Plum Hollow, introduction (N Gauge model railway)

The three boxes and top.

My new layout – Plum Hollow, Illinois.

Plum Hollow, set in Illinois and to be built in N gauge, is the replacement layout for my former Reindeer Landing layout and supplements my Pebbles End layout. There is a running overview of Plum Hollow on the main website but unlike previous layouts the updates will be made via blog posts (as here) with links onto that main page.

Update – 1: Base construction commenced.

Using fruit boxes.

The first query I suppose is do I still call them baseboards?  The construction uses standard fruit boxes obtained from local supermarkets and topped off with a single large cardboard sheet. The latter came from our local cycle retailer, the chain store Halfords, and again free after asking as traders have to pay have their trade waste removed.

The three boxes and top.
The three boxes and top. The dark box is the peach box, the other two were plum boxes and recycled from RL.

 

under bracing
The completed angled under bracing for strength.

The boards are not complete, I intend to add a polystyrene slab above the base using 60mm sheets from a local DIY store so as to add some extra depth. The depth is so that I can add a river crossing, most American scenic railways appear to have such a crossing, and also so that under track level electric points can be added. I had thought of using a push rod, wire in tube method, but that would restrict positions where the layout can be operated from. At this stage it is likely that I will use a control panel separated from the layout via an umbilical connection allowing flexibility in operating position.

The completed three box structure is 1180 x 590 mm in the surface length and breadth  or 46 1/2″ x 23 1/4″  in imperial measurement.

Modelling decisions – still TBC

The main issue outstanding currently is deciding on which coupling type to use. Some of the stock has damaged couplings so a decision is not academic. In N Gauge the Rapido type is standard but it is not easy to decouple for switching. Also some of my older stock I have discovered pre-dates the NEM coupling pocket system so swapping couplers requires a new fitting to be added. There are several automatic systems available, but they are do not appear to be universally compatible.

For the short-term my plan is to get the track loosely pinned down and powered up so that operational practicality can be assessed using the stock that has the working Rapido couplings. Once that is finalised, and the scenic treatment also determined and mocked up, the couplings issue will be determined and if magnets are required get them installed.

I also need to refine my scenic sketches so that I can add a screened off area to facilitate stock exchanges off set and exactly where I need to cut the polystyrene layer for the river valley.

Notes:

  1. Apologies for the heavy edit after the working page draft was accidentally published earlier as a post! (July 2017)
  2. Reading this through I noted the dimensions were not given. Now added in above and on the Plum Hollow main page. (Nov 2018) 

Last week I caught a train

Trains, the ticketing nightmare
Trains
Southbound Cl 185 Trans Pennine Express at Shipton by Beningbrough (Yorks). The acceptable side of train travel.
Southbound Cl 185 Trans Pennine Express at Shipton by Beningbrough (Yorks). The acceptable side of train travel.

Trains are an interest, last week I even rode on one just like that pictured above. For people who know me well, or sometimes visit this blog, that probably seems an obvious statement. I am PRO for a railway society (The SLS) and manage the website for two other rail related groups so train travel should be a norm. Unfortunately it isn’t, partly down to geography/available routes, and partly down to the nature of the rail industry today. This blog post is reflections on trying to actually plan/use the train to make three main-line trips from the major UK rail hub of York; for only one was the train actually usable!

Ticketing
Tickets and cards.
Tickets and cards.

It used to be easy, you turned up, you bought your ticket and got on the next train. These days each Train Operating Company (TOC) has its’ own range of discounts and options; woe betide the person who gets on a wrong train or thinks they can just buy one from the guard/ticket collector. On Friday I was 50:50 lucky, there was a very substantial discount to travel restricted to Trans Pennine Express but it meant leaving at a set time to get the last train back. Why was that only 50% lucky, the event over-ran so I missed the last few minutes.

Empty reservations

Even though I take advantage of it because it is there what is annoying to me as a passenger is the discount for advance payments. This is for two reasons, (1) the number of no-shows means reserved seats get left empty and (2) it is simply illogical from a passenger perspective. It may make wonderful commercial sense to travel providers, be they train or airline operators, but for the passenger it means the turn-up and go fare payer (where there is all the risk of no seats etc.,) pays the premium rate. The premium should be for the early booking guarantee of a seat. Why this observation; in my coach on Friday of the 10 reservation slips visible only 4 were actually occupied for the leg specified!

Parking and evening buses

Another issue that creates an issue for train choice is parking and lack of late evening buses. On top of the train fare you have the parking tax as the lack of evening buses means a car or taxi is needed to get you home, and if the journey is rural, that can be surprisingly early. A Park & Ride scheme is great, but useless for the inward journey if the car-park is locked after 8pm so you can’t get your car out even if you get a taxi back to the P&R site after the last bus.

Why do I write this? In a fortnight I want to go to an evening meeting. It is in a neighbouring town to York and the expected 9:40 to 10pm finish is hardly late! However, I will be staying over that weekend at a relative’s house and there is no public transport option back out of York to their village after 7pm, outcome will be a 90 mile round trip drive.

My experiences using Scotrail whilst on holiday earlier in the month were slightly better but these general principles still have validity for services north of the border too.

Seating and people types
A southbound Voyager near York
A southbound Voyager near York. The route I won’t be taking!

The final straw, to this cumulative disaster, is the Cross-Country Voyager train. My Saturday afternoon meeting in Derby shortly coming up has to be another 100 mile plus round trip car journey as everything conspires to make the train a non-starter. The first blow, no evening village bus home and the park and ride alternative would be touch and go for getting back on the last one, so dare not risk.  Car park fee at station -don’t ask! However even if I pay that fee the train has such jammed in seating that as a tall man I can only sit in First Class with a guarantee of getting enough leg room.

So another weekend another motorway journey, not from a lack of motivation to use public transport but because it isn’t available as a practical alternative.

Going back to that Friday trip last week, people watching sure is fun. What a mix. Outward it was fine despite the train being pretty full but another downer for evening travel are the parties of tipsy and drunk fellow travelers. Not fighting on this occasion but raucous and with hardly the most desirable language choice at times.

General status update

The Kelpie statues, at Falkirk.

General status update

The Kelpie statues, at Falkirk.
The Kelpie statues, at Falkirk.

A general status update as it has been a while since I posted anything here so time to get back onto the blogging trail. It has been busy summer including helping both my daughters make family house moves, two brief holiday breaks, one in the Lake District and a second in Scotland together with presenting and writing a conference paper. In Scotland we saw the amazing, award winning, Kelpie statues at Falkirk.

Early Railways Conference 6
A wooden waggon at the Causey Arch. Typical of the early railway period.
A wooden waggon at the Causey Arch. Typical of the early railway period.

The conference was an excellent event held in Newcastle, with the cradle of early railways being Tyneside and adjacent areas a most appropriate venue. My own paper was on Why Replace the Horse? The subsequent write up stretching over the summer; now awaiting the peer review, and hopefully, acceptance for the ultimately published proceedings book.

Current status

Working full-time at home this week on web updates and management committee reports in my role as PRO for the Stephenson Locomotive Society (SLS) but definitely missing the anticipation of a further year at Uni. After several short courses on IT and Graphics at Kingston Maurward College, and then three years at Bournemouth University, it seems very strange not to be getting new books etc., and anticipating the new modules. I have plenty of on-going research in hand, to say nothing of the website rebuilding and writing to be done, plus attacking the Autumn tasks of the garden, so I won’t be short of tasks, that is for sure.

Corrupted software issues

As for today a fight with the blog software; this would have been posted yesterday if the part of the package needed for adding new posts hadn’t been corrupted.  I still have to fix the Instagram links and plug ins as isolating that has fixed the editing and updating processes.  Why can’t IT stuff just work?!

 

 

 

 

WCRC – update

34067 Tangmere at Weymouth 9 September 2015

WCRC – update

During the site update earlier tonight I noticed that the fact the operating suspension of WCRC has been lifted was not reported. Out of fairness to WCRC that omission is now rectified with this short post.  The earlier post is here.  The Crown Court and other proceedings remain live and no-comment is made regarding those other than it is believed from posts on Internet Fora they may be scheduled to commence tomorrow (27th June) at Swindon Crown Court.

The interim RAIB report is here.