Member's Tracks 8

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Member's Tracks  "Maple Cross Railway"

Member's Tracks   "Saaletalbahn"

Member's Tracks  "Hayes Valley Railway"

Member's Tracks   "Martin's Railway"

Member's Tracks "Darley Light Railway"

Hayes Valley Railway  

Station Master  -- Jason Workman

"The Hayes Valley Railroad was started in 1995, when I was 10 years old.

After having a small OO gauge layout under the stairs I wanted longer trains and more space but the only way to do this was to go into the garden. I was put off by using OO gauge in the garden as it was far too delicate.

At a local model show I first saw G scale, the wonder of the large American trains was perfectly suited for my garden plus fulfilled a dream of American Railroading.

The line depicts a mainline American railway with branch line and realistic operation. The main idea has been to capture the spirit of American railroading. My favourite part of the hobby is the operation and electronics side. The whole railway lights up at night and so does the garden (red, white and blue of course!) and the railway is run from a special control shed which houses the mimic diagram of the railway; here the trains points, and signals can be operated as well as locally, there is a telephone link from here to the main station and also the railway uses original block bells and instruments to help control it.

The railway can be run manually or automatically. One train and one of the station buildings are fitted with miniature wireless cameras, these are relayed back to the shed along with feeds from cameras around the garden to keep check on everything, the pictures from trackside and onboard the trains can be "vision mixed" out to a flatscreen television in the shed window so visitors can get a drivers eye view.

Also some of the buildings and lineside features have sound unit on timers such as the saloon, church, farmers yard and harbour. The railway usually holds 2 open days a year, one on Easter Saturday and one later in the year around September, although this year we hope to hold another in the summer. After almost 14 years of garden railroading I find it such a fantastic hobby!"
"Play some more Sam"

"What Pete"

"Well the 65 Special of course!!"

Some times we have visitor from the local nature community which do stop the trains for awhile whilst they cross the track!

Video links

My youtube videos..

A timelapse video of my last open day

Technical Aspects of The Hayes Valley Railroad

Once I had started the railway, albeit with just a circle of track over the pond and passing loop my thoughts immediately moved towards integrating electronics and greater control into the railway. It has taken many years to get to the stage the control on the railway is now, mainly through trial and error and the odd blown fuse!

The control shed/signal box has a special supply from the house fuse box of 20 amps, this is then connected to a fuse box in the shed with an RCD, and this feeds a 16 amp power circuit and 6 amps for lighting. The main shed actually has in it about 25 mains sockets to power each transformer/other sheds/lights etc! There is also a separate supply of 110 volts for the American lighting around the garden.

The railway has a number of transformers to suit each need. Two Gaugemaster controllers are used, one as a back up supply and another to control the tram/town line, these also supply the track circuit relays with 24 volts DC and the point and signal motors. A toroidal transformer supplies twice, 18 volts DC at 5 amps for the main track and also all the power for the lighting and accessories. There is also a special "split rail" power supply for the bell blocks and block instruments. The railway has approximately 10Km of multicore and power cabling around it!

The first thing I wanted was lighting for all the buildings and station lamps/lamp standards. This is a nice touch because at night it looks great especially with all the other lighting in the garden. These are strings of lights brought over from America and give the railroad that American feel, all lit up red, white and blue, although they do require a 110volt power supply.

a signal with high brightness LED and a track circuit infra red detector, you can just see the infra red LEDs used for detection below the window of the hut

Some of the buildings have ITT sound units; these are wired up to homemade 555 timer circuits so that every 3 minutes or whatever time is preset they activate a relay which sets off the sound system. So far I have the sounds of the church bell, the honky-tonk in the saloon, cattle mooing and the sound of the ocean waves, seagulls and foghorn by the harbour. All the sound units and their timers live inside the nearest model building to them in a plastic box with a waterproof mylar speaker on the outside. An interesting aside to this is I have found my local garden centre does waterproof speakers on long leads mounded into the shape of rocks, one of these produces the sound for the harbour and blends in perfectly to its surroundings.

The main line of the Hayes Valley Railroad is controlled by an Aristo-Craft Train Engineer; this allows the operator to walk around the garden and follow the train or even control it from the summer house. A manual LGB controller can also be switched it to take over from the Train Engineer should it decide it wants to go wrong (I had this once happen on an open day so having something else as a back up is useful). The tram/town line uses a Gaugemaster controller fed to the track via a special timing circuit. The tram or train will circle the layout for a preset time and then after triggering another timer stop at the station and wait for about 30 seconds and then leave again. There also a station stop timer that can be switched in to one track on the main line, this is useful as it allows the operator to leave it running unattended for as long as needed. These timers are activated by magnets on certain engines which cut the power to the track for a preset (adjustable) amount of time through the use of power relays and isolating sections of track. Trains are run normally in one direction only, this is because of the steep gradients and also because of the way the track circuits are configured, although trains can run in the opposite direction, say for shunting, but this is within the "station/block limit".

All of the points on the railway are controlled electrically/remotely using LGB point motors. The supply for these starts off at 24 volts AC. This is fully rectified to DC and then smoothed by the use of 2 x 2200Ķ Farad capacitors, rated at 35 volts. These store up a charge and "bump" up the voltage to the points and release it when a switch is pressed.

The switches are DPDT spring loaded toggle switches, wired to change the polarity of the voltage to the point motor depending on which way they are thrown. These are mounted on a mimic diagram of the railway at the location of each set of points; there is also local control of points at the main station by the use of switches mounted in a waterproof box. These are wired in parallel so that the points can be changed from either location.

There is also an LGB semaphore signal on the railway operated in the same way as the points. This also cuts the power to the track when the signal is at danger; this allows trains to be stacked on approach to the shed for putting away after a running session. There is also a working signal gantry made by Aristo-Craft but the LEDs inside have been replaced by high brightness ones, these give a green light for the running road and red for the other direction. There is also a homemade signal on the approach to the level crossing. This is activated to danger by the track circuits and protects the crossing once a train has entered the section and only clears when a train has fully passed through the crossing.

The railway is fully track circuited with 5 blocks. This is achieved with the use of infra red detectors in waterproof buildings at the trackside. This was decided to be the best method of detection. Reed switches and magnets would have worked but would entail visiting locos to have magnets fitted or have a wagon with magnets mounted on the underside. Also track circuits using current/electrical detection were ruled out because only track powered locos would be detected, a live steam or battery powered train would not. Much experimentation was needed to get best results with this system but itís proven very reliable, in fact sometimes, too reliable! An optical track circuit such as these infra red ones will detect anything moving pass them, so say a train has left a block, if one of its last cars breaks away and rolls back this will be detected. Likewise a pet cat sitting in front of it on the railway line will also show a "track circuit activated" indicator in the shed!

All of the power, points, signals and anything electrical is controlled from the main shed/signal box using a mimic panel. This was installed around 2002 and has improved control no end. On the panel is a schematic diagram of the railway with bi colour LEDs mounted along the routes. Control is simply; the switches are pressed for the relevant points and signals and the route will appear as a series of yellow lights, as the train moves around the layout its progress can be checked as the blocks turn from yellow to red, and also lighting up train detected lights on another panel. The panel also has switches to control the routing of power for the trains and lights as well as overrides for all the systems such as the track circuits. The actual diagram of the railway has 50 of these bi-colour LEDs to show section clear or occupied.

The track circuits do more than just show where a train is on the railway. Like on the real railways they activate signals and level crossings. The main crossing is about 2 feet wide and was designed to allow lawnmower access when the "inside" of the layout had grass, this has now been replaced by pebbles which took away the need of constant grass cutting, but the level crossing was kept as itís the best form of access to the ground within the railway. The crossing lights are based on ones I have seen on my trips to America. It has 2 alternating red lights either side, looking up and down the garden. These are groups of red LEDs and are very bright! They are flashed using a 556 timer chip in push-pull mode driving power transistors which in turn drive the LED clusters. There is also a sound unit to give the sound of the American level crossing bell. This is fitted with a timer. When a train enters the block a the lights flash and the bell rings but after about 6 seconds the bell stops and the lights continue to flash until the train has completely cleared the section. There is also a working G Scale level crossing which is worked by track circuits. On this (as per the prototype) the lights flash and the gates lower and then rise once the train has passed. The gates are worked my model aeroplane servos.

the exterior railway telephone and of the local control box for the station

An interesting development has been the installation of some working railway and to the railway. I recently bought a North Eastern Railway double block instrument and added this to my collection of repeaters and bells blocks. The repeaters are from British and Southern Railways and were used by the signal men to show the aspects of signals they could no see from their signal box. Well I am using them to do just the same job! One shows the condition f the signal protecting the level crossing and the other shows the state of the signal approaching the shed line. The bells and block instrument are worked as per the prototype to allow trains onto the line. Attached to the Train Engineer is a key fob with 4 buttons. The train driver attracts the attention of the signalman, who replies on his bell which can be heard across the garden, the driver then "bells in" his train, the signalman replies with the train bell code and changes his instrument from "line blocked" to "line clear", the driver acknowledges the line clear on his key fob and when he drives off his train "bells in", and switches to "train on line", the signalman acknowledges this too. When running is finished the driver "bells in" and the instruments are returned to "line blocked". The dials of the block instrument canít be seen from outside the shed so a box with indicator LEDs is mounted outside the shed and this can be seen from all around the garden and just repeats the state of each dial.

Recently a telephone link has been added between the signal box and the main station across the garden. The station has an original railway trackside telephone in its metal case and this is connected to a vintage 1920s Bakelite telephone in the shed. Either phone can ring the other one to call attention and allow communication between two operators.

A necessary feature of interlocking was found to be needed on the line that enters the shed. When the route is set for the shed if the "train flap" is down indicator lights come on and a buzzer sounds to prevent any mishaps! Also once the train enters the sidings in the shed it is stopped automatically and a buzzer sounds to alert the operator to this.

One of my main interests is television operations and to this end the garden is fitted out with 2 cameras to keep a check over the railway and also 2 wireless cameras. These are fed into a 9 input 2 output switcher-box which allows two separate video outputs, one feeds a monitor in the signal box and the other feeds a flat screen TV in another shed window to allow visitors to get a view of what is happening. One wireless camera is fitted on to one of the station buildings and gives a lovely scale view of "waiting at the platform" and shows the passing trains. The other is fitted to a converted caboose in the cupola and gives a guards view down the train. This is also fitted with high brightness LEDs to allow it to work in low light conditions and also fitted with a battery if track power is not available such as if running live steam or battery power.

Future plans may perhaps include a venture into digital control using the MERG home built system and a live web cam of the railway and when working live web cast views from the trains.

the camera caboose, the camera is approx 1cm x 1cm, the biggest part is the wide angle lens, its mounted between two of the LEDs in the cupola

the shed, bottom left bell block and block instrument, above is the track circuit repeater panel and the signal repeateres