Monday, February 21, 2011

Track Laying Begins.....

I am sorry it has taken so long to update my Blog but little physical work has been done on the layout so there has been nothing much to report. Raymond and I have had many discussions about how we should do this and that – mainly wiring. We have done some modelling, however. I have done some more painting on my Walthers Cornerstone building and Raymond is building a Slaters 16 mm Scale Slate Wagon kit.

We have not made any progress since my last post with regard to track laying until this weekend of the 19 – 20 February when we suddenly realised there was some urgency involved.

I had ordered a range of Perspex track aligners from Brunel Hobbies which arrived on the 11 January. I wanted these so we could ensure we had smooth curves to the required radius unlike the major issues we had with the layout in the garage. Our desired radius on the main line is to be 36 inches but we can go down to 30 inches. Our fleet of MMI locos require a 26 inch radius minimum.

One thing that I have found very frustrating is the lack of conformity in the descriptions between the various ranges of Peco Turnouts. We are using Peco On30 Code 100 Flex Track. When we were building the garage layout we purchased two of Peco’s Medium Radius On30 Turnouts thinking they would be 36 inch radius only to find to our dismay they were actually 24 inch radius and the MMI locos did not like them. We had no choice but to purchase the equivalent range of “standard gauge” Peco Streamline Turnouts as there were no other radii available in Peco On30 pointwork. We bought the Large Radius Turnouts on the assumption they were 36 inch radius which was what we wanted. This assumption was false. Peco Large Radius Turnouts are 60 inch radius as we discovered in planning the trackwork for The Shed layout. The following Table will give you an idea –
Peco Streamline Turnouts
On30 “Standard Gauge”
Small Radius (Left or Right) n.a. 24 inch radius
Medium Radius (Left or Right) 24 inches 36 inches
Large Radius (Left or Right) n.a. 60 inches
Curved Turnout n.a. 60 inches/30 inches
Small Radius Y Turnout n.a. 24 inches
Y Turnout 36 inches n.a.
Large Radius Y Turnout n.a. 72 inches

We have also had much discussion and soul searching as to the wiring needed for each of the layout requirements. We had searched various web pages and asked a number of our friends. DCC Concepts recommended heavy duty wire for the main power Bus and less thick wire for the droppers and less again for accessories. To “muddy the waters” so to speak some descriptions of wiring thickness was in American Wire Gauge (AWG) while most Australian specifications only state the thickness in cross-sectional area.

We finally purchased our wiring requirements from Jaycar during the week ending 18 February –
2 X 100 metre rolls one each of red and black 12 AWG for the main Power Bus
2 X 100 metre rolls one each of red and black 18 AWG for the Dropper wires from the rail to the Power Bus
8 X 25 metre rolls one each of red/black/white/yellow/orange/green/blue/brown 25 AWG for accessories (point motors etc)
Total cost – $430.

Thanks to SteveM and CraigM for their valuable advice and critique.

Saturday, 19 February Raymond purchased five Left Hand and six Right Hand Peco Medium Radius Electrofrog Turnouts. These are Peco’s newer design which is supposedly set-up to make it easier for DCC requirements. They would also replace all the Large Radius Turnouts which we had so far salvaged from the garage layout and they would take up less space allowing for longer siding lengths.

Raymond spent Saturday afternoon (19 February) setting up the first Peco Turnout with dropper wires and a wire to connect to a Cobalt point motor. He had an increasingly frustrating time to solder the wires to their respective locations on the curved turnout he had tackled. He also soldered dropper wires onto the first three lengths of Peco On30 Flex track. After a few selected adjectives and much grunting and many sighs he eventually got the job done.

I spent Saturday arvo setting up a temporary section of baseboard so that we could get the curve right from this first turnout around to parallel the back wall of the shed. Nothing would be worse than to find our proposed 36 inch radius mainline curve would either run into the wall or go too close to it when it came time to build the section of baseboard and track section, along the back wall of the shed.

Sunday 20 February we started to get serious. We spent a lot of time setting out the location of the first point which was near the back wall of the shed. We had a number of “givens” which could not be changed to meet the track plan we had in mind.
• The radius of the main line entering the first turnout from the back wall of the shed was to be 36 inches
• The first turnout was to be a Left Hand Curved Point (Radius 60 inches/30 inches) which Raymond had managed to pre-wire on Saturday.
• The radius of the track from this first turnout around to parallel the left-hand wall of the shed was to be 38 inches on the outer diverging track and 30 inches on the inner track. It was felt that this would maximise the clearance between the two tracks as soon as possible after the divergence.
• The track along the left-hand wall of the shed was to be 12 inches from the wall. This would allow a station (Depot) to be located between the wall and this track which was to be the main line. The preferred choice for this depot building is Ouray from the Raggs to Riches range of laser-cut kits.

We located the first turnout using the above criteria. We had purchased the DCC Concepts template to allow us to drill the pilot holes for the fixing of the Cobalt point motor under the turnout along with the hole through the baseboard to connect the motor with the tie rod on the turnout. We found the task of using the template very difficult initially. The template would move on the turnout whilst drilling the pilot holes and the 0.8 mm drill was so fine we were worried about breakages. The tiny twist drill was too delicate to use in a standard Bosch 18 v battery drill which was too heavy to keep vertical and the use of a pin vice was too slow doing it manually.

The first turnout has been spiked in position. 20/02/2011

I went off to Jaycar at Underwood and purchased a moto-tool that came complete with a flexible drive shaft (we already have a Dremel but no flexible shaft) and a 10 pack of spare twist drills – all for the princely sum of $58.

With this set up and by using a length of sticky tape to hold the template in position we soon had the pilot holes for the first turnout drilled. We then spent Sunday afternoon laying the first passing loop track.
The first lengths of track have been laid. The track nearest the wall is the main line and the station road. Ouray Depot fits between this track and the wall. 20/02/2011

Sunday evening, Raymond, modified and wired a further three turnouts and another couple of sections of track which we then laid in position.
Noe what do I do? Raymond contemplates the wiring requirements for one of the turnouts. The right coloured wire needs to be in the right location. 20/02/2011

Raymond wiring a turnout. 20/02/2011

Raymond is becoming a deft hand at soldering. 20/02/2011

Now this turnout goes there. 20/02/2011

The reason for this hive of activity? The Tuesday Nighters, alias Mackie’s Marauders, are to come over for an inspection this Tuesday night 22 February. They had decided to come to our place at their fortnightly meeting held on the 25 January. They said they were giving us a month to lay track, wire it up and get trains running. Well, one out of three isn’t bad.

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