Impromptu Wiring Party

Over the weekend I started something I was supposed to do in May, thankfully I hadn’t completely forgotten everything I was going to do and set about the business of test wiring the power feeds for Oxcroft Junction.

V2 - with colour coding showing the red (common return) blue (feed) and dark green (additional isolating section)

V2 – with colour coding showing the red (common return) blue (feed) and dark green (additional isolating section)


a lone section switch before I implemented my ‘control panel’

I went back to look at the original wiring diagram I had put together and it still made sense to me… the idea was to have each section of the layout switchable so I could isolate locos in a variety of places.

It consisted of 4 main power feeds and an solo-isolating section in the siding to the left, fairly simple but the wiring diagram still looks complicated as anything and when it actually came to connecting things… well you’ll see the result…

Since I was only test-wiring the layout I had no need to make things look any good, so cables began to appear everywhere as you can see above. I made use of a wiring chock block to handle the main feeds from my small (cheap) Bachmann controller (£25 I believe) which managed to do the job admirably.

The common return are the red cables which all feed into the chock block and back to the controller. The blue cables are the power feeds and this in turn goes onto the switches – I had a combination of [on/off] and [on/off/on] switches that I’d found. In the diagram each power feed has a switch associated to it’s portion of the track – fairly straight forward even though the cables soon got out of hand…

I do not condone cable parties such as this...

I do not condone cable parties such as this…

It was all going very well despite the mess – I tested each section as I connected it. Since I was just test fitting everything I did have some trouble with shorts, especially where cables joined the small metal connectors on each of the switches, but these were easily rectified. I would definitely recommend the use of some foam board at this point to hold switches in place, otherwise they can fall all over the place once connected. My ‘test’ control board is seen below. A pencil tip was the right size to pierce the board and a gentle wiggle gave the switch shaft room enough to sit neatly in the foam.

test control board with two track section switches mounted

test control board with two track section switches mounted

As the wiring progressed I noticed a fault in my original track diagram… On it you might be able to just make out some squiggly lines between the cross overs.. these are in actual fact insulated rail joiners and it turns out I needed these on the other two turnout tracks as well.. so after 30 minutes disassembling the track and replacing these it was back business.

the orange blobs show where new insulated rails were fitted on both rails.

the orange blobs show where new insulated rails were fitted on both rails.


the test ‘control board’ with each switch isolating a different section of the layout

Once this was accomplished the layout ran rather well, albeit with a few shorts and such as cables flew around – I did eventually end up taping sections of them down which I should have thought of LONG before that point. The control panel ended up looking OK and with a bit of TLC could have been used for the final layout however I think I will be making a unit from thin plywood instead.


the back of the control panel – each switch was wired in series which kept the wiring down to a minimum, however there was still lots to do! This will certainly test my soldering skills in the near future…


the layout in the process of testing. here you can clearly see the two main crossovers that required isolating with insulated rail joiners.

Conclusion – lots of fun that included lots of head scratching – VERY glad I created a wiring diagram before hand and would definitely recommend that to anyone who is in my situation. Still more work to be done to complete the diagram, in particular I need to add the solo isolating section to the siding on the left (not attached in the picture above) but that should be a simple ish job. Next up – point motors and wiring!

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Latest Snaps

I’ll be very honest, progress on my N Gauge layout ‘Oxcroft Junction’ has almost slowed to a standstill, however this time of year I don’t want to be hanging around inside when the weather is so nice – that’s what winter’s for.

A number of things have been keeping me very busy but I have managed to go out a couple of times recently and grab some fresh snaps of big trains! A few of my faves are below, enjoy!

Freightliner 70007

Freightliner 66602

Freightliner 70007

East Midlands Meridian

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A Walk Around The Oxcroft Branch Line

Recently my better half and I went on a little wander around one of my favourite sites in railway history – that of the old Oxcroft Branchline near Stanfree. The area that started this blog off in the first place really…

Anyway, it hasn’t changed a lot in the last few years, the track was lifted some time ago but there are still glimpses of the past visible to those observant enough to see them. I was however very pleased to stumble across a wheel chock and original cast iron baseplate / chair amongst the undergrowth! Great finds! My own little pieces of railway history.

Woodthorpe Footbridge / Oxcroft Branchline Walk

looking northeast towards the M1 overbridge. This is a single track road / footpath bridge near Woodthorpe Bridge.

Rail Weighbridge / Oxcroft Branchline Walk

remains of rail weigh bridge on approach to Oxcroft CDP site.

Rail Weighbridge Remains / Oxcroft Branchline Walk

remains of rail weigh bridge and cabin on the approach to the site.

Oxcroft Branchline Ground Frame

This ground frame has been cast aside into a ditch nearby, maybe it was too heavy for the lifters?

Oxcroft Branchline Walk

View looking north east towards the Oxcroft site with remains of weigh bridge in the centre of the picture.

Entrance to CDP site / Oxcroft Branchline Walk

Entrance to the CDP site with a ‘No Entry’ sign in the distance.

Wheel Stop / Chock

The wheel chock I found in the undergrowth!

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Diorama Update

Work has slowed down over the last month or so, but as I get chance little things will start to happen. Last night I managed to work on the diorama and add a small permanent way / workers building that has seen better days. A chance purchase at Chesterfield Market also left me with this excellent coal sector MEA wagon by Graham Farish.

WP_20140327_012 (1)

WP_20140327_004 (1)

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Oxcroft Gets Technical

It’s been some time since my last update but this weekend I had chance to go over some of the more technical aspects of building the layout…

As I mentioned in an earlier post testing of the track for Oxcroft went very well with locos running over all sections of the layout with ease, even with a single power feed and relying on the points to transfer current to different areas of the track. The main problem I encountered was a short when the points were in a particular configuration – after a little head scratching I realised it was due to all turnouts being ‘live’.

By chance I stumbled across the PSL book of Model Railway Wiring by C.J. Freezer at a local charity shop for the lovely sum of £2.00 and tonight I finally got chance to have a read.

can't beat getting ideas to paper with a pen and pencil

can’t beat getting ideas to paper with a pen and pencil

I’m very new to the whole process of layout building let-alone electrical circuits but I found the basics easy to pick up if you take it one step at a time. My main cause for concern was my electro-frog points, so the easiest solution was to put isolated rail joiners on both rails between the main line and loop line, with separate power feeds for each section. Version 1 of this can be seen below

WP_20140323_008Although admittedly it looks a little complicated (even to me and I drew it!) it’s quite a simple idea. The controller is on the bottom left with a feed wire and return wire (dotted). On the track diagram the position of the feeds and returns are located with triangles on each side of the track. It’s important that they are all orientated the same way so no shorts take place. The squiggly lines between the turnouts are rail breaks / insulated rail joiners which will again make sure that no shorts are encountered.

Each feed has an on/off switch associated with it named after the particular section of track it relates to. On ‘Oxcroft’ there are four – Main South / Loop / Clowne Branch / Main North.

This may seem a little pointless, as surely I’d just want to make sure all track sections receive power, but in actual fact they all act as isolating sections if required, meaning more operating potential on the layout giving me control over all sections of track.

HOWEVER – I soon realised that the feed for the Clowne Branch was in the wrong location, as it should be at the toe of the turnout (the pointy end) that is used to access this portion of track, so V2 was born, and colour coded (see below)

V2 - with colour coding showing the red (common return) blue (feed) and dark green (additional isolating section)

V2 – with colour coding showing the red (common return) blue (feed) and dark green (additional isolating section)

The feed for the Clowne Branch is now located on the main line before the turnout. The additional isolating section on the siding on the left (little half circle symbol) means I can store two locomotives here without fear of them acting up! It’s controlled with a simple on/off switch.

I found C.J Freezer’s book very useful and all the symbols have come from his diagrams – I’m not sure if they’re standard or not but they work for me. Although a little dated, all the principles remain the same and I feel a lot more confident in making decisions based on actual knowledge as apposed to blagging my way through the process!

If anyone wants to know more about how I put the wiring plan together then please feel free to ask, and by the same token, if someone spots any errors please get in touch! I’m still very new to this, but am very excited at the prospect of wiring up my first model railway.



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HST Out Of It’s Comfort Zone…

Earlier this month a Railtour visited Peak Rail in Derbyshire with a special service from St. Pancras – something I can’t imagine seeing again for some time so I thought I had best get on over there and enjoy the sights! I decided it was a good idea to try and capture the train as it travelled north a long the line near Darley Dale as this is a little more picturesque than the yard at Rowsley and I imagined would be quieter and thus easier to take a snap! Here’s a few of the pics!

East Midlands HST at Peak Rail

East Midlands HST at Peak Rail

Here the train led by 43052 can be seen rounding the curve into Darley Dale with 43047 on the rear.

East Midlands HST at Peak Rail

43047 is on the rear as the train enters Darley Dale yard crossing under the road bridge ahead. In the distance is a new maintenance shed for Andrew Briddon’s collection of shunters.

East Midlands HST at Peak Rail

I couldn’t resist heading on over to Rowsley to snap the train in the yard as well!

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Diorama Poses

A few shots from my ngauge diorama (still a work in progress of course) with favourites 31285, 08563 and the Peco ‘Conflat’ wagon kit I worked on a couple of months ago (see previous post here)

Railfreight 31285


Peco Conflat Kit

I still need to add a ‘backscene’ but even with a flat white backdrop I’m still quite happy with the results – I’m going to be adding a little more foliage to build the height up a little at the back as well as some more trackside bits and bobs to enhance the realism a little.

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