Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Passenger Service Returns to Adena After 85 Years

Today passenger service returned to Adena after 85 years, unfortunately in real life this could only happen in an alternate universe or in my basement. Since we don't know of any alternate realities (politics aside) only in a model version of the Ohio Valley could this happen.

Train watching is a common adventure for Brendan and I, catching Amtrak trains however is a extreme rarity. Matter of fact Brendan had only ever seen one Amtrak train and that was in Altoona, PA. This was fixed by watching the's Chesterton, Indiana feed of Norfolk Southern's Chicago mainline. Every night at around 8:30 Amtrak's #30, the Capitol Limited, passes through at about 80 mph. Inspired by regularly seeing Amtrak trains, Brendan purchased his first Superliner passenger car back at the Kirkland Train Show in March to start his version of Amtrak's Capitol Limited.

With Brendan's birthday around the corner I started hunting for good deals on Superliner cars and an Athearn AMD-103 engine to complete a small train. Luckily the search didn't take long to find an engine and 5 cars for an extremely reasonable price.

The only work I needed to do was add one of the Soundtraxx mobile decoders I bought at the Kirkland show to the Amtrak engine. Easy right? Nope, the engine I got was one of the early non-DCC ready models. No wonder it was a good deal! This was the first time I had made anything DCC ready but it was easier than I feared. I just isolated the motor and added some feeders to the trucks like all the online guides suggested. I also took things one step further and added 2mm LED lighting for the headlights, ditch lights and the red marker lights as well.

Here's a few pictures of the install.

Front headlights, ditch lights and marker lights

Rear Headlights and marker lights.

Full test before attaching the shell.
I realized after getting all the LEDs attached I probably could have reduced the wiring by A LOT, but time was short because Brendan's birthday was the next day.

Forward has the front headlights on and rear marker lights active. Ditch lights are programmed to alternately flash when the horn (F2) is pressed (this is a non-sound Soundtraxx decoder).

Reverse activates the front red markers and the rear headlight.
Today was Brendan's eleventh birthday and to say he enjoyed the gifts would be a understatement. So after 85 years in some present day alternate reality that occasionally takes over the my basement version of the Ohio Valley, passenger service has finally returned to Adena and Dillonvale.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Not So Wordless Wednesday #124 Construction Report: The USS Pine Valley

Layout progress has been centered on getting construction wrapped up on the removable Pine Valley Engine Terminal section. Once finished I can lay track across the sections, cut gaps in the track and hopefully keep laying onward to Adena Yard.

First however I had to fix a few issues. I originally made pockets for the module legs but those proved to be a bit wiggly and not as tight fitting as I would have liked.

I removed the leg pockets and started over with a simpler design. With the sets of two legs being connected by cross bracing, only a slot for it to fit into was needed. Sometimes you just over think things, simple wins.

The end plate to connect to the permanent layout was mounted. At some point I swapped the two end plates as evidenced by the extra screw holes but I can't remember why I need to...

Even though the foam top was shaped to include a turntable, I did not add the underlying support until I finalized the turntable area track plan to make sure I had enough room. This allowed me to design the supports to not interfere with the turntable pit.  At this point Brendan and I realized this module looked like half the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars or a Navy Aircraft Carrier, so we started calling it the USS Pine Valley. Here it is upside down on it's foam sheet and also clamped topless to the layout.

My copy of Pine Valley Yard skips the small sorting tracks near the Yard Office due to space constraints but I still wanted to keep the caboose track. When I was checking how I wanted to layout the turntable area, I realized a few changes to the east end yard ladder that helped not only keep a caboose track but double the size of it. With the changes I now can fit eight cabooses as seen below.


With the track plan coming together I transferred it to the foam with a sharpie and then to tracing paper. The tracing paper will help remark the track layout on the rubber sheeting I'll lay down to help dampen the train noise that foam can amplify.

I love working with foam sheets building this layout and I will continue using them, but if there's one thing I've learned is to be careful of the sheets you buy. The last two panels I bought both had a severe bend on one side. Maybe this was from being the top panels on whatever massive stack was shear cut at the factory.

I was thinking that enough pressure while gluing would keep the foam flat but after some thought I decided it would be best just to cut it out to avoid any future issues. I cut out a 16 inch section and hot glued the replacement in place. Here you can see the turntable and associated tracks drawn back on the new piece of foam before I glued it in place.

Will there be a Roundhouse? Due to aisle space concerns, more than likely not. The roundhouse was rarely seen in photos so it was never a must have for me. However I made a nice 45 degree angle in the benchwork so a future add-on piece could be made for photo ops or displaying the whole module at NKPHTS conventions.

After replacing the warped foam section the top was glued on using Loctite PL300 Foamboard Adhesive. I weighed it down with about a dozen or more paint cans and let it set overnight.

At my next work session I cut out sections of the rubber sheeting and glued it to the foam with DAP Clear Kitchen & Bathroom Adhesive Sealant. My process for this type of roadbed can be found in the Construction Report July 2, 2016 post.

With two big sections of rubber roadbed laid down for the yard, NOW it's time for track laying!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wordless Wednesday #123

Ex-W&LE Heavy Mikado now NKP  685 on the engine tracks at Pine Valley Yard, Dillonvale, OH. 7-5-1953
Sorry for the lack of updates lately! I've tried to make up for it with some fantastic color photos of ex-W&LE steam at work or rest in the last few weeks. I hope to have an post ready soon with an update on my HO version of the Pine Valley Engine Terminal.