Tag Archives: Track

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.

 

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…

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…

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!

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.

Untitled

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.

 

Scenery Progress

Scenery Progress by BGTwinDad
Scenery Progress, a photo by BGTwinDad on Flickr.

While painting the train station, I’ve been filling in the scenery around the fron tof the town. Here’s an aerial shot. You can see some basic grass sprouting up, track ballasted, roads in place, and gravel berms for the road.

The station is planned to go in the space covered in black just to the left of / in front of the green boxcar.  It won’t really be all “paved” like that, but I had to do something to cover up the green foam in that space.  It is very reflective, and either shows up too bright or causes the rest of the picture to be underexposed.

Here’s a second photo just a bit farther “east”, where you can see some more grass laid down.

Track just east of the train station

Here, you can see some of the differentiation in ballast colors.  The two main lines have a bright grey ballast, indicative of freshly manicured track.  To the left is the yard, with its darker, dirtier brown track mixed with cinders and diesel oil from heavy use and a bit less care than the main.  And above the mainline, you can see the brown ballast on the town branch, indicative of light use but a lot of dirt infiltration from the weather.

In hindsight, I probably overdid the town branch brown just a bit.  A more 50/50 mix with the grey would probably have been better.  But this still provides a clear delineation between the mainline and the auxiliary tracks, which is what I was going for.

 

Staging Yard Extension Complete

  by BGTwinDad
, a photo by BGTwinDad on Flickr.

In other news that I’m trying to get caught up on, the new Williamson Staging yard/shelf is now largely complete and operational.  The extension hooks onto the layout via a clamping fixture (for lack of a better term) on the end of the layout proper, and then plugs into the DCC bus via a pair of Anderson PowerPole connectors.  When not in use, the extension is made to hang on the wall out of the way, using shelf-track hardware for the wall mounting.

The extension provides 3 single-ended storage tracks, plus an A/D track with a run-around.  All tracks are wired to easily retrofit train detection hardware, when I hit the lottery.

This yard, as it plugs into the layout, represents the Williamson end of the track schematic.  Trains exiting the yard throat enter the layout at the upper left corner and proceed clockwise around the right end before reaching the Glover’s Bend yard.

The track interface at the layout/extension joint has no joiners, and relies upon a simple “tight fit” similar to those used in the FreemoN modular standard for the connection.