Alan’s latest update

“Hi Al,

just to update you on the progress of my layout. I have just completed building a new Metcalfe loco shed with a stone finish to match the station. It’s a very sturdy building and can recommend it.

I have also constructed a high level double track circuit so I can run-in new locos, or test ones that have been serviced. I can’t really run them in properly with an end to end layout. I did mention that I’m not a great fan of ’roundy roundy’ layouts, but I must admit that it’s nice to see longer trains travelling at some speed at eye level. I plan to fit a backscene at some time but don’t intend to put full scenery on it.

Having built the high level track, The lower ‘South Wales layout’ was in its shadow, so I bought som LED 5metre strips and fitted them under the shelf. It makes it a lot better.

Best wishes.


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“Dear Alastair,

I have been following the amazing Dave’s remodelling of his attic layout with great interest. In a recent instalment Dave was showing a little transformer he used for powering his LED street lighting and this obviously has many uses for stations signalling etc where LEDs can be used.

I teach simple electronics to teenage children at GCSE level in the UK. One of the things they need to know is which resistor to use with an LED and this depends on several factors;- The circuit voltage, the LED forward voltage (how much voltage the LED needs for optimal performance), The LED forward current (how many milliamps the LED needs for optimal performance) and how many LEDs you wish to use in your circuit.

LEDs used to be fairly standard at 2 volts and 20 milliamps but with the advent of larger and super bright LEDs this isn’t the case these day and the more powerful LEDs can use up to 3.5 volts. As a rule of thumb a 330r resistor will protect any LED connected to 3 – 12 volts DC. So if not sure, use one of about that value.

You will need to get the information on your LEDs which should be available from the manufacturers or distributors People such as Rapid Electronics, Maplin, Kingbright, etc are a good source of information.

Thank you for keeping my interest in model railways going if only as an observer of other peoples’ talent.



Big thanks to Alan and Paul – some good LED advice there. Keep ’em coming.

That’s it for this time.

Don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if today’s the big day when you make your start.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

17 Responses to Alan’s latest update

  1. christine says:

    Nice job, I always look for weathering, there’s a lot of work you’ve done.

  2. Tony says:

    I also like the Metcalfe kits. I have built the GWR signal box and the goods shed and still have the two-road loco shed to do. I also use Rocket card adhesive because it is very effective and has a fine application tip. The addition of LEDs in the buildings is good, remember that gas lighting would have a yellow hue if you are modelling before the second world war (electric lights were pretty rare until around 1920).

  3. jeffrey sikes says:

    nice work looks great !!!!

  4. Roland Burch says:

    Very good job.

  5. Dave Sandell says:

    are the buildings for HO and what are they made of

  6. Perry Torregano says:

    I wish I could enlarge Alan pictures to full screen.

  7. David Wooff says:

    Great contribution from Paul regarding LED’s + Resistors.
    Alan’s layout looks interesting, I wish I knew what suggestions to make about achieving larger image views.

  8. Thank you Pul for the information re resistors ..something we should check , I know i have fitted wrong ones in the past , fortunately most retailers do supply correct resistors with lights for model railways …also well done Alan…/Dangerous dave

  9. Stephen Hart says:

    Layout looks great 👍 Like the information on LED Resistors Thanks

  10. Robert Brady says:

    Bitch session: Please shoot your photos so we can click on them to get a closer view,Which in turn means we’re interested in your layout.It’s so depressing wanting to study ur layout up close and be disappointed that in some cases the photo actually becomes smaller when clicked on.Please be aware of your photography skills need tuning up,LOL!
    Sorry Alastair just had to get off my chest

  11. Larry says:

    Too small the pictures. Didn’t read.

  12. Richard Lindstrand says:

    Regarding enlarging pictures — after clicking on the picture, if you’re viewing pictures with a Windows10 computer and a touch screen, just put two fingers on the screen and spread them and the picture will enlarge as much as you want. If you don’t have a touchscreen, most browsers have a zoom function which will accomplish the same. I assume Mac systems are similar. Even my Android phone does this as well. Hopefully the picture was taken with enough resolution (pixels) to still look clear when enlarged. Alan’s photos were.

  13. Lee Hirsch says:

    To Perry, Robert, Larry, possibly what you are viewing with has a problem, as all 3 of my devices (Android phone, tablet and small laptop) had no trouble enlarging. They all are touch screen. Can you enlarge other pictures on this site? If you can, then maybe it IS how these pics were sent … ? Alastair? Would you check this out for us? Lee

  14. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Well done Job Looks great!

  15. Rob Hughes says:

    Great pics, which can be enlarged with Android. Never had a problem with this site. Thanks Alistair

  16. Will in NM says:

    Nice layout Alan! I like the new engine shed — it looks great with your steam locos. I understand your opting for an around the walls loop for testing your rolling stock. I am building a small 4×8 foot test layout for the same reasons: (1) to be able to run all the engines I’ve acquired over the years and never had a place to run them; (2) to be able to test modifications to engines and train cars in a higher speed continuous running situation; and (3) to experiment with the various DC and DCC control wiring options I will have access to. Finally, if I should choose to want to sell some of my locos, I can shoot video of them running on the test loops and include it in the advertisement.

    Paul, thanks for the clear advise on LED resistors. I’m sure it will prove very helpful to many of Al’s readers including me.

  17. Ray says:

    No problem viewing pics.
    They do expand fo me.
    Nice work

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