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Archive for the ‘Controlling Interests’ Category

Wear and tear occurs on anything mechanical over time and model railways are no exception, especially when subjected to the rigors (and occasionally operator error) of exhibiting for hours on end at shows. One of the focal points on Fisherton Sarum is of course the turntable which during an exhibition seems to be pretty much constantly on the go especially when younger viewing eyes are present.

My T14 is turned on the turntable at Fisherton Sarum

I have posted before about the turntable on Fisherton Sarum in my Controlling Interests #2 post here., but as a quick recap the turntable comprises of a Peco LK-55 kit where I have utilised the well and deck, whilst adding scratch built sides to represent the turntable installed at Salisbury; and it is controlled by  MERG turntable control kit which drives via a stepper motor and gearbox.
During the last couple of shows I attended with Fisherton Sarum I noticed that the operation of the turntable was getting less and less reliable mainly due to issues of the plastic drive shaft mounting hub on the underside of the table deck starting to disintegrate and wear to the  track power feed split contact ring.  I therefore decided to hopefully remedy the issues by removing the deck and trying to replace the drive shaft mount and also effect a repair on the power feed ring. However having examined the removed turntable and due to the lack of the original plastic now remaining at the mounting point it proved difficult to align my replacement metal bush accurately, both vertically and centrally, to give reliable running.

The original scratch built side sides have been grafted onto the new deck

I have now therefore obtained a replacement turntable kit and built a brand new replacement deck (if anyone wants the kits well components that I now have surplus to requirements let me know, free to a good home…) and carefully added the scratch built sides from the original deck to the new one.

The replacement split ring pick up bush in the middle of the well

I have also replaced the now worn power feed split ring in the turntable well as the plungers on the underside of the deck over time had worn a groove and then starting to catch on the edge of the copper split rings.
In order to make future maintenance easier and allowing easy removal of the deck, if required, I have also now incorporated new direct coupling with grub screws. I carefully drilled on a pillar drill to ensure vertical alignment, the bush in the underside of the deck to suit a 4mm OD silver steel rod to match the output shaft of the gearbox and the coupling,  as the Peco LK-55  kit is designed to be interference fit  for a standard Meccano imperial Standard Wire gauge 8 shaft.
I had tried as an experiment a  Ruland Aluminium Flexible Beam Coupling, from RS Components to link the drive shafts of the deck and gearbox, but although these are designed specifically for use with stepper motor drive systems where no back lash is a requirement a certain amount of juddering occurred as they flexed, so I have gone back to a fixed brass coupling but one with two opposing grub screws at each end to ensure a good grip on the shafts (which as per good practice have a slight flat filed on them to ensure the grub screw can grip properly.

The replacement turntable has been fitted and tested on Fisherton Sarum and means that the layout is all ready for its next outing at the Hampton Court MRS, Tolworth Showtrain, on 11th / 12th November at the Tolworth Recreation Centre, Fullers Way North, Tolworth, Surrey, KT6 7LQ

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As with any layout the old adage says “it is never finished” this is true of Fisherton Sarum.  Regularly after operating the layout at an exhibition, more often or not in the pub over a pint, ideas for modifications / ‘improvements’ are suggested by the operating team (usually a combination of Mark and Roger…), some more radical than others, mulled over and sometimes they eventually get implemented.  With the next couple of exhibitions looming in September (Worthing MRC) and October (Hornby Magazine Great Electric Train Show), I have set up Fisherton Sarum at the clubrooms of the High Wycombe and District MRS to allow me to check everything over and also make another one of the changes previously suggested.

Such past modifications / ‘improvements’ have included:

A view of the control panel located in its new position at the 'west' end of the layout

A view of the control panel located in its new front position at the ‘west’ end of the layout

With the two fiddle yards now able to independently control the main running lines, including remotely the operation of the two signals it was suggested that to increase engagement with the viewing public, an aspect at a show that all the operating team enjoy, that the main control panel could be located to the front of the layout. In actual fact the most suitable location was actually at one end of the scenic section but in front of the ‘west end’ fiddle yard. This has necessitated new mounting brackets for the control panel and some longer cables between the control panel and each scenic board (with grateful thanks to Roger). As can be seen from the picture to the left I have now made this change, although the control panel can still be switched back to its original position should it be necessary.  We shall try out his new configuration at the Worthing MRC exhibition on the 26th/27th September and see how we get on.

Following the success and hands off operational interest gained from the installation of a ‘Dingham’ electromagnet uncouplers, as outlined in my previous Controlling Interests# 6 and  #8 posts, I have added a further a uncoupler.

Shed pilot an Adams B4 No.100 positions the ash wagon over the new uncoupler in the coal stack road.

Shed pilot an Adams B4 No.100 positions the ash wagon over the new uncoupler in the coal stack road.

This new uncoupler is located in the coal stock road just behind the shed to provide additional operational flexibility leaving either the ash wagon or a coal wagon, newly fitted with the iron wire dropper to be activated by the electromagnet. Good eyesight is required from the new control panel location to stop the locomotive in the right place, however a new member of the shed crew has been suitably positioned so that as soon as he is out of the shadow caused by the wagon to be uncoupled it is the right place to stop and operate the  ‘Dingham’ electromagnet.

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Following the success of the installation of a ‘Dingham’ electromagnet for uncoupling the box van delivering spare parts to the shed stores siding as detailed in my Controlling Interests #6 post, I have now added an additional Dingham’ electromagnet  for also uncoupling the ash wagon next to the workers clearing the ashpits.

the ash wagon is moved into position next to the workers for the removal of the ash

the ash wagon is moved into position next to the workers for the removal of the ash

As with the box van I have added  a short piece of iron wire fixed to the dropper of the tension lock coupling hook of the ash wagon, and installed the ‘Dingham’ electromagnet by simply self threading the 5mm core bolt of the Dingham’ electromagnet  into an interference hole drilled through the ash pit into the baseboard. The head of the bolt within the ash pit itself has been covered with ash keeping it totally invisible from view.  A simple push to make switch on the control panel provides the required 12v DC for the magnet to operate that pulls down the iron wire dropper that lifts the hook for uncoupling.

This latest modification is ready to operated next weekend when Fisherton Sarum will be returning to its spiritual home, Salisbury, to be exhibited at the Salisbury and South Wilts Railway Societies 50th Anniversary exhibition.  
The exhibition is being held  at the Michael Herbert Hall, South Street, Wilton and being their golden anniversary should hopefully be a special event. It is open to the public 10.30am to 4.30pm on the Saturday and 10am to 4pm on the Sunday. In addition to Fisherton Sarum there are 14 other layouts across a wide range of scales attending including a number that are Southern related.

 

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Although I have been exhibiting Fisherton Sarum since November 2006 feedback from my operating team has resulted in suggestions and ideas for ways to continually improve the way we operate and exhibit. The main and largest change to date was as reported in my Controlling interests #1 post that added a third controller to enable independent up and down main line operation whilst still allowed movements to carry on in the shed area.

The Fiddle Yard Indicator panel.  The lamps are switched by the rotary switch at the opposite FY.  The red ready send button is pressed when a train is set up  and illuminates the green lamp at the other FY. The light green push button is the new switch to energise the track feed at the opposite FY exit.

The Fiddle Yard Indicator panel.
The lamps are switched by the rotary switch at the opposite FY.
The red ready send button is pressed when a train is set up and illuminates the green lamp at the other FY.
The light green push button is the new switch to energise the track feed at the opposite FY exit.

We now operate with each fiddle yard operator driving trains towards them, each fiddle yard operator has a small indicator panel to communicate the type of train to each other (as different length trains require different length fiddle yard cassettes to be positioned) and this also shows them that a train is set up in the opposite fiddle yard and ready to be driven. Following this modification the indication panels gained a switch to enable them to operate the approach signal without having to move across the to the main control panel.

With this method of control now having been used at a couple of exhibitions there have been occasions when the next departing train is set up the previous train is either still moving or the controller has been left on causing the next train to start too early. To overcome this a push button has been added to fiddle yard indications panels that an operator will have to press to energise the power feed to the train they about to drive in the opposite fiddle yard. Once on the main board the push button can be released and the train will carry on.

These indicator panels also reduce the need for the operators to have to shout at each other which prevents viewers of the layout from hearing the fact that my locos’s are neither DCC or sound fitted!

This latest modification to Fisherton Sarum will be used for the first time on 8th / 9th March 2014 at  the  Basingstoke and North Hampshire Model Railway Society show being held at the Aldworth Science College, Basingstoke, RG22 6HA  i hop[e to perhaps some of the readers of this blog there, please make sure you say hello.

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One of the regular operational movements when operating Fisherton Sarum is to bring the 12t box van of spare parts and shed consumables, that has arrived from Eastliegh works, to the shed stores located in the water tower building at its own unloading platform.

Uncoupling_1

With the electromagnet energised the iron wire dropper visible under the coupling hook is pulled down and the hook lifts

Just as at Salisbury this involves a shunt across the turntable. At an exhibition this has required a 12″ to the foot scale ‘hand of god’ to uncouple the wagon from the shed pilot loco, or sometimes the ash wagon, until now…

With the simple addition of a short piece of iron wire fixed to the dropper of the tension lock coupling hook, and the installation of a ‘Dingham’ electromagnet kindly provided by fellow High Wycombe and District MRS member and regular Fisherton Sarum operator Mark Riddoch the process is now totally hands free!

Another view with the electromagnet energised and the hook lifted clear of the bar

Another view with the electromagnet energised and the hook lifted clear of the bar

The bolt of the Dingham electromagnet has been simply self threaded into an interference hole drilled into the baseboard below so that the end of the bolt does not quite come though the ballast keeping it totally invisible from view, whilst firmly holding the coil in place under the board. A simple push to make switch on the control panel provides the required 12v DC for the magnet to operate that pulls down the iron wire dropper that lifts the hook for uncoupling.

This latest addition to Fisherton Sarum can be viewed in action during its next exhibition appearance at the Hornby Magazine Live Exhibition at the Hartlepool College of Further Education on the 13th / 14th July 2013.

The brief video below also shows the uncoupling in action.

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My recent Controlling Interests #5 recent modifications completed…and working post  included an update on the Model Railway Electronic Group (MERG) turntable control unit that with the grateful help of fellow HWDMRS member Mark Riddoch I am now using to drive the turntable on Fisherton Sarum.

The purpose of this #5-xtra post is to demonstrate how the operation now looks via the short video I have put together below, enjoy:

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In my previous Controlling Interest posts I have discussed changes being made to a number of layout control items on Fisherton Sarum. For the last number of weeks the layout has been set up in its entirety at my local Model Railway Society , the High Wycombe and District MRS (whom have a nice new website also worth taking a look at..) initially to enable a photoshoot for a future magazine article to take place along with preparation for its planned appearance at the Basingstoke show.  Unfortunately, due to ill health I was unable to attend this show (but is now booked to attend next years show instead) and the layout has stayed at the Society Rooms enabling it to be running at this Saturday’s HWDMRS open day and also means it can fully prepared before its visit to the Hornby magazine exhibition at Hartlepool in July.

This prolonged period of having the layout set up has enable a number of items of work to be carried including:

Signals
East Signal_2
There are two working LSWR lattice post signals on Fisherton Sarum, built from Model Signal Engineering components, based on two actual signals at Salisbury. These will be the subject of a View from the line post in the future, but I have recently repaired the east end bracket signal that was damaged at the last show and both have had their paintwork touched up.

Remote Signal Operation
Before the last show I attended I added a third controller to the set up so that each fiddle yard operator can now drive trains towards them, whilst the third controller allows shunting the shed area to be carried out. This balances the workload between each yard operator, and to enhance this further I have now added a remote signal switch to each of the fiddle yard indicator panels to allow them to operate the approach signal at their end without having to move across  to the main control panel. This is controlled by a ‘Local/Remote’ switch on the main panel, this provides an interlock to ensure that only the panel or fiddle yard switches can operate the signals at any one time.  After a bit of head scratching and the addition of a couple of diodes in the circuit this is now fully functional.

Turntable
Fisherton Sarum - LR - 4
As per my Controlling Interest#2 Turning Tables post with the grateful help of fellow HWDMRS member Mark Riddoch the Turntable is now controlled by a  Model Railway Electronic Group (MERG) turntable control unit.  After initial installation there appeared to have been an issue with the counter clockwise alignment (to take up any slack when turning counter clockwise the MERG unit is designed to rotate past the selected track and then move clockwise back for final alignment) this has now been identified as being due to a small amount of slip in the connector joining the turntable drive shaft and the output shaft from the gearbox and this has now revised and I am pleased to say the turntable rotation and alignment is now quiet smooth and accurate in both directions.

In addition to the above I have also carried out a general touch up of the scenery in some places and paid attention to some of the track joins to improve running.

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