Bunkerbarge

My initial thoughts on point rodding and what was installed on the first few points on the layout used square section 0.8mm brass rod in straight runs to the operating arm.  Originally the Cobalt SS motors were to be hidden by lineside huts and other bits and pieces and the illusion would be enhanced by the use of Ratio plastic points rodding kits laid up to the brass rod.  Challenges were experienced with the installation in such ways as bending the rods to a fine profile and it looked a bit over scale but, from what was available at the time, I was happy that it could be made to look relatively realistic.  

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Since the installation of the first few points I have occasionally experienced a challenge with a point not moving, which I have put down to interference, probably at the ends of the rods, which may just protrude a touch too much and were going to be filed down slightly.  I also realised that there was a danger of a short occurring between the rails so a piece of plasticard was inserted and glued below the rail to insulate it.


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As mentioned the intention with my 0.8 mm brass rods was to supplement them with Ratio rodding to enhance the look of the installation however as this was all being tried tested and considered DCCconcepts decided to throw a spanner into the works by releasing their own operational points rodding system.  Luckily I didn't have too many points installed at this time so I had to decide on whether I wanted to change direction and go with the new system.  As it had the potential to be far more scale looking than the system I had trialled I had to at least give it a go.  I decided a suitable starting location to trial the system was at a place on the layout where a crossover and a siding point at all operated from and could realistically be controlled from a signal box.  I really wanted to have a go at this so I bit the bullet and purchased the point rodding starter set from DCCconcepts and, as my scenic progression was almost at the point where three points are located on the upper level, I decided to have a go at installing them.  I would normally advocate trying something simple and straightforward for a first time however, as two of the points in question are in a crossover and all three are operated from the same control unit I thought the three would make a good convenient starting project and an opportunity to really see what the strengths and weaknesses of the new rodding system are.  I basically thought that if I can sort out these three then everything else after that should be that bit more straightforward.

The rodding is also required to go underneath an adjacent track, for which DCCconcepts recommend using their own system of wire inserted into a flexible plastic tube embedded into their foam underlay.  I haven't used their underlay, plus I wanted the installation to look as scale as possible so I really wanted the rods to go under the track in much the same way as real rodding is routed.  I also wanted the operating rods to emerge from the signal box, which would therefore have to hide the motors so I was stacking up the challenges even before I started.

When the starter set arrived I gave it a good once over and studied the contents of the packet.  The thing that struck me more than anything was how fine the rods were.  I measured them up and they came to 0.4mm square section rod, half the size of my original rods.  It was obvious that they would need the supplied stools for support to prevent flexing and I had to consider the fact that a rod going below the track might require support in the ballast, which would be a shame as I wanted the rod at this point to look as prototypical as possible.  I quickly came to realise that a lot of this installation was going to be of a trial and error nature and that there was possibly going to be a lot of deviation from suggested practises.

The first job was to remove the original brass rods and Cobalt SS motors from the three points and take a deep breath before embarking on what I anticipated as being quite a bit of work and probably quite a steep learning curve.

Quote 2 0
Bunkerbarge

With a clean slate available it was time to look at just what the project involved and how I wanted my installation to look.  It soon became very quickly apparent that there was going to have to be a great deal of thought going into this project if costly mistakes were to be avoided.  While there are options for the points themselves to drive the rodding in my case, with the points driven by Cobalt SS motors mounted on the surface, I had to design my installation such that the motors actually drove the points through the rodding so accuracy of the installation was going to be paramount for it all to work reliably and smoothly.  I first of all collected some reference pictures from the internet and studied them to see just what arrangements of the rods, stools and cranks was prototypical and would look good on a layout.  I sketched out an arrangement for my rods and cranks on a piece of paper before transferring that to pencilled lines on the layout base so I could see what it was going to end up looking like.

The positions of the motors was planned on being together with them mounted below a signal box so the first job was to see just how much space they needed and therefore which signal box would be suitable.  I cut a piece of scrap ply to perfectly match the base of an appropriate ready built resin signal box I had then played with mounting the motors onto the base. 

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By interlocking the screw tabs I could get everything in but only just!  The motors were therefore mounted on the layout in a similar fashion and in an appropriate position for the three points.  The signal box went away to the modelling bench for a bit of weathering and additional detailing while attention on the layout turned back to the rodding.

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I also had to make decisions at this point as to whether I wanted to solder, crimp or glue the rods to the cranks, with this being driven by the fact that I was going to have to connect the rods while the cranks were already installed in the layout.  This was because to thread the rods underneath the adjacent tracks the end of the rod could not be bent over to 90 degrees otherwise it would not pass through the stools and threading the rods through the stools was going to require them to be rotated, being very difficult when connected to a crank at one end and impossible if the crank already had another rod attached to the other side.  After much thinking and trial runs I decided that the cranks were going to be fixed down first, then the stools,  then the rods attached afterwards.  This would then be easier if the rods were glued to the cranks with cyanoacrylate glue.  To attach the rods I decided on a process of gluing, then crimping with fine nosed pliers and finally another spot of glue to seal everything.



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Bunkerbarge

The fact that I wanted the rodding to go below adjacent track while looking relatively realistic meant that I needed to fit some sort of insulation below the track to prevent shorts through the metal rodding.  When I initially fitted the 0.8 mm brass rod I fitted small strips of plasti-card below the rails however this was done before the track was fitted.  I had to do the same now on the siding with the track already fitted so careful removal of the sleeper spacers with a sharp scalpel was done first before fitting the same plasti-card pieces and holding them in place with a spot of cyano glue.  This dictated that the rodding was going to be almost sat flat on top of the underlay so the rod height where it went below the rails now did not match the height of the stools.  Consequently the stools were cut down then sat on a piece of plasti-card to give a perfect height to go below the track.  For all runs between the cranks the normal height stools were fine. This was all done using the smallest height stools supplied in the starter set.  Once I had the lines of the rods marked off on the layout and the attitude of the cranks decided I could determine the position of the centres of the crank assemblies. 


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The base board was drilled with a sharp drill simply rotated by hand to create an indentation for the bottom of the pivot tube to sit in.  I also soon realised that the idea of fitting the cranks to the layout with such long nails as supplied was far too high a risk of causing damage to the cranks with the hammer, even if pre-drilled, plus I wanted much more flexibility in the installation of the cranks so I went for a two part epoxy to hold the crank bases, to give maximum flexibility with adjustment while the epoxy set. 

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Great care had to be put into thinking about where the rod runs were going to end up and how the adjacent cranks were not going to interfere with the rods.  The cranks can actually be fitted in a number of different attitudes for a given action so there is plenty of flexibility available for this.  Again it requires a lot of thought and pre planning to try to avoid the pitfalls and, in particular, thought should be put into the differences between prototype installations and our scale examples.  These manifest themselves as the cranks are very slightly larger than pure scale would have them and the points blades move a slightly greater distance than scale.  These two things then come together to give you slightly but noticeably greater movement off the centre line of the rod for the crank ends so we need to think about how to displace them from adjacent rods to ensure they do not interfere.  Putting a slight transverse kink into the rod is one possibility or simply ensuring that the cranks always face away from the other rods also helps.  I already knew I had given myself a greater challenge than normal by having the motors so close together thereby denying myself the option of fine tuning the rod length.  I was going to have to be very accurate with my final bend onto the motor connection, while doing it in place on the layout, at full stretch!



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Quote 0 0
Mister Rusty
'' the idea of fitting the cranks to the layout with such long nails as supplied was far too high a risk of causing damage to the cranks with the hammer, even if pre-drilled,''
An option that I have used with success in the past is to drill a hole for the pin, to size, or slightly over. Then lift the component away, drop PVA onto the hole, then push the pin through it, drawing the glue down into the hole. Once set, if necessary, the pin can usually be withdrawn with a twist, leaving the glue behind.
I have used this to hold track-pins into expanded styrene insulation board with great success, withstanding much rough-handling to proof-test the concept.
😉Just a thought, it might help someone.😉
Bunkerbarge,
I am locked out, hooked up on your last message, this is the only way that l can get into the forum.
Anyone else having issues?
Please check.
Could anyone reading  this, please advise Jazavalley or another admin , thanks
Be careful, in case it's a virus. The message received is:-
The last email that was sent to you was returned as spam by your email provider. Please update your account with a valid email address. Ahjay said  that my details are all in order, correct address and all.
Pete
Quote 1 0
Bunkerbarge

The next consideration was the installation of the stools, while forward thinking a little to how the rods were going to be installed as well.  I decided that, as the rods were so flexible I much preferred to install the stools to give a perfect line then fit the rods and finally attach the ends to the cranks.  This is contrary to the instructions but the instructions are assuming that you are not going underneath adjacent track with the rodding.  This meant that the ends of the rods would need bending in place, far more challenging than bending them  prior to fitting but the stools had to be perfectly aligned.  I therefore decided to fit the stools along the line of the rod runs. 


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Another significant aspect of the installation was the fact that things required doing slowly and steadily.  I glued a run of stools then left it over night before progressing.  The next day I might install a couple more cranks then again wait over night for the glue to harden.  I was too concerned that rushing the project could almost certainly lead to something being disturbed before it had fully cured and alignment could be compromised.  I simply used scenic PVA for gluing the stools and the plastic spacers where appropriate, which again gave me ample opportunity to get the alignment perfect.  I used a steel rule, held in place with a weight and then placed the stools in position alongside the edge.
  


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Bunkerbarge

When I had all the various parts secured in place for the first point it was time to fit the rods.  The short sections from the cranks next to the adjacent track were the easiest as they could be threaded through from the rear side with a neatly pre-bent sharp step created off the layout.  I left the ends longer than required to enable perfect length to be cut.

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  I did find that a gentle bend where I needed the rod to drop to go below the track could be accommodated by the holes in the stools when the rods were pushed through them as well I discovered the rods could be rotated in the stools so height correction bends could be done off the layout.  This helped tremendously to fit the rods.  The point position was held in place with a lob of Blu Tak and the rods were carefully fitted in place, paying attention all the time to the crank positions for the required movement and the operation of the Cobalt SS motor.  Bear in mind here that the motor operation may require reversing. 

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Finally very careful trimming to length of the rods while in place was done and a gentle push and pull done by hand to ensure everything was free.  The rod ends were held in place at the cranks by first crimping with a pair of pointed nosed pliers then a spot of cyanoacrylate glue.  After a great deal of careful and very tricky work the rodding was complete.  Again it was left over night before testing.  The next day it was tested and utter disappointment set in when I saw that the point did not move anywhere near as much as was required.  Then I realised that the slack in the cranks and linkages was significantly greater than the play I had originally in my original brass arrangement so the range of movement was adjusted on the Cobalt SS control unit.  Then it worked.  It actually worked perfectly, although so far only a single point and one of a crossover but it does seem to be working well. 

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I have noticed over the months that when there is something not quite right with a Cobalt SS motor it makes a noticeable noise.  This is usually a restriction of the movement as a result of an interference.  The motor was perfectly quiet when operating the point so I am very pleased that the alignment of everything seems to be good.

Obviously not having the luxury of being able to adjust the position of the motor itself because of the cramped arrangement in the signal box meant that the 90 degree bend at the end of the rod to locate it into the motor had to be absolutely perfectly positioned.  Luckily this was actually possible as the rods are fairly easy to bend and the use of locking medical forceps enables a nice tidy and tight bend.  Still a bit tricky when you are stretching across the layout but, as I said at the beginning of this thread, this is probably going to be one of the most challenging areas to complete so most things should be easier from here.

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Bunkerbarge

The next thing to tackle, although already considered earlier in the process was how to join the rods as I knew I was going to come across examples during this and later installations where I was going to require longer than the standard rods.  Again I wanted something that looked reasonably scale, did the job with a degree of strength, was easy to fit and adjust on the layout as again I would be fitting the joints in place. 

The first job was to measure up the rods so I knew that they came to 0.4 mm across the flats.  I really wanted a square section tube to cut sleeves from but I searched a good number of engineering and modelling suppliers before I came to the conclusion that I simply wasn't going to find any.  The next best thing then would be round tube, at this size probably not all that noticeable anyway, however the size would be critical.  Too tight and I ran the risk of bending the delicate rods trying to fit the connection and too slack and it would either not hold the rod in correct alignment or it would simply look out of alignment.  Using Pythagoras a right angled triangle of 0.4 mm on the opposite and adjacent sides gave a hypotenuse of fractionally over 0.56 mm so I started to look for some suitable tube.  Luckily I came across some brass tube of 0.5 mm ID so I purchased a packet and when it arrived started to have a play. 

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From what I could find of rodding pictures on line a bolted sleeve is used to join rods so a cut piece of brass tube should fairly reasonably emulate this.  The next challenge was how to cut the tube.

From many years experience with cutting small bore copper pipes for model steam installations I already knew the challenges and the best options for success.  The challenge is to avoid closing the end over with whatever you use to cut the tube.  Tube cutters go no way as small as this so the best option is to take a new scalpel blade, place the tube on a clean and flat cutting mat and very gently rest the scalpel on the tube where you want the cut to be.  Then simply gently roll the tube over the cutting mat, more than a complete revolution, backwards and forwards.  The tube actually cut quite easily this way and, as long as the pressure was gentle, the closing over of the end was not too bad.  A test fit on the end of a rod proved however that it was enough to prevent the rod going into the sleeve however a 0.5mm drill in a finger vice rotated by hand in the end of the tube was enough to clean it out and allow the rod to slide in perfectly.  I simply cut the rod extension to length, slid it into the sleeve, slid the sleeve onto the rod on the layout and spotted both ends with cyanoacrylate glue.  One challenge with a round sleeve is that it will not align the faces of the rod so the options are to either fit the sleeves between stools and allow the stools to align the rod or, what I went for first, fit the sleeve between the last stool and the crank so the rod orientation is not as critical. 


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So having come up with a method of extending the rods all that was left to do was to complete the fitting of the rods to the remaining two points and test they all worked.  Happily they did.  The two crossover points worked very well together and the siding point also worked smoothly.  I did notice a number of times that the Cobalt SS motors started to strain a little so more about that next.

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Bunkerbarge

"Well the time has come" the walrus said, to turn away from the rodding installation and start to have a look a bit more at the other areas of the scene.  The main focus of this particular area of the layout is going to be the signal box itself so, while I didn't want to get involved with scratch building I did want something that looked fairly appropriate for the time and location.  I therefore started off with a Bachmann Scenecraft 'Bude' signal box as it was around the right sort of size for what I wanted and it was a red brick build, typical of the local area.  It did need quite a bit doing to it though to get it how I wanted it but it was a good starting point.

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First up I purchased a detailing set for the internals from LCC, which includes a frame, clock rack and a couple of bits of furniture, a clock for the wall and a wood burning stove.  It does not include a gate wheel but that is fine as although the original Scopwick box did control a level crossing my layout version does not! 

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Anyway the various parts were painted up to resemble the various bits and pieces, an internal door was added to the inside of the box, the walls were painted white and the lower portion of the walls were enhanced with some varnished wood wainscoting.  The rack was assembled using internal pictures of the original box as guidance for the lever colours and the insides of the box were weathered with a wash and a dusting of pigments on the floor.  I added a door mat and cut a wooden board to fit along the front edge of the lever frame as well as adding a notice board to one of the walls.  All the bits and pieces were then glued into the box and finished off with a little bit more pigment weathering.


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Outside the box, while it is already in a green colour, unfortunately it is not the correct shade for a LNER box so I purchased a tin of Precision Paints green suitable for the LNER station colouring and repainted the external woodwork. 


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After a couple of days for the paint to completely harden the entire outside surface was given a light wash of a muddy brown to tone down everything and give a slight grubbiness to the windows.  The green paintwork was then  enhanced slightly by dry brushing a lightened version of the base green, in a couple of stages, which was concentrated more on areas of higher wear such as the top surfaces of the handrails.  The brick work was livened up a little with some darker washes in the shadows and a bit of dry brushing and slight washes to improve the tonal variations.

I like to leave significant buildings as removable, however in this case with the motors underneath it was a necessity.  I usually do this by placing it in the correct location on the layout then gluing batons down around it to form a locating frame.  Scenic materials can then be added over the batons to blend them in and the building can be simply lifted off whenever required.

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The next consideration was the lighting.  I had played around with lighting thoughts for some time and not decided on a particular direction however this project pushed me into making a decision.  I really like the modular system produced under the 'Just Plug' name and a bit of further research made me realise that it should do just what I wanted on the layout as a whole as well as this particular part of it.  I particularly like the small 'nano' lights, that can be threaded into a very small location through very fine drillings and arranged to look like a bare hanging lamp as well as the flexibility of being able to dim each channel individually to give exactly the effect you may be after.  I decided to have a hanging lamp from the ceiling and an outside wall mounted lamp above the locker room door.  The insides of the roof were painted with the Woodlands Scenics Light Block Kit paint, the nano lamp glued in place and the wire led through a hole drilled in the floor and the exterior lamp glued into a drilled hole above the door. 

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Both lamps were then connected together  with a Just Plug block glued to the locker room ceiling and a single wire then led through a hole in the base and back to the lighting hub.


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When the signal box was put in place and the lighting level trimmed to give a realistic glow it looked quite good and the whole thing covered the Cobalt SS motors perfectly.

The final touch was the sign, which was a picture of the original box found on Flickr just before it was dismantled.  It had a sign on the front which said ,Scopwick Signal Box' so I used Photoshop to cut it down to a simple 'Scopwick' then scaled it and printed it off on some heavy photo paper.  This was glued onto the front of the box and blended in with a light dusting of pigments.


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Bunkerbarge

After completing the scenic interlude and with the signal box complete and before I turned my attentions to the scenery around the box area I first wanted to address another technical issue.  I think, as with many aspects of the hobby, there are many differing ways in which we approach wiring and, as with so many things, I think we are all comfortable with our own personal methods.  For me I tend to do a section appropriate to a particular area but do it all in a very temporary fashion first.  This even includes temporary twisted connections to the bus and avoiding soldered connections anywhere.  Cables tend to be left excessively long to allow for flexibility in routing when they are permanently fitted.  This allows me to test things both technically and operationally before I commit to putting all the wiring in place permanently.  It also prevents having to make changes to installations half way through as modifications crop up so, hopefully, by the time it comes for me to make the wiring permanent, I should be fairly confident that there will be no further changes.  You have to, of course ensure that the temporary connections are at least sound and reliable otherwise it sort of defeats the object.  Plenty of tape helps here. The downside is that you can end up with a pile of spaghetti that takes quite a bit of sorting out! 

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My own challenges of course stem from the fact that the underside of the baseboard is not accessible so the vast majority of the cabling and control gear has to be on top of the board.  I had always anticipated that the access would be via wooden boxes arranged to be disguised in the scenery so the next part of the process was to decide what components were going to be located in the box and therefore just what size box would do the job and get hold of one. 

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When the box arrived and I was happy that things would fit in I also got hold of a good supply of cable ties and sticky backed bases and set to disconnecting the cables from the control components and labelling all the cables to ensure they all go back in the correct place.   

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I then planned the cable runs and, from that, the location of the holes to be drilled in the sides of the box to take the cables and, more importantly as with the lighting, any plugs fitted to them.  Runs were all designed to allow a neat and tidy installation within the box and, as much as possible access to all control equipment after the layout is finished.  I am not relying on requiring the removal of cables in the future.  Should additional cables be required in the future  they will simply be laid on top of the scenery and covered over but I'm hoping this should never be needed.  When the space was cleared the box was glued to the top surface of the base and pressed down with a weight overnight.  The box lid as purchased was hinged but for the sake of attempting a seamless disguise with the scenery in the future I will make the lid of the box as a lift off item.  Handles of some form, possibly resin buildings screwed down, will be disguised into the surface to assist with the removal.

With the box in place the first job was to fit the various components.  These were simply screwed in place in the desired locations and included the Cobalt SS control unit, a power bus distribution block, the lighting hub and switch and a bank of lighting connectors to allow easy lighting installation as the layout progresses.  With the parts secured they could all be hard wired in.  The cables were all threaded through the pre-drilled holes in the box sides and secured to the relevant terminals before fitting the cable tie bases and finally cable ties to tidy everything up.  I also fitted some cable ties and bases outside the box to tidy up the cabling there and soldered the two main power tails to the bus after also running them through a pre-drilled hole in the conduit.  The lighting power will also be run into the conduit when that is continued back to the control area.


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With it all completed the point motors were repeatedly tested with the signal box in place and the lighting was also tested thoroughly before setting at an appropriate level. 

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WarleyMRC
looks great so far, how are you finding the point rodding pack, we have a pack now so following your progress with great interest Good luck
Quote 0 0
Bunkerbarge

Many thanks for the feedback.

I think it might be misleading to consider the pack as a kit that simply all slots together.  As I have tried to describe above you have to put a lot of thought into your own arrangement to create the most convincing looking rodding and you may well have to adapt or modify the parts to your own preferences.  As an example I particularly did not want to use the wire inside the plastic tube arrangement embedded in the underlay to go below track so I had to come up with my own arrangement for passing the rods underneath the track.  I also had to devise a method of extending the rods that I was happy with. 

The next post will describe another aspect of the rodding installation that has used up a large amount of thought as again I try to adapt the given parts to do a job.  The next time I will do things better as I have learned a lot from this first installation and I will probably sumarise the findings I have come across at the end of the competition to leave something useful for anyone wanting to have a go with it.

Quote 1 0
Bunkerbarge

This next part of the project has taken rather more thinking than I anticipated and has proved to be a bit of a challenge.

One thing I did want to incorporate into the layout were facing point locks.  This was to add some additional rodding to the track and make the detail look that bit 'busier' as well as providing some greater detail in the track work itself with the locks mounted on top of the sleepers.  I did purchase some Ratio Rodding kits some time ago, initially for all the rodding installation however I anticipated that I could still use it for the lock rods.

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  Unfortunately when I compared the Ratio rods with the DCCconcepts rods it looked very odd.  The Ratio rods measured up at around 0.8 mm across the square flats, strangely enough the same size I originally used when I fitted brass rods, but the DCCconcepts rods measured up as 0.4 mm across the flats.  Side by side this was not going to look good. 


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I therefore had to consider the following options:

1) Fit the locks with DCCConcepts point rodding cranks and rods, which would be an expensive and wasteful way of doing it, plus I had not allowed enough room for any additional DCCconcept cranks.

2) Fit all Ratio parts for the locking rods and cranks which would give me cranks that are smaller and closer to scale but the stools would be different to the operational ones and I would have two different sizes of rodding.

3) Come up with a bespoke arrangement.

Not surprisingly I ended up after a great deal of experimentation with option 3.  I decided to use DCCconcepts rods and stools to match the existing operational rods but use Ratio cranks and the locks themselves to avoid wasting working ones and I was happy with the fact that lock cranks could well be of a slightly different design to the point cranks.  The first job was to cover over the holes in the board that had been cut for the initial installation of the Cobalt SS motors so pieces of card were cut to shape and glued over the holes with PVA. 

Again this was all completely new ground for me, and possibly anyone else, but I started to install the first facing point lock on the inner track crossover point.  I must admit that already with one more piece of rod in place the installation does already look that bit busier so I hope with the second one fitted and the locks fitted to the sleepers it will all have a bit more credibility.



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WarleyMRC
looks very good so far, taken on board all of your comments thanks for sharing. We start playing with our track and rodding tomorrow night Gulp!!
Quote 0 0
Bunkerbarge

Since the last update the first of the facing locks has now been installed with the rod now back into the signal box.  I am happy that it has added to the general 'busy' feel of the location and the lock unit itself has added a bit of further detail to the track.  I also think that using the DCCconcepts rodding married to the Ratio locks was the right way to go and the Ratio cranks do not look too much out of place.  A careful paint job should certainly help in that direction as well.  With the first of the locks installed it is time to move onto the same job on the 'Up' mainline track at the other crossover point.

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At this point in time it is probably right to point out just what can go wrong with such installations.  I had the lock fitted to the track, glued in place with epoxy, the cranks glued to the base and the first of the rods threaded through the stools.  I was just going to snip the second piece of rod to length with a pair of flat faced side cutters when it happened.   The cutters are spring loaded and I was compressing them on the end of the rod when my hand slipped.  The cutters sprung apart and flew out of my hand.  When I looked at the rods I realised I had very badly damaged one of the already fitted working rods.  I was very lucky that the crank bases were not damaged but one crank was also bent.  I therefore had to go through the lengthy process of carefully removing the badly damaged rod, straightening the bent crank in place, fitting a brass sleeve and a new extension to the rod back to the Cobalt SS motor.  Not surprisingly everything then needed adjusting again.  I can only say it is a good job my railway layout is in a separate building from the house as I'm sure the language used would have caused comment!

Anyway it is all back to working again and the first of the locks is in place so I'm back to where I should have been about a week ago!


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Quote 1 0
Bunkerbarge

Just a brief interlude in the progress of the rodding installation.  All the time I have been installing the parts of the rods I have also, during periods of waiting for glue to dry, progressed the scenery.  Bearing in mind that one of the prime objectives of the competition is 'realism' I have been slowly progressing the scenery behind the signal box with this in mind.

The first part worth mentioning is the backscene, which has already been in place for around a year now.  This started out as a series of photographs taken from the top of my local church tower.   I took a series of panoramic overlapping pictures at a couple of different focal point settings and studied them all at home.  As the layout is 17 foot by 15 foot and the backscene is only 12" high I only needed the narrow band either side of the horizon, which lost a lot of the pictures resolution however the wonderful people at ID Backscenes stitched my pictures together, cut out the centre piece, flipped some sections around to give me a wider section to work with and even edited the scene to remove some of the very modern houses and such details as solar panels and satelite dishes etc.  They did a stunning job and then printed out the backscene onto six pieces of sticky backed vinyl. This therefore formed the photographic backscene behind the signal box so my next scenic task was to bring this into the layout without there being any noticeable transition from the flat backscene to the 3D layout. 

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In this particular area I have used a row of Bachmann derelict terraced houses as I liked the fact that they were low relief but just by the amount I was looking for.  I made the row a bit more credible by adding wooden window shutters  and beams cut from veneer as well as enhancing the brickwork with washes and pigments, adding some soot to the chimney pots and a bit of weathering around the roof tiles and guttering.  I then created a paved area in front of the buildings, added some weeds and created the pathway at the end of the terrace that exited through a scratchbuilt wooden gate and fence.  A Just Plug street light was added to the end to shine down on the shed and surrounding area and some autumn scatter was added below the tree and the surrounding area. 

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When this was all in place I segregated are area from the railway with a stone wall, built up from a Ratio kit.  I wanted to use the stone walling as I already had a large area of brick walling towards the corner of the layout and I have noticed on many occasions that stone is used as a building material frequently in this area, so is a feasible material for walling.  The first stage of the transition of the backscene behind the signal box was to build the same walling but, in this case only use half of the wall thickness.  This has the advantage of allowing the wall to sit very close to the backscene so bringing the relief out gently, plus the significant advantage of enabling one kit of walling to go twice as far!  The wall across the front of the houses was then completed by joining in with this back wall to segregate the railway area and create the pathway.


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Obviously a lot more work to do on scenery as well as plan the process for painting and ballasting the track and the rodding.   

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