Thursday, July 30, 2015

Major DCC Upgrade

Well, after getting bitten by the DCC bug a few months ago, I've finally gotten enough of my locomotive fleet upgraded to warrant upgrading my system. After much hemming and hawing, I opted for Digitrax Super Empire Builder starter set. The set features a five-amp command station/booster a throttle and a UP5 Jack for tethered operation. The system can also be upgraded to support wireless operation as well. The system supports 22 addresses and 22 throttles, more than I'll ever likely need on this layout.

In addition to the starter set, I also ordered up an additional pair of UP5 jacks and have begun the process of installing them around the layout. This is part of Digirtax' "Loconet" system. All of the various components are connected using Loconet cables, which are really nothing more than 6-wire telephone cables with six-pin plugs. They're quite easy and cheap to make.  

I've installed one UP5 Panel at the main control panel, one in Altoona and plan to install one in Johnstown. I plan to install at list one more at Gallitzin.

I've yet to actually run any trains as I'm just getting the feel of the new system. It seems to have a bit of a learning curve. But I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Finished Three More Buildings

Wow, almost three weeks since my last post. I have been working on some layout-related things but unfortunatly have not been able to blog about since my wireless router started acting up a little while ago.Well that problem seems to be resolved, for now anyway. That said, I've got a nice backlog of stuff to tell you about.

First, I finished Cornerstone's Medusa Cement Company kit.

This is relatively simple kit to assemble with a small number of pieces. Unfortunately, some of the silos didn't fit quite right, leaving noticeable gaps. Well, this was nothing some Testor's airplane glue and some masking tape couldn't fix. 

As is usually the case, fixing one problem caused another one. The excess glue and the silo seems caused a good bit of shmootz on the outside of the silos. This nixed my plan to leave them in their stock color. My hand forced, I had to tap into my dwindling supply of Floquil "Concrete." For the roof, I opted for my go-to color, Floquil "Grimy Black." For the dust collection bins and other metal parts, I used Tamiya "Gloss Aluminum." For weathering, I went with weather wash, Dulcote, chalks and more Dulcote.

The next structure I knocked out was one that I've had my eye on for a while, Cornerstone's Vulcan Manufacturing. This just had Central Pennsylvania written all over it.

For the main building, I started out brushing the walls with Floquil "Boxcar Red," my go-to brick color. Next, I went to coat the walls with grey poster paint to simulate the mortar lines, only to discover I was out of grey poster paint. So with further progress on the walls blocked, I went ahead and painted the roof sections, the crane supports and crane roof Floquil "Grimy Black and the crane base Floquil "Concrete."

The next day I swung by Wal Mart for some poster paint. However, they didn't have grey. "No big deal," I thought. "I'll just buy some black and some white and mix them." That's exactly what I did. Only, I didn't get grey, I got some weird shade of turquoise! So now I'm starting to get a little ticked off. Finally I mixed the black poster paint with white acrylic paint. This finally resulted in the desired grey color. So I brushed it onto the walls and wiped it of with a paper towel. Normally, this resulted in filled-in mortar lines. But not this time!

Usually my method of filling in brick mortar works like a charm, But this time none of the poster paint adhered. Now I'm getting annoyed. I figured the walls were too smooth for the paint to stick and tried spraying some Dulcote on small spot to see if that would help and it didn't. Eventually, I brushed on the paint and let it set a few minutes before wiping it off. This worked but not as well as I had hopped. 

After the building was assembled, I hit it with a coat of weather wash, which did bring out the mortar lines, and then a coat of Dulcote, followed by chalks and more Dulcote.

The final structure I tacked was half of Model Power's City Substation kit.

This kit allows you to build either two small substations or one big one. I opted to build one small one for now. It's a cool-looking kit and since it doesn't need a road or a rail siding, it can be plunked down anywhere. Now, this was kind of a tedious kit to assemble. It comes with a bunch of brass wires, which are to be bent into all kinds of shapes. Well, after about a minute and half of that, I gave up and stopped following the instructions and just tried to make something that looked like the picture on the box.

For paint, I kept things real simple. I painted the pad under the transformer Floquil "Concrete" and left everything else as is. I did coat the base with matte medium and pour on some buff colored ballast. I finished it off with Dulcote. So all in all, not a bad little structure. 

So that's what I've been up to. I have more structure kits and plenty of engines in need of DCC decoders. So a lot of little projects here and there for now. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

I1 Upgrade Complete

I finished upgrade ding my I1sa by adding a white LED for the headlight. Running the wires and getting the shell back on proved to be a bit of a challenge. But, other than some light leakage around the smokebox, I think the project turned out pretty well.