Saturday, March 26, 2016

March Madness

I've only had a couple of days off this month, so progress has been slow. After working a crazy stretch, I'm finally turning my eyes back to the modeling.

I made some progress on the new corner, in fact it is wired and in place. I haven't contoured the foam yet as I don't know what I want it to look like. It may end up being some very simple farm fields. Maybe wheat or some good old pasture land.

Over in Rush City I am working on adding the blacktop. After I get these glued down, sidewalks will come next.

I also made some progress on some engines. I have a couple of SD50s and and SD45 I'm working on. Molded details are off, time to start putting the new ones on. The SD45 cab is going to get replaced with a Shapeways one that Reese Martin designed. It has the correct 4 side windows for an NP unit.
The SD50s will be getting LokSound Decoders. I had to chop the frame a fair amount, but I got the first one in and tested. It sounds really nice. They aren't loud, but the sound quality is very good. I need to get a couple capacitors wired in and also the 0402 LEDs.
Maybe this week I can get some more done. Next week I hope to get some more pics of the real Skally. Let's hope for a nice sunny week!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Where did January go?

It seems like we just started this year off and here we are rapidly closing in on the end of February. Skally progress has been happening, slowly, but surely. I've had another ops session, made progress on benchwork, wiring, scenery and have been working on locomotives as well.

I upgraded SCXY 1326 with a LokSound Micro decoder and a sugarcube speaker. The sound quality is very good. I'll be upgrading SCXY 1325 next.

I built another corner this week, I hope to get some track laid on it soon. This will help with switching out Zinpro, as the end of the current trackage makes things difficult. I have designed a plan for the Peterson Mill, we'll see if I can make it fit.
In Hinckley, I've begun planting trees. 36 down, 240 to go. 
In Rush City I continued the ground cover, adding ballast and greenery.
The second ops session was a success. I didn't get the track as clean as I should have, so I got a little frustrated cleaning as we went, but I think my dad (CEO of the HO Scale Wolf River Railroad) had fun. You can also see the new skirting I have on 1/2 the layout in this shot.
 Progress, some fast, some slow. Ok, mostly slow, but any progress is good progress.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fun with the camera

I was playing around with my Nikon today and I shot a series of 322 photos to see how that function worked. I stitched them together and you can see me playing around, switching in Rush City. No serious work, it was just a fun day. This was 1 photo every 3 seconds. Next time I'll try one every 2 seconds.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

U-NBREFV9-05 Part 2

Once all the loaded sand cars are coupled together, air lines are hooked up and the brakes tested, the train is ready to head north. BNSF will call this one U-NBREFV9-05. That is a unit train from North Branch, MN to East Fairview, North Dakota. It is a low priority to BNSF, so this one will be in the hole a lot as Z Trains slide by.
 I caught up with the train heading through the Beroun cut. Its easy to photograph when the leaves aren't on the trees (trees are coming).
 As we pull into Hinckley we can see under the Hwy 61 bridge (MNDOT needs to finish that one up one of these days). The other Skally crew has finished the interchange and is waiting for us to clear so they can head south back to Rush City.
 The unit train pulls under Hwy 61.
 The Skally SD40M-2s wait patiently.
 You can see the old NP roadbed, from when Hinckley was an NP/GN diamond.
The BNSF crew relieves the Skally Crew and gets a track warrant to head north on the BNSF Hinckley Sub. This train will be routed up through Superior, WI (SUP) on it's way to North Dakota. The Skally crew was happy to be out of the -9. They think BNSF forgot to clean the toilet before the engine was delivered.
As the back end of the train clears the South End Skally switch, the other train pulls out.
The BNSF crew has their warrant and pulls out onto BNSF tarckage. Here we see the BNSF Hinckley Section shack. There are a few MOW crew members stationed here.
The crew notches up and pulls out of town, crossing Hwy 61 at the BP station. When are those gates going to be installed? Soon we hope.
And so the unit sand train departs. It should only be a week or two and another will be going again. The sand train definitely adds to the operations of the line.

U-NBREFV9-05 Part 1

I decided today was a good day to railfan the Skally. I heard there was a unit sand train heading out, so I decided to catch the action. When I got to Rush City, BNSF 4309 and 684 were idling away.
The Skally SD40M-2s fired up and pulled out onto track 1X. That crew would be heading up to grab the interchange cars in Hinckley today.
 The Skally crew ran the BNSF C44-9Ws ran light down to North Branch.
Calling Terry at Tiler, he said they were ready. They had a full set of cars to go out.
So many cars in fact that some had been spotted on the main line yesterday afternoon (advantages of being on a short line).
Terry said everything was ready, so the switch into Tiller was thrown, the derail was removed and the Skally crew started to put the train together.
Happy New Years!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

BNSF 749

Just before the dawn sets on another year, I have finished one last engine. BNSF C44-9W #749. The prototype had some front end damage along the way and BNSF took a few years to get it into the paint shop. I modeled it as it looked in 2008, with the patched nose, the orange A/C unit and a nice coat of road grime.
I hope to get it out for a natural light photoshoot tomorrow, but the Vegas weather is cold and windy, so we will see.
I installed an MRC sound decoder in it, it runs and sounds great! This was an interesting build, it was challenging, but it got me fired up to finish my own -9s. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ops Session #1

Last week Ken Borowski made it to town and I hosted my first ops session. Ken has helped me understand and appreciate ops over the last half dozen years on his Clinchfield Blue Ridge Subdivision. Ken knew going in this was the first run, so I had paper ready to take notes for fixes.

Mechanically the layout performed well. I had a couple of switch points that weren't getting juice, a little cleaning/soldering will remedy that. The engines performed well and I had no rolling stock issues. The session lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes. When I get everything tuned in, I think it will consistently run between 2 and 2.5 hours. It's amazing how busy you can be with only 44 feet of main line.

I added an additional 18"of track in Hinckley to extend the interchange track. It gave just enough room to get the BNSF/SCXY space to swap trains.
The scenery at Tiller is in need of some improvement. Buildings are coming.

Items learned:
1) More Labels. I will be labeling all of the switches and derails. I also need to tune my instructions and maps for operators (i.e.: There are Hazmat rules: buffer cars between the engine and HCl cars and flour cars need to be cleaned before they are spotted for loading). Just because these things are in my head doesn't mean operators will know.
2) Get The Derails In. There are 4 derails I need to install. 2 for the Ardent Mill, one for Tiller and one for Zinpro. They will all be key operated and functional. Details to come. Opening and closing derails is an important item that shouldn't be overlooked.
3) I Need More Cars. Not really more, just the right ones. I have Trinity Hoppers filling in for PS Flour Cars. I have my pre-order in, all I need is for BLMA to get them here.
4) I Need More Sound: I have sound in the SD40M-2s. I already ordered the sound decoder for the GP set. It is more fun to run with sound, how did I overlook that pair getting it. When switching the flour mill, there are 2 grade crossings to contend with. The airhorn must be used.
5) I Need More Track: I had a small extension off Tiller to allow switching, it was only 2 feet long and that is not enough. I'll build another corner (4 feet of track) and that will let me add another straight module with a short run around and maybe part of Peterson Mill in North Branch. This will also add more industry as there will be places to spot fertilizer cars, magnesium chloride cars and defect sand cars.
6) Unit Trains: The Skally has started sending a large amount of the sand out in BNSF Unit Trains. I have some BNSF -9s I am working on to handle this duty. They will be dropped in Hinckley and the SCXY crews will bring them to Rush City, where they will start the session.
7) Build More Buildings: It looked odd to spot cars in fields. Tiller and Zinpro are labeled, but the buildings are not there. I need to either build some stand in buildings or get cracking on building the styrene versions. This session did jump start me to get cracking on my Tiller sand tower. The loadout shed should be a one day project. It shouldn't take much to make the unloading stand for Zinpro either.

8) I'm sure there is more, I'll have to go over my notes again to see what I find.

I think I have a couple of weeks until my next ops session, I'll see what I can get fixed before then.