March Progress!

How about another video?

I’ve laid the main line track all the way from one lift bridge approach to the other. The only thing stopping me from having a complete loop is the lift bridge itself.

I’ve used ME concrete tie track for the main, partly because it is prototypical for this area and partly so it is easy to distinguish the main from the sidings and yard tracks. Fortunately one pack of 6 “sticks” was just enough to make the full loop. The sidings and yard tracks will be regular C55 wooden-tie flex, and I may get some Code 40 for the industry spurs.

In other news, I’ve started learning how to hand lay turnouts… I need a BUNCH of #7 turnouts to finish the layout, so why not make some of them from scratch?

First hand laid turnout

I’m using ME code 55 track, and PCB ties and gear from Fast Tracks, but I’m at least attempting to build this first one without a jig and without any of the other specialty tools. Now that I’ve reached the “end of the line” (for now) on track laying, I’ll have a bit more time to focus on finishing it up. We’ll see how it goes…

February Progress Update

I’m a little surprised that it’s been over a month since the update video! Looks like I should be getting the camera out again. Progress has been slow, and not always photogenic, but there have been a few changes worth reporting on in the last six weeks. Lots of “real life” things going on right now that are keeping me from moving forward, but even slow progress is progress!

This post will be something of a mixed bag of content, since there are several different work items going on, and I feel I need to get the blog caught up quickly.

Structure Mock-Up

First up, this is a construction paper mockup of the Commonwealth Paper Products structure that will be on the narrow shelf behind the entry door.
Commonwealth Paper

I drew the building structure in SketchUp, and then printed 2D views of the model to glue onto a core that I built from cereal boxes. I think it’s a pretty convincing stand-in, and I plan to do these for many of the structures on the layout.

Custom Electronics

Next we have a couple of different electronics projects… a trio of CDU-based Kato turnout controllers that I built for a friend, and the completed control circuit for my animated swing gate.

Kato Crossover Controls

The CDUs are based on an integrated design I have that incorporates a switch and indicator LEDs, but my friend wanted to mount these remotely from his control panel, so I provided connectors for the switch and LED. These are a very simple design (not mine, just adapted), and the selected capacitor is powerful enough to handle a double crossover.

Stepper Motor Control

The swing gate control board has screw terminals for all of the motor, sensor, and control connections, and sockets for an Arduino Pro Mini and a stepper motor driver. This is ready to hook up, once I solve the mechanical issues with connecting to the shaft of the swing gate itself.

New Power

CXST1141 Atlas MP15DC

This is the latest addition to the power roster, an Atlas MP15DC that I bought second-hand from a friend and that will be used in the yard. It’s DC for now, but I will upgrade it to DCC soon. I’ve tested it on the branch line, and it runs quite well.

Dixie Cup Factory Model

I’ve built up a SketchUp model of the Dixie Cup factory as well…

Dixie Cup Mockup

Dixie Cup Mockup

Dixie Cup Mockup

New Lighting

Finally, I replaced the ceiling fan in the room with a much, much brighter 4-tube fluorescent lighting fixture with 5000K daylight tubes. It’s almost too bright in here now!

New room lighting

As part of the lighting upgrade I also moved the wall switch for the room down below the layout deck. The “standard” switch location was behind the backdrop and would be impossible to reach once scenery was in place.

New room lighting

The new wall switch incorporates a very convenient outlet that will help with working on that part of the room.

That’s all for now! I have some track laying progress to report, but I will include that in a separate post after I take some better pictures with the new lighting.

Narrow Shelf Construction Continues

I’ve made some more progress on the narrow shelf. The fascia is up, as is the backdrop and the valance above. I’ve also wired the lift-out section, and am preparing to continue the bus wire across the layout. It’s time to figure out exactly where I’m going to have all these bus segments come together.

In other news, I’m making progress on the bridge and trestle that will go into the siding area on the narrow shelf, too…

Valence!

The fascia and valance will be painted black. There will be a shelf unit below that will hold train cassettes, and the top of the valance will be a display shelf for the “train of the day”.

In other news, I’m making progress on laying the track around the “triangle” area. I decided to play it safe and lay cork for the whole triangle, only lowering the grade on the branch and Dixie Cup spur on the track beyond the triangle. I think it will be smoother operations, and probably more prototypical, given the short distances involved.

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….

A Quick Tip on Tee Nuts

Here is a quick tip for using Tee nuts when bolting wood things (like layout legs) together. At first, I drilled the hole and hammered the Tee nut into place, but I found that I didn’t necessarily get the nut lined up right so the bolt would go through.

A better idea… run the bolt through the hole, and thread the tee nut onto the end. Then, while holding the Tee nut steady against the wood, drive the bolt home with a power screwdriver. The bolt will pull the Tee nut into the wood, and it will be precisely aligned!

Overworked

I’m reaching one of those points where I’ve put too many irons in the fire. I really need to back down and finish some of the older ones before picking up any new ones… but it’s so tempting. The problem is, my ADD kicks in and I run off chasing the next shiny object, and then other things get dropped.

For example, already to-do are:

  • Finishing painting the train room
  • Starting benchwork for the layout
  • Writing three different magazine articles
  • Putting together a clinic for my local NMRA club
  • Building up a Shapeways NRE Genset locomotive
  • Building up at least 3 different HO scale covered hoppers
  • Moving all my tools and supplies upstairs
  • Planning a shelf switching layout as a demo
  • Continued work on the CH&FR website
  • Getting out to take some good train photos
  • Completing my coal flood loader scratch-build
  • Completing customization of my kitbashed log cars

And then there’s the usual non-train related stuff going on, such as:

  • Keeping up with the housework
  • Building and maintaining my son’s Boy Scout troop website
  • Travel and family fun stuff
  • Painting and updating the rest of the house
  • Work
  • Continued practice on four different musical instruments

… and so on.

And then there’s the new projects I want to take on…

  • Creating a diorama for a contest
  • Scratch building a special flat car
  • Custom designing detection and signaling equipment
  • Getting my layout video blog started
  • Finding hours to volunteer with my club

And that’s just the stuff that comes to mind right off my head. I’m sure I’ve already forgotten a few things.

It’s definitely time to focus and knock some things off. I don’t want this to sound like a brag sheet. Truth is, almost none of this (except, of course, work and the honey-do list) is actually getting done, at least not with any speed or efficiency or effectiveness.

In the case of the hobby stuff, it’s not so important. What matters is getting a little bit done step by step here and there, moving the ball forward and having fun with it.

Enough blogging. Time to get something done to blog about!

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.

 

A fictional Appalachian Short Line Modeled in N Scale.