Sunday, 28 August 2011

Weekend Progress 28/08/11

Well its all finished, the baseboards, lighting and background have been completed.

Completed Left Hand Side

Completed Right Hand Side

 All in all it was a pretty straightforward process, Friday night the LED lights arrived at 6pm, by 10:30 I had this:

LED Lights installed
 By Saturday night, I had installed all of the remaining backscenes, and begun filling/sanding/painting the backscenes. Once I bought the paint home I realised that it was far too blue:
Looks more like the ocean, not the sky...
Fortunately I found a large tin of white paint in the shed, same brand and low sheen.. So after mixing a bit of both, it bought it to a much more natural colour:

Sanded and ready for a proper shade of blue

So on Sunday afternoon, 2 coats of blue paint now looks something like this:

When I first hooked up the LED's, I calculated I would probably need 4 transformers, at 5A each. While at Bunnings on Saturday I walked past a cheap multimeter and checked the four transformers - they where only pulling around 1.7A each, so I merged the two sides into a transformer each:

Thats it for now, next week I start the spline roadbed, which will be a bit of a challenge.. during the week I'll cut and tape the layout 1:1 plan together so I can mark the risers before I start the splines..


Evolution of Design, Part 1

So my previous post was a quick introduction into the layout - Since construction is still about a month away, I'm going to review the design process and show how the layout has evolved into what it is today.

Lower Level - v1:

Upper Level - v1:

As you can see, it is quite sparse!

After talking to some people about the design, and researching the actual baseboard layout, it was realised that there was a lot of wasted space on the second level, even with 25cm wide modules. If you look at the second level, you can see it has a 'teardrop' shape. This serves two purposes:

-Large Radius curve, and subsequent crossing loop - allows the trains to look realistic as they traverse this part of the track, tight curves cause the bogies to swing out from under the chassis otherwise.

-Ability for crews on the line to pass in the ailes where they would congregate: The control points, and the upper level yard.

I'll mention here that I'm a member of the NMRA, and subsequently I have tried to design this layout with NMRA Recommended Practices and Standards. This allows the minimum radius to be calculated depending on what type of locomotive is being used. Since the layout is geared to modern image 70ft+ locomotives will be common, for example  GE GEVOs, SD70Ms and most likely SD90MACS. Consequently the curve radius is quite large. In the design above the track radius through the teardrop is 26" for the main, and 24.5" for the loop. The minimum curve radius is 15" on the helix, and 23" on the curves leading to the peninsula.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Evolution of Design, Part 2

yoIts been a while since my last article on the design stages of the layout, so here we go with part 2. I am going to cover the first couple of versions of the plan, there is about 5 or 6 revisions before the current form.

Version 1.0: (pretty sparse, aint it?)

I got a lot of my inspiration from the CSX Dixie Line, - if you see Jamie's plan you'll see I have followed a similar form. I started with a basic form, to get the curvature and basic track plan down. As you can see there is no benchwork integrated on the drawing, just the premise that the width is 25cm for each module, (except the peninsula)

Version 1.0a

From what I can acertain the only difference between this and v1.0 is the addition of basic geometry for the benchork, moving on to:

Version 1.3 (don't ask why I skipped versions 1.2 and 1.1):

After working on the basic geometry on the previous plans, I have further developed this to split the layout into 'modules' to streamline construction. you may have noticed in some of the photos on the blog that the build has been in stages, and that each area is of similar design. I believe at this point operations was starting to become a contributing factor in layout design, as building the CTC Panel started to change parts of the layou to streamline operations.

Version 1.3a:

This version has a slightly expanded yard, and the lineside towns and industries are starting to form. At this point, the towns where known as Alpha, Beta, Theta, and Gamma. Only one of those names exists on the current plan.

The Peninsula is known as Theta, and in the next couple of revisions is one of the more re-worked areas. on this plan you can see there are two areas of theta, both containing branches. since they are lineside on the loop they can become bottlenecks for through freight trains when arranging a cross. Because of this, it was removed in future versions. An inclusion of the double track helix is also a method to reduce traffic congestion on one of the busiest parts of the line, as well as a part with the longest run time between crossing loops.

That will do for this post, next time I'll delve into a double track design, and the reasons why i didn't go down that path.

And to finish, a couple of YouTube videos of trains on Cowan Bank - can't beat the old 44's...

Track Plan

Name: UP/BNSF Steino Subdivision
Scale: N (1:160)
Size: 4.5m x 2.8m
Prototype: UP/BNSF Shared Trackage
Locale: Midwest

Era: Modern
Style: Double-deck, around the walls with peninsula
Mainline run: 28.49m
Minimum radius: 12.75" (on helix)
Minimum turnout: Peco No.6 Frog, largest turnout.

Turnout Motors: Tam Valley Controllers, Micro Servos.
Maximum grade: 2.5 percent in helix

Signalling System: CTI Electronics CTC Custom build
Roadbed: Spline/Plywood board

Lower Level:
Upper Level:


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Weekend Update 13/08/11

I have now started to put up the backscenes and have placed an order for the rest of the backscenes, due to be delivered sometime early next week. Also arriving (arrived) this week is two SMD LED ropes, as a test. If you look below you'll see why the test was a success:

A close up of the lower peninsula backboard - those holes will be sanded/filled before painting, as well as the installation of some small beading to affix the LED's to.

A better view not showing the LED's, which the Fascia will eventually perform.

So now its time to order another 8 LED ropes (5 metres per rope) at $20 each, and they will all be connected to a single 5A transformer. I plan on also buying a remote-controlled switch so when the garage opens, I can use the remote to switch the lights on without making my way down the back of the layout in the dark.

I'm still deciding on buying a rake of these as well:

A reefer train is exactly why there is a loop around the yard, to store this train... decisions decisions!

Next weekend I'll be away, so the week after I'll be ordering up to catch up to start track laying by October...

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Weekend Update 07/08/11 - Primary Benchwork Complete

It is complete! after 4 weeks or so of cutting, glueing and screwing the benchwork is finally complete, along with the most tedious part, the peninsula. In the end I'm happy with it, it is rock solid and all that needs to be added are the two tables supporting the helixes.

I have also started to clamp the masonite backboards in place, as a test fit for this weekends job of installing them. Some will need ~5mm taken off as they are slightly too wide.

I hope this week to take delivery of two 5m LED strips for testing the lighting setup, if they work I will order the rest in the coming weeks - the plan is to install and paint the masonite backboards this weekend/next week.

In Other News...

I have placed an order for 2 pieces of flextrack to begin programming my decoders for the one Loco I have at present - a Bachman SD45. It will be fitted with a TCS M1 decoder which has also been ordered.

I have pre-ordered some 36" wheelsets (200) from Fox Valley Models to use for block detection, I will fit two metal wheels to each car as they will be used for block detection only.

I have also ordered some Micro Trains barber wheelsets to convert my walthers stack cars to micro-trains trucks and couplers, along with some couplers for the SD45. In the same order I decided to get a wheel cleaner and a height gauge - If I'm going to start I might as well start properly.

Until next weekend....

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Weekend Update 04/08/11

This weekend gone I managed to join the two halves of the layout together, and build two modules down the centre - 2040mm to be precise.

The first two modules goes in, 810mm each

Another view from the other side

Front view as it heads down the centre

The finished product - two completed centre modules

I also managed to sketch out on the floor in pencil the approximate ending point of the peninsula, and the Helixes. At this time I realised that it is going to be a rather tight fit between the helix and peninsula for people to squeeze through - so to counter this, I am going to sit the helix on a circular table, and either opt for:

-A 2.5% grade 76cm wide Helix, with 12.74 and 14" curves
-a 2% grade 90cm wide Helix, with 15 and 16.5" radius curves

Both helixes come in kit form from

From my research I've found that Most locos will run around 12" curves, although they may have a bit of bogie overhang. since it is not part of the visible part of the layout i'm not fussed, but a unit coal train grinding up a 2.5% grade on a tight continuous curve may have problems with tackling the grade. If that is the case helpers will have to be added, which is just another bit to add to the fun of operations. But if I can fit it comfortably, I'll add the larger helix instead. Once the peninsula is finished I'll get a better idea of sizing.

This weekend all major benchwork should be completed, so will post some photos of hopefully a semi-started layout. I've also ordered some LED SMD lights to test for lighting the layout, as well as a 5Amp transformer to power the lot of them, definitely a lot more energy efficient than flouros.

The next stage in the build will be to install and paint the backscenes, which will be done over the next few weeks - watch this space...