Monday, March 31, 2008

I spent a few hours over the last couple of days installing radial tracks from the Laurel turntable to the Roundhouse floor (I'll build up the rest of the roundhouse after the backdrop and such are in place). Photos in a few days.
I still have to spike down a couple of the tracks near the turntable pit and attach feeder wires. Should be done late this week. Then it's on to add the first section of the upper deck over Glenrock, so I can add lighting to Glenrock and paint the backdrop there.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Boy, almost three weeks since my last update!
I've continued working in the Glenrock siding area, and have finally carved up the first sheet of foam for the area between the track and the fascia.
Here's one end of the Glenrock area with the foam in place but not carved:

And here's the same spot from a different perspective after the rough carving was done:
The flat spots at either end are for additional foam stacks. Before I extend the foreground foam at the fascia, I'm going to paint the backdrop hills and try my hand at building the first section of scenery base behind the Glenrock tracks.

I've left the Glenrock area alone for the past week or so and am focused instead on getting the roundhouse floor and radial tracks installed at Laurel. That will give me a place to store locomotives - they've been parked out on the NP mainline and Laurel yard forever!

Friday, March 07, 2008

I got a second, shorter radial track installed off the Laurel turntable Wednesday evening. It's just long enough to hold an 0-8-0. The tender is close enough to the turntable that a loco on the adjacent track just clears, so I may lengthen the track slightly - an inch or so would do fine.

Tonight or tomorrow I plan to cut out the roundhouse inspection pit clearance holes in the baseboard. I have to extend the baseboard slightly, so I'll probably do that, too.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Well, another couple of weeks gone by.

As the final precursor to starting the 3-D scenery in the Glenrock siding area, I started wiring the auxilliary contacts on the Tortoise switch machines under Minneapolis West yard throat to route power to the turnout closure and point rails. Those turnouts (Walthers) route power via the stock rails and points, which over time can become a bit unreliable due to a build-up of grime at the contact points. Once or twice I've had a loco stall when good contact was not made. Using the Tortoise to route power to the closure / point rails eliminates that problem, so several weeks ago I began adding the necessary wires.

I did the first turnout, then found that for some reason the turnout shorted when set for one direction, but routed power fine when in the other! I reviewed the Tortoise wiring schematic and could see nothing wrong, so I cut the wire that was causing the short and everything operated fine again.

Friday the 29th of Feb. I started wiring the other four switches. Again I reviewed the Tortoise schematic to make sure I was wiring everything right, and got started. After wiring in two of the remaining four turnouts, I found that the turnouts were shorting when set to one route, and were fine when set to the other! I reviewed the location of all my feeders in the area and the positions of the insulated rail joiners and even pulled out the multimeter to show me what had power when. I made a sketch of the yard throat and tried to figure out where the shorts were happening. Since the throat worked fine when the points were routing power, I knew something really weird had to be going on! Having no luck analyzing the problem, I finally gave up in disgust for the night and went upstairs.

Saturday morning (March 1) I went back into the basement to see if I could figure out what the problem was. I pulled out the Tortoise schematic for the fourth or fifth time and looked at it again. The problem hit me square in the face as I was looking at the wiring diagram. I had been reading it wrong! Every time I had looked at the diagram, I had seen what I thought I would see, and not what was really there! I couldn't believe it!

I crawled back under the layout and rewired all the Tortoises to match what I'd finally seen in the schematic. When I got back out from under the layout to try everything out, they all worked perfectly. I'd wasted several hours mis-wiring the machines and then analyzing and re-wiring them. I had read and re-read the Tortoise schematic several times, and read it wrong every single time (except fo the last time)! Oy vey!!

Next I installed some foam supports off the Glenrock subroadbed, to hold the foam for the scenery in place above Minneapolis.

With those tasks done, I turned to the Laurel engine terminal and starting gluing together the floor of the roundhouse that will be installed there. I also laid out one of the radial tracks off the turntable that will be adjacent to the roundhouse. Since my hip was causing me some pain (I bruised the joint somehow, though I don't know how), I stopped for the day at that point and retired to the recliner for few hours of really bad television.

Sunday, March 2nd I was back in the train room, this time carving a piece of 1" pink foam as a base for the first scenery on the layout. I got the edges trimmed to fit between the track and fascia, then stopped for the day - hip was really giving me fits! I spent the remainder of Sunday not moving around very much.

Last night I completed the radial track I'd started Sunday. I now have a spot to park a loco that isn't in the middle of a yard track! Tonight I'll install a second, shorter one.

I did take photos, but they're still in the camera. I'll post in a few days. Sorry about the long-winded post!