Tag Archives: freight

Playing with trains

I know it’s been a bit since I posted here again, but I’ll try to make up for it here. I’ve been keeping busy at work, at home, and out railfanning. I’ve also been keeping up on the model railroad side, as I’m slowly converting all of my equipment to Sergent couplers, and still sketching track plan ideas. I did have an issue with the setup of the room (the location of the door needs to change), but that’s a subject for another post. This will be a basic photo post from here on!20150210_115113[1]

I had to swap the decoder in this loco recently, as the factory QSI gave up the ghost on me. I installed a TCS WowSound decoder, with KeepAlive and man, is it a nice decoder. The sound is head and shoulders above the factory decoder, and the motor control is excellent. I don’t know for sure if it’s related, but the engine seems to pull more now as well. This train weighed in at 60.5 oz of trailing weight, and while the Mikado was just barely able to get it over the 2+% grade into Bain, that’s fully 8 oz more trailing weight than it was able to do before.20150210_115155[1]

I didn’t do any switching on this day, just had fun running my train over the layout. I have another set of cars (plus one of my Decapods) converted, but those will be getting tested tomorrow. For now, enjoy the chase of the grain train over the SAMRC layout. I tried to get a few wider shots today so you can see the overall layout too, not just the train!20150210_115239[1]

Here we see the train thundering by the depot at Larkhall.20150210_115307[1]

Rounding the end of the peninsula, approaching Namaka.20150210_115347[1]

A passenger train waits to depart the station at Agatha.20150210_115531[1]

Looking towards the main yard and engine house.20150210_115558[1]

Coal mine atop the highest part of the layout.20150210_115611[1]

Heading back the other way now, passing the station at Namaka again.20150210_115851[1]

Western peninsula of the layout, representing a prairie town.20150210_115918[1]

Climbing the hill from Larkhall, past a drilling rig hard at work. Oil prices must be higher in the model world than they are right now in real life!20150210_120028[1]

The biggest wood trestle on the line.20150210_120042[1]

Topping the grade into Commerce.20150210_120050[1]

The caboose rolls by.20150210_120118[1]

Rolling into the far end of Bradshaw.20150210_120218[1]

Tail end departs Bradshaw as the head end approaches the summit.20150210_120331[1]

Sneaking into Bain.20150210_120428[1]

Passing the sawmill at Bain.20150210_120441[1]

Over a tall wood bridge on the descent to the main yard.20150210_120513[1]

Downgrade on the doubletrack, our final shot of the day.20150210_120538[1]

Hope you enjoyed the chase!

A catchall photo post

It’s another boring night shift on standby, imagine that! I considered doing another layout design post, but figured I’d reach into the archives and find a few shots that haven’t been posted yet.20140127_110053

None of these are posted in any particular order, and they aren’t all the same train either!20140328_131814


Unfortunately I don’t have many steam pictures uploaded onto the server right now. I have several shots on my phone (including a bunch of equipment with Sergent couplers, and a rejuvenated Mikado) but can’t access them on the laptop. They’re gonna have to wait til days off!20140128_11203420140128_11294120140128_11174020140328_121923

That’s all for now…looks like I have a bunch more that haven’t been posted, so I may have to do another of these posts in a few days.

First look at Sergent couplers

Last days off (hard to believe I’m already halfway my hitch after that!) I managed to assemble and test the Sergent couplers I had ordered while at work. I ordered compatible shank type E couplers, with the goodies needed to make them work (assembly fixture, reamer, height gauge, and uncoupler), with enough couplers for 6 pieces of rolling stock for testing. Assembly went really well and ended with (in part) what you see in this picture.20140814_163507

I got lazy and really didn’t take many shots of the assembly process. The instructions on Sergents website, and included with the various pieces do a great job of covering the process. I was lucky that my daughter had a plastic (non-magnetic obviously) pair of tweezers from some crystal-growing kit that I was able to use to insert the ball into the casting. Definitely work on a piece of paper towel or something similar, or you will lose some of the balls!

I chose a cross section of my fleet for testing. I installed couplers on my Proto 2000 0-6-0, an Accurail stock car, a Tichy flat car and tank car, an Athearn (blue box) boxcar, and a Roundhouse caboose. That gives me a tidy little local freight to play with. That’s a Kadee #5 laying beside the Tichy flat for comparison.20140814_164712

These things look great! I also love the lack of slack compared to normal Kadees. I have a couple that are a little bit stiff in the knuckle, but I suspect that will work its way out as I use them. In testing at the club, I was able to couple and uncouple even in an area where the tracks are fully 24″ from the aisle. I only have one or two spots in my plans (mostly around the roundhouse!) where there is anything deeper than 24″ benchwork, so I don’t anticipate that being an issue.20140815_16033620140815_160348

I need to do a bit more testing next days off, but I’m definitely leaning towards converting the entire fleet over to Sergents. I did take a couple videos illustrating coupling and uncoupling, but I can’t get them off my phone with the laptop, so they’ll have to wait til I get home and can use the desktop computer again.

Six degrees of separation

…or is that inches?

Perceptions are very important in model railroad design. Unless you are designing or building a switching layout, most layouts are intended to depict a railroad that goes somewhere. In all but the most generous of spaces, that means we need some way of getting extra length of line into a given space. Double decking has become a typical means of doing so, but there are times where parallel lines on the same level of railroad are needed.

The key question then, in our struggle to show a line “going somewhere” is how to visually separate those lines. A six inch horizontal separation, as in from the mainline to the second yard track in the shot below, is very little in visual terms.20140128_112017

When we get into the vertical dimension, as in the next shot, 6 inches is a significant difference. I’m not sure why, but the vertical is an excellent way to separate parallel lines, which are schematically separate.20140128_113631

Another factor is to figure out what draws the eye into a scene. In my opinion, this is an area where model railroads have a distinct advantage over a static diorama. The motion of our trains is something that captures our eyes and attention. Considering the shot above, a static picture allows the eye to see the whole scene, and notice both lines through the scene (which are about 3 or 4 train lengths apart on the layout. When viewing the scene in person, the motion of a train catches the eye, and we tend to focus on the train, and the line it is on. My experience in looking at this spot tells me that I don’t even notice the other line, even though the bottoms of the bridges are very close to the lower line, especially when there is a train passing through.

Because of this, I’m not concerned with designing a double deck layout. If a 6 inch vertical separation is visually adequate, I’m not concerned about a second level of railroad being a distraction when viewing the layout. How much is enough separation? I’m not entirely sure, I’m going to have to do some mockups before too long to see how deep a deck works (at this point I’m assuming 24″ wide shelves stacked over each other will work) and how far apart they need to be. I should also test closer spaced tracks, with a small, inch and a half or two inch vertical separation. That would allow a physically close, yet schematically distinct, industrial district (for example) I could also use this sort of idea around the smelter, or mining areas of my plans.

Spring Break (Up that is)

The biggest reason it’s been quiet around here the last couple months is because I’ve been home. I seem to have way more time to post when I’m out on the road, as long as work isn’t crazy busy. When I’m home, I have renovations, railfanning, fishing, and all sorts of other things to keep me occupied. I’m fortunate that the company I work for gives me (and all the other guys who work the 22/13 rotational schedule) a hitch off in the spring. What’s the point of going to work if you’re just going to sit in the shop and the hotel, right?

I have a couple ideas for future posts coming up, so as long as I get off my tail and actually get them ready, this page won’t be quite as slow. I have version 7 of the A&C nearly complete, and a bunch of other plans to post as well. I can post on some of the equipment I’ve acquired, and I have lots of photos and a few videos to add as well.bm2360-namaka

I don’t feel like putting up a photo-less post, so I’ve got three views of my 2-8-0 today. The first is taken at Namaka, on the Southern Alberta layout, with a small mixed freight. The geartrain on this engine is extremely loud, but I’m working with it anyway. When I got it, it wouldn’t even run because the quartering was way out on one axle. Once I got that fixed, it would quit on portions of the layout due to the noise filter on the circuit board. It runs well now, just makes a lot of noise. Currently I have it out of service as I’m building an Athabasca Shops cab kit for it, and will be converting it to an oil burner as well.bm2360-branch

The next shot is on a small wood bridge up on the branchline. It’s a two man job to run the branch usually, so I rarely take my equipment up there because I’m usually running solo. Since I took this picture there has been an extra bridge added parallel to this one, as there was some reworking of the trackage around the stock pens (out of view to the right here), and added in a runaround track to make serving the coal mine much easier.bm2360-bradshaw

The final shot is on the return leg from the branch. The tracks in the upper right corner are the siding and mainline at Bradshaw, where the branchline joins the main. I don’t know the exact specs on the branch, but it’s steep and sharply curved. I wouldn’t take anything larger than a 2-8-0, or GP9 up there!

Thanks for enduring the wait, next time I’m thinking a post on v2 of the A&C is in order, or maybe an equipment post.