Monday, March 30, 2015

Passing on August Yard?

Some time ago, I built a little American N scale layout called "August Yard'. Although I get rid of most of the layouts I've built, this one has stayed with me as a favourite. Looking at it now, it's not fantastic I know, and with the things I've learned since that time, I think I could improve on it - but it was fun to build, the first American themed layout I had built, and one that gave a lot of pleasure to operate too.

All 4 feet of August Yard

If I remember rightly, the train consisted of a loco (my Rutland RS1) and three random cars,which entered the scene from the hidden fiddle track at the rear. These were spotted, and cars removed, according to dice throws.

It is only 4 feet long by around 8 inches deep, originally built on top of a pine shelf from the local B&Q. As such, definitely a 'micro' and was featured by the late great Carl Arendt in his book 'Small Layout Scrapbook' (for which I was incredibly flattered).

Anyway, I have sold all of my N scale stock, including the Rutland RS1 which started it all off, and the time has come to part with the little layout. I'd rather not break it up for scrap, so I'm offering for free to anyone who is interested and can collect from Nottinghamshire, or the TVNAM show at Armitage in June. 

Hopefully somebody might like to get some play out of it before it meets the great layout scrapheap in the sky.

I can't test it but know it was all working fine last time it was used and it has been stored in a dry garage in it's dust box since then. And anyway, it's free!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Freemo Modules progress

I've spent a few hours in the garage today (feet are killing me!) I could see a milestone in sight and wanted to crack on and get there. 

Track laid and wiring completed. I've just run my first test train across my two modules. It was DC, a quick hook up, and the little tank engine wasn't too happy with the Peco insulfrogs, but I have used them on Brett and I hope that the American stuff should be fine. Otherwise, not too bad.. everything works as it should.

Obviously a lot to do yet - mostly scenics, but the next step is to decide on / acquire the point controls. I am fairly certain that I'll be using Caboose Industries Ground Throws. (I've drilled holes under the tie bars in case I change my mind).

As you can see, the plan, such as it is, is simple.. but this isn't a layout, there are two separate modules here. The closest one will have an elevator on the spur, and a factory over to the right with some disused track. The further module will have a generic warehouse on one spur and a team track on the other. Obviously quite short, only two or three cars each, but it's all about getting something built!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

First-time Freemo fun!

As I mentioned in my last post, I drove over to Armitage to join up with the newly formed Midlands Freemo group for our first 'meet'

(Armitage Village Hall is also the home of TVNAM, a cracking little show which focusses on North American rail modelling)

Considering this was the first go at this, the weekend went very well - it was a two day affair, although I could only make the Saturday. Most of the morning was taken up with physically erecting and connecting the modules. Colin stepped up to sorting out the electrical and control stuff. We used NCE, although there were Digitrax and Lenz panels in use and some small issues around compatibility to get around.

We hadn't got any formal 'ops' planned, so the afternoon was spent pretty much making it up and playing with trains. I spent much of the time working Nick's Foxley yard with my new Baldwin switcher, although I did make a point of taking a train out once at least, to get the experience of moving around the modules.

Not knowing what to expect, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was interesting to me to see how this compared to wargaming, where there is inherently quite a degree of interaction with your fellow hobbyist. It probably helped that this particular group turned out to be a decent bunch of blokes and very easy to get on with!

Anyway, the bug has bit (!) and I've been cracking on with my two modules. I shall post something on that some time soon.

For now, a selection of photos from the day, and a video on youtube..

Friday, March 13, 2015

Freemo, BL2s and Baldwins..

There has been a fair bit of progress lately. (including a new video uploaded to Youtube).

The Freemo modules I described in the last post are pretty much built - adjustable feet were installed yesterday. I'm going along to a Freemo meet at Armitage tomorrow of the 'Midlands' group to see what it's all about. Never done anything like this before, so quite keen to find out. There will be handful of modules as it's a new and small group, but there will pictures to follow! I'm taking one of the boards to make sure I'm building properly, and I'll take a few bits of stock and my controller. Hopefully by the next meet I can actually add a module of my own to the set-up.

It occurred to me that I have never 'played trains' with anyone. Although I have made some friends through the hobby, and share lots of online and 'real' conversation, I've never actually operated a layout with anyone else. So far, that part of the hobby has been a very solitary activity. I have been offered the controller at one or two layouts at exhibitions before and always declined - mostly through fear of mucking up or driving someone else's trains off the table!

I've really enjoyed getting back in to my other hobby lately, and the social aspect of wargaming has re-vitalised that for me, so I am riding that wave for now!

As far as track plans go - I am applying the KISS principle and I aim to produce two stand-alone modules. I'll do a separate post on that once track-laying starts.. for now, bits of foamcore and felt pens have helped me to plan..

As well as the Freemo modules - I got stuck in with the BL2. I found a cheap decoder (probably Hornby or Bachmann) which I managed to get hooked up, along with a couple of LEDs and the loco has been put to service on it's first run to Brett this evening.

#36 switching a long string out of Northwest Lumber

I'll get some BL2 video posted soon. I really do like this loco and can see me looking for another BL2 at some point.

Speaking of new locos - I sold a bunch of stuff on eBay lately and treated myself to  a new sound-equipped loco.. I love the thereby old diesel sound of this, and the fact that it's a little different.. the model is a Bowser - Baldwin DS4-4-1000 switcher..

The Baldwin

Phew! I think that's enough for one post!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Freemo a go go

A 'local' group have been cracking on building HO Freemo modules. I've been interested in the idea for a while but put off starting anything for a number of reasons. Lately the urge to build has been upon me and I thought I'd have a go. (painting soldiers shelved for a week or two!)

Having only ever built anything for my own pleasure, I'm a little nervous that these will be up to scratch.. but anyway, I got some ply chopped up at the timber merchants and I've enjoyed sawing, drilling and gluing and pretty much now have two 4 foot modules built.

Test fitting the legs. They were going to be the other way around but I need to leave clearance behind the module end plate

Interesting operation in the confines of the garage, but the first 'standing'

Two side pieces fitted to form a storage solution. Not that I have anywhere to store them!
I don't have a track plan yet, but started working on some ideas. I intend to Keep It Simple (Stupid)!

Ideally I would like to plan something that can be played with 'stand alone' but I'm not sure if I'll achieve that within the parameters of the module specifications.

Some very rough initial thoughts..