Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Step Forward, Then Back, Then Forward Again

I've written here before of my ongoing focus on doing things once - not having to re-do projects due to mistakes or less-than-stellar work.   In a cumulative hobby like model railroading, progress of any sort adds up to great results, but having 'do-overs' sets us back.  Well, you win some, and you loose some.

Here's an image of ML-482 rolling downgrade in the morning through CP 277.  This past week I had to 're-do' the ditch light installation on the lead locomotive, Conrail SD50 6712.  One of the ditch lights had burned out.  Frustrating!  I opened the unit up and found that one of the wire leads had become entangled in the drive shaft, which had sheared it right off.  A simple fix, and a good reminder to tape wires out of the way of moving parts.

However, several hours later, the other light went out.  Now I'm getting really frustrated.  I decided to look at the manual, and thanks to Alex Lang's advice, learned that the resistors on LED lights will only support one LED.  I had wired both bright surface mount LEDs to the same resistor, and burned out the channel in the decoder.  No good!

Thankfully, JMRI's DecoderPro easily allows us to re-map functions to different buttons.  Since there were other light function channels that had not been affected by my mistake, I remapped the ditch lights to that function, and wired each LED to its own resistor.  A test showed we were good to go.

Here too are shots of ON14's power in Onondaga Yard:

And, a shot of the maintainer's view of the CP282 westbound signals, from the cat walk:

Sometimes, even our best intentions can still lead to mistakes, and in those cases we need to take a breath, learn from the mistake, and move on.  Lessons learned can be worth the cost of a mistake, and in this case there is no doubt.  As more ditch lights come to the fleet, this lesson will save me plenty of mistakes to come!



  1. Awesome work Dave ! And the right attitude. I love LOVE love your layout. I'm a former 12 yr member of the Model RR Club of Buffalo, but had to move South due to lack of stellar jobs. Beautiful layout ! I started on a similar Conrail layout, based loosely off the CP 334 (Lyons) to CP 373 (Rochester) section of Conrail's water level route (Chicago Line). But as fate would have it, nobody here in Alabama employs me thru any downturn in business, ever since the 2nd month I owned the house. I installed nearly half of the 2 car garage + business den, around the walls/peninsula style layout, when I began to realize it was next to impossible to find a mechanical engineering job within 100 miles of my home. Had to rip out half of my work after I came back from working for GE in Texas for a couple years, & rented the home out. Came back & tried to resume, but again no jobs except if I went into downtown. Tried that for awhile until several brutal police mistakes, ruined my ability to continue my jobs. I have no idea if I'll ever use that house again. From reading your article, I see the lesson here is I should just move on to somewhere better (hopefully Nashville area) & restart. Unfortunately, there would be the demise of the most intricate parts of the layout left remaining in my golf course home I need to sell.

    1. Hang in, there's a lot of ups and downs. Best wishes and keep us posted on your progress!

  2. You have a beautiful layout and thank you for posting all the great pictures! I am planning and building a roster, car fleet to model the Pittsburgh line in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, circa 1998. Your layout has been quite a inspiration. Keep up the great work.. Robert Braeuner, Eden, New York

    1. Thank you Robert! I appreciate the kind words and look forward to seeing more of your goals too. I have fond memories of that area and that era as well, and there's a lot of good stuff out there! Good luck, keep us informed!