Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Signal Reworking

One of the outcomes when you operate is learning what changes need to be made to the layout to make operations smoother, more realistic, etc.

The railroad is maturing, which is giving me a chance to go back and install signals in areas that haven't been a priority, or to rework an area where the original signal install isn't reflective of how that area should be setup.

One of these locations that needed a net new install is the industrial turnout in Greendale, between the GN control point, and the Glen Allen (GA) control point.

There is a fair amount of industrial spots in this area, and both main lines have turnouts in place. I needed dwarf signals to protect these turnouts. One of them is currently manually thrown with a ground throw, so that will need to be modified to be thrown via a switch machine first, before signals get installed.

For the turnout that is currently controlled by a button (and will be controlled by the dispatcher in the future), I built a coulple of dwarfs and installed them.

I also took this opportunity to cut away a bunch of cork roadbed, and make the area look more realistic from a lineside perspective.

I had planned for a set of intermediate (repeater) signals between North Doswell and South Milford. This is matched up with Rutherglen on the prototype.

These are NJ International signals, with snow hoods. I will need to put something on the fascia in this area, since it can be hard to see these from the aisleway.

A spot that needed to be reworked is inside Doswell towards the north end.

At the turnout that branches into track 4 from track 3, I originally had 2 high signals in this area. As I needed to only protect the turnout state, and not give advancement permission, I built and installed two dwarfs in their place.

The high signal in the background is for traffic that will be using the crossover, northbound, and getting clearance to enter the RF&P mainline

More pictures can be found in the gallery at

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

January Operations - A Famous Photographer Visits

 During the January operating session, the Richmond Terminal hosted a (in)famous model railroad photographer, Wayland Moore.

Your layout host is always busy during a session and finds it difficult to take a bunch of quality photos, but having a visiting shutterbug was amazing.

Here are but a sampling of shots from Wayland.

Engineer Dan Moore inspects his train at North Acca prior to departure, looking to make sure his paperwork matches.

It would be impossible to show all the great shots he took without making this blog entry extremely long, so I will pick a couple that stood out to me.

Road freight goes by the new Intermediate signal installation at Rutherglen. Photo by Wayland Moore.

I appreciate that many of the shots showed trains going by signals. Management puts a significant amount of effort into the signalling system.

Traffic manager discusses the yard at the start of the session.

A shot that never occurred to me - the ready engine tracks.

A highlight for many that I've never captured - the food!

The crew debriefs after the session, while enjoying desert.

More photos from O. Wayland Moore can be found at

Monday, January 29, 2024

January Op Session

The January 2024 Operating Session is in the books.

One major failure occurred, a single rear end collision. Many HO scale passengers were injured when their cars rolled over.

The engineer didn't seem upset.

Root cause was determined to be a signalling system failure where a clear aspect was given due to a occupied block not being checked.

A tragedy, and management regrets the incident.

Besides the one lamentable incident, the session proceeded well. All trains were run and a good time was enjoyed by all.

Keep your eyes open for the next session invite for February 2024.

More photos can be found at

Monday, January 8, 2024

Reworking Block Detection for Signals

The Richmond Terminal is a signaled railroad. The end goal is to have a functional CTC system in place like version 1 did. Version 1 used a virtual CTC panel based on the Union Switch and Signal components inside JMRI.

As we are still working on the operating scheme, I decided that an Automatic Block System (ABS) would make the most sense to implement at the start and once the operating scheme was solidified, I would pivot to setting up the CTC system.

ABS is currently running based on the LogixNG inside JMRI. As I have worked through the configuration, I realized that when I connected the track blocks, I erred.

The Richmond Terminal is a 2 track mainline railroad, which means there are crossover from one track to another. These crossovers are frequent. The railroad is just shy of 10 scale miles; there are 14 crossovers total.

I setup 1 detection section per crossover. This meant a couple of things - detection of the crossover section would prevent a dispatcher from throwing one under a train, but the detection state would not help me drop to red until a train moved through the crossover and hit the next block, and I could not test the crossover occupancy to set a signal aspect, either. 

Consider this example - a train is southbound on track 3, approaching a crossover. On track 2, a northbound train is moving through a crossover section, on a straight route. The crossover shows occupied, which is true for track 2, but NOT track 3.

This meant that I needed to go back and break apart the detection for each crossover and connect my blocks so that each component turnout of the crossover was detected separately.

I took advantage of this and did some rationalization of my DCC bus as well.

That's wire I pulled out from a part of 1 peninsula...

Here is a shot where I shortened bus wire and soldered new ends on. Had to clamp up a piece of plywood to give myself a working surface.

More pictures are in the gallery at

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Protecting the fragile stuff

I daresay that almost every layout builder puts significant time and energy into their layout.

It's a downer when a scratchbuilt structure takes an inadvertent hit from a misplaced elbow or when an arm that is cleaning track, mashes a signal over.

In an effort to protect these installations on the layout, I've used Acrylic sheets that I've cut to size as guards.

I'm still (re-) learning how to work with this stuff, and mistakes can happen.

Whoops. Needed a bunch more scribes on that one.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Car-nage In Pictures

What's that?

If you said "Kadee coupler spring", you're a winner!