Friday, December 13, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 12.13.13

I haven't worked on the layout much this week.  It has been busy with the holidays drawing near.  Here are updates on a few projects that I have been working on.

Scenery Dept Update
The creek under Ottawa Yard dried, but the Liquitex shrunk some leaving a big dry void in the middle of the creek.  I applied more two days ago.  It is still drying currently.

Signal Dept Update
Signals are expected to arrive by mid-January.  I did create a panel using a spare piece of luan.  I screwed down terminal strips so I can keep everything straight when I wire it up.  Here's photos.

Track Dept Update
Last night, I cleaned off everything in the vicinity of Ottawa Yard as I will be turning my attention to that in the near future.  The final order of custom built turnouts is shipping Monday.  It's time to finish the trackwork on this layout!

Power Desk Report
Last night, I worked on installing the decoders in the two Pittsburgh & Lake Erie (P&LE) units.  One went fine with no issues.  It works great.  The other I struggled with and had to take the frame apart.  I put everything back together but the unit seems to be binding up.  I took it apart three or four more times, with no luck.  Finally, I got so frustrated, I just had to walk away.  I'll try again tomorrow.

This evening...

Power Desk Update
I re-visited the troubled P&LE loco.  I checked all the potential issues suggested by my friend Allen, but everything seemed ok.  I had no other choice but to take it completely apart.  I took my time putting it all back together.  This time it worked!  No binding of the gears!  I tweaked it a little more and then speed matched it to the second unit that was a little faster.

Feeling good and having the laptop upstairs at the time, I decided to research why the headlights on a consisted set (two or more locos coupled together to act as one) would not reverse properly to the rear unit.  Only the front and rear headlight on the front loco would work.  I wanted the rear loco headlight to come on when I placed the consist in reverse.  I found the answer was in the CV22 settings.  Here's an article from TCS describing the issue and fix in great detail.  I tried the tips and it worked great!

Track Dept Update
Feeling good from the successful locomotive repair, I cut and shaped two of the yard tracks this evening.  I even ran the P&LE loco set down the length of one of the tracks (and across the creek).  Pretty sweet!!  I'm excited I'm nearly finished with trackwork and can get all the wiring done.  I'm ready to run more trains!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 12.09.13

This morning I worked on testing the layout at Ottawa Silica and LOF where I wired it up last night.  Have I mentioned how nice it is to run a train again?  Well, it is!  It's freaking awesome!  I'm very pleased with the turnouts and trackwork.

I did encounter two issues this morning.  One was fixed quickly as it was another ground throw too close to the rail.  A little filing and that was resolved.

The second was more involved.  It was the ground throw for the south end of the gauntlet track.  I knew all along this would probably require some attention, but I had been avoiding it as the fix didn't look pleasant.  I unsoldered the turnout's throw bar and drilled the hole for a new one.  By this time, I had to go to work...

This evening, I immediately returned to the gauntlet track.  I had been thinking about it all day.  I soldered the replacement throw bar to the switch points.  I tested and all is good now!   It runs flawlessly.  Most excellent!  I was concerned it would be worse to fix.

With that off my mind, I relaxed after a long day at work.

Later this evening I returned to the layout room.  I had to turn my focus to the creek that runs under Ottawa Yard.  With the last shipment of turnouts possibly shipping soon, I need to complete the creek so I can lay the yard tracks.  I had most of it done already, but needed to touch up the paint and add some more ground cover.  I did that and decided to bite the bullet and pour the "water".  I'm using Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish for the water.  I think it will work well.

Helicopter view over the creek.
The bridges aren't glued in place yet.  I need to paint them as well.
They are pretty basic just built out of some styrene pieces.
I'll go back and add some handrails and other details later.

Looking west.  You can see a few of the telephone poles that I temporarily installed along the mainline.  This creek was covered up with a lot of bushes and such.  More will go into place once the water dries.

Here's what I used for the water.

Another view from the aisle.

In other news, I had been looking for quite some time in the past for a good track cleaning car.  I hate cleaning track.  It would be nice to run a quality track cleaning car and have it do the work for you.  Back in the day, when I was in HO scale, I had a centerline car.  It worked ok, but I wasn't overly impressed.  The other day, I was watching a video on applying static grass that my friend Allen sent over to me.  I checked out some of the other user videos to learn about the CMX Clean Machine car.  I was very intrigued and thought this might be the answer to my laziness of cleaning track!  So, I decided to go ahead and get one.  If it didn't work, I would unload it on eBay.  

I received it today and checked it out briefly this evening.  So far, I'm very impressed!  It is one solid car weighing in at 3.7oz.  My Bachmann GP7 couldn't pull it alone.  I had to pair up to Kato SD40-2s to pull the car.  Not only do you have the weight, but the spring pushing down on the pad creating additional friction.  I ran it up and down the layout from LOF to Ottawa Silica and back.  I flipped it over to look at the pad to find it quite dirty.  Wow!  Very nice!  I continued playing with it some more later cleaning all the yard tracks.  It seems to really clean off the dirt!  Here are some photos of the unit.  I saw one person on YouTube painted his unit black and decaled it for Maintenance-of-Way (MOW).  I might have to do something similar, but in ROCK paint.

Heavy brass construction on the CMX Clean Machine.  The end screw plug is for filling the tank with the cleaning fluid of your choice (I have seen many different types used).  The middle screw plug is to adjust the drip on to the pad.

The pad after one round trip up a 12 foot section of track.  The spring clips secure the pad in place.

You can see here the spring the holds the pad securely down on the rails.  It never once got caught on a switch point or any other rail.

And last, but not least, the ROCK: Ottawa Sands will have signals on the layout!  Wahoo!  I love anything that lights up!  I ordered searchlight signals for the double crossover at Utica.  If all goes well as planned, I will look at ordering more for the CB&Q Junction as well.  I hope to work on some of the wiring over my Christmas break.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 12.08.13

Today, I worked on the layout off and on.  This morning, I completed soldering the feeder wires over on the left side of the layout (LaSalle and Utica).  The hard part after completing that is focusing enough not to play.  I found myself moving cars all around the layout (testing of course).  As my friend Allen says, "I smell the Spring rains".  A long time ago, I proclaimed I wanted to be back up and running by Spring 2014.  I see it happening!  I forecast the Return of the ROCK inaugural op session will occur in late February or early March!

So, back to work.  Off and on this evening, I worked on soldering feeder wires on the right side of the layout.  I'm happy to say that I have them all completed and connected to the bus.  This includes all track that has been laid to date.  I didn't have time to test the area over at Ottawa Silica and Libbey-Owens-Ford (LOF) yet.  Play time will be in the morning before work as I test the trackage I wired up tonight.

I'm excited to get trains moving on the layout again.  It feels good!  The locomotives run really well over the new turnouts.  I couldn't be more pleased!

Now, I better go lay down.  I've had my daily intake of burning flux this evening.