I seem to have exited my summer modeling doldrums a few months early and tackled a few projects on the layout. The most exciting of which is the installation of a telephone system. It turns out, this can relatively simply. I read online that all you need is a 9-volt battery and a 300-ohm resistor. This will allow you to pickup the phones and talk. Unfortunately making them ring requires 90 volts 20-cycles AC current.
As of right now I have four phones, one at my desk, which will be the Altoona dispatcher. Another is at Altoona yard and serves Alto Tower. The next is at Gallitzin and serves AR tower. The final phone is in Johnstown and serves both J and SF towers. J Tower controls the main interlocking at the throat of Johnstown yard and SF Tower controls the interchange with the South Fork Branch.
Given the railorad will be operated via time table and train order, the dispatcher can relay order to the towers, who in turn pass them to the train crews. Just like the real thing. Of course, this means I will need a large operating group. Any volunteers?
To actually build the phone system, I used a buck converter to step the power from the lighting power supply down to nine volts, added a resister and soldered some two-connector phone wire to it. I crimped an RJ-11 plug on the other end, connected various spliters and ran lines. This essentially gives me an old-fashioned party line, which is certainly period appropriate. As mentioned above, I can't make the phones ring, so I will have to devise some system so the towermen and dispatcher know to answer the phone.
Basic telephony isn't the only thing I've been up to lately. In Johnstown, I went ahead and stained the rocks and planted trees on the small ridge between the main line and South Fork Branch. I also ballasted the main line and did a bit of landscaping.
FOr the brickwork, I used my usual trick of coating it with cheap grey poster paint and wiping most of it off to fill in the mortar lines. After that, it was weather wash, decals,the first round of clear flat finish, chalks and a finally round of clear flat finish. I'm quite happy with how he building turned out. It looks right at home in this part of Pennsylvania. Although the name Water Street seems a tad inappropriate for Johnstown. This will look perfect with a bunch of PRR merchendise service box cars nextto it.