While I still am 'on the property' in charge of the department that handles those things, I have a lot more time at home lately since each night and weekend, we have no plans. So, I am making time to plow into the layout and finishing some long-standing projects.
One of those was to finally assemble and install the switch machines at CP 277. This was one of the first interlockings I had installed. The first few were installed on the basic foam roadbed I used across the railroad. While very effective on normal track, the foam is too soft for turnouts: the extra stress of moving points and avoiding those areas with glue means the spots that are glued tend to be less fixed than is optimal.
Ballast helped that tremendously, so I didn't need to redo it to support operations. But, with the adjustments I had made, there were inconsistencies that required extra effort to overcome in finishing up the details.
I started by adding extra ballast and installing the tie extensions to support the switch machines. I used stained Micro-Engineering ties for this, cut to fit. They were nestled into the new ballast and leveled carefully with a pair of tweezers before I soaked the whole new area of ballast and timbers with isopropyl alcohol and diluted white glue. This was allowed to cure for 48 hours.
While I waited there, I moved ahead with cleaning up the Details West switch machine castings, and assembling the detail parts with the kit.
These parts are delicate but are beautiful models, very representative of what Conrail used on the Chicago Line in the 1990's. I glued on the manual-throw arms and allowed them to cure overnight, and then used a spray of Rust-oleum charcoal gray primer as a paint coat. This gives the look of the weathered black enamel used on the prototype.
Upon trying the first location, the timbers still weren't quite stiff enough for my liking. So, I added a bit more ballast and white glue as seen here. The ballast is what I use for my Conrail mix - AR&M #1352, UP/SILVERTON/WP BOLD GRAY. It's a dead ringer for ballast from the quarry that Conrail used on the Chicago Line and other lines in the northeast.
The other locations set up nicely, and so I proceeded with adding those machines accordingly. Once I finished those, I was able to add this last one.
Now, with the final ballast profile and the machines in place, adjacent to Snooks Pond and the Highbridge Road grade crossing, this whole scene is really coming together nicely. In fact, these last few projects have me ready to call this area complete. I will add some details here and there but it is now time to move on to other areas. The next major project is already nearly complete - check back soon for another big update and visual improvement!
Most importantly, though, stay safe and keep your mind set on keeping your family safe too. The basics matter - on the railroad we are watching out for each other by wearing masks of any sort in public, which keeps others safe should we have the virus. We are washing and cleaning constantly. We are all in this together, and together we will stand to see it through. Best wishes for Passover, Easter, or your choice of holiday! May Peace be with all of us in this unprecedented experience.
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