Friday, June 21, 2013

Backdrop Experiments

With a bit of downtime awaiting the delivery of the next batch of signals, I decided it was time to take a first shot at painting some of the backdrop that I had installed last year.  It had been painted a light, sky blue color, to suggest a mild, humid late summer day in Central New York.  First, I selected a light grayish blue green for the distant hills in the Finger Lakes.  Here we are at Nine Mile Creek, looking west, with that part completed:

What a major change to the feel of the space!  Suddenly, there is a sense of distance, and the whole space to me feels much larger from this one simple change.

After painting the distant hills around the whole layout, I selected a medium green for the base coat of the closer hills, in the places on the layout that will need closer hills - namely, the M&E.  This green is too consistent to stand alone.  It will just be the first coat, intended to suggest the shaded leaves in the forest canopy.  At least one more pass will come soon with a lighter, more yellow green color, applied unevenly, to suggest highlights and leaves on the surface of the canopy.  I also plan to paint clear areas with rows, to suggest distant farm fields.

Even with that said, however, when viewed from a distance, I am still excited with the illusion that the backdrop now provides, even with just these simple shapes painted onto the backdrop.  Here's a quick snapshot looking west at CP280, with the new signal bridge being test-fit as well.  The backdrop in view here is the same as the area above:

I'm excited with that view, and it will only get better once I find time to paint the highlights on the closer hills!  I am just a beginner with artistic painting like this - in fact, I haven't done any of it for decades.  I will be experimenting with techniques I have read about and am always open to any suggestions.

Enjoy the start of the summer - more progress coming soon!


Friday, June 14, 2013

Another Finished Product...

One challenging thing about the construction of a model railroad is that the time available to dedicate to construction is limited.  For me, my life is centered around my baby daughter and my wife, as well as a full-time career; all of that is in front of commitments to family and friends.  Then comes the model railroad, which splits time with activities that involve 'real' trains.  And even time allotted to the layout is split between operating sessions and actual, physical construction of the layout or of equipment.

Because of the limited time available to dedicate to progress on the model railroad, there is no current part of the layout that is finished.  It has been about 6 years in construction, including preparation of the space itself, and yet there are years more to pass before much of the layout will have any finished scenery.  Therefore, when I am able to install something that will be visible on the finished product, I am excited to be working on something 'final.'  The track and signals atop the railroad fall into that category, and so do the local control panels (LCP's) that allow for local control of the interlockings.

This week, after much preparation and wiring, I was finally able to fully install the LCP's for both CP277 and for CP274.  Each of them includes the proper momentary push-button switches to throw the turnouts, as well as indicator lights for the turnouts, all mounted on 1/8" aluminum that was printed professionally by a local sign shop.  Green lights indicate normal, red indicates reverse (crossing over).

The master toggle switch at top left allows the each panel to normally be kept 'off' which disconnects the push buttons to avoid operators inadvertently pressing buttons.  The indicator lamps work regardless of the position of the toggle.   After much discussion with operators, I decided on a plan for the indication lights.  Here again, green is normal and red is reverse, but since staging is more complicated than simply 'normal' or 'reverse,' I installed LEDs that light to show which route is clear - if the yellow light is on, the switch is thrown to that route. 

Two down, 4 more to go!  More signals are scheduled to arrive in late June, and we are hoping to have CP280 cut in before the end of August.  Enjoy the start of the summer!