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Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:45 pm
by peterg
Well, the newbie has taken his first tentative steps and has had a delivery of an HST 9 car set, flexitrack, trestle bridges, tunnel portals and PWM power box.....who said father xmas was imaginary? :D
As per the title the layout will be called "Borderline" because i hope that when finished it might loosely resemble the West Coast line up through Cumbria / Shap and Dumfrieshire. That is the plan but let's see what develops.
Board size is 48" x 18" and i have now drawn out my plan which is basically a continuous run incorporating dog bone and figure of eight with 2 tunnels and 3 bridges.
I have not planned for roads, villages or stations but do have a sizable lake and rolling hills with cuttings. Hope there will be room for a farm with animals.
I'm an impatient s.d and want to get stuck in but the c..p weather is keeping me out of the cold damp shed where i will have to get the main base / layout constructed. After that i should manage to sneak it into the house for detail work.
Will attempt progress reports on here but i am sorry to say that i have never been able to get my head around posting photo's on any forum. I know i should try again so watch this space.



Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:18 pm
by dkightley

You have a PM ...(Private Message)


Posted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:02 pm
by martink
I'd be very interested to see how this one turns out. One little suggestion - on every layout I have done I always end up wishing that I had added a extra inch or two to the width. It is surprising how useful even one extra inch can be here: letting you widen the radius of curves, or stagger them at different levels to make construction and access easier, or even allow extra space for scenery between the track and the baseboard edge.

As for having enough space for a farm, in T gauge 48" x 18" works out to a scale 30 acres. ;)


Posted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:49 pm
by peterg
Hello Martin
I know exactly where you are coming from regards board size. I was going to do a 24" wide board but it would not fit the criteria of having to fit inside a wardrobe when not being used.
As said in earlier post i will try to load photos to show progress but don't expect anything for some time yet.



Posted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:32 pm
by peterg
All the woodwork including ramps and tunnels etc are now in place and the lake/river has been excavated. After much nervousness on my part i have also fitted half the flexitrack.
A few hints that i hope somebody will find useful;

LAKE: This is at baseboard level and realising that i wanted it below ground level for realism i used a 10mm round nosed router bit and plunge routed to a depth about 3-4 mm deep. Easy to deep...a bit noisy and dusty but very effective. The lake will be finished in the tried and tested methods of painting and filling with Realistic water or similar.

TUNNEL PORTALS: I have/am using 20mm dia' plastic conduit cut to length and angled at the "open" end. An 8mm slot is cut in the bottom of the tube which closes up slightly on cutting...this is good because it can be opened and glued around the 8mm long sleepers. It was a concious decision to use this style of portal as opposed to the flimsy/fiddly kit ones from Alan. When finished they can be finished any colour to suit.

TRACK LAYING: Having bought the 1m lengths of flexitrack i was worried about the best way to fix it. Had some advice (thanks to those concerned) on here but after my own experiment i decided that Bostik GLU & FIX All Purpose, clear/extra strong at £2.49 / 20ml from Halfords was the one to use.
So far i have used it to good effect and recommend it for the job provided you follow a few simple guide lines;
a) Only use the 1m track lengths on straight or gently curved sections.
b) Always glue down one end of the track say about 4/5" long to give a good anchor before you start bending (make sure you have a track joiner fitted before gluing)
when this has properly dried you can quite easily (but gently) bend the track to the shape laid out on you base board/plan. I found the track then more or less maintained the bent shape and could be finally tweeked when glued.
c)When gluing simply run a continuous bead of glue following your plan. Let the glue go off for a few minutes then simply place and hold the track in position....ONLY DO ABOUT" 2/300mm at a time checking and holding down where necessary. I only found it necessary to hold while set for about 2/3 minutes max' which is nothing unless you have a plane to catch. When one 2/300mm section has dried just repeat for next section but use a thin metal blade (nail file ?) to get glue under the bit where the glue tube will not fit. DO NOT forget to fit a track joiner at the end of each length!!!
This Bostik as used here is not used as a contact adhesive although it apparently can be if gluing difficult parts/materials.
d) do not forget to fit your power lead with built in track joiner somewhere convenient on your layout...this method requires no soldering.

If any snags or tips come up i will update here.



Posted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:29 pm
by peterg
Have finished laying the track and have happily run the HST 2 loco + 2 coach set without major hitches.
What is obvious though is the you do have to be careful not to use so much glue when laying the track that it oozes up between the sleepers...if this happens you will see your train stutter and judder until you have cleaned away the easy matter when the glue has set.
I think i was the youngest pensioner around when i watched the little miracle do its circuits and tackle the grades without problem. Better still at night to the lights working, although they are pretty bright in daylight.

Forgot to mention one small problem when connecting the wiring;
As earlier reported, i used the power cable with controller plug on one end and the track joiner type item already soldered to the other. I drilled a hole in the baseboard, connected the track to the soldered joiner type fitting with the wires going through the drilled hole. Unfortunately moving things when laying the track must have snagged the positive wire and broke it away from the joiner...aaagh!
Solution was relatively easy...the broken wire was fed back up the drilled hole so that it exited at one side of the rails/sleepers and was then carefully soldered onto the outside edge of the copper rail clip/joiner. Finally i filled the drilled hole with glue and sawdust filler to stop any further chance of pulling the fine wires off the fitting.
Next job is the landscaping......


Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:26 am
by ConnorL
Nice! I hate it when wiring disconnects while you are working on it. I never had tried flex tracks, I was wondering what is your feedback on them? Are they flexible enough to create nice curves without the track coming out of the end of each section? Or you have to adjust each of them before gluing down onto the platform?


Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:22 am
by peterg
ConnorL wrote:Nice! I hate it when wiring disconnects while you are working on it. I never had tried flex tracks, I was wondering what is your feedback on them? Are they flexible enough to create nice curves without the track coming out of the end of each section? Or you have to adjust each of them before gluing down onto the platform?
The best thing you can do is start on a straight bit of track...DO NOT use joiners on curves, i did it once and only just got away with it.
If you glue down a few inches of track and let it dry you will be able to gently curve the track to your plan gluing abot 8/10" as you go.
Note! Flexi will always drag one or both rails about as you curve it. As you get towards the last 8/10" of a flexi length you must trim the track so that both rails are the same length. Generally speaking i found that removing 3 sleepers from a track length was just about right when making a join. DO use the proper track filing or burr removal will be necessary afterwards.
Now, attach a track joiner and glue the whole thing down. I found it no problem to insert the next length of track in to a glued down joiner and start the whole process again.
A finished track should have no gaps between the rail ends and should feel reasonably smooth when you run your finger over it. A light rub down with the fine abrasive paper supplied with the flex' also helps.

In summary; I would not worry too much about adjusting the ends of each length of track and i would not hesitate to use Flexitrack again.


Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:15 am
by peterg
Started landscaping yesterday....bigger job than i imagined!
Big mistake i think was to do a lot of hill and embankment shaping and blending with Papier Mache.
Dont get me wrong it was ok to work with but it never dries.
Checked it again this morning and it was still really wet so i started on with the bigger hill using scrunched up newspaper and plaster of paris bandage. This was much quicker to apply and was soon dry enough to work over again if necessary.
Anyway i'm about two thirds done withe the messy stuff and just need to take a break while things dry.....i'm guessing at least 5 days for the papier mache to dry properly.

Question please;
When all the plaster bandaging has been done do i just go ahead and paint it or a) Do i smooth it over and fill the small holes with plaster a of paris skim ?
b) Does it need sanding before base coat painting ?


Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:30 pm
by dkightley
The surface of plaster doesn't need any preparation for painting...and most paints will cover with no issues, although water based paints will probably be best.

As to covering the rough areas, its basically down to deciding exactly what you want the ground surface to look like....and whether you're applying flock or other texture finishes. If you are, then an air hole will become a large undulation in the ground surface that is overgrown with grass and bushes, etc. Fill it with earth coloured paint and then an appropriate amount of scenery dust, etc and it'll blend in. If you're relying on the plaster surface alone, then you may need to do some finishing off...but beware of what you do being seen as "full-size" marks.

Spend some time browsing the countryside using Google Earth to get an idea of exactly what terra firma actually looks like from the viewpoint of a 2,700 ft tall giant!!...which is the viewpoint we have...if you think about it.

And one idea I've just thought about......I wonder if running the teeth of a saw blade across a plaster surface will give an impression of furrows in a ploughed field??


Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 1:08 pm
by peterg
Thanks the input Doug, you have probably saved me some unnecessary preparation if only that papier mache would dry !!


Posted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 1:04 am
by peterg
A quick update on progress now that the papier mache has dried.................I know it can be a bit boring without photo's but i promise to try and get a whole bunch loaded when the project is finished..(only a few weeks i hope).

I have painted and prepared the river bed and lake ready to receive the watery stuff. The lake is fed by a river running through a canyon and is flanked by a cliff face down one side. There is a rockfall at one end of the lake and boulders that have been carried down by the river. In the middle of the lake is an island a bit overgrown but great for the kids to camp on!

There are quite a few rock outcrops and cliff faces around the layout and it has been interesting sorting out colours and methods to paint them....not surprisingly greys, blacks and a bit of green dominate.
Time for a chuckle as i see it coming together and although it's my first attempt i have to say i am well pleased, so far!
At some point during the week i made the final decision that one side of the layout would comprise of a short stretch of canal with a marina. I have therefore just completed balsa 1:450 (approx') models of a narrow boat, a pub and a chandlers store. I still need about 4 or 5 more narrow boats and a canal bridge so the punters can get to the pub and marina.
To round up this session i had a play with foliage clumps and sprinkle grass and boy has it brought things to life.
Thanks for reading and happy projects all round.


Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 2:54 am
by peterg

Have just ruined the lake water on my layout.
I used Woodland Scenics - Realistic Water, poured onto a painted plaster cloth bed....trouble iis that i had sealed the bed with a coating of white PVA allowed to dry and harden perfectly clear.
It seems that the Realistic Water has reacted with the PVA and after 10 hours is drying to a cracked ice type whitish finish. I am gutted as the lake was looking fantastic prior to this. I just had it in mind that i should seal the bed with the PVA and i was obviously wrong.

Question is; Has anybody else else experienced anything similar and if so is it repairable ??

I intend leaving it for at least another 24 hours and trialling a sample area by repainting on top of the water and hoping that the paint will take so i can pour another thin layer of the water on top. But any other ideas are very welcome.
What a way to finish 5 hard weeks work!


Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:07 pm
by ConnorL
This had happened to me,

What happens is the PVA became back to liquid state from solid state making the lake white. The cracking is from putting too much water at once. This is what happened to me during the first time.

What you need to do is make sure that the surface of the area you are going to apply is dry/anything that can't turn back to liquid state.

Apply water extremely thin every time (1mm -ish) and let them dry, this prevents them from shrinking too much creating cracks or valley.

People please let me know if I said anything wrong.


Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:46 pm
by peterg
What you said makes sense Connor.
What happens to the cracks when you add more water ?


Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2014 1:18 am
by ConnorL
It'll fill up the cracks, but after it dries...there will be less crack that is visible...then add more till it evens out.


Posted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:10 pm
by peterg
Hey Connor

A very late response from me but i did exactly as you described......adding very thin layers and filling the cracks.
Thankfully it worked well enough that it is now acceptable and i do not have to dig it out and start over.


Posted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:35 pm
by peterg
Two days ago i finished my layout apart from ballasting.
Gave everything a good cleaning and happily ran the train for a while starting with 2 locos then 2 locos and the restaurant car (the idea being to give everything a good run in) and finally all motor units and cars making a 9 unit train.
The full train ran ok for a few laps then started de-railing....checked and chopped back line side foliage with same result so gave up and ran the 3 motorised units for about 15 minutes.....must say i was able to run them very slowly and smooth.

Ballasted the track using the recommended tool which did make it very easy to do. Set the ballast with syringe injected diluted PVA as recommended and left for 24 hours to dry thoroughly. The ballast is pot hard and going nowhere!
Today, as i suspected would happen, the train will not run now. Have tried cleaning a short stretch of track but it still runs badly and jerkily.
Checked wheels under a magnifying glass and WHOA, dirty and black .....not all over but enough to cause at least some of the trouble i would think.

I have a wheel cleaner and will give that a try when next in the mood cos right now i am a bit fed up. In short i did not expect that i would have to spend as much if not more time attending to cleanliness than enjoying the running of the train.

If so then i unfortunately see why T Gauge is so slow to take off.
Don't get me wrong, i love it and i am really chuffed with my set up but this has really knocked the edge of the enjoyment for me.


Posted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:49 pm
by martink
Well Peter, a big part is probably just the aftermath of the ballasting. That happens in any scale, not just T. You need to very, very carefully go over the whole layout looking for any tiny bit of ballast fouling the track. Try running your fingernail down the inside of each rail - anything that you can feel this way needs to be removed.

As to the full HST set derailing, that happened to me too at first. I found that the issue here is how you couple the coaches together. If the couplers are not aligned properly, both vertically and horizontally, they will tend to lift bogies off the track. After coupling up the train, I use a pair of fine tweezers to gently squeeze each pair of couplers squarely together (a bit fiddly since the HST cars are close coupled).

T is certainly more sensitive to dirt than larger scales, but I haven't done enough running yet to really get a handle on it. Once again, part of the problem will be the aftermath of layout construction - the wheels will be picking up all sorts of gunk that has gradually accumulated, and it will probably take you a few running/cleaning cycles to get rid of the backlog. With any scale, running regularly and frequently helps. I am an operator on a friend's large OO layout, and the track stays acceptably clean as long as we run every week. Skip just one week however, and you've got half a dozen people scrubbing away with track cleaners! The other thing I have noticed with T is the motor units' tendency to collect fluff. Before cleaning the wheels, use a pair of fine tweezers and a good magnifier to pick out all the hair and threads that have wrapped themselves around the wheels and axles.


Posted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:51 pm
by peterg
Thanks for that Martin, i'm sure you are right.
I just hope that i have not got a layer of PVA (and possiblt too much ballast) along the inside of the rails.