Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Not quite as I imagined

The 4' switching layout turned into 5' with a 28" extension for staging. Secondly, the tortoise machines turned out to be out of stock so it got more interesting/confusing.

You want the full story - so here goes.

  • I had enough foam core to build the baseboard. Remember that foam core, like most things, is very strong along its edge so I laminate 2 pieces together to make it even better. This goes around the perimeter and then I put bracing in every 8" - being careful not move any that will conflict with the points.
  • My LHS delivered the track and replacement SEEP point motors - SEEP are standard 2 solenoid motors like the Peco ones. These were replacements for the DCC Concepts Cobalt motors - which were out of stock - which were going to be replaced with tortoise motors but THEY were out of stock. I wasn't keen but they are much cheaper and I already had enough ESU SwitchPilot boxes to control them - along with the SwitchPilot extensions for the frog polarity (see later). Except that my LHS was one point short!
  • I have found a really good web shop - N Scale American Trains - where I ordered an Atlas MP15DC which was  DCC on board and 10 freight cars - plus that missing point that I needed. The freight cars were mostly Model Power and these had really naff couplers so I picked up a box of Micro-Trains replacement trucks and now they all run and couple to my liking.
  • I got the track laid down and then started to mess about with the point motors. Even after adjusting the CV values on the SwitchPilot, the operation was extremely flaky with only one out of every 6 or 7 attempts getting a point to switch. I messed about with the ESU ECoS controller but even adjusting the pulse lengths didn't work. I thought that it might be the over-centre springs that Peco fit to their points so I took one spring out and then totally destroyed the point itself by my too strong handling.
  • I then had a go at running the Atlas loco but it didn't want to run. Eventually, it sat there with the lights operating but nothing else. Tony at the shop was kind enough to take it back and he has now replaced it with an Atlas S2 with a 6-pin decoder. That will arrive in the next couple of days. 
  • I bought an Atlas GP7 from him and a replacement board for DCC from my LHS. Along the way, I managed to fry that one myself. You wouldn't believe that I used to earn money providing DCC services to N Scalers! Now I am left with a GP7 and no replacement board as LHS only had one and there are no others in the UK. I am obtaining advice from DCC Concepts as to which decoder would be best for me to hand install into the loco.
  • The ECoS is a great piece of kits but is heavily overkill for my little 5' pike so I have purchased (for the 2nd time in my life!) an NCE PowerCab. Again, my LHS was out of stock - this virus has a lot to answer for trivially speaking - so I got one from Hattons which came today.
  • I had discussions with SWMBO and we (she) decided that the layout should stay at the back of the desk and not be moved so I have now built a permanent extension to provide the off board staging. Now, everything is nice and firm.
  • All I need is to get a loco to hand, wire up the NCE and get some trains running.
  • Had an interesting discussion with LHS today - not the DCC guy but the model railway side. I mentioned the problems I have the SwitchPilots. He has recommended that I get some TrainTec accessory decoders as these have a built in CDU which makes them really good with SEEP motors. Mind you as DCC side is ignoring me at the moment, I am thinking of getting the directly from TrainTec. I know that the DCC side is very busy but I am a regular customer and not sure that anyone should have to wait 2 days just to place an order.
Next blog entry, I will show some pictures of the new set up.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

So the world changes AGAIN!

As at Monday I had a 2m x 1m Marklin 3 rail German/Swiss themed layout. As of now - nothing! Asking the wife what we might do now we were in lockdown, she said, with a smirk - how about taking that railway down that clutters up our (her) bedroom?
Well, six bankers boxes later and it was all done and dusted. All the good stuff in their own boxes, all the track bumped into one box and the structures in another.

That's where the Pennstadt and Valdorf used to reside.
A bit of pleading has got her to agree a small switching layout so, after 2 years of Marklin, I am back to US outline but this time in N Scale. 4' x 10" with a small staging track.
Not quite what I expected of the week. Mind you, she couldn't complain so, like the government, funds have been made available. Lucking my local hobby shop (and DCC specialists) are still taking orders and even delivering locally!
7 Peco points, 1 crossover, 5 yards of track and 7 Tortoise point motors. I have an Atlas EMD DCC equipped switcher coming and soon about 10 freight cars. Should give me lots of fun. It will sit on the back of my desk - a 5'3" x 2' 8" monster!

The railroad will sit at the back, where the small paint rack is. with the staging reaching out over the left hand end as and when required. I have an ECoS DCC controller so everything should work really nicely.

This is the proposed layout from Anyrail. The layout is based on Kanakee Belt RR as seen in the March 2020 issue of Continental Modeller.