Sunday, 24 August 2014

A bit of a problem and a small success

If you don't know, Peco electrofrog switches require that the frog polarity be set for each of the routes. This is done in the version as purchased by using the switch blades to route power to the frog so depending on which switch blade is touching a running rail, the frog gets one or other feed. Using DCC, this is a bit hit and miss so it is recommended that the links that make this happen be cut and the switch blades be connected electrically to their own running rail. This leaves the frog unpowered. Many people us relays etc. to manage this. I use what is called a Frog Juicer from Tam Valley. This is an electronic switch. If the polarity of the frog is set one way and the switch is set to the opposite that there will be a short as the lcl traverses the frog. The Frog Juicer senses this short in micro seconds and reverses the polity of the frog to the correct way round.

Sounds good. I have 5 switches set to one Frog Juicer and four switches connected to the other (each juicer manages up to 6 switches). One (the 5) works perfectly. The other causes a 1 - 2 second delay when operating! I have a suspicion that the one that is playing up is an older version that is incompatible with either my DCC controller - NCE - or with Peco switches. I have a video that shows the problem.

I have requests out to my DCC supplier, Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine Forums and to Tam Valley. I will report back.

The success is this. I purchased 9 Accurail freight car kits which arrived on Friday. I have made the first one. It went together without any issues. I have, however, replaced the Accumate couplers with Kadee 148 replacements as I am having a bit of trouble with an coupler that isn't a Kadee. My plan is to replace any out as soon as I can. Here it is on the layout. (I have just noticed that one wheel is off the track!)

Saturday, 16 August 2014

S&NE Starting the wiring

The layout is DCC so I need a power bus. I always do this by laying down some self adhesive copper tape. I am also using Tam Valley Frog Juicers to control the polarity of the frogs - I use Peco Code 83 Electrofrogs.
I am wiring up the first board. The railroad is designed so that it can be dismantled (we live in a rented apartment so who knows?) so the track is all connected across the board edges with short removable lengths of track (no points cross the edges at all). As I only have two 6 pack Frog Juicers (for a total of twelve points) I have to accommodate those connections across the boards as well.
I am terminating the wiring into strip connectors as, once the layout is back together, the joins will be permanent (until and if we move).

The two power busses are connected to the track via the green and yellow drop wires whilst the frogs are connected by the black wires. The black wires will connect to the Frog Juicers on the middle board. There is a staging yard coming off the other end that will have a single point, hence the ongoing green/yellow and black connections.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Sunset NE Track is down

Yes, I have installed all of the track. I made a simple mistake in my use of Woodland Scenic Track Foam. I drew the track out on the board roughly and then installed the track foam using the actual track to set the position. The trouble is that I didn't get everything quite right so the actual track isn't centred on the foam centrally everywhere. I am sure that with some judicious cutting and filling I can sort this. It is going to be covered by ballast anyway so it won't matter in the long run. I have run a caboose all over and can't find any point where there is a tricky bit of track so maybe it will run fine.

I then took a series of photos of the track from up on high and drew the track plan over it using Adobe Illustrator. This means that my plan is exactly like the real thing!

Next, I put arrows on the plan to decide on the track feeds for DCC. Tomorrow, I have most of the day to start putting in the electrics. Although it looks like a long board it is made up of 4' sections that haven't been fixed yet. There are no points on the board intersections and any track that crosses the board edges has been limited to about 6" long and is currently only held in place by the rail joiners (fishplates, we call them). This means that I can now take each board down and turn it over to install the track bus. My arthritis doesn't allow me to prance around under the boards!

I love this bit as I feel that I am so close to a running railroad but not quite so the expectations are very high. I will post again when I have the track bus completed and a loco running.

I am awaiting a parcel from Model Train Stuff that has another 2-6-0 DCC Sound loco, 20 freight cars including a good many Accurail kits and a pack of replacement Kadee couplers so I will have a lot of fun getting that all working. I am also about to order a Heljan DCC driven turntable!

Here is the current track plan with suggested feeders.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

All Change - Again!! Back to US HO

Whilst my visit to 009 was informative and fun, it turned out to be rather too much scratch building for me. Although I like making US freight car kits - the body tends to come in one piece - I got a bit fed up with making short run plastic kits from basic components for every wagon that I wanted to run. Each kit was so basic that I needed a mirror to build the body on so that I could ensure that it was square.

Recently, my mother-in-law has moved into the same apartment block as us. She used to live 10 miles away and used to stay overnight at least once a week. Now she is in the same block, we can dispense with the spare bed and I can get my hobby room back to my total ownership again.

I am building a new incarnation of my old favourite - the Sunset and North Eastern. This is a freelance road name that I have used since the 1960s. It is supposedly a short line in New England in the 1950s and still using the old 2-6-0 Moguls it has always had.

So far, I have built the baseboard and laid the foam track bed (never used that before). I am currently laying the track. It will, as usual, be DCC but I am staying with manual point operation (big finger from sky) as I have never got on with remembering all of the switch numbers to use DCC with them. The two locos that I have are both Bachmann with DCC and Sound fitted. Since fitting sound to my little 009 locos, I want to stay with that. I like the idea of ringing bells and blowing whistles at grade crossings.

I only have two photos so far. Please note that, for you USA types, wood is quite expensive in the UK hence the spindly legs but the layout is supported on three sides by walls so it won't be a problem.