Saturday, December 7, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 12.07.13

This morning, I drilled and stripped the remaining feeder wires for the track that is laid so far.

During the day, I had the pleasure of operating at a great friend Larry Keller's layout running trains on the Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad.  I had a great time as always.

This evening, I worked on soldering some feeder wires.  I wasn't planning on working for long, so I used the battery operated soldering iron.  It was slow going.  Tomorrow, I will have to get out my "flesh burner" corded soldering iron to make some real progress.

I attempted to use the suitcase connectors for the feeder wires to the bus wire, but I wasn't happy with them.  They are slow to connect and many times don't make a solid connection.  I ended up reverting back to my old ways of stripping back the bus wire and wrapping the feeders around it.  It's quick and simple.  I'll sell the unused suitcase connectors online.

I tested a locomotive on the track sections I completed tonight (PQ and Main 1 in Utica).  The locomotive was sluggish at first as it hadn't run in a long time.  Once I got it warmed up, it ran great with and just glided across the turnouts.  I was very pleased!

There was one issue where a ground throw was too close to the rail.  The springs on the locomotive trucks hit it.  I filed it back which resolved that issue.  Tomorrow, I hope to get going faster on soldering the feeder wires.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Signal Project Update + Progress Report 12.06.13

So, I continue to think about the signal project as I really want to add this aspect to the layout.  I have found signal pricing isn't very expensive, but to add on the logic boards and such to make everything automated/simulated for more trains is quite expensive.  I just can't see investing that kind of money into my small layout.

So, I have to buy some searchlight signals from BeNScale.  My initial desire is to add the signals to Utica.  Eventually, other signals will be added the CB&Q junction as well.

I have decided to have an operator, or station manager that will be located at Utica.  The station manager would operate the signals under the direction of the dispatcher.  When a train needs to work at Utica/LaSalle, they will obtain the proper work authority via track warranty from the dispatcher.  They would then work with the local station manager for lining various moves through the interlocking.

The station manager will set the signals using four rotary switches (one for each track's signal).  He will also manually set the turnouts as I don't have tortoise switch machines installed for the crossovers.  Below is a diagram of what the station manager will see.

Eventually, when signals are added at Ottawa, crews will contact the Ottawa Yardmaster for permission through the plant.  This job might also be performed by the Utica station manager (operator), but under the Ottawa Station manager title.

Crews will still require a track warrant from the dispatcher to be out on the mainline.  The remainder of the (unmodeled) railroad will be Automatic Block Signaling (ABS).

In other electrical news...

Any guesses what my next project is?  HA HA!

Time to fire up the layout!  I stripped wires and drilled holes for nearly every feeder for tracks that have been laid.  I just need to finish up a few more in Utica and will be complete.  There was a lot to do at Ottawa Silica and LOF.

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 12.06.13

This morning, I worked on building up the earth (with plaster) to provide nice level ground for the yard lead that goes along the rim of the sand pit.  I also created a few small hills and filled in areas between the benchwork and fascia boards.

Here are some photos of the Utica area.

Here is Utica looking east.  Ottawa Yard is just around the curve to the right.
From left to right: Belrose Silica lead, Main 2 and 1, PQ Sand track,
PQ Dry Chemical Track, PQ Wet Chemical Track

Another view of the same area.  You see where the Belrose Silica (left) track runs up to the corner of the layout.  It will be heavily wooded in this area.

A view of the sand hoppers lined up at Belrose Silica.

At Utica, looking west toward LaSalle.  That is the Utica/LaSalle station to the left.
Where the large dump truck is located is the access road to Belrose Silica.  The area between the tracks and houses will be heavily forrested.  You will barely see this road that leads up to the mine.

A track level view from the west crossover at Utica/LaSalle.  You can see the Mill Street road crossing in front of you.  Mill Street continues up the hill and provides access to the neighborhood.  The driveway to the left is from Westclox.  You can also see the dump truck on the access road to Belrose Silica.

Another view but from the Westclox driveway.

A view from Utica Station looking up toward the houses on the hill.

A view from one of the houses looking toward Utica station. 

A view from one of the houses on the hill looking east toward PQ and Ottawa Yard in the distance.

Looking west from the east crossover at Utica.  PQ is on the left, Belrose Silica on the right.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 12.05.13

This evening, I installed the industrial tracks for Belrose Silica.  I'm really happy with the revised track configuration.

This completes all the industrial and mainline trackage for the layout.  The only area left to work on (track wise) is the yard at Ottawa.

I'll post pics this weekend.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 12.04.13

This evening, I moved my attention to the Belrose Silica area.  I had looked at this the other day, but wasn't pleased with what I was seeing.  My original plan called for two double ended tracks for loading sand.  The tracks were both short and appeared as overkill for the industry.  Tonight, I played around with some other track arrangements until I found one I liked.  Now, there will be a single double ended track that will connect to the mainline like a siding.  The track will also continue back into the corner of the layout.  This will be covered with trees and overgrowth.  It will server as overflow for the loading tracks as well as storage for unneeded sand hoppers during the session freeing up some valuable real estate in the yard.  The plus side of this change is one less turnout required which saves me money.

With a new configuration hammered out, I went to work on cutting and shaping the track.  The other night when reviewing this area, I noticed my ramps from the mainline down to the industrial spur were too high.  Basically, the track went up before going down from the mainline.  I could have left it alone, but it would have bothered me for years to come.  So, I got out my tool and carved out one layer of the cardboard strips that I use to step down from the mainline.  I reapplied plaster and will let it dry.

While I had the plaster out, I worked on adding some more for the parking lot of the Utica train station.  I also worked on creating the gravel driveway that will be ensconced by trees that leads up to the Belrose Silica mine.  It's located halfway up the hill between the mainline and houses further up.

Here's the map again as a reference.  I'm working on Belrose Silica in the upper left hand corner.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Post #600 - Progress Report 12.03.13

Howdy everyone!  This is post #600 since the beginning in May 2010!  Pretty cool milestone!

Ok, back to work.  This morning, I glued the tracks down in front of Westclox.  Below are photos.

At the entrance of the room (LaSalle), looking east toward Ottawa (under the framed artwork).


Westclox, looking west to the end of the layout.

The mess called Utica.  This is where I will be working on the Belrose Silica tracks to the left next.

In other news, I have been researching signals for the layout.  Finding the signals is the easy job.  Figuring out how to control them without breaking the bank is the hard part.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 12.02.13

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving weekend.  I wasn't very productive on the layout over the weekend.  I had a lot of great family time which was very nice.

Today, I received the third batch of turnouts.  This evening, I worked on cutting and shaping the two turnouts mainline and industrial track surrounding Westclox.  This is a prominent scene on the layout and I was very particular on laying the track for this.  It took a long time just to shape and cut the track.

Next, filled in the area between the industrial spur and mainline with plaster.  I created a gentle slope down to the center between the tracks.  I also did some landscaping work between Westclox and Mill Street (just past the crossover).

Tomorrow, hopefully, I will be able to glue and install the track.