Monday, July 24, 2017

Catching up with some electrial projects

While finishing the helix, and the Wesso and Gloconda sections I had neglected to finish the controls for the lower or Southern Pacific staging yard.  Now with the ability to run trains around the layout that omission was really noticeable and I am  correcting it.

The yard is similar to the upper or Western Pacific staging yard but with 5 sidings instead of 4.  I am using another Digitrax DS-64 plus this little circuit I built to handle the turnout that makes the reverse loop.

This circuit uses a Set / Reset RS flip flop made from Nand logic gates to control a relay which controls the polarity of the voltage applied to the Tortoise motor.   One pole of the switches on the panel are wired a little differently so that in one direction the all send the thrown polarity and in the other they all send the aligned polarity.


Another electrical project I am working on is a power supply for the LED lighting over the Wesso section and the staging yard.  The laptop power supplies I have been using in other areas won't handle those and I have been using my bench power supply but that is needed on the bench.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tempoary and movable return loop section

The two tracks that now end after crossing the bridges at Gloconda will eventually connect to one another and form a return loop.   But that return loop is still 50 actual feet away and who knows how long that will take to build and I want to run trains now.

So the solution I came up with was to build a temporary return loop on a section that can be connected to the end of the last completed section and then moved when a new section is added.

I used Kato Unitrack and spliced the Micro Engineering track to it with the same method presented in this post from last January.  The rail in the Kato Unitrack seems identical to the Atlas rail.





The other end of the adapter track was connected the end of the code 55 track on the finished part of the layout with tight Micro Engineering rail joiners and no solder.
Here is a simplified AnyRail track diagram of the layout as it is now.  This new section is at the far left and is the highest elevation.
Connecting those two tracks created a new return loop.  A DCC Specialities PSX-AR was mounted under the section and isolation gaps included in the track at both ends.

It's great to finally be able to run full trains over the entire layout such as it is right now.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Creating railroad service roads

The railroads maintain signals and other track side infrastructure with trucks and those trucks often use crude dirt roads.

I show this reference photo again, this time drawing attention to the dirt service roads.  I had always planned to include this in the layout and seeing this photo I thought my modeled scene of this area would be a good place to start.

Remember that as a first layer of base scenery I had used sanded grout then added layers of Arizona Rock & Mineral, and Woodland Scenics scenery materials.  Using a scrap of styrene about 1/2 inch wide, I scraped off these upper layers to expose the finer and lighter bottom layers

Then I sprinkled a thin line of the sanded grout and spread it along the path of the road with a brush but a finger also works.   The area was then given a coating of scenic cement or mat medium.
Besides using the contrast in texture to define the roads, adding some scrub brush in the areas where the road isn't also adds to the suggestion of a beaten path.  I have been using a combination of Woodland Scenics foliage clusters and Scenic Express prairie grass tufts.
There will be those places where ruts have formed when the ground was wet and remain long after the rain is gone and the soil hardened.   I wanted to represent some of that in a few locations.

Where I wanted to create ruts in my service roads I had applied a thicker than normal layer of basic landscape material (sanded grout).  After that dried I dragged a scrap of Kato Unitrack over the path of the road as shown here.

The roads done so far cross the tracks in 2 places.  I used angled wood grade crossings from Blair Line at these locations and added some RR crossing signs left over from the old layout and used those. My experience has been that these are the most vulnerable details so I had better make up some more for spares.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Melarkey Street Overpass

The Western Pacific track will exit the west end of the layout at the US 95 / Melarkey Street overpass in Winneumcca and then enter the helix.  This overpass is a two lane road.

On the prototype this bridge is about half a mile away from the I-80 overpass that the Southern Pacific track passes under but with the compression necessary in the model world it is only about 700 scale feet away.  Also I am representing the line as a single track where as in the real location it has become 2 tracks plus a siding.

 

The overpass was made from leftover parts from a Rix Products kit.  I have used and re-used several of these kits on other layouts.  The clever design of these kits make them easy to modify to fit almost any situation.  While primarily an HO manufacturer, Rix Products does make several other N scale injection molded kits.

To see more of their N Scale kit products visit the Rix Products Inc. website.

This company also makes modern concrete barriers as a separate set and I have ordered some of those for the Interstate highway.

Here is the small bridge assembly I put together to represent the Melarkey street overpass.  I used extra roadway sections to extend the road onto the top of the hill.

One pier was assembled and it's height adjusted to match the retaining wall on the hill.


Here is the bridge temporarily set in place.  The short lengths of round column seen the the prior photo fit into holes drilled in the bench work.

There is still much left to be done on this scene, the biggest part being the creation of a back drop.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Striping for the Interstate highway


Many of our model roads end up being narrow lanes without any striping.  In this project I have a relatively modern divided 4 lane highway and overhead photos show the types of striping so that is what I am trying to re-produce.

I have been using an HO scale product from Builders in Scale with good results on my Japanese prototype modules so I decided to use them on this project as well.

These are 4-1/2 inches wide in HO scale which would be about 8 inches wide in N scale.
Here is a view of the highway overpass as it is now.  Besides painting the highway section and applying the stripes, I have painted and weathered the retaining wall.  Still need to add some guard rails.

I have also started to add ballast to the tracks in this area starting with the black cinder layer.  In the photo I had just applied the glue solution and it is still wet.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Modeling an Interstate highway

As mentioned in the very first post on this blog, I had first gotten the idea for this layout while driving along Interstate highway 80 parallel to the rail lines.  In fact 80 closely follows the path of Southern Pacific line much of the way across Nevada and crosses over the tracks a few times along the way so I plan to represent the highway at some of those locations.

The first such area to be modeled will be at the west end of the layout where the Southern Pacific and Western Pacific lines diverge just west of the junction at Wesso.  This will a convenient way to have the tracks exit the layout.

Here is an overhead view from Bing maps of the area I am speaking of.  The orientation is about the same as it would be on the layout.  That is the SP tracks that are going under the freeway.  To simplify the scene I am going to leave out the 2nd street off ramp overpass.

The dirt roads are no doubt used by the railroad for access of MOW trucks.


I started with laminating 2 layers of 1/4 inch hard board together, one layer for the roads with a gap in the middle and the other to hold them together. Plastic strip was added along the edges where the bridge will be.

Then I built up the hillside / embankments that support the the highway assembly along the front edge.

As seen in this photo I have started to add base scenery to the area.  The .010 sheet of plastic protects the back drop.



A wood support was installed to support the highway on the rear side.  With built up edges on both supports the highway assembly will snugly fit into place but can be removed to access the track.






Here is an over all view of the area as it is now.  Still lots to do on the highway assembly, retaining walls, etc.

The base scenery on the hillside is still a bit damp but as it dries will blend in nicely with the existing scenery.  It's drying fast as it is really hot today.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

New cover photo

With about 10 feet of the layout having most of it's scenery finished I thought it would be nice to get some good photos and pick one to replace the prototype photo I have been using for about 3-1/2 years now.  Here is the one I choose.












The fascia is not finished yet in this location so I put in a Photoshop fascia and used the space for titles.  As I finish more scenes on the layout I plan to add a gallery of some sort to the blog, fun stuff !

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The white hills of Winnemucca

After taking some time off from working on the home layout to work on my Japanese prototype modules and take part in a 1 week long layout exhibition I am now back to working on some scenery in the Winnemucca area.


Winnemucca is the western end of the scenery on this layout.  On the prototype both the Southern Pacific and Western Pacific rail lines pass under bridges so I am using this feature to exit the tracks from the layout.   First step was to build up some low hills from building foam and some wadded packing paper then drape on the plaster cloth.

In the photo above the SP line is on the left and will pass under the Interstate 80 overpass.  The WP line curves off to the right and will pass under the Melarkey Street / US 95 overpass.  In reality these two spots are almost a mile apart and a couple miles from Wesso but as we often do on our layouts I am compressing the scene into a smaller space.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Line side poles

Look at a photo of any 20th century railroad line and you will see line side poles of some kind. These have been used to carry the wires that have done many things for the railroad including telegraph, telephone, signal control, remote turnout control, etc.  As the railroads adopted newer technology many of these overhead wires were no longer needed.  Often the poles have remained.

After working with a few different types of poles I over the years on various layouts I have decided to used the Atlas 2801 Telephone pole sets as line side poles on this layout. 

 As I have known I would need quite a few of these poles on this layout, I always have my eye out for any deals on ebay or at train shows for the Atlas 2801 telephone pole set.

Recently I found a stash of Atlas poles at a train show which I ended up paying $1.25 per box.  The boxes were quite beat up but the poles were just fine.


The Atlas set has 12 poles.  Some have transformers and trolley wire supports which I don't need.  The trolley wire supports are easy to cut off but I have not been able to remove the transformers without damaging the two top cross arms.
I normally combine multiple sets in a single box to save space.  The color of the stock poles vary from set to set which can be seen in this photo so I paint them Testors roof brown.




Before painting I cut off the trolley wire supports on the poles that have them and clean up any mold lines for flash.  Then I run my razor saw down the length of pole to give it a more wood look.





Here are three poles at different stages of work.  First I paint the top half brown, then after that has dried overnight hold it by the cross arms and paint the bottom half.  The after that dries I paint the insulators and cross arm braces. As a last step I then apply some high gloss to the insulators.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Finishing the river at Gloconda

After touching up the base scenery around the bridge abutments and adding a few rock outcroppings I decided to finish the river with a coat of gloss medium.  The blending of different color shades when painting the river bed gives the illusion of depth.

I have been trying out the Silfourettes grass tufts from Scenic Express and really like them.  Some of the greener ones were placed along the waters edge.







I took this photo after securing the Gloconda section into it's place in the layout  and with the bridges set temporarily in place to see what it would look with the backdrop behind it.





Saturday, February 11, 2017

Finishing the concrete bridge at Gloconda

Finishing the segmented concrete trestle on the SP line required a bit more work than the thru truss bridge on the WP line.

A printout of this photo has been posted above the work area as a reference for me to follow.
The 3 bents that I had started got trimmed to fit into place under the layout.  Because this bridge is on a slight grade, each bent is a different length and the marks on the top indicate their relative position under the bridge. The bents and bridge were air brushed Testors aged concrete and after drying for a couple days were glued into their positions.
A layer of Hydrocal plaster was poured into the river that was deep enough to cover the cross bracing on the bottom of the pilings so it appears that they are driven into the riverbed.  The bents were covered with sensitive surface painters tape to protect them from getting any plaster on them.

When I removed the painters tape from the bents some of the paint was pulled off and had to be touched up with a brush.

The bents, deck, and abutments are being weathered with acrylic washes and powders.

At this point the bridge deck fits nicely into place but can be easily removed for working on the river and the areas around the river under the bridge.  When I am satisfied with those things, the bridge deck and track can be installed.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Finishing the thru truss bridge at Gloconda

Last summer in the post First crossing of the Humboldt River I had started building a Central Valley Models thru truss bridge for the WP line and was scratch building a segmented concrete trestle for the SP line to match the bridges in this photo that I show again here as reference.




Completing the area around the river is a combination of several different projects including the two bridges that are all interrelated.  In this post I will cover the the finishing of the Western Pacific thru truss bridge which is in the foreground of the scene.

After assembling the Central Valley Model Works bridge,  the abutments that it would rest on were made from 1/4 inch plastic material and installed into the scenery on each side of the river.  They were then brush painted with Testors aged concrete.  One of those is shown in this photo.

I have always noticed that none of the bridge model kits include the bridge shoes that attach the ends of the bridge to the abutments.  I found a set on the KD Models Shapeways shop designed by Dwayne Ward who is modeling the Texas and Pacific in N Scale and has a blog for his T&P layout.



The bridge structure itself was then air brushed with Floquil Old Silver. After drying overnight it was given a wash of Testors black acrylic weathering wash.  The weathering wash really brings out the details such as rivets and the year of construction that is cut into the top plate on each end of the bridge.

I am now applying some weathering powers to highlight some areas of rust.

Here is the same abutment shown in the earlier photo after the same weathering wash had been applied.

Those bridge feet seemed understated until they also received the weathering wash when the bridge was done, now I think they really show off nicely.  I will be ordering more of these for my other bridges.



The ties were removed from the middle of a section of Micro Engineering flex track and the bridge ties that came with the kit were popped into place after ACC was applied to the rail bottoms.
This assembly will be air brushed a rail tie brown color and be ready when the time comes to install the bridge.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Train Board winter layout party

Regular followers may have noticed quite an increase in the frequency of my posts lately.  That is because I have been participating in the annual Trainboard.com winter layout party.

The idea is to focus on some particular goals for a layout and then post on the progress regularly on Trainboard's Layout Design forum.  This event started at the end of December and will run to March 9th.

If you are not already familiar with Trainboard.com, check it out.  There are many different forums of all scales as well as a large photo library.

Monday, January 30, 2017

First trains reach Wesso from the staging yard

With all the track connected from the staging yards through the helix and the Wesso sections of the layout, it was time to run some test trains trains.  There is a limited amount of track east of Wesso junction but short trains can be run through the cross overs and return on a different line than they went up on.

A pair of UP GP40's will start from the upper staging yard and a pair of SP SD35's will start from the lower staging yard.  Each pair of locos has an Aztec track cleaning car in between them.

The SP train goes out first.

After climbing the helix the SP train arrives at Wesso and takes the cross overs from the SP line to the east bound paired track.


The UP train leaves next, starting it's climb up the helix.  Because the upper level staging yard is one helix turn higher than the lower yard, this line has a one turn shorter run in the helix.

The UP train leaves the helix, passes through the  small Winnemucca section which does not have scenery yet and approaches Wesso junction.

The UP train takes the cross over from the WP / UP line to the west bound paired track.

After passing through the cross overs, both trains arrive at the end of line both in terms of track and scenery just past the dry creek area.  The UP train on the west bound track and the SP train on the east bound track.

After all of the points of the cross overs have been aligned, both trains begin moving west bound to return to the staging level.  This time the UP train is entering the SP track to the lower level and the SP train is on the WP / UP track to the upper level.

On the trip down to the staging yard the UP train has the smaller radius and moves ahead of the SP train.  The SP train however will leave the helix one turn before the UP train so they both end up in the staging yard at about the same time.

Here we are back at staging with the trains in opposite yards from where they started.

For the first time there is a connection between the two staging yards although it still requires a reverse move in one direction.