Tag Archives: Tim Horn Baseframes

Westhill Road, an introduction #2

My first Westhill Road, introduction #1 post provided a little of the what and the why behind the plan for Westhill Road, this introduction #2 covers more of the what, and some of the when, with respect to the plan of the layout and the scenic side of things.

As I disclosed in my #1 post Westhill Road will comprise of a single track line passing from left-hand rear corner, through a small SR Concrete wayside halt, a single goods siding and a level crossing before exiting through to the front right hand corner.

A quick badly drawn sketch of the inner workings of my imagination
A typical Dartmoor stream from my inspiration folder

As a picture says a thousand words, even though my 2D art skills are not as honed as perhaps some of my 3D model making, please excuse the quality of the quick sketch left. Hopefully it shows the key elements of the plan and includes the main scenic features.

There is a small stream, reminiscent of a babbling Dartmoor brook / ‘lake’ in a shallow valley in the front left corner, the railway enters behind some trees from the rear left on a small embankment. The ground level also falls away behind into the backscene, and possibly a farm build hides away at the rear lower level (not on sketch before you look), as this also helps trick the eye into believing the effect of increased depth.

The Hawkhurst provender store that will be centre front on the layout

A provender store building (from Hawkhurst) and large trees are front and centre allowing glimpses of the concrete wayside halt and siding through and behind with more trees blending the background into the backscene further behind.

The road to Westhill itself crosses the line and past the small LSWR type ground frame cabin (from  KMRC), although I might include a proper signal box (I have a scratch built Hawkhurst signal box I could use, I haven’t fully decided yet as it might be too large for the scene), and then the combined station masters house and booking office (more likely similar to that at Alverstone on the Isle of Wight than the outline shown on the sketch).

A small tin tabernacle will be helping with the element of perspective at the rear RH corner

The road continues past a small tin chapel on the left and a row of workers cottages on the right, both sized to assist with creating an element of perspective, before disappearing off to the right rear corner.

With respect to the when, my usual modelling period as regular readers will know is 1946 to 1949 and primarily Westhill Road will be no different, however, like Canute Road Quay, I intend to keep any permanent specific period identifying features to a minimum, to enable me to ring the changes with eras by changing rolling stock and any road vehicles to enable the time period to be portrayed anytime from grouping through to the start of the 1960s.

Future posts will cover some of the buildings already teased / shown above in more detail and will of course also document the ‘making up’ and progress of Westhill Road as I go along, so watch this space…

Westhill Road, an introduction #1

It is about time that I formally introduced you to Westhill Road there has been a teaser page on here for quite some time, as with many plans timing has slipped somewhat from the original intention of it being a post-Christmas last year winter project. However with much of the items needed for its construction already purchased I plan to hopefully start building in earnest during these forthcoming winter months.

Whilst I still have plans for larger layouts, perhaps maybe for the future, space at this time is still a limiting factor.  The plans still include Hawkhurst in Kent, the Colonel Stevens SR branch line terminus, but ultimately Lydford Junction in Devon on the edge of Dartmoor.
Most of my rolling stock building has always been with these two layouts in mind, and believe it or not Fisherton Sarum was my first ever layout build and initially only to be a stop gap measure…
Some of the buildings that I have already built for these future layouts will actually make a temporary appearance on Westhill Road. Having already built Canute Road Quay as a 4′ x 12″ shunting layout, that has already provided endless entertainment and enjoyment in both its building an operation, I saw the opportunity for another small layout/diorama that has more of a scenic countryside than the dockside setting of Canute Road Quay.
So I will introduce Westhill Road over the next few posts that will will answer the usual questions of what, why, how and when…
Firstly, the what and a little of the why…
Westhill Road will be different from Canute Road Quay as it’s more of a diorama than a shunting layout as such,  but mainly a chance to enjoy the more scenic side of constructing a layout.
A hint of what is to come…
Westhill Road signal diagram

The Tim Horn baseboard will still be 4ft wide but will be 6″ deeper Canute Road Quay to help, along with some perspective modelling, to further create the illusion of space and depth. It will only comprise of a single track line passing from left-hand rear corner, through a small SR Concrete wayside halt, a single goods siding and a level crossing before exiting through to the front right hand corner. Careful placement of trees will assist to hide the entrance and exit points.

The layout will include working, servo operated SR rail built signals and level crossing gates, all interlocked with each other and the co-acting siding turnout and trap point, see the signal diagram left.

A future post will provide more details of the intended scenic side of things.

Now a bit of the why, starting with why Westhill Road? Fisherton Sarum has a huge nod to my grandfather who worked as a ganger at Salisbury where my father was also bought up.  Westhill Road is a nod to my Mothers side of the family where I spent some of my formative years in Torquay at my grandparents who lived on Westhill Road.

Westhill Road therefore has no real railway connection or real setting; it could be somewhere west of Dartmoor; you could equally be somewhere on the Isle of Wight railway network or perhaps even somewhere in Kent. So yes an imaginary location and initially it will be a diorama, although ultimately I do intend to have simple fiddle yards at each end but these won’t be part of phase one. The initial purpose it to build something that has scenery at its forefront and allow me to test and experiment with different scenic techniques, perspective to create depth and the, new to me, use of servo motors.

It will also give me a a different scenic setting for photographing locomotives and rolling stock; and much of the placement of buildings and the many planned trees will be with allowing view points in mind, as you look into and through the layout.

Future posts will cover much more of the what and some of the when; and will of course also document the progress of Westhill Road as I go along, so watch this space…

The quay to presentation… Canute Road Quay goes on the road

As I reported in my last update post here about Canute Road Quay it made is first semi public outing and a days running in anger so to speak at the RMweb annual South West Area Group members day in Taunton at the end of April. This is not really an exhibition as such but a gathering of like minded friends and modellers for a day of informal chat with some trains running at the same time.

Caunte Road Quay makes its debut at the RMWeb SWAG meet in April. Picture copyright and courtesy Ava Hay

The day proved to be a success from my perspective with Canute Road Quay operating as intended (I am as ‘happy as Larry’ shunting wagons around) during the day and the layout  being  well received with plenty of positive comments from those that stopped by for a look.
From a transportation and setting up perspective, being of course much smaller, it is much quicker and easier all round than taking Fisherton Sarum to shows. I also thank my friend and fellow modeller Simon Paley for helping me play trains during the day.

Shunting in action on Canute Road Quay. The vinyl cut lettering on the proscenium arch can be clearly seen. Picture copyright and courtesy Ava Hay

I certainly believe that when exhibiting layouts at shows,  presentation, just as with lighting that I discussed here,  is just as important and should be carefully considered.  Canute Road Quay’s overall presentaion is aided by the design of the Tim Horn baseframes with the proscenium arch giving a letter box style view. The whole board is supported on folding adjustable trestles which does allow a range of viewing heights to be chosen, although I will generally opt for the higher viewing position. As the trestles are wider than the 12″ of Canute Road Quay I have also cut a length of plywood to act as a shelf at the rear of the baseframe for the all important cup of tea and also spare stock etc.
Around the bottom edge of the baseframe I have glued a Velcro Strip to attach one of the curtains that I use on Fisherton Sarum to hide the trestles etc.   To match the curtains the outside faces of the baseframes have been roller painted matt black with Vinyl cut white lettering in Gills Sans, from vinylletteringonline for the Canute Road Quay name across the top of the proscenium arch.

A view of the simple compact fiddle yard of Canute Road Quay. Picture copyright and courtesy Ava Hay

I operate Canute Road Quay from the front of the layout, at obviously the left hand end as that is where the fiddle yard and control are located, as with Fisherton Sarum operating from the front allows for easy interaction and conversations with the public at shows and is very much part of the exhibition experience that I enjoy.

The observant amongst you might also have noticed the subtle change the exhibition side bar to the right of the page which has had a title change and includes the fact that off the back of its Taunton appearance Canute Road Quay has been invited to attend the excellent Exeter MRS exhibition at the The Matford Centre, Matford Park Road, Marsh Barton, Exeter, Devon EX2 8FD over the weekend of the 1st and 2nd July.

P.S. Are you fed up withe the ‘quay’ puns yet, I am kind of hoping so as I might be running out of them….

Making a scene on the back of Canute Road Quay or simply how I have done the backscene

I have spoken before in a view from the line post about my views on the need for a backscene on a layout. Even simple a plain blue or grey painted back board is better that nothing. A good backscene helps create impression of depth and finishes the overall illusion that we are trying to create with a layout. The style of presentation, on Canute Road Quay as I have utilised an excellent laser cut Tim Horn baseboard, the back and sides are an integral part of the overall baseboard module.

On Fisherton Sarum, as can be seen on many of the images on this blog, I am indebted to fellow High Wycombe and District MRS member Ron North who superbly hand painted my Salisbury based backscene. On Canute Road Quay, being a bit of an industrial dockside scene, I thought an grayish overcast sky would give a simple effect and not draw the eye too much from the layout itself. I therefore opted to use a photographic overcast grey sky from Photo ID backscene from Art Printers.

A view of the backscene looking towards to the RH corner. The engine shed in the rear corner is only half complete at the moment with no roof or inside wall in place.

I opted for their Premium range of Photo ID backscenes that are printed on tough Polypropylene that are stated as being waterproof,  scratch and tear resistant. They are self-adhesive, which is how I have affixed them to the primed plywood rear and sides of the layout;  but can be used without removing the backing film and applied using a non-aqueous glue if required. This has on the whole been a success, although the self adhesive backing was not quite a strong as perhaps I would have liked, but time will tell.

A view of the backscene looking to the LH corner. the still to be completed ground cover is evident

On the rear right hand corner of the layout I have allowed for the backscene to curve slight rather than be an 90 degree corner to help trick the eye to not seeing a sharp corner but on the rear left hand corner due to the proximity of the high low relief warehouse building, and due to the length of the supplied Photo ID backscene I have simply left a 90 degree corner as it is less noticeable.

Although the Photo ID Sky backscene itself is just I was looking for above the mix of low relief buildings (mainly Bachman Scenecraft) , that are also positioned to form part of the backscene, it would not look right on its own in the gap between the buildings where the roadway supposedly heads off the scene.
This is due to the fact that in reality at such a location you would not simply see the sky finishing at the near horizon. I therefore initially wanted to fill the gap with a scene of a suitable warehouse style building in the near distance.
However, I was not able to find a suitable photograph of any warehouses that were taken in the right period, most images I was able find were of old warehouse as they appear now, either  to dilapidated, renovated, changed use such as apartments and or with modern items in the scene such as street furniture etc.

The original terraced houses Black and White image before manipulation in Photoshop

I did manage instead to locate an old black and white image of a row of terrace houses that I could manipulate within Adobe Photoshop to fill the gap and meet my needs, in fact since the addition of the low relief public house a row of terraced houses fit into the overall scene quite nicely.

The final image shaped and coloured before printing

The first step was to reshape slightly to both fill the gap and give the perspective I wanted; and secondly to re-colour the image including the brickwork, slates, chimney pots and windows but leaving the colours slightly muted as if being viewed from a distance.

The final image cutout in place on the layout next to the low relief public house

The path and roadway have been matched as close as possible to be the same colours as applied to pathway and road on the layout itself. This was then printed onto art quality paper and carefully cut out before it will be finally affixed (as I have not yet permanently affixed it yet whilst I finish some of the scenic groundwork) to in the gap directly onto the sky backscene.

An overview of the Backscene on Canute Road Quay as it stands at the time of this post. It still requires the ground cover to be completed

Details of the LED lighting I have used on Canute Road Quay will be the subject of a future post, as I am still experimenting with defusing the lighting slightly to enhance the overall slightly drab, overcast visual effect I ultimately want. The level of brightness at the moment is good for working under, in the photographs it should be noted the backscene appears slightly more bluish than in reality it is to eye, so watch this space for more progress.

The quay fiddle yard and wiring takes shape

With the Christmas festivities out of the way for another year, I turned my attention the last couple of days to the fiddle yard and wiring for Canute Road Quay.

A package arrived from Tim Horn the week before Christmas that contained a 1ft x 1ft baseboard specially manufactured with the baseboard top dropped by 4mm to accommodate the depth of the loco cassettes from my Fisherton Sarum layout.  Yesterday I made a start on putting the fiddle yard together.

The Tim Horn laser cut fiddle yard baseframe is assembled, painted and affixed to the main board

The kit from Tim is designed to have three full height sides but I wanted to modify this and also cut out a section of the front face to accommodate the little control panel and also the DIN 5 pin socket for the controller.
Hopefully the picture left will explain all, after allowing the glue to fully dry it received a  coat of primer including the underside  followed by a top coat of black to match the main baseboard.  The rear full height panel will then incorporate a couple, or possibly three shelves that have been made from the off cuts from the sides. By today the finish pained fiddle yard board is affixed to the main board, although I have still not fitted the shelves as this requires a trip out to get some brackets of some kind.

The wiring between the input feeds from the transformer box (right) via the control panel and to the main board (left) is taking shape.

I have also made a start on the wiring from the control panel to the jumper cables. In the picture below,  taken looking from the rear of the underside of the fiddle yard board towards the back of the control panel housed within the front face, the left hand cable goes to the main board for the control of the four track sections (yes I am still a DC Luddite), five Cobalt point motors, six uncoupling electromagnets and the power feed for the gas and building lights (yet to be installed). The right hand chocolate block will be connected to the cable that will come up from the transformer box that I also use on Fisherton Sarum to provide the required 16V AC and 12v DC supplies.

As you can see I am using 25 way D cable connectors with one half of the plastic housing screwed to the baseboard side to hold them in place. I have also soldered the 25 core cable for the main board to it’s 25 way D connector (am I alone in hating doing that job?) but have not yetinstalled it and this will a job for later this week. I still have the short jumper cable to solder to its pair of 25 way D connectors…

Quay Points… an update re Canute Road Quay and / or improving Peco turnouts

My new little timesaving / timewasting project Canute Road Quay has progressed slowly over the last few weeks. This post brings you up to date with that progress and also the details the modifications that I make to Peco electrofrog turnouts to improve both the appearance and the electrical performance that is especially important as I am using  Peco short radius turnouts including Y’ turnouts.

Canute Road Quay is starting to take shape

From the pictures left you can see that I have now completed following: painting of the baseboard with matt black paint to all the external fascias, leaving the inside faces and underneath white, the trackwork is now laid and glued in place (I actually on the recommendation of a fellow modeler simply used superglue for this) the LED lighting is in place (more of which anon) also the brickwork of the quayside along the very front edge has also been added.

Another view on progress so far.

Although not visible from the picture the DCC Concepts Cobalt point motors have been installed, and initial track feed and frog wiring completed. This has not yet been taken back to the control panel (which I have also made up, but more about this in a future post) as this will itself be mounted on the small bespoke fiddle yard module on the left hand end and I am still awaiting this from Tim Horn Baseboards.

The next steps will be the initial weathering or the track sleepers and painting rail sides in track colour, the addition of the check rail for the inset trackwiork sections and the construction of the remaining buildings. In addition to the low relief Bachmann Scalescene bonded warehouses, I have opted for using Skytrex Models resin components for the engine shed and the two warehouses / loading docks located at the front using laser cut components from LCut Creative.  Once in place I can make a start on the various ground covers.

Improving Peco turnouts

With respect to the Peco turnouts there are a number of improvements that can be made especially electrically to ensure better running which includes:

A diagram showing modifications to Peco points from underneath

Firstly, I always recommend  switching the frog polarity using the built in micro switch on the point motor (or a separate micro switch depending on the motor type you are using, the DCC Concepts Cobalt point motors convenient have two built in switches) and therefore not relying on the switch blade contact, which can be unreliable if any dirt gets between the stock rail and switch blade.

The Peco short radius ‘Y’ turnout does not have wire links so requires the actual rails to be cut between the frog and links between the stock rails and the switch blade (just visible)

This requires any electrical link between switch rails and the frog to be cut, and as such is made simple on most Peco points as there is an exposed wire link underneath the point that can be cut. However on the short radius ‘Y’ points this wire link does not exist and therefore requires the actual rails to be cut between the switch blade pivots and the frog.

A diagram from above

Secondly, I electrically link each switch blade to its adjacent stock rail with a short wire link as this ensures good electrical continuity. Conveniently Peco leave a gap in the sleeper webbing, on most of their turnouts, to ease the soldering of this wire link, which is then hidden one ballasted etc.

Hopefully the diagrams / images to the left help to show this more clearly.

Picture showingthe tiebar has been cut either side and the spring and housing removed

To improve the turnouts visually I also remove, by simply cutting them off the hand operating lugs either side of the tie bar and as I am using DCC Concepts Cobalt point motors that are of the stall rather than solenoid type that hold the switchblades in the required position the non prototypical Peco spring housing and spring can also be removed, these are held in place by a metal clip that can be easily unclipped from underneath the turnout.

I hope that the above post is of interest and use especially with respect to wiring and improving Peco elctrofrog points and clarifies the issue on the short radius ‘Y’ point where the wire links underneath are not provided by Peco.

Watch this space for further updates on Canute Road Quay over the next few weeks.




The baseboard for Canute Road Quay takes shape

Earlier this month I announced my new little timesaving / timewasting project Canute Road Quay. Last weekend I took the opportunity to visit the excellent Scaleforum exhibition and collect from Tim Horn the kit of laser cut parts for the 4ft x 1ft main baseboard for this project. Tim classifies this design as a ‘Scenic/Photo plank board’ which includes the rear and side backscenes boards and top fascia.

The Tim Horn baseboard after just a couple of hours of assembly

This is the first time that I have used Tim’s laser cut board components and all I can say is ‘wow’ and that I totally recommend them. Tim can supply his baseboards with either with MDF or birch ply tops, the later being my chosen option. The quality and fit of each of the components is excellent and results in a very simple assembly using only wood glue, a small number of screws and a few clamps. Including allowing time for glue to cure between stages assembly was completed without rushing in a few hours last Sunday.

The left hand end of the baseboard including the cut out for the exit to the ‘fiddle yard’

It certainly makes things easier for someone like me whom carpentry is not really my thing. The result is a totally square, robust, lightweight, professional looking baseboard assembly, that now awaits a coat of white primer, including the underneath, to seal it all around,  followed by a matt black top coat coat to the front, side and rear fascias. Tim also includes a single piece 3mm ply fascia to go on to the front to cover all the tab joints, giving a totally smooth final finish, which I have yet to affix.

A sneaky peak of things to come with the trackwork being initially positioned along with a couple of the buildings.

I have taken the opportunity prior to painting to cut the trackwork to size to allow for holes to be drilled in the correct places for the point motors (As on Fisherton Sarum I will be using Cobalt slow acting point motors), and track feed / point frog droppers etc. The well thought out design of the Tim Horn baseframes include cuts outs at the top of the baseframe cross members for cable runs etc.

I also took the opportunity to discuss with the Tim the possibility of obtaining a small 1ft x 1ft cantilever section for the left hand end ‘fiddle yard’ to support the off scene cassette. Due to the fact that I intend to utilise the 12″ locomotive cassette from Fisherton Sarum (along with a small number of other items such as the transformer box) the top surface of this section needs to be 4mm lower than the main board to ensure the rail and cassette heights line up. As it happens I am not the first the first ask Tim for such a board and in fact he had one on display that uses the same modular construction concept as the main board, to ensure it matches and aligns correctly, but allows him to change the final top height, during the cutting process to suit a customers needs depending on the type of cassettes they are using.  The back of this board will match the rear of the main board and I will add some simple supports to be able to hold a number of the cassettes out of the way. This ‘fiddle yard’ board has now been duly ordered. The front face of this section will also contain the switches for the point motors, track sections (yes I am still DC control) and the uncloupler push buttons.

So the next step is the priming and painting of the baseboard…


Announcing Canute Road Quay… a new little timesaving or timewasting project…

A number of factors have led to me considering the possibility of producing a simple and small shunting puzzle layout to keep me entertained, be able to operate at home and possibly exhibit without the need for such a large operating crew and logistics.

Firstly, I do not have the space to have Fisherton Sarum completely set up at home, one of the disadvantages of owning a small 600 year old brick and flint cottage in the Chiltern Hills, or indeed the space to build any of the other two layouts, Hawkhurst in Kent and Lydford Junction in Devon, that I have been pondering over, researching and planing for many years (indeed in the case of Hawkhurst I have already built much of the rolling stock and some of the buildings, more on this in future posts on this blog perhaps).
Secondly, the arrival of the excellent Model Rail Magazine commissioned USA Tanks, and already having a kit built Adams B4, got me thinking about knocking up a quick dock / quayside type scene, but obviously not based directly on a specific Southampton Dock location, I did mention earlier my issue with space… Hence the name of Canute Road Quay to maintain a Southampton’ish identity.

I have often enjoyed operating (‘playing with’) shunting puzzle layouts that have been created by fellow High Wycombe and District MRS member Ron North usually based on the classic ‘Inglenook’ design these type of layouts can be fun to operate as well as not taking up much space. For Canute Road Quay I have decided that I have approximately 4ft x 1ft of space in which I can fit an adaptation of the slightly larger than the ‘Inglenook’ puzzle the ‘Timesaver’. This includes the addition of a small run around loop.

I am also allowing for the top left line to exit through to a hidden single cassette (utilising the same foot long locomotive cassettes that I use on Fisherton Sarum)  to allow for more operation and stock changing. The very front edge of the layout will be modelled as a dockside wall and the siding at the top right will be a small loco shed albeit single road and in semi low relief, being a sub shed of, and a similar look to the one actually at Southampton Docks.

Work in progress on USA Tanks,  s64 in early 1948 livery, 68 and also 72 in pre full SR modified condition, although I need to add cab side windows. All await weathering

The other two shorter sidings / headshunts will be just about able to hold 3 off box vans and a small shunting loco such the USA Tank or Adams B4. I will on the whole be remaining in my usual 1946 to 1949 Southern Railway time period; but will allow for the occasional change in era/area (perhaps the odd industrial loco)!

I will use a Tim Horn laser cut baseframe to result in a professional looking letter box type presentation with a built in front lighting pelmet.
Buildings, for simplicity and quickness will be a mixture of modified Ready-to-Plonk resin low relief type warehouses as the backdrop at the left hand rear, some laser cut versions for the buildings  acting as scenic breaks towards the front a at least one scratchbuilt such as the engine shed. Trackwork will be a mixture of open sleepered and inset track as seen around such docks / quays to give some variety to the surfaces.

As procurement of track, baseframe and some of the buildings has already commenced watch this space for more updates…