Tuesday, August 29, 2023

A New Addition to the Layout: Part V: De-Wiring

Real quick update on the process of adding the Charlton Branch section of the Northern SNE to my layout. 

Took some time over the weekend to really study how Jason had wired this thing. As I mentioned previously it was originally wired for DC cab control, then modified for DCC a couple of decades ago. 

There were also a few things I simply couldn't figure out - a few quick texts back and forth with Jason cleared those things up. I just wanted to make sure I didn't snip any wires that were important! 

If you've ever converted a layout from DC to DCC you know it's not really a "wiring" process, it's more like a "De-wiring" process. Add to that the fact that there were a couple of reversing sections that required auto-reversers on Jason's layout that won't be on mine - and a couple fewer switch motors I started tracing wires and removing those that weren't necessary. 

Essentially I kept the track feeders and the control wiring for four turnouts - all the rest came out. 

The photo above shows about a third of the wiring I removed from this one segment of layout. 

Now time to start putting things back together! 

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

New Addition to the Layout - Part IV : Back on its own two (four) feet...


The stars aligned last Saturday and Stic and I were both in town and had some free time to raise the Charlton section of the "Northern SNE" from the spot on the basement floor where it has sat unceremoniously since the day we unloaded it from the truck. One lesson I'd learned from previously layouts is to paint the legs BEFORE installing them - especially when the layout room is carpeted like mine. So earlier in the week I dug out the fascia paint and painted the four legs for the Charlton section. And while the paint and rollers were out I painted the fascia panels on the paper mill peninsula. 

I'd thought about trying to install the legs on the Charlton section myself - if for no other reason than I was getting sick of seeing this thing on the floor. As an aside - is there anything sadder looking in the hobby besides a chopped up layout viewed out of context? But I waited until I could get some help since (1) It didn't seem like a one person job - in actuality it turned out to be a three person job; and (2) Like most model railroads this thing is heavy, awkward, and delicate. A bad combination when the desire is to avoid as much damage as possible! 

Stic arrived nice and early and after we got ourselves a game plan the first step was to cut out the pieces of the layout section that we knew we wouldn't be using. This included a real hodgepodge of wood on one end that connected to the rest of Jason's layout. There was also some track that had popped from the ties in the process of moving, and a turnout and associated siding that simply would not make any sense in the context of the new arrangement. Those all went into the scrap bucket. When we took the layout out of Jason's basement we cut away more of the river than I knew I could use - I reasoned it would be easier to cut away more of the river than leave it short and be forced to splice more water onto the river. So out came the jigsaw and more water went away. 

Frankly at this point I was doubting even trying to incorporate this into the railroad. We went to lunch, which, for the record, is our favorite part of any work session! 

After using my handy laser level (if you don't have a laser level, get one!) to determine the height the new legs would need to be we got the 2x2 legs cut to length, including two spacers for each. My wife lent a hand as we lifted the section up, slid the sawhorses out from under the layout, clamped the first leg section in place, made sure it was level and screwed the legs into the L girders. 

Actually the first pair of legs went in and were leveled and installed quickly. The second set of legs took a lot longer to get lined up and leveled for whatever reason, but by the end of the day the Charlton section was up on its new legs. 

My task for this week is to get the wall behind the Charlton section painted the match the rest of the layout (sky blue above the benchwork, Riverway below). I've already removed the fascia "extension" in the junction corner of the existing layout and patched and sanded the screw holes. 

Jason had this layout section situated as a narrow peninsula - I plan to place one side against the wall since I think it will fit the space better. I do plan to make the scene a little wider (something like 6-10" or so) where the long side of the section connects to the wall. That way the track won't be 3/4" from the wall - there'll be some space for a transition from the modeled area to the backdrop. 

Another issue we noticed as we worked this weekend was the wiring - there's a LOT of wiring under this one layout section! Not surprising since Jason's layout was originally wired for block control. I know he had NCE for the last couple of decades - and I know the wiring worked with NCE, but frankly I'm tempted to take out everything but the feeders (and the wires to the powered frogs on the turnouts) and essentially rewire the section using my color coding and standard process. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Another building for Stafford Mills

The church in the approximate location on top of the hillside. I'll add a small fenced grave yard alongside the church when the building is installed in place. 

I've just about completed another building, in this case a small wood frame church, for Stafford Mills. This is the classic Campbell Scale Models Community Church. 

I don't know when this kit was introduced but I remember seeing it when I was a kid on layouts and in advertisements. I picked this up for a song at a Timonium show a few years ago. Frankly, it remains one of the few church kits on the market. It's really too small to a be represent a small town New England church, but it certainly looks like a church. I shingled the overhang above the door  but as you can see from the photos I haven't installed it yet. I'm thinking leaving it off may help it look a little more like some of the New England churches I'm using for inspiration.

I built it pretty much according to the instructions - even using the stained glass windows which are essentially images of stained glass on 35mm film strips. I've built a number of these kits over the years (this is the first time I built the church) and found the text in the instructions is somewhat lacking. I tend to read through the steps once or twice to get a feel for the approximate order and then use the exploded diagram(s) to actually get the pieces in the right place! 

I found the wood shingles in the kit were kind of stuck together. I've also tried to use the Campbell shingles in the past and found they were almost impossible to straighten and get to lay flat so I pitched them and substituted Northeastern Scale Models pre made shingled roofs instead. 

For the steeple sections I used BEST shingles leftover from the Inn project a few weeks ago since the coloration of the BEST shingles was close to the Northeastern roofs - beside, the BEST shingles were piled up in the corner of my cutting mat!

The roof does need just a little bit of weathering to tone it down a bit. 

I think there's room for one more structure along this street in Stafford Mills, then I can proceed with planting the buildings, finishing the road surface, and getting the scenic textures in place.