Having now got a test/potential layout the testing of tracks, connections and operation began. During this stage I felt I was trapped on the Island of Sodor – Engines stalled on points, carriages toppled on bends and points. In fact if it was a real railroad manager I would be imprisoned for being a danger to public safety. Of the 22 locomotive models 6 of them are over 40 years old. The oldest is an original Hornby Dublo “Coronation” pacific – unstreamlined “City of London”. This engine is 50 years old that I know of.
This engine has not graced the new layout as it is currently away for some much needed TLC. Hopefully on completion of the TLC and makeover it will be returned in BR green and renumbered/renamed as 46242 “City of Glasgow”. This work is being carried out by another good friend Paul James in Bury. Six of the older engines have been consigned to display models as they have trouble with points due to the current Hornby and Peco set tracks being of a finer scale than the old system 4 Hornby track. The models’ wheel flanges are too deep for the modern scale tracks. The other 16 have managed (eventually) the full layout with little if not none adjustment.
Testing of the track layout revealed that I needed to add dead (Isolated) sections. Current price for Hornby Isolated rail is 8.10 UK Pounds, Peco ranges between 3 to 5 UK Pounds dependant on where you purchase them. Cheapest way is to purchase Peco plastic fishplates and provide off/on switch to turn on /off the isolation. Apart from the original 11 isolated tracks a further 18 were required. As a young child I watched with wide eyes the various layouts at model railway exhibitions. The miniature landscape, towns and trains captured my imagination and attention. However, I never really gave a thought to how all that was achieved and the skills one needed to bring a toy train set into a miniature railway. Now at the age of 65 I was about to enter that reality.I’ve failed at many things and in particular Technical work at Senior Secondary School. Hand me a tool and I was sure to do more damage to myself than to the wood, metal etc. As for soldering, it was more like branding I have dim recollections of taking the soldering iron, filing it clean, heating it and then introduce it to flux and solder and watch the item melt. Now I was about to handle a small cutting disc to cut a rail track, then make use of these new fangled electric soldering iron (a lot smaller than those I used at school) and solder wire to the side of a small rail. Needless to say, but I will, I got burned but one soon learns when driven by necessity.
This was the stage were I should have been removed for the sake of safety to the public. The joint may not be tidy or pretty but it worked, it held the wire to the rail and power flowed when turned on. One done only another 18 pair to do. Of course one has to run the wires to a convenient accessible spot so the iso track can be switched on when needed. At this stage of construction I did temporary bridging to a) test the joints, b) Test that all stock ran and c) until I created a control box.
Once again it was time to test every loco and carriages to ensure that they could get by the solder joints and that the isolating did work, track was isolated and power could be restored making it live again. I did spend a few hours gently sanding down the bumpy solder to a smooth level for all to pass without falling off the track. During this time my partner Susan had been busy creating backscene, devising a station road approach and producing platforms to meet the requirements of our station. Like all stations it need a name our joint decision was:
“Ennitoun” pronounced “Any Town” . Oh yes I forgot, it was not all playing with tools, trains and wires. Inbetween times we built from kit form, the Station from a “Superquick” kit. A signal box,
and a locomotive shed. It was not all playing with trains..sometimes it was playing with emmotions ranging from frustration, anger, tears and satisfaction when all worked.