Nov 30, 2009

A good weekend!

This Thanksgiving break was really nice - very relaxed at home. I had good time w/ the family, and also some time for layout work. And on that front, I was able to complete all of the electrical work at the Vance Jct wye - turnout motors are all in, panel and LEDs are wired and functioning, the reverser relay for the wye (actually, for all of Telluride) is in and operational - it's all good!

Nov 11, 2009

My first tortoise install

I've FINALLY finished wiring all the detector and force-red circuits, and panel LEDs for them, all that stuff. My dwarf signals are complete and ready to install, but aren't in yet.

But - one of the panels also needs to control some of the turnouts for a wye remotely, and since I wired all the LEDs and switches for that, I thought it was finally time to tackle a Tortoise install - for a code 75 small-radius Peco wye turnout.

I used a method from Rich's methods, using some metal tubing and spring wire. I like this because I got to lay track w/o worrying about drilling large holes under each turnout as I went.

So - I've got the first one done now, but not wired; it seemed to go pretty well. I underestimated how difficult it'd be to actually get it screwed into place upside down - and this was the probably the easiest of the places I need these!

Oh well - challenges are good, right? I'll try and get a photo posted eventually.

Oct 25, 2009

Wiring signals now

I've been slowly working my way through wiring detectors and LED indicators in my panels, for the various hidden-track sections of the layout.

Tonight, I started working in earnest on wiring a number of 2-light dwarf signals (Oregon Rail Supply), which will be installed at the entrance to all the hidden track sections. These are a bit more work to wire than I expected - as you have to figure out where to physically locate the resistors for the LEDs (I opted for below the layout - meaning I had to wire the LEDs with a short length of wire, then the resistor(s), then more wire which would attach to the 'real' wiring below the layout somewhere).

Anyway - it's going smoothly now. I debated for a long time between normal block signals, and the much smaller dwarfs, because the RGS never had any signals (of course). I settled on the dwarfs because I don't want to 'model' block signalling, but just want to give my operators some indicator of whether they can proceed into the hidden blocks or not. So I kinda have block signals, and kinda don't, if that makes any sense.

Hopefully I'll post some photos once they're built & installed.

Oct 5, 2009

Goose 4 to operate?

According to this posting, apparently the restoration of Goose 4, currently underway at the Ridgway Museum, will be a restoration to operating condition. And, Telluride has apparently made an agreement with the museum to let them run the Goose once a year. This is different that the original posting on the museum site, which was only for a cosmetic restoration. Hopefully the posting referenced above is true!

This is big news - Goose 4 was the last of the remaining Geese to be restored, and was thought to never operate again. When this restoration is complete in 2011, all 6 remaining geese will be operating, and the original Goose 1 recreated and also operating. And then there's RGS #20, undergoing a very extensive rebuild in Pennsylvania, and when done will operate again, and in better condition than she probably ever was on the RGS.

Sep 21, 2009

Most of the Ridgway panel wiring done...

Here's a couple shots of the inside of the Ridgway panel, showing the wiring for the block-detection LEDs and force-red circuits for the remote signals protecting those blocks.

A friendly alien is keeping careful watch.

Sep 17, 2009

Still slowly wiring

I'm still slowly working thru the wiring of various panels, LEDs, and all the inter-connections to the detectors. Having a detector board in one town, but wiring LEDs and sometimes force-red circuits in other towns, requires a bunch of wiring between the towns, and that just takes time.

I did take a break over Labor Day weekend (which was really beautiful here in the midwest) to gather up a pile of unbuilt kits and get them sprayed w/ base coats and a little weathering - just so I can work on lettering and finishing them over the winter, if I want. With no spray booth, it occurred to me that if I wanted to finish up these rolling stock kits in the winter, I'd better get the spraying part of the work done now! Which I did.

So - back to wiring during my layout work times.

Aug 17, 2009

Forcing others to see red

So, I continued working on wiring between trips to local pool this weekend. The RGS was not signaled, of course, but my layout has a number of hidden track segments and I've added detection for those sections.

There's a couple of long hidden segments that exit directly into towns (Dolores, Ridgway, and Vance Jct). In those areas, if you are switching and blocking the main, I think it'd be helpful - and probably required for sanity's sake - to be able to block trains from unexpectedly jumping out of those hidden tracks. So - I'm adding signals (on the panels at least) for those blocks, and allowing the operator in - say - Dolores to force the signal red to prevent trains from entering blocks leading to Dolores.

So - I've got blue LEDs on the track segments, to show if a train is actually in those hidden blocks, and red/green signal LEDs (on the panels) to indicate the signal status at each end of the block - repeated on panels at both ends of the blocks. When the track is empty, the signals are green, when occupied they are red.

What I've added is a 'force red' switch in Dolores, so that if you are switching in Dolores and want to stop trains from entering, you can set the block signal at the far end to red, even though the block occupancy LED (blue) will still show the track as empty.

The wiring for this proved a little trickier than I expected, and it's not done so I'm not completely sure it'll work. In terms of physical wiring, I'm bringing all the panel LEDs from both locations to one panel (Dolores in this first case), then bringing the detectors ouputs there as well, and making all the logic connections in one place. I'll spare you further details, but it's been a fun exercise so far!

Aug 12, 2009

And fascia photos, plus a little wiring

And, at long last, here's some photos of the painted fascia. The layout still in major construction stage, so it's messy! The paint was done using Behr paints, primed with a tinted good-quality primer, and then 2-3 coats of semi-gloss interior latex, in Windsor Moor, which is a dark green. I picked it because it's dark enough to not call attention to itself, but isn't black, and seems to blend well w/ planned scenery colors. Behr is available from Home Depot.

I was pretty pleased w/ the results. I picked the semi-gloss because I wanted something tough, that wouldn't easily scratch, scuff, or get marked up.

I plan to add car-card holders, in the same color, but that's on hold until wiring is further along.

Here's a kinda poor picture of the current wiring for Durango. You can see the BD8 from The Signaling Solution installed here. This is one of a number of wiring panels, one per town. This is hinged at the top, and swings up and out of the way when I'm not working on it.

Each panel has bus feeds for track and other power (upper left corner), then feeds those circuits out to blocks and other circuits for that area of the layout.

Signs & control panel grahics

Well - time for a few photos. Here's some shots of the signs and control panel graphics I've added. I finally got one of my BD8 detector boards wired as well, and you can see a couple of the blue LEDs I'm using in the panels, for detection of trains on hidden track.

Jul 26, 2009

Back to wiring

With signage complete now, I'm back to wiring. I've added some LED lights about the track-power kill switches scattered around the layout, for operators to more easily know where they're located (hidden below the fascia edge). With my control system, having kill switches has always been helpful to me.

I'm also beginning to wiring by BD8 detector cards, now that I've got panel graphics and can start installing the occupancy LEDs and perhaps signals (both of which are needed if guest operators are going to start running trains).

Scenery is still a ways off... oh well. But, I'm also building freight cars when I need a break from wiring, and I've added two more Accurail hoppers this week - custom-lettered for my version of the RGS.

Jul 19, 2009

Signs and panels installed!

I worked on-and-off the last several weeks drafting signage and control panel graphics, and today finished installing them.

After searching around and trying a number of freeware graphics programs, I finally settled on using PowerPoint. Eventually, I'll dig out the camera and post some photos.

To finish them, I went ti Kinko's and had them create color printouts on cardstock (black background with mostly white graphics, and color highlights), then laminated onto this stuff that's laminate on one side, but adhesive on the other; Kinko's used it themselves for some of their keyboard and phone notes. Works great, so far anyway.

Jun 8, 2009

The wiring is progressing

Wiring wiring wiring... sometimes it seems it'll never end! But, I completed all the control jacks, so trains can be locally controlled from any of the towns now. I suppose wiring in block detectors will be the next task, since it would be hard for multiple operators to use the layout w/o knowing if the hidden tracks are occupied or now.

Actually creating the bloc indicators, though, means I will really have to get to work on drafting the control panels. I have done lots of CAD work in the past, but for some reason I haven't yet come up with a good graphic design or layout for controls panels. It should be easy, right? I suppose part of the issue is that I'm not sure how much information to include, whether to create a full track diagram at each town (which I figure would be helpful for other operators), or what.

Stay tuned, I guess!

May 11, 2009

Still wiring

I've been slowly continuing wiring efforts on the layout, as I've found time for it (only a few hours per week, in this current season of life). I've got a Keller Onboard control system, and current work is wiring the remote jacks for the controls - running a bus around the layout, and wiring the jacks.

Keller's system comes with 3-circuit 1/4" stereo jacks on their keypads, but I don't like these for a number of reasons - they're hard to pull out, cause a momentary short when plugged in, and the stress from pulling seems like a bad idea for long-term durability. So, I replaced them with - borrowing from my theatre experiences - 3-pin metal XLR jacks, commonly use for microphones. The receptacles are male, while the plugs on the keypads are all female. If you're not familar w/ this type of connector, it's got a spring-loaded locking tab on it - so when you insert the plug it locks into place, and to remove you depress the tab and them pull out - not much stress at all because of this, but very durable.

Because I might someday upgrade to DCC, I researched the control bus requirements for a number of vendors, and decided to use a shielded network cable for my Keller control bus - the idea being that if I upgrade to DCC, I won't want to have to replace the bus wiring. I found - are you ready for this - 1100 feet of just the right cable on eBay a couple years ago, for maybe $60. It's #20 wire, with 2 sets of individually shielded pairs, plus a mesh metal shield around the whole thing.

Probably the only downside is that this wire is solid, and because my control panels drop down, I'm running this wire to terminal blocks near the panels, then switching to stranded wire into the panels themselves. I don't want the wire breaking because of the panel movement.

My usual comment... yes, I should get around to posting pictures, and I will try.

Apr 13, 2009

Power supply work done at last!

Had a little more time this weekend, and finally I've gotten all the wiring, circuit breakers, monitor LEDs, and other work related to the new power supplies completed!

Apr 6, 2009

Power supplies

I got a bit more work on the layout done this weekend - still wiring up power supplies for electronics and switch motors. I ended up getting three 3A DC supplies. Two will be wired to together to give me a +12v / com / -12v set for Tortise motors. The third will be used for detector power and other electronics needs. All three are identical 12v DC regulated supplies.

I'm also using an old Racal modem / computer power supply, which has a 1A supply of 5v DC, mostly for lighting LEDs around the layout.

I've run all four supplies thru 1A or 3A circuit breakers (from Tyco Electronics), w/ monitor LEDs in the fasica. This way, I can tell at a glance if they're all running, and I feel a little better having circuit breaker protection. They probably have internal protection as well, but... oh well.

Mar 9, 2009

Fascia paint, and paper updates

If you've been following the updated pages on my RGS site, you may have noticed that the RGS Paper page has been vastly updated - thanks to Ted Klaveren and his son's scanning abilities, that page now sports a large assortment of paperwork from the RGS.

At home, I found time to prime and get the first couple of coats of paint on the fascia. I'm using a Behr semi-gloss in 'Windsor Moor', which is a dark green. I haven't done a lot of house painting, and I've especially not used semi-gloss much. The primer went on easily, but the first and second coat of the main color were more work, and even w/ the second coat it's not completely covering. I'll try to get a third coat on this week. Also, why hasn't anyone invented disposable rollers yet? Man, I hate trying to clean those buggers!

Mar 2, 2009

Fascia sanding, more wiring

After spending some time working on replacing wheelsets and selling off some unneeded parts on eBay, I've moved back into the basement and have been prepping the fascia for painting - at last. Because it's very smooth-surfaced masonite, I gave all of it a light sanding, so the primer will have be able to adhere properly.

I've also been continuing to work on wiring, and now have all of the Ridgway yard wired (and have gained some skills in upside-down soldering!).

Once the fascia is painted, I'll post some new pictures. I know it's been a while, but wiring just isn't very photogenic, and that's all I've been doing lately.

Feb 8, 2009

The fascia is done !!!

A great day yesterday - the garage was warm enough for some wood working, and with most of the existing track wiring complete now, I was able to finish off the last bit of fascia. Time to paint it!

Jan 8, 2009

Wiring wiring wiring...

Wow - I guess it's been a while since I updated this blog, eh?

What time I've had for trains has been spent in the basement, crawling around under the layout, running wiring. Lots and lots of wiring... not the most exciting work in the world, but it's needed infrastructure for everything else.

Lots of soldering - there's been a pile of feeders to drop from all the added track. Then, running block wiring for from all of the new track that I laid in the fall - the Ridgway yard, all of Telluride, a number of spurs, and all of the passing sidings. I've also been working on 5v and 12v power supply busses, for block detection and turnout-motor power.

Telluride, Vance Jct, Rico, Hesperus, Dolores, and Ophir have their wiring complete, at for the track that exists in each (Rico and Dolores have a bunch of track to add yet - the others are done). The large yard at Ridgway is still looming.