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!

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