Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Working around the engine terminal

 Actually, I thought I would let you see what we are doing to make some land forms in the Narrow area on the branch. This is our first area I plan to use to get through all the steps associated with the scenery. I will learn a lot here about how to do it better than I had in the past. You can see the webbing under the rosin paper. Once this is completed, we will put plaster cloth up to form the hardscape.
 This is a view further around the curve. I have placed an old gas station where it will be located on the PA highway that goes by. The yellow knife sits on the future river bed.
 Okay, now lets look at the engine terminal. I have a large group coming in a couple of weeks so I thought I would get a bunch of track down in this area since it has sat incomplete for a couple of years. Sadly, I have decided to sell the terrific Ogle brass coaling tower since the RR did not use this type of structure at Northumberland. So, the grey Suncoast tower - a Fairbanks Morse type, which was used here, will be the facility we use.  Fuel tanks for the diesel fuel will be placed, along with sanding towers.
 I have added one half of the garden tracks off the turntable, which is operable now. The power pack in the front runs it. The shorter tracks are on the left side, facing the diesel storage area. The first five are for H type locomotives. They are 20 inches long. Then they stretch out to 2 30 inches for the longer power.
 I have been using a track gauge made by Pat Mitchell to ensure that the tracks are aligned. It has worked like a charm and the cars just roll on and off with no problem. I have bent the last bit of track open to ensure an easy connection.
The really long garden tracks are on the right side. They are 36 inches long and will accommodate all the really long engines.  We do have a couple of short tracks for the Jordan spreader and a scale test car.
 Here is a close view of using the gauge to set a curved engine lead from the coaling tower to the turntable. The turntable will actually pull the track over using that gauge until I get a nice curve that I like.
 Here I have now added the four tracks that feed into the engine area. The first track is the coal and fuel oil delivery track. The next two are through tracks that go under and next to the coaling tower. The one on the far right is a cinder track that will pick up the gon's that will be loaded with cinders that the engines drop as they come in for service. It will have to be switched using the turntable as it is not connected to the outbound tracks.
 These are the longer garden tracks. That last engine to the right is a heavy Lackawanna 2-8-2 that has been scratch built. The big hole on the right side of the turntable where there are no tracks is where the roundhouse and its tracks will go.
 This is the three tracks of the coach and express yard. They are about 6 to 8 feet long. That vacant land to the left of these tracks is where the roundhouse will be. It is going to be a thrill to get that in place! Right now I am laying out there to spike down these tracks that cannot be reached from the aisles. So, once I get all the terminal in and wired, I can then do the roundhouse.
 This is the view now with the structures sitting in place. There were double water tanks at this location. Between them and the coal tower is the coal delivery track. I am also going to put in the piping to unload tank cars there which will be used to fill the diesel tanks behind the water tanks.
You can see that we now have 6 modified I1's completed. One is in the paint line. 2 more to go.

This is the view from the front of the diesel storage and servicing area.
 All I need to do now is to wire all this and then add structures and ballast. It is beginning to look like an engine terminal though. One thing I need to do is decide where I am going to put that last sand tower. The tracks are too tight for it to go between them so that is why it is at the throat of the area.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Under the table

 Well, the time has come to start addressing the control wiring for the main line and the yards. So, first I have to drop the leads from each switch to power the frogs and route the power to each track. Here you see the wires are in the holes through the road bed and have to be soldered to the rails. There are so many, it looks like I have color coded weeds.
 Each turnout takes a total of 7 wires to handle all the power routing. We have about 16 turnouts on this end of the yard so that was a lot of drops to put in.
 Under the yard, I am building the terminal strips for the power in and the power routing I will have to do. I will place the panel in front of this area but wanted to build this while it was in the open. I am not using DCC so that is why I have to have so many blocks. The track blocks are on the upper terminal strip.
 More colored weeds to deal with. The stripper is sitting on my paper record of what I am doing. I will never remember what I did if I do not write it down!
 The cabling underneath is growing. I have to keep the wires up to clear the trains on the lower level. Fortunately, most of the wring and switch motors are on the outer periphery of the yard.
 Now I have to pull the heavy 12 gauge power supply wires throughout the whole layout. This is my rig for feeding the wire that I am pulling. The color coded wire is the power side of the circuit. I actually have four main circuits.
 I pull about 10 feet at a time and then go back and pull more slack to allow me to go further. The resistance of the wire is pretty heavy due to its gauge so I have to do it in stages.
 Now I have top pull the ground wires for each power circuit. These are ribbon wires of up to 8 flat strands of 18 gauge. I reduce them to two pairs (four wires) and then mark the edge of the strand so I know what is the correct ground for a given circuit.
 Here is a self portrait of me marking at the wire with a black magic marker. It is rather tedious. The total time for the pull was about 6 hours. Unfortunately, something has happened underneath as I pulled the heavy wire by some turnout motors installed earlier and created a short. The power supply failed before I realized I had a problem. I have  rebuilt the power supply but I have not determined the source of the wiring problem. I have confirmed I have a problem but I do not know yet where it is.
 So, back to the panels and start disconnecting wires until I have eliminated the short. Then I will be able to solve it, once it is located. This is why things take time!