Yeovil Town Model Railway Gazette Blog Posts Copyright 07th Dec 2021 - 15:27 by Yeovil Town Model Railway Gazette <![CDATA[TrainController updates]]>  We have updated our TrainController videos list as more have become available.  You can find the updated list at

<![CDATA[First shuttle video]]> This is the first time I have been able to publish one of the automatic sequences.  This is a test sequence where the dwell time at platforms has been reduced to save time. The quality of the monitor display is poor but this will improve with later videos.

<![CDATA[Weeding out the gremlins]]> Automation on a railway allows us to run the same train on the same track at the same speed in the same way many times.  We all know the Murphy's law that states a train will run 19 times with no problem then it derails or malfunctions in some other way!

Continuous running of sequences allows us to prove that the train works reliably but when done we then need to prove each sequence interacts with the others correctly e.g. the correct priority is give to routes by certain trains competing for the same piece of track.  There are many factors that cause problems and here is a list of items I have found on Yeovil Town;



  • Wagons and coaches too light - Add up to 25 grams per axil for OO
  • Back to back on all rolling stock not set correctly - give the stock an MOT by checking and setting on all axils
  • Couplings not correctly fitted or aligned - match all couplings to be the same type (mix types on the same wagon to help with this) - set the height to match correctly especially with push pull trains. 
  • Point blades not seating correctly (especially hand built points) ensure the point motor is robust and fitted correctly.  Misalignment often leads to incorrect operation.
  • Track dirty - Clean all track regularly and where possible protect it from dust etc.
  • Wheels dirty - Keeping the track clean is only part of the story, buy a good wheel cleaner and clean every part of all your rolling stock
  • Steam engine bogie wheels - Keep them working correctly they can often be too light for the task so can you add more weight or strengthen the spring?
  • Bad sections of track with bumps and misaligned joints - Fix them!

We have been through this loop with Yeovil Town and still get some reliability problems so revisiting some of this work is the only way around this.

<![CDATA[Trains Jim, but not as we know them]]> Well it's 7 weeks to the YMRG Open Day and Yeovil Town needs to impress.  Progress to date is that the scenic areas of the layout are now almost complete and Automatic running applied to 3/4 of the layout.  The track is very dirty so before we can run trains we are striping all rolling stock off of the layout and using track rubbers and various cleaners including the Dapol cleaning car we will clean not only all the track but the rolling stock also.

One these are all clean we can gradually build up the automatic sequences once again into a combined free for all sequence.  Unlike the first time around we intend to video these attempts and create a library of trains running to a sequence.  Some sequences interact and we know of at least one instance where a single slip is given over to another train before the first one has cleared it - This will need to be fixed.

<![CDATA[Updating the web]]> For some time now Yeovil Town has been a difficult project with my wife Olivia and I trying to grab as much time as possible to complete the "Garden" area for scenic effects.

It has been quite important to complete it is such a way as to give as near a genuine look and feel of the actual station in it's surroundings.  There is still some more work to go but we will shortly be switching to ensuring the trains run to schedule with correct interlocking of points and signals.

This year will see another open day for the Yeovil Model Railway Group so its important to get the layout running correctly and looking right albeit more work to do on buildings etc.

We plan to upload videos of each sequence as we get it right with further videos of combinations of sequences to show how the software easily manages complex movements.  In the meantime I am hoping for my new website to better show these off.

<![CDATA[Traintronics TT300 problems but fixing them for now]]> After changing a TT300 point motor in the goods yard in November which appeared to male before break on the micro-switch we discovered that we have a further 3 units causing the same fault in the fiddle yard.  There could be a long term problem with these motors as the operation of the micro-switch is very sensitive to the plastic/rubber wheel on the pin that moves to operate them.  I suspect it could be swelling of of that wheel band that causes the problem so I may need to ensure no oil finds its way into the gap.  Oil was used in the past due to the tightness of the man slot for movement being the cause of sticky motors.

I am hoping the new motors being fitted (4 fitted now) will be of better build quality.

It was interesting how we found this problem out!  The points operated using the ZTC system but caused an unnoticed high current which almost shut the system down for a track short (The result of the micro-switch making before breaking during switching).  When using the Lenz system it immediately turned off the track power so we could not live with it.

I will try and add some pictures to show the problem;

I also now need a way to remove the cover and then replace it when fixed.  That will be another posting.

I am off to change the last faulty point motor today (New Year's Eve) and then set up a demo auto schedule for club members to see next Wednesday...

<![CDATA[Is increasing from one switch to three just over the top on a 32 foot railway]]> After exhaustive testing we conclude that we can't run a ZTC USB Interface together with the Lenz USB interface on the same PC without problems!  They both run ok individually but we now have had to add a Lenz booster so that we can now switch between Lenz and ZTC for the track power bus and Lenz and ZTC for the accessory bus power.  

In club mode the members can run the trains manually using the ZTC 511 together with 4 hand controllers but for fully automatic exhibition mode only the Lenz system will be used.  I am happy with this compromise as ZTC is by far the better manual controller for DCC.

We are now just a few days away fro our first fully automatic test.

<![CDATA[Signals are changing]]> A short delay for attending the NEC over the weekend means we have bought more signals and controllers.  We have managed to operate the Dapol signals via the ZTC 511 using DCC.  The task now is to wire up all signals to plug and socket arrangement into each signal controller and in some cases we can operate two signals from one unit.  After ordering far too much yellow heat shrink we decided to tidy up the Dapol wires by shrinking over the top.  The end result is a system whereby we can swap out signals by plugging them in.

It transpires that we not only have GWR signals on the layout but also SR.  Not suprising given that the two organisations shared Yeovil Town, what is supprising is that it seems they have chosed to augments the GWR signals in a few places with SR signals just because they wanted a shorter signal that could be seen under the road bridge..!

Progress too with the Lenz PC interface which should be sorted by the morning of 1/12/2017.  Getting that working on USB and Windows 10 64bit OS was a pain...

BTW: 4 very tall (proper size!) pre-made trees have appeared on the layout as the forerunner for the wooded area at the scenic break to Pen Mill and Yeovil Junction.

<![CDATA[Computers have taken over]]> The main computer (mini Tower Dell) has been set up with Traincontroller Gold version 9 and installed at the layout.  I updated to version 9 to keep us up to date with the latest software and its abilities.

A quick test shows that I can talk to both the ZTC 511 for trains and points and the Lens system for block feedback - a little more work with drivers is needed here!

We have bought a number of new Dapol GWR signals and have extended our stable of twin signal DCC driver modules to about 11.  There are a lot of signals on Yeovil Town and these will be moving quite often driven by the computer.

We have ordered an outside loo for the end of the month and may extend its hire beyond February 1st to enable us to program all the schedules for exhibition operation.  I am seriously looking to program some for modern club night running as a demo... :-)

<![CDATA[Automation just about there]]> It's been a long time coming but we have now completed the wiring for feedback modules under the layout.  Some people fit just a few sensors to their layout to save cost and gain automation between those blocks.   I chose however to fit as many blocks as possible to;

a) Help track progress around the track

b) To enable far more intricate movements between blocks

What is a block?  Well its a section of track that normally contains no points and normally has a reasonable length.  Here on Yeovil Town we have good lengths in the fiddle yard so have perfect blocks plus we have at least two blocks on the approach and exits of the fiddle yard.

On the front end the blocks vary in size, some are not long enough for a whole train but will detect an engine.  This will help change speed more often and accommodate the many moves by individual engines both in the engine shed area and on the main line.  I have in fact tried to use up the spare ways on the 8-way feedback modules where possible just to keep options open.

The end result should be a very flexible feedback system that will let us create some imaginative schedules to keep the public interested whilst view the layout.

<![CDATA[Lets straighten a few things out then]]> During open day the baseboard for the goods area dipped about 5mm in the middle as it must have had some excessive weight on it sometime in the last year!

We are planning to remove it and add strengthening bulkheads to the board.  When done I am anxious to fit that board with feedback electronics so that it will be complete apart from scenic bits. 

We are getting close to where we need to be for long days programming the system so hopefully by Christmas we will be there.

<![CDATA[Let me level with you]]> Well it was a frantic time getting ready for the YMRG Open Day in July.  Keith managed to complete the new track-work for points to and from Yeovil Junction just in time but Olivia and I had a busy schedule trying to get the layout back together in time.  Corners were cut but on the day it "appeared" to run smoothly to the visitors...

After patching a few problems on the fly most did not realise the operating restrictions we had, not least the fact that I was operating on my own with some help from a complete railway novice (my sister-in-law) who helped run the shuttle.

The first task the following Wednesday was to level the layout before deciding what was a real snag and what was false.  I decided that previous efforts of using cheap laser levels were not worth the effort so invested in a Bosch self-leveling laser which worked very well indeed.  We made a tall target so that we could level the track bed (not the baseboards) over the top of the back scenes.  The floor of the chicken shed slopes towards the centre of the room so there were large differences across the 31 feet of layout.

Eventually after two club nights and many wooden blocks (the adjusters for each leg only go so far) we had it level and it ran very well indeed.

We are now going to fix an old baseboard that has been badly distorted with a large dip so we need to reinforce it to be flat again.

<![CDATA[Ready, Set, Go!]]> The boards are now fixed together never to be separated and the surface sanded.  New cork has been laid and sanded so all is well for the new track to be fitted.

I now need to plan the electrics so that Keith can attach droppers in the correct place.  These will then be connected to the feedback sensor boards.

<![CDATA[It's a swivel Jim but not as we know it]]> We have finally made some headway with the new track on the new front boards.  The boards were designed many years ago and by chance the joint between two 6ft x 2ft boards lies directly under complicated point-work.  After much debate it has been decided to fix those two boards plus another 6ft x 6inch board together as one piece.

This will give us a cumbersome board to manhandle into place - the solution is to mount the board on a swivel arrangement that is on wheels which can also act as a frame for other boards and fit into the eventual dedicated trailer.  Thus many awkward boards can be housed in the one frame.

This will remove several of the large heavy legs from the front of the layout and it is now our intention to replace the rest of these with the same design legs as the fiddle yard, light and strong.

The old track has now been removed and we are next to fix the boards together permanently and make flat the join areas.  It has also been decided that we will cut lightening holes into the new larger board to ensure weight is kept down for the trailer.

<![CDATA[Repairs after renewal]]> Having stripped down the two scenic boards that have been partly completed and removed them to a shed at home to complete the task we stripped off more boards from the front of the layout so that the team fitting the new tracks and points have good access. A problem area with one board joint where dampness has swelled the original chipboard surface has provoked aspirations to rebuild that board in 9mm ply as per all other new boards thus ensuring no problem in future - but - where will it all end? Tempting but I am now looking at a different solution which will be less work.

What is obvious is that the existing front end leg system is over engineered with large heavy legs so we have decided that they should gradually be replaced with new thinner strongly jointed legs as per the off scene boards. These will require me to dust off the mortice machine for the joints.

The remaining boards are now levelled and flat so track-laying can now commence.