What with making my odd little locos and odder little wagons and oddest figures, my Wood Bros layout has taken a bit of a back seat for a while. I had a quick running session with Grandson at Christmas, but it's been back under the cover since then.
Until, that is, I had my bi-annual tidy up of my workdesk, and found the list of jobs remaining to be done to Wood Bros I made last year. Feeling a bit guilty, I decided to get some of them underway, and I can now report that the list has been completed, and Grandson and I had a long running session this week.
First up on my 'to-do' list was to make that semi-circle of track to plug in off-scene to make a roundy-roundy which I'd promised myself long ago. A rummage in the back of the garage produced some odd pieces of MDF, and half an hour, some PVA and screws later, I had the base. The yard of track I'd been blocking access to a bookshelf with for the last year was run through my rail-bender and the result glued onto the base. Some brass wire 'horns' were soldered to the rail ends - and one plug-in was plugged in.
I had a little run-through of the stock with Grandson and some problems were revealed. After some individual derailments my trusty vernier micrometer showed that some of the wheel-sets were out of gauge, by up to 1mm in one case, so some adjustments were done to produce decent running. The other problem was the 6mm wide buffing blocks fitted to most of the wagons - when rakes of stock were propelled round the bend the blocks slid past each other sideways and caused more derailments. My solution was to glue 8mm wide pieces of thin plasticard on the faces of the blocks, paint with rust and coat with graphite stick - the extra width cures the problem and all stock can now be pushed safely.
I finally got round to putting the load of gravel (meant for fish tanks) in the Unimog, with a hole at the back for the loads sliding down the chute on the tipper to get through, but I hadn't yet made the hole in the baseboard to allow them to drop below. Out with the trusty brace and bit (my Grandfather's) and a hole duly appeared.
It has always been my intention to have a 'picture frame' around the front of the layout, and to raise the baseboard above table height for viewing. It also needs to be raised to get those tipped loads from under the above-mentioned hole. I bought four 59cmX84cm sheets of black foam-core board and indulged in an orgy of cutting and slicing. First job was to cut a hole in one sheet to fit around the front of the layout, and stick on a 'Wood Bros Ltd' sign. The sheet is fixed to the front with velcro strip. Then 2 more sheets were cut in half lengthways and slots cut so that they can be put together in egg-box style - the layout sits on top of this structure, and is nicely stable. The third sheet was cut in half both lengthways and across, and the resultant 4 pieces slotted to fit together to make a smaller egg-box structure of the same height as the main - the off-scene plug-ins stand on this.
Finally, earlier this week Grandson helped me erect all the bits and pieces on the dining table, and we had our running session. All the locos were run with no major problems - the BEC-kits motor bogie doesn't run nearly as well as the Underground Ernie and Spud units - even the Bachmann Gandy-Dancer unit runs better. The BEC unit sounds like a coffee grinder trying to cope with a load of gravel, there appears to be one wheel off-centre and the gears are a bit 'coggy'. I shall have to look at getting a replacement mech.
The wagons ran well - no derailments. The fixed tipping bar on the tipping dock had got bent out of shape somewhere along the line, and it took a while to adjust it to tip consistently again and in the right place. It still needs some fine tuning - I can't get Welsh Ernie past it at the moment, although it used to cope in the past.
Still, we had a lot of fun, and I can cross off ALL the jobs on my old list, even if I now have a new list with a few more. The Ikea Ledberg LED lights I got for Christmas work well, and I feel I could exhibit Wood Bros with some confidence.
The front of the layout, showing the 'picture frame' and lighting. To the left of the Unimog you can see the piles of gravel caused by running the skips through the tipper too fast - half the load missed the chute!
At the back of the layout the gravel that did make it down to the Unimog slides down a chute made from the off-cuts of the foam core, to where it can be retrieved to be reloaded and go round again.
The roundy-roundy plug-in working as designed, with Woody taking Ernieplex round the bend ...
... and the two-track sector plate in position, showing the egg-box structure beneath.
Grandson (and Grand-daughter) showing that I've succeeded in getting the layout too high for children and too low for adults. Still, at least I can get my nose over the backscene.