Friday, July 27, 2012

Roundhouse shell

The roundhouse shell is complete.

Some work benches and tool cabinets are in place
So far, so good. After looking at the photos for a while, I decided that I'm not happy with the look of the exposed plastic. Never would have thought that I'd get this anal about the inside of a building that will be located towards the back of the layout room.

There needs to be an easy way to simulate a somewhat dirty off-white brick wall for the inside of the roundhouse. This would have been easier with the walls off, but I figured it won't bug me that much. MEEEEK! ... Wrong.

At a minimum, I will just paint the inside red walls with some off-white color and "dirty them up" during installation of the roundhouse tracks. No brick texture, but better than these red plastic panels.

What are options to get some texture on these walls? It needs to be easy to cut and install, and should take paint well (if not in the right color already). Some kind of wall paper, maybe?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Roundhouse progress

The roundhouse is starting to come together

With the window frames in, the mortar doesn't look quite as bad anymore

The inside is getting some furniture, including an oven.
Inbetween tasks and work, I'm slowly making progress on the roundhouse. I contemplated (and tried using posterboard) to give the inside walls a more finished look, but then decided against it. It's a lot of work for minimal gain. Maybe I just paint the walls using a dirty off-white color. The inside of the roundhouse will have lights, so I'm hoping that will be sufficiently effective.

Nightsky over Zion Canyon

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Emsingen Ef

Testing placement of Emsingen Ef
I always had a weak spot for this Faller "Reiterstellwerk" model. It's not exactly one of the most authentic towers out there, nor does it fit perfectly at this location, but I couldn't resist when I saw it at a dealer's table at Eurowest yesterday. This tower will be called "Emsingen Ef" for Emsingen Sued, Fahrdienstleiter, i.e. it's located at the south end of the station and the dispatcher for Emsingen works in this building.

The levers ("Hebelbank") are in the bridge part of the tower, so this couldn't be a purely mechanical tower. There's not enough space underneath the floor to run the actuator wires. However, it's feasible as an electro-mechanical tower, where the levers electrically actuate signal and switch machines in the basement on the right, which then move signals and throw turnouts.
I'll place a small tower ("Emsingen En") on the north side of the station to guard the railroad crossing and operate nearby turnouts and northbound signals. Admittedly, two towers is somewhat overkill for a station the size of Emsingen, but there does need to be at least an attendant shed at the crossing to ensure vehicle traffic is safely off the tracks.

To properly set Emsingen Ef in place, I need to level the ground and cover up the semaphore machines, as well as add some lights at least to the bridge part of the building. I hope illumination will show off the Hebelbank, especially at night.

Aside from the tower, I also bought background buildings for Emsingen, and some additional detailing for Emsingen station.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


A new project. I might have overdone the mortar a bit, but will tone it down a bit in the final stages of assembly. Really looking forward to building this model.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

That pesky curved turnout

I mentioned before that the curved turnout on the ramp from staging didn't want to play ball with BR24. Today I ran that locomotive over the spot where it got stuck consistently two weeks ...uh, a month ago, and sure enough, just like last year, no problems anymore.

However, since BR24 has the pickup shoe below the locomotive, and the loco frame is quite a bit more open than the tender of BR50, I could actually observe what the pickup show is doing as it glides across the turnout. At one point, right above the pivot of the turnout points, the pickup shoe drops and then gets lifted up again.

Even closer observation showed, that there is potential for the pickup shoe to slip off the raised point contact in the area, and then get caught in the next middle contact.

To work around this problem, I super-glued a small piece of styrene into the turnout that should keep the pickup shoe out of the "hole" and in line with the top of the point contacts. The ramp from staging comes from the right.

Yes, all of staging is built with Maerklin M-track.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Emsingen Southbound Semaphores

The southbound semaphores in Emsingen now also have power. Stationary decoders are installed, and I should get around to wiring them up in the next couple days. All the JMRI routing logic is already built and ready to go.


Switching cars in Talheim

Saturday, July 07, 2012

"Paneling" ...

Panel for stub-ended staging and ramp cross-over 
... or what do you call the process of building panels?

Today I finally built the panels for controlling the turnout ladders in hidden staging, as well as the hidden cross-over on the ramp.

I didn't bother with turnout position feedback on these panels since I eventually will have a monitor on the wall that shows turnout positions, occupancy, and maybe even a live video feed of the traffic on the ramp. Also, all these turnouts are driven by solenoid motors, so there's a satisfying SMACK whenever they throw, so you know you hit the button right. I'm using push-buttons for the route selection, just like on the rest of the layout. However, the cross-over is controlled by a toggle switch. There are only two scenarios when this cross-over is used, and both require the train to be under manual control:

  • A train leaving staging, but using the inbound track of the ramp (e.g. to bypass a train that's already waiting on the outbound track.
  • A train entering the stub-ended staging tracks 5 through 8.

Panel for entering through staging from the ramp
Eventually (in the far, far future), there could be automation in staging that takes a train from the inbound (downward) track on the ramp to one of tracks 1 through 4 for storage, as well as release a train from these tracks and positions it on the outbound track of the ramp.

For now, there's manual control of trains in staging (supported by occupancy detection), as well as manual selection which track the train ends up on.

The panels are made from hardboard and are -- obviously -- very basic. However, they are relatively quick to build,  ... and throw out if needs change.

And here's an overview shot of what the Talheim operator position looks like. I intentionally split the panels for staging in two, so that they can be reached easily by the operator/dispatcher working behind the Talheim operator, as well as are within easy reach for one man operation.

Pascal's backyard bench

Pascal designed and built this bench from plywood and thin tree branches. I helped him just a little bit with drilling the holes in the plywood. He is already building his next piece of backyard furniture. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Great America

As simple as it is, Psycho Mouse is one of my favorite rides...