The Roster

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tom Sawyer and the fence

Got a nice break in the winter weather and was able to spray paint the bridge. Now for the weathering and then I can install it on the layout.

While I work on that, I'm also hard at work creating the hill forms for the base of the cliff at the north end of the layout. Its about five feet of very short slope at the base of the cliff. Construction method is the classic cardboard basket weave frame with plaster cloth layered over top.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why building a layout takes so long (part 2)

I'm up to the last bridges for the outer loop. I've got the bridge pier installed and painted a useable color. I'm about to tack down the bridges when I realize that;

a.) the streambed still is not sealed and painted.
b.) One of the bridges is not yet painted (still in its original plastic glossy black finish)
c.) its too cold and windy to spray paint outside.

so....put the outer loop project on hold for a day or two and move on to laying roadbed for the inner loop! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Scott requested pictures of the recent work I've been doing. So here you go!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Drive those spikes!

After two months of false starts, I'm starting to make progress! 

Got another 9 feet of track installed yesterday! Now if I can tackle getting the bridge piers cut I can envision 'closing the loop' on the outer track. (Then comes the fun of wiring and soldering!)

Also started laying the  roadbed for the inner loop. The western half will be easy, but I need to plan out the eastern half to ensure I get the track in the right place and get all the sidings mapped out. On the plus side - this is the fun part!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Layout maintenance

I found some time to diagnose a persistent current drop that happens on the layouts swing bridge. Didn't seem to matter which locomotive I used, it would 'stall' at the west end of the bridge. (And freakishly, start up again a second or two later). Didn't matter if it was a 60 year old American Flyer or a brand new American Models locomotive, they'd just stop.

Soooo....I ripped out the old feeder wiring...and then discovered that the connectors on the other side of the terminal block were not tightly joined to the wire. I'd crimped them down, but they were still loose. Considering this was the first piece of wiring I installed, I'll chalk it up to OTJ 'learning'.

To fix it, I broke out the trusty soldering iron and soldered the wires to the connector rings and installed new feeder wires to replaced to the two I'd ripped out at the start of the exercise. Nice solid connections all the way to the track!

To test, I ran a Showcase lines SW-9 around a few times with nary a hesitation or other sign of the problem.

A celebratory "woot" is on order!

While I was at it, I banged down a rail joiner that was sitting too high and causing every wheel that struck it to bounce and clatter.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Putting the track gang to work!

I was able to find a little time to work on the layout this week. The main accomplishment is getting the road bed laid up to the top of the raised tier. Now to fill and sand it, then I can start to lay track on the outer loop. Just means that I have to deal with the bridge piers soon.

Accomplishing this little bit does fuel the fire. After a long delay, I'm making progress again! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

U33C Blues, part 2

Sent the U33C back to the retailer/service center for service or replacement. We'll see how this turns out.

Monday, January 2, 2012

U33C update

A couple of folks asked if I had oiled the U33C. Yep, I sure did! I don't think that is the problem. You can see it (and hear it!) yourself here.

Micromark comes through!

Got a shipping from micromark today - and it was 100% correct. I needed a replacement hand throw for one that I broke and got some nifty brass screws to aid in installation. In 10 minutes I had the switch repaired and ready to go.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I've got the U33C blues...

Recieved my brand new U33C S Gauge locomotive today. Its very pretty, has really bright lights and a great sound systems....and it runs like a DOG!

If the motor and drive system is supposed to sound like a dull drill bit boring through 3/4" of wood, then mission accomplished! Its embarrassing, the Lionel would ship something that is this shoddy. Guess I'll be spending some time on the phone sorting out the repair process with the manufacturer.

On a related note, I had to nag California Roadbed for the shipment that they billed me for a month ago, but managed to not ship to me. Can't decide if most of the manufacturers in this hobby are customer service challenged, or if I'm being targeted for special abuse.

Happy New Years everyone!