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Monday, July 29, 2013

Testing, Testing, 1,2,3, Testing!

Working out all the kinks in the track before the overhead goes up.

Making adjustments to the track after the overhead is installed would prove to be very difficult. Since trolley track usually isn't electrically insulated for two rail operation, testing the trackwork before the overhead is installed requires some other arrangement.  Southern California Traction Club member John McWhirter built a pretty darn nifty battery powered car that will do just that.  I was able to borrow that car to test out the track on my home layout, especially that intersection. Sure enough, it found some sections of track that needed some attention:

Thank you John for the use of your car (which we here at the Dan D.Sparks Plywood Development and Transportation Co. car shops have christened the "McWhirtagig"). It has been very beneficial toward achieving our goal of "0 derailments" operation. Now, back to testing and adjusting. Yes sir! Back to testing and adjusting.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Wonderful World of Color

Painting the Streets and Sidewalks
 I've been staring at plywood and plaster for so long that even the new concrete coloring looks exciting!
 I grabbed some buildings and posed this little scene. Two of the streets on the layout represent the pre-paved era of streets. So they were painted Floquil Earth.

 But for the most part the rest of the layout is painted Floquil Concrete. And of course Floquil came out with "Aged Concrete" right after I painted it! But it doesn't really matter anyway because...

Another case of "if I were to do it again". Because if I were to do it again, I would have used Durhams Water Putty tinted with concrete coloring. In the photo above the effects of track cleaning and chipping on painted plaster can be seen. Bright white plaster peaking through. Tinted water putty would fair much better.
You guys are so lucky to be learning from my mistakes. Yes sir! Your so lucky!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Paving the Way

Pouring the Streets and Sidewalks. 

Extensive testing of the track is essential before its covered with street paving. Especially that intersection. Making revisions to the track would be most difficult when its buried in plaster. Plus its fun to just run the cars around too!

It seems logical to me to pour the sidewalks first. I used angle stock that was the thickness I wanted the sidewalks to be. Where the sidewalks curve at the corners I cut slots in the angle stock so that it could bend (sorry about the dark photo). Then the angle stock is spiked down to create a trough to pour the plaster into. 

I used lightweight hydrocal, but if I was to do it again, I would use Durhams water putty. 
Originally designed for DC operation, the track is cut into electrical blocks. In the photo above you can see where the wires come up from under the layout and soldered onto each rail of each block. That also has to be tested for electrical continuity before being buried in the plaster.
 Once the sidewalks were in and the track passed inspection, I started in on the streets. Stripwood equal to the height of the rails were glued against the sidewalks (where the gutter would be). Then plaster could be be poured in between. The stripwood and rail would be used as a guide for a paint scraper to smooth out the plaster. I stuffed thick string into the flangeways to keep the plaster out, but I think I could have just masked if off with tape.

Interestingly, all the spikes rusted and soaked through the plaster. But I don't think the strength of the spikes were compromised. Besides, everything is now held firmly in place by the plaster. Derailments should be nonexistent since the whole layout is basically a rerailer!

Finally I sanded down the all the streets and sidewalks with a block sander to make it all nice and smooth. I don't want any pour marks showing. I also scribed expansion joints in the sidewalks before the plaster got too hard.

I can't get over how different the layout looks now. It's all looks so neat and tidy. Now I have got to get some paint on it. Right now it looks like a winter wonderland. Yes sir! It looks like a downright winter wonderland!


Monday, July 08, 2013

Gandy Dancing in the Streets

Layin' Track 

Originally the layout was built 4 feet by 4 feet. But the curves proved too tight, the streets were too tight, the city blocks too small, the sidewalk corners had to curve to clear the intersection tracks... it just wasn't working. But just by adding another 6" to each side of the layout made all the difference in the world. So the intersection was cut out of the old cramped layout and then spliced into the spacious real estate of the new 4'6"x4'6" layout. 

Then, the mainline finally began advancing forward. Soon it made a right turn, then another right, and maybe even another! Then reconnected to the intersection. Route 1 is in baby! So you know what that means...
Time to put a car on the track and take her for a spin! Yeah, sure its "roundy roundy". But after all this time were finally rolling! I'll take "roundy roundy" over "display, display" any day. And when it does finally get old, well...

With the mainline continually advancing forward it wasn't long until all four blocks were in. Now the cars can dance the "Cloverleaf", the "Double Untwisted Figure 8s", or even 4 simultaneous "Roundy Roundys" and everything in between!
Pretty neat, eh? Yes sir! Pretty darn neat!