Well, today was a really good day on the layout. I haven’t been working on the layout much of late, its July, the weather is nice, and we have been enjoying just sitting outside on our evenings and weekends. That said, a couple of weeks ago I did my first Operating Session attempt, and some things that were really problematic, like having trains go where I wanted as only 4 of 12 switches had Fast Tracks Bullfrog turnout machines installed to throw the switches and hold them in position while a train passes over made me crazy have been turning in my mind. On my work lunch break on Friday, for some reason the motivation hit me, and I installed a Bullfrog on the first switch leaving the CN staging yard. It took maybe 15 minutes to get it fitted, mounted and the throw rod on. This was a positive, as it gave me a nice boost of confidence in my ability to do them.
Today, Saturday was a washout here, which motivated me to go put on some tunes loud, and get going with installing more Bullfrogs. All of a sudden, in a couple of hours, I had five more installed, giving me 10 of 12 switches done.
Where there were no installed Bullfrog switch machines on Friday morning, by Saturday afternoon there were six.
The last two switches required some big decisions to be made. Because of where the switch was located, it made a simple straight run for the RC Aircraft control rod that throws the bullfrogs impossible, at least unless I made a change to the benchwork. When I designed the layout, i designed it with the peninsula being mobile, it was designed to be unlatched and turned away to free up room in the centre of the layout room. Over a year of living in the layout room 8+ hours a day thanks to work from home and my workbench becoming my work desk, I have come to the conclusion, that it does not make my life better for it to swing, and once the track was laid and I got a good look at everything, I was never able to bring myself to cut the rails so the peninsula could swing, it basically hasn’t swung since I laid the track. This is good though, as the track now won’t have gaps and alignment problems that could have made operations bad. I know these kinds of things can work, but I have enough alignment issues to work out with my staging yards that I can’t avoid, so why create headaches when I don’t need them?
Fastening the peninsula and removing the hinge. A big design decision for the future of the layout.
The last two Bullfrogs were pretty much standard installs with the decision to remove the hinge and make the peninsula fixed. One of the things that had kept me from doing this was I had some challenges with my first installs, but learning as I went. Because of this, I have spent my pandemic modelling time doing things like building freight car kits, scenery and structures that I had a higher confidence in working out rather than things I’ve convinced myself I needed a friends help to do. That said, several friends have tried to give me the pep talk that I am more than capable of doing these installs, rather than waiting on a time where I can have a friend over. I think, as much as anything, I was putting this off as it is something that having a friend help with would be nice, one of the things remaining that maybe need a friend to help with a construction session on. Though, with me getting them done, when that day which is hopefully coming soon where I can have a friend over, we might be able to run a train without turnout problems at least instead of install turnout controls. I guess I’ll need to get on with finding and solving my few electrical gremlins that seem to still have locos stalling out in places, but that’s another days problem!
Installing the last Bullfrog and marking off the task on my whiteboard of major work areas…what a great feeling.
So, with that, today was a really good day on the layout. I got a lot done, and on at least first passes of rolling freight cars through the switches, the Bullfrogs are keeping everything tight so the wheels are directed the right directions. I have the motivation to work on the layout again that had been lacking, just getting a project done has given me a real lift. I look forward to actually running some trains where I can hopefully be sure they will go where I want them to!