Thursday, January 30, 2014


Rain. Finally some rain. It won't be much or be enough, but it was so nice to  walk out into it this morning. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

LD/Ops SIG weekend

Entrance scene at Otis McGhee's Shasta Division
This year's LD/Ops SIG meet was at the Elk Lodge in Alameda, a very nice venue with quite a few stuffed elks. The day started with Clif Linton presenting his rendition of the Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad (B&OCT). Clif introduced us to the prototype setting in Chicago, and how his small switching layout on a shelf grew into taking over half of a garage. I had no idea how dense Chicago's rail network used to be, and to a degree still is.
Don Marenzi's talk about paper and pulp industries put all kinds of ideas in my head that I'm not going to be able to realize ... at least not on my home layout.
After Birds of a Feather sessions, that I mostly spent chatting with various people around the Silicon Valley FreeMo-N modular setup,  we had a nice lunch with plenty more chatting and exchanging of ideas. In the afternoon Mike Coen talked about the design and build of his Western Pacific Oregon division, a proto-freelanced layout set in Oregon. 
I haven't had a chance to see Ed Merrin's NWP layout yet. His presentation about how he designed the layout to get the scenic effects he wanted was mighty interesting. A "herniating helix" or a city street that turns around the edge of the peninsula backdrop to become a rural road are not only neat ideas, but Ed gave us insight in his thought process and construction methods to make the ideas reality.
The Ocean Shore Line used to run from San Francisco via today's Pacifica halfway down the peninsula towards Santa Cruz. Pete Cressman is in the middle of building a layout that depicts this little railroad, talked about the prototype, and gave a construction update.

For the evening layout tours I visited Clif Linton, and Otis McGhee's very impressive Shasta Division. Then we moved on to Mike Coen's WP Oregon division, and wrapped up the evening at Chuck Oraftik's NYC. Every layout we saw had something going for it, and I drew quite a bit of inspiration from seeing what others had done.

A New Haven passenger train is waiting for departure on Chuck Oraftik's NYC
Sunday I operated on Jon Schmidt's Nicosia Northern Railway, which was a different, yet interesting experience for me. I got the Yardmaster job and realized that visualizing moves, what works with the track work and what doesn't, is a lot easier once you've done or seen it once. On top of the amount of transfers to be worked in the yard, the tracks around Bayside Yard are sparse enough to be challenging and it requires planning to optimize activity. Apologies to Bob and Peter for completely gumming up their yard moves in the first half of the session...
I really like how Jon added servicing and turning of passenger trains into the operating scheme and got away from token passenger ops.

The Evening Glow is ready to push down to Bayside Ferry to pick up passengers returning from San Francisco by ferry
After the debrief at Jon's place I headed over to Bill Kaufman's State Belt, and marveled at the maze of tracks Bill recreated in his garage. Bill is also a quite entertaining host with lots of knowledge about the State Belt, its history and operations, so I stayed quite a bit longer than I had planned.

The Ferry Building with lots of State Belt tracks leading to the piers
As in previous years, this was a great way to spend the weekend. I had good conversations with like-minded people and enjoyed the friendly atmosphere.

An earlier version of this post accidentally attributed Chuck's layout to Steven Van Meter.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Evening at LD/SIG

Fairly grainy evening picture of passenger service on Silicon Valley FreeMo-N modular layout at this year's LD/SIG meet in Alameda. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Done for tonight

Just a quickie picture. First attempt to do a backyard garden. Maybe a bit too ... bright.

The house needs drainage around the foundation. That can be arranged.
The swing set will be on the permanent part of the layout, which is why the lawn will continue to look nice and well-kept where the swings are currently located.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Work in progress

Today I finished building curbs, weathered the roads a bit, built retaining and safety walls, and put a first layer of grass down.

The curbs are made from Evergreen 0.040 x 0.060 styrene strips. They match the sidewalk height and are easy to bend. I attached them with plain Painter's Calk, which is very tacky and it's easy to keep things in place when positioning 10 inches of curb along the street. Since we're inside a town, I put curbs everywhere when there's no sidewalk. The weathering of the road is a bit overdone, but it looks worse in the photo than for real.

For the grass I painted the ground with my standard earth color and sprinkled fine Woodland Scenic turf into the wet paint. Once that is dry, I'll vacuum off all loose bits, and follow up with matte medium and a helping of static grass to match the area below Steinle.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Emsingen by night

You're all probably bored to death by my never-ending Emsingen postings. The boredom continues....

Here's a night shot as seen from the tracks.

 And an overview of town:

There are almost 30 tiny light-bulbs in this photo. I'm using a cheap 12VDC/ 1A power supply for now, and step down the voltage to just over 10V with a couple diodes in series. Eventually, I'll either run a 12VDC bus under the layout for lighting, or power this from the existing 16VAC bus and use a LM7812 voltage regulator.
When running at the full 750mA the diodes get quite warm, so I split the circuit in half and feed the halves through separate diodes. Here's a photo of the underside of town before I finished cleaning up cabling ...

...  the finished cabling doesn't look at whole lot better.

Next up is adding basic scenery in the front, some more weathering for the roads, and starting the backyard / fruit trees scenes on the right.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Good Morning!

Sunrise over Edenvale

It's a new year in life.
It's a new year at work.

Very nice two week break.
Now back to the day job.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. 

It's still quiet in Emsingen shortly before midnight. But in a couple minutes there will be fireworks.
Today I added lights to new town and just test wired the bulbs together to figure out the right voltage. The bulbs are Micromark's grain of rice 12V/30ma. The photo was taken with the transformer set to 10 Volts. Looks good to me.
The street light is from Viessmann. I have a few more of those to be used around town.

I'm surprised that there's almost no light leakage under the buildings. They are standing loosely at their place. It definitely helps to raise the bulbs to about the middle of the buildings:

As can be seen in this photo I also painted and weathered the sidewalk helped by some bubbles. There are a few minor things left to do here before moving over to old town and installing lights over there.