A significant milestone is passed.

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Completing the ‘Down’ line of the Top Deck layout, my EM gauge scenic test track, saw the running of the first through trains;  not simply shuttling from staging yard to staging yard. The honour of the first train was handed to 47 761 ‘Isle of Iona and the South East TPO set. Whilst the run was uneventful (nothing fell off the rails), it became clear that some fettling of the scenic side track would be needed. more trains had to be run and those track defects in need of fine tuning carefully noted.

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Heading off, down grade in the Dover direction. The curve at the end will be hidden in a tunnel through a chalk cliff.

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Although this ballast train is running ‘wrong line’, I consider testing of track in both directions with a variety of stock formations, not necessarily prototypical, to be important. I am looking for rough rail joins, unevenness that can only be accurately detected during a running test and power supply problems.

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Crossing over from the ‘Down’ to ‘Up’ lines slowly, observing how wheels react to the track formation. I was already unhappy with the turnout to the left and in front of the Class 47 in this picture and it was soon lifted for modifications.

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Checking clearance as the ballast train leaves the on stage part of the layout. There will be a curved back scene at this location separating the scenic side from the staging yard side seen in the back ground. Much tidying up remains to be done before my first running session with friends this week.

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As much running as possible was done with as many locomotives as possible. Weaknesses in some of the fleet soon become apparent and those poor performers were soon identified for fine tuning of their own. This process of testing and refinement can take weeks and was completed before work on laying the ‘Up’ line commenced. Wet and dry paper is used to smooth burrs from tail joins, gauge tightening on curves is sought and corrected and tightness through turnouts eased and checked.  With running tests in both directions on the ‘Down’ line complete, placing the ‘Up’ line followed before letting my friends loose on it. Should be fun!

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