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27 April 2014

Post-Meeting Progress

By Richard Benn

Am I alone in making more progress in the immediate aftermath of an area group meeting than in the whole of the rest of the month? Following yesterday’s dose of Wealden inspiration I finally got round to tweaking the single Turnout Operating Unit (TOU) on my “scenic test track” and spent a pleasant half hour running trains back and forward through the turnout. Simple pleasures, eh?

This TOU has been an ongoing saga (though other Wealden group members will probably tell you that applies to anything I touch). It was built initially for servo operation but converted to manual operation when the servo board I was using gave huge over swings at start-up. After building a fascia I didn’t really want a piece of brass operating rod protruding through it, and having enjoyed the delights of running trains using Engine Driver on an Android phone, I wanted to control the turnout and magnets using DCC too.

The TOU (below) is based on Geoff Jones’ idea of telescopic styrene section.  The droppers from the switch blades come down the tubes in the middle which have screws that slide in the slots just visible to provide plenty of scope for adjustment. The dropper on the right is soldered to the metal L section as this switch blade has a tendency to lift. The screw on the left is left over from when the TOU was worked manually – the operating rod came through the brass tube just visible on the extreme left.


There is a microswitch on the right hidden under the screws). This is worked from a screw just visible to the front right of the servo which is fixed to the slide bar and which can be adjusted so that the microswitch throws reliably. The microswitch also provides the return spring for the slide bar so that it is only necessary to precisely adjust the servo for one direction of travel. You can see the servo arm peeking out from underneath where an attached screw presses against the microswith screw and moves the slide bar. Much simpler to do than describe!



The Team Digital Servette (above) drives the servo. This was purchased as it has a Relay with a separate DCC address that I planned to use to work the electro-magnets but when doing this I experienced occasional twitches of the servo when the magnets were operated that threw the switch blades to a different position – not what you want when propelling wagons over a turnout! These twitches were intermittent, perhaps 1 in every 10  – 20 throws, so debugging was a convoluted process. To start with I swapped to a spare NCE Switch-It that I had lying around (below) which switches relays that control the magnets.


This on its own didn’t help and after wrongly suspecting the proximity of the devices I eventually discovered that it was due to the leads from the magnets passing close to the servo. After moving the Switch-It to the other end of the board so that the magnet wires completely avoided the servo, the problem disappeared. What I should have done was experiment to discover just how far away the wires needed to be, but by this point I was just pleased to get it working!

The picture below of the under side of the board shows the Switch-It at left, the magnets centre and the TOU and Servette to the right (plus a lot of messy wiring).


Adjusting the swing of the servo was a doddle using JMRI and the adjustable dropper tubes made it easy to get the throw of each blade exactly right. I have set up a small panel in Panel Pro which makes it easy to control the turnout and magnets.

And with that done I can get back to the fun stuff:


The reeds need tidying after being upside down for the above adjustments but I am quite pleased with the colouring. I am in the middle of creating trees for the background using dried stalks based on the Fencehouses article in MRJ though I really need to do the line side fencing first.

But for now back to the N2 underframe…

1 February 2014

January 2014 Wealden Area Meeting

By nigelashton

The first chance to catch up after Christmas saw Dave making up etch bogies, Nigel making some door handles and Richard working on his computer. David showed some delicate etched kits although pictures of these have already appeared on the London Group blog.

The test track was out mainly to run Nigel’s locos, but Gareth’s C class was given a couple of circuits.

Gareth had completed two locos since we last met, while Nigel had been concentrating on rolling stock including Toplight coaches, private owner wagons and some GWR owned wagons. With the Aldershot exhibition in October as goal, more of the 1930′s items will be needed to run that period.

Gareth showed the internals of the green C class which uses a Farish 4F chassis and tender block along with a  Nigel Lawton motor driving the loco wheels through the drive shaft. The black O class uses a modified Dapol Terrier as a tender drive unit and a fabricated loco frame.

Nigel had used the Robo cutter to produce coach internals and showed the card with the cut outs before trimming to size and shaping to fit. The resultant interior is all card and very light weight. Various other wagon kits had been completed and were shunted round the track by the Pannier tank. This now boasts skid pick ups in line with the front steps so they are more difficult to spot. This was prompted by seeing Richard Wilson’s version running extremely slowly at the November meeting at the MRC.

Bob and Peter also turned up to join in the conversations which inlcuded R Parker vehicles and BR standard locos.
Next meeting is the 4th Saturday in February at the usual Uckfield location.

3 August 2013

July 2013 Meeting

By Richard Benn

Here are a few pictures taken at our recent meeting



Nigel turns wheels for a DMU whilst Gareth admires a new purchase from The Hobby Box.

Guy hard at work assembling DG couplings

Guy, Alan & David

David working on his layout in a a box file.

Dave's SR van, modified to reduce it to scale width

Dave's SR wagons. The three link couplings are functional.


I'm pleased with the static grass but I haven't quite got the join between it and the short grass correct. I'm hoping the post and wire fencing will help. I'm currently working on the buildings...

My scenic test track. Still have to add reeds along the banks of the sewer, plus bushes and trees etc.

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