Saturday, February 1, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 02.01.14

Today, there was a lot of focus on the layout and family craft/hobby room.  I installed a flat screen TV in the room for the family to enjoy while working on projects.

So, we fired up an old classic my wife enjoys, "Goonies" and went to work.  My wife Carrie worked on sewing the test panel for the layout skirting.  I continued to work on cleaning the layout room and organizing the final bit of stuff.  I hung up the signs and placed my railroad artifacts/collectibles on the new shelf installed last week.

I installed a small 3ft shelf under the end of the layout by the window and relocated my NCE DCC power system to it.  It needed to be located at the end of the bus wire chain.  I will permanently affix a programming track for locomotives on this shelf.  It will be covered by the skirting.

My wife continued to work on sewing the test panel, while I worked on attaching the feeder wires to the bus.  I'm happy to report that the layout is completely wired now!  Yah!!!  I'm happy about that!  I performed a quick test to make sure all the tracks were live.  We're good!  I need to work on testing each track, turnouts, file down any solder spots, etc now.  Such tough work!  :-)

We decided to attach the layout skirting to the layout using velcro as suggested by my friend Allen in Nebraska.  We needed some more materials though.

Before we headed out, my wife helped me take down the test LED lighting strip I had installed on the ceiling.  There was a couple things wrong with it.

1) the LED strip wasn't secured properly to the 1x2
2) The 1x2 needed to be located further back over the operators head.  It was located right above the layout and casted shadows on some of the cars toward the front of the layout.
3) the lighting really needed to angled down vs. shining straight down.

Went to Ben Franklins and Home Depot.  I found some white art sand that should work for scenery on the layout.  Also, I believe it will work for weight in the sand hoppers.  It sure seems heavy enough.  I will have to test to see if I can get enough in the covered hopper to add an ounce to the car weight.  I don't see where it will be a problem.  So, how about that?  The sand hoppers will actually be moving sand!

At Home Depot, I picked up a test piece of crown moulding.

This evening, we came back home.  I stapled half of the velcro strip to the bottom of the 1x4 benchwork frame behind the fascia board.  Carrie worked on gluing the other half to the test panel she sewed up.

We then both worked on installing the LED light strip to the test crown moulding piece.  All the glue will need to setup so we can test both tomorrow.

I fired up the soldering iron and went to work on the two turnouts that were damaged.  One was in East Ottawa Yard, the other at the East Crossover at Utica.  It took some time and patience, but I was able to remove the throw bar by heating the PC board with the soldering iron.  I cleaned it up, drilled new holes for the ground throw and re-installed.  It probably took 45 minutes, but I was able to repair both with no problem.  It was simply time consuming.  One had a broken throw bar due to me drilling the hole to close to the side.  The other at Utica was damaged by me trying to fix a broken point.  I completely goobered it up with too much solder when trying to repair the other night.  I'm glad to have both fixed and working again.  That was stressing me out that there was track issues of that magnitude.

So, all in all, a great day working on the railroad.  Do you want to know what the best part of it all was?  The room functioned just as I had envisioned.  My wife (and kids) at times were in the room together working on projects, while watching tv and hanging out together.  I think the conversion from v1.0 to v3.0 is a success!

Friday, January 31, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 01.31.14

About ten days ago, I mentioned in the blog I would like to re-decal an Athearn airslide sand hopper to have the larger billboard type logo.  I finally got around to completing a test one.  I haven't changed the road number yet, but am very pleased with the results.  It takes forever for me to decal one.  Although, I have very limited decaling experience.  I don't think it turned out bad for my first try.

Signal update
I emailed Ben at BeNScale some questions I had regarding installing the signals.  He was able to clarify some information for me.  I'm ready to start mounting the signal heads to the mast to install on the BLMA signal bridges.

No other progress was made on the layout.  I got caught up relaxing on the sofa, watching a Duck Dynasty Marathon.  I don't think I have ever laughed so hard.

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 01.30.14

Today, I attempted to wrap my brain around what is required to get these signals installed.  I believe I'm good now after reviewing the directions provided by BeNScale and learning about resistors.  By the way, whose bright idea was it to color code resistors?  This puts me at a major disadvantage trying to figure this out as I'm colorblind!    Why couldn't they just print the resistance ohm amount on the resistor?  

I'm hoping that I can move forward and attempt installation of the signal heads on the BLMA signal bridges this weekend.  We'll see how that goes though.

This evening, I resumed work on cleaning and organizing the room.  I was moving at a swift pace this evening and managed to accomplish a lot.  I believe I'm about done organizing/purging of my stuff.  I assisted my wife in getting her project stuff organized as well as gift wrap section, etc. organized.  I would say the room is about 90% complete.

After everyone went to bed, I resumed my quiet activity of soldering.  I managed to completed soldering all the wires to the rails (26 pairs).  I now have to attached the feeder wires to the bus wires under the yard and approaches.  That shouldn't take long at all.

I also repaired six turnouts where the points broke free.  I would say that I have fixed about 10 or so now.  Somewhat discouraging paying what I did for the turnouts, but the guy used a very thin almost non-existent bead of solder to attach.  It's a quick fix with the soldering iron although I messed up one turnout that will require a more heavy duty repair of replacing the throw bar for the points.

I also had another turnout where the throwbar snapped.  I'm guessing the pilot hole for the ground throw mechanism was too close to the edge and it broke.  So, now I have two that will need replacement throw bars for the points.  I will work on that tomorrow as it was after 11pm already and I was getting tired (and making more mistakes).

So, moving right along, progress is being made on the ROCK.  I hope to complete the room this weekend as well as all wiring and vacuuming of the layout top.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 01.29.14

This evening, I didn't get up to the layout room until late in the evening.  It was too late to make any noise as everyone had gone to bed.  So, I fired up ol 'flesh burner and went to work soldering some feeder wires.  I completed 16 pairs which took care of the CB&Q interlocking and East Ottawa Yard ladder.  I'm probably a third of the way complete for the the remaining tracks.

I'll try to tackle it again tomorrow, but really need to complete cleaning/organizing the room.  I'll be so happy to get this done so I can vacuum all the benchwork and place all the rolling stock on the layout.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 01.28.14 - Zero Days Without an Accident

This morning, I cut and stripped wires.  I managed to drill the holes and get all the wires inserted, ready for soldering. It shouldn't take long once I fire up ol' Flesh Burner to complete the wiring task.

This evening, I worked feverishly on cleaning and organizing the room.  Which by the way, I made really great progress!  I worked even to the point of going through all my scratchbuilding materials, building parts, etc. sorting by doors, windows, walls, detail parts, etc.  I was working right along consolidating ballast into fewer containers (while leaning over the trash can), something fell off the table and I went to reach for it and stumbled over the trash can.  No biggie, right?  My leg managed to catch the old damaged flex track that I placed in the trash can.  I managed to drag the two rails down the length of my leg under my knee.  I looked down and could see the cut.  I thought to myself.  That's going to be a bleeder.  Sure enough it was.  It didn't hurt at first, but stings pretty good now!  Good thing I got a tetanus shot recently.  This is the third reportable injury since I started the original layout in 2010.  

So, once again, RI Management must hang the Zero Days Without Injury sign at Ottawa Yard.  

Back to safety school for employees again.  Darnit!  

I had an inquiry from a faithful reader of the blog.  What are the stats of days worked without an accident.

The layout started construction in May 2010.
- 636 Days before the 1st Accident
- Sadly we only went 36 days before our 2nd Accident
- Since our safety program was implemented, we have done better, but still only 672 days until this most recent accident.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The ROCK 3.0: Progress Report 01.27.14

The first signal heads arrived from BeNScale.  Four of these will be installed on each of the two BLMA signal bridges at Utica.  Man, are they ever tiny!  I need to dig up a pair of coke bottles glasses so I can see this stuff!  Wow!  I can't wait to see them lit up!

After dinner, I drilled the holes in the plexiglass for the Ottawa Signal Control Board.  While watching TV, I assembled the components.  Ottawa and Utica will be the only signal control boards on the layout.

Earlier in the evening, I worked hard on cleaning and organizing the room.  It looks like a mess now, but progress is being made.  

Later this evening, I worked on picking up all debris, parts, etc. left behind on the layout.  I also started stripping wires to wire up the remaining tracks.  

Overall, it was a pretty productive evening.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The ROCK 3:0: Progress Report 01.23 - 01.26.14 - The ROCK is BACK!!

I made a conscious decision this week to make a big push on the model railroad to get the rest of the track laid as well as work on other projects.  It turned out to be a productive weekend.

Thursday ~
I received in some new projects from Train Cat Models.  Three brass tank car loading platforms.  I don't think they will be too bad, but the stairs make me a little nervous.

I'm sure they will look super awesome over at Philadelphia Quartz.  After assembling the BLMA brass signal bridge kits, I'm more open to trying other brass kits as well.

This evening, I spent time working on Ottawa Yard.  I worked for three hours tonight, cutting and shaping each track.  What a long process, but I had to remind myself, this yard is a third of the layout!

Friday ~
This morning, I questioned a choice I made about having a curve in the yard tracks to make it around the bridge I constructed.  I shot him some photos via text and got some constructive feedback.  It was then decided to straighten out the tracks and add on to the bridge to make it wider.  I appreciate the feedback from 1,200 miles away!  Technology rocks!

Commenced in gluing Track #5 (closest to the main).  I broke to eat lunch with my girls at school and then my wife at her school.

This afternoon, I made another push working for 3 or 4 hours straight.  I completed gluing all the tracks in the yard minus the RIP track.  I only have the mainline (beside the yard) and RIP track to complete now.  The yard has taken roughly 8 hours to complete the entire thing.  Whew!  

While waiting for the glue to dry on some of the yard tracks, I worked on the Utica Signal Control panel.  I had already printed up the control board schematic.  I drilled the holes in the plexiglass.  Later in the evening, while watching tv, I worked on installing the rotary and toggle switches. 

During a warm streak this afternoon (27 degrees), I spray-bombed the BLMA brass signal bridges that I built a little while ago.  I painted both a flat black.  They look really good!

Saturday ~
I worked on various other projects in the house today, but did make progress on the layout.  The biggest and best news....I completed all trackwork on the layout including the double track mainline adjacent to the yard and RIP track.  So, it's done.  The Golden Spike for v3.0 is in place!!  The last trackage went in just east of the CB&Q crossing.  I couldn't be more pleased with the quality of this track! 

Looking west in Ottawa Yard.

The scale track in Ottawa Yard.

Looking down the west yard ladder.  On the left is the RIP track and caboose track.

Looking east at Ottawa Yard

Looking east at Ottawa Yard toward the CB&Q Junction.
The two tracks that go off to the right is the lead to Ottawa Silica (left) and yard lead (right)

An overhead look, of Ottawa Yard crossing the creek.  
The track that branches off to the bottom of the photo is the engine house lead.

The mainline looking east toward the CB&Q Junction crossing the creek at Ottawa.

One of many sand hoppers that will fill this yard.  The farm in the background is named Franklin Farms after my wife's grandparents.  The grain elevator is the old Daniel Grain Co. elevator named after my dad that passed away over four years ago.

This evening we stopped in at IKEA and picked up a few things for the family craft/hobby room including some fancy glassware for corralling pens, markers, paint brushes, etc.  We also found a fabric that both my wife and I agreed on for the layout skirting.  Here's a sample of it.  We need to determine the best way to secure it to the layout.  It reminds me of the old Amtrak logo combined with drafting lines from a blueprint or layout plan.  

I think it will work well.  Notice the missing books I had on display between the collage of RI memorabilia.  I need to find something a little strong to hold those up on the wall.

Sunday ~
My wife and I constructed the new cabinet/storage shelf and installed on the wall in the family craft/hobby room.

What's next for the ROCK?  I need to work on cleaning and organization.  I would like to work on wiring, but as my wife advised, I will quickly lose focus once the layout is operational.  She knows me so well.  :-)  Best to get stuff cleaned up and straight now.