2019 AGM Group Photo

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A slight delay…

So not much has happened recently, but we did have a meeting on Monday.

The important news is that the committee has decided that no money will be provides for projects until after the exhibition. There is a worry that if the exhibition has to be cancelled again, the club will not be able to afford the money.

The plan had been to get the wood cut during January and February, so we would be ready to go as soon as the small room is available at the start of March. That is now not an option.

The new plan is to build the upper fiddle yards first. Each will go on a single baseboard, and will give us a chance to try out servos and, perhaps more importantly, controllers for them. These boards will be wired for DC, and all the point work for one circuit will be contained on the board.

While that is being done, hopefully the wood for the rest can be cut.

The next meeting will be the third Monday in March, and hopefully at that point we can make a start!

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More ruminations on baseboards

Another meeting last night, and “Kitchen Mike” was again there to help the discussion with regards to baseboards. He brought along some prototypes too.

Baseboard construction

Mike had two “L” pieces about 8″ long, with an upright, showing how strong they are and well aligned.

The verticals are 12mm ply, nailed to 9 mm ply horizontal pieces. The upright, which will support the upper level track, was 18 mm, but would be 12 mm on the layout, and was both screwed and nailed. A spacer, again 12 mm, was then glued to the upright to bring it flush with the vertical. This does require a hole cut out of the horizontal for the upright to go through (vital for strength in the upright).

The baseboard would go on top of that, so resting on top of the horizontal in some places. It may be necessary to cut further holes in the horizontal for point motors (though the ones at the far right could be on top of the boards as they are in tunnels, accessed from the side).

Cross pieces would need the top corners removed to allow for the horizontals.

I will try to remember to get a photo on Wednesday and add it here.


Another suggestion by Mike is to build a “spline roadbed”. We had been thinking of cutting the track beds out of ply, but that is very wasteful in wood, as most of the sheet is just discarded. An alternative, popular in the US but pretty much unheard of in the UK, is to use vertical boards! Each board is only about an inch high, and numerous are glued together to give the required width. The lamination means they keep their space. Spacers are also put in place to keep weight down.

This should mean that the number of supports required is much reduced, because it will be very solid.

This is the website Mike found:

Do we use splines where the track is relatively straight? Certainly not for the viaduct.

Do we use splines on the lower level at the left? This would require cutting into the cross pieces, but I think would be the best way.

If you have a solid spline, 2″ across, 1″ deep, and a 90° arc of radius 12″, you are using about 37 cubic inches of wood. On the other hand, if you have a sheet of 6 mm ply and cut the trackbed from it you use about 40 cubic inches of wood. So in terms of wood usage, there is not much difference. Introducing spaces into the splines will help that.



Previously someone had pointed out that not all exhibitions have double doors, and it may not be possible to get a 4′ by 4′ trolley inside a hall, and this engendered a discussion on a possible 2.5′ by 4′ trolley, with boards stored vertically. It was generally felt that we would stick to the 4′ by 4′ trolley idea, keeping the boards horizontal as much as possibly during transit. We would select exhibitions with good access (which is the vast majority).

Mike brought along some bed fittings attached to two short lengths or wood. One slotted into the other to provide a very secure fit. He suggested the trolley could be constructed so the four sides come apart in this way, splitting down the L of each leg. During later discussion we realised this was not really what we wanted, and again the original plan was the best.

We agreed we need the biggest wheels we can practically find, 5″ if available.

It was noted that if we do mess up the trolley, it would not be that bad if it had to be re-built.



Mike said that January is often (but not always) a quiet time for him, so would like to have the details by then.

The next meeting will be on the 11th, as the last available Monday of the year.

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Re-thinking the Trolleys?

Last night we had another discussion about the planned layout.

We invited “Kitchen Mike”, who is not an N gauge modeller, but used to own a company that builds kitchens, so is an expert on wood-working and able to offer a “reality check”, as well as getting us wood at a lower price and getting it cut for us too, hopefully. Thanks, Mike!

We will not be able to get the end pieces produced in a set of single pieces as we had planned, though it would be possible to fabricate them. The important thing, in my view, is that we have locating dowels and bolts at two heights, and this is still feasible with the fabricated end pieces.

One point he made is that we are better using thin ply, but in a “L” shape. So most of the boards can be made from 6 mm ply, with only the ends that will be joined together made of 12 mm (rather than 18 mm we had been considering).

He suggested using feet that are found under fitted cupboards to allow the boards to be adjusted (and levelled with a spirit level). Boards joined with self-locking bolts, though it was pointed out that three of these had already failed on Euxton Junc.

Mike suggested that the best way to proceed was for him to get some sheets of 6 mm ply for us. We print out the trackplan full size from AnyRail, and stick it to the boards, then mark the edges of the boards supporting the track with a “pounce wheel”. We can then cut the wood with a jigsaw. He will then take what is left to precious cut the other parts. This will reduce wastage as far as possible.

Someone pointed out that 4′ wide trolleys may not go through some doors at exhibitions, which generated some discussion… An alternative would be to have boards paired up, facing each other, then placed vertically on a trolley, which would only be 2.5 foot wide. How that would convert into legs, and indeed whether the trolley would even be part of the supports, was not clear.

Or only go to exhibitions with big enough doors..?


ETA: Just had a chat with “kitchen Mike”, and he is now thinking 9 mm instead of 6 mm.

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New N Gauge Layout

Last night the committee gave the go ahead for a new N gauge layout to be built, and I am starting this blog to keep members of the club informed and to document the process.

We have already had several meetings. The first set our course:

  • we decided we wanted four circuits so up to four members can run trains on club nights
  • the layout is to go to exhibitions (and will be funded by the club exhibition account)
  • it will be for both DC and DCC
  • it will be set in Lancashire, in BR Blue era

Subsequently we decied to split the running tracks across two levels, and our current track plan look like this:

The detailed proposal put before the committee can be downloaded here.

We will be meeting again on Monday (12/Nov/18) at around 8 pm; any member interested is free to come along.


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