Adding Power Pickups by DCC Concepts

As well as the drawing I do for 3D printing I do a lot of train repairs and DCC installs, particularly sound installs.  These can sometimes be a bit tricky and I often have to use other products to make it work.  Normally I don’t do reviews of products but recently I found something that worked so well I wanted to share it with you.  In this post, I’ll show you what I did to add additional power pickups to a Hornby OO B17 with plastic wheels in the tender.

The B17 has been around for many years and every now and again it gets a facelift as parts are re-tooled and improved.  The most recent version is quite fantastic, but the previous one had, in my opinion, one major problem.  The tender was the same design from many years before, and still had plastic wheels.  The two pictured below are of this version; you can tell by the basic molded coal load in the tender.

This means although the locomotive had been re-tooled to include power pickups on all the drives, it still only had the pickup footprint of an 0-6-0.   For DC operation this is often just fine, but DCC, and in particular DCC sound, the decoder required an unbroken power supply and when you factor in dirty track, dirty wheels, and dirty pickups, the 0-6-0 footprint on this loco simply wasn’t working.

Looking under the tender you can see the plastic wheels and even the hole above the third one which allowed a strip of card with a rough surface to hang down.  A cam on the last wheel used to rub against the surface and make a kind of chuff effect; this dated back to the 80’s and Hornby called it their ‘Realistic Chuff’ effect.

The red you can see through the hole is a stay alive unit.  This locomotive is fitted with a Zimo Sound decoder, but even with the stay alive, if the loco stopped in the wrong place it wouldn’t start again without a push.

The axel for the wheels is simply a bar and the plastic wheels are in two parts.  This design has been repeated on many locomotives of early design.

The first problem is to find metal wheels to use.  The reason why it’s a problem is just about all the current metal wheels come with much shorter axels with pointed ends.  But the old Mainline or Replica Railways (which is now Bachmann) locomotives had metal wheels in their tenders which were the exact same size on long axels.  Of course, this does mean sacrificing another loco but six axles from two tenders is enough to do three Hornby locos as I’ve only replaced two wheelsets in each tender.  An afterthought would be to see if the plastic wheels fit in the Mainline or Replica Railways tenders?

I found two types of wheelsets in the Mainline/Replica Railways tenders.  Some, as with the set on the left, have metal wheels but a plastic axel which doesn’t end in a point.  The center and right side wheelset both have metal wheels and a metal axel, electrically isolated, with pointed ends.

As the original Hornby axel measured  26.35mm I wanted to get as close as I could.  Any longer will cause binding and make it harder to fit the new wheels.

The set with the plastic axel came in just under and worked perfectly without modification.

The set with the metal axel was ever-so-slightly longer, but this was easily remedied by filing off the points on each end of the axels.

As you can see below both types of wheelsets fitted into the tender and they all rotated  very well.

The second issue was how to collect the power from the metal wheels.  Over the years I’ve built many homemade pickup systems, normally from strips of brass that rub on the wheels at some point, but it doesn’t always work well and the pressure of a flat strip rubbing on the wheel creates a lot of drag.

Then I discovered DCC concepts’ gold plated bronze wheel wiper sets.

The pack contains 12 sets of wheel pickups, each picking up from both wheels and a pack of screws for mounting.

The actual pickup is a strip of PC board with two folded brass contacts, both gold plated.  The contacts have a rounded section to provide a pinpoint contact on the wheel which will reduce drag.  Next to the mounting hole are two solder pads, one for each side.

The rear simply has the connection between the pickups and the solder pads.

As you can see below the pickups fit perfectly between the wheels and provide just the right amount of pressure to ensure a great contact with the wheel.

Now it’s time to fit them.  With the tender shell removed you can see the metal weight.  It will be important to keep this as it’ll ensure the wheels keep good contact with the rails, but it’ll need to come off for now.

The weight was held in place with a few spots of glue.

With the new wheels fitted the pickups can be moved around until the ideal location is found.  You need to make sure the rounded part of the pickup is in contact with the middle of the metal wheel flange and not the plastic inner.

Then using a pin vice I drilled a hole, smaller than the screw, in the tender chassis using the hole in the pickup as a guide.  The screw will cut into the soft plastic of the chassis.

The pickups can now be fitted in place.  I also fitted the wheels again at this point to test everthing worked properly.

The screws were longer than the thickness of the plastic chassis and protruded out of the top. That’s why I removed the weight, and they need to be cut and filed down to refit it.

I refitted the weight using some Black Tack, it’s very sticky and malleable, which is ideal for this job.

The solder pad can now be linked with wire.  If you have a large soldering iron you may want to solder the wires on before the pickups are fitted to prevent caching the chassis with the iron as it will melt very quickly.

Lastly, I solder on two wires to connect back to the main locomotive pickup points.  It’s important to ensure you match the tender wheels from the correct side with the loco wheels or it will simply short out.

With the tender reassembled and all the wires connected it was time to test the loco, and it ran very well.  The best test was to raise the loco off the rails, so it isn’t picking up any power and see if the tender pickups worked on their own, which they did, as you can see in the short video below.

I could’ve fitted three sets to the tender, but after testing two proved to be plenty, and both the B17 locomotives from the first picture are now running equally as well as the latest version of this locomotive, which comes with factory fitted tender pickups.

These pickups from DCC Concepts are very good and, I think, very well priced because you get 12 in a pack.  I’ll certainly be using them again. I just hope they bring this product out for N Scale.  You can get the pickups direct from DCC concepts or at a stockist such as Model Railway Solutions in Poole.

Next week I’ll share with you some of the 3D printed parts which arrived last week.

A Quick Post of New Parts

This week’s post will be short as I just want to give you a look at what arrived in the mail today from Shapeways.

The large spikes at the top are exactly that; spikes to repair a track system for a wooden toy train. The assembly below contains lots of gears, axels, a drive shaft and a set of drive shaft couplings.  These are to repair several locomotives such as the N scale Doodlebug from last week’s post, an N scale Minitrix diesel, an N Gauge Dapol Britannia and a HO scale Samhongsa brass locomotive.

After the parts are tested I’ll share the outcomes with you, but for tonight it’s back to the workbench, as some unexpected jobs have come up.  Next week I’ll have a review of a new product I found that was a tremendous help in upgrading some older steam engines to DCC sound.

A New Gear for the New Year

Happy New Year!

This week I’m starting the New Year with some small 3D printed parts to repair a Bachmann N Scale Doodlebug.

The Doodlebug is the name given to a self-propelled railcar originally powered by a gasoline engine with a direct drive or connected to a generator to power traction motors.  They started to operate on small lines around 1907 as they were more economical to run than steam engines.  Typically they ran on their own but could pull another car if needed.  Below is a photo, from Wikipedia, of Santa Fe Doodlebug number M.119 at Isleta, New Mexico in 1943 with its extra car.

Backmann’s model is very similar to M.119 and is a mixed passenger and mail carrier.  It has a motor near the front which powers the front truck only.  The rear truck is free-running but also picks up current from the rails.

Both of the front axels have gears so they can be powered. The gear is molded into the plastic axel which electrically isolates the two wheels.  It’s impossible to see but the axel that’s been separated from the wheels has split.

This causes two problems; firstly, as the split is between two gear teeth causing a bigger gap, the meshing gear won’t line up correctly and this causes the doodlebug to click or lump as it runs down the track.  Eventually the gears will jam.  The second problem is the wheel will spin in the axel; this results in a loss of traction as the motor won’t drive the wheel.

The axels in the rear truck have also split as you can see below.  I’m unsure why these have split as they’re not under any load, but my theory is simply the pressure applied from the inserted wheel stub forced the axel apart.

The other gears in the truck tower all seem to be in good condition and I think this is because they don’t have anything like the wheel stubs pushed into them, forcing them apart.

To repair the Doodlebug I’ve drawn a replacement gear axel and plain axel which will be 3D printed in Shapeways Fine Detail Plastic material.  I use this material because it’s hard, smooth, and prints to a very high accuracy.  I’ve made the hole through the axels ever so slightly smaller than the axel so it will be a tight fit.  But hopefully not too tight so that it splits the new axel.

In order to keep the cost of the parts to a minimum, two gear axels and two plain axels have been joined on a loop of 3D printed material.  They don’t actually touch the loop so it can be cut off and used without any burs.  That’s a great advantage with 3D printing.

These gears have now been ordered for a test print and once they arrive I’ll fit them and show you how they perform.  If all works okay I’ll make the repair set available in my shop.

I know for a lot of us modelers there’s never enough time for the things we need or want to do, but I hope this year brings for you, as well as me, the opportunity to get some of those long thought out or dream projects done. Here’s to a productive 2020!

Getting on Track Ready for the New Year!

With Christmas just around the corner, it marks the end of a very busy period for me and the start of a much-needed break.  But it won’t be a break from my trains or 3D printing, in fact it gives me a chance to get back into some of the projects which have fallen behind.

One of the projects I’m keen to get on with is the HO scale RT-624 and HO DT6-6-2000.  The RT-624, as shown below in N Scale, and the DT6-6-2000 have been very popular models and I’ve had a lot of requests to produce them in HO.  I did start this a while ago but was stopped in my tracks when Shapeways had their first big price re-structure which made the HO version very expensive.  But since they’ve had their second price re-structure the price now looks a lot more accommodating.

The other project which I’m keen to get finished is the N scale Union Pacific Rotary Snow Plow, number 900081.  I last posted about that in April of 2018, which surprised me how long ago it was!

In the new price structure, Shapeways have also made it not as expensive to print things the right way up as it used to be. This is important as it ensures the best surface finish where we want it, without costing the earth.

By grouping parts together I’ve also managed to bring the cost of models down and will be doing this with the new models.  This group of parts for a pair of Alco C-855 locomotives has everything in it except the main shells, and they’re all attached in places where it won’t show on the model, as well as having the best surfaces facing up.

Being able to do this with models has helped a lot and the difference is clearly visible.  Below is an N Scale EMD DD35, number 85B, which has just been finished for a customer.  It was printed the right way up and has a smooth finish enabling the paint to take perfectly.  This allows the decals to adhere to the model without any bumps, or areas that don’t stick and start to peel off when handled.  As well as the see-through corridor in the middle, it also has an ESU LokSound decoder with the twin motors which can be started independently from each other.  It looks and sounds fantastic.

I’ve also started looking into a new project that will make Santa Fe fans happy; I’ll share with you in the New Year, but I must finish the others first!

So I’ll be using the holiday break to get back to drawing again, but for now I wish you all a Happy Christmas and I look forward to sharing the upcoming work with you in the New Year.

Cleaning Track Inside Tunnels

Maintaining track and keeping it clean is one of those jobs we all hate but has to be done to keep the trains running.  In this post, I’ll share with you how I clean the track inside the tunnel on my Tehachapi module.

Cleaning the track really only comes down to polishing the tops of the rails.  But there are lots of ways to do it and, depending on the severity of the dirt, some work better than others.  Under general running the nickel silver rails pick up all sorts of grime from the wheels as they pass over, whether plastic or metal.  Any rolling stock, such as locomotives or illuminated items that conduct electricity, cause a fine powdery oxide to form, due to the electrolysis effect; this is when current passes through dissimilar metals.  When you wipe your finger along the rails and get a black streak, that’s it.

The environment the layout is stored in also makes a huge difference.  If it’s in a dry space with a constant temperature, such as a spare room, the rails will stay fairly clean as the powdery oxide will simply fall off the rails.  But layouts in sheds, lofts, and cellars, where the temperature can drop or any dampness gets in, will cause the powdery oxide to bond together into a film and the rails will become dirtier sooner.

Also, any lubricants can run down and get spread over the rails causing locomotives to wheel spin.  Smoke oils and over-lubricated locomotives can cause this.

The stronger type of dirt on the track is usually caused by building the scenery.  Glues, paints, and lacquers will always get onto the track somehow and these take a bit more to remove.

Once I’ve finished the scenery I always give the track a good clean with an abrasive track rubber.  Lots of manufacturers make these; I don’t recommend using anything like emery paper or sandpaper as they are too abrasive. This initial clean is intended to remove any build-up that’s stuck on top of the rails.  If continually used the abrasive rubber, although very effective, will, over time, add lots of tiny scratches into the rail tops as it wears the metal down.  These scratches will hold the powdery oxide, and other dirt, onto the rails causing them to get dirtier even faster.  So for further cleaning, I use a cotton cloth and dipped Isopropyl Alcohol to wipe the railheads clean.  Proper Isopropyl Alcohol will evaporate leaving no residue.  Don’t use anything like WD40 as it will leave oil residue on the track.  Several companies make a solution specifically for this purpose.

But what about the tunnels?  As you may recall on my Tehachapi module I have a tunnel with curved track running through it.  The single track portal is too small to get my hand in so I can’t get a track rubber or a cloth in there.

My solution is to screw an old track rubber to a piece of long wood.  As the rubber is soft the screws sink in so they don’t stick out of the rubber and therefore can’t catch on anything, but it could also be glued on.

The rubber and timber want to be thin to allow movement inside the tunnel.

Using this I can then clean the rails inside the tunnel, first with just the rubber to remove any glue from the ballasting and later with the rubber wrapped in cloth and a drop of Isopropyl Alcohol.

I can get to all of the track inside the tunnel using this.  I just need to watch my hand on the signal which is close to the tunnel portal.

As we clean our track before each operating day at an exhibition I don’t want to forget the tool.  So I have built a holder inside the module to ensure it always travels with it.

Once you have good clean track another way to maintain it is to use track cleaning cars that you run around at regular intervals.  Some of these have abrasive wheels that run on the rails and some have cloths that you can add Isopropyl Alcohol too.  You can even get some with mini vacuum cleaners in.

Now that the Tehachapi module is mostly complete (I still have to finish the signals) I can turn my attention back to the 3D printed projects, some of which I’m hoping to finish soon and I’ll share them with you as they develop.

Solent Summit At Warley 2019

This year the Warley Model Railway Club held its annual exhibition on the 23rd and 24th of November 2019 at the National Exhibition Center in Bermingham and my club, the Gosport American Model Railroad Group, took our N Scale Layout ‘Solent Summit’.

‘Solent Summit’, unlike most model railways at exhibitions, is modular, which means we can increase or decrease the size and alter the shape to suit the space we’re given.  And for small shows being smaller makes the layout more manageable.  But given that the Warley exhibition at the NEC is one of the largest in the UK we took everything, well just about everything.

The space we had was 65′ by 26′ and we filled it with just under 5 scale miles of scenic sections; the yard space was not included in the length calculation.

To give you an idea of how big the show is, our layout, which was the largest in the show, is circled in red on the plan below.  We had a nice central spot.

We arrived on Friday at midday to set up, which took 7 hours.  Cottesmore Model Railway made this short video below showing the hall when we arrived followed by the crowds as the show opened on Saturday morning.  It gives some idea of the size of the show.

The configuration of ‘Solent Summit’ for this show was a large letter E with ‘East Yard’ being at the top and ‘West Yard’ at the bottom.  The mainline is a single track with three large passing places evenly spaced along the line.  This means that there are always five or six trains on the mainline at the same time.  There are several other passing places but as we run lots of long trains we needed to keep to the three main ones to avoid getting jammed.

The photo below shows the layout from the bottom right corner just before we got going on Saturday morning.

Given the size and all the new modules we had, I thought I would talk you through them all, starting at the East Yard.  The majority of the photos here have been taken by our friend Paul Begg who let me use them as I had very little time once the show was open, and he’s a better photographer than me!

The East Yard has 6 tracks with trains entering on the right and leaving on the left.  The combined storage shown here is 141′ 3″ of trains.  Typically we have three trains in each line. The ‘West Yard’ is the same size and trains will set out from each yard at the same time, pass each other at one of the three passing places and enter the opposing yard.  Once all the trains have swapped ends, we start again.  A few trains are special in that they exchange with other trains on the layout.  For example, a coal train can leave ‘West Yard’ and stop in the ‘Power Station’.  The engineer will then continue the journey with another train from the ‘Power Station’ to fill the space in ‘East Yard’.

Leaving the East Yard the twin tracks enter the scenic boards and the first is ‘East Fork’ which is a two-into-one board.  The M-10000 pictured below, often referred to as the Earth Worm, was built in 1935 for Union Pacific and was the first of their streamliners. It’s leaving the East Yard on its 5-mile run.

‘East Fork’, as you can see, ends with the standard single track. The lights on the side of the module indicate if the turnout is set for entry or exit; currently it’s set for exit.  They are repeated on the back of the module and help us see what’s going on from a distance.

The line now crosses a creek on ‘Rocky Creek’ built by Chris before entering ‘Tunnel 31’.

‘Tunnel 31’, built by Bob, has a small homestead with gravel roadway causing all trains to blow their whistles as they pass.  The module also has an automatic signal system triggered as trains pass through the tunnel.

Emerging from the tunnel we enter ‘Bob’s Pickle’ which is a double module.  This busy area, built by Bob, features several industries including Bob’s Blue Circle Pickles, Branstone Cement Works, Dunno-Watt Inc & King’s Scrapyard.  The complex also has a small passenger depot.  Running across the bridges is an overhead electric “inter-urban” shuttle service which runs a regular schedule between communities at the extremities of the module.

This module set can also be used for passing smaller trains.  The pickle works and cement factory are both kits from The N Scale Architect with 3D printed pickle cars, designed by me, and they can be found here.

Lurking at the back of the modules are the trio of Alco C-855s awaiting their next duty.

Leaving ‘Bob’s Pickle’ we enter the ‘Coal Mine’ also built by Bob.  The mainline runs through the tunnel nearest the front and three lines enter the coal mine for the loading of coal.

A UP Gas turbine with Alco FA & FB helpers sits on a train ready to go, as does a Big Boy on the far track.  This is one of the exchange points for other trains leaving the yard, but coal trains only exchange running West to East.  I’ll explain why later on.

As the mainline emerges from the tunnel it crosses ‘Hell’s Glen’, again built by Bob, which is a curved steel trestle over a deep ravine and a road before plunging into another tunnel.

As the mainline leaves the tunnel it enters ‘Power Station’, again built by Bob, which is home to the Solent Power & Light Company.

The interesting thing about these three modules is they are actually a set.  The UP caboose you can see is the other end of the train headed by the Gas Turbine.  Two tracks run behind ‘Hell’s Glen’ connecting the coal mine and power station.  That way loaded coal trains can leave the coal mine and run into the power station, and vise-versa for empty trains.  Loaded coal runs West to East and empties East to West. This system can support trains up to 7′ long.  The level crossing outside the power station has automatic crossing barriers which drop as a train approaches. A very nice touch is that the plant chimney also smokes.

Next, the line runs round a corner and splits into twin tracks at ‘West Fork’.  This module is the opposite of ‘East Fork’ and can also be used as a yard entrance.  This is also the start of the first passing place.

‘Dilithium Propellants’ is the first of the twin-track modules and features what looks like an oil refinery.  But as any Star Trek fan will tell you, Dilithium crystals power starships!

After ‘Dilithium Propellants’ comes ‘Cascade Falls’ which has some large rock formations worn down over centuries by the water tumbling over the falls.  This module is also twin tracked and both lines cross the river on steel bridges.  We always try to pass on the right as this Burlington Northern GP38-2 is doing. These modules were built by Marten and donated to the club when he moved away.

The line now curves again passing through “Twin Rocks’ built by Ted & Chris.  As the name implies it’s also a twin-track module.

The twin-tracks continue through ‘High Plains’ built by Ted.

Ending the first passing place is ‘Desert Fork’ which is another two-into-one module.

‘Desert Fork’ can also be used as a yard entrance and has the lights on the sides.

The single track now continues through a module simply called ‘Trees’ built by Bob.  This type of module we call mileage boards as they are just that, designed to add distance.

After running through all that open country, the line again enters a busy area and first up is ‘Allied Rail’ built by Chris.  This module features a wagon and locomotive repair facility with the mainline passing in front.

The line then curves through the town of ‘Forton’ also built by Chris.

Another industrial area follows ‘Forton’ called ‘Westen Yard’ build by Ted.  This twin module, like ‘Bob’s Pickle’ has many industries and can be used as a stand-alone switching layout.

The yard can also be operated as a switching puzzle. Trains arrive with freight cars in a random order, but identified with a color, as shown below.  The color indicates which industry the cars need to be spotted at.  Any cars already spotted at industries are removed and replaced with the new ones.  The old cars leave with the next outbound train.  Once spotting is complete a new train arrives and the puzzle starts again.

The yard has its own 0-8-0 switcher or ‘Yard Goat’.

Under the buildings at the back are hidden sidings to exchange trains for the puzzle if they are not being exchanged with the mainline.

Leaving ‘Western Yard’ the line curves through ‘Ted’s Farm’ not surprisingly built by Ted.  The tail end of the long Southern Pacific Overnight express freight service can be seen leaving the module.

This Great Northern freight train rounds the corner passing the farm.

After the farm comes ‘Solent Summit Station, which is a triple module, the second passing place and the middle of the layout at two and a half miles.  There are four lines; starting nearest to the station building is the station track, then the mainline, followed by a passing line and goods holding track with head shunts.  We can pass trains up to 9’ here, one can be longer if it’s not stopping.

The station building is actually a model of the “Harvey House” at Seligman in Arizona.  The Harvey Houses were a chain of hotel-restaurants that provided services to railroad passengers and served as station facilities. The Harvey House at Seligman was demolished in 2008, just before the ‘Solent Summit’ layout was started.

As this is the center of the layout there are frequent trains passing by and the SP overnight is headed by a massive AC12 Cab Forward, built between 1943 and 1944, and was the pinnacle of the SP steam power.

In comparison a vintage SP 2-6-0 from the turn of the century heads by on a scenic tour.

The line out of the west end of ‘Solent Summit Station’ can be either single or double track, which extends the possible passing length, but in this set up its single leading into ‘Jon’s Cut’.  The module was originally built by Jon who is sadly no longer with us.  In recent years it has been refreshed by Morgan to add the caravans and campsite.  As the name suggests the line passes through a cutting with rock walls on both sides.

Leaving the cutting, the line enters ‘Sunkist’ which is a double module built by Ted.  One end of the module has a small-town scene with a road crossing and there’s a small station depot in the middle.  Ted says there are ninety-nine orange trees on the module, and he made each one of them.

‘Sunkist’ is an orange plant complete with an ice house and ice loading platforms for filling refrigerator cars.

The ice platforms can load six refrigerator cars at a time with ice. You can tell if a car is a basic box car or ‘reefer’ car as the reefers have hatches at both ends to load ice.  Each car has an ice compartment at each end to refrigerate the center section.  Depending on the distance the oranges will travel the railroad may have more ice houses and loading platforms along the route to top up the reefers.

Leaving the orange fields, the line rounds a corner and crosses an abandoned narrow-gauge line at ‘Trestle Curve’, also built by Ted.

‘New Mills’ is the next module and is built by me.  It features a small passing place at a depot serving a factory complex.  Due to a large number of parcel deliveries and local passenger trains stopping in both directions, the whole depot area has been boarded out.

The line then passes through ‘Flat Rock’ built by Ted.  The large stone is protected as it’s believed to be spiritual, consequently, the line is curved around it.

The last built-up area in this section is ‘Water Street’ which is also a double module built by Chris.

‘Water Street’ has many industries and its own yard, arrival and departure tracks as well as its own sidings allowing for lots of switching.  Some of the industries have covered unloading areas with in the buildings.  This is another area where trains are exchanged with trains from the yards.

The through line runs at the front of the modules as seen by this Maersk Double stack train.

The line curves 90 degrees as it leaves the modules and enters the first of the incline or gradient modules ‘Pope Grade’ which was built by Kerry.  The mainline passes through a large cut as it climbs uphill, from right to left, at 2.5%.  The actual line raises 1 1/4″ over the 5′ module.

The track levels out and passes through ‘Oil’ which is a one-foot long module with a working oil well, or nodding donkey, pumping oil which was built by Bob.

Then the line enters my latest module ‘Tehachapi’.

Not only is this the last passing place, capable of passing trains 17′ long, it also drops the mainline by 2 1/2″.  Any train longer than 13′ will pass over, or under, itself as it traverses the loop.

The blur running down the hill (Not one of Paul’s photos) is the C-855 consist with a long UP box train passing the SP Overnight running uphill.

My previous post, which can be found here, has a lot more photos of the loop.

Leaving the loop, on the lower level, the mainline passes through ‘Plains’ built by Bob, which is another mileage board.

The mainline then curves again through the road crossing at ‘Majestic’ built by Ted.

‘Majestic’ has a hardware store and John Deere tractor dealership.  A Streamlined SP 4-6-4 coasts by with the Hustler.

This has been one of my favorite spots for capturing videos.  Below are the set of C-855s passing by. (Filmed prior to Warley 2019.)

And a Nickle Plate Railroad Berkshire, (Also filmed before the Warley exhibition.)

Leaving ‘Majestic’ the line hits the second incline or gradient module ‘Alver Grade’ built by Kerry.  This also climbs uphill, from right to left, at 2.5% and raises the line1 1/4″ to return it to the standard level.  The scenery is more hilly than rocky as a Norfolk & Western J1 winds its way through the trees.

Now back on the level, the line passes through ‘Sawmill’ built by Chris.  Although it’s a single module it’s the longest we have at six feet.  There’s a logging spur running out the back and it has several sidings to allow it to be a stand-alone switching area if required.

The mill pool is to the left of the module for washing the logs before they’re conveyed into the mill for cutting.  Lumber products are loaded onto the freight cars and the sawdust is either burnt in the pyramid burner or loaded into high sided gondola cars for export.

The line then passes my last module ‘Warsash Wye’ which is a scratch-built timber trestle spanning the Warsash River.

The trestle is loosely based on the ‘Keddie Wye’ trestle in California in that it splits with a line running out the back of the module. There’s a lot more on how I built this module in the How To section of this website.

After the passing the trestle, trains round the final curve on ‘Watson’s Siding’ built by Ted.  The turnout is non-functioning as the siding and buildings are abandoned.

Next comes the ‘Hobo Camp’ built by Bob.  This is another one-foot module with a group of hobos camping in an old caboose.

And the last scenic module is ‘Road Bridge’ which is another two-into-one board with the mainline passing under a road.  A family has stopped on the bridge to do some train spotting, and it looks like they’re in luck as the C-855s are just getting ready to leave the yard.  You can see a green light on the side of the module which means the turnout is set against the C-855s, for entry into the yard.

The twin lines then enter ‘West Yard’ which is a mirror of ‘East yard’.  And that completes five miles of track.

As well as all the modules in the 5-mile setup, we also have an inner curved module with double-track called ‘Waltons Curve’ built by Chris and a single-track outer curved module called ‘Highway 61’ built by Ted, ‘Highway 61’ was named for the crossroads with Highway 49 where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil, and also Bob Dylan’s ‘Highway 61 Revisited’.  We were unable to fit these into this layout configuration this time but I’m sure they’ll get an outing soon.  Also to be completed are two small curves, one inner and one outer, with a 45° angle.  These are single-track and will give us more flexibility with the layout shape as all the other curves are 90°.

Seeing the modules individually is great but it’s much better to see them all together so here is Southern Pacific GS4 number 4449, pulling the Morning Daylight, traversing the full five miles from ‘East Yard’ to ‘West Yard’.

Paul Begg who took all the great photos also took lots of videos, and here is his compilation.  Now you know the different modules it should help you understand where the different bits were filmed.

‘Solent Summit’ also features for the first 12 minutes on the video below by DCC125.

We always enjoy running ‘Solent Summit’, no matter what size, so if you want to book it for your exhibition send me a message via the contact page.  We can do almost any combination of modules and the layout can be small or large with anything inbetween.

It was my first time both as an exhibitor and as a visitor, and the enormous size of the show and the crowds it brings in meant I didn’t get to see  very much of the rest of the show, but I hope to in the future and when I do I will share that with you.