Category Archives: News

Bursts of Progress

I was going to title this post “Slow Progress”, but then I realized it is more like bursts of progress with long periods of idleness in between — or more precisely, long periods of everything else in life taking priority.

But, there are in fact some bursts of progress. This past week I have been working on laying out the staging tracks. Here you can see that work in process:

Slow progress

In this photo I am laying the roadbed for the outermost two tracks of the 5-track staging.  I don’t have a photo, but at the moment I have the roadbed laid, two turnouts and all the track on both ends prepared (except for attaching wires) for installation, but I’ve hit a snag.

The staging yard will have infrared detectors placed at both ends and in the center, for queuing up trains on the hidden tracks, but I have to determine the clearance points between all of the tracks in order to figure where to place the sensors.  And the sensors must be placed before the track is permanently installed.  So until the next budgeting round, when I can purchase the rest of the turnouts for the yard (and some more flex track!), the staging must go on hold.

In the meantime, I did acquire some Code 40 flex for the industrial tracks, and so I began installing those, at least where I knew for sure what the final placement should be.

First, we have the 84 Lumber site, between the yard and the peninsula.  84 Lumber is a single track which will be in the middle of a lumber yard (obviously) and be mainly for centerbeam flats.

This track will be served by the Branch Line turn.

Second up, we have Standlee Forage, which is on the North wall of the room between the yard and the lift-out bridge.  This too is a single track, and will be one of the “signature” scenes anchoring the layout to a real place in space/time.

You can see the real site in the photo behind the tracks.

Third we have the two tracks for the Georgia Pacific “Dixie Cup” plant.

Dixie Cup is accessed from the main line just off the yard, and its spur crosses over the Branch Line as it curves around toward the closet.  The straight track will be inside the plant building, which will feature a cut-away scene of the interior loading dock.  The curved track will be outside the building and is an unloading dock for a single tank car of chemicals used in the manufacturing process.

In a stroke of luck, I have made an acquaintance of one of the engineers at the real plant, so I am hoping to gather some “intelligence” on the actual operations and materials involved, to enhance the realism of this scene.

One issue I have come across is that Code 40 rail is short enough that my locomotives are rather noisily riding along the molded-in spike detail on the ties.  They still make good contact with the rails, so I think a bit of careful work with a file on the spike heads should solve that problem.  I will also have to make sure that all of my rolling stock is retrofitted with low-profile wheels.  Some of my boxcars with Micro-Trains “pizza cutter” wheels won’t run at all on this track.

We shall see when scenery is in place, but TBH at the moment I’m not sure the difference between Code 40 and Code 55 is all that visible, except perhaps in photographs.

That is all I have for now.  Upcoming tasks include (in no particular order):

  • Saving up for the rest of the staging yard trackage and turnouts
  • Pondering how to re-build the lift-out across the closet, and how to improve vertical alignment on the main lift-out.  This may involve Neodymium super-magnets in some fashion.
  • Studying the “pit” side of the peninsula and making final decisions about the industry/industries on that space.
  • Starting final design work on Standlee and Dixie Cup structures, now that track is in place and footprint dimensions can be finalized.
  • Creating the video update Part 6, which is long overdue.

 

Frost River Update Part 4

Here’s video update part 4. No narration this time, just a short video of trains running the now-completed main line loop, including crossing the lift-out bridge across the aisle.

I’m planning to provide update part 5 soon, in which I will describe some of the work that went into reaching this milestone, including tracklaying, hooking up the DCC track bus, setting up my Raspberry Pi / JMRI train computer, setting up servo turnout controls, and constructing the bridge.

Thanks for watching, and stay tuned!!

Hand Laid Turnouts

This is my first hand-laid turnout. It is a #7 right-hand switch made with MicroEngineering Code 55 rail, PCB ties from Fast Tracks, and using the Fast Tracks template. I cut and filed the rails by hand using my bench vise and a file. Overall it has taken three weeks, but probably only a couple of hours of actual working time.

The wrk wasn’t nearly as hard as I expected it to be. The filing work was a bit tedious, and I did a terrible job on the wood ties, but the turnout is quite functional.

I’m looking forward to building plenty more of these in the future, including some more complex track work like this crossover coming soon…

Progress Update – Laying Track!

It’s been a bit too long since I’ve posted something. Sorry about that! I’ve been trying to get to a milestone point to announce that. Well, no milestone quite yet, but there has been some progress! I have laid track!!

Track laying progress

I started, naturally, on the narrow shelf along the closet wall. This is some of the simplest and most straightforward track on the layout. A simple length of track with a siding. I’ve added a pair of short (80 foot) bridges over a creek in the middle of the siding. There’s a lot of that sort of thing (up-and-down terrain, small creeks, etc. in this area. Indeed, it’s quite hilly, and that will be hard to show in the compressed space of this layout.

Track laying progress

I’m using MicroEngineering Code 55 weathered wooden-tie flextrack and Atlas Code 55 turnouts on this section, and most of the rest of the layout too. There will be some concrete ties on the main line, and I may sneak in some Code 40 track on some of the industrial track. The track on this part of the branch is laid directly on the foam, with no roadbed. It’s industrial track, has been there a while, and won’t have much of a profile like the main line will. I painted a base coat of tan under the track to make sure there’s no green foam color showing through.

I’m using Gapmasters from American Tie & Timber to secure the track as it crosses the gaps on the lift-out section. These are well tested, handy tools for just this sort of situation, and Wayne is good to work with.

I’ve also started working on the grade up from the lift-out around behind Dixie Cup to the main part of the layout. I cut in the Woodland Scenics ramp, carved back the foam around it into a slope, and then covered it with plaster cloth. Once that was set, I laid on a coat of lightweight spackle to hide the fabric of the plaster cloth and provide a smooth surface, then followed that up with a coat of base paint.

Track laying progress

Right now I’m waiting for the glue to dry on the Gapmasters at the corner end of the lift-out, and then I’ll be ready to install the track up the hill. I already have it curved to shape and feeder wires attached. Once the track is laid, I’ll mount the contact switch that will cut power on the hill when the lift-out is missing, and connect up the bus wire.

It’s nice to see the layout begin to take shape. Progress is good!

Frost River Benchwork Complete!

As of today, the benchwork for Frost River is officially complete!
Finished cutting foam

Finished cutting foam

Finished cutting foam

With the exception of some minor adjustments and “punch list” items, construction of the base benchwork and installation of foam on the Frost River layout was completed today. I have also sketched about half of the track design onto the foam, so that I can plan out where and how to contour the foreground. Once that is done, I will cut and install the fascia.

Still to come, construction wise: the fascia, the lighting valance, and the backdrop. Then it is on to more “modeling” tasks … laying track, building and installing structures, and scenery.

And there was much rejoicing….

The End of the Road for Glover’s Bend

All good things must come to an end.  To every thing there is a season (turn, turn, turn).

My Glover’s Bend layout has come to its end.  This evening I removed all of the structures and began pulling up all of the turnouts.  All of the usable ones will be sold to help fund the new Frost River layout.

The End of the Road
What’s left of Nolan Yard and Glover’s Bend after tonight’s destruction

Before the deconstruction began, one last train rolled past the station at Glover’s bend: a Pennsylvania Railroad Alco PA-1 pulling a passenger car … another part of the “nScale.net Wandering Fleet” of rolling stock.

Untitled
One last train passing the station at Glover’s Bend.

One might think I would be sad. No, I am not. I have very much enjoyed designing and building Glover’s Bend, but it is time to move on. The space in the Den is needed for other family things, the new upstairs “train room” is almost ready for benchwork construction on Frost River to begin, and I have made my peace with the transition.

It is time for a new season and new things.

 

Modern Power in the Area

While hanging out at Nolan yard today, I caught an unusual sight… a loaded CSX coal train rerouted through Glover’s Bend due to some track maintenance on the usual route.

New Road Power

These are two new GE ES44AC “GEVO” locomotives made by Kato that I picked up from a friend.  They won’t see much service in Glover’s Bend, but will be hard at work on the mainline in Frost River, once the trackwork is done.

 

Fun in the snow!

Yesterday, Kentucky got over a foot of snow (17 inches at Bluegrass Airport!) in less than 18 hours.  It wasn’t all bad, though.  Here’s some video of my friend Ray clearing the rails on his 7-1/2 inch gauge Soo Line railroad.

The fun part is that we had just gotten cleaned up from a foot-deep snowfall a few weeks earlier.  Here’s some more video of that snow-clearing job…

Continue reading Fun in the snow!