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".

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Yes the RR is Still Alive

Been getting back into the swing of things on the RR here, now that the work picture has improved a bit.

Foremost, I have been quite eager for the release of the Wheels of Time PC&F Insulated Boxcars, especially in my home road... and picked my order of cars up from my favorite hobby shop today!

I am impressed with everything about these cars all the way down to the metal wheelsets and how they got the wheel profile correct (oh wait, those are BLMA trucks! ...with Athearn wheels?).  The only gripe I have at this point is the choice of steel weights for the few of us that actually use the MT couplers, and a number of them have unresponsive couplers over the uncoupling ramps that I will have to investigate.  These along with the few other road names I picked up are truly a welcome addition to the roster here.
I will be retiring and selling off all my Micro Train "FMC" SP / SSW dbl door boxcars now that these have arrived.  The MT cars were great for their time, but the dimensions are just too far off for me, and I prefer the old Roundhouse/Athearn and Fox Valley body styles for these.  The current stable of FMC dbl door box style here is heavy handed, so the new PC&F cars will help to balance out the fleet.  Already got my order in for WOT's second release (in SSW paint).  Rumor is one of my all time favorite cars will be released later and drain my wallet if a correspondence I had with Matthew is interpreted correctly....

 So, after the layout sat idle for an extended period, I encountered a few issues that appeared which I am going to try to blame on that A/C failure during last summer's heatwave.
Two of my mainline handlaid turnouts had a stock rail lift on more than just a few pc ties, but fortunately just a matter of reheating the joints and now back in service.  Those two turnouts are probably close to 15 years in service, so still pretty proud on how reliable and durable all the handlaid turnouts have proven to be over all the years.
Then I had a couple more flex track sections that warped and came loose from the benchwork, but once ballasted wont have a chance for a repeat offense.
The biggest fix was regarding one of the yard throats into staging. The #7 Atlas turnouts there have been causing locos to stall.  I really appreciate Atlas for their great strides in pushing N scale, but their use of production in China has left a few rough edges.  Hoping their next run of code 55 turnouts are an improvement for all my fellow modelers.  I am at over a 50% failure rate with the nine turnouts that I utilized in the Klamath Falls yard throat.  Power is not being routed through the turnouts, as their internal power feeds are not "hardwired".  I have had to drop numerous feeders to power dead rails on these turnouts.  Was contemplating being lazy and use a couple of their #10's for the Hampton expansion, but still on the fence if to go back to handlay as I push forward on the next phase of the expansion...
Other little fixes since the layout was dormant for so long was a few cranky Tortoise motors that refused to throw when reversing.  I only run about 5 volts to them to simulate that proto slow motion speed, so they were stalling for some reason.  Fortunately they seem to have come back to life after using them repeatedly for awhile.  Might have to bump up the voltage a bit more if it becomes a problem, but not real sure what is going on since it has worked fine for so many years previous...
Last little noteworthy fix was repair of the roadbed at Oakrdige siding where the trackage had developed an unnatural hump.  Appears that all the moisture from multiple workings of the plaster there had warped where two plywood sections joined together, so only solution was to reinforce things there with a piece of metal sheet stock.  Aint it pretty?  Someday yet more plaster will blend it all in.

 Meanwhile, been acquiring materials for the Hampton siding expansion phase, and currently have Ray's CAD overlay cut out and draped across each end of staging.  We are fine-tuning how the benchwork is going to come out of the helix and still leave K Falls and Portland Yard throats readily visible, and how to pull off the scenic aspects of this undertaking in what space there is to work with.  This project is all about adding another siding for operations, removing some of the down time inside the helix, while hopefully still getting some antiquated resemblance to this section of the RR.  The layout is not linear in configuration to begin with, but now that it has taken on the "G" shape configuration, it is one of my goals to make it as user friendly for the operator to be able to walk with his train and / or view signals from a perspective that makes it as clear and user friendly as possible.   The design is for some version of the crossing over Willamette River at the head of Lookout Point Reservoir (even if somewhat condensed), and a siding that holds the monster trains on the layout.  This whole concept is nothing like I have seen before, and it will be a challenge to pull it off, but I think there is some hope...

Before I tear into the benchwork on this next phase, I am trying to make an attempt to push forward on some scenery around Oakridge to make it more entertaining for operating crews meanwhile, instead of the long trek across yet even more plywood prairies... I have made slight progress around the rock shed area, which could have been extensive progress if I had kept better notes.  I had trouble matching colors for the base coat on my plaster, as five + year old abbreviations were misinterpreted, resulting in plaster coloring that had to be reworked.  Got that resolved only to find that the brand new replacement scissors I ordered for cutting my polyfiber didnt work as well as the original set from the same manuf part #...  Yes they were made there also...  but stumbling along best I can with what I got at this point.

Art brought over some BLMA 89' flats recently for a test run on the layout.  We mixed them into a 23 car TOFC train (20 89' flats, 2 skybox and a hack), that runs regular on the layout, spreading them in different parts of the train.  We placed a couple right behind the head end, and a number spaced randomly throughout the rest of the train.  They revealed a minor flaw in the atlas turnouts that first had to be attended to.  The BLMA wheels were derailing on the stock rail where the notch is cut for the point rails....  after passing over this notch with a few light file swipes they performed flawlessly through the turnouts.  My helix is the ultimate durability test for trains, and the stresses were at their limit for these new cars.  The complete sets of BLMA cars worked well together, but we did have some uncoupling events up near the front of the train where they were placed between Micro Train flats.  The MT flats have varying height couplers for whatever reason, so this appears to have contributed to what uncouplings we had.  I have had to strategically place my MT flats in order where the couplers line up to avoid uncoupling.  The only major issue we had was with the lead BLMA car coupled behind the power. On some occasions the lead truck would derail, so not sure yet, but figuring this is due to a combination of body mount and fine flanges under extreme circumstances.  I run MT LP wheels and FV metal wheels on the MT flats currently in service on this train, and it is running at its maximum reliable length already.  Overall analysis is that the BLMA cars are going to fit in fine with their own strategic placement also.

In the sound department, I have been toying with my SD9's and the sound files I downloaded from John McMasters.  His units sound great in HO scale, but I am still stumbling along with mine here.  Digitrax seems to have forsaken the sound project side of things, and kind of dissapointed that in the last year little to no sound product releases have materialized from any of the manufacturers pushing the envelope for N.  I suppose economic conditions have some impact there...  The bright side on the sound department here is that Ray picked up an Athearn F45 in BN colors (with Tsunami) that will be living here.  

It makes the Digitrax sound effects seem kinda limp, but I am glad to at least have sound that fits into my other Hood units.  The F45 will take the lead and augment the current BN SD40-2 which acts as pool power heading up a manifest off the BN.  Currently working on how to read / write this loco with Decoder Pro, but once I swap my 12v PS with an 18v for the PR3, anticipating that it will resolve program issues.  Hopefully not going to turn into another "project"...

Lots more in the works...
Hope we can get back to more regular updates of the RR in the months to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment