Favourite Photos...

Favourite Photos...
Reading Lines GP35 #3647

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Harrisburg East - Yard Lead...

Today centred around getting the turnout installed from the Harrisburg East - Mainline.

This turnout is the start of the new yard lead for the Shippensburg Classification Yard, it runs from the south side of the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg East, over the double track truss bridge and joins up at the classification yard entrance at Carlisle Junction.

I also installed the Micro - Engineering bridge track to the double track - truss bridge too.


Sunday, 27 October 2019

Track work on the Shippensburg Yard entrance...

Today I got the Shippensburg Yard lead entrance secured down after wiring the Peco turnouts and drilling the holes for the Tortoise fulcrums, and installing and marking the location of the insulated rail joiners for the blocks & detection.

I also got the crossover from the north arrival track in too after they were wired, the remaining east & west yard ladders are all manually operated Peco’s.

Next stage is to install the remaining track, install the Tortoise Motors, and attach all the feeders.


Thursday, 24 October 2019

Altering Fascia Panels for Shippensburg Yard...

Working on the alterations to the Harrisburg East, Carlisle Junction & York Haven fascia panels today.

These are being altered to add the additional track for the Shippensburg Classification Yard.  The track work has been added to allow greater flexibility for operations.

The layout flows east to west (right to left) in the photos below starting from Harrisburg East moving left finishing at York Haven.

Next step will be to print out, laminate and install onto the layout fascia.


Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Working on the Shippensburg Classification Yard...

Working on the alterations to Shippensburg Classification Yard today, the changes will allow local freights to be made up from an arriving freight from “the rest of the world” via Staging.

There are two small three (3) track storage tracks so that freight can me sorted via either westbound and/or eastbound traffic onto the layout.  There are two yard leads within the middle of the yard allowing for continuous operations.

There is also the ability to make up outbound freight to either the “rest of the world” via staging direct, or via Rutherford Yard.  The added double track truss bridge now shifts the yard entrance to the south side of Harrisburg.

The classification yard also has the ability to allow through freight from staging direct to the layout without interfering with yard operations.  The addition of the extra long yard lead from the south side of Harrisburg also give the ability for the yard switcher to move bigger cuts of cars now too.


Monday, 30 September 2019

Staging Deck wiring schematics...

Things have been a little quite on the layout front over the past month.  We have been doing some more renovations on our home, including a full kitchen renovation that has been taking up most of my free time.

Today I began designing the Staging Deck wiring schematics for an upcoming article.  They can be quite complex to map out but I think they help a lot of people see what is required to make everything work, hopefully they will give some modellers the confidence to tackle some more complex layout wiring.

The schematic below explains how the additional NCE PB5 - Booster has been added to the layout and now powers the Staging Deck.  Importantly it shows the booster case screw ground wire, between both boosters, that is required for the detection on the Staging Deck to work with the Standalone - LocoNet, JMRI and Panel Pro.


Thursday, 5 September 2019

Changes to the Shippensburg Classification Yard...

Over the past week I have been working on the changes to the Shippensburg Classification Yard.  After our last ops session it was clear that in order for the staging deck to work properly I needed to make the classification yard a little bigger, and more flexible.

Below are the changes that are currently being made:

The yard will have both westbound & eastbound storage tracks and also a longer yard lead from Harrisburg (South), this has now been extended to the south side of the Susquehanna River bridge, which has also been widened to a double track truss bridge.

The southern entrance to the yard lead now exits the via a #7 curved turnout before the Rutherford Yard turnout and will allow a much longer yard lead for cutting cars.

More soon...


Friday, 26 July 2019

Power Pickup Issues...

Over the last week I’ve been trying to solve the issue of sporadic electrical performance on my Athearn RDG SW1500 switcher, I’ve been looking at fixes that will bypass the weak points in the wheel to truck, truck to decoder electrical path.

When looking at possible solutions one stood out to me as the most direct route from wheel/axle to the decoder. By soldering on thin/flexible decoder wire directly to the brass square bush, I now have a direct connection from the axle to the decoder, this means I have bypassed the four weak points in the Athearn design. These being the brass square bearing to bronze side frame, side frame through the rivet, rivet to brass/metal tabs & finally the plastic caps for wire to decoder.

It also means that the test SW1500 is now also “all” wheel pickup too, that’s eight wheels, grouped into pairs and directly connected to each of the four LokSound - Select decoder tabs. I’m still testing the new truck combination and what level of track/wheel cleaning is required to get the best performance.

Videos to come when I’m happy with the setup & performance...

Friday, 12 July 2019

Special visitor to the layout...

Today the layout had a very special visitor drop by for a look and run on the layout. 

Kevin Lee Klettke from http://wnrr.net/ fame has been keeping in touch with me for some years now. And as luck would have it, Kevin was visiting his daughter here in Melbourne.

Kevin also met some of my operating crew, and got to have a go on the ProtoThrottle too, I think Kevin is sold on one...

It was great to have our first international visitor to the layout, and hopefully Kevin will be back again in a few years when the layout has more scenery done.

Thanks for the visit Kevin, hope you enjoyed it, and you're always welcome to drop in...


Tuesday, 25 June 2019

New Fascia's and Fascia Control Panels...

Today I spent the day reinstalling the layout fascia and fascia control panels around Carlisle Junction.  This area was altered when I installed the helix, I also had to add another fascia control panel for the east end of the Staging Yard.

The control panels are just a small wooden frame made from 1"-3/16 (30mm) x 45/64" (18mm) pine edging.

The fascia board is 1/8" MDF board cut down to 9" 27/32 (250mm) and screwed to the layout benchwork with timber stitching screws.

The fascia control panels are recessed so that operators cannot lean against the panels and activate the push buttons accidentally.

The versions installed today are black & white and will be upgraded to color once I'm happy that further changes will be made, and when the fascia's have all been painted.


Monday, 24 June 2019

Layout Monitoring...

For some time now I have been wanting to have a monitoring system on the layout.  With the addition of the completed Helix, Staging Deck and Return Loops I needed to find a solution.

I have looked at many different technologies and hardware, from webcam cameras, to mini-cube cameras, reversing cameras, and just about everything in between too.

But I kept coming back to one platform.  The security camera and DVR option.  It is by default exactly what most of us with a model railroad need to be able to achieve the ability to "monitor" our layouts from many different locations, usually via one screen.  And the security camera platform is mostly a one box solution.

I did want to get fancy and have dual mini-HD cube camera in an interlocking tower looking east & west so the dispatcher could see the action from a 1/87 perspective.

The system I ended up using was a refurbished Swann eight (8) channel - 1080P HD PVR.


The system has everything in the box needed to get you going, and is plug & play too.

The quality being 1080P HD is suburb.

The camera's also have infrared built in too, so when the Staging Deck isn't lit, the layout can still be easily seen.

The ability to spilt the screens into varying combinations is also included in the systems software.  The screen shots above are actually taken from the smart phone app that also allows you to use your phone to view too.

I will have all eight channels fed through a 23" monitor located with the dispatchers desk.

The camera's are easily mounted underneath the layout and are adjustable too.

A worthwhile investment that is already paying off making dispatching and operation of the Staging Deck so much easier.


Friday, 21 June 2019

Major milestone completed this week...

This week I managed to finally complete the Staging Deck...

The helix, staging yard and return loops are all now wired in with detection and switch motors and ready for operations.

I also started to install the camera system for monitoring the staging yard and return loops too.  The system is a Swann 8ch - 1080P DVR, it will also allow me to monitor the other sections of the layout from the dispatchers desk.



Thursday, 13 June 2019

Helix, Staging Deck & Return Loops - Complete Run...

Today I finished off the wiring for the entire Staging Deck area, including the two Return Loops.
The video below shows the inaugural run from the top deck, through the helix, staging deck, and around the return loops, and staged ready to run back onto the layout.  This is a huge step for the layout operational as it has just expanded the operational capability for our future ops sessions.

The entire Staging Deck is detected via the LocoNet, the majority is handled by one Digitrax - BDL 168, and two PSX-AR's.  The PSX-AR's are connected to each of the return loops and the detection section on each is fed back through a layout Digitrax SE8C.
The Staging Deck is now added to the Panel Pro - Panel and is ready for operations to begin...
Next stage is to finish off the installation of the last MP5 - Switch Motors and begin programming the turnouts & sensors into the panel.

Monday, 3 June 2019

MRH - Running Extra - Article...

Today the layout made the June Edition and Front Cover of MRH Running Extra.

The article is how the build of the original practice module inspired me to build the layout, and how the module became a part of a signature scene...


Thursday, 30 May 2019

Wiring up the Staging & Return Loop BDL168...

Today I wired up the four zones for the Staging Deck and Return Loops.

I had to redesign the backing board that has the Digitrax BDL168, Accu-Lites Breakout Board and PSX attached to it so that I could also fit the PSX-AR that feeds the four blocks in Zone A to the reversing loops.

The electrical board is labelled #9, this is associated with the ID address of the Digitrax BDL168.  The PSX (bottom) feeds power to the BDL Zones B, C, and D.  The PSX-AR feeds power to Zone A only.

I also took the opportunity to fix up the other BDL168 & SE8C and moved them so that they were clear of the Staging Yard ladder and so that the BDL also faced the fascia instead of the helix.

If you're don't love wiring just a little bit, this endeavour can get real tedious really quickly...

Next step is to wire in the track feeders at the other end of the Staging Deck...


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

First train to run the entire helix and onto the Staging Deck...

This week saw another major milestone achieved for the layout.

I have connected the upper deck via the helix and into the Staging Yard.  The addition has seen another dedicated booster (NCE PB5) added that will service the staging yard, return loops and engine facility.

The helix power is fed by a PSX-AR, this provides the automatic reversing function and will also provided detection through a SE8C via the LocoNet for occupancy.

The video below shows a short local headed up by a Reading MP15DC entering the staging yard, via track two.

Hopefully by weeks end I'll have the remaining staging yard ladder and return loops connected and detection up and running too.


Wednesday, 8 May 2019

MP5 Switch Motors

This week I have been installing the new MP5 Switch Motors to the Staging Deck - Yard Ladder.

The MP5's are a small switch motor with a planetary transmission.


They are smaller than a tortoise and also have a removable wiring plug too.

The sliding transmission is also adjustable:

They are small enough that even with back to back turnouts in the yard ladder, they can be positioned almost side by side.

The operation is purely horizontal in motion for a turnout, and positive enough that I didn't have to remove the centre over spring from the Peco - Code 100 turnouts.

I have all of mine running off a Digitrax DS64 via fascia mounted push buttons, and through JMRI via PanelPro.

I'm extremely happy with these switch motors, price wise they are cheaper than a tortoise motor, and the flexibility of placement due to the smaller size and removable wiring harness has made them a great addition.


Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Staging Tracks Powered...

Today was spent soldering the feeds from the staging storage tracks to the BDL168 and PSX.

I used a screwed terminal to connect each of the staging tracks to the power feed wire running to each LocoNet Sensor on the BDL168.  And another screwed terminal block for the common track wire.

When connected to the LocoNet this Digitrax - BDL168 will provide detection for six (6) Staging Tracks, Inbound & Outbound track and the staging to return loop curve.

All of the six storage tracks are now powered...