Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Signal Dept Update

Word on the street is that the signal department is planning some upgrades to the Mill Street and Putnam Street crossings.  The other day, I found the crossing gates at Mill Street damaged.  I'm still not quite sure how this occurred.  I'm assuming the kids, but no telling.  There is a small chance it was the cat, but I have only found evidence of her on the layout once (that was version one) and that was the last time.

Anywho, the signal department crew was able to repair it this evening.  This signal was not wired up, so I decided to modify it.  I removed the gates and will place in the yard as a scenic detail around the yard office.  Why, you might ask?  Well, getting one of these crossing gate sets to operate correctly using the tortoise switch machines underneath the benchwork is a bear of a job.  It is enough to make you leave the hobby.  I got lucky on the first set.  I don't want to push my luck.

Here is my Ottawa Ave crossing if you haven't seen it before.  I don't know what that is built up on the side of the signal.  I didn't even notice it until I posted the video.  I'm assuming that is from the static grass project.  The macro lens picks up everything!

I will use the modified flashing crossbucks only with no arms at Putnam Street.

Mill Street will receive an over-the-road signal with no gates from NJ International.

I'm using the Azatrax MRX2 Flashing Controller as I have with the Ottawa Ave grade crossing.  It is a great product and John Parsons provides fast service and excellent support.

Car Dept Report
I continued working on adding new cars and removing old cars that will be sold off.  The cars needed weight added, low profile wheels added, etc.  

Farm Report
I looked for the plowed fields that I have for adding to Franklin Farms, but couldn't find them anywhere.  Wait!  I think I just had an epiphany.  BRB................  Found it!  Well, that gives me something to work on tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Tree Project

This evening, I broke out the materials and made about 15 trees.  I need more room to do this.  It is best when I have separate containers for dipping the trees.  This might be a Spring project when I can get outside and spread out.  We'll see.  Surely, we will have a warm day before the op session that I can work outside.

So, here is how I do it.

1) I start with a box of Scenic Express Super Trees.

2) I spray painted all the Super Trees primer gray.  I never thought much about this originally, but my friend Steve said look at the trees in the forest.  Do you see many brown trunks?  They are more grayish in color.  Hey, I'm colorblind.  Who am I to argue?

3) For the next step, you can use two different products.  I chose to use a cheap extra hold hairspray.  I believe I picked this up from the Dollar Tree Store.  This seems to work well for fall trees with less leaves.  For thicker foliage, you could use a spray or liquid glue (dipping the super tree in it first).

4) I pull out a tree.  Usually, I have to trim it down to make it work for N Scale.  I like the taller trees though.

5) I spray with the cheap hair spray and roll the tree around in the foliage.  I like Woodland Scenics Coarse Turf.  I then take more and sprinkle on top.  Hit with the hair spray again, and keep adding foliage.  

6) The finished product.  It seems to work out well for my Fall trees.  For thicker trees, I would definitely encourage using a liquid glue and dipping the super trees in that first.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Motive Power Update

This afternoon after work, I decided to wander over to South Ottawa to see what was shaking on the ROCK.  What do my eyes see through the trees?

I spy a U30C on the property!  They haven't had one of these around for quite some time.  Word on the street was the last one was a horrible runner and management sold it.

This unit looks like it has some mileage on it, but it sounds pretty darn good throttling up through town!  I need to get a better look at this unit.

Looking good!!  I should be able to get a couple different views of this loco as it works a cut of sand hoppers at Ottawa Silica.

I drove over to the Ottawa Silica yard office.  They have some nice guys working there.  They let me walk out in the yard to snap some more photos of the U30C.  The Sand Job crew stated this loco may look rough, but runs like a Cadillac!  Management must be very pleased with their acquisition.

Look at all that RI power floating around!

On my way out of town, I stopped in at the yard to chat with some of the crews.  To my surprise, I found management on the property.  No worries though.  I know the CEO.  He showed me some aerial photos of some farming development that is planned on the other side of Ottawa Yard.  From what I understand, the Franklin Farm is expanding their crops right up to the RI right-of-way.

I drove west over to Utica.  I noticed there was some new trucks over at Philadelphia Quartz.  I hear they will be painted soon.

As I headed out of town to finally go home, I stopped one last time to snap some photos of some rolling stock that caught my eye.  I'm a sucker for a nicely weathered freight car.

One of my favorites that I see on the RI often.  Two reasons:
One it makes me think of my father-in-law that grew up along the GM&O in Pike County, IL.
Second, my friend Allen weathered this up for me.  
It is a special car for sure.

A Note from Management:
Today, I was pondering trees on the layout.  Man, I need a lot! (and I have a small layout).  Wait a minute!  I have an idea!  Do I smell smoke?  Tonight, I asked my daughters.  "Who would like to help daddy make some trees on Saturday?"  "Me! Me!"  Oh heck yeah!  Now, I can triple my output!  Weeeeell?  Yeah, I may need to figure on a higher error rate, but overall, I should be more productive.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Next Op Session Scheduled

I'm happy to report the next Op Session has been scheduled for February 28th.  For readers of the blog, I'm sure they will happy to see regular progress reports start flowing again.  I seem to be the most productive leading up to an op session.

Friday night, I tested JMRI with a USB-Serial cable connection to my NCE system.  I was able to get it working with my laptop with minimal effort.  I was able to read in loco settings using Decoder Pro 3.  I need to play around with it some more and then work at speed matching my locos.  I also played around with the scale speedometer.  On my best set of Bachmann GP7s, I was able to get those locos to creep at 1.1 MPH.  Pretty impressive!

Friday, I also worked on adding some weathered cars I had purchased on eBay lately to the layout.  All of them needed weight and some needed low profile wheels added.

Now, time to figure out what work needs/should be done on the layout.  I know there is probably five turnout points that need to be repaired.  That will be the first thing to complete.  I'm thinking of working on the farm land behind Ottawa Yard and trees.  I need lots and lots of trees made!  If I get going well with that, I will work on structures.