Sunday, November 9, 2008

SJSMR Annual Model Train Show

The SJSMR annual train show was normally held the first Saturday of March Break each year at a school in the uptown of Saint John but problems with the weather and locations dictated we needed to move date and location. Hence, the new show date of November (8th this year) and the location of the Lion's Club in Quispamsis.

I didn't have my camera at the show but I hope to get some pictures soon. Our layout seemed to work out well and, as usual, the kids appreciated seeing the trains at their own eye level. There were only a few occasions of tiny hands reaching out but we expect it so it's not a big deal. :)

One new thing we tried was linking Lawrence's Digitrax Zephyr to mine using Loconet. This actually works! We were able to "slave" one of the Zephyrs to the other and run two trains at once. This was fun for everyone because we could run two trains at once and we also had one short and one long passing siding, both close to one of the loops. The kids especially enjoyed the prospect of trains crashing. (Obviously, we could have been running more than one train all along but we haven't spent the money on additional hand-held controllers, which can cost as much as the Zephyrs themselves did! I'm determined to find a used one somewhere, even if it's just the most basic model.)

Another new thing we had were skirts! Lawrence's wife, Laurie, graciously sewed hems on a huge number of squares of black cloth which worked perfectly to dress up our show layout. It was really nice to look like we really knew what we were doing. :)

Click Here For PDF Version Of The Layout

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Micromodule Superelevation

I tried a little superelevation on a corner module and took a short clip to see how it looks. It turned out not too bad and makes for a more dramatic view of the train coming around the corner, even if the curve is very sharp and not terribly prototypical. Such is the sacrifice for very portable modules.

Friday, October 17, 2008

More Micros!

Yes, it has been MONTHS since I last posted. A few things got in the way, like work, but now that the colder season is coming again time for trains will once again be available.

Contrary to my promise to myself not to build more modules until my current ones had more scenery, I built two more! The main reason for doing this was to provide more possibilities for our layout for an upcoming show.

This micro is named after my friend James, who inspired me to create the micromodules and who also built a module very similar to the following. There is no shame in a copy, where properly credited. Thanks, James! :-)

This little guy is a simple 12x12 inch crossover module that will help us fill in odd 1 foot gaps in the layout and also provide for a competing railway that crosses but does not interchange with our branchline.

Today, I built the frames for these and will wait until they have dried overnight. I will then sand and paint them the standard black colour, then cut some foam to fit inside the edges.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Dominion Atlantic Railway Digital Preservation Initiative

A friend pointed me to this web page the other day:

The Dominion Atlantic Railway Digital Preservation Initiative

"A web community initiative intent on digitally preserving the history of the Dominion Atlantic Railway."

The Dominion Atlantic Railway, which eventually became a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific, operated in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Trains Across the Tantramar 2008

We've been to the 2008 Maritime Federation of Model Railroaders convention, named Trains Across the Tantramar. Here are a couple of pictures of the micromodule setup for the public train show portion.

Also, here are some YouTube videos:

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3

Monday, May 5, 2008

SceniKing Backdrop F006 - Farm Fields

I installed SceniKing backdrop "F006" on my farm supply module tonight - It took all of about 1/2 hour to accomplish and turned out pretty nicely, considering it's just printed on 4 sheets of 8.5x14 inch paper. I simply followed the instructions that come with the backdrop, using a glue stick to perform the sticking duties. We will see how it holds up; the backdrop is printed with water-soluble ink and this module is transported to shows, occasionally encountering a little rain or snow. My wife suggested some sort of fixative might work; I'll certainly give it a try on the instruction page sometime.

This particular module has an 8 inch plywood backdrop built into it but the paper SceniKing backdrop is only 7.5 inches wide, so I have approximately half an inch at the bottom to hide using scenery. I believe I'll be able to make it look fairly convincing using a line of shrubs and small trees like you see at the edge of many fields.

Overall, I found that the backdrop is fast, easy to install, looks good and is not prohibitively expensive. The only thing I find lacking is the quality of the image, which shows pixelation common to images compressed using the JPEG format. This could have been avoided originally by saving and editing the images in a format such as TIFF.


2008-May-13 - Update: Added hill with grass and bushes to hide the bottom of the backdrop. (Sorry about the Mad Cow. What a mess she left!)

Rix "Guthrie Grain" kit

I've been working on an N scale Rix "Guthrie Grain" kit for the past little while. I added a 3rd tank to the kit and plan to add more.

Additionally, I've been adding small details such as a light on the tower to light the work space below and reinforcing wires on the feed pipes. I will be adding more tanks, truck scales and unloading for rail and truck traffic, shelters for unloading, office building, fences, etc. as time permits.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Testing Before the Convention

We had a session this past Saturday to test Lawrence's layout plan for the convention in May. It was a success!

Plan by Lawrence V.

Photo by Simon B.

As you can see, we expanded one of the loops to include four of the 1x4 foot modules, showing how flexible they can be.

Loop Modules

Over the winter, we built the loop modules, which will allow us to have continuously running trains at shows. A switching layout is fine for me but the public likes to see trains running in circles, so that's what we do. :-)

Photo by Simon B.

These are actually two modules, each built in two pieces to allow expansion. The modules feature DCC auto-reverse units to handle the polarity problem you get when building a reverse loop. In the photo, they're connected directly together but that's because we wanted to test them after finishing the wiring. They worked flawlessly the first time! :-)

We have operated the loops semi-successfully at one show in March but had problems with the auto-reverse units picking up moisture due to the hot-and-cold cycle of going from the house, to the car, to the show; the result was that they did not work.

Since that time, the auto-reverse units have been dried out and are working flawlessly once again. However, for extra insurance, we've added a bypass switch underneath to "remove" the auto-reverse units and also a DPDT toggle switch on top to handle manual polarity switching. In a test last Saturday, we had no auto-reversing problems.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Module Roster

Well, it's been a month since my last confession... I've been busy. We had modules to get ready for the Saint John Society of Model Railroaders annual show on March 1. Now that the show is over with, we can concentrate on... the NEXT show, which would be the Maritime Federation of Model Railroaders convention in Amherst on May 16-17. (To be fair, there are other shows in between but we're not showing modules for those.)

Anywho, I thought I'd add a list of modules our little group has, just for fun. Check it out on my web page:

Module Roster

One thing that's missing from this list is our "Wish List", which is getting very odd, indeed. Items like crossovers that service an independent "railway" on adjoining modules, for one... :-)


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Whittle Wooden Train

I was at the big train show in West Springfield, MA last weekend and, along with my N scale purchases, I found a nice Thomas-compatible CN locomotive for my youngest, who just turned 3. He's in love with it, even taking it to bed at night and insisting that the train get a good night kiss as well! :-)

Whittle Wooden Train

Sunday, January 13, 2008

N Scale Atlas GP-7 Decoder Install

Here's another decoder install. My Atlas GP-7 is Canadian National #1721.

As I said before, my decoder brand of choice is TCS, with their “goof-proof” warranty and their “dithering” function for ulta-low speed crawl. Again, I am using a TCS M3 decoder, which has motor control and 3 functions for things such as lights. I only used two of the functions but the third is there in case I want to put a strobe light on the roof... Which would be insane, but I've done it before. Remind me to post a movie of my N scale SW8 in action. :-)

Atlas GP-7 Decoder Install

Sunday, January 6, 2008

N Scale Atlas RS-3 Decoder Install

My Atlas RS-3 is Canadian National #1812 and is a very nice running locomotive on DC. However, I’m running DCC so I needed it more functional.

My decoder brand of choice is TCS, with their “goof-proof” warranty and their “dithering” function for ulta-low speed crawl. In this instance I happened to have on-hand a TCS M3 decoder, which has motor control and 3 functions for things such as lights. I’d only be needing two of the functions but the third is there in case I want to put a strobe light on the roof.

Atlas RS-3 Decoder Install