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MikeMc
Engine Wiper



Posted - 07/23/2016 :  2:10:43 PM  Show Profile  Visit MikeMc's Homepage  Reply with Quote
OK, been a while since I have posted here on layout doings. When we left off last October, the 2nd Op Session was done and I was getting ready to host an Op Session for the MER Mt. Laurel Convention. That went pretty well and I was assisted by Phil (SJConrail) and Bruce (Steam) who really helped make things run smooth - thanks guys!

One thing I did before the MER convention was convert some of he Tortoise machines that were controlled via DCC with a touch panel using Berrett Hill Touch Toggles. These work great, although I do need to do some work on the larger panel to make sure it stays up against the glass - otherwise the sensor does not pick up the finger properly to throw the switch. Not an issue on the smaller Whitefield panel.









I think this solution is much easier for the operators. The only "learning curve" is to instruct the operator to wait a second while covering the switch light to throw it - it is not instantaneous like a button. Not a big deal, just a slight difference.

I still have another couple of small panels to put in to handle turnouts in Gilman and Eat St. Johnsbury. For now I will probably leave the turnouts for staging as DCC addressable only as they really do not require being thrown too often. They do need an indicator panel though, which I could do using the outputs form the Tortoise.

After the convention, I turned my attention to some structure work. First up was a November start on the Crawford Notch station. This is a resin and plaster kit acquired in 1995. Hey, never too late to start a project right?

Having the actual location to place it on the layout certainly was a driving factor in starting this kit. It is located as soon as you enter the layout room and will help complete that scene.

I can't say the kit was a joy to put together. Many of the resin parts were warped and required heating to get them to be flat again. But over the course of a few months I got the structure nearly complete. It is painted in the prototype 1970s scheme of green with gray trim, which was how it was just before it was sold and repainted by the Appalachian Mountain Club (as pictured on the box).







Here is a look at the nearly completed structure on the layout. I am building out the platform wings of the prototype that are not part of the kit's plaster base.



This area now has the completed platform wings and the scenery is being finished up to the building. That should be complete in the next week or two.

Next I turned my attention to the paper mill in Groveton NH (mid-May). I have posted about that a bit over the last 2 months on my blog http://mainecentral.blogspot.com, but I'll post some pics in another post here soon.

Next up is cleaning up a bit and scheduling Op Session #4 in August or September, as I am often reminded of how long it has been since the last session by other operators!

Mike Mc.
Delran, NJ



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MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 07/23/2016 :  10:39:34 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great update Mike! That station looks incredible. Nice job!

I do like the looks of those panels. I've never seen those buttons before that I recall, but they sure look interesting! They should be a great solution to the problems we encountered previously. I can't wait to try them out.

And yes, another reminder. It's time to operate!


Mark

Edited by - MarkF on 07/23/2016 10:41:22 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 13471 Go to Top of Page

MikeMc
Engine Wiper



Posted - 10/11/2016 :  1:26:44 PM  Show Profile  Visit MikeMc's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thought I would post some pictures from NEK Op Session #4, conducted Sept 28th. I had a blast and I think the guys enjoyed it too. I continue to chip away at the schedule, train lengths and staging to get the plan in place. In that sense, it was a success as I learned a few things and have some ideas in mind to address some issues.

Prior to the session, Bruce and Mark (SteamNut and MarkF) assisted with track cleaning and CRC 2-26 application. We encountered no issues resulting from electrical contact (there were other issues of course, but the CRC 2-26 did the job!).

In attendance were forum regulars such as Bruce, Mark, Phil and Joe as well as Bill H, Chris C and John R (CL&W)

The following was posted on my blog as well.

Bruce, ranking seniority on the call board, marked up for the Morrisville yard job. He got down to business in Morrisville breaking down train VM-2, the St. Albans to Morrisville LVRC train. The power is on the engine house track (the engine house is still to be built as you can see!)



Mark served as Yardmaster in St. Johnsbury, and he enjoyed the new method of throwing turnouts, using Touch Toggles (from Berrett Hill) on the panel in front of him. (Note: I just finished a rebuild of this panel to address issues with the toggles not being tight up against the glass).



Working with Mark as St. Johnsbury yard engineer was Joe. Joe handled locomotive movements with Mark working the waybills to get things figured out and keep an eye on the schedule. St. johns bury is the busiest spot on the layout, so how it runs dictates how the session progresses. Definitely a 2 person job!



Chris wore the right color shirt as he operated Canadian Pacific train 917 from Newport, He will have cars to drop and pickup, and then he will proceed to E. Deerfield MA. On the lead are a CP 424 and RS10 along with a B&M GP40-2.




John ran the LVRC MJ-2 train from Morrisville to St. Johnsbury. Here John is picking up a boxcar on the siding in Hardwick, and wondering how long he is allowed to block the road crossing. I'll have to add that to the instructions in the future!



I assigned a 2 man crew to the B&M train 4301, the White River Junction to Groveton turn. Here Bill and Chris handle the MEC interchange traffic at Whitefield. In front of Bill is another Touch Toggle panel for the 6 switches in this area.



Later in the run of B&M 4301, Bill and Chris arrived in Groveton to work the paper mill. Groveton has benefited with the addition of structures and scenery since he last op session when it was strictly plywood. A local switcher at Groveton assists in work of breaking down 4301 and getting it turned around and heading back south as BM 4302. (Here you can see a lot of the Groveton scene progress done through the summer)



Phil was on hand to help out, and here is preparing to assemble the ballast extra from Hardwick to meet a Maine Central train of empties in St. Johnsbury. The ex-CR transfer caboose is new to the LVRC. Phil is about to pull the hoppers from the spur .



Phil has arrived in St. Johnsbury and is working to swap his loads with the MEC train of empties brought in by John. Here Phil has cut off his power, a Vermont Northern C420 and pulls forward. John is on the CP main with the MEC train. The yard crew looks on, waiting for this maneuver to finish so they can get back to work.



John ran the North Stratford to St. Johnsbury turn, MEC train TY-2/YT-1. Here John is using the passing siding at Crawford Notch to run around his train and prepare for the trek west to St. J.More trees arrived in Crawford recently, and the foreground buildings are part of the Whitefield scene.



Phil ran the MEC YQ-1/QY-2 turn from St. Johnsbury to Whitefield and back. Here is doing some work in East St. Johnsbury, dropping an empty pulpwood rack.



One last picture captures Phil working the Gilman paper mill switch job. This was a new assignment I added to handle spots and pickups ahead of train YQ-1. I had found that too much time was being taken by this train so adding another job alleviated the issue.




I have a few issues to address that popped up during the sessions, a few minor changes to the plan, and then hopefully get the next session scheduled for mid-November.



Country: USA | Posts: 229 Go to Top of Page

BN_Fan
Section Hand



Posted - 10/12/2016 :  10:05:06 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Congrats on session #4 Mike. Looks like the crew had a great time and the layout is progressing nicely.


Country: USA | Posts: 94 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 10/12/2016 :  3:54:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I had a great time Mike! The yard is a pleasure to run and keeps you on your toes! Your layout is not only a pleasure to operate, but eye candy as well! The new panels worked very well. I'm very impressed with the Touch Toggles and the way you made the panel from a picture frame. Excellent time had by all.

Mark

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jbvb
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 10/12/2016 :  7:17:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit jbvb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Looks good, looks fun.


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MikeMc
Engine Wiper



Posted - 11/13/2016 :  3:42:09 PM  Show Profile  Visit MikeMc's Homepage  Reply with Quote
A note that my layout, as well as many in the South Jersey area, will be open this upcoming Saturday, November 19th, for the annual November Model RR open house tour throughout, NJ, PA, DE and MD. I am open from 12 noon to 5pm.

More info on the PA and NJ layouts can be found here:
http://pennsyrr.com/index.php/mroh-schedule

Please try to make some time and stop by, as well as visit the other layouts in the area. Very easy to see a dozen or more layouts during the day (times open vary, some as early as 8am). In my area, you can see 3 layouts within just a few minutes of each other.



Country: USA | Posts: 229 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 11/13/2016 :  9:23:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Along with Mike's, John Rahenkamp's Clairmont, Lewiston and Western will also be open that day. I will be there along with SteamNut. John's is only about 15 minutes from Mike's house, so stop by both and say hi! Both are well worth the visit.

Mark

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MikeMc
Engine Wiper



Posted - 12/30/2016 :  5:03:10 PM  Show Profile  Visit MikeMc's Homepage  Reply with Quote
(I posted this on my mainecentral.blogspot.com blog today, thought I would add it here as well)

Listening to my operators

Through the 5 operating sessions I have held so far I have received some good feedback on the layout and the operations. Some suggestions have been easy to address, like train sequence, which I have done through schedule changes in each subsequent session. Others have been more "infrastructure" related, involving track. Sometimes this has been addressed by explaining something about the layout and the prototype operation, and that has resolved the issue (like running from Whitefield to Crawford Notch to use a passing siding).

However one suggestion has been mentioned a couple of times by different people, so I am thinking it may have merit. Interestingly enough it involves a location where I freelanced the track plan instead of following the prototype. The prototype usually gets it right, so this comes as no surprise.

In the Morrisville yard I provided a passing siding to assist in breaking down and building trains. It works, but it could be easier if the siding was longer and also if it was not one of the yard tracks. With a limited number of yard tracks, it becomes tough to tie up the mainline and the siding and still have room to move power onto and off trains and also maneuver the yard locomotive.

I have watched these operations and also did some test running after the last session to see how things work. My conclusion was that the suggestion to drop in a pair of turnouts to create a second passing siding would really help things.



Photo: The siding to Lamoille Grain parallels the main line (left). The turnout installed is the start of the yard ladder and also one end of the existing passing siding. As suggested, dropping turnouts as shown will allow a second, longer, passing siding on the other side of the main.

Adding the curved turnout on the main will involve removing a piece if the ballasted main line and a little scenery, but that shouldn't be too difficult. I will need to do some roadbed transition as the siding height is 1/8" lower than the main. The regular turnout on the siding will be even easier, a simple drop in for a cut out track section.

All the turnouts in this area are controlled by ground throws mounted at the layout edge (see earlier post on this). However doing it the same way for these 2 would require some major work that would damage scenery. I think the better solution will be to use Tortoise switch machines. For one, it will not require ripping out and rebuilding some scenery. But also throwing one turnout really requires the other to also be thrown. This is easy to do having one control throw both machines. I'lll just have to determine the best place to add the control. It will be my only Tortoise not controlled by DCC or a Touch Toggle!

Of course, checking my supply of turnouts on hand (I still have to finish track in North Stratford and Lyndonville) reveals that I have a #7 curved turnout, right hand even, but what I really need is a #7.5 for the 28" inner radius curve. And I could use a #5 or #6 left hand turnout for the siding, and all I have are right hand turnouts. Figures!



Photo: As the overhead shows, I need a less sharp curved turnout and a left hand (not right hand) turnout on the grain siding. Of course, I don't have these on hand!

So time to pick up the 2 turnouts I need and then see if I can get this installed without too much down time. I have the layout restaged and ready for another op session, so I'll have to see if I want to wait until this is done, or have the op session first and then come back and do track work.



Country: USA | Posts: 229 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 12/31/2016 :  01:29:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Glad to see an update Mike. I haven't operated in that area but am glad to hear you are listening to those that do. Once you get operating, these are the things that tend to surface and its great to know you take the suggestions seriously and addressing them. Over time, that will make your great layout even better!

Mark

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MikeMc
Engine Wiper



Posted - 01/02/2017 :  4:12:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit MikeMc's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I shot some iPhone video of my Groveton NH paper mill scene. then had some fun editing it and adding audio while traveling on the Acela up to Boston. The audio is added in as I do not have sound in the Kato RS2 featured in the video.

The video is up on YouTube at https://youtu.be/MOeA7pdvf3Q.




Country: USA | Posts: 229 Go to Top of Page

MikeMc
Engine Wiper



Posted - 03/17/2017 :  11:33:51 AM  Show Profile  Visit MikeMc's Homepage  Reply with Quote
One of the requests I had from previous operating sessions was a track schematic that operators could refer to to better understand the layout and where locations are in relation to each other. I put together a basic schematic in a drawing program that I can post around the layout.



Not all tracks are shown, but passing sidings are included along with the 2 main yard areas. The dashed lines represent hidden staging areas.

Hopefully this will be easy to understand. The somewhat unusual part of my layout is the representation of multiple "mainlines" of different railroads.

The top line represents the Maine Central Mountain Division between Portland and St. Johnsbury. Included is the Boston & Maine line between White River Jct. and Groveton, crossing the MEC at Whitefield.

The middle line represents the Canadian Pacific between Newport and East Deerfield. The Maine Central joins in via the A connector. Meanwhile the Lamoille Valley joins in via the B connector.

The Lamoille Valley is on the bottom line and runs between St. Johnsbury and St. Albans. The Central Vermont line runs between Richford and St. Albans and crosses the Lamoille Valley at Sheldon Jct.

Not shown here is the connector between Sheldon Jct. and Lyndonville. This would be the shorter dashed line at the bottom right connecting in via a switch by Lyndonville on the middle line. this is not used in actual operations but only as a way to have a loop for open houses.

Likewise, the connection between Portland staging and E. Deerfield staging is not shown. Again this is strictly for creating a second loop for open house running and is not relevant to operations.

This should be another helpful addition to the various operator aids. I look forward to finding out how useful it is for the operators, and to see what feedback and suggestions they have. I have an upcoming session next Wednesday, so hopefully I'll have some pictures to post after that.



Country: USA | Posts: 229 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 03/17/2017 :  5:10:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm looking forward to the session and seeing your progress Mike. The schematics look great and should be helpful.

Mark

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