Friday, November 20, 2015

Notes on NCE and Decoder Pro

The second session did not go so well, but seemed to get better as I changed out the batteries.

I was told that you didn't have to change out batteries every time you had a session so after a three hour session and a six week layoff we had another session. I was prepared for trouble as I did buy rechargeable batteries and they were charged.

As soon as we started, strange things started happening. Engines wouldn't respond all the time even when plugged in. Engines were pulled off of the layout and I started changing batteries and eventually things started to calm down.

After the session I did some troubleshooting and I couldn't find anything wrong, so from now on the batteries will be charged prior to the session.

I also took the time to hook up NCE to Decoder Pro and update all of the engine files. The strange thing is that I could read all of the decoders but the the NCE ones. Go figure.....

I even took the time to put decoders into a couple of newer engines I recently purchased. I will have to do some speed matching soon.

Monday, November 9, 2015

I think it's time for plan B

I got the frames up and laid the track in place on the lower level. The distance between the top of the lower frame and the bottom of the upper frame is 14 1/2" on the near side and 11" in the back. The last track is 30" from the aisle. The upper level is fairly easy to reach because I can lean over the benchwork. The lower level on the other hand has no way to lean over it and I believe I would knock everything over on the front tracks if I had to reach in.

I will stop work for now while I ponder my options. 

One option would be to turn the bench 45 degrees about half way in. This will give me the ability to get behind to the back tracks if needed. It just puts a curve in all of the tracks.

Another option would be to run a single track on the upper level past the lower staging and then build the upper staging. This would give me the ability to reach the lower level. It would just be a much longer run in an area that would basically be hidden.

Another potential would to trim the side frame from 3 1/2" down to a thinner board or remove it completely to give me more head room.

Looking at the lower level track.

Side view of the to staging areas.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It's a go for new staging

The engineering team says it "should be okay", go for it. So the track team is making preparations for the expansion. The track will be worked from back to front. Track will be worked on the bench and then put in place.

There are twelve tracks for staging. Track 1 & 12 will have the return loop connected about half way up. The back half of these tracks will hold shorter trains and the front half will be clear. Track 2 will have a crossover in it and both passenger trains will be on this track. Each will be a little over 5' long. The rest will be full length of at least 10' in length. This will hold 12 fifty footers and a caboose with two engines.
If by some odd chance the return loop becomes improbable and I go with stub ended tracks, I can increase to 15 staging tracks.

I already used up all of the available used code 100 track that I had for staging, so I started to tear up the last piece of track work from the old layout. Now to start cleaning the pieces to see if there is any usable track.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Staging update

I started laying out the basic plywood to see where I stood on making the new staging work. I used the same two pieces just to get an idea of where we were. This is a crawl space that you step up into from the train room and it slopes up hill, so the lower level will be low at the far end. The total length of the plywood is 16'. There is still about 4' of space at the far end.

In the first picture you can see the upper level in place and I need to dodge the drain pipes. I started on the right with  an ~ 1.5% down grade for 8' and then leveled out the rest of the way. The starting point has room for adjustment depending on how much I get the old staging area lowered. Right now the far left end is 36" from the floor.

The next picture shows the boards in the position for the lower level. The is no slope at this time, but I can consider rising over that distance to keep the lower level off of the floor. Currently the far end is 19' off of the floor. If I have to crawl under there to get cars it could be ugly.

I'm looking into a return loop for both levels just to make staging easier. Right now that might not happen because the reach could be too difficult.