BLOG: Seven day countdown


Twelve Trees Junction has occupied our layout construction focus fully over the past few months and following on from its first appearance in its new format at the Great Electric Train Show on October 7/8 we’ve been busily working away on new features for it ready for the big one – the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition on November 25/26 at the NEC in Birmingham.

As I type, it is literally seven days until the Hornby Magazine team will be in the giant Hall 5 assembling the layout alongside more than 90 other layouts operators and over 100 trade stands and, as usual, it isn’t quite ready to go yet. Me being me I’ve had a few (for few, read too many to really achieve in the time available) ideas about enhancing the layout to make it even more appealing to watch and operate and that includes introduction of some new characters which you can read about in HM127 (on sale from December 7) as well as the first steps into proper signalling for the layout and completion of a couple of items of new rolling stock.

On the stock front there are two main new additions: a DCC sound fitted Hornby ‘H’ 0-4-4T equipped with Zimo MX648 and 15mm x 9mm ‘sugar cube’ speaker and a BR blue 4-VEP which has been backdated to original condition with small yellow warning panels, modified gangways and digital sound. You will be able to read our full step by step guide to the ‘H’ sound installation in the January issue of Hornby Magazine.

However, right now it is signalling which is occupying the us the most as we’re all too well aware that the current static semaphores leave a little to be desired. Resignalling the layout is a big project, so if you are coming to Warley don’t expect all the semaphores to have disappeared, but do keep your eyes peeled for the first selection of automated signals which respond as the trains pass them.

The initial set of new signals consists of four Berko three-aspect colour lights. One is positioned next to the bridge at the end of the station while the remaining three are located at the other end of the layout as trains disappear back into the storage yard alongside the transformer site. All are operated by Heathcote Electronics MAS sequencers which have an infra-red sensor which is activated when a train passes over it to begin a timed sequence of light changes for each signals. First they reset to red as the train passes the sensor before moving to amber and, finally, green to show the line is clear again.

These are being installed across this weekend and will join a new working semaphore – a Dapol Southern Railway rail built example – which has been added to the bay platform to signal departures there. This won’t be automatic – its operation being controlled from the RailMaster computer system which is connected to the accessory bus via a Hornby Elite DCC controller. The bay platform has also gained a pair of DCC Concepts rail built buffer stops with working lamps too.

For the future we’ve got our eyes on DCC Concepts new working colour light ground signals to install too – these look set to be a must-have product – while we are also introducing a pair of Power Bus suppressors to each end of the main track bus to halt any potential voltage spikes while we are also aiming to replace the dummy point motors on the layout with DCC Concepts superb new dummy Westinghouse motors.

As always there a great deal of preparation to do for the layout to go out on show again and alongside the new features we are also checking and repacking the locomotive fleet – it having given up its transport cases for Grosvenor Square’s locomotives to attend the Spalding show – while the control screens need new buttons added to control the latest features and a modification to correct a missing crossover.

Its all go, but I can’t wait to get the layout up and running again ready to entertain all the visitors to the show on November 25/26 – visit for full details. See you there!

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