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".

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Good-bye MT / Athearn, Hello WOT

 OK.... as Clark says, "Easy heart, just be still"....

Wheels of Time has announced the popular SP F-70-10 and 12 series flats that were abundant in lumber service over SP's Cascade Subdivision.  This has been a car long overlooked by the manufacturers in N scale.  Not only am I looking forward to two versions of standard flats, but also their bulkhead version (the F-70-26)!  Here is a link to check out their pdf page with the WOT SP Flats.
I will be retiring all my foob stand-ins that have been on the layout... some for decades, in exchange for the correct SP flat types.  Hope there are some buyers for that junk on ebay, as I got a large fleet to change out.
Here is some more info on the standard flats from Lee Gautreaux's website:
Anyone with additional info on the F-70-26, forward it this way, as info seems to be a bit scarce on the bulkheads...
Time will tell, but they are talking more road names, as well as lumber loads to fit.  Hope they meet or exceed Hay Bros in the latter, as they have set the bar pretty high for off the shelf lumber loads...
Not much else has taken place on the layout due to growing the new business, but we've been tinkering around with new PSX-4 power district boards, as Ray pushes me to keep from forsaking the layout all together (thanks Ray!).  Been dreaming about the next time we can squeeze in another ops session, and also need a push or more volunteers so we can progress further on scenery to cover up more plywood....

Sunday, July 20, 2014

SP Cascade Subdivision Update

Last few operating sessions here on the railroad, we had the track section between Hampton and Summit drop Line-ups, which the dispatcher had set for through trains.  It wasnt until Ray was sitting in front of the computer during the last session watching the layout, when he noticed what was causing it to happen.  The switch at East Oakridge momentarily dropped out of correspondence for a moment, which is all it takes to knock down the signals on both sides.  We have been using the Tortoise internal contacts for relaying switch positions to the IO cards in the CTC sections.  It appears that the reliability for the contacts is good for power routing, but lower power applications seem to be a bit more fussy as the contacts wear out over time.  Over the years we have had a couple other machines that had the same issue, but we simply replaced them (some of these are almost 20 yrs old).  Instead of just replacing the machine this time, we set out to try a pair of limit switches externally mounted to the case.  These switches are less than a buck a piece at All electronics, and were quick to mount with ACC.  Here is a pic of the installation:
 After wiring and testing, we noted the paddles had too much spring tension for the motor to completely move over to its normal stop positions.  Suspecting the old motor might be getting tired, we opted to reduce the value of the in-line resistor on the Tortoise motor feed to boost the voltage up a bit more (instead of repositioning the limit switches).  This sped up the "slow-motion" rate of the throw-bar a bit, but gave the motor enough torque to regain its normal operation.  If this procedure ever needs to be done again, I will try mounting the limit switches a bit farther away, but anyone using more than 5-6 V power feed to the motor should have no problem as is.  The near completed project (wow, I would never allow bare wires and that sloppy work on my layout... lol):

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

CTC Dispatcher Panel

The addition of the peninsula expansion project changed the old panels that handle the signaling.  Ray has contributed countless hours in reconfiguring the underlying parts that make up the hidden workings of the layout in its new configuration (thanks Ray!). Updated screenshots of his latest panels have been added to the CTC Signaling Project Archive Page here (scroll to bottom of that page to view)..

Friday, March 28, 2014

Layout Signal Progress

Been working on the H2 Target Signal Project now that the CTC system has proved its stability working with the latest expansion project.  Progress on the signal construction has been added to the CTC Signaling Project Archive page found here (scroll up from bottom of page and find update 03 / 2014).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

CTC system now completed

Looking forward to the first Ops of the newly configured layout under CTC.  The signaling system held back progress for numerous weeks.  Quite a hurdle with the discontinuance of the LEDs we had been using, and the reverse in wiring methods used on the ribbon cables from the TC64 vs the SE8C cards....  and some additional labor hours that had not been anticipated for "Murphy".  Got a layout signal head project update right on the heels of this post....
Its getting close to six months again since the last run, but currently running trains to verify all systems for stability so I can send out Crew calls.
So the latest projects were, installing Hampton sky backboards, upper deck fascia install, and some painting.  All the shelving and throttle racks at the Yard Offices are painted black now, as well as all the latest fascia sections.  Fascias have all but one of the repeaters installed including signal icons and track diagrams.  Missing the Egyptian font station names until I get more decal paper to get those printed up (on this weeks to-do list).  Sky backboards were painted dark blue for the higher elevations, and a lighter blue for lower elevations.  Basically the upper deck will be all dark blue (Klamath Falls thru Oakridge), then the middle and lower decks will be the lighter blue (Hampton down thru Portland). 
Here is an overview shot of the latest stage of layout completion:

The porthole on the left is to monitor trains in the helix, and the one to its right will have more Conifer Tree Trickery to obscure the opening, but still allow visual contact with the Home signal at W Hampton (on the opposite side).  Still a few loose ends, but materials for the expansion's curtains have been secured, sky backboards still missing from the staging yard entrances, and still have a short uncompleted section on the backside (adjacent to the helix).... but happy with the progress as of late.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Golden Spike Ceremony

...for the expansion project.  Well, it was only me running a couple trains around to make sure the upper deck was up to specs.  Drastic change from the old layout trackage configuration, which I'm sure all will enjoy.  All mainline track wiring is completed, and Ray's help on block detection and power districts significantly helped reduce build time.

 We've been working on the signaling for Hampton and Gilchrist Jct. which will complete the CTC system additions for the expansion.  Hampton turnouts are operational via the new TC64 I/O controller, and are currently running ribbon cable for the signal outputs.  Signal repeaters will be operational first, as still short a few signals, but we are getting closer on our own H2 signal head project (more later).

The expansion adds a whole new atmosphere to the layout, compared to where previously one could stand in the middle of the room, and operate a train without having to move for much other than a better vantage point of signal indications. That with the installation of the center divider now in place, operators are forced to walk with their train a bit more, giving the overall layout a much stronger walk around feature to it.

The center divider breaks up the layout and makes it seem a lot bigger than before, but it does end abruptly near the end of the peninsula.  I wanted a slim vertical line at the end of the backdrop where it stops, which would have been difficult to mask by using a 2X2 sandwiched by a couple sheets of masonite.  To achieve the desired effect, I chose to use a single sheet of tempered hardboard, with shelf brackets in strategic locations as supports.  To camouflage the brackets, there will be forested hills rising up toward the center of the divider, with careful placement of conifers in front of support brackets.  There will be a tall pine buried in the point of the divider, as well as a set of block signals in the foreground to help distract the viewer's attention.  Debating on the use of similar tree placement where there are abrupt corners, vs bending a sheet of styrene to conceal the 90 degree backdrop angles...

 Above, on far upper left at base of center divider will be the Gilchrist lumber mill, which is the end of the KN shortline.  The SP Gilchrist Jct will be on the right rear side of the backdrop for the KN interchange.  Iphone image makes it difficult to see the shortline subroadbed grade, but it makes about a two inch climb over its near 15' run between the two small yards. 

Some progress on the fascias around Hampton.  Once all the lower deck sections of fascia are in, I will fall back and paint them all black also, followed by the same curtains that are already in place on the existing sections of the layout.  Will have to revisit station name and MP marker location labeling, as well as color coded line diagrams on fascias.  Eventually attention will move from Hampton upward.

No solid plans after we finish up the electrical side, but got plenty to keep me busy.