Cheap and Cheerful Scenery in an Evening

My layout has been very pink, the nature of using pink 1/2″ insulation on top of the plywood sub-base is that the room has been pink since September 2018, Its time for it to start looking a bit more like something, less pink! On the weekend I marked out roughly where my paved streets will go, which meant I could come back and paint them with some artists acrylics to quickly add some colour, and start to hide the pink foam!

Liquitex Raw Sienna and Neutral Grey 5 tubes of paint from Michaels, and the start of a quick coat of the grey on the roads.

This was not a fine art project, it was a quick and thin coat, enough to add some colour to see how things are, and guide doing future scenery. I was careful to keep paint off the tracks and ties, though they’ll get painted themselves eventually too.

After adding in raw sienna, the pink is mostly gone, and it actually looks a bit like a layout!

I have to thank my friend Trevor for suggesting this as a do sooner than later task. It really makes a huge difference, more than I’d even thought for less than $10 in paint (and I have lots of both colours left for future projects) and less than 2 hours work to paint, photograph and blog about it. Between the fascia and the quick coat of paint, the layout is almost presentable to someone who isn’t a model railroader and who doesn’t realize how long it takes sometimes to get things done in this hobby!

IMG_1396Panorama of the layout, now with less Pink! There is still some bare foam in staging, I didn’t paint the staging for now, I needed somewhere to move things too while I painted the sceniced area!

I still need to get my act together and finish the wiring so I can test powered equipment all along the layout. I’m going to work on wiring this weekend I think, I’d really like to run a train all the way along the line just to say I can!

When Layouts attack and things don’t work

Yesterday I made a comment in a post about sometimes things don’t go your way. Sunday was one of those days. I was watching the closing hours of the Daytona 24 Hours car race, and working in the layout room on sorta odds and ends tasks.

I started my day by putting up my directional signs on the fascia with some tape, just to see how they look. I am really happy with them. The Maker Bean Cafe did a great job, I can’t recommend their work enough based on my experience with them so far. I’ll definitely be looking for other opportunities to work with them.

Street signs taped onto the fascia, I am really happy with how these look.

After this, I was moving around stuff, cleaning up tools and just figuring out what I wanted to work on. I remember catching the corner of the underside of the peninsula, but didn’t think anything of it, I’ve been bumping off the layout for months despite my best efforts to be careful. I carried on for a while, and at some point, I turned my left arm, and went, “oh, I’m bleeding, a lot…”

IMG_1368Owie, this gouge in my left arm is deeper than it looks.

After realizing I’d gouged myself on the corner of the underside of the peninsula, I took the time to clean and disinfect the wound. It seems to be healing OK, but I think I’m going to have a nice scar on my arm for a while. Once I was better, I looked into some furniture padding foam designed to protect infants for the bottom of the peninsula. It’s been ordered, and will be dutifully installed probably next weekend when its arrived.

Once I had cleaned myself up, I decided to start another project. Now that the fascia is on, I can look at things like installing gate hasps for my two switch locks. I’ve decided that for effect I want to mount my CNR and CPR switch locks on the staging traversers, but also have them locked when the layout isn’t in use. It will hopefully create a start and end point for operating sessions, where you have to come in and unlock the switch to release staging, and enter the village, and re-lock it when you’re done your work. Maybe its a bit cheesy, but it makes me happy.

Installing a hasp for one of my switch locks on the CNR Staging Slider… it didn’t go well.

I thought I was being very careful with positioning and pre-drilling holes and everything to get them mounted, and once the screws were in, the hasp wouldn’t close without forcing it, or open without forcing it, and risking a big bump to the slides. I eventually kinda got it working, though not perfectly. I may have to invest in an even longer hasp to move the loop over a bit and let me try mounting the loop again. I won’t be installing the one on the CPR end for a bit until I have made up my mind, but its a little frustraiting. The one nice thing I did discover is the lock hanging on the traverser seems to be working as a bit of a counterweight to keep it from shifting on its own. I can already see that a positive locking/alignment system will probably be needed long term, I’m just not sure what that will be as yet.

IMG_1367Lining out where the roads will be, to help with adjusting the building siting before I start foundations and scenery, and to help work on operations planning to see if things work in 3D instead of as a plan.

I wrapped up Sunday by getting out a sharpie and rulers, and marking where all the asphalt paved roads are. This will be a great help in starting to guide scenery in the near future, but in the short term, once the wiring is done, to let me operate trains to test out track and understand where things are and aren’t working and where adjustments to the track may be needed before painting and ballasting the track.

Tuesday Train #181

P1440291P1440292P1440293Variety is the spice of life. A visit to Bayview Junction in 2006 found CN2696, a GE Dash 9-44CW leading a pair of BNSF locomotives, No6932, an EMD SD40-2 in “pumpkin” post Burlington Northern/Santa Fe merger paint, and 6727, an EMD SD40-2 in Santa Fe blue/yellow paint. Not an every day occurrence, but some crazy odd-ball to Ontario paint schemes are a nice change when you are out and about railfanning.

Some Days are more fun than others

IMG_1331Just a freight train at the corner of Liberty Street and Mowat Avenue. Nothing to see here…something that will just be ordinary on my layout.

This is a fun hobby, I do it as an escape from work and stress and everything else that we have to deal with on a day to day basis in life. I get to come home, and I have a project that I want to work on, and where I see progress happen because I make it happen (with a little help from my friends). In my last post one of my blogs followers commented on the enthusiasm for what I’m doing in building the layout in my posts. Sometimes, I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t feel the enthusiasm when I’m working on the layout (but that’s a future post on something I’m struggling with on the layout). Today is a happy post. After last weeks progress, I took a couple of nights and hooked up my Lokprogrammer and ran a variety of tests up and down the Mowat Avenue trackage which is the only part fully connected to the DCC bus. Just running trains, testing switches, seeing where things are shorting out (which isn’t really a good test with the Frog Juicers not installed and the switch machines not holding the tracks in place, but, it makes me happy!). I ran the three layout locomotives I currently have, but I only took video of the one as shown below, a bit of running at Mowat Avenue and Liberty Street in the future intersection, and leaving the fully sceniced layout onto the staging traverser (which will just have some generic scrubby yard scenery).

So, to end, some ridiculousness, I decided to test something that would never have ever been seen in Liberty Village (and which can’t make the turns on my layout even if I want to!!).

I Juiced a Frog…

No actual frogs were harmed in the making of this post!! A frog in railroad parlance is a part of a switch. it is the location where the tracks cross. When you hear about a switch being a Number 4 or a Number 6 or the like, its referring to the angle of the frog. I’m not going to re-invent the wheel in trying to explain switches, if you want to go down that rabbit hole, check out here and here! On model railroads, the frog on a switch is isolated, otherwise as metal wheels drawing power from the track cross over, it would create a short as the two rails are different polarities (one positive, one negative). A “Frog Juicer” from Tam Valley is a little circuit board that on DCC systems, detects the polarity faster than the system can short out, and automatically switches the polarity of the frog so a train will keep going over it. The point is to keep power to the locomotive at all times so they don’t stall on the frog if it isn’t powered. I have three to install. Two which can handle six switches each, and one single switch juicer for the peninsula. Working under the benchwork alone without a second set of hands is a bit of a pain, so I decided I would install the Mono Frog Juicer tonight just to get a feel for it, and worry about the other two for the remaining twelve switches later.

IMG_1316Mounting the Frog Juicer board on a bit of double sided foam to stick to the layout

First, I started organizing the wiring runs on the peninsula into a batch that I can connect to the end of the DCC Bus wire. With this done, I figured out where I was going to mount the juicer, and put a purple wire on the frog wire from the switch (colour coding the wiring for future repairs). My layout wiring is pretty simple. Red and Black for power, purple for the frogs. I will eventually run a secondary power bus for building lighting, and I will pick two other colours of wire for this so they stand out. That’s a down the road task, I haven’t even really thought about that beyond knowing that I want to be able to light buildings, which means they need power!

IMG_1317Frog Juicer in place on the peninsula, with red and black wires to the DCC bus, and the purple to the frog. Now we see if it works when I get the wiring connected to the bus!

This was another simple project that I haven’t done before that I could tackle on my own. It also was a nice half hour project that I could do after dinner and feel like I’ve accomplished something on the layout today. Given how much I have on the rest of my week, I don’t expect to do anything till the weekend, so it’s always nice to feel like I’ve gotten something done when a few minutes were available.

Tuesday Train #180

The way we were – Retro Shunting in Toronto

P1000645CPR 1578, a GMD GP9u, originally built as a GP9 in 1955 and its “slug” 1013, a depowered SW900 at Lambton Yard in Toronto in 2005. In the late 1990’s and 2000’s, older locomotives like this were rebuilt and used for yard switching duties.

The image below, shows CPR 1684, a GP7u originally built in 1950 as Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo Railway #74, and CPR 1002, an EMD SW1200 originally built for the Milwaukee Road in the US and also depowered as a slug to 1684. They are seen switching at Agincourt yard in the northeast of Scarborough.