Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In Memoriam

I have to announce, that my father Wolter Fockens, passed away last Saturday, after losing his short battle with Pancreatic cancer.  It all happened very quickly.
I wanted to use this post to say thank you dad for all the things you've done for me, and what you have thought me in your live. You've been loved by everyone around you, and we will continue to keep you in our memories. Rest In Peace.

As you have read in my previous post, my small modules still don't have a name. I decided to freelance their name in honour of my father, so the modules will be named 'Wolter Springs, CA'.  While such a place doesn't exist in the real world,  it does now in my heart.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The trackplan

Here's the track plan for my new modules.  I've designed it such that it can provide a little switching fun, with the use of a few bolt on lead tracks, as well as be part of a larger modular set up.  I might still change it a little, we'll see.
As yet unamed, although the name Weedpatch was suggested. A somewhat 'far out' name, but it does exist in California.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The 'other' project

In a recent post, I wrote about my plans to work on another small railroad project away from the main layout. Well a start has been made. I've purchased a little bit of track, a Pikestuff loading platform, I found a nice PFE reefer (Athearn), and the GP35 I reported on previously. 
Here they are all together on the dining room table. The loading platform was testfitted along the reefer so I could determine if anything would need to be raised or lowered to match up in height, and it seems to be nearly perfect straight out of the box. 

Now the planning can begin on my small little shelf / modules on which these models are going to be used.  Fun on a few sq feet :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Power

I run my layout using a SPROGII, an old PC running JMRI and my old iPod Touch as a wireless throttle.  As I had the PC and iPod previously, the conversion to DCC didn't cost me as much as buying a system from NCE, Lenz, or other maker. (obviously, there's the expense of locomotive decoders etc). The SPROG cost me GBP45,- , and a good loco decoder can be had for about GBP25,-  , obviously sound equipped are more expensive, but that's a step you can add later if you wish.

However, as my fleet of DCC equiped locomotives is growing (partly through purchasing of new loco's, and partly by converting older locos to DCC), the current limit of the SPROGII is starting to get noticable. The SPROGII was initially only designed to be a programming tool, but as JMRI functionality increased, more and more people use it as a DCC controller.
The makers of the SPROG have realised that too, and a couple months ago I reported that they released two new products, the SPROGIII, which is identical to the II but has a higher current output, and the SBOOST, a booster compatible with the SPROG II (and III). The booster can be used to increase the output of a SPROGII to the same level as a III, and also to create power districts with their own boosters (provided the power supply can handle that).
I went the way of a SBOOST (GBP 60,-) , which will increase the current output to 2.5A , enough for a 3 to 4  average HO locomotives running at full tilt/amp draw. This is something that will rarely happen on my layout. Most of the time the majority are idling away, while I run one. In future I see this increasing to 2 or 3, but never with big heavy trains. the 2.5A is probably enough, although my power supply can handle up to 5A, so a second booster can always be added at a later stage should I feel I need one.

Doing it in this way, I've been able to spread the expense a bit, and slowly grow my DCC system (incl loco decoders).

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Working on the Railroad

Finally I managed to do a little more trackwork on my home layout.
The Napa Jct yard is expanded and added three yard tracks, as well as the main tracks beeing extended by about 3 ft. On the other side of the layout, I've cleaned up, and started on the track that will lead into the staging. I'm also going to add an additional track to the yard (the track in the middle).
After this track work is done, the back drop will be fixed in place here, and the warehouses (shallow relief) will be test fitted, and scenery work can begin here.

Napa Jct

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Another acquisition

I may have mentioned it in the past, but due to my job I spend many weekdays away from home. I now have a 'semi permanent' base closer to my place of work to which I commute on a weekly basis. I decided it's the perfect opportunity to spend a little more time on railroad projects than I've been able to. Nothing big, but enough to keep me satisfied and work on items that I will use in time on my own home layout. So I've started to build a set of NMRA-BR modules, that I can detail and operate in time while I'm away from home. For that you need some motive power and some cars. The motive power is now on it's way in the form of a Southern Pacific GP35 phase 1a.  It's an Athearn RTR model. It will need some super detailing in time, but for now I'll leave it untouched. It's even remaining DC for the time being, until I can afford buying a Simple DCC controller for these modules.  For that matter, the modules aren't even build yet, I've got the wooden frames of the first one ready, but still need to start on the next one. Here's a (factory) picture of the loco for now.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Magnolia Route

A modeling friend of mine pointed out a video on youtube, showing off a beautiful piece of modeling of Cliff Powers, modeling Alabama and Mississippi in HO. His layout is quite large, but none the less he's been able to detail various scenes in great detail. It resides in it's own purpose build building that measures 14 x32 feet, and the layout is devided over 3 levels connected by a double track helix. There are over a 100 locomotives in service on this layout, most with sound (and smoke where applicable), and DCC controlled. The trackplan is found on this web site
I've selected another video of this layout, that captures a bit of the atmosphere found on this layout. For more, I urge you to check out other videos and of course the website of the layout www.magnoliaroute.com  .

Monday, July 2, 2012

Build your own Turnouts Points Switches....

Whatever you call them, you'll probably aware that turnouts can be a money absorbing part of your railroad hobby.
One of the solutions is to build your own. You can use commercial available kits, including jigs etc, but unless you need to build quite a few, the money saved is fairly limited. If you have no need for may turnouts, but like to try to make your own, with a few simple tools.  This video shows one of the ways to do so. The video was made by MRH publishing for Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine, a free e-zine that offers quality articles about our hobby, funded by advertising. (The articles are usually NOT sponsored though, which is a good thing).