WVR655 Wandering Caboose

WVR655 Wandering Caboose by BGTwinDad
WVR655 Wandering Caboose, a photo by BGTwinDad on Flickr.

Over the holidays, the CH&FR railroad (and dispatcher Mike McConnell in particular) has played host to WVR655, a “wandering caboose” from the nScale.net website. On board were 18-year old twins Thomas and Jacob Wallburg and their 12-year old sister Ashley.

The Wallburgs enjoyed Christmas with Mr. McConnell’s family, and are staying through the New Years Eve festivities before traveling on to nSn user Mill-Bay’s Kettle River Railway in Vancouver, BC.

Central Valley Truss Bridge

Central Valley Truss Bridge by BGTwinDad
Central Valley Truss Bridge, a photo by BGTwinDad on Flickr.

Work nears completion on the new CV Truss Bridge for the layout. I painted it last night (black, of course). I’ve got a few tweaks to make, and I need to set the piers in place and level, and then we will be back in operation.

This is the taller version of the model, made to accommodate double-stack container cars.

The piers shown in the picture here are just holding the bridge up off the table. When in stalled, the piers will be in their proper positions at the ends of the span, not in the middle.

2013 Christmas Train


The 2013 CH&FR Christmas Train pulls out of Nolan Yard. At the head is the CH&FR’s own GP40, followed by the 2013 FVM boxcar, an Intermountain TTX flat with a 50 foot pine tree for the town, and the CH&FR caboose bringing up the rear.

I mounted the tree and did the tie down cabling myself. The boxcar is, of course, store-bought. I’m hoping to add at least one car each year going forward.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

‘Tis The Season

Christmas tree by BGTwinDad
Christmas tree, a photo by BGTwinDad on Flickr.

The CH&FR handled some special cargo today as the town Christmas tree arrived at Nolan Yard. The 50′ pine was shipped by rail because… well, because.

The CH&FR shipping department reports that the tree will be delivered to Glover’s Bend in a few days, and will be set up and decorated in the town square by the end of the weekend.

The CH&FR Goes Digital Part 7


Today we present the long-awaited (I hope!) Part 7 of my “The CH&FR Goes Digital” series.

This episode dives into block detection using the Digitrax BDL168 16-input block detector.  We cover track setup, wiring, connecting the BDl168 to your computer with JMRI, and provide a live demo.

Block detection is what we call “knowing where your trains are”, and it works very similarly to how the real railroads do it.  The layout is divided up into electrically separate segments, or “Blocks”.  Each Block is a section of track where you want to be able to tell whether there is a train on that track or not.  It might be a siding, or a length of mainline track, or (less likely) a track in a yard.  The Block is electrically isolated from all the other blocks, and the power feed to one rail is fed through a block detector like the BDL168.

When a locomotive sits on that section of track, even if it is not moving (under DCC) a small current flows through the locomotive’s decoder from one rail to the other, and the BDL168 can detect this current flow.  When it sees the locomotive’s current draw, it reports that section of track as “occupied”.  If there is no current flow, the BDL168 will report “unoccupied” for that track section.

Of course, on the prototype railroad, the trains provide their own power, but the block detectors are able to work very similarly.  By inducing a voltage between the rails, the detector can watch for the metal wheels of the train to short the rails together, indicating that the track is occupied.

On the model, without a little work, we can only detect the presence of locomotives.  Most model railroad cars (in N scale at least) come with plastic wheels which do not conduct.  On the few which come with metal wheels, the axles are insulated to prevent the car from shorting out the track.

By adding a small resistor to one wheelset on each car, the entire train can be detected, not just the locomotive.  One of my favorite videos on how to add resistive wheelsets is by Daryl Kruse who runs the UPRR Geneva Subdivision in N Scale.

For further reference, here are some links…

Replacement Bridge

Work continues on the layout, though slowly.  The main bridge at Glover’s Bend had been damaged in an accident, and frankly it wasn’t very well put together to start with, so the CH&FR decided to replace it with a new one.  The new bridge is almost ready for painting, and then will be permanently installed.


The model is a Central Valley Model Works Pratt Truss bridge, the high-portal version that can allow double-stack trains to pass through. It’s a very nice kit, with lots of molded-in detail and a fairly easy assembly process. The optional add-on walkway and railing kit adds an extra touch, I think.