Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Visiting the Schwarzwaldbahn

Last summer my dad and I spent a day in the black forest for scenery inspiration. I took a ton of photos, and some video footage.

Of course, a visit to the Schwarzwaldbahn wouldn't be complete without a stop at the large layout "Schwarzwaldbahn-Modellbahn" in Hausach. Light conditions in the layout room are not great for filming or photography, but the atmosphere and size of the layout is fascinating.

Afterwards we drove along the line towards Triberg and St. Georgen, and stopped at various places along the way. I took some video footage in the station of Triberg, observing a freight, a passenger train, as well as a right of way maintenance engine and crew clearing tree branches.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Kitchen done ...

Well, at least as far as contractors and the city are concerned. The city inspector signed off on the work last Thursday, and today our contractor came by one last time to fix a minor plumbing issue and set the the sink in place with silicon, now that the countertop is installed.

I have a few work items left. Finish up installing cabinet covers in the dining area, cover up the gap between the cabinets and the ceiling, hang a shelf, do another coat of wall paint, and a few touch-ups.

Almost there ...

Turntable test setup

Last night I hooked up the turntable for the first time. Very nice...

How switching the sawmill in Talheim grew into another headache

The facing point turnout arrangement for the machine factory and the sawmill and the respective need to run around the train for switching the sawmill is giving me some headaches, since the run around requires use of the double-slip and regular turnouts that make up Abzweig Talheim and are likely going to be the heaviest used turnouts on the layout, since all traffic leaving and entering staging runs through them.

I'm trying to come up with a solution that avoids adding additional pressure to this area from switching moves in Talheim.

One option is to keep the trackwork in Talheim as is, and run switching as what is often called a "turn", i.e. the train comes up from staging (say originating in Hausach), switches the machine factory in Talheim, then continues through the long tunnel to Emsingen for some local switching. In Emsingen the locomotive runs around the train and leaves towards where it came from through the tunnel. I.e. the return trip takes the train back to Talheim with the locomotive now facing staging and if the engineer planned ahead in Emsingen, the car(s) going to the sawmill will be at the head of the train. The train takes the siding in Talheim, uncouples, the locomotive runs through the double-slip turnout, and zig-zags to the sawmill, switches out the old cars, drops the new cars, and zig-zags back. This move will block the main and siding in Talheim for a considerable amount of time.

The other option is to modify the trackwork in Talheim, by adding another turnout between the first and second turnouts on the southside, so that the sawmill siding is directly accessible from the main track. The track would merge with the machine factory siding, and dead-end into the sawmill, creating a runaround, that also leaves the house track available for through traffic (including passenger trains that should stop at the house track anyways). In order to fit this in, I need to move a signal mast, extend and realign the existing flextrack segment of the house track by an inch or so, and add the new turnout to the control panel. If I arrange it properly, I should be able to run around cars in the freight siding with just the locomotive and without having to clean out the sawmill track first. However, since that's the point of this move, I'm willing to forgo some track length for better scenery integration.

An alternative I considered was to replace the regular turnout in that area with a double-slip turnout, and otherwise do the same arrangement. For switching moves this is equivalent, but they occasionally block the main when using the double-slip, and due to how track lengths and angles work out, I don't have nearly as much usable track length for the saw mill track. It would be much easier to get this installed, though, since I don't need to realign the flextrack segment.

Sigh. So many choices on how to spend my time. I'll come back to this later when Emsingen station also exists and I got a chance to experiment with various approaches to operate the combined setup. E.g. for more visual interest and a longer intermediate run, I could operate this train from staging via Abzweig Talheim to Emsingen, then on to Talheim through the tunnel, switch Talheim including the required run-around in this case, back to Emsingen, pick up remaining cars, and down the hill passing Abzweig Talheim back into staging.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

A better day

Using Teflon tape I managed to get the hose connections for the water line to the fridge tight. I painted above the glass cabinet and behind the fridge, plus some touch ups elsewhere in the kitchen.
I filled in the gaps between the glass cabinet, base cabinet and the wall.
Since I had the fridge out already, I slid a thin plywood piece under the laminate below the fridge so that the flooring doesn't sag into the underlayment as much due to the heavy fridge. Well, it still sags put the plywood piece raises the floor enough so that the it roughly levels out when the fridge is in place.

... and I picked up Tatjana from Girl Scouts camping today, so she can attend her black belt ceremony, which was a tad too long for my taste. Topping off the day was an excellent steak dinner fresh from the BBQ. Let's see what I can put together in the garage before I call it quits tonight.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Switching Talheim

Talheim has two rail-served industries. The machine factory and the saw mill.

The machine factory has two tracks arranged in a V-shape with sure spots, i.e. the coal waggon always goes to the end of track 1, and a box car/sliding sides car gets spotted at the loading ramp of track 1.
Track 2 has no loading ramp, but a loading door instead, so the car needs to be spotted at just the right place in front of the door, so workers can load or unload the car. There is enough space for two spots, so I might have two loading doors in the factory building here.

As I worked the machine factory I realized, I used the toothpick to uncouple cars in various locations along both tracks, so both tracks need to remain accessible. Which means I have to rethink the building layout of having the tower and the administration building between track 2 and the operator (who would be at the bottom of above photo). However, I really like the visual appearance of this setup. Alternatively, I'm considering installing a remote controlled uncoupler at least on track 2 roughly between tower and main building. I might install another one near the loading ramp on track 1.

BTW, the building flat on the left depicts another building of the factory, and I'm contemplating extending the track into the room wall, so I could spot a car into that "manufacturing hall" for loading with the ceiling crane.

The saw mill has only a small stub track for rail shipping and delivery within the mill property which extends mostly outside the layout boundary. The track will need to be long enough for one long Rungenwagen, or two short flat cars. Operationally, this track is a bit more tricky to switch since it requires the locomotive to run around the car/train.

The siding connecting the sawmill stub track to the machine factory and the rest of the layout will double as my programming track, since it's right above the Intellibox command station and easily accessible.

fridge water hookup and a trip under the house

The previous owners used a 1/4 inch copper pipe between the sink and the fridge to get drinking water to the cold water dispenser and the icemaker. They hooked into the T-piece at the cold water pipe and ran the pipe in the crawl space under the kitchen floor to the fridge.

Aside from the fact that a break in that pipe caused a little water damage to the old laminate flooring, I also managed to break it more while setting the cabinets. So, out with that stupid whimpy pipe and install a PVC hose like we had in the old house.

I got a 3/8 inch hose (because apparently that's what you are supposed to use with ice makers), the only catch being that all the hookups are 1/4 inch. I got the appropriate adapters at OSH, crawled under the house and found that the heating duct to the dining area had been disconnected when they ran the wires for the sub panel, and not put back together. Fortunately, I had seen the open duct from the entrance to the crawl space, and took some duct tape with me, so I could put it all together again.

Removing the copper pipe and running the PVC hose between the existing holes was easy, if not for the dust under the house. Getting to the kitchen through the crawl space is quite far from the entrance and I had to crawl under heating ducts, and around pipes to eventually get there. I wore a cheapo dust mask, but it didn't help much...

Then it was off to Family Fun Fest at school, a fun afternoon where the students have fun and the parent volunteer to man the various school wide and class specific booths. I did enjoy the hour I was helping to run the rock wall, but got to work in the sun for the full hour. I should look for a tan tomorrow. Probably bright red as usual...

We got back home tired and exhausted from the heat, the people, the noise, the sun, ... brought the kids to bed, and I went back to hooking up the remaining pieces for the water line. Only to find that I couldn't get the fittings tight enough on the hose end, so that not water leaks out. Frustrated I gave up for the evening, went to the garage, ran a couple trains over the layout, and switched Talheim multiple times. 

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Kitchen Steps

I estimated to need about 2 hours to cover the steps from the kitchen to the dining room with laminate flooring. I mean, how hard can this be, cut the laminate for the step, cut some more for the casing, install the step noses and you're done.

I think this was my least favorite bit of remodeling the kitchen yet. Any mistake you make is visible and can't be corrected without redoing the whole thing. It started with me cutting the flooring pieces 3 inches too short. Measure twice, remember right, cut once! The blade in the table saw was dull, too.

When I installed the laminate flooring originally, I didn't have the right stairnoses to measure the gap I needed to leave. I installed it anyways and figured I could cut back the floor as needed later. Bad idea. REALLY bad idea. Laminate flooring is surprisingly tough. Making matters worse is that part of the cuts I needed to make were near or under cabinet overhangs. I tried it with an  -- otherwise really neat -- circular saw attachment for my Dremel tool. It worked great when I tried it on a bit of scrap wood on the work bench. However, it failed miserably with the laminate floor. Not only did it bind in the cut a lot, but also just didn't have enough oomph to really cut through the laminated flooring boards at all. In the end I resorted to the portable saw for the accessible area, and the good old "drill-a-bunch-of-holes-tightly-together-along-a-line" method, followed by the "wood-chisel-and-a-hammer" method. This was a giant mess.

In parallel I needed to cut and fit the cover boards for the pensinula cabinets, so that I have the right lengths for the step noses. Creating a way to mount them without any screws or nails showing on the front was another challenge solved with 2x4 pieces, and angle brackets.

To top it all off, when I installed the second the last finish nail in the step nose, I ran it through the front of the board underneath and cracked the surface. That did not make me happy, and it was a good thing the kids weren't around when it happened, for they would have learned a sload of new bad words one should never use ...

After all I spent almost two days on those two steps and one and half cover boards. It looks ok, and I'm moderately happy with the result, which is about as much as I can hope for at this point.