Friday, 21 November 2008

Baseboards and Turnout Operation

Here are some early views of the underside of the layout to illustrate the (simple) baseboard construction and (slightly odd) method of turnout operation.

The boards are constructed from thin ply (I got a relatively small sheet from the 4D modelshop in London, no connection). It is soft and was easily cut with a Stanley knife into pieces for the top surfaces and strips for bracing underneath. There is also a cut-out section with lowered top surface to create an embankment at the cliff end of the layout (not seen here). Construction was simply by glueing, using chunks of softwood batten for support.

The turnout mechanism was problematic. Manual operation was the obvious choice, but there was insufficient room in the box to have polarity switches extending in front of the baseboard. So instead of operating a connecting rod by moving a switch, I opted for the reverse - namely moving the rod to operate both the switch and the turnout. I experimented with microswitches but found the spring in the switch contact to be too strong, so used miniature slide switches instead. (I have since been informed by Mark Fielder that the spring in the microswitches can be reduced by mounting them at right-angles, but I haven't tried it.) The switch is simply glued to the underside of the board.

I had some square section brass tubes so these were used to form a sliding rod. A wire connects this with the switch, and another with the tie-bar. Actually the tie-bar connection is a tube, and the wire connecting the tie-bar sits inside this. This was to allow the turnouts to be inserted at a later stage.

One point to note (no pun intended): the switch throw is longer than that of the tie-bar. I initially incorporated an Omega-loop in the tube connection to the tie-bar, but this made the operation too weak, so instead I have just extended the length of the tube to give enough play. It evidnently isn't quite flexible enough though, as the solder joint where it enters the square tube didn't hold. A subsequent botch using araldite seems to have done the trick for now.

The Highland Setting

Although it's a small test layout, my aim is to give Inverneuk a definite sense of time and place. The time is 1970s BR and the place is the Highlands, somewhere north of Inverness. As I wasn't around in the 1970s, I've put up a photo I took in July this year at Kyle of Lochalsh (at least the place is right). With the exception of the 158 Sprinter (and the Skye Bridge which is not in this view), it probably hasn't changed much. There's a nice dismal feel, but actually the rest of the day was sunny up there, unlike St Andrews which was in a thick haar when I left at 6am, and still hadn't cleared by my return at 11pm!

The Highland setting of the layout should be recognisable, particularly once I build some appropriate locos (don't hold your breath). I will describe the characteristic buildings and the cliff face in future posts. The feeling I am after is a run-down old-fashioned railway in a remote corner of the country. The pictures of Dingwall in this album give the right feeling. In fact, I found lots of useful photos on similar sites to supplement the few I've managed to take.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Out of the box

Here we see how the layout folds in half to fit in the box file. The two boards are permanently hinged together at the back, and the hinge at the front has a removable pin to fix them together. The pin was removed by filing off one end, and is quite a tight fit.

The strip of maroon-coloured material visible in the box exists to facilitate easy removal of the layout, as there is not much clearance in the box.

Saturday, 8 November 2008


Welcome to my new 2mm blog. I plan to use it to document the construction of my "box file" shunting layout, tentatively named "Inverneuk". This represents my first serious effort in 2mm finescale. I hope that the descriptions will be interesting to other 2mm scale modellers, and to those yet to pluck up the courage to start in 2mm finescale.

As construction began about a year ago, I intend to post photos and descriptions of the work already carried out, in addition to updates on my current modelling. The layout appeared, albeit under construction, at the 2mm Expo in June 2008. For those unfortunate enough to miss that event, here is a snap I took of my layout.