Category Archives: Construction

Painted Bridge


After years spent in Desert Sand undercoat, the bridge gets its final treatment (although I may add a bit more soot). 4365 emerges into the station area on a Southampton – Birmingham train.

New Control Position

photo (8)

After a few days of concentrated labour, not necessarily hard but it involved a lot of grovelling, the new control set-up using Cobalt levers instead of PECO switches is up and, at times, running.

And I wonder why I have such trouble with the electrics. Neatness is a virtue, apparently – it’s a pity I didn’t know that when I started.

photo (7)


Making Things Difficult


The arrival of the Minx Microdrive signal motors pointed out to me the deficiencies in the PECO switches I was using. Therefore I decided to invest in some DCC Concepts Cobalt levers, twenty-five in all. They look great, operate beautifully, but are a right pain to wire up despite the looms attaching the switches to a supplied PC board (which you need to wire up – nine connections per switch). The board doesn’t seem to be of very high quality and I’ve had a couple of instances of the copper track coming away from the board under very light solderingĀ  (15 watt iron).

After that task you have to devise an interface from the PCB to the layout and the only realistic way that will work is using connector block – I think now I would have been better off leaving out the PCBs and going straight to connector blocks using just the leads I needed out of the switches.

There again where would be the challenge if it was all straightforward?

By the way this is the easier part of the task. Jumping across the old wiring to the new is going to be a nightmare!


New Starter

New Starter

4815 on the Evesham autotrain passing the newly installed outer starter signal. Still some work needed to integrate it into the surrounding ballast but it’s the first fruit of my recent purchase of Minx Microdrives as signal controls. It has not been a whirlwind romance as my initial testing was plagued by spurious actuations. A chat with the supplier led to the suggestion that it was down to my use of cheap switches but the problem persisted when the switch was removed and the signal change-over hard-powered. I now hope that I’ve found the culprit – I’ve swapped the 12 volt fixed output from my Gaugemaster controller for 19 volts from a redundant Toshiba laptop supply (the laptop gave up the ghost when I poured tea in it!). It seems to be holding steady now and there are no longer ghostly train movements being signalled by an unseen hand.

The illustrations below show two of the actuators attached to my platform starters and one of the two-channel controllers. It’s not a cheap system but it appears well-made and does the job.