Read the Free Trolleyville Times Monthly for the Latest News on Prototype and Model Traction!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Niles Project ~ Interior Lighting Wiring Schematic

This is going to take a little planing.

Things are getting a little complicated:
  • The decoder can't light 8 interior LEDs because of milliamp limitations. So the LEDs are going to be split between two functions of the decoder. Four LEDs on the purple wire, and four LEDs on the green wire.
  • The LEDs have to be oriented correctly. Unlike incandescent bulbs, LEDs have a positive and negative side to them.
  • The LEDs require resistors.
  • The blue wire of the decoder is the common positive lead to all the interior lights and to both headlights.
  • In attempt to keep things neat and tidy and serviceable, circuit board is being used as a mount for the interior lights, a bus for the headlights, and as a soldering pad for the decoder wires.
So after a lot of trail and error, I drew this schematic to help make things crystal clear:

Okay, so here is where we left off...

This shows the top and bottom of one of the two circuit boards (as it sits in the car). On the top, the copper cladding has been cut vertically to electrically isolate the LEDs so that they can be wired in series. On the bottom, the copper cladding has been cut horizontally. The top strip will be the bus for the blue wire, the bottom strip will be the bus for either the white or yellow headlights wire. The vertical cut provides a soldering pad for either the purple or green wire.

So that's the plan man. Time to put the plan into action. Yes sir! Put this plan to action!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Ring A Ding Ding! A Slice of Girder Rail!

After clenching my fists and stamping my feet in a hissy fit over missing out on an authentic San Diego Electric Railway trolley gong, it turns out it went to a better home after all.

The San Diego Electric Railway Association has as its headquarters the historic 1882 California Southern Railway (ATSF) National City Depot.  They have been there like, forevar, so there is really no excuse for me not ever visiting. So what did I do? I finally paid them a visit.

They have quite of a collection of SDERy artifacts there. I was geeking out over an authentic SDERy conductors bell while mentioning the SDERy gong I saw on eBay when the docent  there said "I think we got that."  He proceeded to pull the gong out from behind an exibit. Sure enough, there it was!
Well I tell you one thing, I am so glad I didn't end up with it. Its huge! And weighs a ton! I would not have been able to display it as intended. I made my peace and gave the bell a ring (nice and loud!). I can not be any happier than to have it displayed at the museum where it truly belongs. So things worked out just fine after all.

Better yet, I didn't leave empty handed. I was able to  purchase another (and more reasonably sized) piece of SDERy artifactory. An authentic, well worn slice of SDERy girder rail (girder rail is rail used for tracks in paved streets). All is well with the world. I am satisfied. Yes sir! Satisfied!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Niles Project ~ Illuminatification

Installing interior lighting, LED's this time, and in their prototypically correct locations of all places.

The September 1908 edition of the Electric Traction Weeklys article on the new Niles Cars for San Diego (graciously forwarded to me by Bill Bolton) included an interior shot of these cars. Looking at this photo, I was able to ascertain the locations of the lights in the car (despite the fact that all of the lights weren't shown). Which got me to thinkin' (which could be dangerous) what would it take to light the car prototypically? Would the car look any different/better if it was lit prototypically? Would it be worth the time and effort to light the car prototypically? And why doesn't my spell check like the word "prototypically"? Well, there is only one way to find out. And that is to light the car prototypically (spellcheck be damned!).

This photo was shot in the enclosed section of the California style Niles Cars, probably standing in the doorway of one of the two bulkheads looking towards the second bulkhead. Visible are three lights (or 6 if were counting bulbs). The car is symmetrical so its safe to assume the forth light is just out of frame above.

The lights are evenly spaced so, if I continue the spacing into the open end sections of the car, we have a total of 8 interior lights. Seems reasonable enough. As long as the decoder can handle lighting that many lights. Since the lights would be lit more on the dim side, it should.

I've seen traction models with their lights mounted on a strip of circuit board. That seems like a really good idea to me, so that's the route I'm going to take. But because the Niles cars have those bulkheads inside, I'm going to have to split the circuit board into two sections. The bulkheads don't reach all the way into the deck (or clerestory) section, so the circuit boards are able to slip over the top of the bulkheads. But the bulkheads definitely limit the length of the circuit boards.

LED's are the way to go. They require less voltage, they don't burn as hot, and last a lot longer, than incandescent bulbs do. But as you can imagine, jamming 8 Christmas LED's into these cars would be ridiculous. So instead, I'm opting for the tiny SMD (Surface Mount Diodes)LEDs (warm white). John McWhirter recommended purchasing the SMD LED's from TrainAidsA. They specialize in electronics for model railroading. I have found them to be very helpful.

The circuit board is cut to size. Then holes are drilled for the LED lights and also where the base of the trolley poles pass through the roof. The holes for the lights are filed square to match the size of the LED's. Then the copper clad is notched with a saw to separate the positive and negative sides of each LED. The opposite side the circuit board is notched length wise to act as a bus for the headlights (see photo below).

Here are the circuit boards with the LEDs installed. This is actually my second attempt, I had the polarity of the LEDs reversed last time! The round holes are for the trolley pole base to pass through, so these boards have a front end and a back end. The pole holes denote the front end of the circuit board. The white wires are soldered towards the front end, the black wires towards the back end. The back ends of the circuits boards will butt against each other in the center of the car:

This test fit revealed the circuit boards fit quite snug between the ceiling and the bulkheads. I don't think any adhesive will be needed to keep them in place.

Next, I have to determine how bright the lights should be. This will determine the size of resistors required. Then we'll have this car illuminating quite nicely. Yes sir! Illuminating quite nicely!


Friday, April 01, 2011

My Old San Diego Trolley Layout

You might think I'm trying to fool you but, believe it or not, before your ol' pal Dan D Sparks was modeling the old San Diego Electric, I used to have a layout featuring the "new" San Diego Trolley!

I came across some old photos of the old layout, so I thought I would share them with you. So here is the nickle tour:

The layout was built in a 12x12 foot bedroom in my apartment. Originally the layout started as a 2'x4' module that grew to take over my entire bedroom!

1. This is the scene that greeted you when you walked through the door. I absolutely fell in love with MTS Imports models of the Siemens/DuWag SD-100 LRVs when I saw one in my local hobby shop. So I saved up my nickles and dimes and purchased it. Which was no small feat at $300 a copy (that was a lot of money in the late 80s)! Eventually I was only able to collect 3 of the models.
2. Transit Center and Clock Tower built from Plastruct parts. The background was painted directly on the wall. Something I regretted when it was time to move out.

3. Visitors really loved peeking inside the American Plaza Station, it made for a nice scene.
After the layout was dismantled, I traded in the LRV models for some San Diego 4oo series class 5 trolleys from Pacific Traction. And that's how I got started modeling the old SDERy. MTS imports is apparently importing some more of the LRV Trolley models. I wonder how much they will cost this time around!

I have some more pictures of the layout somewhere. Maybe I'll post some more pix at the beginning of next April also. Yes sir! The beginning of next April also!