Saturday, May 31, 2014

Getting Ready for Operations!

After 3 years of sweat and construction I am getting the layout ready for its first operating session. The purpose of an operating session is to run the railroad as if it were a real railroad, one built to move supplies and finished products around the country.

To do that, I created a spreadsheet listing the industries, the supplies they needed and the products they ship out. Then waybills (order to get empty cars to the industry to be filled and then instructions on where to ship them) were created. Railroad cars are then obtained to meet the waybill requests.

I will use the MicroMark car and waybill system. This week I mounted the waybill boxes (to hold the cards at the industries) and made up about half of the 200+ waybills I will need.

I also spent time running the railroad cars on the layout to weed out the broken and poor running ones.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Certainly Not State of the Art

Newcomers to the hobby would be wise to start out with code 55 track (for realism) and DCC engine control. Both have become practical and reasonably priced.

Unfortunately I am not a newcomer nor am I "State of the Art!"  When you have spent 50+ years acquiring 120+ engines, conversion to DCC is not financially feasible. Nor is replacing 50+ turnouts and hundreds of feet of code 80 track.

So here I be! A DC layout with 59 electrical blocks and powered by 6 MRC Tech 2 & Tech 3 power packs. I still have some issues to work out (power surges when transitioning from one tower's control to the next) but we are now functional! The yard on my previous layout and the current yard never got powered (until recently) because I kept putting off attempting to solder wires to those 3 little posts on the Mini-toggles. Consider it due to paralyzing fear.

So wanting to get to the point where I can begin full scale operations, I wired the yard through Atlas Selector controls. We can now be considered an operational layout. (Which probably puts us ahead of the professionals who will look down upon such obsolete efforts but are still in the forever planning stage.)

Next up: Figuring how to generate realistic traffic to the industries on the 12 spurs and 3 team tracks. The end is in sight!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

SJNSLWLT#1.75 (1 3/4 annual South Jersey N Scale Lone Wolf Layout Tour)'s management notified me that we were overdue for an official inspection from the forum's Reach Police (can all train wrecks be reasonably reached from an aisle) division. Thursday was the designated day which meant we would not be able to get Bob (NTrainz1) to join us (see July 13, 2013 blog entry) since he still has to work for a living.

We haven't seen Tim in a long time. His son, the Model Railcast Show moderator, has informed me that since last year's get together he has switched from N to HO to Lionel, and is considering a Garden railroad. (We will have to get the forum management to initiate court marshal proceedings.)

Anyway we were happy to see Gene and his GE 70 tonner which came for a visit. The little critter did some switching in the South  Woodbury yard which we were able to record for posterity. PRSL officials put it through its paces to see if it could be of value on the line. Although it has a high cuteness coefficient it proved to be a little light footed (3-6 cars on level ground and our PRSL in spite of being in flat southern NJ has a profile with some short but challenging grades).

Gene is a retired school teacher from Barnagat Light and is one of those folks who perpetually encourages others. I'll bet he has left a lasting impression on an army of school kids. His presence is also greatly appreciated on the forums on which he participates.

For our next visit we scooted over to Glassboro to view John's progress. He is beginning to rough in scenery for his NS line (in Virginia). He has also taken the plunge into converting the layout to DCC. John's desire is to see long trains run through dwarfing scenery and he has a 12'x28' room in which to do that. Nothing like a long coal drag through sweeping S curves.