Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Fillin the gaps

With the majority of the track done in the new yard, the next thing I needed to do was to fill in the missing ties.  This is done by simply removing some ties off old track, slicing off the spike heads and slipping them under the rails where the ties are missing.

I used PECO C55 this time and since the rails are embedded further into the thicker ties I had to find some thinner ties.  I scrounged up an old section of ME C55 flex and started removing the ties.  As before, I sliced off the spike heads and sanded them down a bit so they'd fit snuggly.


Ah, much better!

In a case like this where I used insulated rail joiners, I took another section of ties and shortened them on one end (close to where the rails would sit) so they will just butt upto the insulated joiner.

In this situation, again, I had insulated joiners but really couldn't shove them under the center track, so I got creative and shortened the middle section and did the outer two sections as before.

Now if any of the ties are loose, I'll come back with a small drop of CA glue to hold them into place until I get the ballast installed. 

I suppose there are better ways of doing this, but this satisfies my needs.  The ME ties are narrower and thinner and they do not match the PECO ties perfectly, but these will do fine.  Once the track gets painted and ballasted they should blend right in, besides that, most ties are installed unevenly anyway.  But at least you won't see big gaps in the ties.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Just another quick video...

 ...to prove I've actually been working on the layout.

Nothing much special.

Monday, December 14, 2020

The new engine facility

The rail joiners finally arrived today, only 2 weeks late!

As of now this is how the engine facility will look.  Only thing left to do is to finish securing the tracks, drop the feeders and connect them.

At present, they are just tacked in place as I'll probably make some minor adjustments moving forward, such as shortening the three facility tracks a bit.

For reference I updated the rough drawing.  The blue dotted industrial tracks will come later.

Recently, someone asked me what NB & SB meant.  This is where I'll pre-stage the cars that go South and North, and the Running track is an open track that the consists can use to get to one end of the yard and to the other.

In due time I hope to get videos made showing how the session will start and how the tracks will be used.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Gettin closer

What's finished...

I got the inner rear staging track connected, secured the turnouts leading into those tracks, then I dropped and connected the feeders.

The engine facility/caboose track and the industrial lead is still laid out temporarily as I'm waiting on a few turnouts and metal rail joiners to arrive.  Once everything shows up, it shouldn't much to wrap that area up.  Then I can get the rest of the feeders connected.

With the area I have to work with now, I decided to go with two engine facility tracks and one caboose track.  The caboose track will also be long enough that I can use it as a MOW track to store my track cleaning cars on it so that they are ready to go when needed.

The rest of the industrial trackage won't get laid out until I get some buildings assembled and placed.  But that will likely be awhile as I have more pressing things to work on.  

As of this post I can now run a train through the yard, Yay!  But the rest of the layout still looks like a storage shelf.  

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The new yard takes shape

95% of the track for the new yard has been laid down.  That leaves the engine/caboose tracks and I still need to connect the rear inner staging track, but I'm holding off on those for now.  

I ran out of joiners but more are on the way and since I've used PECO large turnouts, they've pushed the industrial lead a little further down the yard than I had previously planned.  So I'm playing with a couple of ideas as to where it will be placed now.

One thought was to have the lead come off just before engine/caboose tracks or actually have it come off of the rear staging tracks?

I chose to stick with 1-1/2" spacing again.  I'll still be staging by hand plus I had plenty of room.
Left to Right: SB & NB staging, Run Through track, Car Storage tracks and Consist storage track.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

First test run in the new yard

I got the first stretch of new track laid down in the main yard tonight.

No wires yet so I just used a couple of jumpers.

And a quick video.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Staging yard evolution

The design keeps evolving, hopefully for the better.

The first design was simple and clean.

The second design seen the addition of a separate car storage track for the industries which was double ended.  This would allow the switcher to get on the other end of a car so I could have spurs on the blue industry track that would face both directions.

I retained the two green tracks for the two through freights.

One of the yard tracks would now hold pre-consisted locomotives that could be rotated through for each additional operating session. After each session, the current consist would be placed on the left end of that track and the consist on the right would then be shuffled to the engine facility. This would give me the chance to use a different set of power for each session and add variety.  

It would also give a timeline where I could service the consists.  After every rotation or every other rotation, I could service and clean the consists, or even change out the consists with a new batch if so desired, thus giving me even more variety.  In a future post I'll explain more why I'm using pre-consisted power sets.

This next design had a few more refinements.  From suggestions of a friend, I added two shorter car storage tracks, the idea here was that it might resemble a smaller interchange yard within the main yard.

The consist storage track became the running track and the consist storage track was moved to the rear track.  Moving it to the rear was done as he said having the consist on the third track might make it look like a dead line   But then again, what would modeling The Rock Island be without dead power?

I wanted a simpler yard design to go along with the simple operations that I came up with awhile back.  So time will tell if the yard goes through another design evolution.  But for right now this is the one I'm planning on. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Fresh paint

Not much progress has been made recently, but I did manage to get all the track pulled up from the yard with the exception of the three stretches along the backdrop.  I also got the surface repainted with a fresh coat of brown paint.

On the left end of the yard, I managed to get the two turnouts cut in for the rear staging sidings.

I'm still working on getting the opposite end of the sidings installed on the right end.

The loop on the right end is going to be broader than it was before which should alleviate some of the issues I had.  Most of the time long trains would make it around ok, but every now and then one would string line.   Hopefully now that it's broader and that I'm using longer PECO turnouts, it should occur much less often, plus I won't be running long trains as much either.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Going, going, gone!

The only bit of track that remains on the yard is the outer loop along the backdrop and the two staging tracks.  I just need to tie the three tracks together to form the two siding and I can start relaying things.

I'm planning to tie the three tracks together in the curved area with large curved turnouts so they'll be easy to reach.


Friday, October 23, 2020

Halfway there.

Over the course of a week, I've been able to get the first half of the yard ripped up, and decided to leave some of the existing track in place to use for the rear track and the two sidings.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

First bit of new track

Been making a little progress ripping up the tracks in the yard and while I was doing this the light went on.
I decided to move the two turnouts for the two rear staging tracks to the left end of the yard around the curve.  
Originally I was going to have them on the tangent just after the curve.  This will allow me to reach them a lot easier as well as giving me a bit more length should I need it.

If the geometry looks off, it's because I shot it with a wide angle setting on the iPhone.  Notice the length of the turnouts, both are large, the second one is curved.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Let's get ripped......up.

It feels good to get back to the layout.
It's been a year since I walked away from it due to the bathroom remodel and getting back into some railfanning.  With the weather starting to change, the leaves have fallen off most of the trees already and what little time we had to get some fall foliage colors recorded was ruined with all the smoke from those late summer fires made the sky look gray and dingy, so I decided to turn towards the layout again.

I already posted of the plans to redo the yard in El Dorado and the main staging yard.This afternoon I got out the tools need to start removing the track.

Here's the first three turnouts removed.

But I have a long way to go, 16' to be exact.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Staging renovation

Along with the reduction of my operations, the staging yard will also be reduced.  Not in physical size, but in the amount track that will be needed.

As mentioned several posts back, I plan to reduce the amount of trains that run during a session from as many as 22 down to 4.  This will include one local that runs out and back over the entire layout and only two through freights. 

The new staging will still function the same as the old staging, but will have much less track and be less complicated to operate.  The trains will enter and exit the staging as before as an extension of the layout, but will only have 4-5 tracks that make up the bulk of the yard.  A small basic engine facility and at least two tracks at the rear where a couple of through freights can sit out of the way.

In time, if things pan out my plans are to add a small industrial area between the yard and the rear two staging tracks, hopefully giving the illusion of a downtown scene.  This should also give me another mini switching layout within the overall layout to play on without having to run the entire layout.

A little history of the staging.

back in 1986 when we first came up with our BendTrack modular plans we wanted a staging yard where we could make and break trains without fouling the mainlines.  The first one was 8' long and 9 tracks wide.  After the first few public shows it was obvious that it was going to have be expanded.  The first expansion was to lengthen it from 8' to 16', the second expansion came a few years later.  I added a bubble on the end and looped the track 180° and wound up with 8 staging tracks and one return track.  This worked until 1997 when I doubled the width of the yard from one yard with 8 tracks to two parallel yards of 8 tracks each.  I also included two By-Pass tracks that ran between both yards.  I also added a bunch of ready tracks where the members could store their extra power if need.

In 2008 when I decided to build the current layout in the basement, I included the yard module for the staging of the new layout since we weren't setting up the modules any longer. Over the years I've made several minor modifications to it so it would function better in this new role.

As of tonight I took the time to clear it off so that I can start the renovation process.


Here is a rough drawing of what it will become when I'm finished.

The local is planned to originate and terminate in this yard.  The cars will be pre-staged into a SB and a NB group on two of the tracks.  The locomotives and caboose will be stored on the tracks within the loop on the right.  The two through freights will be staged on the green tracks in the rear (in opposite directions).  The industrial section is in blue if and when it gets added.  Disregard the red X's for now.

The session will begin with the crew pulling the locomotives from the engine facility and placing them and the caboose on the SB group of cars.  They will leave the yard (Biddle yard) SB, traverse the layout and wind up back on the same track (now in Alexandria, LA) from where they left.  Next they will drop their train and tie onto the NB string of cars and place their caboose on that train and traverse the layout NB and wind up on the same track from where they left originally in Alexandria.  Lastly they will park the locomotives and caboose back in the engine facility to end the session.

As things progress, I'm sure some things will change, but this is what I have planned as of now.  That's right, there will be no complicated classification switching either.  I want the bulk of the switching focused on the layout, not in the yard.  But by having the crew add their locomotives and caboose to their trains, it should give the feeling of doing some yard work without all the work.

We'll see how this goes...

Monday, October 5, 2020

Brainstorming again...

I'm slowly getting the basement and layout back in order. 

After getting the stuff cleared of the section that is El Dorado, I took a break and got thinking about how this area will be used now with the reduction of the Operations.  In the past this small yard was a bustling place that seen four trains stop here dropping off and picking up cars for the two locals that that were based out of here.  

The unlucky crew that got assigned the El Dorado job was kept very busy throughout the session shuffling cars in and out of the yard for the locals as well as attending to the three industries that are located here.

With the new Ops the entire layout will now only see four trains total pass through El Dorado.  The two through freights and the one local that runs both ways.  The local will drop off cars on the A/D tracks that will be bound for the opposite direction and it will pick them up on the return trip.  The local will still drop off cars for the three industries in El Dorado.

Since the traffic has been reduced, I think I'll reduce the amount of yard tracks as well.  At one point I had planned to have El Dorado proper be raised about 3" between the yard and backdrop and two of the three industries would have been on the raised section.  This meant that there would have been a steep incline with a tight radius loop to reach the industries.  There's always been a burr in my side about this setup, which is one reason why it never got done.

What I plan to do now is to keep everything on the same level as the yard and remove several things so I can get the industries set in place.

I snapped a shot of the existing town and then ran it through my editing software to virtually remove the tracks I have in mind.  

In this edited shot you can see that I removed the loop on the far end that would have been raised to the upper section.  I also removed the one of the four yard tracks and made the third one as a spur to the industry on the far end.  I also removed the caboose track.

In the foreground there used to be two tracks for the local engine facility where the power for the two locals were kept.  I removed one and shortened it up for the spur to serve the second industry.  I'll more than likely move it a little closer the other tracks as well.

This should now leave me with enough room for the two industries as well as road that will run from end to end and connect the two industries.  It should also give me the option to make a town scene with a little more space that won't feel cramped.

So now I have three things to strive for in the future:  I have two locos sitting on the workbench ready for paint that I left them before the remodel began, to completely rebuild the staging yard and now the redesign of El Dorado.  The juices are starting to flow again... 


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

One small step...


It's been a few months since my last post, but I've been busy with photography and chores around the house.  However the other day when it was raining I got around to digging out all of my train and modeling magazines that I've been holding onto for the 30+ years.  Probably close to 500 of them. Once I kept the few that I wanted (20 or so) the rest went to the recycle container.

I know this doesn't have much to pertain the layout or modeling, but it's something I've been wanting to do for a few years and figured it was a good place to start.

Once I get that area cleaned up, I will be rearranging a few more things so I have a little more room.  Then I'll start clearing off the layout and trying to get things running again.  

I think the first project is to finish the two locos I started to prep for painting just before the remodel began.  After that, I may try to tackle revamping the staging yard.  Plan to strip all the track off and start over with a much smaller yard.

In the meantime here are some pics for proof that I actually got something accomplished.


I really do want to be running trains again...


Sunday, July 19, 2020

In the year 2020....

In my last post back on December 30th, I explained why I had stepped away from my layout due to a bathroom remodel and wished everyone a happy and prosperous new year.  I guess that didn't happen did it?  2020, what a year so far and we're only half way through it.

After some friendly prodding from some of my modeling friends, I finally made the decision to go back down and try to get started cleaning up the basement and layout.

Back in September I made a trip to Denver to meet some old friends and Op on one of their huge basement layout.  After getting back the remodel got under way and that, unfortunately lasted much longer than I hoped it would have.

We decided it time to update the bathroom, which primarily involved removing the old tub and replacing it with a walk-in shower.  But before we could start, some plumbing issues arose that needed to be fixed first.

The following months seen pretty good progress until it was time to install the plumbing.  The shower head and controls came in and were the wrong models and color, then the toilet (the most important thing) came in the same way, wrong model and color.

The next delay were the cabinets, the builder was running a bit behind so that meant our cabinets were also going to be a bit behind.

By December 18th all the plumbing was installed and working, so life somewhat returned to normal.  By March I had everything wrapped up.

And then the world went crazy...

With all the stuff going on in the world, unlike most other modelers who made the best of the lock down, it just didn't do much for my moral and just left me feeling like "Why bother".  Last fall after the remodel started up I couldn't do much to the layout and it was about that time that I kind of got back into my railfanning and when it took off, it took off.  I spent the from November till now trackside with a new camera and more recently, a drone.  Here's a link to my Flickr page should anyone be interested.

The lull in the basement continued until today.  Maybe it was the hot weather, maybe it was the peer pressure or maybe, just maybe it was the sheer boredom of the moment?  I gathered up some supplies to get after the basement.  But before I get started, I thought I'd snap a few pics of the bathroom and the resulting aftermath of the remodel and what I'm up against.

In the first pic below you can see the new waste line that needed to be installed before the remodel could begin.  The rest are of from around the layout and you can see how how it became the new storage shelves.  The shelves behind the furnace are full of old model railroad magazines that I've collected over the last 30 years or so, they are the first thing that will be attacked and thrown out! 

In this last picture, under the yard throat is the water main.  When the water was shut off the plumber told me it was high time to replace the old shutoff valves (probably original valves from 1952) since he didn't have a good feeling about them and wasn't able to get them to completely stop the water flow.
So now I need to get back in there and clean that mess up along with some minor mold.  Then I can replace the metal shelving and toss more unneeded junk that's been collecting under there.

I'm hoping by this fall that things will be back to somewhat normal and I can resume running trains and continue on the scenery.  Providing the Aliens don't show up or world doesn't end next week?