Monday, March 26, 2012

The Island

Work on the new wye, the Island Track, is coming along.  All that remains is to wire in a new PSX-AR unit into the power bus, which will allow the tail tracks of the new wye to automatically reverse polarity depending on which leg of the wye is aligned for the mainline.  The PSX-AR is a DCC breaker/auto reverse unit that, according to the documents and reviews, will allow this to appear seamless to the operators.

The new look of the eastern part of CP294, on the bottom level:
The new turnout is in the center of the frame, with the new 294 lead working east, and with the corresponding 274 lead working west behind the risers.  They come together at the Island Switch.

More to come soon, as the operation integrates this new infrastructure!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Competing For Time

Work on the Onondaga Cutoff competes for available time, and that is a precious commodity indeed these days. With several home projects also on the table, the layout is not always where I get to focus my effort. Further, even when I’m able to spend time in the basement, there’s choices to make: backdrop, car construction/upgrade, locomotive construction/upgrade, signal wiring, or something else? Lots of chores and not much time.

That said, a lesson I learned early in my model railroading is that it’s important to try and get your hands on the model railroad each day that you’re home. Even if it’s just a few minutes between errands or chores, you might have time to adjust a car, or sand one spackle patch of backdrop, or weather one side of a locomotive. Each item brings you closer to your goal, and each item done with care is something you can put behind you as you move forward.

An example is a recent addition to the roster - C40-8 6039, a locomotive I bought about 5 years ago, and one that I just detailed, weathered, and equipped with a DCC decoder recently.  I finished this project in 15- to 20-minute blocks of time over several weeks.  Now it's done!  Here's the big GE awaiting service at Onondaga Diesel:

Conrail 6039 at Onondaga Diesel

The hostler was aboard, and moved the unit slowly up to the shop entrance.  Onondaga Diesel was a busy place this day!  SD60M 5544 was in 3 Bay ahead of the 6039, and a variety of other locomotives surrounded them.

I am working with several friends to develop an implementation plan for the new signal system, which will allow the railroad to stay functional during that time. It takes a lot of extra thought now, but this way I hope to make less work later. Coordinating the design of the system and the signals themselves, too, is time-consuming, but it is something that is vastly improved by access to the internet and email. This sort of system would simply not be as feasible without those tools.

Thanks to several recent operating sessions, a new need has become clear - the ability to move locomotive consists from one end of staging to the other, without going through staging.  The solution is an 'Island Track' reversing wye, located between the two entrances to staging.  Here's an image of CP294 with several noteable changes.
First, in the foreground, you can see the new crossover that I installed to allow trains access to Track 1 coming down from 282.  That new crossover allows universal access to staging, which became necessary due to trains fouling 282 during sessions. 

Second, you can see the new island track going in in the distance.  At the far end of the crossovers, you can see new roadbed and benchwork that stretches back into the distance; this will be the west leg of the wye, with the east leg visible behind the risers.  All of this to make operations more efficient - and fun.

Speaking of which, I am working to do an operating session shortly, with more to come before springtime really sets in and brings outdoor work back to the daily schedule. And, well- there’s always plenty to keep me busy on the OC. I don’t remember the last time I was bored!