Friday, March 20, 2015

Work at the Altoona Shop Complex

It's been over a month since I posted any progress on the layout. Well, there simply hasn't been  much to post. I've been very busy with school for one thing. That, and spring has definitely sprung down here. The weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer. As usual my enthusiasm for model railroading tends to wane a bit around this time of year.

Over the past few nights I have made some progress at the Altoona Shop complex. As you can see from the above photos, I put down some Woodland Scenics paving tape to mark out all the paved areas. Next I spread some black WS ballast as a ground cover and ballast for the yard tracks. I also drilled holes and installed lights in some of the buildings.

I decided I didn't like the backshop where it was behind the coaling tower and moved it to where you see in the photo. In it's old location, the tracks from the turntable would have to make crazy-sharp turns to reach the shop and it would have looked really stupid.

So anyway, this may be it for a while on the layout progress. I have ordered up the first batch of DCC decoders and plan on converted the Norfolk Southern fleet over the course of the next few months. So I'll be keeping you updated on that. And who knows? By mid summer when its 90 degrees outside with 110% humiditiy, spending time in an air-conditioned train room may start to seem appealing again.

A Visit to Hendersonville

For my birthday weekend, my wife and I took a ride up to Hendersonville, NC to see the Apple Valley Railroad Club's HO scale layout. I'd heard about the layout from a few of my modeler friends and also saw the write up it got in Model Railroader. The layout is located in the Hendersonville Depot and is open to the public. (Link).

While in Hendersonville, we also got word the the French Broad e"N"pire NTrack club had their layout open to visit as well. 

After watching trains andtaking pictures for a while. The crew asked me if I wanted to run and handed me a DCC throttle. So here I am, the man behind the curtain.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

On the Road to DCC

After, having the guys over to run trains a few weeks ago and having nothing but problems, namely overloading the power supply, I decided the layout had outgrown the MRC Tech 4. The next day, I began shopping for a suitable replacement. But then I got to thinking that if I was going to buy a new power supply, I may as well take the plunge and upgrade to DCC. After all, DCC would make formal operating sessions much easier than cab control.

The one big hang-up I had about buying a DCC system was that I have very few decoder-equipped engines. Most of my fleet will however accept drop in decoders, but those cost money and conversion would be a long slog. In addition I do have a lot of older engines that like to run. What I wanted was a dual-mode system of sorts. A more powerful power supply that would give me walk-around control and allow me to run both DC and DCC engines. And that's when I discovered the MRC Tech 6 system.

This system is exactly what I wanted.I can switch between functioning as a regular DC power pack or a full-out DCC system. It also comes with a 6-amp power supply, which should allow me to run multiple long trains headed by multiple locomotives on the same loop without breaking a sweat. 

Now, the Tech 4 hasn't been retired just yet. See, in DC mode, the Tech 6 functions only as one cab. I need the the Tech 4 for the other. That said, with it only running one loop instead of two, the Tech 4 should work better. However, I gather as I start equipping my fleet with decoders, it will be getting less and less use.