A page in my hobbies for Model Trains
Model trains

I have been playing with model trains since childhood. Obviously as an adult life got in the way although slowly over the years I have been collecting trains and accessories to create not one but two dioramas. One Greek themed and one of Southwest UK trains themed (not yet sure if it going to be a Great Western era or British Railways - blue era ).

Especially with the Greek themed the variety is very limited and very expensive while with the UK themed too extensive!

Anyway in January 2018 I have at last started putting together a baseboard to stage a layout which of course is my first hence this is going actually to be my introductory in scenic creation and scratch building. 

This is my sliding dowels system to keep the two frames straight. The frames are kept tight with two bolts and wing nuts.

The layout comes in three parts locking together to form a bigger one. There are two 120 x 60 cm each that create the main area and a traverse one 240 x 30 cm to help keep the other two straight together. The idea behind this set up is to be easily movable (as we rent house so surely we'll need to move sooner or later) but also to motivate me to try keep working on so hopefully one day I might be able to join a club and possibly participate in their fair.

This will be Greek themed and among others it will contain:

  • A main line and a branch line
  • A small station
  • A Church up on a hill
  • A traditional Greek type house

Also:

  • There is going to be a mountainous area with typical Greek type tunnels
  • There is going to be a typical Greek type canal for watering the fields
  • There are going to be different types of fields (a vineyard, olive trees, a vegetables ones...) 
  • There is going to be a main road and a couple of typical dirt roads
  • There is going to be a bus stop
  • There is going to be a gypsy with a pickup truck  selling vegetables... 
  • There is going to be a 2WW bunker or pill box.
  • There is going to be a kiosk (περίπτερο) 
  • There is going to be a pump station with a Soulis advertisement. 

Decisions have yet to be made on the name of the layout, the exact season -although the era will be mid - late eighties, the name of the station and the train stock to be used. Already there is a shunting loco and a few closed wagons with Greek OSE logos of the era, a variety of cars of the era (that need weathering as the train stock) and other bits and pieces that have to find their locations. Lines will be mainly peco 100 as at this point I'm not interested in 100% scaling rather than the learning and playing out of the lot.    

And with that,...until next time!

Update 22 Jan 18

Today I spend some time working on the baseboard. I added the boards for the back scenes and the side scenes. On the side I have put 6mm plywood while on the back 6mm mdf. This was a choice so as to be able to observe over the years any warping and any differences on the way these different materials react with anything I'll be putting on them. 

After all my woodworking skills were put into test, I reached what I think a satisfactory result with some tolerable minor imperfections which hopefully won't create problems later on. Then I applied the first coat of paint that will seal the wood from moisture and hopefully help keep shape in future. 

By the time I finished the first coat though is was late and so I have had to call it a day. Hopefully one of the next evenings I'll be able to apply the second coat before I turn the baseboard upside - down to paint that side too! 

Yup, that's the underside, all three panels of it. And with that,...until next time!

Update 2 Feb 18

So the other day I had some time to work on a second coat of paint to the three panels. I started by taking them apart and turning them upside down and applying the paint with a roller and a disposable brush and in due time a second coat both sides. 

Extra care was provided to the sides where the three panels join together with bolts and two sliding dowels that help also in keeping straight. 

In the right picture you can see that both larger panels have an extra beam so that the two sliding dowels go through 4 points each in an effort to keep them straight. Further to that there are bolts with large penny washers and of course the one piece long traverse 3rd panel. 

Later the same day I moved from the garage to the house and connected the three panels and started putting on some rails so as to finalize the track diagram. I still need a few more points and other bits and pieces but I think that I'm actually getting closer to the stage of a final plan!  

And with that,...until next time!

Update 6 Feb 18

So last weekend I continued toying around with various ideas on the final track scheme although I'm still tempted of putting more. Human vanity I suppose but I need to reach a decision on what is more important: the scenery and discipline to the layout idea or play with trains. Anyway for the time being I just put things there, playing with trains and generally try to reach decisions...    

At the same time I had the opportunity to start servicing my locos and wagons and apparently over the years some damages have occurred  and a motor (or two) need to be replaced.  

And with that,...until next time!

Update 14 March 18

Time flies as usual and while I have messing with the layout initial design phase I'm not yet fully convinced that I have the final decision made up.

Further to that, I have had a motor replaced to my Roco shunting locomotive, so now I have at last a Greek railways (ΟΣΕ) running around to give me help on deciding that that's it, go ahead and nail everything down and begin with the scenery...     

ΟΣΕ Krupp shunting loco
Roco ΟΣΕ Krupp shunting loco
ΟΣΕ Krupp in front of Greek Station
Roco ΟΣΕ Krupp shunting loco

And with that,...until next time!

Update 30 March 2018

Well now the layout base has been moved to the garage as the spare room at home will be used for hospitality. That move though has been a nice opportunity for a good clear up and reorganizing of the garage's contents that led to two trips at the skip and the recycling center. Nevertheless here we are and some progress has been made.   

Cork cut in size from sheet
Cork glued with PVA glue to the base
Almost all cork applied on scenic side of layout.
Lines of the rail track drought on the base
Covering with cork the space of the rails.
And that is the final track plan for the layout

A lot of reading and research on scenic aspects of the layout continues along with research on details of the originals that will be represented on scale. A few new buys and a lot of dreaming of course!   

And with that,...until next time!

Update 22 April 2018

I have been spending a few hours lately on the layout and as of today all the track has been nailed on the scenic side with a cork underlay and the power feeding soldered to every individual track piece.

Marking with a felt pen the track position.
Marking with a felt pen the track position.

Marking was necessary as I mix and match track from different manufacturers - different radius that I have collected over the years in order to achieve a realistic presentation to the available space. 

Cutting cork sheet to the appropriate radius
Gluing cork sheet with PVA

The cork sheet I'm using is 2 mm and it is going to help for various things as noise reduction, strong glue adhesion and at last but not least, to elevate as with the true the track ballast.   

Power feed to the track

Then the day ended with drilling the base and soldering to each individual track piece wires for the power feed. These are barely visible from the top side and hopefully they'll disappear as soon as I ballast the track. I haven't had the time to start the below the board connections which I hope to make tidy and neat. As I'll be using DCC I wont keep isolated tracks and all the pieces of track will be connected together. A nice trick that I learnt and used from the net is keeping the two wires to the track close but apart to be able to have clear cable routes underneath the board. I have kept a steady 5 sleepers distance between the reds and blacks and especially where there are parallel tracks that make already sense! A better picture to follow.  

And with that,...until next time!

Update 15 May 2018

Last weekend I visited the Yeovil Railway Centre where they had a model exhibition and I was glad to meet a lot of people and talk about model trains and layout creating. A lot new ideas and knowledge after my return home which immediately resulted in a few more tests on the tracks. I had a few concerns over the angle of the flexible track I had installed on the left side of the layout to drive the trains to the off scenery part. A few derailments I thought might be just bad luck but armed now with more knowledge I realized that it was a problem and not just bad luck. I did several trial runs with all of my different locos and realized that both the flexible rail and the point had to be replaced which I did. Now all my locos run without problems after hours of trials in various speeds and combinations of sizes, formations etc.

Furthermore I installed the off scenery siding and almost completed all the soldering of the feeding power wires.   

This was the offending turn and point that were replaced
All my inventory of locos were tried and no more derailments are observed

And with that,...until next time!

Update 21 May 2018

All soldering of power feeds to the rails have been completed and now I'm under the process of installing the main power line that will feed all rails.

All power feeds to the rails soldered. - Left side.
All power feeds to the rails soldered. - Left side.

As this layout has been designed to be modular in three pieces, quick connectors will be used to the power line so it can be dismantled in pieces if needed. As this will be a digitally controlled layout (DCC) one power line for all rails is used and there are no isolated parts of rails. Wherever I can I solder wires for eliminating contact problems although the feeding lines will be connected to the mail power line with Quick Splice Scotchlok Electrical Cable Joints.

Quick connectors between panels

And with that,...until next time!

Update 27 May 2018

I spend a few hours in the garage again today  messing with trains and 3d printing. Today's successful project was to print a bus stop  little station while I did continue the wiring of the main power line to the feeding wires

The traverse has been completed.
Quick connectors have been used troughtout

Now the front side needs to be completed which hopefully will be a little easier that the back side (due to space restrictions). Then a little tidying up of the wiring needs also to be done so as not to face the danger of short circuits etc. Already running a few different locos (still on DC and not DCC) provided smoother running and slower - more realistic - speeds.

The end product. Happy to have on my layout.

And with this little HO scale bus stop printed with the 3d printer a major personal milestone has been achieved. It is difficult really to explain it, but has to do with the ability to create things not readily available on the market and the way these can be achieved... More about my adventures with 3d printing on my CNC page on this site.

And with that,...until next time!