Saturday, April 14, 2018

Plenty of Progress!

Ack! Where did the time go, I had all sorts of good intentions of additional posts, but the choice between time spent on the RR versus time spent documenting the RR means that the blog lost...

What have I been up to?

I achieved my goal of a fully continuous running loop by Christmas. It did require building a quick open grid frame on top of a couple of saw horses, with a sheet of plywood, but at least it works!

The loop on the table top currently provides an additional siding that can be used for spotting cars at industries and a return back out to the mainline.

Lacking any better ideas, I started labeling wires with "T" for "Town" and have since decided to refer to my town as "Taunton" (a local town here in eastern MA). The module portion is referred to as Taunton, while the extended siding is referred to as "East Taunton".

In addition for Christmas I also got Thomas up and running complete with custom sound effects for his whistle, and two sayings from the TV show. In addition to squeezing a decoder and speaker into tiny little Thomas I also found space for a tiny "keep alive" capacitor to handle trouble areas like turnouts or slightly dirty track. Check out the video! Apologies that the first part is a bit shaky.

Lastly, I've resurrected the staging yard from the old layout I de-constructed last summer. At first I thought I would keep the turnouts as is, but the more I looked at it I determined that I'd prefer to make the yard functional from a switching perspective and not just a straight staging yard. So I ripped up the turnouts and have re-laid most of them and planned out the remainder.

The improved yard provides two tracks that can be used for arrival and departure, a run-around, two classification tracks, a yard lead, caboose and locomotive storage. In the picture the classification tracks are buried under materials and the yard ladder and engine track have not yet been laid.

Redoing the yard also gave me a chance to look into stationary decoders to drive the turnout motors (all Tortoise under-layout mounts). I've picked up two Digitrax DS64s that give me control over all of the turnouts in the main yard.

I think my new best friends are Ebay and my parents' Brother Label Maker. Both have been critical in getting the yard up and operational!

Additionally for power management I've started implementing a PM42 Power Manager from Digitrax. This allows me to break out the power from each of my two boosters to two separate districts for each booster, additionally I can set the sub-districts to be auto reversing, rather than having the boosters themselves set to Auto Reverse. This way each booster can power an auto-reverse section (which should generally have no more than one train in it) as well as another larger portion of the layout, distributing power more effectively.

Once the yard is on-line, I want to get a back-drop installed between the yard and Taunton. After that I hope to start on scenery around the track that goes from Taunton to the yard.