Stephen Buck sbuck

Competition Entry: Gordon Station (northern module) Entry FC 1997

Blog no.3:  Gordon Point Rodding

My plan originally was to have static point rodding, but, with components becoming available from DCC Concepts, it seemed worth making the rodding work.

The points and signals for Gordon were controlled from a 30 lever frame located under an extended canopy on the island platform, a pretty standard NSWGR installation, and dated from 1909.

This entry covers the section of the yard including the leverframe, platform building, part of the platform and northern end of the yard:

Gordon track plan 1909.jpg 
The module will have the rodding for 3 points and one catchpoint. These are arranged to co-act in pairs.  One facing point lock is also provided.  Three sets of rods are required for the northern end of the yard.

But six sets of rods are also required for the southern end of the yard, for 3 pairs of co-acting points, a single set of points and two facing point lockingbars (note that the diamond crossing was replaced with a single slip point to form a trailing crossover at a later date and this is modelled).  I decided not to attempt to physically connect the rods between modules but rather to use additional point motors to drive the 6 sets of rods.  All compensators for these points and locking bars are to be located on the adjacent module.

I’m also concerned about lost motion on the quite complex rodding on this module, and the chance that the rodding may seize so plan to provide separate point motors to drive the 3 sets of rodding on this module.

gordon point rodding 1118a.jpg    

More to come


Stephen Buck

14 November 2018

Quote 2 0
Stephen Buck sbuck

DCC Concepts Competition : Updated 18 January 2019

Competition Entry:  Gordon Station (northern module) Entry FC 1887

Please note:  I've had difficulty uploading my Blogs, so I've consolidated them into this single blog

4 November 2018

Blog 1:  How I designed my model railway

I’d been collecting ready to run models of New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) models for many years and decided about 10 years ago to build a layout.

I decided that I wanted to build a double track circle, with an authentic station and storage sidings.  I’m of the view that a genuine trackplan is more of a challenge and more realistic than somewhere invented and, once you’ve decided your requirements, you can work through the track plans or go travelling, to find a location which meets your needs.

I set a few requirements for the layout and station:

  • It was to be double track
  • It was to have a run through refuge siding
  • It was to have a small goods yard adjacent to the station
  • It was to be a genuine NSWGR station
  • Area 5.5 metres x 2.4 metres, to fit an available area
  • The layout to be modular

The Australian Railway Historical Society (ARHS) publishes a CD ROM with NSWGR track plans and, having travelled extensively over the network over the years I had a few ideas of suitable locations to model

There are (or were) about a dozen locations which met these requirements.  Those on country mainlines were primarily built between 1900 an 1912 when a decision was made to significantly increase the length of mainline goods trains, which could be done because of the installation of Westinghouse brakes and the required loops were then too long for the points to be operated from a central signalbox. The solution for longer trains was to provide refuge sidings with a single entry near the signalbox which required trains to reverse into the refuge siding.

 These locations were on the Main Southern line out of Sydney between Harden and Jerrawa and on the Western line between Penrith and Lithgow.  The Western Line included 32 km (20 miles) of more or less continuous 1 in 30 grades on the Down, with regular fast passenger services and relatively short goods trains and a short section of 1 in 40 on the Up, so trains were short and quite a few loops were required.

Further study pointed to one location on the Sydney suburban rail network which me these requirements, Gordon station, which is about 10 minutes from where I live.  I decided to go with this as it is compact, interesting and nearby.

A safeworking plan of the station for the era being modelled is shown below:


This is the track plan used from 1909 to 1926 when the line was electrified and colour light signals were installed.  Otherwise the plan remained much to this plan until 1994, when the yard was rearranged with the old Up Main becoming bi-directional and set up so that trains could terminate in either direction on the centre platform track.

So my layout is a period layout set in this era, or more precisely between 1919 and 1926.

In this era, around 110 steam hauled passenger trains and 2 goods trains operated, plus some interesting additional services.  Off peak frequency was typically every 10 minutes in each direction.

The line has 1 in 50 grades, providing a good workout for the Beyer Peacock built 30 class 4-6-4 tank locos with a variety of carriage sets including American style end platform cars and newer cars intended for electric service.

My first attempt at building the layout was pretty poor, poor baseboard design, poor track alignment and problems with pointwork.  So, I’m starting again from scratch!

I am building Gordon station on two 1650 x 600 boards, and the entry covers the right hand side (Down end) and includes the station building, footbridge with overhead booking office and the points into the yard and to the Local Platform, which were primarily used to release locos to run around trains.


More to come



Competition Entry: Gordon Station (northern module).  Entry FC 1887

Blog no.2 Module design


The starting point for the project is my newly constructed module for Gordon layout.  The top and front facia are 9 mm marine ply, and the backscene is 3 mm ply with a 19 mm square pine edging and gussets.  The front fascia and backscene are the structural “beams” for the module, giving a very rigid structure.

crop2018-11-07 09.02.26.jpg    

The modules are located with DCC Concepts dowels and recessed toggle clamps purchased cheaply on line.  The legs of 45 x 19 pine fold into the module.  The cutaway is for a duckunder.


Code 75 Peco flatbottomed track is being used, as it’s a good representation of NSWGR 80 lb/yard rail and has the correct sleeper spacing.  No. 6 points are jig built with Fasttracks jigs and tools.  These are 1050 mm radius, have good clearances and are straightforward to construct.  I’ve designed my own crossing timber cutouts which are laser cut.  The cutouts from Fasttracks have timbers too close together and too small, whereas the C+L cutouts have overwide spacing and timber size, for my prototype.  Brass and polyurethane chairs from Stephen Johnson Models are used under the stockrails with Proto 87 tie bars and heel blocks.  

2018-11-07 09.03.02.jpg 

Use of the Fasttracks points allows track centres to be reduced from the normal 51 mm to scale 42 mm between the Up Main and Local Platform tracks and to scale 45 mm between the Down Main and Goods Siding tracks

crop 2018-11-07 09.03.29.jpg 

The module is the northern half of the yard including the station buildings, footbridge and northern pointwork.

Between the station and backscene is a cutting of varying depth, and a long row of shops with their backs to the tracks.  Between the platform and the front of the module are gardens.  The local council, Ku-ring-gai, has maintained gardens at the six railway stations in its area for over a century.

Most of the line passes through bushland, long stretches are treelined, and wildlife including wallabies, possums etc are still seen in the surrounding areas.

Buildings and structures come from a variety of sources

The island platform building is a Bergs kit which has been sold for many years, and is very useful as dozens, if not hundreds of stations have been built to this design.  In many cases these buildings had a roof extension over the lever station which was left in the open.  While the station was constructed in 1909, the frame was enclosed to make a signalbox around 1935.  The levers are a Wills kit assembled with levers in the Normal position vertical, as the original is a McKenzie and Holland frame

crop 2018-11-07 09.04.22.jpg 

The overhead booking office is laser cut to my design, with 3D printed doors, windows and other fittings.  The footbridge structure is Evergreen sections, the handrails are from MSE and the gaslamps (which do work) are modified DCC Concepts station lamps (perhaps not recognisable to the supplier).  Steps are Airfix, widened to a scale 9 ft.

Stephen Buck



More to come


Competition Entry: Gordon Station (northern module).  Entry FC 1887

BLOG no.4           20 November 2018

History of (Sydney’s) North Shore Railway

There’s no need to invent a history as it’s a real railway.

Railway construction in NSW was always primarily to benefit farmers.  Lines were built to some quite unlikely places and never ever made a profit. 

The North Shore Line was the first purely suburban line in Sydney and there’s a view that the proposal got through Parliament because they convinced the farmers that it would cut costs for transport into Sydney, ignoring that it was to end north of Sydney harbour.  It seems that even the Railway management considered that it had little potential so it was really built on the cheap, with some of the most miserable timber station buildings on the system.

The first section from the junction at Hornsby to St Leonards, some 17 kms, opened in 1890 as a single track. In 1893, a double track extension opened to Milsons Point, a further 5 km.  The station building was located under what is now the northern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  At this stage 9 trains ran in each direction daily.  Gordon was set up as a crossing loop at opening, closed and then reopened in 1893. 

Passenger traffic increased rapidly as the North Shore quickly became a popular residential area.  In 1900 the section from St Leonards to Lindfield, 6 km, was duplicated, and the remaining 11 km Lindfield to Hornsby (including Gordon), was duplicated in 1909.

In 1915 a decision was taken to start construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and a new temporary station was constructed west of the Milsons Point terminus, complete with a new ferry wharf.  Trains continued to operate to the old terminus to get a fresh loco.  The ferry company was not pleased about having to run a more complex service, and the passengers were required to climb up over a footbridge rather than having a short level stroll. The passengers worked out that they could carry on to the old terminus, and after 6 weeks of solid civil disobedience the railways gave up and reverted to using the original terminus.

In 1924 a proper start was made to bridge construction, some rearrangements were made at the previously constructed new station at Milsons Point to remove the need to climb the footbridge.  The line was electrified in 1927, and trains were rerouted to the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932.

Original Namemile/ chainheight feetOpenedFrameSignal boxGoods sidingPrivate sidingGardensLocal platform
Milsons Point081893 XXX  
*Lavender Bay  1909 X    
Bay Rd1 161151893X X   
Edwards Rd1 671731893X     
St Leonards2 492401890X XX  
Artarmon3 642641898X     
Chatswood4 513221890X XX X
Roseville5 523511890X   X 
Lindfield6 373221890X X XX
Killara7 213671899X   X 
Gordon8 023811890X XXXX
Pymble9 104491890X X X 
Turramurra10 265531890X X X 
Warrawee10 795891900X   X 
Pierces Corner11 436231890X X X 
Waitara12 346021909X     
Hornsby13 075941886 XX   
*Lavender Bay signalbox only, closed 1915, with automatic signalling    

In 1932 with the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, traffic moved to a new line from Bay Rd (now Waverton), via new stations at North Sydney and Milsons Point to the Bridge.

Train Operations

By 1926 there were around 110 passenger trains operating in each direction, plus two goods trains, on the line.  In the off peak, there was typically a 10 minute service frequency, requiring about 11 carsets.  In the peak periods, 16 carsets were required, but service frequency was reduced at the Hornsby end of the line, but increased at the Milsons Point end of the line, which had trains t 3  minute frequencies.

Approximately half the goods carried was locomotive coal.

Sydney and London had the largest tramway systems in the British Empire.  A number of tram systems were isolated from the main system, including the North Shore system, and trams were transferred as required on rail lines hauled by seam tram motors.

There were some extra workings, for example, trains from Newcastle for miners to take their families to Taronga Zoo.


  milsons point opening.jpg 


Official opening of Milsons Point station in 1893. The north pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is now where the station building was, the Bridge would run across the picture and the Sydney Opera House would be in the background. The building behind the station with the curved roof was the cable (later electric) tram terminus and the elegant tower a post office.  Photo NSW State Library collection

More to come


Competition Entry: Gordon Station (northern module).  Entry FC 1887

Blog no.5:  Rodding Cranks to the Leverframe

I had already decided to install static rodding and the announcement of DCC Concepts products prompted a change to working rodding.

I had also purchased point rodding A frames (rodding stools) from local producer Signals Branch on Shapeways and 0.4 mm square nickel silver rodding from MSE.  As I have these components, I plan to use them.

NSWGR practice is to place rodding stools 6 to 7 ft apart, around 22 mm in HO scale, so around 60 are required for the entry module and another 60 for the adjacent module.  These carry 1 to 6 rods.

 The Signals Branch rodding stools set the rodding 3 mm above their base and at 3 mm centres, fairly tight!

I have purchased shorter and medium DCC Concepts cranks.  The compensators are medium height. 

My baseboard is 9 mm ply, with 3 mm cork under the track.

My plan is to use shorter cranks mounted directly onto the cork underlay when connecting with rodding at rodding stool height. 

Rodding will need to pass under rails at quite a few locations.  The clearance between rail and cork underlay is 2 mm.  I may coat the underside of rails with “liquid insulating tape” available from my local electronics supplier.

Rodding will need to be stepped down 1 mm to;

  • go under track
  • at compensators
  • at take-offs for co-acting points

At these locations, I’ll use medium height cranks secured directly to the baseboard.  Compensators are the same height so they will be similarly mounted.

The most complex task is the bank of nine cranks adjacent to the lever frame.  

The cranks need to “connect” the rodding which is at 1 mm centres with the levers on the platform which are at 3 mm centres.  I therefore needed to place the cranks at 3mm centres and offset by 1 mm. 

This firstly required the bases of the cranks to be removed.

It seemed to me that I needed “a block” 3 mm thick with holes accurately positioned would do the job.  I had two options, 3D printed or laser cut.  The latter is cheaper and quicker.

I joined a club in Meadowbank in suburban Sydney a few years ago, called Robots and Dinosaurs, which has a wide range of equipment, including a laser cutter.  It’s frequented by “younger” people who are into electronics, games, model building and a wide range of activities including robots, jewellery, ornaments etc.   Club membership costs around 200 Pounds per annum, and I have a constant workload of laser cut buildings, bridges, platform faces and mounting blocks.  It’s about 40 minutes drive from home, I have brunch with friends at a nearby cafe on a Saturday morning where we watch trains, doubledecker EMUs each way every 15 minutes, a Central Coast commuter every hour each way, again doubledecker EMU, usually one country DMU, and a few freight and coal trains, generally with 3 or 4 diesels, total power 12,000 hp, with trains ranging from 1,500 to 4,000 tonnes.

I decided to make “the block” from 3 mm acetate, which matches the thickness of my cork underlay and to provide packers for the sleepers supporting the track.  9 rods are required, in 3 groups of 3 between sleepers.

I produced two blocks, one in acetate and one in 3 mm plywood, which is easier to see.

The 9 holes for the crank shafts were cut slightly undersize and drilled out to 2 mm, and the crank shafts are a gentle push fit, they may end up with a dab of glue.

rodding packers.jpg 

I had purchased medium and short cranks, the compensators are medium height. 

The short cranks when positioned on my cork underlay are the correct height for my rodding, but I decided to cut away the cork and place a plywood spacer under the crank base.  I will need to place other cranks at varying heights.

I therefore used the laser cutter to manufacture a lifetime supply of 1, 2 and 3 mm thick spacers.  These also have a central hole to clear the bump on the base of the cranks.

A test installation of cranks is shown.  Alternate cranks are set 1 mm and 3 mm above the acetate to allow the cranks to operate.  The cranks heading to the right will connect to rods at 1 mm centres, those heading down will connect to rods at 3mm centres heading to the lever frame, and passing between sleepers.  All pretty tight, but it appears to work!


More to come

Stephen Buck

Gordon Station Competition Blog no.6

Competition Entry: Gordon Station (northern module) Entry FC 1887

History of Gordon Station.

Gordon is 17 km north of Sydney’s CBD.  In the early 19th century it would have been covered in quality hardwood, which was harvested.  Arrival of the railway in 1890 lead to market gardens, an orchards being constructed, and these were steadily replaced by housing, as Sydney’s North Shore is a prestige part of the city.  Commuter train services have increased dramatically since the railway was constructed, with trains at 3 minute headway in the peak in the steam era, and similar services with much higher capacity trains today.  Over the years most available land has become housing and it remains a popular commuter area.  There has been extensive tree planting over the years resulting in a very leafy and pleasant area.

Gordon track plan 1909.jpg 

Gordon station was opened as an interlocked crossing loop with the opening of the line in 1890.

The original mainline became the Up Main with duplication in 1909 and the Local Platform was the original loop.  A platform was provided on the loop in 1898, with a basic timber waiting room, which survives to this day, although how much is original is questionable.

In 1909 the line was duplicated, the original timber station building on the mainline platform was replaced with a NSWGR standard brick building, the new Down Main was constructed on the western side of the existing Up Main and the footbridge with timber overhead booking office was provided.  The goods shed was relocated from the Down end of the yard to the position shown.

At the same time an Act of Parliament authorised the construction of a branch east to the coast at Narrabeen, the earthworks were done for a fourth platform, which would have converted the Local Platform into an island platform, and the footbridge was  made long enough for this fourth platform.  Some land was resumed for this new line.  A lower cost, and probably more useful electric tramline was constructed from Manly along the cost to Narrabeen. 

Gordon Station Description

This description covers the station provided in 1909 with duplication.

267 stations of the pattern used at Gordon in 1909 were built by the NSWGR between 1892 and 1935. They were built in patterns for island and single sided platforms.  Over the years there many changes in design detail but they follow the Australian “Federation” style, one of the more distinctive features being the use of glass of varying colours in windows.

The Gordon station layout can be traced to the arrival of Edward Miller Gard Eddy as NSW Railway Commissioner from 1888 to 1897.  He had joined the London and North Western Railway in 1865 and worked his way up to the position of Superintendent of the railway, and one of his achievements was to cut costs.  The design of island platform building was aimed to reduce costs as staff were responsible for ticket sales, train running, parcels and safeworking. 

A 30 lever McKenzie and Holland lever frame was installed at Gordon with duplication in 1909.  The lever frame was placed under an open section of the island platform building, as was provided at numerous stations in NSW (at lesser stations the leverframe was placed in the open).  On the North Shore line for example, with 13 out of 15 stations having interlocking, only the terminus, Milsons Point, a short lived intermediate signalbox at Lavender Bay and junction at Hornsby had full separate signalboxes. 

An overbridge and weatherboard booking office were provided n 1910.  These overhead booking offices were once common in NSW.  Today there are just a few older buildings remaining, quite a few newer structures have been built in recent years.  Gordon is an excellent example.

The overhead booking office has been extended and rebuilt 3 times!  After original construction, a rather tatty dry cleaner’s shop was added adjacent to the building.  This was removed and the building was extended in the 1990s to provide two shops.  When lifts were installed, a further extension was made to provide two new shops as the old shops were used as entrances to the lifts.

Gordon 1909.jpg 
gordon kerry 2 today.jpg 
Standing at the northern (Down) end of Platform looking in the Up direction

 Gordon Kerry 2954 comp.jpg 

gordon kerry 1 today.jpg 

 Looking north (Down) form the Down end of the station

Note in both photos the substantial growth of trees!


Why does the Station Survive?

The main reason is intervention by the National Trust and Heritage Commission.  The Railways have attempted to install covered walkways on stairs and the overbridge.  Lifts were installed and the Railways were forced to install this in a discrete manner.

The Station Gardens

Ku-ring-gai Council, which covers half the stations on the North Shore line, has actively constructed large areas of ornate gardens on Railway land around all stations in the municipality, where suitable land is available for perhaps 100 years, the largest being at Gordon.  In recent years budget cuts have eliminated annual flower plantings, but a high standard has still been achieved.


Two current views of the gardens, on opposite sides of the station

 Sourcing Information

My first call was to the Ku-ring-gai Historical Society which had a good article on the station in one of their magazines.

The NSW Government Archives holds a large (but certainly not complete) collection of Railway plans and photographs.  Because of standardisation, if you can’t find plans for a particular station, then hunt one don which is similar, and it generally means looking for one built at the same time, often at some distance

gordon overhead 03001.jpg 

Part of the drawing of the Overhead Booking Office from NSW Government Archives

The Australian Railway Historical Society also operates an archive with plans, photographs, Working Timetables, Railway Appendices, which detail operating procedures and yard layouts, Train Composition Books etc.

The NSW State and Commonwealth Libraries have extensive photographic collections

The national Library also has scanned copies of newspapers from the 1830s to the 1960s which are a useful source of information.

Gordon Yard Signalling

The 1909 signals were supplied by McKenzie and Holland who had factories in Melbourne and Brisbane and were major suppliers to railways in Australia and New Zealand.

Two signals in the yard had been installed in 1890 and were retained, these being the Up Home and Up Starting signals, nos. 24, 25, 27 and 28.

In British practice, it seem likely that more shunting signals would have been provided, in particular for shunting the goods siding.  Just two shunting signals were provided in 1909, no. 23 on the Up Home (which was probably removed around 1912), and no.7, to shunt a loco back into the Local Platform.  The Goods Siding was provided with point indicators at both ends of the siding which indicated the position of the catch points.

There are 6 leads (sets of points), two single slip points and two catch points, and 3 facing point lockingbars.


Between 1900 and 1912 the NSWGR installed Tyer’s One Wire, 3 Position Block Instruments on newly duplicated lines and these were installed on the North Shore line.  At many stations there was provision to cut out the instruments.  No additional safety features like Starter Control or Welwyn Locking were provided on this line.


The North Shore line was electrified in 1926, with 1500 Volt overhead.  Colour light signalling was installed at the same time.  A substation was built for the electrification and was fitted with an experimental mercury arc rectifier.

Later History

The goods siding was removed in the 1980s, and the yard was rearranged in the 1990s so that trains could terminate on the centre platform rather than the eastern platform.

More to come.

Stephen Buck


Competition Entry: Gordon Station (northern module).  Entry FC 1887

Blog 7.  Installing Rodding

I don’t really like painting.  Doesn’t matter if it’s full size walls, ceilings or model trains.  I purchased a spray gun years ago, it’s still in the box.  I barter to get locos painted, overhaul a loco or supply parts, it works, four locos painted sofar!   And a better job than I could ever hope to do.

Rodding, cranks etc need to be painted but assembling then painting would appear to run the risk of rodding getting stuck in stools, so it’s paint first 

So I’ve decided that the order of installation is:

  • Install points
  • Paint rodding, stool, cranks etc
  • Install rodding
  • Install track
rods weathered.jpg 

The points are in, so now it’s paint the rodding, cranks etc.  Any painting runs the risk of blocking the fine holes in the stools, making rodding oversize so it jams, seizing cranks etc.  So I decided to use a Woodland Scenic Tidy Track Track Painter, and I’d have to say I’m quite pleased with the job:

There’s about 15 metres of rodding, 17 sets of stools, ranging from 2 to 6 rods.  Both enough for the entry module and the adjacent module.

The rods are painted top and sides only, leaving the bottom face clean for soldering.  I’ve soldered some short length of phosphor bronze strip to the lower side of the rods to strengthen the joints. 

My longest single straight rod length will be 1100 mm.  I need a source of nice long lengths of rodding!!  

The cranks are enough for one module only.

The other odd shaped part is the laser cut acetate plate for the cranks adjacent to the lever frame.

Tracks Crossing Rodding

My entry covers the northern half of Gordon yard, including the island platform station building, with the 30 lever frame under the open awning and three points and on set of catch points, operating as two co-acting pairs.

But rodding from the leverframe also runs to three points and two single slips at the southern end of the yard on a separate module.  This requires a further four sets of rodding for points and two for facing point locks.

Therefore there are nine sets of operating rodding required coming out from the leverframe.

The planned rodding, as shown in my Blog no.3 is shown below:

gordon point rodding 1118.jpg 

I laser cut two pieces of 3 mm acetate for to mount the nine cranks adjacent to the leverframe and the three pairs of cranks near catchpoint 18.  These allowed precise positioning of the cranks but required removal of the bases provided.  I laser cut 1.5 dia holes and drilled them out to 2 mm, which gave a nice slide in fit for the crank spindles.

Both acetate pieces have supports for the track sleepers at the correct centres to clear the rodding.

The cranks adjacent to the leverframe were set with alternating height, so the cranks could operate above or below the adjacent crank.

The rodding is set 3 mm above my cork underlay but rods passing under the track are 1 mm above the underlay, so that, for cranks set low, there’s a 2 mm vertical offset on the straight run of rodding running off parallel to the track but for cranks set high, the offset is on the rodding which ends up running under the track.

I have a sheet of paper with two lines drawn 2 mm apart to check my offset.

point rodding near main frame.jpg 

I had already purchased 3D printed rodding chairs, a local design available from Shapeways designed by Ray Pilgrim and listed under Signals Branch.  Rods on straight runs are at 1 mm centres, the rods heading to the frame are at 3 mm centres in three groups, with an extra 2 mm between the groups.  These clearances are quite tight!  I may recut the acetate bases to 4 mm centres.

I’d recommend to 4mm scale modellers setting cranks at 8 mm centres, or at 4 mm centres if you alternate heights and remove the square bases.

The 3 three sets of rods heading to the 3 sets of points and catchpoint and operating one FPL are required to cross under one track.  Again clearances are tight.  All cranks have been set low, with an offset on the rodding running parallel to the track.

I’m modelling at 3.5 mm scale, NSW Railway practice is rodding stools every 6 to 7 ft, so I’m installing 12 stools to each 305 mm length of 0.4 square rodding.

cross track rodding.jpg 

 My plan is to solder the next length of rodding to the rodding installed, then space out the stools and glue them down.  The two acetate bases provide a good solid base for the critical corners and accurate centring of the rods.

Cranks Used

I purchased packs of short and medium cranks, curved cranks and compensators

The medium cranks, minus bases, proved to be ideal for my low set cranks.  I should also have purchased some long cranks for the high set cranks for the nine crank row.

The short cranks are too long for situations where I would otherwise place a crank directly onto my cork underlay, but, as noted in a previous blog, I’ve laser cut a lifetime supply of packers which I can use with the underlay cut away.


I have, of course had a few challenges and problems.

I’ve found the easiest way to solder the rodding to the cranks is to tin both surfaces, then bring them together and solder.  As I’m not one of the world’s great solderers, I have tended to get to much solder in the recess in the crank, and removed this with the always handy desoldering wire!

I managed to solder one hinged rod end to a crank but the desoldering wire cured this.

In desoldering the rod end, I also desoldered the rod end pivot pin.  Resoldering this was quite easy, I placed a sheet of paper between the crank and rod end to stop the flow of solder.

The crank is attached to the tubular section of the base with a delightfully machined pin.  I’ve had one too loose, and secured it with Loctite, without also securing the crank.



More to come.

Stephen Buck


Competition Entry: Gordon Station (northern module).  Entry FC 1887

Blog 8.  Installing Rodding Part 2

15 January 2019

I’ve started on the more difficult part of the rodding, the runs between cranks, joining rods and installing chairs/stools.

Step 1

Solder the rods to the cranks.  This is pretty straightforward when the cranks are loose.  Slide on the chairs/stools in a block, the number being the number required for that section.  Paint the rodding again and leave it to dry.

crop rodding 150119 c.jpg    

Step 2

Solder on the next section of rodding.  I’ve done this by soldering a short section of rod under the two main sections of rodding.  Space out the chairs on the rodding previously installed and glue them down.  As done before, put a block of chairs/stools onto the next set of rodding, paint is and leave it to dry.

crop rodding 150119 b.jpg 

Step 3

One the paint is dry, space out the remaining stools and glue them down

The 6 rods shown are to operate points and FPLs on the adjacent module, and are not to be mechanically linked to the next module.  Separate drive motors are being installed.

Step 4

I’ve stepped down the ends of the rods to be connected to the compensators so they can clear the other rods.  On my layout, this means cutting away the 3 mm cork to set the compensator low enough.

I’m also installing Kadee under the track electromagnetic uncouplers.  I find genuine mountings rather flimsy and have cut 3 mm ply mounts.

To the left of the catch point is the acetate block with 3 pairs of cranks mounted directly to the acetate for 3 rods to cross under the track

The other rectangular plastic socket is a 3D base I use for signals.  I assemble semaphore signals on the bench then lower them into the socket complete

crop rodding 150119 d.jpg 

Step 5

Next, join the rods between cranks.  In this instance I’m joining rods connecting cranks to compensators.  In this situation it’s necessary to solder the rods to the underside of the cranks, not particularly easy!

Now, I’ve managed to solder a couple of crank ends to cranks, which results in the need to remove and resolder the crank pin and I’ve taken the opportunity to assemble the rod end upside down to make soldering much easier.

A couple of hints here:

  • If you need to resolder the pins onto the cranks, place some paper between the rod end and crank and this will stop the solder flowing through, and provide nice clearance
  • I’ve managed to lose some of the tiny pins but have a stock of spares from cranks where I’ve removed the bases and mounted the round section of the crank into a laser cut section of acetate.

Note to DCC Concepts, perhaps rod ends could be assembled upside down on some cranks??    

More to come


15 January 2019



Competition Entry: Gordon Station (northern module).  Entry FC 1887

Blog 9    18 January 2019

My next work has been to complete installation of the rodding through the most complex part and to lay track over the two locations where the track crosses the rodding.

I initially installed compensators, but found that the lost motion was so excessive that the result would not be acceptable.  Compensators are not mandatory, the direction of rodding can be reversed where there are, for example, two cranks where rodding passes under a track.  I did not take advantage of this.

Lost motion is an issue, and I’ll consider mounting point motors at the centre of any rodding run in the future to reduce the overall effect by halving the loss in each direction.

The two rodding crossings are shown below

Adjacent to the platform mounted lever frame there are 9 rods crossing, 2 for the points and catchpoint and one for the FPL on this module.  The other 6 run towards the next module, not part of this entry.

comp 2019-01-18 10.09.25.jpg 
There are platforms each side of these tracks, and at the end of the platforms, the three rods cross under the Local Platform track.

comp 2019-01-18 10.09.16.jpg 
Space is limited as I’m laying the Platform Road and Up Main 42 mm apart, that’s a scale 12 ft in HO.

42 mm is the minimum track centres I can achieve with my jig built points entering a siding and I hope it will look much more realistic than the more normal 2 inch centres one sees.  The minimum centres I can achieve with a crossover is 45 mm, and this will accommodate swing of trains using the crossover to clear a third parallel track.  The reduced centres will allow me to run one additional carriage on my trains and fit Gordon yard in the space available.

I’ve laid one track straight then use a metal 3D printed gauge I designed to get the other track parallel.  I’ve made gauges for 42, 45, 48 and 5 mm track centres, and I’ll be using all of these on my layout.

comp 2019-01-18 10.10.22.jpg 

More soon

Stephen Buck


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Stephen Buck sbuck

Please see consolidated report updated 15 January 2019

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Good luck with the competition and your entry
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Stephen Buck sbuck
Thanks guys, and you too!  Look forward to seeing your good work

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