GN Engine No. 655

I went to the swap meet again and this time I picked up a Proto 2000 model of an EMD GP7 painted for the Great Northern.

It’s a really nice looking model, and has some very nice detailing. It even comes with optional parts you can install, including an all-weather hatch to put over the radiator fans, some all-weather window boxes and various MU hose stands. I haven’t applied these details yet – that will be another post.

This post is about installing a Soundtraxx Tsunami DCC decoder, a speaker and new LED lights.

I had been hesitating to get started on this project but I finally bit the bullet and went ahead and milled the frame.

I have a Shapeoko 3 CNC router/mill, but mainly use it for wood and foam. This was pretty much the first metal I’ve milled in it. It came out fine, but I had to stop and adjust the process a couple of times.

I milled off the screw bosses where the PC board was mounted and took a little bit more off there, then I removed a bunch of the nose to fit a speaker in it. I should have weighed the frame before and after, but didn’t think of it until now. Oh well.

Here is the frame all milled and deburred.

I initially got the wiring done for everything except the LEDs. I cut back the wires and did a much neater job than the first decoder install I did. I may go back and redo the decoder install in the VO-1000 just to neaten it up.

I’m happy to report that the shell fit on and sat all the way down on the first try!

I didn’t have any LEDs to do the lights with, so I ordered a set of 25 white SMD LEDs with leads soldered on from Amazon for only $9.99. They even came with three sets of resistors!

When the LEDs arrived I ended up just gluing them to the underside of the little covers for the original lights. That worked out pretty well.

I forgot to take a picture after I neatened the wires and taped it all down, but it still all fit in the shell, so I’m happy.

You can see the lights here on the rear of the engine.

You can see that they are pretty white. I’ll probably replace them with warm white LEDs in the future. You can also see a lot of bleed into the cab. When I open it up again I’ll paint the light pipe black on the outside to try and cut down some of the bleed.

I’m pretty happy with the way this install turned out.

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Ballast Testing

On Friday and Sunday I put down some ballast on the track on the Northeast end of the layout.

Ballast work.
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Progress Report – 8 Nov 2019

More and more progress to report. Since the last progress report I’ve gotten the following done:

I installed the “fiddle yard” extension, painted the top of it tan, put down the cork roadbed, built two more turnouts to finish the “run around” area, and laid all the track.

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Progress Report – 29 Oct 2019

I know the last post was about being discouraged, but that doesn’t mean I stopped working on the layout. I took a day or two off to do other things and then buckled down to get back to it.

The first thing was to try and figure out what was wrong with engine number 141. I took it all apart and made sure the gears were installed correctly, meshing correctly and properly lubed. I also shimmed the slop out of the worm gear bearings.

Unfortunately there is still some jerkiness at slow speeds. I think it’s the motor “cogging” and may just be inherent in the beast. It does run pretty slowly and other than some jerkiness it’s smooth, so I think I’ll just have to live with it for a bit.

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Feeling A Little Discouraged…

On Monday I decided to run my locomotives around on the layout to test the turnouts.

First I ran the V0-1000 diesel around. Sadly it did not go all that well. It looks like I need to do some re-work on all the turnouts. The point rails don’t quite allow enough clearance and the loco kept derailing.

So I thought it would be fun to just run it on the curves. But the loco made a sort of grinding noise when moving on a curve. That’s not right. So I took it apart to investigate. As far as I can tell there is too much play in the worm gears. So I ordered some shims.

That’s one loco down.

I thought maybe I would pull out the steam locomotive and try it. It didn’t want to run well at all either. At first I thought it was an electrical pickup problem because it would start and stop randomly, but since the sound didn’t stop working when the loco stopped moving it probably wasn’t that. I didn’t feel like taking it apart also so I just packed it away again. I have a feeling it’s binding somewhere and maybe the motor I put in it isn’t really strong enough either. So I ordered a new motor to try later.

That’s two locos down.

I thought it would be fun to try the Proto 2000 GP7 that I bought, even though it doesn’t have DCC in it yet. But first I had to take it apart and replace the gears on the axles. That wasn’t too bad a job so I hooked up an older DC power pack to the rails and ran the GP7 around a bit. It also was derailing on the switches (no surprise really) and it wasn’t running that well either, though that may be the power packs fault. I need to save up a few more dollars and order the DCC decoder to install in it. So I put it away on the shelf and went and took a nap.

That’s three locos down.

For those keeping score, I have three locomotives, none of which are running well. I also have track work that doesn’t work.

I’m going to have to rework all the turnouts until the locos can navigate them properly. And repair the locomotives.

So I’m a little discouraged with the layout at the moment.

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Crossing Lutgens Creek – A Staged Publicity Photo

Since I managed to place the three bridges and lay the three tracks to cross Lutgens Creek I thought it might be fun to stage a “publicity photo”.

Still plenty of work to do, but it’s starting to look more like a real layout now.

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Creating and Crossing Lutgens Creek – Part Two

In the last installment about Lutgens Creek I had created the creek bed and painted it tan. The next step was to paint the bottom of the creek bed a darker color and then shade the sides a little.

I had some greenish brown paint (named Chocolate Cupcake, but if my cupcake was that color I wouldn’t eat it) left over from another project and I thought it would do, so I painted a stripe down the creek bed.

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Universal Scrap Metals

I have a track that runs along pretty close to the backdrop and I’m planning on filling the area with “flats” – buildings with little to no depth.

I found a website named Trackside Flats that had a bunch of buildings available. Most of them didn’t really suit what I was looking for, but I managed to find two to purchase. Universal Scrap Metals is one of them.

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Installing Turnout Controls

I spent some time trying to determine the best way to throw the turnouts on my layout, as you can see in this blog post. After I determined that I was going to use the BullFrog turnout controls I ordered up a dozen more. I figured I’d save some shipping and order all that I would need at once. Plus they have a 10 pack at available at a discount.

I thought about making them myself on my laser cutter but then I’d need to source the ball bearings and springs, draw up all the parts, modify them to work with the snap switches I already had and then decided that at $8.30 each it just wasn’t worth all the hassle.

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Progress Report – 6 Oct 2019

Time for another progress report. Lots of random things have been worked on since the last update.

I’ve been adding more details to Lutgens Creek and here is a photo where I am test fitting the bridges and bridge shoes.

Lutgens Creek
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