skype address
Z Scale IndexExhibitionsN Scale Index

Diary Entries for 2011
Last updated:

December 13th – Finally got the layout upstairs this morning (sans handles as the bolts were not long enough) so now I can start work on it. Howling gale outside.

December 8th – Nothing to report. The layout is still downstairs in the spare bedroom as a number of visitors wished to see it. I've only just taken the backdrop off. Today I plan to put on new carrying handles as the old ones were incredibly uncomfortable.

November 20th – Well, I've just about recovered from last weekend! On the whole everything worked fine though there were problems. That station entry turnout at the up end of the station still caused some trouble, especially towards the end of the second day; or it could have been the locos, not the turnout.
Some changes, modifications are required. I really do need additional down routes into the station utilising the two crossovers between tracks 1 and 2 (old numbering) or 3 and 4 (new, technically correct numbering). That would give me a second chance on those occasions when I have forgotten to select an unoccupied destination track; cannot do much about up routes though. There are still joints where the rail tops don't align. I had to remove part of my barrow crossing as some items of stock were being derailed by the 'boards'. I need to implement my proposed new layout of the hidden tracks 3 & 4 to get rid of conflicting routes (and, possibly, one of the double slips) - see the track plan below. More difficult would be a change to the routing/power logic to cancel existing routes automatically when selecting a new one. (Especially important when using the ability to travel in both directions on track 3 (new numbering).
Maybe I should explain the old/new numbering. Originally I numbered the track 1 to 7 starting from the outermost track. Recently I was informed that the track next to the station building was always track 1 with further through tracks numbered 2, 3 etc. (Note: unlike British practice, tracks, not platforms, are numbered.) Once the main tracks have been accounted for, remaining tracks take up further numbers as follows: the three up end sidings and loco stabling siding become 21 to 24, the branch platform is 5 and the down end siding and two tracks to the turntable become 11, 12 and 13. So, my old 1 to 7 become, from outside to inside, 4 3 2 1 5 12 13. Please bear in mind that I am still learning. I would be grateful for help in getting it right. The hidden sidings, of course, do not have to follow this scheme.
       Finally, click here to see some ad hoc videos from the Elgin exhibition.

November 8th – With everything pretty well sorted for Elgin, I decided to cut down the end plates as I don't like the boxy effect that they create. Even though they are made of thick cardboard, I was able to use a tenon and fret saws to reshape them. If I don't like the result, I can always revert to the original shape when I make the permanent ends from plywood. An alternative approach would be to have the ends turned round to box in the hidden sidings instead.
I have reduced my usual three cases of stock to two for the expo. I have always taken far too much when all I need are a few spares, not a whole collection. Even now I have more than I really need.

November 7th – The 'defective' control box turned out to be OK (but was swapped anyway) so I printed out the relevant circuit diagrams and, after a false start, found that there was a short circuit in one of the motors of the facing crossover from track 2 to track 1. As this crossover is not (normally) used at exhibitions, I have disconnected the feed to it and all appears to be OK after testing. Any errors in routing can be corrected using the big finger from the sky!

November 6th – Seized turnout and following curve replaced (with difficulty) and tested, and signal damaged in the process repaired. Defective four way control box to be swapped with one that only needs two ways. Trains can now run into tracks 1 and 2 in accordance with route selected. Am pondering whether to connect up the platform lights. Question is how long will it take? Finally, I have sorted out the stupidity on the control panel of have the up end route selector boxes in front of the wrong controllers.
After the Elgin exhibition I will re-number the tracks in the station to conform to German practice, i.e. Track 1 nearest to station building with the outside track being number 4. The branch line track etc. will remain as they are (5 to 7). Another (tentative) plan is to create two new diode matrix boards to handle the routing in and out of the station (currently the logic is in the loom) and adding alternative routes but this is a massive task for very little return. This would allow me to have staff working on some of the tracks without disrupting services.

November 3rd – Since the Dundee expo I have been all over the place, a music course in Birnam (nr. Perth) and then a trip to the Utrecht Eurospoor 2011 (photos to follow). At last, and with just over a week to go, I am finally able to look at the layout.
Near the end of the Dundee expo the facing point on the down main entry to the station stopped functioning. Not the end of the world but the end of automatic routing into the station. Fortunately it had locked into the Track 1 position so no-one noticed. While I was in Utrecht I purchased a couple of spare turnouts (one being a spare spare!). So, today I uplifted the defective turnout and, I think, found the problem; the bottom plate of the points motor had separated from the motor housing and skewed a bit. Tomorrow, with luck, I will tip up the layout and release the wires to the defective point and connect in the new one and fix it in position.
In addition to the turnout I purchased a second Badischer mixed traffic set (Märklin 81420) and an additional Bavarian class S3/6 (cannot have too many of them). I also bought a book Lokomotiven der Deutsche Reichsbahn, except it wasn't. It was the Grossdeutsche Reichsbahn so not a single German loco.
I have to admit that by the end of the trip I felt I never wished to see another train. It took 17 hours (instead of 13) to get from Kyle to Bournville on my way to Eurospoor due, would you believe, to leaves on the line. For goodness sake; for 150 years locos carried sandboxes to sort out that problem but not our modern invincible super-duper diesel multiple unit sets. Everyone I spoke to on the train had onward connections, all of which were ruined. I just hope all those going to London got seats (I did).

October 19th – Finally feel that I have returned to earth after the Dundee expo. Here are three pictures of Bahnhof Breitenfurt – Ost from the event. Further images will follow, along with some from the other layouts.

October 13th – Well, that's it. Everything is ready for the weekend's expo! There were a few final tasks that needed sorting. The footbridge is now fixed in place; an additional power supply (that's seven of them in all!) will be taken, purely to power up the turntable. (I really must sort out the electrics for the tracks feeding the turntable. My missing train set was found. Then a bit of tidying up, fitting the cover/skirt, and that is it.
Images were all taken in a hurry just before and after the layout was closed up and are pretty obvious. Usual lousy quality. I will take some more at the exhibition. Wish me luck!

October 9th – Now I am reminded as to why I like to get the layout onto the table two weeks before an expo. As soon as I started running a loco, I noticed that the signals were setting back to danger as soon as the loco cleared them even though the system was set to manual. This means that the auto power bus has somehow shorted to the general control power bus. I had a quick look yesterday but could not see why. So, instead of testing trains today, I will be troubleshooting. It's not the end of the world but means that I cannot leave trains running while talking to viewers. (While I was at it I took photograph one above.)
[16:45] Found the fault about 11am; it was the pair of wires on the back of the switch touching each other. Covered them with heat shrink and all OK. One of the sections in the entry to Platform 1 is not working on auto so switched it in manual feed as it doesn't matter. So layout is flat again. While I was at it I checked all the new lamps on the platforms (one defective) and took a couple of (not very good) images of a couple of them. Next task is to clean the tracks.
[Later] The dead section at the end of Track 5 somehow has managed to go live in the wrong polarity, resulting in locos oscillating back and forth and lots of arcing. So, another problem to be sorted as I like to run trains up the branch with loco pushing (in case of coupling failure). If I cannot find the problem then it is a case running loco up.

October 7th – With just a week to go to the expo, the layout has finally been moved from my workbench to a table so that I can both work on the scenic section and play with - sorry "test" - my exhibition trains. As this move was a day later than expected (force majeure, not me) I took advantage of the time to do an extra bit of work on it. I extended the small group of children opposite the station and created a raison d'etre for their presence, namely an ice cream seller and his barrow. In addition I completed the barrow crossing between the two main platforms. The platforms themselves will have to be shaped accordingly. No photo because of the problem mentioned in the next update.

October 3rd – That's it. I managed to find my grey paint so painted the plinths, a great improvement over the black plastic that stood out like a sore thumb (see below). The bridge just clears the E144 on the up line but will, of course, normally be used with steam, giving a clearance of 3mm (equivalent to 0.66m); a bit small but it's enough. For the time being the bridge will remain separate from the layout. Once I have sorted out the lighting (which will show up the passengers crossing the lines) it will have to be fitted permanently. (I'm still not happy with the depth of field in the photos but if I stopped down too far, the flash would not work. Some time I will get out the tripod and take a picture without flash.
In addition to getting the bridge ready, I have installed new lighting on the down platform. You can compare the old and new lights in the first image. Finally, I hope to add a few more passengers before the big day.

October 2nd – Well, finished the footbridge (apart from the awning, which will have to wait until I've assembled the electrics). Of course, I was bound to get it wrong somewhere. Yes, I forgot to paint the plinths first. So now they will have to be painted in situ. Spent the rest of the day looking for the paint, which I did find in the end. That's all.

October 1st – The Trafofuchs order sent on 27th September arrived yesterday (30th) which, considering that these had to be specially to order and shipped from Germany, is brilliant. I placed them on the bridge the same morning and by the end of the day I fixed three of the five sets of steps in place. Then I had an idea to illuminate the bridge so I cannot put the awning on until that has been done. It means drilling a small hole through the bridge decking and fixing three or four led's under the awning.
Today, while the rest of the country basked in record temperatures and we got dark grey clouds and rain, I managed to complete the footbridge (well, almost). No time to do the electrics so tacked the awning on so that it would stay put for now. Will add the two remaining handrails later this evening or tomorrow morning. The plinths to raise the bridge by a couple of millimetres are in situ. The one for the branch platform will need drilling to take the wires for lighting. Too tired to do much more so will do a photo or two. (Sorry about the lack of quality - will do better next time.)

September 28th – Well, it could be better but I never was very good with plastic kits, let alone modifying one. So here is the main span. Much to my irritation, I have managed to lose the parts for the third lattice support. However, I can make one by cutting down a double height one. So tomorrow I will construct the third support and start on the steps. As I have decided to make the steps allow access from both sides, I will have to remove some of the passengers, a seat and two lamps then repaint to cover up the damage. Having sent an order for some walking passengers to Trafofuchs, they contacted me the following day to say that they were in the post. Considering that nearly all my orders from them are for bespoke people etc, they have been absolutely amazing and can be recommended. (Please let them know that you heard of them here.) Well, that's all from today.
Ironically, having checked, I find that all the steam locos can pass under the footbridge as is. However, the pantographs on my one electric loco (an E144) just foul it. So I will still have to build plinths!

September 26th – Well, for better or worse, work has started in earnest on the footbridge. I needed two kits for this as it has to span a single track and then three tracks which requires 13 frames whereas the standard kit only supplies ten. Also, I want steps on two of the platforms to go down in both directions, making a total of five flights. As supplied, he kit is high - using two flights to gain enough height to clear overhead catenaries. However, one flight isn't quite high enough to clear my trains so the bridge will sit on stepped plinths as it only needs raising a couple of millimetres. I hope I finish it by the weekend as I need to try out locos etc. next week ready to pack the following week.

September 25th – Three weeks to the Dundee expo so I thought I would build the footbridge to span the three platforms. How on earth do people make these things? After three goes I managed to get two pieces sort of together. It took about half an hour. The third piece was a bit quicker as I only used one type of glue but now it's stuck to the work surface (an old mirror). Everything is butt jointed and my hands cannot stay still for the time it takes for the solvent to evaporate or whatever it's supposed to do. Still I'll just have to persevere two pieces per hour. Does that sound right to the real modellers? The other task is replacing all the station lights (and adding a few more). At least, I thought, that should be simple, but I've discovered that I put silicone compound down each hole.    Grrrr! OK, end of gripe mode. :o)

September 17th – Well, I learned a new lesson; do not keep changing the turnout identifiers without updating ALL the documentation! Having discarded three manually operated turnouts, I had closed up the gaps in the lettering (e.g. having removed T6A, I had renumbered T6B as T6A on one drawing but not the other!). Anyway, all the turnouts around that area are functioning correctly. Next to be sorted are several broken soldered joints. All the wiring to the panel is too tight – another couple of cm would have sorted that – straining the soldered connections on the switches every time I fold the panel back over the layout.
Images – The old layout; the new layout; rearranged route selectors and those expansion joints (mentioned earlier). I guess that once the expos are over, I will have to relay the track.

September 14th – Gradually sorting out the electrics to those turnouts at the left hand end of the hidden sidings. The worst part of the task has turned out to be a desk job. Although most, but not all, of the under-board terminal blocks are identified, as well as the holes through which wires pass to the top side, a lot of the labels go back to the early days before I came up with a rational identification for connections. Of course, some references have changed since then. So many of the terminals have been difficult to identify, the problem being exacerbated by Märklin's use of two identical wires to the two point solenoids. So one has a 50/50 chance of getting it right (which, in practice that only about 20% are correctly first time). So, I had to set to and create a drawing of the under-board and enter all the references.
To make matters worse, I'm having to revisit the design of the matrix boards only to find a couple of mistakes in the identification of the inputs and outputs. The board itself appears to be correctly manufactured (thank goodness) so I will have to go through it and recheck the i/o port labelling. So far I have found 2 non-critical errors. Surprisingly I am actually enjoying going through all of this! Anyway, tomorrow I really have to get it sorted so that I can get on with the front of stage work. No pics again, sorry.

September 1st – Sorry about the complete lack of updates. However, not a lot has happened since March apart from the acquisition of a few extra items such as station lighting, footbridge and signal box kits and people. Not quite sure what I have been doing in the interim. However, with the prospect of exhibitions looming, I have been forced to start taking notice of the layout. One problem I have is that, being an exhibition layout, everything is controlled from the back. This means that one cannot really "play" trains as the hidden sidings are pretty boring when it comes to train movements. I need to see what I can do about this problem.
So, I have started by replacing those turnouts that got burnt out just before the March exhibition. The turnouts are in situ and I am on the process of wiring them up. Much to my annoyance, one of the has decided to malfunction. To make it worse it is a facing point so it is essential that it works. Cannot see anything wrong so it looks as if the motor has burnt out. :o(

[Later] – Photograph of the damage caused by a weight lying on several of the yard routing control push-buttons.

March 19th – Two more pictures. From the operator's side of the layout this time; looking a bit sparse though.. (Note the shepherd and his small flock of sheep in the second image.)

March 15th – About a month ago I ordered 50 passengers suitable for Epoch 1 (pre WW1), including a few children, from Trafofuchs and they arrived this morning. (The delay is because they had to be hand painted to order.) All are now in place so I thought I would put up a couple of images showing them. Having finished this task I am now ready to turn the layout round and get on with the testing of both track-work and trains ready for the Moray Group's exhibition in Elgin. Incidentally, instead of using normal Superglue, this time I used Superglue Gel. Previously it would have taken much longer to

March 6th – Yesterday I received my order for some benches for the station and the green area at the bottom of the hill. I only have a few people to use them at the moment but more will be on their way soon. The large benches are 14mm long and the small bench, just 8mm. Amazing!

February 25th – Some more pictures. I apologise for the quality but I am still struggling with macro photography. The camera (Nikon 5700) was stopped down to f8 and flash was bounced off the ceiling. One day I will get it right. The nanny with her friend and charges are waiting for the next train to arrive so that, as was still the case when I was a child, they could talk to the driver and fireman.

February 14th – I've slowly been adding people to the layout (no photos yet). It's not easy with the adults being about 7mm high and the children, 5mm. I seem to get more glue on my fingers that where it should be. Today I received a couple more Trafofuchs carriages as well as a flower seller and his customer. The photos say it all. The third picture also includes a (British outline, shhhh!) steam powered lorry.

February 2nd – Just to show that I am still around!
Apart from trying to get an updated arial view of the layout I have done nothing to it so far this year. So now that it is back in my room I decided to take some photos of the carriages and wagons on the layout. I don't know the manufacturer of some of these (the three identical ones carrying logs) but the bulk are made to order by Trafofuchs in Germany. The detail is amazing and can be seen and compared in the first picture.

January 6th – Incorrect link to image of current track plan corrected. Apologies for any inconvenience.

January 1st – New Year! Click here for recent (late 2010) images of the layout.

Thank you for looking.

Some pictures from events at which Breitenfurt was exhibited.
[NEW] Further information for exhibition managers. [NEW]
free Counters