Another important milestone passed…

…or would that be ‘milepost’?

Layout building projects consist of stages, small objectives and achievements like the first train, the first run through from end to end, the first operating session and so on. The final objective is the Golden Spike ceremony. I will have to see if I can get some Moose Drool beer from the Big Sky Brewery in Missoula shipped in for that event!

After track laying and wiring on the off-stage part of upper deck, the first service trains ran up the helix which had only been tested with an old analogue controller. With some track room now available at the top, two Atlas SD60Ms take a coal drag up for the first time.  If any train was to find faults and problems, it’s this coal drag. In the event, it ran pretty well.

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The gradient is 2.2% over seven turns with another stretch of 2.5 % off the top which includes a holding loop. On reflection, and although challenging and fun for the operators, the top section immediately off the helix is not ideal for an off-stage stretch of line.

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After dealing with a couple of coal cars that wanted to break away in the helix as the full mass of the train applied force to the couplings, running up and down the helix quickly became routine, despite that challenging section of line at the top.

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The only problem is…the road bed for the scenic part of the upper deck is incomplete. Or would that be ‘missing’?

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However, I had some big six-axle power waiting in the loop at the top ready to slip onto the back of the train so testing could continue.

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Couple up and back we go…

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To the helix…

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And down she goes…dynamic brakes whining away.

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Dudley Heath Yard…does it exist?
Well, yes. Despite rumours to the contrary, the oft referred to shunting plank I have built to 4mm,  EM gauge does exist and was playing as dumping ground whilst I work in the N scale project. Since the picture below was taken, I have cleared the mess away and began stripping Tortoise point motors, ‘Hares’ and ‘Wabbits’ from it for use on the N scale layout. At a total of around £30 per turnout on a shunting plank which may only see use every three months or so, the cost is unacceptable and a more economical point control system is being investigated. The expensive equipment is better utilised in the big project which will see use at least once a week.

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That’s it for today – Sarah and I have to complete preparations for the big Model Rail show at the SECC this week end. We (Nairnshire Modelling Supplies) are having a 10% off promotion on all Shawplan Models products displayed on the stand this weekend.

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