Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Closed Circuit TV

 Well, the height challenged members of the train group have been beating on me to add a TV monitoring system for the overhead loop. They cannot see the trains stored there easily. I had purchased cameras ($7 each) and TV screens (about $20) from China about 6 years ago but like to let projects marinate for a while as I think about the approach I want to take.
 So, I pulled out a camera (upper right) and a monitor to look at how we might make them work.
 I found I had a color camera and monitor with more capabilities than I expected. The monitor can handle two cameras and toggle between them. It was made to go into a car for videos and back up uses. So, it has a 12 volt power supply requirement. The camera is 9 volt and has a nice lens. I ested them on the work bench and was generall pleased.
 I took a piece of plexiglas and made a panel face for the mounting  of the monitor . I made a mistake here that I found out about later - the angle of viewing the monitor was sub optimal. It now sits right next to the control panel. I had made the space when I built the control panel.
 The monitor even came with a remote that I ll have little use for.
 Now, where to place the camera. I do not have a lot of height at 10 inches so I moved the camera around to see what views I go. I placed the knife where it looked decent. We are looking down the 6 tracks.
As an aside, I made up the cable from a Chinese one that had the connectors already on the camera end. I had to add the connector for the video and the power on the monitor end. The cable is shielded to avoid interference. It was pretty cheap. ($36 for 4 - 150 foot long cables). Let me know if you need some cable - available cheap!
 Here is the view that we have to capture. I placed tape with the track  numbers on it to mark the end of travel to avoid electrical problems. The camera is sitting to the side here.  I may need to add some light as the dark engines are in a shadow and that makes them harder to make out. You can clearly see, though, what tracks they are on.
 I stood on a ladder with the monitor below to see what I was getting with the various positions of the camera. It appeared I had to be about 3 feet back and centered to get a decent view.
 So, I built a bridge and mounted the camera to it to provide the view we wanted.
So, here we have the monitor mounted and now the operators can see what trains are up there, what track they are on and what is open. The view is more in silhouette as the screen looks black and white from an angle but at least you can see clearly. The next installation will have to reflect that limitation.

Working on the Yard

 I need to push on with the yard both from a scenery and a control perspective so I have been spending alot of time on and below the layout. We are adding the magnetic uncoupling ramps using htose small super magnets.
 They are in at the end of the arrival and departure tracks. You can see them by the boxcar.  I need to get these in so I can paint the track and then ballast. The ballast will hold them permanently.
 I also acquired an icing platform that was built by a very close friend of mine who has since passed away. I had to relocate the track to make the platform work. It looks good in that place though.
 It will hold four cars which is a good size for my year.
 I am going to build the Atlas ice house and add it onto the scene as the provider of the ice for the yard.

 I have also been spending time (too much) under the layout, adding the wiring to the frogs for about 25 switch motors that we installed about 2 months ago.
 The Circuitron machines require a terminal strip and a connection block for each motor. Then you wire the frog to the terminal strip and check for completion of the circuit as the motor throws.
 You can see there were a lot of these to do. Next I have to wire the panels so the East end of the yard is operable. It will make a big difference on the utility of the layout.
 Then, I worked on the top of the layout in the engine area as I added an escape track from the arrival/departure tracks to the turntable. It has to drop about 3/8's of an inch from the main line level to the yard level as it approaches the turntable.
 So, I added a long, gradual curve from the main to the turntable. It looks good and will be along side the wall of the roundhouse then I get that built.
More projects to come.

Back to the spray booth

 Well, the visitor from the open house have left - all 160 of them - and I decided to get some cars painted that have been hanging around for a while. 6 of them are Parri cars. 2 G22 , 3 Glca's and a NYC USRA mill gon.
 Here is the NYC mill gon - after I sand blasted it, added couplers and air hoses and mounted it on a handle to paint it.
 Painted and air drying. The last car of the batch to be painted.
 I also painted an X42 mail storage car that I had John Frantz do some custom decals for. He did a great job and uses a very thin film so the car looks great.
 I included 4 Yoder Gla's that were factory painted but not lettered so I got them out of the way. Then I threw in a couple of Pac Limited cars - an H21 and H22.
 Here is the X42,
 The Pac Limited cars  await lettering - I have to decide shadow keystone or not.
The NYC car also needs to be lettered but this is going to be a chop job as the appropriate set does not exist. Closest I get is a CDS container car set that is based on the car. While working on the G22's I used the CDS set for that car and used a light to heat the lettering for better adhesion on the car.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Cleaning Pause

 Well, I have not been posting for a while as we have been traveling and also getting ready for an open house. You can see that the shop has been cleaned up and the train room as well. Some times we have to stop and take a moment!
 I scrubbed the floors and added about 5 coats of wax after the floor was dry.
Hasn't been this clean in quite a while as we had blitzed the area with plaster, paint and ground foam!
New we have to get back to normal!!

Updating a Fine Engine

 Back around 1998 or so, Key brought out a run of F7's with a terrific drive system and updated details. They were really nice engines but in the case of the PRR units, they used outdated Champ decals that were totally wrong. The engine on the left is the Champ lettered unit and the engine on the right is last run Keys that came out about 5 years ago, also wonderful models and with correct lettering (although I would have liked a better buff color) . I had learned from Lee Turner how to sand off lettering and repaint and reletter. So, I though I would try to do that to the AB set I had.
 This is the side of the older unit. The Penn lettering is oversised, the stripe is oversized and the keystone is very oversized. It is just wrong.
 Here is the new unit. The lettering is gold which is wrong for my era but it is correctly sized, generally.
 This is the box they come in with the A&B together. The new units are separately boxed.
 So, we scope the problem and see we have to remove evreything below the belt rail. Fortunately the Brunswick Green is matched by the Scalecoat color.
 So, I have completed that task on the B unit, the easier one to do.
 There is some exposure o the underlying brass on the panel seams but otherwise, everything came off smoothly, with patience and time.
 I was having difficulty with the running quality and ascribed that to the old 4 wheel pick up. It only had two wipers - one per truck.
 So, I disassembled the truck on the opposite side and added a PC board and wiper to that side. I used nylon screws to reassemble the truck. I also found that the kingpin based pickup of the old wiper had oxidized so I bypassed that by soldering the pickup wire to the kingpin. What an improvement!
 Back to the sanding. This is where you get nervous
 I used two sanding boards with fine and very fine grit. I also used water as a medium to help the removal.
 The A unit is now done. I had to protect the number boards, marker lights and windows.
 Doesn't look too bad at this stage.
 After masking  the upper body at the batten strip, and also painting the whole door on the side, I sprayed both units with the Scalecoat Brunswick Green
 Unwrapping time was when I was worried if I had covered any scratches, etc. Looked pretty good.
 The light shows the new paint versus the dulled original paint. I will be dulling the new area after decaling so I hope to blend this in.
 Starting the side stripe on the B unit. There is no real 2 inch stripe so I used a single stripe off a 5 stripe set which scaled out as a 1.85 inch stripe. It looked very different from where I had started but I was worried it might be too narrow.
 When I got to the A unit, I was still worried so I searched through Champ 2 inch stripe sets and found that his last deals were closer to 2 inches at 2.15 inches wide. They looked a little better than the B unit stripes so I changed to those. I used Clover House rub-ons for the road name, Microscale for a lot of detail lettering and a newer Champ set of numbers for the big cab numbers.
 The finished unit.
 Here is the B unit back on its chassis
 The A unit - I think I need to weather both units a little but that will have to wait.
 They look good on a freight.
 Definitely worth the effort.

A nice addition to the fleet!.