Crisis? Have I admitted to one of those? Nope.
Thankfully, the MRL 4th Sub project has received another delivery of Atlas code 55 track in the last couple of days which will see the completion of phase 1 of the layout. This latest order was made through Neil Bailey’s ‘American Trains web site (www.americantrains.co.uk), one of the few suppliers of Atlas N scale code 55 track in the UK. The track itself seems to be in short supply here in the UK. It appears that there are a couple of other big layout projects around which are absorbing whatever stocks may be available.
The time has not been wasted: some joinery was completed to allow the track for Ph.1 to be finished off and a small local control panel constructed to operate the turnouts at West Missoula. However, test running of existing track was not as comprehensive as I would like because the trains could not go very far – certainly not the long ones!
The design of the panel is simple: a couple of bits of left over timber, plywood and a front made of 100thou styrene card. DPDT switches and 5mm LEDs were taken from our own Nairnshire Modelling Supplies stocks (www.nairnshire-modelling-supplies.co.uk). The panel remains to be lettered with the junction name, milepost number and adorned with a logo too.
Another task completed recently was to examine all of the rolling stock hitherto not run, check the wheels against an NMRA track and wheel gauge before placing them in service for testing. Some minor adjustments to track and wheels was necessary, as expected. I cannot over emphasise the importance of gauges for checking track gauge, flange way clearance and wheel back to back measurements, even when you might expect wheels to be to the standards of your chosen scale and gauge. Alsways have wheel and track gauges to hand in your tool kit, they are invaluable for helping to solve niggling derailment problems and rough riding of trains through complex track work.
The odd item of UK outline stock that will make guest appearances on the layout to give it a run was also regauged to NMRA back to back measurements so it would pass comfortably through Atlas code 55 track turnouts and clear the flangeways. UK outline N gauge back to back measurements are otherwise, a tad too tight for the turnouts even though it runs beautifully on plain track. This is an important consideration given that many modellers who have kindly taken the time to read my blog has clearly seen a benefit in Atlas track but may not be aware of the differences in flangeway tolerance between it and the usual choice of Peco Streamline. A slight tweak to the wheels and running is as smooth as silk.