Thursday, June 17, 2021

Making the lift gate more visible

The lift gate across the entry doorway to the train room is about chest height on me from inside the room and about neck height when entering the room because of the ramped entry.  One day my wife came looking for me in the train room and did not notice the lowered gate and hit her head on it.  Both she and the gate were OK but it became a priority to make the gate more visible.

The first step was to visit the local hardware store and purchase 2 packages of this reflective tape shown on the left.

The tape is 2 inches wide and 24 inches long.  This was just right to fit along the edge of the gate on both sides.

On the same trip to the hardware store I found some 1/2 inch aluminum channel.  I used this channel to mound bright red LED's on each side of the gate.  These LED's turn on whenever the gate is in the lowered position.   Part of the channel and how the connections are made under the gate are shown in the photo below.

So this is what the gate looks like now when entering the train room.   The multi pair cable seen on the right end of the gate is for the LED's

At around the same time the gate interlock circuit stopped working.  What had happened was that when the magnetic switch on the gate opened when the gate opened, the collapsing magnetic fields on the 5 automotive relays were sending a surge of voltage back to the switch contacts until they burnt out.  The common practice to have a diode across the relay coil to prevent this.  I normally do this on my PC board mounted relays but neglected to add it this time.  Surprised I got away with it as long as I had.  So the automotive relays got replaced with some relay modules that are designed to interface with the outputs of Arduino micro controllers and have isolation circuits on their inputs so should not have any more problems.  These were mounted on the same board under the Palisade Ranch area that the automotive relays had been.  Referring to the photo below the set of 4 on the right control the DCC connection to the tracks on the gate and it's approaches, one for each rail.  One relay in the set of 2 on the left are for the LED's on the gate.


Saturday, June 12, 2021

A new layout video

I recently added a new video of the layout to my YouTube channel.  This one is a tour of the Western Pacific or eastbound paired track following a manifest freight past several scenic locations.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

One more bridge

There are already 6 through truss bridges on the layout but I will be adding one more in the next expansion of the layout.  This one will represent the bridge that was on the Southern Pacific line on the east side of the Palisade tunnels which served the line for more than 100 years but was demolished by a derailment in 2008.

For this bridge I choose to use the brass kit from Micron Arts.  I have only done small brass kits up to the point and this by far will be the most complex one I tried.   I've had this kit stashed away for some time and honestly have been a little intimidated by it's complexity.


The most difficult part seemed to be the first step of the kit assembly.  I found that adding the webbing to the vertical uprights to be quite challenging.  After trying both soldering a gluing these and destroying some of the webbing parts I gave up and decided to leave the webbing out.  I cleaned up the solid parts of the vertical uprights and pressed on and then things went together more smoothly.

Taking my time in building this kit it still went surprising fast.  I was soldering most of the parts and did not have to wait for any glue to dry.  The finished assembly was quite strong and sat squarely on it bridge shoes.  In the photo below it is placed in about the location where it will eventually be installed.

Somewhere I read that brass models should be soaked / washed in vinegar before painting to slightly etch the surface so the paint will adhere better.  I let this soak for several hours and also used an old toothbrush to wash away any solder flux that might be left in the corners.  After the vinegar soak the model was rinsed and left to dry overnight.

Lately I have been trying out some paints from Mission Models and like them.  Using my airbrush I first applied two coats of their gray primer.  The coverage was fine but it took 2 coats to get all the different angles of all the parts.

After letting the primer dry overnight, I gave the model 2 coats of what Mission Models calls tire black which is a flat black.

Now being finished except for some weathering, this will be put away until construction starts on the next expansion.  I don't expect that to happen until winter at the soonest.  The kit came with a section of code 55 bridge track the same length as the bridge.  I won't use this as I like to use a longer section and replace the bridge ties on both ends with standard ties so the joints are well clear of the bridge ends.