Thursday, October 17, 2019

Slim Staging: Second Box

The second box of the portable staging yard is slapped together. This is not high-precision work, but it should get the job done. The photo shows the test fit with a standard FREMO F96 faceplate that will be shortened to fit the width of the box.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Slim Staging: A staging yard for the Welztalbahn Extension

The slim staging yard is 10 inches / 25 cm wide and 98 inches / 248 cm long. The 4 tracks are all long enough to comfortably hold a regular length train for the Welztalbahn (130 cm) with room to spare for the occasional extra-long Staging to Staging train. The left hand side will be built with a shortened Fremo-Puko F96 faceplate, so that two of the three standard holes fit the box.

There are two locomotive tracks on the left-hand side. The staging yard will be operated like a terminal station with trains running locomotive first into the storage tracks. Cars will be taken over by a waiting locomotive and form a new outbound train. Once that train has left, the original locomotive will move to the engine track to take over the next train. I'm planning an elevated road crossing the tracks at an angle as a view block separating the layout from staging.

Tonight I tested the track arrangement on the first of the two 4 foot boxes that will make up the yard. There will be protective barriers along the long sides to prevent equipment from falling to the floor. I added a mockup of the road, too.

Welztalbahn: Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report for layout extension

Proposed Welztalbahn Extension Phase 1a
Almost 8 months ago, I had submitted a Draft EIR for approval by the local land-use committee. Since then I have built the Untergroeningen modules that make up phase 1 of the draft EIR. Along the way I revised my operations plans towards intensifying traffic through Untergroeningen. This requires more staging capacity behind Untergroeningen. When I had Untergroeningen set up a couple weeks ago, I realized that I could set up a modular staging yard along the front of the garage. If I made that staging yard slim enough, I could still fit 4 tracks and later make it fit into the aisle between the garage cabinets with just under 2 feet to spare. It's tight, but feasible assuming no active staging, and no reblocking of freight trains in staging.

Proposed Welztalbahn Extension Phase 2
The Staging yard is only 25cm wide and equipped with a partial Fremo-Puko faceplate, so that two of the 3 standard alignment holes are usable. There is a separate post with more details about Staging.
The Phase 1a Connector would be a fairly generic box with provisional alignment holes for the Fremo-Puko endplates of Untergroeningen and Staging. It would get only minimal scenery around its generous 60cm radius curve to Staging. Phase 1a requires a revised schedule and revised waybills, which will keep me occupied for a little while, but once complete it is expected to keep at least 3 operators engaged. I can build the Gaildorf/West segments in parallel to running operations sessions on the Phase 1a modules.

Once Gaildorf/West is ready for operations, we enter Phase 2. Connector A will be built with Fremo-Puko face plates, with specific angles to match up the curve between Untergroeningen and Gaildorf/West.  Phase 2 Connector B will be rebuilt from the box used for the Phase 1a Connector with revised track alignment to fit the needs of the location. Due to proximity and back-to-back arrangement of Gaildorf/West and Staging, the curve between the two locations will be very tight. That's unfortunate, but a compromise I'm willing to make for this somewhat temporary arrangement. The advantage here is that all areas on the extension can be accessed without requiring operators to duck under the layout.

As in the original EIR, there isn't much of a run between towns, but that problem will only be resolved with the future Murrbahn project incorporating Gaildorf/West and Untergroeningen.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The End of the Greenly Northern

Today marks the end of the Greenly Northern, my office switching layout. Two of the turnouts used on this N-scale layout became more and more problematic, not throwing all the way, leading to derailments when switching. In addition, the baseboard had warped badly enough that cars started rolling on their own when leaving them on certain tracks.
This layout had a good run. I learned quite a few things with it.

I'm considering building another switching puzzle in N-scale, so I kept various parts and of course the electronics. The rest went into the trash.

Untergroeningen Underground

I wired the Tortoise turnout motors to the local controls for Untergroeningen segments 2 and 3. General wiring was also cleaned up.

And here's a shot of the adapter to the Welztalbahn.  This is not often seen by itself, since usually there's segment 3 in the way.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

At Davenport Pier

There are plenty of pretty pictures of the beach at Davenport Pier, including the swing.
I have some, too, but I thought this perspective was a bit more unusual.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Taking Caltrain Home

A team dinner ran later than I expected and I got home rather late today with a smooth ride on Caltrain's Bombardier cars.

Sunday, October 06, 2019


I spent yesterday and today on turning a 8x4' sheet of flooring plywood into a nice, sturdy workbench.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Dave Parks' Cumberland West - Knobmount Yard

I clearly didn't get enough ops over the weekend. I ran Knobmount Yard at Dave Parks tonight.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Evening Return


La Mesa TT&TO, Day 2

In the siding at Walong
On the second day, I spent all day in "the hill pool" running trains up and down the hill between Mojave and Bakersfield, contrary to yesterday. TT&TO can make this challenging, but I'm getting the hang of it, and there was always time for chats with operators or other crew members.

Approaching Caliente
Selfie at Cliff
Entering Bena
At Magunden
At Ilmon
Holding the main at Cliff
Helper in Cliff siding
I had a great time. A big thank you to the members at La Mesa for hosting this event.

Climbing the hill at Walong

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Timetable and Train Order Ops at La Mesa: Day 1

It's Timetable & Train Order operations weekend at the La Mesa Model Railroad in San Diego's Model Railroad Museum. I've been here in March and got hooked on running trains with TT & TO procedures on a really big layout. While the signature scenes of the layout are the climb from Caliente to the summit at Tehachapi and the famous loop, there's much more to the layout than what museum visitors usually notice.

During job assignment in the morning I picked the Arvin switch job, which was not quite what I expected. The Arvin job serves half a dozen potato packing houses on the branch line to Digiorgio and Arvin south-east of Bakersfield. Over the course of the day and 3 departures from Bakersfield, I moved about 120 reefers, plus 10 express box cars in and out of the Arvin branch.

When I got my clearance for the 11:30am departure, I also got a rather verbose order about what else is happening around me.

Between runs to Arvin I worked as hostler in the ATSF Bakersfield yard.

Here's the third departure of Extra 195, the Arvin switcher, from Bakersfield with 10 express box cars and a string of reefers coming off the ATSF main line at Kern Jct just before 3pm. The Kern Jct tower operator is appropriately dressed for the job. In the foreground is the Southern Pacific yard at Bakersfield.

In Magunden Extra 195 leaves the joint main line, crosses Edison Highway and ducks through the backdrop.

The work on the Alvin branch consists of a fairly elaborate scheme of cars to be delivered in time for loading at the various potato packing houses, as well as pulls of loaded cars after certain cutoff times. Yes, what you do in practice here is move a bunch of orange cars back and forth, which can feel pointless. However, this becomes a fun exercise when adding some imagination and try to deliver the cars as requested by the packing houses, work with limited track space, pull cars only after the respective cut-off times. My first trip to Arvin started at 11:30am. I did the last pulls at the 5pm cut-off, and was back in Bakersfield before 5:30pm. 6+ hours of switching work with a 30 minute break for lunch.

Arvin is one of the rather unfinished areas of the layout. White Wolf Potatoes is in the rear with 3 loaded cars ready for pickup on track 3, while 7 more cars are being loaded.  Diamond Potato Packers with 10 cars being loaded is in the foreground.

When I was done with my work, all outbound cars were picked up and cars for loading where spotted at the various packing houses.

The somewhat odd track arrangement matches reality, and several of the packing houses still exist today.

To round out the day, I took No. 7, a westbound First Class passenger train, from Mojave down the hill to Bakersfield. As this is a westward train and First Class it has right over all other trains and I had a scheduled meet with No. 4 at Cliff. I better not be late.

As I made my way down the hill, all conflicting trains were out of the way in sidings and eagerly awaiting my arrival. I was a few minutes behind schedule, and got "you are late" comments from most crews along the way! Rightfully so. Woodford and Caliente were bustling with trains, and they all wanted to get moving again.

Here is No. 7 leaving Caliente, with an opposing freight already continuing their climb up the hill.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Untergroeningen: Connecting to the Welztalbahn (6)

This weekend I ran most active locomotives on the Welztalbahn over the complete Untergroeningen module with some freight cars and switched at least a few cars on each run in some sensible pattern to exercise tracks and turnouts.

I placed the Raiffeisen warehouse on the spur in Untergroeningen to get a sense of scale for this arrangement. I think I can make the storage tower an inch taller. This spur and business are a freelanced addition to Untergroeningen to allow for more diverse traffic on this branch line.

While I was testing, in many cases I found some bugs and as a side-effect also identified additional rolling stock that is finicky on the converted Peco turnouts, like DB 216 428, an older Maerklin model of a Glmmhs 57 box car, which turns out to be a good test case for how far to file the turnout guard rails.

The to-do list for the next couple weeks:

  • Tune remaining Peco turnouts
  • Build shadow box for each Untergroeningen segment and install LED lighting
  • Add power to turnouts

That should wrap up the basics of Phase 1 of the Welztalbahn-Extension.

The next step will be temporary staging tracks behind Untergroeningen, and build up a new schedule and paperwork that integrates the extension and the upcoming Gaildorf/West module with the existing Welztalbahn. I'm aiming to have the basics of that worked out over the next couple months and start operating in a group regularly.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Freeform veggie rice with grilled Teriyaki Chicken

This turned out to be surprisingly yummy. Fried rice with bell peppers, onions, eggs, and grilled chicken that I put into a Teriyaki marinade this morning. The family approved and will consume the leftovers tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Plum Pie

This cake is more similar to a pie than other cakes I've made before. The cookbook labeled it a "Mittwochskuchen" (Wednesday Cake) because it's so easy and quick to make. We had 3 pounds of plums that needed to be eaten, so what better way is there than to turn them into pie filling?

While not pretty to look at on the plate, the result is deliciously plum'y.