Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mainline is open

I ran an engine all the way through the mainline. I ran into a few glitches as I went around. Made a few adjustments as I went around and I think we are good to go.
One of the problems was another old style switch. I did gap the frogs, but apparently didn't cut all the way through in one spot, so I cut it deeper and now it is OK.
I still had two turnout motors to install on some new sidings and went about doing that and somehow I may have messed up because I'm getting and error message on one of the circuit boards. Oh well, I'll check it out after I return from the mountains.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shorts are fixed

It turned out that the shorts were caused by turnouts that weren't as friendly as I thought they were. There were three of my older Peco Electrofrog turnouts that were isolated on the output, but not on the input of the frog. This solved one area in St. Albans, but there was also the dreaded three way turnout in Boston. I took out this turnout and the shorts were all gone. I took the turnout to the bench though about where the cuts needed to be and started modifying. I put the turnout back in and the short is still gone. I just have to determine if I have power on all sections of the rails.
I cleaned track in Boston and Cumberland and attempted to run an engine and it wouldn't go. "Oh great, now what did I do?" ran through my head. Turns out it was the engine. I ran another and it was fine.
While I was running, I found places that needed more drops and a turnout wire that broke. You know, all those little things you find when testing begins.
And the testing continues.....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I saw engines moving today

Today was a good day. It started out by cutting the gaps that I missed during installation of everything else.
I disconnected all power to all of the power districts but one. I then went to the end of the layout and started cleaning everything off of the track and vacuuming to ensure that anything that could be shorting the track was found. I turned on the power and discovered a short. After a little troubleshooting I found out that it was in the block where the staging ladder to the main line was. I did a quick check and couldn't find anything obvious and I could clear it up by pulling the occupancy detector and leave it off. I decided to go check all of power districts and then see what fixes were needed.
I had the same problem at the staging ladder at the other end of the layout. I guess whatever I did at the ladder I did twice. There are 60 separate blocks on the layout and only two were bad. I'm thinking that was a pretty successful day. Tomorrow I'll try to figure out what the problem in those two sections are..

Monday, August 16, 2010

Time to start track testing

I finally got all of the track power hooked up. Testing will start soon to see if I did it right.
I had been debating on a change to the engine facility. I finally just changed it. I moved the turntable turnout down about two feet to better serve the turntable and engine facility. This required a few other things to be moved, so while I was soldering anyway, I made the decision to make the change.
I found issues with some of the gaps that I will have to finish, but that will have to wait for Wednesday. Tomorrow is another day to play trains.

Almost there....

I am getting very close to to having the wiring completed for the track on the lower level. I foolishly thought that I could finish in one day, but after about seven hours I had enough of crawling under the benchwork. Only a little more to go.
Of course, while I was doing the wiring, I found some things that I missed. I have a couple of older style turnouts that didn't have the frog isolated, so that will have to be fixed before the power gets turned on.
I still have the area around the turntable in Portland that I need to think about changing. The engine service area doesn't feel right to me the way it is. I think I'll draw up some changes and see what people think.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Occupancy Detection and other things

Today I finished installing and testing the Occupancy Detectors and they all work. I still have to wire some of them to the track, but the computer sees them all.
The programming issues I had earlier are mostly better. The dispatcher's computer works and a lot of components have been re-numbered. There is still some re-numbering to go, but it is in the area of the layout that hasn't been completed.
Some of the industry track in Portland has been re-installed and it looks like a design change is in order near the turntable. I still have some gaps to cut, but I must look at a track change before I do that. This is also keeping from from doing the Portland control panel.
The fun never ends.....

Sunday, August 8, 2010

If it ain't broke....

then why am I messing with it.
I have a perfectly running computer and control system at this time. Well I did.
Every turnout, detection block, indicating lights and buttons get their own number or letter depending on what you are talking about. For the purpose of trouble shooting later it would be nice if things were in a logical order. During the process of designing a system you start out this way and things are added or taken away and this nice order you had becomes somewhat haphazard.
So I decided it would be a good idea to reorder everything to make it sensible again. I got my drawings out and re-numbered or re-lettered what needed to be done. Then I went to the computer with a plan to change everything, so it would come out right the first time. Yeah, when have I ever had that kind of luck. Needless to say, my whole train world turned upside down and nothing worked when turned the computer back on.
I have been at it for two days and I have some of it, but not all working again. I still can't imagine why some turnouts are working backwards from before I had this brilliant idea. I even found a turnout without a tortoise machine. I still can't figure that one out. How could a machine disappear just due to programming.
The good news is, I have a back up of the way it was before I had my brilliant idea. Now it's a matter of pride.

BTW: I did change Tortoise machines around earlier, I just forgot that I hadn't replaced that one.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Connecting up the power

There aren't any pictures when you spend most of the time under the benchwork. I connected all the drops and put in occupancy detection for all of the lower level staging yards. I then proceeded to run the power district for the next section of track. With the exception of cutting the tortoise throw bars down to size, both staging yards should be ready for actual running/testing of trains.

I also finished the third control panel All three are running correctly.

Control Panels

I received control panels from two other layouts that were no longer using them. Both styles were basically them same, with the exception of door thickness and how the replaceable panel went into the box.
One of the panel styles had four screws hold the panel in from the front and the other slid into slots like the way a raised panel door is made. All I had to do was redesign the panel face and hook all of the new electronics in.
As with a lot of projects the first panel was the toughest. I designed the look on a CAD program, but when I actually cut the wholes I found out the were too close together for to suit my tastes. I made the second, first panel and cut a couple of holes too many. Finally on the third one I got all of the holes correct.

Then it came to painting and taping, which was OK, but it also didn't suit me when the tape kept twisting when I was screwing the buttons in. I changed my way and put the tape on, but then painted over it with a different color and then removed the tape. This worked better for me. I also found out that you needed some kind of lacquer over all of this to protect the paint for being scratched off. Of course, I discovered the lacquer thing after allowing my fingernails to scratch off the paint.

The top panel is of Belfast and its wye and the hidden staging at St. Albans.

The middle panel is of Cumberland Mills.

The bottom panel is Bath.

Dispatcher's Display's

The four dispatcher's display that will be used on the railroad. One on each of the four monitors.

The screens will line up to show the whole railroad in a linear diagram. The bottom of the screens represent the lower level while the top represent the upper level.

The top picture shows lower level staging.

The second screen shows Cumberland Mills and Portland on the bottom and Searsport and Acadia on the top. The green line shows the transition from one level to the next.

This screen shows Bath, Belfast, with its connection to the St. Albans and Northern, and Rockland.
The top part of the screen will be Bucksport and Katadhin.

The final screen shows the upper level staging, Lower left shows the staging at St. Albans.