Wednesday, May 28, 2014

CTC is now....C O M P L E T E

May 28, 2014, will always be remembered as an important date on the Onondaga Cutoff - the date that the CTC was completed on the main line of the railroad!  Thanks to immeasurable assistance from Nick and consulting from Jack, CP282 entered service today and the results are something I am pleased with.  Especially the long-awaited signal bridge for the westbound home signals at CP282:

Appropriately, the signal department installed black bags on the signal heads of the old manual signals so as not to confuse crews approaching CP282.  At a future operating session, a work train will be assembled to come out and remove the signals; until then, we can see past and present at the same time.  Scenery will improve the look of these locations, and now that the signals are installed and working, it's time to start scenery in earnest.

From now on, the Mohawk Dispatcher will be able to see and authorize all movements on main tracks on the entire railroad.  The signals here are all linked to each other and block detection via the computer, just as the rest have been, and so the main track on the entire railroad is now dispatcher controlled.

I must admit this is a milestone that ranks near the top of anything I have ever accomplished in this hobby - it is something I have dreamed of for more than 25 years.  Prototype operation of this railroad requires a working signal system, and now, we have it!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ballast and Interlockings

As I continue to install some ballast along the main tracks of the Onondaga Cutoff, I am getting better at the painstaking process required when ballasting a turnout.  With small moving parts that are subject to very tight clearances, this process is difficult at best - care must be taken, as there is a good possibility that a turnout can be ruined!

Here we see some of the basic tools used in the process:  ballast, diluted white glue, isopropyl alcohol, water, and a soft brush.  While I use a large brush for most of the ballasting, the details inherent around a turnout - the frog, and points, specifically - require a smaller brush to ensure that all the granules of ballast are properly set between the ties and away from any moving parts.  This shot is at CP280, and I only ballasted the main tracks as part of this process.  But it still took me about 5 hours of work!  As we've discussed here before, every small step matters, and the persistence and patience are as much of a lesson as they are a tool.

Once the ballast is in place, I install tape over the moving end of the points to prevent glue from hitting those areas.  I also brace the points 'halfway' thrown so as to avoid gluing points shut.  The final preparation is to cover adjacent areas with paper towels, and then proceed to mist the entire freshly ballasted area with the alcohol.  Once it is wet, I dribble the diluted glue (with some alcohol mixed in already) over the areas, soaking the new ballast until you can see the white glue beginning to puddle up.  At that point, I use a damp cloth to wipe the rail heads down.  The next morning, it looks like this:

Once nice thing about the actual ballast installation process is that it yields an almost finished product right away - it's a major visual impact, and only requires a bit of weathering to become the finished piece.  Here with see the #1 crossover at CP280, ready for service.

Signal updates are forthcoming - I received word that the long-awaited final signal bridge shipped this morning.  Exciting progress coming soon!


Monday, May 12, 2014

A Bit of Ballast

Just a quick photo for you all of some track that has finally received ballast - this has been a long time coming, and is a first big step towards scenery construction:

This location is the curve between CP282 and CP280, with weathered Micro-Engineering flex track and HO scale ballast by Arizona Rock & Mineral Company.  As I get more experience I think this look will improve, and I think it will be an effective representation for the main line track.

The final signal bridge, also long awaited, is reported to be shipping this week.  Stay tuned!