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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Turnout Control – Sorted!

I’ve been mulling over the issue of how to throw the turnouts on my layout for a while now.

I bought a BullFrog controller a while back to test but I was disappointed because it wasn’t working very well.

BullFrog turnout control.

It appears that my hand-built turnouts are a little more springy than most commercial ones and the throw wire that comes with the BullFrog wasn’t fully throwing the turnout.

I did some research and looked at the Caboose Industries ground throws but they are pretty large and the ones with electrical contacts for powering the frog are even larger.

I also considered the Bitter Creek ground throws which are smaller than the Caboose Industries models, but they don’t have any power routing at all.

I didn’t really want ground throws at all because I don’t really have enough room for them and most of the switches are at the back of the layout and I’d have to reach over all the buildings to throw them.

So I pondered some more and realized that I could probably just add some stiffer wire to the BullFrog and make it work.

I measured the stock wire and it’s .035″ diameter. I stopped at the hobby store and picked up some .047″ and .055″ wire to try out. Those were the next two larger sizes they stocked.

I bent up a piece of the .047″ wire and cleared out the holes on the BullFrog and turnout throwbar to suit. I installed the BullFrog and now I had a different problem! The .047″ wire was too stiff and I could barely get the BullFrog to make a full throw. On the other hand, it was fully closing the points in both directions, so progress!

I’ve ordered some .039″ and .043″ diameter wire to test out, but based on my current results I’ve gone ahead and ordered another dozen BullFrog controllers.

So that problem is resolved.

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