Sunday, December 6, 2009

Five Turnouts for the Clinton side of the yard

I am installing five additional turnouts for the Clinton, IA side of the yard. The turnouts are built and installed. However, I still need to install the tortoise machines and do a bunch of wiring. Should have that all done by the end of next weekend. Next up on the to do list is the backdrop in the other room. Christmas vacation is coming up so should be able to make progress on that and more.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yard Switching at Proviso Yard

Just a few minutes of video showing some switching operations at Proviso. Shows the kind of stuff I have to put up with while operating the layout.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Proviso Yard Activity

Here are some pictures of mainline and yard action in Proviso.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Six More Turnouts Installed

Building more turnouts. I think I am going to do two more and then move on to something else for a while. I'm getting burned out on building turnouts. I did add six more to complete the Proviso end of the yard. I still need to do six more to complete the Clinton side, three more for Proviso/Clinton industries and twelve more for the engine facilities. That's not to mention bunches more for Rochelle and Global III. Oh well. After two more turnouts, I think I work on the Rochelle backdrop and then completely scenic the Rock River crossing between Nelson and Franklin Grove.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Commander Data builds a turnout

Just for fun, I made a video that condenses 42 minutes of work into 3 minutes. Would be nice if I could build em this fast. I know have 69 turnouts completed. I think I will do 2 more and than take a break from building turnouts for a while. I finally getting burned out on them.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Proviso / Clinton Yard Progress Update

Here's the video I promise. I think this now puts me at 61 turnouts complete out of 108. Well over half way done. Yea!!! Its all downhill from here. Only 47 more to go.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Proviso/Clinton Yard Taking Shape

With four turnouts added to both the Clinton side and the Proviso side, the yard us beginning to take shape. I'm hoping to post a video later tonight or this week.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Five Clinton Turnouts for Arrival / Departure Tracks

Spent the last week working on these five turnouts leading into the 2 arrival / departure tracks of the Clinton / Proviso yard. The two left hand tracks are the A/D tracks while the third track on the right will be a yard bypass track. The trackwork is designed to allow access to both tracks from both the yard ladder (lower right track) and the mainline lead (lower center track). Still have wiring to do. I hope to have that completed before labor day weekend. These five turnout raises the total to 53 completed out of 108 total.

The location of the turnouts on the layout are indicated in the track schematice below.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Turnouts 47 and 48 (out of 108 total)

Well, I'm closing in on the halfway point in building turnouts for the Geneva Subdivision. I finished two more for 47 & 48 and now only have 60 left to do. Six more and I will have officially hit the halfway point. I have to admit that building the mainline and staging yard turnouts was a little more rewarding since each time I got a couple done, it meant that I could extend the mainline that much further or add more trains to the layout. Now, with the mainline and staging yards complete, I am focusing my attention on the yards. There are so many yard turnouts one right next to the other. If you get two done, it just means you got two more to do right next to the two you just finished. As you can probably tell, I've fallen into the habit of building and installing two turnouts at a time. I think it was doing all the crossovers on the mainline that got me into that pattern. Anyway, I am forging ahead with Proviso/Clinton turnouts. My immediate goal is to get enough installed so that there can be some semblance of operations. This would require complete arrival and departure tracks, at least 4 or 5 yard tracks and 1 or 2 engine engine tracks. To get to this point, 15 to 20 more turnouts need to be constructed. At the rate of 2 turnouts a week, I should be at this point by Thanksgiving. Well enough bloviating. Back to constructing turnouts.

Monday, August 10, 2009

East Staging at Nelson Completed

Got the east staging yard at Nelson completed over the weekend. The east staging yard contains 5 tracks as opposed to only 4 for the west staging yard at Proviso/Clinton. As with the west yard, control of the turnouts is through a push button for each of the tracks that, when pushed, has all the turnouts properly set for a train to enter or leave that track. So far I'm at 44 turnouts installed. Six more and I'll be at the half way point. I only have three tortoises left from the Rochelle Sub layout. I'll have to order a 12 pack from MB Klien real soon. I think I will now focus my attention on the Proviso/Clinton Yard.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fox Valley Models Wheel Sets Going through Fast Tracks Crossover

This video shows just how smooth N scale trains can go through turnouts when you have high quality wheel sets and precision made Fast Tracks #10 turnouts. Two trains go though a crossover without the slightest bump, almost as if the turnouts weren't even there. The first train is a faster moving intermodal train. Not all the cars have Fox Valley Models wheel sets. The the second set (red) has Atlas medal wheel sets and the first truck bumps a bit going through. If I re-gauge the wheels in that truck, it will do better. That's now on my "to do" list. The second train is a slower moving manifest with 100% Fox Valley wheel sets. Completely smooth.

West Staging Track Installed

I've got the tracks down for the west staging tracks and was able to put some more trains on the layout. The west staging yard is partial in the open in Proviso/Clinton and partially in the staging room separating Proviso from Rochelle. The yard will hold eastbound trains heading out of Clinton and will receive westbound trains. The yard will also serve as interchange tracks for coal trains coming into and departing Proviso. The visible tracks from left to right are

3 Clinton staging tracks
1 Proviso Coal Train interchange track
2 Mainline Tracks
1 Yard drill track

The engines on the plywood are where the east side of the Proviso Engine servicing facilities will be.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Geneva Sub Trackplan

I don't really have a trackplan that I can post at this time. I do, however, have a schematic of the layout that I use on RR&Co software for signals and dispatcher use. Hope its helpful in seeing how the Geneva Sub is laid out and how things will be operated.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Golden Spike on Geneva Sub Mainline

The final spike was set on the double track mainline of the UPRR Rochelle Subdivision. To commemorate the event a short ceremony was held with a few Union Pacific employees and executives in attendance. Once the final spike was set, waiting trains were able to roll. The action was captured on video and can viewed on youtube at the urls below.

Next up on the UPRR Geneva Sub to do list:

Wire 16 Tortoise turnout motors from Nelson through Rochelle
Connect the above turnouts to the computer system
Install and paint backdrop from Franklin Grove through Rochelle (60 feet)
Complete BNSF mainline
Build lots of turnouts (67) for staging yards, Global III yard, and Proviso/Clinton yard.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rochelle Progress

Here’s some more photos from work done yesterday and today. A crossover using two #1 hand laid turnouts at the east end of Rochelle.

Instead of hand laying the four diamond crossing like I did on the previous layout, this time I am using Atlas 22.5 degrees code 55 crossings. I was never happy with the hand laid crossing I did on the Rochelle Sub. It took a ton of work, did not look right and always had shorting problems that I tried to solve with clear nail polish. Going with the Atlas crossings is much better.

Three views of Rochelle. I got some Masonite up for backdrop support. I am recycling a piece from the Rochelle Sub. As is a little clearer in these pictures, the BNSF line goes behind the backdrop, loops around through the bay window alcove and goes back to the east end of Rochelle where it can loop again and run through Rochelle again.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Progress Update

A lot of progress has been made since I last posted in January. Below is a list. Hopefully, very soon I will post some pictures and/or video.

1. Finished taking down and discarding the Rochelle Sub. After scavaging as much as I could, I cut up the layout pieces and put them out on the curb with the regular trash pick up. There were a lot of pieces. I put them out 3-5 pieces at a time over four or 5 pick up days. I’m sure my garbage men were wondering what was going on.

2. I installed and wired all 17 mainline turnouts in East Clinton, Clinton and Proviso. I also wired the 4 power districts and blocks in the area, including 20 blocks.
3. Benchwork and tracklaying was done in the furnace room and bathroom.

4. Benchwork for all 24 feet of Rochelle completed.

Video of the layout.

Picture follow below.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fast Tracks Assembly Fixture Review

Fast Tracks turnout assembly fixtures have always intrigued me as a way to effectively and quickly build N scale code 55 turnouts. However, the high cost of the assembly fixtures and related tools, plus already possessing experience hand laying code 55 turnouts without the assembly fixtures made the assembly fixtures a hard sell.

While planning my new layout, the UPRR Geneva Subdivision, I discovered that the Fast Tracks assembly fixtures might be a good buy after all. The planning revealed that I was going to need about 100 turnouts, about 35 #10 turnouts for the double track mainline and about 65 #8 turnouts for the yards and sidings. With such a high number of turnouts needing to be built, the cost factor of the assembly fixtures and related tools could be amortized to the point where the cost per turnout, excluding turnout motor, was below $4. So, I decided to give the Fast Track assembly fixtures a try. I ordered a #10 assembly fixture, a #10 point forming tool, a stock rail filing tool and a package of 100 N scale pc ties.

The items arrived from Fast Tracks right before Christmas vacation, so I had two weeks with extra time to try out the assembly fixtures. So far I have assembled and installed 12 turnouts. Below is a list of my experience and impressions with the assembly fixture. I have included some pictures but not a lot since the Fast Tracks website has lots of pictures, documentation and video that do an excellent job of presenting the hand laying process. I highly recommend visiting the website as it has a ton of information that is useful even if you plan to build turnouts without the assembly fixtures.

1. The turnout templates that are available as pdf files on the Fast Tracks website are extremely useful. I used them extensively in the planning of my new layout, especially when it came to the design of the Proviso yard. First, I printed and cut out the turnouts out at 25% of full size and then used our kitchen table to lay out possible yard designs. Using this information I was able to draw up a vague track plan that I used to build the bench work. I then cut out full size templates to lay out the final track plan onto the bench work.

2. The templates are also very useful for laying the ties down on the roadbed for the turnout. Fast Tracks sells laser cut “QuickSticks” tie that appear to easily attach to the finished turnouts. At a cost of $7.08 per turnout, using individual ties from Micro Engineering was much more cost effective (about $.80 per turnout). Using the template, I make my own quicksticks by gluing the individual ties to the template with white glue. I then glue my quicksticks to the roadbed using more white glue. The assembled turnout is then installed on top of the ties. This procedure will make it impossible to reuse the turnout ties in the event I ever tear this layout out. But, if I get another 19 years of fun out of this layout like I did with the Rochelle Subdivision, this will be okay with me. The turnout itself should still be salvageable.

3. The point forming tool and stock rail filing tool are also very useful. They both make filing the rails a snap, which is very important because filing the rails can be a real pain and one of the more difficult aspects of building your own turnouts. The point forming tool also serves as a frog forming tool. This is why there are different point forming tools for each turnout number. However, I found that when using the slots for frog forming, I was not able to get the frog point as sharp as I wanted which made it impossible to get the frog point far enough into the wing rails to eliminate wheel drop as the wheels go through the frog. I ended up using the point forming slots for both the frog point as well as the switch points. The point forming slots allow you to file the rail at a much steeper angle so that you end up with a much sharper frog point which can be positioned further into the wing rails in order to eliminate wheel drop. So, I do not plan to purchase a #8 point forming tool when I order the #8 assembly fixture. I’ll just continue to use the #10 point forming tool for both sizes of turnouts.

4. The assembly fixture itself is great and a lot of fun to use. I don’t really think it saves all that much time compared to building a turnout without the fixture, but it does make it a lot easier, relaxing and fun. I definitely recommend the fixture for these reasons alone, especially if you have a lot of turnouts to build as I do. What I really like about the fixture, though, is that it helps me build much more precise turnouts than I am able to do without the fixture. In other words, the turnouts I am building today are much better turnouts than I built for the Rochelle Sub. They look better and they operate better. Each one I built for the Rochelle Sub needed adjusting and tweaking after it was installed before I had a smooth, trouble free turnout. Some needed so much work that I ended up tearing them out and starting over with a new turnout. Every one of the twelve I have installed so far work very smoothly with only minor point filing needed after installation. In my view the assembly fixture is well worth the money if you are building a lot of turnouts. I am planning to purchase the #8 fixture in the near future.

5. The Fox Valley wheel sets seem to be a perfect match for turnouts built with the assembly fixtures. Cars equipped with the Fox Valley wheel sets simply glide through the turnouts without the slightest hitch or bump. It’s almost as if the cars were on straight rails. I have had less luck with the Atlas metal wheel sets as they are not as perfectly gauged as the Fox Valley wheels are. Once the Atlas metal wheel sets are properly gauged, they also work fine with the turnouts. No derailments, but still not as smooth as the Fox Valley

6. I highly recommend viewing the many videos on the Fast Tracks website as they are very informative, even if you do not plan to purchase any of their products. I found the video on soldering especially informative.

The Fast Tracks system is great and in my view, well worth the cost. The tools are easy to use and a lot of fun. I believe the average modeler should be able to build excellent turnouts using the system. The big deciding factor is the number of turnouts that are needed. With Atlas code 55 turnouts running about $10 each, you will need to build around 20 to 30 turnouts of each size for the assembly fixtures to be cost competitive. Other factors to consider are time, looks and operation. Hand laid turnouts will add about 90 minutes of work for each turnout. In my opinion hand laid looks much better that the Atlas turnouts. As far as operation goes, I do not have any experience with the Atlas turnouts, but I know hand laid turnouts operate flawlessly and likely are better than the Atlas turnouts.