Oct 27, 2019

Night operations?

So, I hosted a couple sessions for the local Chicagoland RPM meet in Oct, but due to poor weather, distance, and maybe some mix-ups in signup, had no takers.  But some local guys came by to help host, and we ended up having a great time.

An early goal of the layout was to enable night lighting, and perhaps even operating at night.  With the addition of a few penlights, we actually did operate - nearly 1.5 hrs - and had a blast.  It's hard to photograph in the dark, but here's some photos.

Watching the trains climb through the dark, lonely mountains, and working to switch towns by penlight and locomotive lights was something different, and a fun change of pace.

A few shots working Dolores.

The Dolores flour mill had a pickup on this trip.  There are lights on this structure, but it's just temporarily placed, so no lights yet.

A railroad shed looms out of the darkness in the beam of a locomotive headlight, as a freight leaves Hesperus, late in the night.

Engine facility work in Durango, and engines are moved thru the coaling station and in / out of the roundhouse tracks.

Working the Ridgway yard at night.  Here, the backup light on the locomotive actually helped in reading the gon's car #.

The yard office in Ridgway appears briefly out of the darkness as a loco steams past.

Vance Junction, as a train pulls past this section house.

A meet happens at Hesperus.

Greg working Rico on the right, Gary working Durango on the left.

A mixed local in Durango, prepped and ready to power and departure - headed to Telluride.

Aug 1, 2019

More Goose runs announced for the fall!

Jun 23, 2019

Operating session Jun 2019 - photos and comments

Prototype maps and layout reference on the wall as you enter the room. Plus an authentic bolt from RGS bridge 45-A.

One of the early mixed trains out of Durango. It heads to Telluride, swaps some cars with another mixed, then continues north to Ridgway.

Train #16 ready to leave Durango. Just a single freight car this time.

Rico is nearly always busy. Here, "loaded" cars pulled from the mines are being made ready for pickup by trains departing both south and north, while a train of empties is arriving.

Hopper 924 was came in from Ridgway empty, and has been delivered to the St. Louis mine in Rico for loading. Loaded cars from this track were already pulled by the Rico switcher.

Rico switcher #22 has just finished spotting empty hoppers from Ridgway, including 924, at the (future) site of the St. Louis mine, in Rico.

The Rico switcher coming down the Enterprise branch switchbacks, after dropping a cut of empies at the Enterprise mine.

There's no wye or turntable in Rico on my layout, so trains arriving from both north (Ridgway) and south (Durango) swap engines for the return trips. Here, both inbound trains arrived early, and their power is waiting for the Rico yardmaster to finish making up their outbound trains - which are #211 (to Durango) and #312 (to Ridgway).

Train #211, which will take some of the loads pulled from Rico's mines earlier in the session, will head south to Durango, using this train order / clearance card.

Here's the car card and waybill for reefer 2183, currently at Rico and heading up the line to Ophir on the next train north.

Reefer 2183 is sitting on the depot team track at Rico. It's billed for Ophir, which is the next town north.

This is the Durango switcher, pulling into the caboose track to grab a caboose for an outbound freight being prepared.

A heavy mixed training getting ready to leave Telluride. It's heading south to Ophir, on a steep climb toward Lizard Head, and will need the Telluride switcher to help with pushing.

The heavy mixed train begins the climb to Ophir, after departing Telluride.

The Telluride switcher 51 pushing on the tail of the mixed, helping it climb the grade to Ophir and then Lizard Head.

Pushing work complete, the Telluride switcher backs thru the siding at Ophir, on its way back to Telluride.

May 22, 2019

Raggs - a bunch of kits in production - Placerville, Durango

If you haven't checked his site lately, head over to Ragg's...To Riches? website where Joe's got a bunch of RGS-related kits in production (all limited run).

This includes a nice Placerville warehouse in HO, O and S scales.

There's also a couple of mines and a smelter building set (mostly in S scale), the Crested Butte depot (HO and S), and the Durango depot (S scale).

And the huge Rose-Walsh Smelter set in HO.

May 19, 2019

Layout night lighting, and op sessions


New layout lighting:

So, I've planned from the beginning to try adding some theatrical lighting to the layout, with the goal being more directional lighting.  The existing lighting (and most layout lighting I've seen) provides a classic 'cloudy day' look, but that's a little boring, if functional.

Real lighting outdoors has lots more - directional sunlight, blue reflections from the sky overhead, bounce from sunlight off trees, grass, water, etc.  I've replicated all of this on stage over the years, when I designing lighting for various productions, and I wondered if it was possible on a layout.

The answer so far... sort of.  There isn't nearly the space, power, or equipment to duplicate what I have to work with in most theatres, and the general lighting is bright enough that adding directional light would need more punch that I can easily create - especially without adding a lot of heat.

The answer, after some experimenting, was to focus instead on evening or night-time lighting.  Here, the levels are lower (ie - I don't need super bright / large / hot lights), and the effects are a little easier.  It'll also provide a dramatic change for operators, and allow for some fun with structure lighting.

So, I first installed a bunch of LED blue bulbs (we lighting design types call them 'lamps' usually), into the recessed cans I already had.  When I built the room, I kept a couple circuits of these with this purpose in mind, and there's located mostly above and/or behind yards or towns.  This creates light, but purposely keeps the front sides of things in shadow.

Here's some cheap bulbs I picked up:

 And here's a test shot of what that overhead / backlight approach looks like.

OK, so now how to add directional lighting?  Color-changing theatre-level fixtues?  Sure!  Oh wait - they need a DMX control signal, and probably a small lighting console, plus power and data wiring.  And, um, the color quality would need to be excellent, which means Red / Green / Blue / Amber (RGBA) or Red / Green / Blue / Lime / Amber (RGBLA).  Those exist, even in the size I need.  Something like...
Prices for that quality start around $380.  Per fixture.  I'd  need a dozen at least, 2 dozen maybe.  Um, probably not.  :-)

I ended up going old-school with some very small PAR fixtures (just 8 for now), and a simple white LED lamp in each.  Not real bright, color is good 'ole theatre gel, but cheap enough and practical.  At least for trying things.

Initial results were ok... I tried some side/front lighting angles, especially onto the rockworkm, for an early evening look.  It didn't really work that well. Yet.  I later changed the gels to pale blues and lavendars, and just used that for a full night look, with directional moonlight.  That worked better, and we even used for about 5-10 min of operations - mostly for the novelty of it.

Here a few shots... quality is marginal, since low-light photos are difficult, and these were just quick test shots with my phone.

More to come on this as I find time to play with this aspect more...

Recent op sessions:

And some shots from recent op sessions!