Sunday, 24 August 2014

August 24, 2014 Update.

Here are some photos of the progress.
The first train has run to "Gleeville". 
Graeme Bull and Mike Bartlett have both visited in the last week. Thanks guys - I need to organise myself so we can create a working session.
All the cork roadbed is in place - it still needs to be sanded and bevelled prior to track laying.
I have found the detailing of the switches to make them DCC friendly, very time consuming. Cutting the rails to isolate the frogs, wiring (soldering) jumpers and wiring to the frog takes some time.
I need advice on wiring and laying complex track elements. The issue is where to solder the power connectors? In some cases the switches are without power and I have had to jumper wires and solder them after the rails are glued down. Do I solder the joiners? Do I solder power leaves to the switches? 
Here is the first train at Gleeville.
 Here is the roadbed in place at Summit where I plan a gravel quarry and loading facility.
 Here is the exit from Summit where it will go to the spline roadbed through the mountains.
 Here is the city area around Leesville. You can see the staging tracks below almost hidden by the dark walls. The buildings are temporary to give some initial ideas.

June 2014 Status and Plans:

Late June I am off to the National N Scale Convention in Roanoke, Virginia. This 2 week break from activity in the train room and the long flights enables me to create a check list of the next stages and items I need to plan. Here are some of the challenges and my approach to solving, and planning to progress.

1. Wiring switches - live frogs etc.
I have decided to make all the frogs on the switches isolated. I have ordered a jewellers saw from Micro Mart and will use this to cut the rail just below the frog, and totally isolate the frog of the switch. I will also use Tam Valley Frog Juicers to switch the polarity of the frogs. These Frog Juicers are simple to use. You connect up the two bus wires and the single frog wire goes to the unit. My units will manage 6 switches (frogs) per unit. As the train identifies the wiring of the frog switch is incorrect it shorts and quickly reverse the polarity.
This method will be a little tedious isolating the frogs and wiring the point rail and stock rails to give continuous power, but once done I will not have any switch controllers or slide switches on the layout. All the switches will be manually controlled by the operator.
Of course if I was using Peco "Insufrog" switches I would not even have to worry about this. 

2. Track laying.
All track will be laid on cork.
All track will be wired with the wires soldered onto the underside of the rails before laying.
Track will be held down with coloured caulk. The caulk is applied from the caulk gun and I will spread it using a spatula so there is no fault squeezing up between the sleepers.
I will use metal straight edges (can I buy a 9mm long steel or aluminium straight edge?)
I will use a roller (like a wallpaper's small roller) to bed down the track.
The staging will be laid first and will be tested before progressing as some of this is hidden.

3. Block control.
Do I section some of the power districts?
I will have 4 power districts - each will be protected by their own circuits.
Sectioning power districts can make future signalling easier, but I can probably easily isolate track later if required. I will seek advice at the conference.
My plan is to section later as required.

4. Details of the layout.
    - reason for the existence ( trying not to clutter)
    - towns and track details.
    - industries - not all - align to reason to railroad etc.
    - can I be ruthless on selecting and deleting non period / area specific buildings? (not sure as I want a turntable)

5. Painted backdrops?
Most of the backdrop will be sky.
Gee I would love to photoshop a backdrop but do not have the skills or patience yet.
Some areas will have distant mountains.

6. Landscape - mountains, desert, hills - basic landform.
    - I think I have the basic skills but I need to be very specific with the Western USA scenery and colours. Dirt is yellow / brown. Scrubs are common. Pine trees exist. Forests are not common in desert areas.

7. Layout diagram:
I must get XTracCad and use it to show my layout and detail some of the specific industries.
Does it work on my Mac?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

August Update:

Well a lot of activity has happened over the last month.
The staging tracks seem to test out OK (after a few sections were replaced).
So I progressed with developing the rest of the layout base. By this date (August 6, 2014) I had all that completed.
In terms of wiring the 4 sections I had decided on. the following colours for the bus wires.
1. Staging Bus wires - green and white.
2. Remote town and mining area: Black and Red Bus.
3. City and Approaching industry section: Black and Red.
4. Industrial and Small town area: Blue and white bus wire.

The two Red and Black bus wires are very separate and will be labelled so there is no confusion.
I also have tested the first two Tam Valley "Frog Juicers" that automatically reverse the polarity of the switch frogs when the switch is moved. 
I unpacked the last of my boxes of materials and structures that I had in storage over the last few years, and laid out many of the structures where they may go. 
I also did a reasonable amount of wiring. One lesson I learnt about wiring was to install junctions rather than have multiple separate lengths of wire. So from the power district controllers wires ran to junctions before leading the to layout. Where there was more than one set of lines leading out I used a junction and all the cables are connected with round end cable connectors soldered to the wire. These are then screwed to the junction creating a very secure connection but one that can easily be segmented by removing a connection for testing. This seems to be best practice wiring for a model railroad and it is worth the effort and cost to do it this way.
Here is a set of pictures updating you on progress.
This is the city area above staging.
 This is the city return loop.
 Here is the city and loop section before any track.
 Here is the remote town loop.

Note Mum on toilet.
 Risers and base.
 Risers before base installed. The base will be attached to the  horizontal riser support and screwed in place.
 Here is the Staging entrance pinned down into the caulk. Note the bus wiring underneath the tracks. The bus wires lead through small holes drilled in the risers.
A structure from a previous layout. Will I use it???
 The city area with some structures and the raised road in place. The structure are very temporary at this stage.
The end of the staging are and the junctions which will mostly be hidden tracks when scenery is completed. Note the background. It bends 90 degrees here but because it is curved the effect is more realistic.
Here is the 1st section of valence installed around the controllers.
 Here is the valence around the entrance to the staging area near the city area. Once I have painted the masonite and completed the valence the staging will be largely hidden but will still be accessible from above.