Monday, March 31, 2008

Brought down all the cars from the upper loop.

The yard loop has some troubles.
1) The Steam locomotive does not like crossing the milk platform. Yaws crazily and stalls.
2) More roadbed is needed
3) Clearance is a big problem on the south end of the curb.
4) A good option may be to take out the second 1/2 uncoupling track and shorten this section. The uncoupling track could work well on the middle siding. Need to look at operational issues. the south siding is just right to park the diesel. More temptation to make an engine shed here.
I am not sure how the geometry of the loop would change if I shorten it up. I suspect things will improve.
5) wiring changes are need for the uncoupling track for the north siding. Color codes need to match. I need to procure some more 18 ga. green wire.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Total disaster with the uncoupling track. Purchased a remote momentary switch. Unfortunately, it was a normal-on switch. The magnet overheated and shorted out. Total loss. However, I learned enough to convert two more uncoupling tracks to half tracks and successfully wired them with constant 7 volt power supply.

Also made some significant progress on the yard. The runaround track is in place (not yet balasted or secured. Power to two of the three sidings. I also found two of the three remote switches requied.

Straighened up the wire morass under the layout with zip ties.
Had to superglue the RR Crossing sign for the Automatic Gateman accessory due to an accident by my assistant. I also need to ask my assistant where all my logs are. I am missing at least nine. Found one in the living room.

Found the rotating beacon tower. Also spottted some additional O roadbed.

Direct wired a remote uncoupler/unloader track for the milk platform. Everything seemed to be working fine, but now after attaching it, the unloader button does both the uncouple and unload functions! This may not be all bad?

Friday, March 28, 2008

I finally solved the K-Line uncoupling track mystery! The hot lead was grounded to the outer rail. This is probably because it was previously used on a system where the outer rail was hot? I have to decide who to splice into this wire. On future tracks of this kind, I can get the ground off the screw on the magnet rather than straight from the outer rail. I still want to experiment with a constant voltage source for the uncoupling magnet.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Benchwork upgrades were the focus today.
1) plastic skid slides under the table legs to protect the floor and raise it a bit so the plastic drawers on wheels will fit underneath.
2) lowered cross braces to 60 scale feet above the floor.
3) installed shelves across braces
4) Did some major cleanup of the room

Also tried to create 1/2 track uncoupling track from salvaged tracks purchase last week
1) The jig saw worked great to cut the track
2) Had trouble with the solderless connector shorting out between the uncoupler terminal and the powered middle rail
3) Also had trouble with the insulating material on the middle rail
4) Exchanded wires for properly color coded types
5) Project completion put on hold... This is delaying yard cleanup.

Purchased another can of spray foam for scenery work.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Order is starting to return.
The upper and lower loops are again functional. Wiring for the upper and lower loops now has dual feeds for consistent voltage delivery.

The upper loop now has a passenger terminal with lighting. The platform was extended to match the curve radius. The lighting is controlled remotely with an LED equiped toggle switch. Ava approves.

Significant utilitiy upgrades below grade include a new main power cut off and better wire management with labels. The power distribution block was upgraded from 8 to 16 terminals.

Roadbed on the lower loop upgraded from HO to O for a much better look.

The CNW NW switcher took a few rounds with little change in speed.

The coal dump car is still having trouble at switches. It will probably need a sliding shoe replacement.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Today everything is a disaster. It looks like a major earthquake has struck. The following tasks led to this messs:
1) removed mountain to create isolation in upper loop. this was accomplished by purchasing two short isolation tracks. The geometry then required the purchase of a third short piece.
2) Removal of the mountain provided an opportunity for a base coat of color. Our dirt has changed from white to brown.
3) This provided an opportunity for carving out the waterfall feature. A steel girder bridge was ordered too bridge the chasm (maybe 40 feet).
4) Installation of one of the lower tunnel portals was accomplished today. More block work is required inside the tunnel.
5) We received a shipment of three uncoupling tracks that can be converted to half tracks for the yard.
6) Two priorities emerged: complete block wiring with a cleanup of wiring strategy and color coding; AND create an underground storage area.

Operations are halted for three days. There may be some opportunity Friday night for some clean up.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Just when we thought the engineering work was done, I discovered that the yard can have a runaround loop which only increases its capacity! Last night we began some major re-engineering.

1) Removed two switch at the yard entry and replaced with steady voltage wired switches. The switches are installed but not yet powered or tested.

2) Replaced the uncoupling track on the mainline with an uncoupling track/operating track combo. This will give flexibility in delivery points and permit use as a test track.

3) Re-installed manual switch for short engine siding in yard.

4) Installed bumpers at ends of spurs

5) Installed isolation pins where required except that the outer spur siding requires a block isolation pin.

6) Purchased a flex track operating section for the upper section. This will allow for a dump action from the upper level ramp to the lower level yard track.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We launched into a significant innovation in managing the power grid. A crossing gate and signal were wired to an isolated outside rail. The power source was the center rail. We disconnected the center rail feed and ran a feed back to the 24 volt constant terminal. Permformance of the two accesories improved immeasurable. This also prevents the accessories from drawing from the variable power of the locomotives. the next step is to apply this principle to the remote switches.

The next innovation was to run the two diesels together. They worked well together. Once they became unsyncronized (in the tunnel!). The pulled the longest possible load up the hill nicely. We added one too many cars and actually ran into ourself on the tighter bottom reverse loop. Great fun.

I am toying with the idea of two-train continual operation. It will require additional blocks (about 11 total). The alternative is to use the two-throttle capabilites to control speed on the lower and upper loops.

I am starting to feel cramped. I want to be able to switch from one consist to another and to store all the cars at the end of the day. I will likely store some cars to make room until I launch into the bridge phase of the project.

I planted a dead tree today. It looks good. I need to find the tree it came from and get some more. I also want to do some rural driving and see if my favorite weeds are up yet.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The following consists have been organized:

Chicago/Northwestern freight

Santa Fe short passenger

PA steam freight operating legacy

Monday, March 10, 2008

The mountain system is mostly a success. Expanding foam construction caused some alignment issues but whoever heard of a straight mountain? Gray granite with some unatural colored vegitation is the theme. We are exploring vegitation options. The normal nursery sources (Michaels, etc.) are quite expensive.

Roling stock is still arriving (air lifted in). It is an odd mixture of what is available. Most is useful for construction. There is even a passenger car for the comfort of workers. A roster will be required to set up scheduling and determine how units will be used for operations. Most of the inventory requires repair since a lot of it is 30 to 50 years old. This weekend we were able to purchase some much-needed parts:

springs and pivot rivets for couplers
ladders for one caboose
an additional 260 bumper
a much-needed upgraded power supply (ZW)!

Also, two new units were purchased a Sante Fe A-unit diesel and a coal-dump car. The engine required significant cleaning, expecially the horn unit. The engine was also fouled with grease and everything needed lubrication. It runs great now. There is some minor concern about scraping the undercarriage on turnouts.