Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Grade crossing in Carlin

In the real Carlin, there are a pair of multi track grade crossings, one at 4th street and another at 10th street.  I wanted to keep my small modeled yard clear of any grade crossings but did find a spot where Main street crosses the Western Pacific line to include one of these interesting features.

The grade crossing that I had set up in Battle Mountain a few years ago was no longer working correctly but the signals themselves were OK so I transplanted them to Carlin.  These NJ International signals have lights on both sides and as this crossing would be visible from both sides I wanted to use them here.  When I rebuild the crossing at Battle Mountain I plan to scratch build some signals that will only have lights on one side as they can only be seen from the front.   In Carlin I am using the crossing controller from Azatrax with the IR transmitter and receiver being in between the ties using the reflective mode.  For the sound I am using the ITT Products grade crossing module.  These circuits are mounted under the bench work.


The instructions that same with the sound module recommends a speaker with an 8 ohm input impedance.  For about $5.00 each on Amazon I found some 2 inch, 8 ohm speakers.  I am impressed with the sound quality from these.

These speakers are also small enough to hide in a small structure.  This one will be in a 3D printed house that is nearby the crossing.  I still need to get the part between the rails done and also some markings on the road.

When I set up this signal, this section of bench work was still on the saw horses and everything worked great.  After installing the section into the layout the sensors started to get false triggers.  What was happening was that the invisible IR beam was reflecting off the bottom of the cabinets which are 17 inches above the track.  I taped up some of the same black craft foam that I used on the roads and that seems to have solved the problem.  So I may need to either attached these foam sheets more permanently or paint the bottoms of the cabinets a flat black in this area.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Trying a different road building method

Over the years and various layouts and modules, I have tried several different methods for modeling asphalt roads.  Just before I was about to start the roads in Carlin, I saw this YouTube video.   The modeler presenting this video uses thin, black craft foam sheets as the basis for this roads on his HO scale layout with great results.  I wanted to try this myself and adapt it to N scale.  So I purchased these on Amazon and they were quite inexpensive when you consider how much N scale roads and parking lots can be made from this one package.




The thickness of these is about .070 inches thick and was quite easy to cut with a sharp x-acto blade.  When I have used the styrene sheet or drywall mud methods of road making I have used .040 as a thickness and made any needed styrene strip edges to match that thickness.  So one of the things done differently was to use .080 as the thickness for any edges where a sidewalk or building would be placed.

Another adjustment I needed to make for using this in N scale was at a grade crossing.  This material is too thick for the height of the rail so a transition was made to .030 styrene on the approach to the grade crossing. 

For painting I used the recommended colors of artist acrylics and techniques from the video.  This was the first time I have used sponge brushes in this application and do like using them for painting larger surfaces on the layout. The first pass seemed to absorb into the foam and I was not sure of the results but got better results with the followup coat.

With some weathering and detailing I think these are going to be the best roads I've made and plan to use this technique in the future.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Summer 2022 layout construction update

Over the past few months both the 3-1/2 foot section with the east portals of the Palisade tunnels and the 8 foot Carlin section have been completed to the point that they were ready to be installed into the layout.  So more photo backdrops were ordered and installed and about 2 weeks ago the smaller section was put in and the connections to the lift bridge were re-done.  After everything was tested then the larger section was added.  This has been done within the past week and work is now going on to install connecting tracks, wiring, and fascia.  Having the air conditioner has made it possible for me to spend more time working in the train room during the summer months.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Welcomed addition to the train room.

We have had our photovoltaic solar system on our house for a year now.  And although we have been home every day except for 2 in that year, we made quite a bit more power than we used and have a credit with the utility company.

Feeling assured that it was not going to cost anything to run, I purchased a portable air conditioning unit for the train room.  The local big box hardware store had a sale on them.  I had already installed a discharge vent through the wall when I built the room so it was an easy install.   It sits under the Wesso area of the layout.




















Right away I noticed a difference in the comfort level.  This unit has a dehumidifier built into it and I was surprised at how much moisture was draining out.  I had to rig up a bottle to catch it so I didn't have puddles all over the floor.  This portable unit will also be a back up for one room in case our main unit in the house ever has a problem.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Carlin foot bridge - part 1

In Carlin there is a foot bridge over the rail yard and this is something I wanted to represent on the layout.  Here is a Googlemaps photo of the prototype.  There appears to have originally been more than the 4 tracks that pass under this bridge today but some have been removed.  Because of compression of the scene my bridge will just span over the 4 tracks.

My bridge is going to end up being a bit different due to the need to compress things.  The prototype has ramped ends but mine is going to be stairs.  Also it looks as if the railing on the prototype are made of wood and my model is going to be all steel.  The starting point is a Pola kit that I picked up last year at a local club's open house.  This bridge only spans 1 or 2 tracks but that's OK as I can use the stairs and scratch built the rest.


This is how the foot bridge looks right now with the scratch built deck.  Not so noticeable in this photo is a support tower near the middle that was left over from the Walthers glacier gravel kit.  I have a few ideas for railings on the deck and will hopefully find something on my next hobby shop visit.

These stair towers were not quite tall enough for modern American rolling stock to clear underneath so they were placed on a base that gives them some extra height.  I then tested all my tallest rolling stock for clearance and they all were OK.  I also want this model to be removable from the layout so I made my normal pits for the stair tower bases and built up the scenery around them.  The drilled a hole and glued in a couple of the small magnets I keep for this purpose.  A thin piece of sheet steel was glued to the top of the base between the pair of towers on each assembly to interface with the magnets.  This will be covered with scenery.  The bridge deck is a separate assembly that will connect to the towers with clear styrene strips on each end that side into a space between the bottom of the tower deck and a horizontal beam. 

After the railings are finished, this bridge will be painted black with perhaps some other details added and some weathering.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Spring 2022 update on layout progress

This is going to be a sort of random update of what has been going on with the layout over the past couple of months.  I have been working on two expansion sections for the layout that total about 11-1/2 feet.  This was just too big to handle as one section so it got split into an 8 foot section with the town of Carlin and a rail yard and a 3-1/2 foot section which goes from the east portals of the Palisade tunnels to the beginning of the yard.

I had gotten quite a bit done on the big section when I ran out of ballast and my local hobby shop did not have what I needed.  I had ordered some directly from the manufacturer in late January and while waiting for it to arrive set the big section aside and worked on the smaller section.

The photo below shows this smaller section at this point.  The basic bench work and track layout had been completed last fall.  Recently I got some bridge abutments done and installed, and built up the river banks.

The bridge at the rear was kit bashed from an Atlas girder bridge.  I turned one of the girders around so that the detailed sides are both facing the viewer with the blank sides hidden.  I also made the deck a bit wider so there is room for a slight curve to the track.  I have found these Atlas bridges a great starting point for some bridge projects, sometimes finding used ones cheap at train shows.  Here are a couple of examples of projects I have done this way.   Bridge 1 , Bridge 2

The basic structures of the tunnel portals were done some time ago and I am now finishing them so they will be ready for the east end of the Palisade tunnels.  In this photo the wing walls are being added to the Southern Pacific portal.   When done these will be a close match to the ones on the west end of the tunnel.


After a 2 month wait for the ballast it finally did arrive a couple days ago so things should get moving on the big section again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

A Santa Fe video

Been taking a break lately from layout building to do some household projects and also to run some trains.  While I don't actually model the Santa Fe, it is another railroad I grew up with and do have a small collection of Santa Fe locomotives.

After hearing the song "Santa Fe, all the way" I was inspired to get all my Santa Fe stuff out and run them on the layout.  Adding a few others that were in the shop for future DCC decoder installs I put together this short video.  Hope you enjoy it,  I'll post again soon with an update on the progress of the layout.


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Buildings for Carlin

Carlin will be the most developed area on this layout.  Below is a screen shot from a Google maps 3D images that shows the area that my modeled scene will represent.  In the steam era the Southern Pacific Railroad facilities covered a large area in the center of town and that is all now gone and only 4 tracks remain.  In my modeled eras this was still a crew change point and a local originated from here.  One of the landmark features seen in this photo is the foot bridge across the tracks.

Of course as it is with most modeled scenes my representation won't be 100% accurate.  On my layout I will have the street shown as Main Street in the photo above running along parallel to the yard with buildings along the far side.  I have been going through my small stash of kits for structures that would fit in.  I have also purchased a few things and may later attempt to scratch build a couple of buildings.  The next photo shows some of the structures that will be used.

  • The Pola bridge I found at an open house last fall, it will be used with modification for the foot bridge.
  • The Laser-Art gas station is something I had and may use it.
  • The 3 stall fire station is from my last layout.
  • The blue building is from the Walthers Propane dealer kit.  Not using this part at the industry so am using it here as the yard office.
  • The half built wood structure is a railroad rooming house kit from American Model Builders.  I purchased this after reading that the SP had a "large wooden club house" in Carlin.
  • The tower is another AMB kit that I built about 25 years ago and had on an Ntrak module.

Wanting to have a few houses in the mix I found a seller on ebay that makes 3D models of the 1920's era Sears kit homes so I ordered 3 different models.   Each model is composed of several pieces so the detail painting can be done prior to assembly which should make it easier.

So I will have a few structures to work on which is fine with me as it is one of my favorite parts of the hobby.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Controls for Carlin - Part 2

The turnout controls for the 13 turnouts within the Carlin section and a display panel showing the position of all 15 turnouts in this part of the layout are done.  The idea is to have the knobs along the front edge for each turnout and with LED's on the panel showing the route alignment.

Here is a close up of the panel itself.  The turnouts that can create a route through the yard are labeled E1 to E5 (east end) and W1 to W5 (west end).  Those use a pair of 2mm green LED's to show the point position.  The spur tracks are labeled S1 to S5 and use a bi-color LED with green indicating aligned and red indicating diverging.  Notice in the photo below that W4 and W5 are dark.  That is because these are going to be on an adjoining section and are not yet fully connected.  W5 on the panel has a toggle switch as it is the only one that is using a motor because of it's location.

The connections for the W4 and W5 turnouts have been wired to some plugs that will make it easier to connect things after both sections are installed in the layout.