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Robins Run

Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:46 pm
by dkightley
I created a thread on the original Talking TGauge forum to act as a build log for my first T gauge layout. In case I'm not able to recover data from it, I'm going to recreate a photographic history of my progress here. Each post will be dated when I resized the photos for publishing.........

4th February 2012:

I announced I was starting my first T gauge layout called Robins Run .. a name appropriate to my home city of Nottingham and of Robin of Loxley aka Robin Hood. I based the layout on the Switcheroo layout from David Smith's sample layout page:
The layout consists of two independant loops that have two interconnecting crossovers that allow each loop to be separately controlled, will allow transfer of a train from one loop to the other, or will allow the two loops to be connected together giving one large loop.

The board size is a nifty 4ft wide by 3ft deep and there is just over 40 feet of track - I think its 3.4 scale miles!!

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:21 pm
by dkightley
15th February 2012:

With there being so many levels and layers within the layout, I needed to firstly ensure that the layout as designed could really work without there being an impossible gradient. So I created a mock-up of the track layout in cardboard:
Once I was happy it was possible, I then wanted to get an idea of what the layout would look I turned to a 3D graphics package to generate a representation of the layout:
Looking back at this, its frighteningly accurate when comparing with the real thing!!! Apart from a couple of places where I made significant changes.

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:59 pm
by dkightley
22nd February 2012:

Having the layout design, I set to building the baseboard out of 2x1 in timber as a frame with a top of 4mm MDF and cross braces of 2mm offcuts from slats for a venetian blind:
25th February 2012:

With the baseboard complete, I started laying the track bed, which was 6mm artist board (cardboard covered polyurethane foam). Very light and easy to cut...but fairly stiff!:

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:16 am
by dkightley
4th March 2012:
Laying the track bed continues. This photo shows the method I used. The bed sections are held in place with dressmaker's pins, and only the piles of offcuts forming the support pillars are glued together at this stage. Note that I have a full-size track plan laid on the board as a guide:
6th March 2012:

My first 3D model arrived in the post - the viaduct:
8th March 2012:

After a bit of careful fitting, I had the viaduct's final position sorted out...with a couple of well-placed tracks running under it:
11th March 2012:

Track bed laying continuing. The layout is starting to take shape. Here, the "low" track circuit has been laid down. Just the "high" line to do! :

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:41 am
by dkightley
7th June 2012:

After a break from the layout due to my committments at the Tramway Museum, I managed to get back to something. Here's a start on painting the track. First a coat of light grey enamel.....followed by detailing the sleepers. Here's a shot showing the before and after of painting the sleepers. All done by hand, viewed through a head mounted magnifier:
I'd also started fitting the track to the first of two truss bridges bought from

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:26 pm
by dkightley
22nd August 2012

Robins Run was originally designed to have nine tunnels...but ended up with ten! With this number and the complexity of tunnels, having lift-off sections to reveal the track for cleaning was not all that feasible. So I decided to design my own tunnel liners that were a snug-ish fit for the track so not only would I be able to push/pull out any derailed wagons, etc, I could use the tunnel liners to provide a firm surface for a spring-loaded track cleaning device.

With this design concept, my range of liners and portals were born:
For anyone interested, I have a range of single and double track liners and portals, with a chioce of wide or narrow wing walls or straight walls available to order on Shapeways:

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:17 pm
by dkightley
Continuing to bebuild the build log...

30th August 2012

I've now got all of the basic track support in place for both circuits. Its starting to look a little more complex now!
Here's a shot showing the construction method in a bit closer detail. Explanations probably not needed...
This last shot actually shows track from four separate loops!

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:32 pm
by dkightley
7th September 2012

With the main trackbed glued in position, I'm now able to start concentrating on some of the finer details of the layout.

With the track having two separate loops, each with its own PWM speed controller, and having two crossover paths, I wanted to have full control of the distribution of power to the layout. I used the soldering to the underside of a brass track joiner technique to connect heavy duty copper bell wire for the power distribution. Here'a a shot of a mock-up of the bank of switches on the back of the board. One pair to reverse the direction of each of the two loops, one pair to allow the crossover sections to be powered from either loop, and the final switch to run both loops from one controller.
I also started putting together the cable controls for the four sets of points. Each point is controlled by a push-pull "piano stop" style button in the back of the board. Here's a couple of points with the cable connectors assembled underneath th track section.
The existing point slide has been replaced with a 3D printed part that has a connector under the track to which a bowden style cable is attached.

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:33 am
by dkightley
22nd September 2012

Here's a shot of the high tech solution to secure the control cables for the points....gaffer tape.:

7th October 2012

My first venture into ballasting was on the brick viaduct. I was quite pleased with the results:

13th October 2012

Another first. I had a lot of space to fill to get the scenery how I wanted it. So, I decided to see how I would get on with aerosol expanding foam - the stuff builders use to fill holes in walls. And it turned out to be a lot of fun...and slightly tricky:
Spray the foam into the gaps....and it expands.....and expands:
I had to be careful not to let the expanding foam lift the track bed. Thankfully it didn't...and set nice and hard..and was superb to carve with a scalpel.

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:41 am
by dkightley
18th October 2012

With a little confidence, I made good progress with spraying the ground:
The dramatic scenery soon started to emerge:

28th October 2012

WIth the ground surface developing, the viaduct starts to blend in:
It wasn't all foam. I used up several bags of Shaeways "air" to conserve on foam:

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:56 am
by dkightley
30th October 2012

I started something else new to me - forming the final ground surface. A layer of plaster of Paris over the shaped foam leaving a strip either side of the track. Once dry, I painted an earth colour, then ballasted the track:
Once tha ballast was dry, it was onward with some green matter. Varying colours of scenery flock held in place by dribbling watered down white glue (in the same way as used on ballast). Not bad for a first attempt:

9th November 2012

Time to take stock of progress. Track bed laid, all bridges and tunnels in place, points control cables installed, electrics laid in (including switches to divert power from the two stock controllers - note my novel way of mounting them!! :D ), the foam under-surface all down and trimmed to the desired profile, a start made on laying the plaster ground surface, and a small bit of scenery in place:

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:28 am
by dkightley
18th December 2012

Having a general idea of whereabouts I intended placing a village, I started mapping out the roads. Here's my first attempt of a printed road...simply printed on paper and the design shuffled to fit precisely:
And here's how I placed a different, smaller piece of road. The road surface printed on paper and the verges (in this case) printed on a separate piece of paper, cut to shape and glued onto the road suface...and the two layers of paper glued onto thin card:
The green is a sliver of plastic pan scourer I cut to see if it would make hedges!

The road section was then given a very light coat of matt varnish to seal the ink. When dry, I fixed it in position....I think I used no-nails:
I then plaster of paris'd the road in. Here it's ready to paint and scenerise:

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:36 am
by dkightley
21st December 2012

Ever looking ahead in the build process, I concentrated on working out what trees I needed. I'd bought a selection at the Warley show in early December...and I'd made a start making my own (see the thread in Tips & Tricks). Here's the collection I had:
Bet you can't tell which ones I made! 8-)

25th December 2012

Christmas day saw me planting my first hedge....made out of a strip from a plastic pan scourer. pack of 10 for a £1. Potential for lots of hedges...and clean pans:

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:45 am
by dkightley
31st January 2013

Having a lot of white plaster to cover, I started work in the "mountain" section of the layout. Here's a few in-progress shots of where the track makes it way through a rocky canyon:

14th February 2013

To mark the first anniversary of the start of the build, here's one of the photos I took at the time that I'm quite proud of:

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:52 am
by dkightley
March 2013 saw the delivery of my 3D printer.....which marked a significant point in my modelmaking. I could now design and build almost anything.....well not quite anything!

Work on Robins Run was temporarily suspended whilst I spent a few months getting to grips with my new toy. :D :D

By early July, I had sort of mastered the beast....and had produced my first train. ....a Baby Deltic pulling a rake of Mark 1 carriages.:
I had made some tiny bits of progress, though. Notice the blue painted inside of the layout board!

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:53 pm
by dkightley
I've got some recent interesting progress to show....but I'm wanting to wait until I can get to catch up so everything is shown chronologically.

To catch up I need some piccies off my camera....but its in the pocket of one of my coats. And the coat has been locked away at the Tramway Museum for nearly two weeks. Should get it back on Saturday!

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:10 pm
by dkightley
Only six months progress left to document in order to catch up. :D

17th August 2013

Terraforming continues. Here's a few in-progress shots:

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:21 pm
by dkightley
19th August 2013

And progress on the greenery:
21st August 2013

In preparation for forming the lakes, I first laid down some colour....pure guesswork here!!:
And the greenery continues. A lot easier to predict the results.:

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:37 pm
by dkightley
23rd August 2013

With the arrival of the "liquid water", having read the instructions twice, I got my feet wet..(no apologies for the pun):
Tricky stuff this liquid water. The instructions say use a toothbrush to get a stipple effect for waves as the epoxy is hardening. I did so, and the effect looked very good...until the surface levelled itself out! I repeated the step after it had hardened a little more...and the same thing happened. Then it was too hard to do anything!

To cheer myself up a little, I decided to do a mini photo shoot:

Re: Robins Run

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:53 pm
by dkightley
29th September 2013

Away from the layout, I started to turn my attention to a station...which is located near the front of the board. Here's a shot of my custom platform sections..and the station building. Well, its an early version of the station building. There's no detail in the windows
And the passengers need to get to the other a bridge is needed. Unfortunately the superb bridge from only spans two lines...and I need my bridge to span three! So...after much hair-pulling and many test prints, I had a bridge! 8-) :
I'm so glad I decided to splash out on a 3D printer. You decide you want something, so you design and print it! The challenge is actually succeeding in doing so. :shock: