Saturday, October 31, 2015

Checking Out the New Staging

I first had to move the track 2" to the left. The reason is that I'm still planning a restaging loop off of the two end tracks. They will come from about halfway down the total length to give me two short staging tracks on T1 & 12. 
I am a little concerned about that pipe though the upper level will be real close to that pipe. We'll find out when I put the next piece up.
The piece I just put in is 8' long. There is 12 more feet behind this for the staging.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Getting ready to test setup for new Staging

A little while ago I kind of laid out the track for staging, placing the turnouts to look for the best setup. Today I connected those turnouts to see how it would work. It looks like the track will be straight enough.

Normally my yard throat would be all in one block, but I can see this setup will allow me to split the throat into three blocks.. One for each set of six tracks and one for where it all comes together.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Swap to NCE is complete

I spent some time bench testing NCE in the hopes that the transition would be easier and because I wasn't sure that I wanted to start 3 days before an Op Session.

I started hooking thins up one at a time to my test track to see that things were working properly. This took a little while. Let's just say the NCE manual at times needs a serious look into changes. There was quite a bit missing that would have helped a lot. The command station was fine. Putting batteries into the Cab Pro was a trip. They were so tight they kept wanting to fly out before you can get the cover on. The cover is also flimsy so those batteries are still trying to get out.

I brought two engines out that were MU'd with digitrax, so they needed to be re-consisted and that was pretty easy. These two engines developed a problem with digitrax where they would only run very slow. This problem went away with NCE.

The wireless was a trip mostly because there was absolutely no directions in the starter set. I eventually opened the repeater box and it had directions for both.

Mike Pennie came over to help and we were moving to try it on the layout. I had been using the old Digitrax power supply on the test track because I didn't want to take out the big power supply. This power supply was removed a while back because there were too many engines. So we get into the layout and hook up the "old power supply" with the NCE and connect the track wires. Everything looked good and wham not so good. After a while of scratching our heads, I had a "duh" moment. The small power supply was taken off earlier because it was too small.
We hooked up the the bigger supply and all was fine.

We started playing with the fascia panels and the wireless and got to a point of no return. We had to finish. For some reason some of the bus wires didn't work with NCE, even though they seemed to with Digitrax. I felt nervous enough about the available amps I added the booster.
They will both need to be moved after the session because for convenience I was only able to get a 2/3-1/3 split of the layout and the number of engines is much higher on the bigger section

I replaced all but one plug in panel because I didn't order enough, but the amount of panels is probably overkill with the improved radio reception.

Speaking of radio, I only had one antenna installed in one of the rooms and I almost had full coverage. I had to stick the throttle back by the backdrop in the far corner with my body between it and the antenna to show a problem.

The consisted engines have been re-consisted and show no ill effects of swapping systems. Now to test with nine people at one time.

Friday, October 9, 2015

NCE Has Arrived

It looks like I have a job to do. NCE to replace Digitrax.

Planning For The New Staging

I'm doing a little planning for the staging expansion. I have laid out the track in 2", 2 1/4" and 2 1/2" track spacing. I'm hoping for 12 tracks with the outside two tracks mostly to help with restaging. I'm trying to keep the foreground  to under 16",  for ease in getting to the tracks.  It has to go around a corner to get the mainline. 
I usually use 2" centers to keep the space narrower. This has never been a problem for me. However, with the extra tracks I thought I'd take a look.

In all cases the throat used about 4' and about another 8" to straight track.

The first picture shows a track spacing of 2". The table with of 26"

This picture shows 2 1/2" spacing, a 31" table width and a change to a straight Turnout at the beginning. The curve around the corner is a little tighter and the outside tracks to the turnout is also tighter.

This picture is 2 1/4" track spacing and back to a curved turnout.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Contemplating A Name Change

Almost 25 years ago I came up with the Blue Ridge & White Mountain Railroad. It was based on a generic idea to make my railroad both Southern and Northern just by changing the locomotives and rolling stock. Needless to say I am all into Maine and the Southern part never materialized. If I had picked a mountain route instead of a coastal route things might have been different.
Many years ago I debated a change of the railroads name to make it more related to Maine. I am not a real good change artist. I had a hard time changing to code 83 from code 100. Now that I'm changing control systems and computer controls and the change bug is here I started thinking about the name change. Here is a listing of some ideas.

Casco Bay Northern - this bay is at Portland the southern most point of the railroad.

I have played with the idea of using my initials CMB

Central Maine and Boston
Central Maine and Bangor
Coastal Maine and Boston
Coastal Maine and Bangor

Dispatchers Desk Changes

In anticipation of the extending of the layout, the dispatchers desk needed to be moved. I cleaned out an area near the desk and moved the desk into this spot. The desk also needed to be a little shorter so I cut off a foot of the table top. The length could be shorter with all the old computers gone. 
This is a temporary move so that I can move the other things, like my sprinkler system. I hope to get the desk into the crew lounge at some point.

The dispatcher's desk in its new location.

The fast clock could no longer be attached to the benchwork so I put it in a scrap of beadboard.

Digitrax to NCE

Throughout the years I have had trouble with the Digitrax system. Mostly the radio portion. I never could seem to get a good signal every where. I have recently have had problems with the 9v batteries. This isn't Digitrax related, but my batteries were going bad on the charger.

I had been thinking of moving to NCE based on other layouts in the area also moving to NCE and having their problems disappear.

I had been in contact with Tony's Train Exchange, they were having a sale so I took the plunge. Sometime this month I'll be changing out the two systems and selling off all the Digitrax.


About a year and a half ago my Electrical Guru and I were talking about the availability of the older computers which were getting harder to find. I had extras for the moment but over time as they fail if I didn't have a backup plan my Op Sessions could come to a halt.

I decided to learn JMRI and gave myself a two year window to get it working. Better to swap control systems on my terms and not the electronics. Not only did I have to learn JMRI, I had to learn how CMRI worked. My boards were developed by my Guru to emulate CMRI, so I had learn how these boards emulated CMRI. Once that was done then I could get underway.

July was when the official full scale testing was started and in August we were using JMRI for the Op Sessions. Shortly after that all the old DOS computers and monitors were removed and discarded.

The dispatchers really like the new screens. It seems to be much easier to pick up and understand.

The best news is the file that is used will work on both the MAC and the Windows computer.

Enlarging the layout

Right now I have an eight track, double ended staging yard connected to a 2 track town by a reverse loop. This is duplicated right above it on the upper level.

A while back I decided to take the staging yard and straighten it out into a stand up crawl space and turn the two towns into larger towns with industry. This will enable me to narrow the benchwork by about six inches.

The staging will have more tracks to allow me to have more trains and the ability to stage special trains. The track will be longer which will help when trains sometimes are longer than planned.

I will be able to build these before ever connecting to the existing layout, so operations should not be affected.

This will add about 30 more feet of mainline to both ends of the layout. There will be roughly 7 new industries added to the existing towns. Of course, this is only a guess at this time.