Monday, September 18, 2017

I can't see the damn tabs!

One issue I had with the tabs right after I first switched over to them was with empty open hoppers and empty woodchip hoppers.  I had to sit the tabs in the cars and this meant on the bottom of the cars.

May not seem like too big of a deal, but when the layout is set at 52", some of the crews couldn't seen into the cars, some had to stand on their tippy toes.

From my normal eye view

Standing on my toes.

This issue would pop up while staging and then during a session but was forgotten about soon after the session.

Well with the next session just around the corner, I decided to try and find a solution to this issue.  I thought about making some sort of a bridge from plastic or wood that could sit across the top of the hoppers. I also thought about using some of poster putty to hold the tabs in place?  All seemed to be more work than I wanted.

Last night I came up with a little something that might work? 
I spied one of the clear plastic covers that come in the MTL jewel cases.  The nice thing about this was it was clear and wouldn't stand out more than the tabs do.

So I cut a small section off and bent the ends down so they hung over the edges and placed the tab on top.  Not bad, but kind of bulky and the tab wanted to slide a bit.

So I kept playing around with this.  Pretty soon it hit me, let's make it narrower so the tab straddles it like they do over a roofwalk?

This seemed to work OK and it was much smaller, plus the tab couldn't slide around either.

So for now I think I'll give this a whirl and see how they ride throughout the session?  And like Steven said, if anyone knocks them off due to some rough switching, I guess that crew earns a turn to wear the Asshat award.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Pipe loads complete

Tonight I finally got the pipe loads completed for Ozark Irrigation.
I still need to get some strapping installed on the pipe, but at least I'll have some loads for the session instead of using our imagination.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Pipe Loads

Made some good progress today.  Labored on Labor Day.

I finished getting the cars staged and tabbed.
I got all the extra cars moved off the layout.
I re-typed some of the Train Instruction sheets and added the new industries.
Removed some of the passenger cars from the two Mail trains and added a few extra TOFC's.

Then I started making a few pipe loads for the flat cars that will serve Ozark Irrigation.

A few years ago I picked up a slug styrene round and square tubing from a seller on eBay called kdarr70.  He sells a lot of different types of styrene in bulk a lot cheaper than you can buy it from Evergreen or Plastruct.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Closing in on Op session 14

Last night I got off to a rough start staging the layout.  I generated a new Wheel Report and after getting the biggest share of the cars staged and tabbed, I noticed that something wrong.  On one sheet was calling for 14 cars, but on another version of that sheet, it was showing 13 cars?

So I opened the spreadsheet and starting digging through it.  Found it!  One of the sheets wasn't summing up all of the cells becuase I had added a couple of lines to one sheet and not to the other.  I can see now how important Copy & Paste is going to be with this.

Next I came across another issue, one sheet was incomplete.  I must have started working it over and never finished it or simply missed it. Grrr!  After about an hour or so I got things in order and went back down to finish staging the cars.  So we'll see how things work out in this session.

I still have a bunch of small time consuming things to do:

  1. Finish getting the Town schematics printed off, these will show where to spot the cars since I don't have a lot buildings in place yet.
  2. I need to re-do some of the train instructions so that they match with some of the new industries I've added.
  3. I've got a bunch of stuff strewn across the layout that I'm planning to sell on eBay and/or the forums.  I found a huge box of older Atlas turnouts and snap track that I have no need of.
  4. Clear off the workbench and get it cleaned up.
  5. I need to get the throttles out of the box and get them ready to go.  I have only pulled out a couple to play with since I got them back from Digitrax and having them upgraded to Duplex and also need to get the batteries charged up.
  6. I need to change out a few 48" fluorescent bulbs.
  7. I still need to double check the Locomotive consists and make sure they're still running properly
  8. Clean the tracks, again.....
I'm sure there are a ton of things that I'm not thinking of?

There are two things that I want to add to the Ops, one is the new Seniority Status for assigning or choosing the jobs on the layout.   This will based on a "per session" basis rather than "accumulative" basis for now until we see how it works.

The other thing is I plan to split the El Dorado Yard Job into two shifts.  There are 8 jobs per one full session that the crew has to deal with.   This way the crew isn't tied to the yard job the entire session and it creates another job.  

With me being off work for a month due to a minor leg injury, I'm hoping I will have more than enough time to get things done in a short order.  I'm itching to get the trains rolling and see how the new track arrangements and industries work out.

Monday, August 21, 2017

All Shimmed!

As of tonight I shimmed the last turnout!

Altogether I shimmed 50 turnouts on the main layout.  The ones I did not shim were the ones in the yard at El Dorado, the main yard and the ones in Malvern.

So far those have not shown any kind of issues with shorts or derailments, so I have left them for now.  The ones in the main yard I didn't touch as sometime I see ripping up portions of it and realigning at least one end and a few turnouts eventually.

After I shimmed each turnout I would check it with a lightweight car by running it back and forth, then I would run it through and force the trucks to the guardrail to see if I could get it to pick the frog point.  If they passed I would then run the train that found several shorts.

This was made up of two KATO E8's and IMRC FP7a.  The E's would normally be the ones that would find any shorts due to the longer three axle trucks.  The train consisted of one Wheels Of Time express baggage car with three axle trucks and metal wheels and 8 more TOFC cars, MTL and Trainworx.  The Trainworx cars have stock metal wheels.

After tonight I was able to run this train at or near prototype speeds without shorting anywhere.  next is to try running some of the 6 axle freight locos: SD40-2's, SD45, U30c's.

I have to admit the black styrene looks a lot better than the white did, but for some reason the black styrene seems to be a bit tougher to get glued in place?  But they are all done for now.

What's next?  Well the first thing, I need to get the layout and basement cleaned up.  Then I plan to get an ops session ready to go first, then I hope to get started on some scenery, starting with areas of the backdrop first. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Can it be, no shorts?

Tonight I got the last of the turnouts shimmed on the south side of the layout from Winnfield to the three south turnouts in El Dorado yard.  As I added the shims to each one I kept a car handy to test the shims.  The car told me that the shims are working and are keeping the car from picking the frog points, but then came the true test......I ran the same train that I ran the other night that found three shorts. It has two KATO E8's on the point and several Trainworx 85' TOFC's with metal wheels in the consist.


Now this was just a test, so we'll see how it goes during an actual session?

Before starting on the rest of the turnouts I'm waiting for an order to arrive from MB Kleins in the next few days. The sly Mr. D. Foxx who follows the blog left me a comment asking if he could talk me into using Black styrene to shim the turnouts instead of the white? This way when I clean the tracks I won't be left with two white stripes.


On the ones that I have done now I went back with a black Sharpie.  Hopefully this will help as the guard rails are slightly below the railhead?  So now I have some sheets of 0.010" thick sheets of black styrene coming along with new blades.

The obvious things are always overlooked.....  

Saturday, August 12, 2017


I got a couple of turnouts filed and filled with epoxy which seemed to work, no shorts.  But because the Peco guard rails are a little sloppy I also decided to add some shims to them as I stated in my last post.

This helped in keeping the wheels from picking the frog point so I decided to try a few more.  On a couple that I added them to it also stopped a short that I was having on one.  So I made the decision to continue adding the shims to ALL the turnouts.  I figured this would be a good idea even if no shorts appeared as it helped to reduce the picking of the points.  If it also cured any shorting, then it would be a bonus, and if needed I'll go back and file and add the epoxy to any that need it. 

As of this post, I have added the shims to everyone of the turnouts on the south side of the layout over three nights.  That's 17 turnouts so far.  I also was able to get the shims added to the three turnouts on the south end of yard at El Dorado tonight.  While doing this today I snapped a few pics of how the process goes.

Here is the shim stock

I then cut them just a bit longer than the guard rails and set them in place and brush on a bit liquid cement, in this case I use MEK.  Using an old #17 blade I press the shim onto the guard rail until the glue evaporates.  This leaves the shim jutting past the guard rails.

Next I snap a toothpick in half and gently wedge the pointed end between the outer rail and the shim so it's pressed tight against the bent end of the guard rail. With the picks in place I brush a small amount of MEK on the ends of the shims and let them dry for a bit.

Once they're dry, at least 15 minutes, I'll take a sharp blade and gently trim the shims to the same height as the guard rails, being careful not to take too much off. I also carve the ends of the shims to match the profile of the guard rails. Afterwhich I've tested each of them with a car to make sure there's enough clearance and nothing is rubbing.

Once they're painted they'll blend in and they shouldn't even be seen.  Now I need to run a few trains to see if this has cured any shorts.