Monday, February 28, 2011

Less is Better

For me, yesterday's challenge was to get a train running the full route of the layout. Fortunately, Bryan and Dave had other ideas.

So, instead of focusing on my need for instant gratification, we focused on building a proper frame to ultimately carry the main line as well as the yard through the gap. So, it'll probably be a few more weeks, or perhaps days, before I can lay those last few pieces of track to connect the dots.

If I had one more piece of plywood on hand in the garage, we might have finished the job, but as it is, this is better, because I'll still have good access to the subterranean staging yard to finish up a few jobs down there before I close it all up.

Thanks to Bryan and Dave for making the trek down, and for keeping my eyes on the prize.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Company's Coming!

Once again the Railwire Field Service has dispatched another team of skilled craftsman to unleash their talents on the N Scale Western Maryland. Traveling from points all over the globe, including upper Delaware, they will be descending (or is it ascending?) on my attic to help me make the final push to get a train running fully from Point A to Point B.

Of course, this means several critical things have to take place today. First, the beer fridge will need to be properly stocked. Everyone knows that a machine works better when well lubricated...

Second, I'll need to get a rake and a dumpster to clear the aisles so we can actually move about in the room to get things done. This will be no small task. Since there are wiring projects to do, much of the junque that's stowed beneath the layout has to be pulled out. At the same time, there will be carpentry and track work going on above decks, so there's a need for floor space.

Somewhere amid all this confusion, hopefully we'll be able to check off the items on the "to do" list. These include:
  • Adjusting and wiring the staging yard turnouts (hopefully I can get this done tonight, but don't hold your breath)
  • Building the necessary supports to carry the new yard platform.
  • Installing the remaining 24 feet or so of track to tie the two ends of the railroad together. (Maybe I should have some champagne on hand to go with the beer!)
  • Then putting in the gazillion wire drops that will be necessary to make the whole mess work.
We've only got a few hours to work with, but based on previous experiences, I'm hopeful... confident even, that we will be able to accomplish great things in the time allotted.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Slippery Slope...

I do this all the time... I've got a pile of projects that HAVE to be done, but I get myself all wrapped around stuff that I'd rather do. You know the feeling. There's that pesky turnout machine that requires about 10 minutes of laying on your back under the benchwork to make a 1/16th of an inch adjustment, but wouldnt' it be more fun to play with track to lay out the yard throat?

There's also screening to staple up around the helix to keep derailments from hitting the floor, or becoming eternally lost in the storage tubs that will live in the nether regions below the railroad, but that's not fun! Running trains up and down the helix, now THAT's fun!

With helpers, no less! I justify this goofing off with the idea that the helix should be well tested before I close it all up. But really, it's just goofing off.

Despite it all, it's still productive to do these things. I've got the crew coming down this weekend to help finish up a temporary connection so I can run the full circuit around the layout, so there are things that should be in place when they arrive, such as the panel that will carry the yard throat over the helix. And of course, you can't cut the panel to the appropriate size until you layout the track for the yard throat... So that's what I did tonight, even though it might be months before I actually build the yard. (Somehow I doubt that.)

There's still plenty to do, but it's pretty satisfying to get this piece of business out of the way. Tomorrow I promise I'll wire those switch machines. Honest.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Closing in on a Milepost.

Well, it's just over a year since the reconstruction of the Western Maryland Western Lines began, and I'm actually pretty pleased with the volume of progress I've made thus far.

Last night I made a significant advance by installing the 32" diameter helix I constructed over the course of a week. It goes in the corner, and will carry the Connellsville line down to the staging yard under Ridgeley. At this moment, there's about five feet of railroad to build to make this connection, which should be complete over the weekend.

The beginnings of the west yard throat will be just above this monster eventually, but I think I'm going to cheat a little and run a temporary track around there to make a connection to North Junction and on to east staging. This will afford me the opportunity to run trains in earnest for the first time in about year.

Like the initial section of the layout over by the paper mill, I constructed the bulk of the helix off-site (at the kitchen table to be precise) to make it easier to align the track, do the wiring, and otherwise try to get it right. Once completed, I hauled it up the steps to the attic. Amazingly, the vertical dimensions worked out to within 1/8", which was easily handled by the leveling screws on the legs. I secured it to the wall to eliminate any wobble.

The outer track on the twist has a radius of 16", and the inner 14.5" Ascending trains will have the wider berth to reduce friction as much as possible. It will be interesting to test to see how long a train can reasonably manage the climb. The overall rise goes from 31.5" to 38.75" in two and a quarter turns. Not sure how the math works out on that, but I'm sure it won't be long before someone chips in with that calculation. It doesn't look like more than a brace of SD40's can handle. I'm hoping I can maintain my projected train length of 30 cars.

Anyway, that's all for now. Stay tuned for further developments.