Friday, October 22, 2010

Digital Command Control

Last night, I pulled the trigger, and finally ordered the new control system for the Onondaga Cutoff:  a North Coast Engineering (NCE) PowerPro 5-amp radio-control system, with an additional 5-amp booster unit, and the associated hardware.  I also ordered 6 breakers designed for this system, one for each of my power districts.

Main Unit:       Visible Main Line
                       Short Line (not yet installed)                  
Booster Unit:   Onondaga Yards/Engine Facility
                       Staging and hidden mainlines

This arrangement should keep my current draw below the 5-amp maximum, even with up to 4 or 5 units pulling long trains.  Both mainline tracks are wired to the same bus.  A basic 'blue box' Athearn unit that is in good shape draws about 0.6 to 0.7 amps at full throttle, and most other motors (Atlas, Kato, newer Athearn) are lower, so I can run about 6-8 units at full throttle at once on any power district - even with two big trains on the main line, I should have some spare capacity.

Spending hundreds on a one-shot deal with this hobby is unsettling, but Kristen supports it and at the least this should be the last time I do this for quite a while.  My first task will be to install a decoder in a few engines, then make the big switch and hook up the new control system - and a new era will begin!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Colors...

...give me lots of reasons to be outdoors this time of year, hence the slow updates to the blog!  While I will not be modeling peak fall colors, it is without question my favorite time of year and a beautiful time to be outdoors.  For instance, last weekend was spent up along the Southern Tier of New York, in the valley of the Delaware River.  I was able to capture a few images of the Stourbridge Railroad's excursion, with their ex-Bangor & Aroostook BL-2.  As proof, here's one!  :-)

Layout progress has continued, little by little, as I align the east end yard ladder tracks with the mainline turnouts at CP 280.  After putting in the west end of the yard, I did not lay more than a few feet of yard track, as the alignment of the turnouts on the east end will dictate spacing of the yard tracks as they approach the east end.  Once the turnouts are in, I can line everything up and secure it.

Enjoy the fall (and fall beers!) while it lasts!  Plenty of time for model railroading coming soon.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Layin' the Yard

The yard is growing...last week the west end ladder of the South Yard was installed including the first few feet of track on each of the yard tracks.  Last night, I finished some switch modification for the north ladder, and laid that.  Here's a view of the south ladder, crossovers, and weights atop the freshly-laid north ladder:

The sharpest curves in the yard are about 24 inches, though that is an estimate.  Using flextrack, it would have been a good idea to invest in some of the metal guides you can buy for handlaying track that would set the radius definitively.  I'm confident that an estimate will work for yard tracks.

Then, to test my kitbashed 'insulated' (i.e. DCC-friendly) switches, I wired the entire west end of the yard to its own bus wire, just to be sure that an engine would run through the trackwork and not short out.  (A post about how I modified the switches is forthcoming.)  Later this fall, the yard bus will be powered by a separate DCC booster than the mainline, and will have its own power-breaker, so as not to short the whole railroad when there is a minor yard derailment.  So far, so good.

Here is the west end area as it looks now, glued in place and fully wired.  All that remains for new track now is the eventual shortline connection (far back left in this view) and the trackage for Niagara Mohawk Propane (the switch at far right, on the North Runner).
In this view, from left to right:  Track #2, Track #1, South Runner, North Runner.  I'm excited how this whole interlocking turned out - it captures the 'look' of a major interlocking at the end of a yard, and I think it flows nicely.  There are a few rough transition joints that I will use my Dremel to smooth out, but it should work well.  The big curved turnout in the bottom right hand corner there is the #1 Track-to-South Runner connection, and will be wired to throw with the mainline turnout just beyond.  They will function as a crossover.

I will have some time for more yard progress tonight - a few more pieces of track for tracklaying, and then wiring what I put in last night.  Little by little!