Sunday, 1 April 2012

Three castles and no track

It's been gloriously sunny here and Isaac has been making the most of it. The wooden railway doesn't lend itself to his outside activities, but the construction work continues. On two separate visits to the beach he has constructed wonderful sandcastles and has built another fort from a cardboard box as a birthday present for someone. I thought it might be nice to share a couple of the photos here.

This is castle one, built on a dry sandy beach in Suffolk. It was a bit impromptu as we were waiting around. Isaac quickly realised dry sand was never going to make anything impressive, so he set about finding stones to create the pattern. The stick to the left is the draw bridge.

Castle two was made on a beach in West Sussex a few days later. The sand was wetter and lent itself to building something more substantial. Isaac added a moat to this creation and tried filling it. That day he built two other castles as well. As the tide rose it first filled the moats of each castle and the slowly overwhelmed them. Isaac stood up the beach stoically surveying the process and obviously quite fascinated by how it happened.

And finally castle three. This was built as a present for a friend's birthday. Having done something similar for his cousin, Isaac gets a lot of pleasure out of constructing these gifts. He raided his stickers to decorate it and painted the moat all around the castle (the blue band at the bottom). Out of sight on this photo is a cotton wool forest at the back. The draw bridge was Isaac's idea, but the execution was down to daddy. Isaac finally looked through his Lego box for two knights which he will give to his friend as well.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Long and lean

This is going to be a very short post today.

The layout the boys created was very simple so they could to run their electric train on it. The elongated loop has wide curves to prevent the train sticking. At the top the placed a set of points and then created a long siding with a bridge to take it rover the bottom of the loop.

There are a couple of embellishments to the design including the tunnel and the additional two bridges in the siding, which serve no purpose other than make the train go up and down a bit.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Warning: Boys at work

We thought it was about time you saw some of the process that goes into making the layouts. This sequence of photos is Isaac and his brother working out a new layout. It turned out to be one of the most ambitious layouts they have created to date.

What made it particularly interesting was that part of the way through Isaac ran out of some small but essential pieces and had to work out how to free them from where they were in the track so that he could use them else where.

These first three pictures show the initial stages of the layout. First, what will become the centre track is laid. The lift bridge and engine shed are good points of reference for later photos. The second photo shows this track has a Y junction at the other end which leads round to the turntable. In photo three the track is extended right the way back down to cross over the lift bridge.

In this next sequence of photos the track is extended again off the third branch of the turntable and the tunnel added, but the loop is left incomplete. Finally, the forth branch is completed which loops under the bridges that form the central track. Once this was done Isaac returned to the loop with the tunnel on it. To complete this Isaac used the two short double ended pieces.

Isaac then found he needed another double ended piece to complete the main loop. After a little while he figured out he could free both of the pieces by turning the turn table round by 90 degrees. It did mean having to redo the loop which went under the bridges. If you look carefully at the two similar photos to the right you can see the changes that were made. The loop joining the lifting bridge and the other end of the Y junction was completed, including the doubled ended piece.

The final elements was a passing loop that was added to the last straight and a short curving siding. It needs top be noted that Isaac's brother was definitely a co-creator of this layout and the boys cooperated beautifully to create a really pleasing layout.

Tracing my fingers round the track, as I do, I could see it had lots of possibilities in terms of routes and direction and it kept the boys busy for a long tie as they explored the options.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sidings with a twist

 It's been a while since Isaac created a layout. This is the first one he did after a couple of weeks rest. It appears to be a layout that demonstrates his repertoire of sidings to the world, a little like one of those cabinet maker's apprentice pieces. As is fairly obvious from the photo that Isaac had to work this layout around a fairly busy room and he even incorporated the leg of the coffee table into the layout.

The layout consists of five sidings. Two finish at the repair shed and engine shed respectively. The other three are straight sidings for a single train.

The first of these is the wonderfully twisted one at the bottom of the layout. It does a full 180 degree turn before reaching the buffers. When I first came in and saw the layout it was this one that caught my eye as it was so prominent.

However the final pair of sidings are the ones that I eventually found most pleasing. I love the longer siding with it's double approach to it. It's wonderfully extravagant and a little overboard. What is so fun thought is the small siding that then pierces one of these branches like a thread though the eye of a needle.

If I was after a someone who knew about making sidings I would definitely consider this apprentice.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Invalidated by an invalid

1: to remove from or classify as not able to perform active service
2: an infirm or sickly person.

Today's layout is quite straightforward. This might reflect the fact that Isaac was suffering from a stinking cold. He built a loop using the viaduct and then put in the points which split off into two branches, one to the engine shed and the other to the repair shed.

After a few minutes later he removed the repair shed and placed a simple siding in the layout instead. The two lines out of the repair shed seem to indicate there might have been an intention to reincorporate it back into the main track, but this never happened.

It reminded me of what happens with real life railways, where a piece of infrastructure no longer serves a purpose and rather than being erased it is just left to slowly decay in sight of the working railway. I often wonder about this when I view it from a train. Was there an intention of returning to it some day, but  no one ever got round to it?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A break through

I have mentioned in previous posts that some times the levels of cooperation in building railways between Isaac and his brother can be fairly tense. Isaac does tend to dominate his brother when it comes to deciding the layout. This track started out that way and then something changed.

Isaac stated off with a simple loop with a viaduct in it. His brother wanted to help, but Isaac was having none of it and in the end consented to let his brother have a few pieces to build a separate track. 

After a few minutes of solitary building the two brothers suddenly decided to join their loops up. It the top photo Isaac's original loop is on the left and his brothers on the right. 

Once this had been done Isaac suggested the linking track through the viaduct. Finally the turntable and sidings were added. The rest of the afternoon was fairly peaceful with a good deal of cooperation, listening and respect for ideas.

The track itself works really well with lots of opportunities to reverse the train's direction and vary the route. I always mentally play out the possibilities in my mind and find it quite pleasing when there are lots of choices. Maybe that says something about me.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Noughts and crosses

Isn't always the way? Yesterday I decided to post a layout that I normally wouldn't have shared, just to let everyone know we hadn't fallen off the edge of the world and then today I come home to a new layout!

Isaac is maintaining the simplicity theme. In fact today's track seems to be all about places where rolling stock and engines can be stored rather than any sort of journey they could make. The one circuit is completely inaccessible to any of the trains using the main track.

The forest on the plinth is back and there are three buildings as well. The combination of repair shed, tunnel and level crossing in close proximity is intriguing.

At the other end of the line is a rare example of the turntable being used to access sidings rather than a a replacement for the cross over. 

For such a small layout there was a lot of rolling stock, but only one engine. But whatever it's quirks it's nice to have Isaac building again.