Saturday, December 21, 2013

Building Paxinos

 Well, I am continuing along the branch line heading for Weigh Scales and the next town is Paxinos. Here is how we left it when we built the line through here some years ago. The station I have selected is the Magnison model. I also have a big furniture factory from the legendary John Young's layout. It was built by Ben Brown. It looks quite impressive up here along the branch.
 I have also included a Berkshire Models freight house to round out the scene. The line is rising up the hill so as I will not be able to leave any freight cars on the main track, this town will be switched from Weigh Scales. I am trying to get a good position for the models before I build the tracks.
 This is looking back west towards Reed around the corner. I am trying to place the sidings so I can squeeze the station between them and the main track.
 It is beginning to look too close but I will move the rear turnout back to give me the best shot.
 This area, where the boxes are is where I will place another factory or industry. I have to do something to hide that wall space - maybe a brick wall of the factory.
 The panel will go here after I get the track work done. I will have to move some supports to fit in the switch machines.
 Okay, we are now building the first turnout that switches back to the area where I will put the factory behind my right shoulder.
 I have laid the track along the furniture factory to see the clearances I need for the cars.
 This is the layout that seems to work best. The station is beyond the siding and we have a crossing shanty to protect the people going to the platform for the passenger cars. The turnout to the freight house is in the middle of the freight platform at the factory but that will just add to the switching interest.the factory siding will hold about 4 cars, the freight house about 3.
 This is a view back around where the next industry will go. The track off to Weigh Scales is the one to the right going over the bridge.
 Another view showing the crossover that I built.
This is a closer view of the factory and the freight house layout. I have to trim the ties in the turnout area. I think it has a nice feel that will be enhanced when I add some trees and a road. I plan for a team track area for that open space in the Vee between the factory and the freight  house track.

Install Crowl Panel

 Well, Reed is a very long siding and at the east end, we have the Crowl control point and turnout. The Shamrock water tank is just beyond the turnout. You can see the prototype picture of the location on the wall.  So, I decided to put the control for the turnout and the block that leads to Paxinos at Crowl. Thus, I need a small panel here. You can see I have placed a terminal strip on the right upright of the roadbed. Now I need to wire up to it, joining into the buses that are the red cables.,
 This is the basic temporary panel I made as I have run out of Plexiglas. I will insert a Plexiglas panel into the fascia when I get it installed up to this point. I can control the turnout and the block beyond that leads to Paxinos. That is beyond the curve to the right. I have to drive to Richmond to buy more Plexiglas so that will have to wait until after the holidays.
I had a devil of a time getting the blocks to work in conjunction with the earlier panel at Reed until I found the crossed wire that gave me two days of fits. The passing track leading to the rear is about 30 feet from Reed so the siding will hold about 35 cars.

Wiring Reed

 With the addition of Mount Carmel, we need to have a place we can run around the train so it can go back up the hill to the top of the room. So, I need to make Reed functional. It is the first town we hit outside of Northumberland so it is a logical place to start. In this picture, you can see we have not done any wiring to speak of.  The terminal strips are in and now  I have to wire up to them.
 The switch motors are hanging in place and I have just added the miocro switches to power the frogs. Now I have to connect these yellow and grey wires to the heavier wires below.
 Well, we are making progress and the terminal strip is getting populated. I have also painted the panel and mounted the switches on it. The panel frame has been built and painted black. This is what I will bring the fascia up to when I install that to hide the wiring.
 A side view of where the vertical panel will go. The track is covered with tools used for all the wiring.
Eureka!! The panel is in place. The actual color is not a bright a green as it is Hunter Green, a dark green shade. We can now run around several cars at a time and even have a main line train on the lowest  track. This worked fine when I tested it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Putting the Mt. Carmel panel in

Well, here we are at the starting position. I have a group coming this weekend and I have to get the panel done. In lieu of a hinge, I placed two clamps onto the bench work to hold the panel while I do the wiring. I have painted the panel in a reverse fashion as it is a piece of 1/8th inch Plexiglas. First I paint the background (after putting tape on to represent the track, and then I paint the track color. I had a little problem with the track color as it attacked the previous coats so I will have to remake the panel after the visitors leave.
 Now I have flipped over the panel to show where I have to work. All the switches are in place. It is nice and white as I painted that for the track color.
 Here we are in process as I am soldering the wires to the switches. I am also having to check the functionality of each switch as I go so I do not have to do too much backtracking to solve problems later. This involves getting up on a ladder and looking at the track direction as I through the turnout switch. Up and down, up and down. We are controlling the holding loop hanging from the ceiling.
 The wiring is complete and I am beginning to put the wraps in place to make it a little neater.
We now have the panel in place and operational. Total elapsed time to do just the wiring - 3 days of free time. The black hole to the right is the frame for the next piece of panel which will hold two small TV screens to show the position of the trains at the ceiling.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The start of wiring

 Well, one of my goals for this year was to get some wiring done so I can operate the trains more effectively. Right now, a simple feed to the tracks powers the whole layout. So, I have begun at the finish of the branchline. It is a return loop so I cannot run it until I get some wiring done. Here is the start of the terminal strips that will contain the track power blocks and the turnouts. You can tell, I am not a neat-nick when it comes to routing the wire. That plus no color code makes it seem like a jumble. I do label the terminal points so I know what I have to hook up to the control panels. I also have a paper diagram of what I want to accomplish with my wiring plan.

 Here you can see what we are trying to control. We have an engine and a test boxcar up on the branchline terminal - Mount Carmel - I need to build the panel on the aisle in the foreground. So, I have several cables running from up there to the aisle. I also have a cable coming down from the ceiling (you can see it just above the right end of the boxcar)  which has to be included. You can also see the connections from the track above to the red wiring that merges into the cable.
 This is an overview that shows the gathering of the tools, paperwork on the circuits, meters and a power pack for testing. You can see the terminal strips on the benchwork. This panel will control all the tracks in that overhead loop that is hanging from the ceiling. The engine and boxcar is poised to go into the loop to the right.
 The cables will run in the walls from the upper tracks to the lower support area and then to the terminal strips. Those cables have been hanging there for about 3 years while I built up to that hanging track. The engine has run around those tracks with the test boxcar as I am wiring the loops.
 This is a view from the other side and you can clearly see the cables that will run inside the walls.
This view from the end shows the cable run and the ties to the wall members.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Scenic Divides

 One of the theories in layout construction is that you only want the viewer to see one scene at a time as they look at the trains. That places the train, then, in some sort of context with the landscape around it. As you have seen in all my pictures, you can see the entire room to this point. So, now I have to divide the room into discrete scenes. This is the beginning of that exercise. I have built a half stud wall that will be faced with a sandwich of Masonite and plastic to form that wall. This shows the curved ending to the wall where the main line will disappear into a tunnel on the lower level. On top of the wall, the tracks hanging from the ceiling form the sky. You can see in this view that the walls diverge with the front one ending, and the rear one starting to proceed to the left.
 This is a view that shows the rear wall moving left along the railroad yard while the right wall curves out to the end of the benchwork and stops. I have purchased 14 sheets of Masonite for the wall backer. I plan to build more stud walls before I hang that material. Key to this exercise is to get the wall vertical and have the curves smooth so I can bend the material without problems and without having the backer climbing up the studs (if it is not vertical). Thus it will take time.
This is a view from the entrance to the yard, of how the wall will appear as it rises up to the bottom of the structure that holds the 6 overhead tracks. I had to build this first to hold the wiring that drops down from the overhead tracks to a control panel that I have to build about where I am standing. You can see the red wire dropping down in the background. So, I will probably stop this as I do some wiring.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More turntable

 Well, I have added about 7 coats of plaster to make the pit somewhat smooth. I used a wet sponge between coats to even things out and then drew a putty knife over the surface when it was wet to get the best finish.
 If you recall, we had a rather grossly oversize pit rail when we started this. I have now made a smaller pit rail using Micro Engineering flex track that I cut in half on a band saw. I sized it off the original one which I had removed. I finished the sizing by putting the rail into the pit and marking it for the final cut.
 It loos so much better making the project worthwhile.
Next, I have to do the painting of the pit, the rail and the wall. More later.

Turntable continued

 Well, as I mentioned, I have to cover the gap between the ring rail base and the pit bottom. Plus, I have to make the pit bottom taper as the real one would have to facilitate drainage. So, I cut a sloped edge to some styrene plastic, sized to fit the base.
 This is how I will use it to screed the plaster as I put it in. In the event, it actually took multiple coats of plaster.
 I drew some circular lines to guide the plastic as I drew it around the ring.
 We are putting our first coat of plaster into place. I roughly shaped it with the plastic as I knew I would have to recoat this several times.
 Here is the big bucket of spackling compound purchased at Lowes. In O scale you go through lots of these buckets!
 Another view of the first coat. I wanted to seal up the gap as a first step.
 Again, using the plastic shaping tool. You can tell I get into my work.
This is a view of the whole pit after the first coat.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Turntable - Part one

 Well, nothing is easy. I am starting to lay the track in the steam terminal and I realized I had the get the turntable set up so I could align the tracks coming in. I had purchased a Mill House Studio turntable which is a very nice unit but made for 3-railers. While making it sturdy, he used a way over size garden railway track for the ring rail. So, I had to remove the entire ring rail assembly to put in scale sized rail to support the bridge.
 Here we have the ring rail support out of the table pit. He made them from nice birch plywood. It was a problem getting them out as he had them screwed in from the bottom so I had to remove portions of the drive assembly to get at the screws.
 This is the offending ring rail which I will use as a template for my new one. You can see it looks rather large.
 You can see how much bigger it is than one made from a scale sized rail would be. The foreground track is what I am going to use. It is from Micro Engineering and the ties are so firmly mounted to the rail, I think I can rip the track in half and not have a problem with them shifting. The scale rail is about half the height of the over sized stuff. This brings up the next problem. The bridge of the turntable is supported by the ring rail assembly. Thus, it will be too low to meet the tracks around the turntable unless we raise the base for the ring rail. We have to raise it 0.20 inches. Not an easy number as it is not a standard dimension.
 Well, I found some old cabinet trim that was 0.185 in thickness. Now you know why I never throw anything away! The rail I am using on the bridge is 0.015 higher than the rails around the turntable so we are now close enough. I cut the trim into short pieces to fit around the ring.
 Here you see the supports glued to the bottom of the pit and the ring rail base going back in.
 The base is now in and screwed down from underneath. That wire sticking up is to power the ring rail from below.
 I have sealed the seams with some wood putty and am letting it dry before sanding it.
You can see the gap of additional height that we have created. I am now going to make a plastic template to put in the slope of plaster that will close the gap and simulate a pitched surface that would drain the water to a ring area around the pit, away from the center bearing and the ring rail. More on that later.