Thursday, November 28, 2019

New additions to the locomotive roster

Lately I have been adding some additional motive power to the layout, filling in some gaps in the 3 different layout eras that I use.  In most cases I already had the locomotives but as this layout is DCC only I don't consider them on the active roster until they get a DCC decoder installed.

It all started when I found SP MP15DC 2696 on a sale table at a club open house for $40.00.  I already had the correct decoder for it so installed it right away.  It will join 2690 and will work in any of the 3 layout eras.
UP 910 and 912 are GP40-2's that came from WP in 1983 and were overhauled and repainted in UP colors.  They got TCS Z2 decoders installed in them and will work in the 83-88 and 89-96 eras.  910 still needs it's hand rails painted.

SP 7514 is an SD45 that came out of SP's GRIP program in 1984 as a SD45-2.  It got a TCS M4 decoder and will work in the 83-88 and 89-96 eras.

U30C SP 7912 got a Zimo decoder and will work in the 75-82 era.

GRIP (General Rehabilitation and Improvement Program) was a major locomotive rebuilding program undertaken by Southern Pacific at their Sacramento Shops during the late 1970's and through the 1980's.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Keeping the track clean

Anyone who has had a layout knows keeping the track clean is important and it is an ongoing process.  Here are the methods I use to maintain the tracks on my layout.

I have a number of Aztec Manufacturing track cleaning cars and have found that when used regularly, hand cleaning of main lines can be avoided altogether.  Spur lines may still need some hand cleaning.

This type of motorized track cleaning car is made by Tomix and sold under both the Tomix and Atlas brands.  It can be configured to be a vacuum car or rotary wiper.  It does not move on its own and needs locomotives to pull or push it.

These work best running at a faster speed then being moved slowly over the tracks so they are great on DCC layouts as the speeds can be controlled separately.  These will even get into those spur tracks.

When I do have to clean the track by hand I have been using the Woodland Scenics Tidy Tracks products.  The long handle can reach into my longest thru truss bridges.

Most of the track on this layout is reasonably accessible.  For those times when it would be necessary to hand clean the track I have been making an effort to have any structures or bridges over the tracks removable.

One example is the loader at the Barite crushing facility in Battle Mountain.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Slow progress through the canyon

After some quick progress the past couple months on bench work and bridge building things have slowed down a bit on the land forms and rock castings.  The canyon walls all the way around to the window have now been covered with plaster cloth and rock castings are beginning to appear along the top of the ridge.

Molds are crumpled up aluminum foil.  Rocks are set in place while the Hydrocal is still a bit soft.  A sheet of styrene is placed behind the hill to protect the sky board.  As each one hardens I try to blend it in with the previous one by filling any seams with Hydrocal and some carving.
In between rock castings I made bridge abutments from wood for the 200 ft BLMA bridge.  More 3D printed bridge feet have been ordered from Shapeways for the 4 additional Central Valley bridges including the skewed bridge.