Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Rock, MKT, BN and the MoPac

With the upcoming Session on the 18th of February, I got a chance to get some new power brought to life.  I've added four new Through Freights for this session and I needed some extra power for these trains.

To start with, I got a new trio of Rock Island GP's to help fill some of the shortages. Crossing the Ouachita River we see GP40 #373, GP40r #3000 and bringing up the rear is GP38-2 #4304.

This next trio of units will pull the second MKT coal train.  Now I'll have a NB mty and SB loaded FPPX coal train.  This consist is made up of  two of Miss Katy's SD40-2's #603 & #625 with a BN U30C #5394.

Last but not least MoPac will finally make their appearance on The Little Rock with a trio of their own GP's.    GP35 #2555, GP40 #605 and GP38 #854.

I got all these units chipped last weekend and then got them speed matched over the last two night.  Only ran into a few issues this round.  

First, when I fired up the Accutrack speed tunnel, it didn't want to work.  So after I changed out batteries several times with no luck, I broke down and ordered a new, siiiiiigh.

Second, After getting the chip installed in the BN #5394, it worked fine until I snapped the shell on, then....Nothing!  After a bit closer inspection I found that the shell was pushing down too hard on the chip and was pushing the contact pads down away from the frame so it would make contact.  Nothing a couple of thicker solder pillows wouldn't fix!

Third, on the MoPac #605, I had a TCS CN-GP chip sitting aside for this unit. After getting it installed and running, the unit being an older Chassis, it was a bit noisy.....typical for the older chassis'. So I tore it down and Beardonized it.  This entitled removing the Inner Bearing blocks.

Worked like champ the unit would only run in the forward direction while the lights worked in both.  So I removed that chip and installed a new one.  This time the chip worked good until I went to program it.  For whatever reason it would not take ANY form of programming.....grrr!
This was the last loco I had planned to use a TCS chip on, but it might be the last TCS chip I use period!  I've had other troubles with TCS chips, but I'm not here to bash TCS.

Anyway, I'm hoping these additions will add to power needed for the four new trains that I've added.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

PSX circuit breakers installed and working!

After having some issues with the PSC circuit breakers a few months ago, I was finally able to get them tested, installed and working.

Out with the old, in with the new pt2

My DCC and Electronic Guru was in town this past week and we got together one day a took a long hard look at them.

Of course when you take your car to the mechanic, it never acts up!  Likewise with the circuit breakers they didn't act up at all now that he was looking at them.  The issue if you recall was after I installed the new Buzzers on the breakers so I could hear them, some of the buzzers were buzzing whether they were shorted or not?

I pulled them off the layout and tied them directly into the Command Station to see how they reacted. Well by doing this they would still buzz regardless of a short or not. So I left them out until Mike got back.

When I tested them for him again, non of them buzzed.....damnit!

So we hooked them back into the layout, these were for the Main Yard.  Upon a successful reconnection, we turned the track power on again and they showed no sign of buzzing!  But, we did hear buzzing coming from the 4 units for the main layout!  Closer inspection revealed two were buzzing and showing a short.

Long story short, they weren't lying!  When I installed the deck bridge I never installed any insulated joiners to separate the "El Dorado" and "North" districts as I wasn't done with the trackwork and bridge sections.  I also need to go back and drop new feeders.

Thinking that they were both protecting both districts, I removed the rail joiners on the right end of the deck bridge.  But that had no effect!  I scratched my head a bit more and then it hit me.  I still had some original feeders leading up to the deck bridge and to the right of those is where I removed the joiners, so the power was still getting to the track over the bridge and on to the "North" district. 

But the real culprit wasn't the feeders, it the guardrails on the deck bridge!!!
on one end.  I had temporarily tacked the guardrails in place so trains could run and the trip pins on the couplers didn't snag the ends of the guardrails.  I knew not to connect them because they would short since I soldered them to the bridge track with PCB ties which connected them to the actual rails.

When I released the guardrails, the short went away!

After wasting all that time tracing that down, Mike and got to work programming the PSX units.
it wasn't the easiest of instructions to follow, but Mike got it and away we went.

Each PSX unit has it's own ID number that can be accessed via the DT402 using the "SWCH" button. This allows me to also program the "Variable Trip Voltage" and also to shut each unit off independently if needed. 

We got the four units programmed for the main layout, but need to program the Trip Voltage yet, then I need to get the other two units and the PSX-AR programmed for the main yard.  I better get back down there and get that done before I forget how we did that......

Even though I still can't hear them as well as hoped for, I'm going to look into getting some LED's for both sets so that I can connect them for  a visual notice of a short.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bridges installed! Well temporarily at least...

Moving right along.....
Thanks to the long weekends and short work weeks due to this holiday season, I pushed myself to get the scene this far along.  Not sure how much more I'll get done to this area?  Planning to have an ops session the middle of Feb so I don't want it to be torn up for that.

After getting a location laid out for the Truss bridge I started removing the remaining ceiling tile and foam for the river area.  I had to re-align the drill track slightly to line up with the bridge.  

One thing I didn't put much thought into was the differences in the length of the two bridges and the close proximity to each other.  This kind of messed with the shape of the river as I had envisioned it to be a fairly evenly wide body of water running through the scene.  I gave thought of adding a 40' deck bridge to the Truss bridge but since I already had the guardrails installed and bent I didn't want to mess that up.  

This would have given a more even width of the river, but a little head scratching told me to keep the river not much wider than the Truss bridge and when it passes under the Deck bridge to keep it under the middle and right 80' span.  The area under the leftmost span will be more of a raised sandy area, but still mostly covered in trees.  So I think it should still work just fine?

I do believe the river to be a slow running, muddy river that is tree lined on both sides right down to the river banks, so there shouldn't much work involved making the banks?

A short while later I heard the distant rumble of something heading south.  Within a few minutes GP7 #4434 was leading the SB LRMP-W over the Deck bridge.  

While I was getting the shot setup, I noticed another GP in the background,  the El Dorado Switcher (an ex-drgw GP7) was dragging what must be a very long cut of cars onto the Truss bridge while working the yard in El Dorado!  After grabbing the first shot, I ran like hell from one end of the overpass (yet to be installed) to the other in order to get these two shots!

Here's a couple of other shots for fun.

With the bridges (temporarily) installed, I can now focus my attention on the next town north, Fordyce!

My overall plan at the moment is to get all the track work redone before starting any major scenery.  As of now I still have 4 major areas left to work on: Fordyce, Haskell (two jobs in Haskell), a small section in Winnfield and then the big one, I need to install a raised section in El Dorado on which to build the town of El Dorado proper which will be elevated about 3" above the yard. 

At the rate I'm moving now I'm hoping to have most of this done by late spring or early summer...


Sunday, January 1, 2017

First train over the new Deck bridge

My B&B gang hustled to get the new Deck bridge pressed into service before the New Year.  I had to pay them double time, but they got it done.

The bridge, abutments and piers are just temporarily installed. I still have a lot of work to do it before I can stick a fork in it and call it done. I plan to leave things just as they are until I get the second bridge in place and leave them loose so I can remove them when I get started on the scenery.

Bridge Piers and Abutments

Happy New Year!

As with the color of the bridge, I wasn't sure what I wanted to use for the bridge piers?

I had several of the Chooch cut stone piers and abutments that I'd been saving for these bridges, but when it came time to use them I found it was going to be a bit difficult to get them to work.  The main problem was the offset of the ledge and trying to line them up so the track was level.

I was told to make and use concrete versions, this would be easier since I could "make" them fit the bridges.  So I sat about looking for some samples to go off of.  I found one of a Z scale abutment which I thought look very nice and it gave me a starting point.  It also gave me some ideas.

After a few quick measurements, I grabbed the bridges and ran over to my shop.  Once there I scrounged up some scraps of 1/4" and  3/4" MDF.   Within a few minutes I had a simple design for the Truss bridge sketched out,  A couple of quick cuts on the saw and I had the pieces ready to glue together.

A few minutes later I had the abutments and piers ready for the Deck bridge.

Then I set them up so I could test the fit of the bridges.

The next thing was to paint them but before I did I wanted to add a little character to the Truss bridge abutments.  I added a small section of .040" styrene just to give it a bit of relief.  It kind of reminds of a simplified Art Deco look.  Once it was dry I took my #11 Exacto blade and started chipping away at the MDF in hopes of giving the looks of chipped and worn cement.

Next I was going to sealed the MDF with some yellow carpenters glue but my bottle had dried up. Looking around, the first thing I found was the bottle of Modge Podge I used for the lake in Malvern.
I smeared some on and let it dry.  Instead of sanding them smooth, I let them stay rough in hopes of giving them a rough concrete texture.  Then I found a bottle of light gray paint, the cheap acrylic stuff.

This looked to be a little too light but I planned on covering them with a black wash and finally some weathering powders.  So starting out lighter is better.  

I used a black wash made from Lamp Black artist oil thinned with Mineral spirits. After the wash had dried I started to brush on some Bragdon "Ol Yeller" powder to tone down the gray.  Next I grabbed three colors of Pan Pastels to simulate the rust and dirt.  I started out with the lighter color first brushing it on in a wider pattern, as I grabbed the next darker color I narrowed the pattern with s smaller brush.  When applying the darkest of the colors I used the largest of the Micro Brushes so I could make the darkest part of the rust stains as narrow as I could get them.

I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out.  They may not be perfect but once I get them sat into place and get some scenery around them and water done, I'm hoping they blend into the scene.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Painting of the CVMW Pratt Truss Bridge

With the bridge built it was time to paint it.  I painted the Deck bridge black, but was unsure what color to paint the truss bridge.  First thought was to paint it silver, or should I paint it black as well?

After doing a lot of snooping on Google images I came across a lot of bridges that were an overall rusty color.  I'm assuming these were painted black and had oxidized over time to a rusty color.

I also did some searches on how to weather bridges and came across a couple of forums where a guy had painted his which looked really good.  He painted them to look like they had oxidized over time.  He didn't give exact formula's but I managed to get mine close to what he had.

The coat of paint was a rust color that was mixed using Floquil boxcar red, with oxide red and some orange.  Because I started with boxcar red this time, it was much darker than just the oxide red that I used on the deck bridge.

The second coat of paint was a mix of  Floquil black, primer gray and brown.  This gave the look of a faded black.  I sprayed this on sparingly so as not to cover the rust coat completely.

Unfortunately it came out a bit too brown because I used too much brown.  I needed to go back and remix the black so it was more "black" and respray it. Another option I thought about trying was to use a cosmetic sponge and "dab" the darker mix on.  But was afraid it would be too stark, besides that, trying to get the sponge worked into the inside of the bridge might be a little too difficult.

So I opted to use some black and brighter rust colored Pan Pastels.  This gave a nice mottled pattern.

With this done, I sealed it with a thin coat of Dullcoat.  But as I was afraid of, the Dullcoat did make the Pan Pastels disappear slightly as it does when applied over chalks and weathering powders.  So I went back and touched up the bridge with a heavier dose of Pastels so that when I sprayed another thin coat of Dullcoat they would still show up. 

I still need to go back and randomly apply some gray primer to a few of the gussets like they did on this bridge.

Next up, the abutments and piers...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Paint on the bridge track

Merry Christmas from The Little Rock Line!

With the truss bridge complete, I turned my sights to the bridge track.  After getting the rails and guard rails installed it was time to paint them.  I started out spraying them with some Rustoleum satin London Grey as a base coat.  

Once it was dry I decided to try out some Pan Pastels.  I started out with a black that I brushed down the middle and followed that with a Dark Brown on the outside of the rails and ties.

Was very pleased with how they turned out.  I might go back and touch them up with a couple of different shades of brown for a bit of variation to the colors of the ties and planks.  Then I'll spray a sealer coat on them.

I also received some HO scale Micro Engineering Bridge Shoes the other day to use on the CV bridge.  I read on a forum where someone tried them out and was happy with the size.  They had tried the N scale versions and said the same thing I did, that they were too small. 

Next I'm working on a color for the CV bridge.  Been doing a little snooping and found some nice bridge pictures that have an overall rust or oxidized color similar to this.

Like Steven mentioned to me, I also like the sections that are painted with grey.