Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Hass Avocado, Black Bean, Tomato, Red Onion, Cheddar Cheese,
Bread 'n' Butter Pickled Jalapeno, Red Pepper, and
Cilantro Salad with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette, Sour Cream, and Tortilla Crunch.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Roaring Camp's CF7 is waiting in Felton for its next assignment down to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Some switching in the evening ...

Switching Emsingen and Talheim is a nice laid-back experience at the end of a day. Especially if -- for a change -- everything works. A lot of work items are idling on the to-do list, but I didn't feel like building stuff tonight.

I'm making up way-bills for any empty car cards that I encounter, defining at least the destination cities. If no specific industry is specified on the way-bill it's up to the operator to find a proper spot for the car at the respective stations. So far, car cards and way-bills feel more natural to me when operating the layout, compared to computer-generated switch-lists.

Best Buy: We're sorry

I went to www.bestbuy.com and got this. Why is that guy so friggin' happy that their Web site doesn't work?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Feeling better

Last week was quite eventful at work, so I took it slow over the weekend, and spent time with family and building stuff.

Today's project: The tunnel tube.

Now that the tunnel portal is installed, I need an actual tunnel. Near the tunnel entrance I also want stone structure. I made a cardboard template of the portal opening, transfered it onto thin plywood, and cut it out. Rinse, and repeat. The stone structure is made from Faller wall paper. I didn't like the color of the stones, so I used black water colors to make the inside of the tunnel quite dark. I sealed the watercolors with some Dullcote. I'll use heavy black paper further back in the tunnel. After a few inches one can't tell anymore whether the walls have stone structure anyways.

Next, I painted the ground on the inside of the tunnel deep black. 

Yep, that's exactly the effect I was after. I might add some additional black paper later to extend the covered portion of the tunnel. However, this will also need to be removable for access in case of derailments and repairs.

Now that the tunnel is in place, I mounted the other side-wing from the Busch kit upside down. Except for the small portal opening I really like this kit.

After this photo was taken I started building the substructure for scenery down to the creek, and extending the creek to the inside fascia.

First tunnel portal

I've had mock-tunnel portals made from cardboard on the layout for quite some time. Today, the first actual portal was installed.

This is a heavily modified Busch 7022 "Dampflok Tunnelportal" I bought by accident a couple years ago. The original is made for steam engines -- no catenary -- so the portal height it is quite low, just over 7 cm. I cut out the original arch stones in the portal opening enlarging it to an inside height of 9 cm. Then I installed a Faller arch stone strip in the new opening. The left side of the portal wall is heavily trimmed for clearance with adjacent scenery. The retaining wall on the left, as well as the tunnel crown, is from the Busch kit, too. Judicious application of Scuptamold will integrate this with the surrounding scenery.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Semaphores - installed

The north semaphores in Talheim are installed. Including covers. I used Polly Scale Aged Concrete for the base color of the cover, and will glue sand, ballast, and greenery on top. The idea is that the covers remain removable.

This afternoon the semaphores at Abzw. Talheim got their covers cut, as well as their wiring for the light bulbs. These semaphores were made for an analog Maerklin layout and the bulbs are wired to "light" and "ground", while the twincoils are powered from "light" to "ground".  With DCC decoders I don't have a constant on power source on the outputs, so I disconnected the "light" wire of the bulb from the twin coil machine, and instead wired in a dedicated 16V AC power source connected to "ground" of the semaphore body. Conveniently, the twin coil machine is insulated from the semaphore base, so I can easily keep those circuits apart.

The extra wires for the light bulbs can be seen to the right of the semaphore.

Monday, August 08, 2011

As much as I don't like paying taxes ...

"We as citizens don’t take enough personal responsibility for doing our part to pay for the basic services our government provides, and that we use every day."

Couldn't have said this better.

Friday, August 05, 2011


It's strange how I find myself doing wiring work again, while craving for more scenery. It seems I automatically end up wrapping up projects I started a long time ago (detection, semaphores, route control) before opening up even more cans of worms.
Might also be that I unconsciously want to ensure the railroad runs well and is usable before diverting attention to more scenery. The long tunnel sections continue to bug me, but that's how this layout worked out, and I'm not going to change that in this setup.


Either way, the visible Talheim semaphore signals are mostly installed and wired. I decided to use both multi-position semaphores I have as entry signals for Emsingen, since using one in Talheim would severely restrict the available switching space before the tunnel portal north of Talheim.
I also started to wire up detection sections in Talheim. Some more surgery with the Dremel tool will be necessary to add gaps to all sections. for proper detection. Since most of the station area is made up of already installed flex track, and gapping bent flex track is yielding very unwelcome kinks, I will need to cut a rail at two switches. Not ideal, but should work out ok.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Most of the footage is from the Tehachapi layout.