Sunday, December 20, 2009

General Update - December 2009

I've mostly been working on the actual railroad in the past week or so.  The scratchbuilding as become sort of a catch-22 -  I spend a lot of time building things but then don't finish the last few steps and the painting/weathering - why? - primarily because of the state of the actual layout - anything I finish will have to be moved several times for things like painting and ballasting the rails, scenery, laying the actual rails, backdrop painting adjustments,...etc.    So my goal is to start finishing the trackwork, electronics, painting and ballasting the track and some basic scenery items in specific sections so then I can finished structures and start to detail specific scenes.   I also need to finish some construction on the layout room - primarily the ceiling.  I have an old house with tongue and groove flooring directly on the joists - this means that dirt and dust works its way through the floor and eventually onto the layout.  I have been building sections of plywood ceilings and valences directly over the layout to prevent this.  I would have liked to build a drop ceiling spanning the entire room but being an old house and being 6'3" tall, I wouldn't be able to stand up.  I literally need to stand between the joists while working on the layout.    This all doesn't mean I won't be working on scratchbuilding too - I will be doing a bit of each.  I will include in the blog some things I am working on as it would probably be of interest also.  

What I am calling the Coke Works Branch had the track on it partially ripped up as it had been originally intended to be part of a city for an earlier model railroad.  For economic reasons I elected to keep this branch Code 70 track, reusing some of the old Shinohara Track and adding some new Micro-Engineering flex track. I am of course a bit nervous about these old turnouts and DCC but I've talked to a few people that have said the problem is overstated - we will see I guess.   As part of the layout work, I built the frames for four control panels - one for the main , and one each for the port, the blast furnaces, and the coke works branch.    Each panel will get a Power Shield breaker.    In the course of the friday night operating sessions I have been attending I've used both ground throws and switch machines and feel that while both have their advantages, the machines are the way to go for my situation.   The level of finished detail that I intend will include a lot of wiring, piping,...etc.  that would probably get damaged with ground throws -  machines, although  an expense, will prevent damage.   I will use Tortice Machines throughout.    One thing I am scrapping - DCC control of switches.  I originally intended to use this and already have a Digitrax decoder that works four machines.  It might be something to retrofit later, but from an operational standpoint it would be confusing for someone new to the layout and also, you can't throw switches from the NCE utility controller.    I've posted a jpeg of my first draft of my panel design for the coke works branch.

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