26 January 2010

Stealing time here and there for my layout

Lately I found worth to steal few minutes now and then to dedicate to my model railroad. I mean, half an our at maximum. However it turned out to be very useful to do some progress.

So, I've been able to build a couple of new turnouts using my Fast-Track jigs. I think they came out better than the first two and I could build the last one without referring continuously to the instructions -very well done ideed.

Now I've got two left-hand and two right-hand #6 turnouts. Still a long way to go, though. And now I need to buy more turnout QuickSticks 'cause I'm left with one only.
Most likely I'm going to place a new order to Fast-Track for #8 jigs etc. as well.

See you soon...

22 January 2010

New Rolling Stock

Few days ago I received last cars I ordered one month ago. To me they really look very nice, expecially the three Fox Valley Model SP -ex GWS- box cars and the Canadian National one.
They have an amazing level of detail in every aspect, as far as I can say.

You can have a look a few photos of the new cars on this new Picasa web album.

New Rolling Stock

See you soon...

14 January 2010

Digitizing Kato's EMD NW2

After a short test of my two new NW2 on a piece of flextrack using my very old DC power supply I decided to start my second attempt at digitizing a loco using a drop-in DCC decoder (this is the first).

Together the two NW2 I also bought two Digitrax DN123K3 decoders that are drop-in replacement of the factory installed PCB.

Firstly, I read the DN123K3 installation manual and -as usual- the installation seemed simple and quite straightforward. Nothing was described on how to remove the loco shell to have access to the PCB, though. So, removing the shell appeared the most difficult part for me.
Actually, it wasn't much so. I started detaching the two handrails from the back of the cab because I thought the cab were a separate piece respect to the rest of the shell. Then, I easily removed the fuel tank exposing part of the two metal frame halves.

Now, it was the turn of the cab and after tweaking a little I could lift the cab up and remove it from the frame.
Inside the cab there's a plastic part for the cab interior and with fiber optic used to bring the light from the top of the PCB -that stays on top of the frame- out on the back of the cab. This plastic part also holds together the two frame halves. No screws or bolts are used.

I decided to remove that plastic part but at the end it turned out not to be required. Instead it would have been much easier to work keeping the plastic part in place avoiding the frame from splitting.

Anyway, next step was to carefully remove the two motor clips that brings the power from the PCB to the motor according to the instructions. A pair of fine tweezers were very handy for that.
Finally, I removed the factory-installed PCB sliding it a little forward and up.

Now, it was time to put the DCC decoder in place. The wider part of the DCC PCB came with a piece of Kapton tape applied around the board. Indeed, that prevented the motor clips to make contact with the aisle present on the board so I had to remove part of the tape in order to expose the contacts. I used a hobby knife to cut part of the tape on both sides of the PCB.

When I was done with the tape I put the decoder in the frame slot and the two motor clips back in place.

Now the first test. I put the loco on the track and... voilĂ  everything was ok. The front and rear light turned on and the loco moved correctly.

So, I put back the cab interior, the body shell, the cab and the fuel tank. Finally, I re-inserted the two handrails into their holes in the cab and that completed the job.

Few more tests on the track and I was ready to do a very basic configuration of the decoder: DCC address, long address format and acceleration/deceleration values. Done.

Well, in the end all the work wasn't that difficult and everything worked well at the first attempt.
It was the turn of the second NW2. I'll write a new post with the video I shot when doing the decoder installation on the SP1315 shortly.

See you soon...

09 January 2010

Latest locomotives and cars

Few days ago I received from N Scale Supply my last order for locomotives and cars. Last month I ordered two Kato EMD NW2 Switchers; Southern Pacific 1313 and 1315. They are painted in black with orange stripes and look fantastic. They come with fine plastic handrails, front and rear light and a detailed cab interior. Personally, I think these two switcher are wonderful.

The switchers are come in configured for DC power however Digitrax makes a drop-in replacement decoder -DN123K3- for this locomotives so I decided to order two of those decoders as well. Thoug, I don't know how easy it'll be to put in the decoders yet.

Also, I've included in the order a couple of Atlas Union Pacific 50' flat cars with stakes. I find these two cars very nice as well.

While my order was under processing some items from a previous order to N Scale Supply became available so they kindly shipped together with my latest order.
So I received two Athearn Northern Pacific 53' bulkhead flat cars and two packages of Fox Valley Models low profile wheel sets. One with 33" wheels the other with 36" wheels.

The Athearn's cars are very well done, I like them a lot. Also, I decided to try the FVM wheels and substituted the factory-mounted plastic wheels of the Athearn's cars.
Metal wheels looks much better but most important they seem to work and "roll" much much better than the plastic ones. Most likely in the long run I'm going to substitute all the plastic wheels with metal counterparts.

Now few photos of the new locos and cars.

EMD NW2 switchers and flat cars

Kato's EMD NW2 switchers SP1313 and SP1315

Back and top view of NW2s

Atlas Union Pacific 50' flat cars with stakes

Athearn Northern Pacific 53' bulkhead flat cars

Underside details of Athearn's and Atlas' flat cars.
Athearns' have been already equipped with 33" low profile
metal wheelsets from Fox Valley Models

See you soon...