Wednesday, December 16, 2015

About time I posted on here

Wow, over a month since I last posted any progress on the layout. Well, I certainly have a ton of reasons for my recent layout building inactivity. First and foremost, my wife and I hosted Thanksgiving so not only was I busy with getting the house ready, but I also wanted to keep the layout and train room neat and clean for visitors. After that, it was finals. In other words, layout was on the back burner.

Now that the semester is over, I've manged to take on a few long-overdue projects. First among them was moving the track lights around to better illuminate parts of Horseshoe Curve and Altoona.

I'm still fine-tuning things but the new setup seems more effective. Ultimately, I'd like to replace the CFL bulbs with LEDs, since the latter are dim-able and put the track lights on their own circuit. 

Another item I crossed off my to do list was installation of more Digitrax UP5 panels. I added an additional panel near the entrance to Johnstown yard and the other near the Gallitzin industries.

While I was at it, I also added a cup holder near Gallitzin too. After all, a stable place to set one's beer is always a must. Now, I am ultimately planning  to buy a UR90 panel, which will let me go wireless. So why the UP5s? Well, they are there as a backup. If for whatever reason, the wireless isn't working, I still have the panels at all the main switching areas and the layout can still be operated.

And speaking of DCC and operations, I decided it was time to acquire a few more throttles. I opted for the Digitrax UT4. Unlike the "Super Throttle" that came with my system. These feature only basic functions and can't program decoders.  But that's really all you need for operators anyhow. 

The last project I tackeled was getting one of the Gallitzin switching areas, glued down, wired up and operational.

This project required an handful kludges to get done. Foremost among them was covering up the short section of incline that brings the siding down from the main line. Normally, one would use plaster cloth for this task.However, I hadn't any on hand and didn't want to go out. For mountains, I usueally use paper towels dipped in plaster of Paris, but I was out of plaster mix too. Undaunted, I remembered something from elementary school art class and diluted some Elmer's glue. I dipped the paper towels in this mixture and let it dry over night. That was the ticket, the flex gaps in the riser were covered and I had a firm place to lay my track.

The next problem I ran into was I was out of cork roadbed. Since the one hobby shop in my area is never open when I'm off from work and I didn't ant to buy a whole case for a handful of sidings, I took a throwback to my early N Scale days. On my first two N Scale Layouts, the Table Rock diorama and the PR&Y, I fashioned my own roadbed from foam sheets sold at my local Michael's. I decided to do the same thing here. All told, it's the same amount of work as the cork stuff, and for a siding, it's more than adequate. 

It also turns out, I was out of Peco insulated rail joiners. However, I had a pack of Atlas Code 80 joiners. Good idea in theory, but in practice, not s much. Turns out the Atlas joiners are a tad too narrow for the Peco rail. So I had to spend a good bit of time gashing the joiners wider with an Exacto knife until they fit. 

So despite all the kludge jobs, I was able to reliably back my L1 down each siding without the slightest hiccup. With that result, I'm calling this project as success. I'm kind of excited to have more operating opportunities.


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