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Monday, December 23, 2013

Short and Sweet

A Christmas Present For You!

A couple years ago I made this little video in an attempt to get up close and personal with a trolley model (SDERy Birney #301). It didn't quite turn out as well as I would have liked, so I forgot about it. This last summer I happened to show it to a couple of members of the Southern California Traction Club who reacted quite favorably to it. So why not release it? So here you go, I hope you like:

Happy Holidays Everyone! God bless us one and all. Yes sir! God bless us one and all!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Operating System

Just a quick shot of the temporary control panel for the layout.

This simple set up is what I used while building the layout. I didn't want to invest any more money into the layout until I knew if it was going to work or not. So I used basic DC and a control panel built the old fashioned way:

Masonite cut to size.
Spray paint line color (cream).
Use tape to mask off route.
Spray paint main color (green).
Peel off tape revealing line color.
Drill for and install push buttons and indicator lights.
Dry transfers for street names.

These days its so much easier to build a control panel by designing one on a computer and simply printing it out and gluing it onto Masonite or Acrylic. Or, with the capabilities of DCC, a lot of folks are foregoing with control panels all together.

Electrical blocks are indicated (along with the direction of travel) by the gaps in the lines. So as you can see, this layout will eventually be able to accommodate a lot of cars!

These buttons control the NJ International switch machines. The switch machines have a bank of electrical tabs that power the indicator lights in the control panel. This has proven to be most troublesome and are the cause of almost all electrical shorts. Since the layout has proven itself and actually works, The NJ International switch machines are going to be replaced with servos which require a different type of switch. So like I said, this control panel is temporary. Yes sir. Its only temporary.


Monday, December 09, 2013

Repairing, Upgrading, Improving

Now that the layout is running regularly, the weak spots are making themselves known.

Specifically, my homemade turnouts are failing. Originally I just soldered the turnout rail directly on top of the post of the turnout link. But it turns out that those kind of forces are too much for the solder alone. So the engineering dept came up with a nub and groove design. The post has a rectangular nub filed on top and the rail has a matching notch. Then this interlocking design is soldered together. And that worked fine… for a while. But now with more frequent use, the hard snapping of the NJ International switch machines weaken that solder joint. And one by one, they are popping off again.

Above. This is the latest turnout point to pop off. You can see the nub and groove design (and I see that plaster from street paving got into the rail web). John McWhirter from the Southern California Traction Club suggested that I make a sleeve that contains the assembly, holding it all in place. Which I quickly dismissed as it would interfere with the flange-way.  But the more I thought about it the more it made sense.  So I thought I would give it a try.

This is what the engineering dept. came up with. A tube which slips over the post and is notched so that the rail seats inside. The sides of this notch fit snug against the base of the rail and is low enough to clear the wheel flanges. Simple.
The whole assembly is soldered together. So now, with this new nub and groove and sleeve design, things should be a lot more solid. (Eventually the old NJ Internationals will be replaced with the more gentle servo turnout motors, that should help too). The plaster was removed from the rail as well and everything is clean and shiny! We are ready to re-install.

The top of the hole is drilled out to accommodate the wider diameter sleeve, and the turnout point is installed.

A quick check to make sure everything is in gauge and... are you kidding me! We are out of gauge! You know, I noticed that the cars were bumping over some of the turnouts in the videos, this is probably why.

Yep, the hole is off center. How do you move a hole over?

The old hole is filled in with a same diameter dowel. Now I have a clean slate to start over with.

Then a carefully positioned pilot hole is drilled. That hole is widened with consecutively larger bits until the correct size is achieved. (This, by-the-way, is a real pain with the overhead in the way!) The turnout point is re-installed. The gauge is checked. And...

... we are back in business! Better and stronger than ever before. Yes sir! Better and stronger than ever before!


Monday, December 02, 2013

Not The First Grand Union Intersection Modeled....

...I was just the first to make a big deal about it!

There are actually a few working scale Grand Union Intersections that I know about. The first GU I saw (but I don't remember where) years ago was fully modeled but only part of it was working, the rest of the intersection was just for show. But then in the September 2010 issue of Model Railroader, a fully working O scale GU showed up:

This Grand Union Intersection is part of Les Lewis's home layout, the Connecticut Co. Notice the controls for the intersection on the lower right. As I understand it, the buttons are interlocked to prevent collisions. Press the blue button and the car will proceed straight through the intersection. Press the yellow for a right turn. Green for left turn, and press the red button to stop the car.

This is the first Grand Union that I know of that was built in HO scale:

 This nicely built Grand Union was built by Charlie "Chuck" Grant. As I understand it, it's part of his home layout but  it can be removed and connect onto the modular layout of the East Penn Traction Club.

Here is another HO scale Grand Union Intersection module recently built for a German tram club, Modular Nuremberg. The remarkable thing about this GU is that the rails are insulated for two rail operation! Here is a video that has a snippet of a tram negotiating a left turn through it at the 10:24 mark.

So, sorry my friends, I'm not the first to complete one. But they sure are fun all the same. If  you know of anymore, let me know and I'll post them here. Yes sir! Let me know!