Sunday, December 12, 2010

Progress Update

Made some progress since the last post and have a bunch of pictures to go through; hopefully I will get them sorted out fairly soon and figure out what I want to put up.

The turnback loop is completed for the second time; first time I hadn't drilled a hole in the benchwork for the switch machine wire and when I attempted to fix that, ruined the #6 that was there. $17 later at Chesterfield Hobbies for another #6, it is back together and working.

Have the first half of loop #1 on the helix glued together; going to start laying roadbed and track this week.

I've finished up the turnouts for the yard ladder and I'm waiting on a #8 double slip to complete the A/D tracks.

Op Session/Debug in going to be January still.

Couple of quick pictures:
New #6 on the reverse loop

More Tortoises; this pair sits on a crossover, they are wired to throw simultaneously. I'm now about halfway through my 3rd 12 pack. (Yes, my wallet still hurts!)

Beginning of the helix

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Here's a couple of pictures of the classification tracks' ladder:

This picture looks down the ladder towards the classification tracks.

Looking up the ladder.

The AD tracks

Making progress. The class ladder shares stock rails between turnouts, so there aren't any rail joiners used, which makes it flow very well to my eye and the test cars.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yard Track Work

Pictures will be coming in a follow up post; but I continue to work on the track in the Acca yard area.

I found out that somehow I have two different kinds of Atlas flex with concrete ties - one model (502) has light colored (just about pure white) ties, while the other (503) has grey ties.

Looks like I will need to break down and buy a case of Atlas flex with brown ties fairly soon as well. Thankfully, since this stuff in the yard area is spiked down, not glued, it should be easy to pull up when we move some time in the next 5 years.

I am also going through and building up the classification yard ladder as I lay track.

I went ahead and ordered a customer Helix kit from Ashlin designs; should be here around Thanksgiving or so. Still looking good for a January debug ops session.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Work Session

The 2nd work session has come to a close; I was ably assisted by my father, my father-in-law (most odd, that) and somewhat by my brother in law and my son.

Lots of benchwork was completed; some additional tortoise switch machines were installed and another DS54 was installed as well. some additional staging tracks were added and the turnback loop and helix supporting benchwork was finished up as well.

No pictures from the session in progress, as the camera was missing in action until the evening.

Here are some results pictures (after all, that's what really matters, right?)

A look at the almost finished Acca yard area - homasote down and painted for 3/4 of the space.

Turnback loop and helix area (covered in tools that got moved off the yard area...)

Additional staging tracks - found a couple of RH #6 Atlas Code 100 switches; so I figured I could use them.

Yet another UP5 panel installed; 1 of 2 installed this session; I think another 4 are going to be needed; I need to power them as well.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More Benchwork

This last Saturday was the JRD's (James River Division of the NMRA) fall meeting, this time in Altavista, VA. I was scheduled to go and get a ride with Mike G (He of HO Scale Virginia Southern fame; not the former NS owned branch shortline) to the meeting, but the wife woke up feeling poorly so I had to call Mike and cancel. Since I was home, I took the opportunity to finish cleaning up the part of the basement where the helix(es) and turnback loops are going to be placed.

Years of accumulated junk and other "stuff" was either relocated to new quarters or met the trash can.

I put up some more drywall (very heavy by yourself) and got the area broom clean.

My dad was nice enough to come up late Saturday so he and Grandma could play with Son #1 while the aforementioned wife and I could attend a Lamaze refresher before Son #2 arrives, hopefully late October/early November. This gave us a chance to "play train" and we were able to complete some framwork for where the helix and loop will be put.

I have some more drywall to put up; legs to attach and one more piece of benchwork to be completed before I can lay some additional staging track and call it good.

Being able to complete the turnaround loop for staging is moving me closer to the first ops sessions next year.

Dad had an excellent idea a couple of weeks ago - have a helix connect the staging yard and the main yard levels together. This would give me the ability to do some continuous running for testing and for when non railroading visitors just want to "see the trains move."

Course, this means reworking the plan so everything is in place, but I'm pretty sure I have that piece done.

My plan is to order a helix kit from the gentleman at Ashlin Designs to take care of my need in this spot, since I don't have the ability to (easily and timely) get a helix together if I was to make it from scratch.

Oh, and I'm going to have a car party sometime in November... Got to put together a bunch of kits that are on the shelf so I have enough cars to at least, begin operations come January.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fast Tracks - Initial Impressions

I am to the point now that I have just about run out of the Atlas code 83 turnouts that I have been using to lay track. Since the Acca yard as originally planned would take a bunch of #6s and #8s, I was looking to spend a fairly good chunk of coin just to handle that part of the layout. That doesn't begin to figure out what I would spend for everything on the upper level.

I am mostly happy with the performance of the Atlas turnouts that I've put down, though they aren't going to win any awards for visuals with the huge cast frog that includes nice, shiny flangeways.

I decided to move everything to #8s in the yard (SD90s and 89 foot flatcars aren't fans of #6s..) to give me the prototypical flavor and looks that go with modern railroading; my original plan was number #8s on the Arrival and departure tracks, and #6s, everywhere else, but upon further reflection, I figured all number 8s would suit me better.

With those thoughts in mind. I purchased a fast tracks #8 cross over jig. This jig will let me build either right or left turnouts, single and double (aka scissor) crossovers. I also purchased some extra quick sticks and extra PCB ties.

Everything arrived in good shape and I set out to start building some turnouts. I used Micro Engineering rail that I bought locally at Chesterfield Hobbies (I've just about cleaned them out of Code 83 ME rail twice); too bad they don't have any compatible ties. :( (And the ME ties I bought a bit ago don't work either, as they are too short to match up to Atlas flex track or to the ties and quick sticks that Fast Tracks sells.)

First two turnouts were learning experiences; I have to rework them as I didn't follow the directions exactly when I formed the stock rail on the diverging side. (It needs a slight bend or kink in it, just like most prototypical trackwork so the point fits in nicely.)

The next two have been pretty nice:

I built them as part of a yard ladder (the start of the A/D tracks) but it looks like my switch build area wasn't setup correctly to get the diverging routes on 2" centers, so I'll be cutting these apart and just connecting them with rail joiners. The bottom two switches in the ladder I've got laid out correctly, so I will be getting those done shortly.

Another couple of gratuitous pictures:

Pictures Included

Here's a good overview shot of the first and second sections of benchwork that will support Acca yard. There is approximately 9" of space to get your hands into the staging yard, if need be. I have a couple of small under cabinet style lights to put in so that the yard can be lit up if need be.

Here you can see the transition from the main lines into the yard limits area. The main line is the track farthest from you in this view, and you can just make out the ramp made of cork roadbed to put the main line higher up than all the yard tracks that will be laid directly on the homasote.

Here is the set of cross overs that allow trains to either bypass or enter the yard (Northbound) or to continue on the main or get to the switching area in the next photo after this.

Chesterfield industrial area - 3 industrial spurs; right now the plans include a LPG dealer, a lumber yard/building supply dealer and probably an small cartridge plant. Spur #3 is out of frame to the left. Eagle eyed readers will note the crossover that seems to have an outlet to nowhere - that is actually going to go to the (relocated in this world) Southern States grain elevator that is just across the river from downtown Richmond in real life.

Next post will be about my use of the fast tracks turnout jigs and beginning to put track down somewhat manually.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Wow, I can't believe I haven't put an update in since December. Bad me!

Lots of progress has been made to the railroad:

Track has been placed from lower staging all until the main level yard approach. Feeders are in place on the main line so trains can run all the way.

Two of the four yard sections have benchwork and sub-roadbed in place and work has begun on the opening yard ladder for the A/D tracks via a fast tracks turnout jig.

I have a new camera and pictures galore to post once I get them onto the computer.

Early fall will be the first operating session at this point. (I made January, just not this January :) )