Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Short Brass Update

 As I've mentioned on the blog before, I have built a bit of a brass collection.

I admire the craftsmanship found in the models and like how they illustrate a section of the hobby that has faded significantly in my lifetime.

Most brass models made today are from South Korea, for the handful of producers and importers that are carrying on today. At one time, there was over 10 importers that were doing fairly significant business, but at this point, I think we are down to 2 or 3.

Japan started as the country of production, but I'm not aware of the last time a model was produced there for importation to the US, by a importer based here in the states.

My collection is mostly Overland Models, aka OMI, with a handful of other importers represented, mostly all produced in Korea. I have a single produced in Japan model, a Fujiyama RF&P 4-8-4 that was imported by Pacific Fast Mail.

I am planning on a couple more in depth brass posts in the next few months, but for now, I will close this post with a group shot to tease what is coming up.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

WMMD Op Session Photos from August

 Photos from the WMMD Op Session in August of this year have been posted to the gallery.

My duty station - Cumberland and MY Tower

Bunch more pictures at RTRR's Gallery.

Friday, October 22, 2021

North Acca Control Point

 So somehow I managed to build and install the track at the North Acca control point without taking any pictures with either of my dSLRs. Oops.

Onto the subject at hand, the control point at North Acca is fairly complex, with a full set of crossovers between the mains, the turnout to get traffic on and off the yard bypass track from Main 3, and then access to the industrial marshaling and short departure yard through a scissors crossover.

If you are counting, that is 9 sets of points in this area, which doesn't include the 4 other sets on the marshaling yard.

All of these are fast tracks turnouts, built from Code 83 Micro Engineering rail.

This first photo is looking south, from a slightly elevated perspective. Track 2 (main) is center, Track 3 (main) is right and Track 1 (advance track) is left. In the background on the right, you see the turnout to get you to track 4, the bypass track used by Amtrak trains and high priority freight trains that don't swap cars or stop for any time beyond a crew change.

Helicopter shot of the north middle of the area.

Looking north from track 2, at track level:

Bunch more pictures on the site gallery at http://richmond-terminal.org

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Readying Tortoises

 The standard turnout motor I use is the Tortoise by Circuitron.

When I started the old layout, you could find them in 12 packs for about $12 each, but that was 15 years ago. Last time I saw some in a store, they were around $22 each.

I pulled all of them off the old layout, but many of them had soldered leads that I used to connect them to the Digitrax DS54s that I used to control turnouts on the old layout.

The DS54s have RJ11 phone sockets on them so I ended up with lots of 4 wire phone cable soldered to Tortoises.

But a small sample of the problem.

Problem being solved.

And problem solved:

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A note about the Fast Tracks System

 Building a new yard ladder and a set of #10 for the thoroughfare tracks gave me a chance to re-evaluate my process of building turnouts.

In a previous blog post (here), I mentioned that fact that I use a cheapo Harbor Freight benchtop belt sander to help me shape points, frogs and toads. (Extra credit if you know where a toad is used)

I have noticed that getting the frog points sharp enough so that wheels don't fall into the gap is tougher than I realized.

What I found that works much better is to start with the benchtop sander, as before, but then finish with a large mill file to really bring the rail to a sharp point.

When you do that:

Side by side comparison.

Old process in rear - note the gap between the frog point and the point rails that angle away to start the guard rail portion.

New process in front - look at how much longer that frog is!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Acca Tweaks and Track

 As I got past North Acca and started in the body of the yard, I realized that I needed to come up with a better way to fit the tracks I wanted into the space I had.

The original track layout was much modified and here are the results.

This is looking railroad north towards NA

The two main line tracks (Track 2 and Track 3 in RF&P's numbering scheme) branch out to 7 tracks when they reach North Acca (control point NA).

A post detailing the North Acca control point is in the works.

From the top, you see the bypass track (concrete ties), then the two main tracks, then 4 yard body tracks. The track closest to the aisle will be a runaround and industrial lead in use.

Super proud of this view!

Here is where I made some significant tweaks in track layout - a yard ladder is going to start here and an additional post will show that in more detail.

Larger pictures on the gallery at http://richmond-terminal.org

Monday, October 4, 2021

Updating Process a bit fouled up

 I had to turn in my old laptop, which is how I have been sorting and uploading pictures from the cameras. 


Working to figure out alternatives.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Brass Update - More Viewliners

 Back in 2017, I was able to get my hands on a single Viewliner sleeper, which was a brass model imported by Overland from South Korea.

Blog Post about it.

I am pleased to announce that I was able to source 3 additional cars, with unique road numbers, off eBay in 2020.

They will grace the Silver service trains as operating sessions restart sometime in late 2021 or early 2022.

Interestingly, on eBay right now, there is a Walthers run Viewliner with a buy it now price of $199.99 on it; it is a BIN listing. Auction Link Crazy stuff. I note that I only paid another hundred bucks for a brass car on all of them that I purchased.

No new releases of Viewliners seems to be in the offing and I haven't see any movement about a Viewliner II model either being mass produced.

There is, again on eBay, 2 listings of interest.

First is a custom produced Viewliner II baggage car. Viewliner II Auction As I write this, current bid is $100, on a car that has a detail level right out of the 1990's Athearn blue box kits.

Even better, another 3D printed car, for a baggage dorm Viewliner (which I didn't know was a thing), with a $289 BIN price on it. Viewliner II Dorm? Detail level is better than this first car I linked, but not by much. You can see the layers from the 3D printing process when you examine the car end shot.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Fascia Turnout Control

Operators of version 1 remember that there was not any on layout control of mainline turnouts. You had to either call the dispatcher or have a DT400 throttle to move turnouts.

As the new layout uses LCC for the accessory bus, there isn't a direct link where you can use the throttle to control turnouts. There is now a LCC-Loconet gateway, but as I do not want folks to use their throttles for turnout control, an alternative solution was needed until the full Dispatcher CTC panel is built.

Enter my solution - a small PCB with LEDs and pushbuttons. The bare boards are small enough to be "prototyping" size from the various Far East board houses and cost $.50 each.

I have made a couple of different versions so I could figure out what I liked the best in practice.

Green LED means turnout is "normal"; while a red LED being lit means "reversed" or "thrown", depending on what sort of term you like.

Here's the panel at Milford on duty.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Subroadbed Complete to North Acca

 Benchwork and subroad have been completed into North Acca. On the RF&P, this was control point NA.

I've gone back to 3/4" ply on the lower level. This plywood is a really nice 6 ply option that I sourced at Home Depot in 2020 before the great wood debacle of 2021.

More shots are in the gallery at richmond-terminal.org

Friday, July 16, 2021

Updates coming

 Summer is flying by rapidly and while I have made progress on the layout, the web presence has suffered.

I am working to get pictures together so I can put some updates on the blog.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

GN Cross Over Install

 Track has made it all the way to the GN cross overs; making progress.

Sunday, April 4, 2021


 Long time associates of the Richmond Terminal will remember that the old layout was very raw in feel, with a severe lack of finish or expected polish.

On version 2, we are working to produce a higher quality product.

Fascia is reused 1/8" masonite from the previous layout's backdrops, ripped to 5" wide and painted flat black.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

GN Cross Over Build

 Here's a couple of shots of the build process for the crossovers at GN Control Point.

Here's the LH in the Fast Tracks jig.

All soldered up

Both crossovers cleaned of flux and getting ready for ties.

Gluing the ties on

Friday, April 2, 2021

GN Cross Overs Planning

 A couple of shots showing the layout, testing and first few stages of the crossover build.

We will start with a low angle shot; the overall design calls for two #10 single crossovers, followed by a single RH #10 to give us a lead into the Amtrak station track.

A higher altitude shot.

Once satisfied with the general layout, a wide angle shot with rail being measured and cut.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

A break from the #10s

 Had to build a number 6 for some industrial trackage.

Here's where it will be installed.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Manufactured Variance

 I've mentioned this on the blog and site before, but there is variance in manufactured products.

Homasote seems to be a constant repeat offender.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present exhibit #1 for the prosecution:

A different view of this exhibit:

This shows about 15 or 20 minutes work with surform rasps and coarse sandpaper.

As homasote is a paper based product, dust is absolutely retched. 

The prosecution rests.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

More Power!

Had to start getting ready to install the LED lights for the lower level so a +12V supply was called for.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Quick Real Time Update

 Benchwork is getting close to North Acca; placing homasote and will have it ready to paint fairly soon.

Got bored and reworked the DCC circuit breaker installation

 My original install of the PSX breakers wasn't neat, but speedy.

Now with some time in the evening and having the lower level DCC wiring starting soon, I thought it was time to neat up the wallfield area where the command station is.

Much neater, I'd say!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

PCB Signal Mounting Update

I have designed PCB signals in various types, which I will be selling to others, but the genesis for this idea was the fact that I needed signals on the removable bridge sections of the layout.

I didn't want to risk expensive scale signals (at $25 to 48 each) on something that will get moved and placed at ground level, hence using signals that are just made out of circuit board.

Mounting them takes a 3/4" hole made with a forstner bit giving you a flat bottom hole.

The PCB is a bit smaller than 3/4, so you need a way to hold them in.

A piece of strip styrene and 2, #4 by 1/2" screws, and done!

Monday, March 1, 2021

Greendale Control Point Status

 Building crossovers with the Fast Tracks jigs requires a certain order of operations.

I build each component turnout of the crossover, using the outside (non-frog connected) stock rail and points first. Then I will install the frog, of which, one leg of is the stock rail for the other turnout in the pair.

Once you have that, you can square the turnouts up, notch the stock rail (if you didn't measure it correctly first OR if you haven't notched it already) for the points and then finish your soldering job.

During the build, I realized that I had to build the LH crossover with a RH turnout immediately following the crossover to get to the Amtrak station. My first set of partials didn't have a long enough stock rail.


I had to recut points and frogs and restart the build.

Building complex trackwork like this will make you wish you could buy ME rail in lengths longer than 3'; I could use 6' or longer pieces without issue.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Progressing Slowly

 More track is down and I've been spending my time lately grooming the DCC wiring to make it sustainable versus hacked together.

I have pulled a couple of new bus runs to support the track that's down.

Currently working on the crossovers in Greendale and then will start putting the station tracks in.

If we get some sunny weather in the next couple of weeks, I'm going to get subroad down to get me into the Acca area, but with February, you have no idea what you get. Today started rainy, then went sleet, then snow and it all had melted away by 1 or so.

I have been taking pictures so there will be fodder for more posts in the nearish future.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Greendale Ladder Build

 A couple of shots from the ladder build.

Shot of completed ladder.

More pictures are posted in the gallery at richmond-terminal.org

Monday, January 11, 2021

Nor gloom of night

 Had a power outage in August and couldn't let that stop me from making progress.

Interesting effect, don't you think?

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Custom Turnout Build Finish

 The turnouts that were custom built and mentioned in a previous post [insert] have been installed.

Ties were placed singly with plain old Elmer's white glue, sanded and then the turnout was spiked down.

I ended up having to redo the ties for the turnout closest to the aisle when I mis-installed ties and cut them too short. A round of "WWKD" made me pull the ties and fix it.

Working alongside a Christmas gift - new light to go along with my new driver/drill set.

The back track is a stick of Code 70 ME flex, but as the front spur is too short for a full piece, I refrained from cutting a stick of 70 down for it as I'm into my last bundle of it. Got to keep my eyes peeled for a sale in the future.

Friday, January 8, 2021


 Some shots to better illustration this item being checked off the list.

More photos in the gallery at richmond-terminal.org

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Roadbed to Staples Mill Station Control Point

 Old hard drives are a great thing to hold down cork that comes off a roll.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Greendale Track Planning

The Staples Mill Station area's station name on the RF&P is Greendale.

To make the track fit my space, I pulled the industrial spots north of where the station will be, putting them on their own side of the peninsula.

I worked out a couple of potential track layouts on paper to get me close and once cork was done, finalized with turnouts and track, and if I didn't have a particular turnout handy, a printed template.

Here's a snapshot in the progress - note the ladder being test fit into place.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Custom Turnout Build

 As I am following the prototype track layouts and industries, trying to fit what happens over miles and miles of real world into 20' to 40' blocks of space is a bit of a challenge, as you can imagine.

Coming into the Greendale area, I had a couple of spurs to fit in; complicated by where I had placed the Chickahominy River crossing.

I decided to scratchbuild two curved turnouts, one left and one right, each of them on the 40" radius inside curve.

To the immediate left, just out of frame in this picture is the river crossing so not a bunch of room to work in.

The closest to the camera is a number 10 frog, while the one in the back ended up as a number 8, after I realized that a 10 wouldn't have the departure angle I needed to fit it without significantly changing the track layout.

I used my ME track gauges to keep the rails in gauge as I soldered, as there wasn't a jig or other template that I could crib from. Of course, I was able to use the point and frog forming tools from my Fast Tracks stuff to help me along.

These turnouts have been installed with the rest of the track in this area, so keep your eyes peeled for an update later on to show the finished product.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Cork for Greendale

 As the bridge scene was moving somewhat slowly, but it's physical place was established enough for me to move down the line and start on putting roadbed down in the Greendale area.

Here are some views of the work, in progress.

And let's finish up with a shot of it all down, but before any ramps are sanded in or other touch ups are done.