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.
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 soldering (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!
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.
I’ve finally added the last piece of the signal box contruction, a rare example of me actually finishing a model. The nameplate is derived from the one that graced the signal box at Cirencester on the MSWJR where the word ‘cabin’ was used instead of ‘signal box’; I don’t know how common that was across this and other lines. The nameplate was produced to the correct size using Photoshop text mode and a font as close as I could get to the original.
The absence of point rodding is glaringly obvious – yet another chore!
What might appear in the signal box as a track plan only with a lot more signals and a few facing point locks. I’ve some actuators on order from Minx Microdrives so the rest of the signals (19 is the only one that’s up and running) stand a chance of becoming operational at some point.
The new signal box, built from a Lasercraft Devon kit, nears completion. Just need to paint the roof, add the drainpipes and fit the safety rails – a couple of fiddly jobs there. Also need to sort out a nameboard – should be a GWR cast one as that’s the type of box this is but I hanker after a MSWJR-style blue enamel version. Decisions, decisions!
Interior walls and window chills fitted, boards painted
I’ve long been dissatisfied with the Bachmann signal box that’s been on my layout for the last couple of years. To replace it I bought a Lasercraft Devon kit of Pewsey box. It is a dream to assemble if not to paint and will provide a building of the right size for the situation.
Although the signals have been in position on the layout for about two years, today is the first time that a locomotive has past one of them when it is not set to danger. 2743 had that honour. Ignore the fact that the engine is carrying a white light and so should be coming towards the camera – it’s got another one just the same on the front!