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!

Ridgway Depot - construction begins

 Ridgway Depot started:

After being kinda intimidated by this wonderful but complex kit, I finally dove in and began working on the Ridgway depot kit.  This was offered by Raggs to Riches, and is now out-of-production.

 So, here's the workbench, and the beginning of the work. 

Here's my work bench.  There's a LOT of windows and trim in this kit, all wonderfully lasercut.  For the brown, I decided to spray a base coat on all of it, then add a final brush coat to get the color closer.  I'm using a fairly warm brown, Vallejo Flat Earth for this color.

The base is three pieces, with another piece for the floor.  Weights are - of course - actual RGS spikes!

The framing for this kit goes together very nicely - an inner layer which interlocks, and then outer detail layers applied to it.

I wanted to add interior lighting, which means I needed at least some basic interior detail.  And because the first floor section has a 2nd floor going in, I had to work on that detail now.  Some printed pictures from the internet, scaled to about 1.5" high, and some flooring images, did the trick.  A couple figues complete everything I think this needs:

And finally, let's see how this looks with the lighting turned on...

Layout improvements - Flooring and phones

It's been a long time since updates, so I'll toss in a few items.  Spring(ish) since here in the Midwest we just finished up 5" of snow last weekend, in mid-April!  And now it's raining.  Like, almost every day.  Sigh...



Anyway, a number of updates to the layout  Over the holidays I added rubber floor tiles, which make working and standing a lot more comfy.  Extra bonus is the floor is warmer in the winter time. The tiles I purchased are these;
and I got a dark brown color.

A small tip - I found static electrictity a minor issue during the winter after putting the floor in; that was solved by advice from a friend... get some liquid fabric softener which has anti-static included, thin it down 2-1 with water, and just spray the floor.  Problem solved!


And, to make communication better I added a small phone system.  It took a bit of research, but - again with help and advice from other operators in this area - I found this PABX system, and added a few simple one-line phones.

This had made a huge different, primarily in helping operators coming into and leaving Ridgway, since Vance Junction (next town on the line) is on the opposite side of the basement with a couple small rooms in between.

Here's the control unit (wiring here isn't quite finished...). It just needs power (supplied with the unit), and then I ran a couple CAT5 lines from here to the various phones.  You could use any twisted-pair wiring; it's not critical since this is just basic audio signal (no high-speed networking or anything).

If you're looking for how to determine phone wiring, and the colors to use, here's a couple great pages that helped me:
 There's some simple programming involved, which let me give each of my 5 phones a one-digit number, so calling between phones is really simple. I even ran a connection into the home landline phone, so I can either pick up or dial out using the regular phone as well (by adding a prefix).

Then it was time to actually install all the phones.  I located one in the laundry room, which might someday serve as a dispatcher desk.  Then, one at Ridgway, Vance Jct, Dolores and Durango.

Dispatcher phone:

 Dolores phone:

Durango yard phone (works for Rico as well):

Vance Jct phone:

As you can see, I also labeled the phones with the other extension numbers, and how to pick up / dial out on the house phone if needed.  In the above photo, the label you're seeing was printed on sticky shipping labels, but they didn't adhere well.

After a little more research, I replaced them with some custom-printed vinyl labels, which worked great.  I had no idea it was so easy to have these created -pre-cut to the size I wanted, and printed with any text or image I liked.  I used this place for that; very low cost too!

Here are links to the phone system, and the phones -