Mar 17, 2007

Guardrails, underground lights, hidden track, stairs & more

This weekend I've started focusing a little on the fascia... went out and purchased a pile of 1/8" tempered masonite. A huge boon was a really nice guy at Home Depot being willing to cut 6 sheets of the stuff into various widths; saved me a lot of cutting & dust!

I've also been installing guardrails on the hidden mainline portions. For some of this, I'm using the plastic cloth-like stuff used for weaving yard furniture chairs and such; it's bright yellow and pretty easy & cheap to run. I used this mainly along the back sides of the hidden runs. The front sides need to be accessible from below for cleaning and rerailing, so I needed something just high enough to catch derailed rolling stock, but not so high it'd block my hand coming up from below to clean the track.

Under Rico, I experimented with more of the chair stuff, screwed into the 1/2" plywood subroadbed - it actually seems to work ok. It's flexible, but should be plenty strong to prevent derailed stock from hitting the floor. In other areas, I ended up using very thin strips of masonite, again just screwed into the plywood subroaded. I found that as a little as 1/2" edge above the top of the plywood seems enough to prevent crashes - it just has to catch the trucks of derailed stock. At this low height, it's pretty easy to reach over it (from below) to clean the track.

I also realized that before installing the upper level plywood, I needed to add some lighting, so I could see the lower levels for cleaning and other access. I purchased a bunch of ropelight from Mernards, and installed this along most of the hidden track. I'm not permanently connecting this lighting - if I need the service lighting, I'll just plug in the strings with extension cords or to nearby outlets, as needed. Below are some photos showing both guardrails and lighting under Ridgway, where the lower track sneaks thru the stairs and then tunnels under what will be the Ridgway yard (someday!).

Here's a view of the rope-lighting along the hidden mainline under the Enterprise branch, and the ones below show the line under Rico and (lastly) under Durango.

And then, finally, I've started on the areas above the hidden track. The first is the upper-level connection between Ridgway and Durango, going thru the stairs. I got part of the subroadbed for this stretch installed. Below are some photos of the lower and upper tracks going thru the stairs, during install of the upper track. I created the upper track roadbed and laid cork on that, then installed it.

These two photos so the upper level track emerging from the stairs and entering Ridgway. Anchoring the upper level roadbed as it emerged proved a little tricky, as the lower-level track is right below it.

Mar 4, 2007

Wiring and the 1156 lamps

More wiring... I'm installing 1156 lamps these days, to provide some short-circuit protection. There's a lot of discussion on this method in various places - see this entry from Wiring For DCC for some background. So far, the Dolores panel is done (7 lamps), and the Durango panel is 2/3rds done (9 out of 13 done). A good deal left to go.

Anyway, the issue is how exactly to install these buggers. I'm just soldering directly to the lamps since they should last pretty much indefinitely, but that's a little tricky. The final plan I came up with was to feed one side of the main track feed to a terminal block, then to a wire soldered across the tips of a line of 1156 lamps anchored to the benchwork. Then, wires soldered to each brass base of the lamps is fed back down to the terminal blocks feeding each section of track. Yeah, I know - I really need a picture of this... eventually I'll try to add one.

There's one lamp for each section of track, basically each block, or each group of service or yard tracks; I'm trying to minimize the number of these lamps I need to solder and install. Actually, I'm trying to arrange it so each locomotive would always be protected by its own lamp, so tracks are divided based on how many locos I think will be active at any one moment. BTW, I've been buying these lamps at Walmart - they're only about 98 cents each there, in the automotive section.