 19th century track with true fidelity is that it never works on Sundays. Easitrac on the other hand works 24/7.

The test-track-cum-folding-layout will be operable from either side, so wire-in-tube point operation was rejected. An idea stolen from the NEAG after attending their last meeting is to make cheap point motors using inexpensive servos with the control electronics inside the little case removed: the motors are simply run into stops and stalled. A soft-action lever microswitch provides changeover for the crossing polarity. The servo is mounted in one of Martin Stewart's laser-cut mounts, and a piece of 0.1" SIL header makes an inexpensive connector so the unit can be easily removed. The whole thing costs about a fiver which is pretty attractive; the Highland would have approved.

After all this show-and-tell, it was time for some intensive bacon roll consumption, then more cake, tea, coffee, magazines ... late on, we did turn our attention to Sauchenford and upgraded the uncoupler power supply connection to address problems we'd found at the Alnwick show a couple of weeks ago, but it has to be said it was one of our less visibly productive meetings. But the seed was sown for this to change: Alisdair issued a challenge to each of us to produce a wee diorama by the February meeting. Though not a competition, it has some simple rules:
  • Plan area of the diorama is to be 20cm by 16cm. It can be as high as you like.
  • Modelling is to 2mm scale.
  • Must feature 2mm scale track. No need to include any rolling stock.
Nothing was said about whether the diorama has to be a Highland Railway prototype, but Alisdair probably thought that was so obvious he didn't need to mention it.  So with that to chew on, we left Scotstoun around 5.30pm, fearful after our day of indiscipline, already repenting the second, third and fourth slices of cake, nursing our guilt, and preparing our plans.