Today I didn’t do all that much, but to me it looks like so so much. I’ve started the village board! I didn’t take any pictures of the process since it is so incredibly simple… It is a piece of rectangular ply that I’ve cut a bit off at an angle. I measured the distance to the wall on the left and right side of the station platform back wall, and marked that on my ply (I calculated the length as well, but the difference with the diagional was negligible at 5mm, as expected), clamped a piece of sacrificial 1×4 to the ply to act as a guide between these two points.. and simply sawed it off with a hand saw. Who needs fancy tools eh?
The buildings I put up there aren’t going to be the buildings I will eventually put up there. But they do show what I had in mind with this station platform when I started working on it (I built the platform before I even had the materials for my benchwork). And I have to admit, it is so inspiring to see that image I had in my head in real life. The board is still just clamped in place and not fixed down, I just wanted to be able to see what I have to work with before I continue.
Next up is going to be the two bridges for the platform tracks to continue past my signal box, and the road underneath that leads down to the harbour. I have quite a ramp to build… But I’m sure it’ll be delightful to work on it.
So continueing from where I left off; to add the two tracks to the fiddleyard to store trains, and to put in the reversing loop. Even though I don’t have a reversing module yet, I wanted to get the track in so it is easy to put in the module and have it operational, without the need to put in more track when the time comes. The reversing loop is intended to be used with my future harbour (of which the board with track is candidly visible sometime, though I’ll write that up once I can actually start work on it in earnest).
Time for a little Review
There isn’t much to say about installing this track, it was similar to the other track I put in. But that does lead onto my experiences putting this track in so far. There are a million tutorials online on how to lay track and flexitrack, but I find that the vast majority of them use Peco track. However, since I already had some Fleischmann track and points, and already being familiar with their track system, I continued using that. A shame there aren’t any tutorials that use Fleischmann flexitrack!
I wonder why…
It is lovely track, it comes with a decent looking trackbed and the flexitrack uses a type of rubber for it which I reckon actually helps reduce noise transmission into the baseboard. The points are high quality and no fuss really, plus their propietary point motors handily slot into them ensuring a perfect placement.
But… it isn’t all good. If a point is faulty, like the one shown in the previous post, it is very difficult to repair. I didn’t manage. There is a small spring inside of the point that is extremely finicky to place, and it has a strong tendency to come out when removing and fitting the underside of the point. The flexitrack, while the rubber ballast makes it look pretty with no additional effort, is a double edged sword. The majority looks good, but where you have to join it to points or other track, you’ll have to cut it back, and you will have to sort that area out yourself. Try getting those areas to look the same as the rest of the pre-formed ballast. On top of this the flexi-track, while flexible, actually doesn’t flex all that easily. I find it difficult to even approach 2nd/9″ radius curves, so difficult I had to resort to using a piece of curved set-track in the above reversing loop. And just to add insult to injury, Fleischmann track is 2 to 3 times as expensive as Peco track.
Putting the upsides next to the downsides of Fleischmann track; it is no wonder most tutorials use Peco track. Their range is more extensive, cheaper and just a guess based on the number of people I’ve found to speak ill of their track products, far easier to use.
Think I won’t be using Fleischmann track on my next layout. And as bad as it may come out in this review, I’ll continue to use it for this layout. The majority of the track is already down after all.
The plan for my layout doesn’t include a fiddleyard, but they’re handy to have to store trains and rolling stock off-scene. Since I don’t intend to run a whole lot simultaneously, I figured I put in a small hidden fiddleyard. Normally you’d have to accessible to swap out rolling stock, but again, I don’t intend to run a whole lot of variety on this layout, so a hidden inaccessible one should be fine for my needs.
So the board is a simple rectangle, so I didn’t take additional photographs on how it is constructed. It sits upon 4 supports attached to the benchwork, which have been fixed in place with the board sitting on-top (without being fixed down to these supports) to make sure that it sits level. Test placing the points on top of this board made it obvious that I didn’t have enough length to store my intended trains (the longest I’ll run is a 2-6-2 tank engine with 4 4-wheel coaches in tow, which comes in at roughly 45cm). So the points on the left have been moved further to the left and unto the loopback board. Incidentally this means that I need 3 points on the left as the last one will connect back to the loop to be able to use it as a reversing loop for my harbour board (more on this board later, you can occassionally see it in some photos though!)
Fixing the points down, and putting the first piece of track of the fiddleyard in, it was time for a test. Not shown in the photos is a small S-bend right before the points on the left. While it is absolutely delightful to see my 2-6-2 Jeep run, the test running made it painfully obvious that one point was faulty. Circled in the red you can clearly see that it doesn’t switch all the way… I’ve tried repairing this point, but sadly enough it didn’t work. The arm that throws the blades of the point simply didn’t have the right angle to throw it far enough, and bending it enough so that it did just moved the problem to the other side…So I did the only proper thing I could do; take up these 3 points, replace the faulty point… and take out the S-bend by using a left-hand point instead of a right-hand point to go into the far-track of the fiddleyard.
So there is still work to be done on the fiddleyard. There is more track to be put down, put terminal blocks in to wire these tracks up to my controller and ofcourse, run more trains!
So a problem I’ve had is that I put my station platform in the middle of my table. While that is a nice focal point, trying to fit any sort of loopback in proved to be very difficult.. maybe impossible? The only realistic solution was to move the station platform over to the right. The benefits of this change were just too many to ignore; I can fit a loopback on the lefthand side, I can remove the loopback from sight with the backscene which coincidentally reduces the amount of resin I need for the water as well as making it easier to put in the illusion that the cliffs don’t protect the pier too much from the ocean.
I didn’t get a shot in of the platform after I moved it, but here is a pretty boring? view of the loopback board. I could’ve made a curved platform a bit wider than the track to better use the open frame benchwork, but that space always comes in handy to store something… and it has other benefits for someone like me whose plans are still evolving, more on that later.The 2mm thick cork trackbed was glued down using copydex; smells dreadful but surprisingly good for the job as it is a rubberised glue. The cork was roughly fitted to fit the curve of the track (9″ radius fleischmann set-track that I already had) with the idea that it will be trimmed around the track later on.
And once more with the track fitted. The track had its fishplates removed and new ones fitted, to which I’ve soldered the dropper wires. There is a pair of dropper wires between two curves, and those two sets are connected together with metal fishplates. The point is powered solely through the fishplates and isn’t directly connected to dropper wires, this is partly due to where it sits on the loopback board and a sense that I’m alright relying on the lesser electrical connection there. The track to the right of the point is flexi-track. As you can see in the photo’s, it sticks out from the baseboard to connect to the station platform. This was planned, and while the connection and wires may look fairly weak, because both boards are firmly mounted to the bench there isn’t any stress in this joint; despite this, moreso to mount a small covered section over the track to model the tunnel, I’ve mounted a support piece in between the two boards.
I use these terminal blocks underneath the boards to wire in the dropper wires from the track. I’m not a 100% sure yet how I want to wire things exactly, and it never hurts to give yourself options down the line. So here I made a couple of wires with crimped on connectors to easily connect the station platform and the loopback board to my DCC controller. Because, after all, it is about running a train, even if it is a small stretch and you have to reverse back!