Monday, 29 June 2015

Like Phoenix, the S&NE arises from the (metaphorical) ashes

As I mentioned, I am giving up on building a high level, around the room, layout in favour of a small switching layout that I can construct and run sitting at the dining room table.

Plan A was to design a layout and build it but I am at a loss for a decent track plan. I have decided to build the layout and then design the track in situ.

As usual, I am in acquisitive mode, as always at the start of a new project. I have had to move the timeline up a bit as I wasn't able to source an SW7 at a price that I could afford -remember that I like DCC and sound. I was able to get a Broadway SW1500 for £105.00 ($165) delivered so that has forced me into the late '60s. A new SW7 would have cost me about $200 with shipping to the UK. Amazingly, these items are on sale in the UK but the price I have seen is around $320!

Here is the current plan. Small switching layout with around 6 switches. I am hoping to have them controlled with Cobalt IP Digital point motors. I am looking forward to converting my Switch List program from providing train make up into one that delivers car by car destinations.

Anyway, I have started making the foam board bases. This is where I am at the moment. There are two boards. One is shown partially constructed.

The copper strips down the middle are the two sides of the power bus. Last time I made boards like this, I forgot and had to feed the copper tape over each of the internal support struts! Once, I know thelocations of the switches I will put more supports in so, eventually, both structures will be very strong.

More soon.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Yet another sad day for the Sunset and North Eastern

I have been posting news of the S&NE over the last year and felt that I was finally getting somewhere with a permanent HO layout. If you remember, I had written some software to do the scheduling and was getting on wth the scenery and the structures. However, physically, things have been getting worse - rheumatoid arthritis in the lower back is the issue here. I set the level of the layout to be the same as kitchen units - mainly so that I could get an under the counter freezer in the room. However, this is just the height to give my back its worst possible outing and I am now at the point where I cannot work at the railroad for more than about 10 minutes at a time.
The only way forward it to revert to a much smaller layout that I can put on the dining room table to build and hook up with some staging to run. So, all of the existing stuff has come down. I have, fortunately, recovered all of the code 80 Peco track so I have a good start. I am planning a foam board based pike that will be up to a max of about 4' x 1' 3" to 1' 6" with about 6' of staging hanging off it. 
I thought that Kalmbach had a book available for small switching roads like this but I can't find anything. One of the problems I have found over the years is that I am not very good at track design and, no matter how hard I try, the final layout always has problems that ruin the fun. This last one had just that - some of the spurs were too short and the caboose track was in the wrong place making yard switching quite difficult and not much fun.
So, how do I go about making sure that what gets built here has  a lot of fun available. I realise that I will have short spurs and a tight runaround. Using John Armstrong's ideas, the givens are just the size of the layout. The druthers are that I can spend 30 minutes or so switching back and forth and that I have a small raised platform somewhere so that I can run my New Haven Budd RDC in and out to get in the way. I have at least 10 yards of track and 13 points so track isn't a limiter. I have three steam locos - 2 moguls and an 0-6-0 switcher but these are probably too big for this. I also have a B&M RS-3 but again size is an issue. I can probably justify a Broadway Limited SW-7 or SW1500 for the switcher. I do like DCC and sound so either of these would fit fine. I have over 20 1950s era freight cars and 3 cabooses.
Right, so how do I go forward - any ideas would be welcome. I am retired so I have all the time in the world - smile.