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 Construction of the new PRR Northern Division
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Author Previous Topic: Scenery Topic Next Topic: Subroadbed, Roadbed and Track
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Grubes
Crew Chief



Posted - 10/24/2015 :  9:38:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Looks great Mark. You need to take more vacations.


Country: USA | Posts: 534 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 10/25/2015 :  01:06:09 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Dave! Hopefully in a few short years, I can take a permanent vacation!

Actually, it was the upcoming MER that really got me moving. It's been a busy weekend here and it's been fun seeing some of the guys from the forum. We've had several great operating sessions, and I just got home from the 'night time crew lounge' at the convention. I'm hosting another open house tomorrow during the day and that will wrap up the convention activities. I'll post some pics in the next day or two.


Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13362 Go to Top of Page

Tyson Rayles
Moderator

Premium Member


Posted - 10/25/2015 :  06:33:28 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Wow that last pic shows more square footage than my entire layout Mark! Gotta say we need some scenery though.

Mike

Country: USA | Posts: 12408 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 10/25/2015 :  5:12:34 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
LOL! You should see the rest! But your right, I now need scenery, and I think I can finally focus just that. Now that the convention and open houses are over, its time to get back to work and start putting some of that green stuff down!

Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13362 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 10/28/2015 :  1:46:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So the MER convention has come and gone. It was a great weekend and fun to see some old friends and make new ones!

I had the privilege of having my layout open for two open houses over the course of the weekend. To get ready, I had spent the last couple of days before the convention finishing up projects, putting things away and cleaning up the railroad room.

One of the things I managed to finish was the backdrop project, which I will now call complete! When I finished the backdrops, while they looked great, there was this unsightly Ďgapí between the backdrop and the roadbed in the area on the stairs landing. So I put some hardshell in those areas, painted it black and weathered the rail. So while there isn't any vegetation in this area, it has a 'finished' look to it.

Here is a shot of the tracks coming out of staging on the landing of the steps.
Itís hard to see in the picture, but what a difference a little hard shell and track weathering goes! Iím really pleased how this came out. Next will be a back drop and some vegetation.



I had so much fun doing that, I figured maybe I could do some hard shell in South Danville against the new backdrop. After all, I was anxious to see what that area might look like as I am trying to create a Ďtunnel of treesí to disguise the hole in the backdrop. So next thing you know, Iím putting on hard shell there too. Which of course meant I had to paint it, and what the heck, I might as well paint the track too! Itís funny how something like an open house will motive you!



Finally, now that have divided the two branch lines visually as they enter the upper level, I made up these signs which identify the branch lines and direction of travel. Yes, both branch lines run eastbound!



The open houses went extremely well. Over the course of the two open houses, I had approximately 70 visitors, most of whom visited me on Sunday. I received a lot of great feedback, which is something I always welcome. One of the things I hoped to do but forgot to do was to get pictures of the open house! I was so busy greeting and talking to visitors that I totally forgot!

So now that the convention is behind me, I plan to get back to work on some scenery and resume operations on the layout.


Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13362 Go to Top of Page

wvrr
Fireman



Posted - 10/28/2015 :  1:56:19 PM  Show Profile  Visit wvrr's Homepage  Reply with Quote
What Mark didn't point out in his last two photos is the Wilkes-Barre Branch signs are different. When we were at his open house, Mark told us the funny story of printing the first one wrong. Even the owner can sometimes lose his sense of direction on his own layout!

Chuck



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nhguy
Fireman



Posted - 10/28/2015 :  1:58:35 PM  Show Profile  Visit nhguy's Homepage  Send nhguy a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Well, well, well, Mark! Look at you go! There is even green on the Wilkes Barre branch!! Just like the layout skirting a little hardshell goes a long ways in giving the railroad personality and visual interest. The entrances will eventually disappear with vegetation and buildings. Great start my friend. See, scenery is contagious. Eastbound both directions???? It is possible depending on the branch end your at!

Bill


Bill Shanaman
New Haven RR
Hartford Division
in Colorado.

Edited by - nhguy on 10/28/2015 2:00:58 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 4763 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 10/28/2015 :  7:22:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by wvrr

What Mark didn't point out in his last two photos is the Wilkes-Barre Branch signs are different. When we were at his open house, Mark told us the funny story of printing the first one wrong. Even the owner can sometimes lose his sense of direction on his own layout!

Chuck



Gee, thanks Chuck! But yes, funny story. So I printed out the first set of signs, laminated them and put them in position. If you look carefully at the second photo, you will see its says "Wilkes-Barre Branch, Westbound". It wasn't until I took pictures and had planned to post them to the forum did I realize my mistake. The branchlines run EAST, not WEST! And this was hours before my open house! So I quickly made up new signs and fixed the boo-boo.

Its kind of like that scene from one of my favorite movies... 'eastbound, westbound, whatever it takes!'


Mark

Edited by - MarkF on 10/28/2015 7:27:34 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 13362 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 10/28/2015 :  7:24:34 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by nhguy

Well, well, well, Mark! Look at you go! There is even green on the Wilkes Barre branch!!


Well, it is only temporary, but stand back because I am ready for the real stuff! This has me fired up. There are several areas on the layout that NEED scenery to help create some visual blocks and further define the individual scenes.


Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13362 Go to Top of Page

Harsco
Fireman



Posted - 10/28/2015 :  9:49:38 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
<ahem...cough, cough...>


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BessemerBob
Engine Wiper

Posted - 11/27/2015 :  09:44:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Mark must be using natural dust as part of the scenery.

All kidding aside I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving, and hope to see some update photos of the PRR Northern Division Soon


"the sleep of a laboring man is sweet"

Country: USA | Posts: 125 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 11/28/2015 :  01:16:56 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the 'nudge' for an update Bob! I promise one will be coming in the next couple of days.

But rest assured there is no dust settling on the railroad! In fact I just had my fifth op session tonight! All went well!


Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13362 Go to Top of Page

nhguy
Fireman



Posted - 11/28/2015 :  01:26:44 AM  Show Profile  Visit nhguy's Homepage  Send nhguy a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

Thanks for the 'nudge' for an update Bob! I promise one will be coming in the next couple of days.

But rest assured there is no dust settling on the railroad! In fact I just had my fifth op session tonight! All went well!



Bill Shanaman
New Haven RR
Hartford Division
in Colorado.

Country: USA | Posts: 4763 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 11/30/2015 :  6:08:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I took some time off from the layout after the convention, but eventually made my way back to finish the staging yard, a project that definitely got the best of me! The plan was to install switch machines on each yard ladder in the staging yard, both upper and lower, and control them by using diode matrixes. Sounds easy enough, right? I started this project back in August with the hopes of having it finished by the MER convention. That didnít happen! But finally today I can call this project finished. What took so long you might ask?

Well, first thing was the diodes themselves. Not being an electronics guru, I ordered the wrong diodes. I didnítí realize this until after I build all four matrix boards and then began installing them. At first, each route worked fine, but I realized that after the first try, nothing was working. Long story short, I realized I ordered diodes that were underrated and therefore blowing out after the first throw! So, after a little research, I found the right diodes, ordered them and built the four boards again!

I then designed and built the two control panels. Each yard (upper and lower) has its own panel. Located on each panel is a rotary switch with which you select the track and push the button associated with the end from which you are leaving or entering. This three wafer rotary switch aligns the proper route to the diode matrix boards and also supplies power to the selected track. All tracks are powered off unless you select that track with the rotary. The LEDís on the panel light to show the track selected.

Once the boards and panels were built, I began to wire it all together and tested each route as I installed machines and wired it together. As I went along, I noticed at one point that my capacitor discharge unit was having a hard time throwing the machines. I figured out that I had too many machines on some of the routes, so I then went back and used the contacts on the machines to cut power to each machine if it was alreday thrown in that particular route. That solved that problem!

Of course, the further I got into the project, the more mistakes I discovered, such as a tiny piece of solder bridging two paths on one of the matrix boards. That took forever to track down! But, finally, perseverance paid off and I can call the project complete!

Here are a few pictures of the end results. First, a picture of the lower level east end showing machines that have the additional contacts that shut off power to the machine if it is already thrown in the correct position.



Here are a couple of pictures showing the two panels in the staging yard, one controlling the lower level yard and the other controlling the upper level yard. You can see the rotary switch that routes power to the selected route, the red pushbuttons that activate the machines and the LEDís on the track diagram that show the track selected.





And finally one last shot of the staging yard put back together and ready for the next op session where it will put to the test!



This proved to be one of the biggest projects on the railroad yet, so Iím glad itís over! Hopefully it wil proved to be worth the effort. Iím now looking forward to turning my attention to doing some scenery work.


Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13362 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 11/30/2015 :  6:18:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
With the convention behind us and the staging yard finished, it was time to operate, and op session #5 is now in the history books! All in all, things seemed to go pretty well. I had a crew of 10 tonight, which seems to be the right size crew. The really good news is that the schedule that I developed seems to be working pretty well. This is the 5th time we have run this schedule and while there will always be some conflicts here and there, I havenít had to do much tweaking and generally, the traffic flows well around the railroad and the operators are out of each otherís way, which is critical on a double decked layout.

There were only two problems that cropped up during the session that need to be addressed. I seem to have ongoing problems with the Waltherís DCC turntable at Northumberland. For whatever reason, it seems to randomly lose itís memory and has to be re-calibrated several times during the session. I have to investigate this one further.

And the other problem is with the staging yard. As it turns out, I guess I still need to tweak the lower level east end yard ladder as the turnouts are not throwing reliably. Hopefully these will be easy fixes!

So here are some pictures from the session. First we have John R. in charge of train S-394, the local out of Northumberland that services the Reading RR interchange in Shamokin and the Lehigh Valley interchange in Mt. Carmel. John is currently in Shamokin pulling cars from the Reading Interchange.



On this night, Bruce B. and George W. took the roles of Northumberland Yard Master and Yard Operator. Here we see Bruce at the engine facility getting ready to pull motive power for the next outbound train while George is working at the operators desk classifying cars in the yard.



A little while later, we find Bruce and George checking the schedule as Joe H. waits for his assignment. The yard has its own schedule that details arrivals and departures so the yard crew can try to keep a step ahead. Northumberland has proven to be an extremely busy yard and the last thing you want to do is fall behind!



Matt K. is in the staging yard area locating his next train, BF-3, which runs between Enola Yard and Buffalo, NY. Mattís train will take him to Northumberland Yard where he will have set outs and pickups before heading on to Buffalo.



Bill H. is the operator at Buttonwood Yard in Wilkes-Barre tonight and is now working with Bob P. who brought in the Lehigh Valley interchange train. Bob will drop off cars for the PRR and then pick up cars bound for the Lehigh Valley Railroad and head back to staging.



A little later on we find John R. with train S-70, another local out of Northumberland Yard. This train works Selinsgrove, Hummels Wharf and the PP&L power plant in Shamokin Dam. Here we see John is on his way back to Northumberland and is working the trailing point industries in Selinsgrove.



Our Kase Tower (dispatcher) operator was Chris C. and he did a great job considering this was his first time at that position. PJ Mattson was also working as a road crew tonight but managed to avoid my camera during the session!


Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13362 Go to Top of Page
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