Image above captured on the upper deck of the layout where scenery has progressed to some extent...
Shot with Olympus C-750

Welcome to the SP Oregon Division!

An N Scale RR depicting the good old days along "The Friendly".

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Staging Completion on the Horizon

Hit a few milestones over this past week...

 -All of the trackage has now been installed in the staging yard, but still have to block all the sections, and finish dropping feeder wires... I anticipate being able to complete that soon.  I read a trick about using ACC to glue the sliding rail to the ties before cutting any gaps in the Atlas flex track, so hoping that a test of that will be successful and I won't have to worry about any kinks in the rail where cutting gaps on the radius curves...

-Basic Tortoise motor installation is now complete at both ends of staging, but a bit more wiring to go.  Edge connectors are working out really nice, and a must if you don't want to spend a bunch of time under the layout soldering wires.  We took old edge connectors and cut them in half, then glued in styrene strips to keep them aligned properly when installed on the tortoise motors.

Plug and play.    :)    Well, still have to run the frog feeder wires to the turnouts...

Ray and I installed and tested the first Matrix Board to control the yard ladder at the Portland end.  The boards that he built are from a design that Rob Paisley designed and can be found at Rob's Web Page (this guy has a lot of info for other projects at his home page also), and are a huge leap forward from the old ways of using the diode steering with ice cube relays... this is just cool:

It was a smooth install with the terminal blocks mounted on the boards, as they were quick to terminate the field wiring and verify correct orientation for normal and reverse turnout positioning.  Excited how nice the matrix controls are working at this point.  Special thanks to Ray as he has spent a number of hours researching and building these matrix boards for the layout, as well as helping on the install.  The control board for the K-Falls end of staging is also completed and here now awaiting its turn to be installed.  I still have to make up more temporary panel displays (just using foam board for now) to mount the push button switches on so crews can follow the ladder diagrams, but they are all wired and ready to be installed into the panels.  This will get us back to operations again until I figure out what the final panel designs will be for all the yard panels on the layout... 

-Each yard throat end is now connected to the helix also.  Here is a view looking away as departing from the Portland Staging end:

Basically I just chopped out a short section of the lower track in the helix, and brought the remaining ends out on new roadbed where they connect to each end of the staging yard leads.  Maximum gradients are still well below max as well as minimum radius curves on this addition.  A view departing Klamath Falls staging end:

There will be a scenic divider between the two yard ends where I will make an attempt to separate them visually...  There won't be much in the way of scenery here other than some ballast, a couple yard structures, and maybe painting the backdrop / divider to simulate the feel of appropriate yards....  6" above the new bridge elevation will be another deck (the next phase), so this should also help to force viewing the mini-yard scenes from an acceptable perspective.  Once arriving trains flow through the yard leads into the yard tracks they will disappear under the bench-work of the other deck also.
Still haven't been able to run the first test train through the staging yard trackage yet, but looks like we are getting pretty close now.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Belated Staging Progress Report

Busy pushing forward on the staging phase of the expansion as of late.  Both yard ladders have been laid at the east and west "ends" repsectively.  Since the layout is actually a loop, the staging is designed to sever that loop creating a West end (Klamath Falls), and an East end (Portland) for trains originating and departing.  This design allows visibly loaded (or empty) trains to continue to operate in the proper direction between runs, without having to turn trains.  Holding the coarse, installation of switch machines aka Tortoise motors is complete at Portland, and progressing through installation at Klamath Falls now.  I am looking forward to the use of edge connectors for terminating wires to the contact strips, unlike what has previously been done. 

Ray has already built the first Matrix board which is ready for the Portland Yard throat's nine Tortoise motors (more on that when it arrives on scene).  This railroad is already years ahead of where I would have it if not for Ray...  that means thanks yet again Ray!  Mulling over the yard throat panel designs...  Preliminary thoughts are to have two sets of  5 push buttons on each panel for aligning specific staging tracks, one set for (5) arrival and the other for (5) departure at each end of the staging yard....  probably based on track numbers instead of a track diagram, and to be located right below each yard throat.  Orders will dictate track number where crews board trains or tie down, and should help to alleviate having to hunt and peck correct turnout positioning.

The final track diagram has been transposed to the benchwork between "ends", and the track gang has commenced laying the Atlas 55 flex trackage as well. Don't really like how one rail flops around in the tie spikes, but it is what it is...  I am also still trying to adjust to the spring action of Atlas flex vs the ME flex, as it is not as user friendly where there is a flex end section on an imcompleted curve... fortunately the choice of contact cement is making things workable... just do not use the heatgun trick on this track as it has a lower melt point than ME also...  A progress shot looking at Portland Yard taken yesterday and already outdated:

The shelving / structural support is now completed under the staging yard. This gives each "end" of the layout a Yard Office for originating and terminating crews.  This includes throttle storage racks, and train assignment pockets for crews with associated paperwork.  In addition there is now supplementary storage space for crews that need a place to lay forms, radios, throttles, or beverages (instead of those inviting flat areas with finish scenery), accessible from almost any location around the layout. 
A view overlooking the entrance to Portland end and it's Yard Office below (short section just to left of throttles is where the yard panel will reside):

Progress at Klamath Falls with it's Yard Office (yard panel will be just to the right of the throttle tray here):

A third Yard Office location also has all the above opposite Eugene Yard for crews and Hostler there.  It all gets painted black eventually to blend in with the motif, which will include more of the same fascias and curtains.

Throttle storage racks are 5 gang holders which will house a connection to Loconet in case of needed programing, and also to keep throttles powered (as a battery save mode) between sessions.  Eventually all staging throttle slots will be labeled with departing track numbers so crews can easily find their train as associated with their clearance / orders in adjacent Assignment Pockets.  Conventional throttle pockets that are currently mounted on the fascias around the layout will remain.

Assignment Pockets follow the existing operating plan that will be modified following the sequence of train assignments that has already proven itself as a stable call system for originating trains.  Clearance Cards with originating Train Orders on the top shelf, with terminating orders placed below.  Typically crews that are still available for Hours of Service, will draw their next set of orders from their terminating destination, similar as any crew would return back on their district.  We will include some orders that will direct crews to take a "Carry All" to Eugene for filler assignments as needed. 

Already got the concept in my head, but really itching to see how incorporating the staging into the layout changes traffic flow, then I can move forward on modifications to the operating scheme.    :)