06 July 2011

Working on the Staging Yard

Recently I've been very busy at work and at home etc. etc. and hadn't much time for my layout. Just in the last few days I could find few minutes here and there to go on with laying track on the staging yard and cleaning up the mess of cables and wires I used for track and turnout servos.
Right now I've put down the 'other side' of the staging turnout ladder and all the four staging lanes. Tracks and turnouts aren't glued to the cork base yet. Next is to connect the feeder wires of track and turnouts to power them correctly and apply the glue, actually latex caulk.
Then, the staging yard will be temporarily completed. I'm not planning to install servos for the second yard ladder and will use the yard as single ended until tracks on the last layout section will be laid down. This way will be easier and faster to adjust the position of the yard ladder if required.

Here are few more photos of the staging yard. Even if not in the photos I've already laid all the tracks and completed the yard.

The second turnout ladder and the first two yard tracks

I've also mounted the servos' control buttons and LEDs on the fascia (left picture) and switches to power the yard tracks and the turnout servo decoder board (right picture)

A switch for controlling power to the servo decoder board of the left layout section (left picture) and a view from below of the staging yard servo decoder board and two servos (right picture)

Yard views from the tracks

See you soon...

30 May 2011

Staging Yard

Lately, I've been working on the staging yard section of my layout. As the other three sections it's a removable piece that connects together the 'open' ends of the left and right sections. As a 'by-product' it creates also a closed loop for continuous running.
I planned to have four staging tracks with the outermost connecting to the track on Fruitvale Ave. That's the spur for Owen Illinois Auto Parts industry. By the way, I thought to make this piece of track my programming track as well as an operating spur so I need to do a dedicated wiring arrangement  for that track. Still don't know if it's a good idea, though.
Anyway, I started building the plywood sub-roadbed that I strengthened using a piece of L-shaped metal girder, the same type I used for the three layout sections. Then, I put a foldable leg to support the staging and attached nuts and bolts on the two end to join to the left and right sections.
I glued 3/4" foam sheets on top of the plywood and on top I glued a sheet of cork on almost all the staging area.
Finally, I looked for the best track arrangement for the three #6 turnouts on each side of the yard, the yard tracks and the #8 turnout to the programming track.

On the third picture above you can see how I managed to fix the rails on the junction between the yard and the left section. I put a screw through the foam into the plywood and soldered on a piece of PCB tie (the kind I used for turnout throwbars) onto the screw head.
I found this to be quite good as I could set the right height simply turning the screw while at the same time it's much stronger than gluing the ties to the cork roadbed. I think I'm going to use this also for the other junctions even though I'll have to be more careful in aligning rails there.

As a last note I'll put three Atlas re-railers, I purchased quite some time ago, on the first three staging tracks. Maybe I'll add a fourth later on the remaining track in the future.

See you soon...

24 May 2011

New Rolling Stock

This morning I picked up my last order from Model Train Stuff. Six SSW box cars from Exact Rails and six SP gondolas from BLMA. All cars are really well done with great details and features metal wheelsets. BLMA's gondolas have body-mounted couplers also. Here are some pictures.

See you soon...

22 May 2011

More Photos of Track, Turnouts and Servos

As promised here are more photos I took this morning. Few close-ups of turnout throwbars with the actuating spring wire plus shots from below the plywood of servos mounted using the Motrak Models brackets. As you can see in the first picture below I had to solder a PCB tie to the throwbar of the first turnout out of the staging yard since in that exact place there's one of the L-shaped metal girder and it would be very difficult to do the hole for the spring wire. So, I mounted the servo on the side of the turnout and used the tie to move the throwbar. Even if it's not really nice to see I'm planning to have a highway overpass there -to visually separate the section from the hidden staging- and hopefully this will help to hide this tie.

I taped the plastic ties to the foam in order not to lose them before placing under the rails

Servos and brackets fixed below the plywood

To answer a comment from Tom I have to say TVD servos and decoders along with the Motrak Model's brackets are great products. I have no experience with other methods to move turnouts so my feedback could be biased, however I found really easy to mount the servos using those brackets and programming the DCC decoder is really straightforward. In addition the new Quad Servo Decoders you can buy now from TVD are much better than one of the first version I bought one year ago. The new one features adjustable moving speed for each servo output, fascia panels with bi-color LEDs and use the same three-wire cables as the servos for easier cabling. Worth of note is the fact that each Quad Servo Decoder can drive up to six servo using the four outputs. This means, for example, you can drive two servos with one output to move two turnout at the same time. I did this on the two crossovers I have on the first layout section so I could drive all turnouts with just one and a half Quad Servo Decoder.
Overall, I think, TVD's Quad Servo Decoders with Motrak Model's mounting brackets are a really good and easy choice to drive turnouts both manually and via DCC commands.

Finally few more pictures of the first Quad Servo Decoder mounted below the plywood of the first section; the PowerCab USB interface and the AutoSwitch board to automatically switch on and off the programming track when in programming mode and one of the new Quad Servo Decoders connected to the DCC power bus.

See you soon...