Sunday, May 19, 2019

Untergroeningen: Back to Wiring

Now that a good chunk of tracks is in, it's time for more wiring. This time on segments 2 and 3.

Rainy Day BBQ

It's May (not even April), and there's yet another Pineapple Express coming through. The grill works just fine in the rain, and while the result is delicious, we preferred to eat inside tonight.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Untergroeningen: More Track

Over the course of the week there was slow but steady progress on the Untergroeningen segments to add more track. Using Peco track converted to Maerklin 3-rail I go through all the motions of installing 2-rail track, plus beforehand install the pukos and go through extra wiring chores to power them. I always want to go faster no matter what kind of track I lay, but this is really testing my patience.

I also converted the 3 missing turnouts to 3-rail. It's vastly preferable to convert several turnouts at once. If they are connected in the track plan, it's easiest to solder them together and install pukos and wiring as a unit.

Tonight I finished making tracks 1 and 2 and the track to the end of the module. Wiring and Tortoises are next ...

Switching in Emsingen

As substitute for a canceled operations session today, Franziska and I spent some time running a partial ops session. She was working the switcher in Emsingen.

After a while, Franziska suggested that the session has been going on a really long time, it's evening, and hence it needs to get dark. I'm always game to turn off the room lights, and let the layout lights take over.

However, at night it's quite a bit harder to uncouple cars or read the paperwork.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Der Rangierdienst

A Bundesbahn training movie from 1956 (first part) and 1965 (second part) explaining the various actions and paperwork used to classify freight trains in a hump yard, and a freight yard.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Untergroeningen: Third Segment

Today I built the third segment for the Untergroeningen station. To make room for it, I moved the whole arrangement towards the rear of the garage. Module One is cantilevered off the first Untergroeningen segment held in place only by the three bolts at the Fremo module end plate.

The third segment box is different than the other two Untergroeningen segments. Due to space constraints it needs to be built in a triangular shape. I cut the plywood for this back in December. The short end of the segment needs to be angled to roughly match the turnout angle coming out of the station tracks, so I extended track 1 and arranged the turnouts to get an idea where to cut at what angle.

A while later I had cut the plywood to length and angle, made some gussets and glued it all together.

Tonight I built the south turnout ladder. Next up is building up the roadbed and transition into the station planum around the first turnout.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Untergroeningen: First Train!

I reached another milestone tonight: The first time a locomotive successfully ran on my converted Peco turnouts. Wiring the module to get to this point took much longer than I had anticipated, mostly because I couldn't take substantial shortcuts. The turnouts need polarized frog rails. The outer rails need to be powered between turnouts. Separately. The bus wires need to be run and connected, too. etc etc etc

Now that I confirmed that this works in principle, I want to test the tracks and track geometry with several newer and older Maerklin locomotives before I install more turnouts, since there is a good possibility for gremlins lurking in some corners. However, getting to this state gives me more confidence not only that the approach is feasible, but also that I can execute it.

Here's a video of the inaugural train traversing the turnout ladder.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Untergroeningen: Wiring

The module frame is completed and primed. The north turnout ladder is installed. I'm now wiring the module, so that the turnouts can be powered properly and I can test drive a few locomotives. If that works I will continue laying track to the other end of the station and so that I can get the proper angles for the third segment.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Dave Parks' Cumberland West: Keyser

Tonight I'm running one of the two switcher engines at Keyser Yard. Keyser is the coal marshalling yard on the B&O and can get quite busy, though it was quite manageable tonight. The double-track main line runs through the center of the photo. The west-bound yard tracks on the right handle mostly empties going to the coal mines, while the east-bound tracks on the left handle loaded coal cars.

Extra 7604 pulled by a class EM-1 Yellowstone 2-8-8-4 locomotive has pulled into Keyser Yard and terminates here. On Dave's layout many of these coal trains run with up to 35 cars, and are quite a sight.

Towards the end of the session I switched jobs and ran the Keyser Local from West Virginia Junction Yard on the Western Maryland to Luke, switched the WestVaco Paper Mill and then a couple more industries in Piedmont on the way home to Keyser.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Untergroeningen: Progress on Segments

Untergroeningen is starting to come together. This weekend I worked on the north and center segments. In a departure from strictly adhering to the prototype, the north segment will host a Raiffeisen warehouse serviced of course by rail. The track will run right up to about where that box car is located to the left of the wye turnout, and will come off the turnout on the far left. The Raiffeisen warehouse will be a large customer in Untergroeningen.
The north turnout ladder is soldered. I have cut baseboards for the tracks and cut the homasote underlayment, too. I marked the locations of the homasote, and then went to town with the jigsaw.

A little while later I had broken the carefully installed baseboard mounts, and spent the next hour fixing that... sigh.

By the end of day Sunday, both segments had their baseboards cut to shape ...

... and the homasote glued down. The baseboard is 7-ply 3/4" plywood that is a left-over from another project.

In parallel I spent some time building parts of the south segment which will connect to the Welztalbahn for now, but ultimately will be the end of the line in Untergroeningen once installed with the Murrbahn track plan. Here the rear half of the module box is being glued together.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Rolling forward

The north turnout ladder for Untergroeningen is complete.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Dessert at Silicon Valley Lines Business Meeting

I had a great home cooked dinner tonight before heading down to the Silicon Valley Lines Business Meeting, where Bill provided fantastic dessert in form of smoked pulled pork. Delicious.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Untergroeningen Track Arrangement

Putting together the turnouts and aligning them on Homasote. It turns out that the way the angle of the Peco wye is a little bit too flat for my needs, so the angle whole station lines up about 2 degrees off from where I need it. Not a problem! On the Fremo side of the station I'll add 2 inches of track continuing the 1800mm radius curve of the wye turnout. This will align the straight station tracks so that I have sufficient space for buildings and scenery on both sides of the tracks.

Below is a view of the module across two of the three planned segments. First from the north side of the station.

And here from the south side of the station. The two turnouts in the front will be located on a triangular segment that I still need to build. I will try to scratch-build the unique Untergroeningen locomotive shed with inspiration from photos found on the Internet. The building was torn down when tracks were pulled on the Obere Kochertalbahn in the early 2000's.

Tortoise builds

Half a dozen Tortoises are wired and ready for installation on the Untergroeningen sections.

Morning Turkey

The sun wasn't quite out yet, while I'm riding to the bus stop. A loud "gobble gobble" makes me look to the other side of the road. The early bird ...

Monday, April 29, 2019

Morning Goats

This is not a common sight on my commute, so I had to stop and take a couple photos.

It's interesting how far away from the herd the shepherd placed his trailer...

As you can tell, the green grass is pretty much gone, and summer is almost here

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Building the extension connector (2)

In order to fit the new turnout into the existing track arrangement, I cut off the current-conducting tabs underneath the track on the two short track pieces. That way I limit hacking the track to cheap track pieces, instead of the turnouts. I also removed the rail joiners on that end of the track sections and replaced them with shortened Atlas Code 100 joiners. Before this new turnout, the whole curve was a detected section. I want to retain train detection in the area, but cover trains from either direction, so I moved the detected section to the two tracks sections between the turnouts, and soldered the cable to the rail joiner.

The track fits perfectly. I'll leave it like this for tonight. Next up is building the embankment to the wall, and making sure that the new track performs properly before painting and ballasting.

Southern Pacific Santa Rosalia branch operations session

I'm back at Tony Thompson today with two other local model railroaders for a very enjoyable operations session on Tony's Southern Pacific proto-freelanced branch line set in 1953. Tony likes to change things around the layout. Compare the photo above with the same view in the 2017 post.

As a team of conductor and engineer we worked Ballard and Santa Rosalia, then switched sides and roles and switched Shumala.
A fun afternoon that went by way too fast, even with the fast clock set to 1:1 ratio ...

Lots of work in Ballard.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Building the extension connector

As I'm building my first station module, I do need to connect it to the existing Welztalbahn. Here's the curve on the south end of Emsingen. When I built this section of the layout in 2010 I didn't really consider extending it, although the thought of doing so entered my mind every now and then since. Now I'm getting serious. Most of the layout is built with sectional track pieces. I need to remove one curved piece to fit the turnout. Since the track continuation on both sides is fixed, simply disconnecting the track pieces is not an option. Cutting the rails with the Dremel tool resolved that problem quickly.

I used a wide artists spatula to gently lift the rails from the cork base and cut through the silicone caulk that held the rails in place until ballasting. Speaking of ballasting, I didn't do a particularly good job with this section 5 years ago, which made removing the ballast very easy. In the photo below I already marked where the track to the extension is going to lead.

Cutting into finished scenery always hurts, but the pain is over quickly. To my delight I realized that the baseboard of the curve extends all the way to the wall, so I don't have to worry about building a support structure for the new track. With the scenery cut away I can fit the turnout and new branch track. I will need to find a way to connect the rails on the station side with minimal damage to the surrounding tracks. This is the location at the top of the ramp where some locomotives like to derail, so I have to be extra careful to get track alignment just right.

Now that I knew where exactly the rails are hitting the wall, I marked and cut the opening. The Welztalbahn won't get catenary, so I can leave the opening fairly low profile and narrow.

Here's the opening with a test car. I will need to cut away a bit more drywall on the right hand side of the car. When complete, there will be a liner inside so that cars can't fall into the inside of the wall. I drilled a hole through the rear drywall to check alignment with the cabinet and shelving unit that are located on the other side of the wall. The connection is coming out exactly in the right spot as planned.

I can now finish the track installation on the Welztalbahn side of the wall, and make the Welztalbahn operational again, so I can run trains while building the Untergroeningen module and the connector section through the wall.