Sunday, June 28, 2020

My Plan and Will My Technique Work?

I have finished the backdrop prep and it is painted!

Prep complete

Backdrop done

And the earth coat

My plan? My track plan is on my website Sugarwood.Info and I am happy with my track plan. There is a small yard, seven industries, staging and a town scene. I have added the track plan to JMRI Operations and run many virtual trains, I think it will work.

The Sugarwood is a regional privately owned railroad. I originally planned on running 2 trains.
• The Transfer – This train runs from a nearby Union Pacific yard (Storage Yard) to the Sugarwood yard and back to the Union Pacific yard, bring in cars for the local industries and returning with outbound cars. In practice I would build the train on the staging track and the train would run from staging to Sugarwood yard and back to staging. This train is usually 4 to 6 cars.

• The Local - Starts from the Sugarwood yard and builds a train the switch the industries on the layout. This train’s size depends on the industries to be switched but no more than 5 cars.

Using JMRI Operations I noticed some things with the way cars flow on and off the layout.
1. I notice cars going from Storage yard to Sugarwood yard and back to Storage yard with out going to an industry.

2. Cars that do not have any business coming to Sugarwood

3. Several car types I have and would like to see on the layout.
I will read up on JMRI Operations and report on items 1 and 2 when I start operating.

Item 3 however I have figured how to handle. I created a virtual city with virtual industries and virtual train, The Greenville Turn.

Greenville is a city east from Sugarwood. I currently have three industries there that handle the cars I want to see on the layout. Part of the “Locals” job is the assemble the Greenville Turn on Sugarwood Yard 1 track. Also break down the Greenville Turn. So in a way the Yard 1 track is like a visible staging track. I will give more details in a later post.

So now, on to track and my technique.

In my second post Bright sunny days then rain! I showed some hand laid track section I started in preparation for this weekend, even though I did not know the actual I would be installing them on the layout. Well here are the first two pieces fixed to the layout. Next step is to tie them together.

Sugarwood siding and Yard entry.

Sugarwood Yard.

The rest of the siding and the two industries, McFoods and Olie’s Cold Storage.

I hand lay the code 70 rail on 1/8 inch sub-roadbed (basswood or birch plywood the yard piece can be seen in the above photo) this way in can work at the work bench and not standing against the layout.

Once I get this section’s track installed and tested, I can move on to the other three modules. That will be a little while, for now I have several things to do and see if this technique works or if I have to start over.

Until next week.

For information about me check out the About page on this blog.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Can I Lay Track Now?

As I mentioned last week, I got the third module built and hung on the wall late Sunday afternoon. As can be seen below, the third module is just hanging on the French cleat. When the photo was taken I had not leveled it or attached it to the other modules.

Now I have the third module properly leveled and attached to the other modules.

So why haven’t I started laying track? I have learned, at least I think I have after thirty plus years of being an arm chair modeler, get the prep work done first. So, that is what I am doing. I have the lighting in place, I am prepping the backdrop next will come painting the backdrop. Once the backdrop has been painted I can then add a one inch layer of foam insulation and paint the foam with a earth color THEN I can start laying track.

Room lights off and lighting set to daylight.

Now I am going to tease something here that I will detail in a later post but it is a big reason for the style of benchwork. Here is a four-minute video “24 hours in 4 minutes”.

So, I slacked off on model railroading and played with programming a bit more this week. The video is a proof of concept Lighting test that is supposed to replicate the lighting in Vancouver, BC on June 16, 2020 from 00:00 to 23:59. This functionality will work with my Fast Clock (to be discussed in a future post) coordinating lighting with time.

In theory this could be any place in the world, all you need to know is the nautical twilight begin, nautical twilight end, sunrise, sunset and solar noon times. These times are available from While this is a manual process right now WHEN I get to the point of actually operating I hope to have this somewhat automated.

As the video shows there is a flutter that will have to be resolved but for now, I know the concept will work and I can get on with railroading.

Until next week.

For information about me check out the About page on this blog.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

What a difference a week makes…

This week proved to be a bit better than I expected when I saw the weather report for the past week.

On Monday, I was able to complete the second of the three modules I need to start laying track. Then on Tuesday I was able to attach the two modules together. The rest of the week was less productive with many commitments so, I was unable to get the third module built and with the weather reports it looked like the third module would have to wait until next week. However, I was smiled upon on Sunday afternoon and I was able to build the third module. It is now hanging in place waiting to be joined to the second module. A project for next week.

I also started on the lighting for the modules. I probably should explain the reason I chose this design for my benchwork. Modular, because I am renting, French cleat, because a significant portion will be above my desk and the ‘C’ shape because I want to have the lighting built in to layout. My plan is to have the lighting controlled by my fast clock (see post to come later). I have mounted two 3/8” square dowel length wise 4” from the front and 4” from the back. To the Square dowel I attached RGBW (Red, Green, Blue and White) LED strips that will be controlled by an Arduino (also described in later post). These LED strips have an adhesive backing so press and stick. In the past I have found this adhesive does not stay stuck to wood so, I coated the side I would be attaching the LEDs to with a fifty-fifty water glue mixture to provide a better surface to stick to. It has only been a few days but so far so good.

Sorry, no pics this week but there will be some next week.

Until next week.

For information about me check out the About page on this blog.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Why does it take so much longer than you think?

This week has been filled with downs and ups, at the start of the week the weather forecast called for rain all weekend. Now, I did not fall off the turnip truck and I know a forecast is just that. It is not a promise, so I kept an eye on the forecast and kept checking and Friday looked like maybe. Well to make a long story short, while broken clouds abounded there were big patches of blue sky and glorious sunshine. I CAN WORK OUTSIDE!!!!

In my first post I showed the plans for my modules four feet long nineteen and a half inches wide and twenty-four inches tall. I had most of the parts cut for me. All I have to do is to make twelve cuts for the faces and French cleat. Then glue the frames together, screw on the faces, screw on the French cleat, glue and nail down the decks and backdrop. Simple, should be a couple of hours. I can build one of the slant shelfs and 2 of the square shelfs in five maybe six hours, no problem. Yea, no. Four and a half hours later I have the one slant shelf build. On the plus side I did get all twelve cuts made so the rest should go a little faster. Yea, yea. What did I just say… Well, we’ll wee.

This, for me at least, has been the case for as long as I can remember. My dad and I would start a simple project, should be done before lunch. Diner comes and we are almost done, we’ll finish tomorrow.

Well, enough lamenting.

I am no longer an armchair modeler. Whoop, whoop!!!!

Look what I made today:

Parts of the frame

A frame, one of four

The skeleton

Front view of the completed module

End view of the completed module

One built and in, five more to go

Until next week.

For information about me check out the About page on this blog.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Bright sunny days then rain!

Amidst the chaos currently going on, COVID and the protest in the United States and Canada, here in Vancouver it is turning out to be a semi normal spring. Last Monday it rained, no biggie it is a work day after all, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday bright sunshine warm temperatures. Great days to outside but I have a full-time job, not retired yet. So, no work on my modules during the week. Saturday, rain. Well, Saturday is my wife’s day, so I had never figured I would be working on the modules anyway but Sunday, now that’s my day, great plans hang the French cleat on the wall, build one maybe two modules and hang them and rain. Poo, postponed for another week.

We are model railroaders, you say, are trains are in side, rain means we don’t have to feel guilty about staying indoors. You are correct, and I personally like the rain for just that fact. However, my office/train room does not have the room for me to build the modules in it. I do not have a garage or indoor space to build the modules in. So, I need to build my modules in the back yard, that was the plan for my Sunday. Just another spring weekend in the Pacific Northwest.

That being said I did get some work accomplished this week. I did build the turnouts for the Sugarwood Yard and main line and I hope to complete the two on Sugarwood Siding this week.
This is the right side of the trackplan ( see Trackplans on my website for the current trackplan. ). The grey under the turnouts is the sub-roadbed, 1/8 inch basswood sheets. As can be seen, the #5 turnouts for the entrance to the siding, yard and service/RIP track are built on a 6 inch by 24 inch sheet. The #4 turnouts for the yard ladder are built on a 3 inch by 24 inch sheet. The #5 turnout for the east turnout of Sugarwood Siding ( to the right ) is built on a 3 inch by 9 inch sheet.
#5 turnouts for the entrance to the siding, yard and service/RIP track
#4 turnouts for the yard ladder
#5 turnout for the east turnout of Sugarwood Siding

Now, I probably should explain, I am hand laying my track and I am not using the Fasttrack turnout jigs, though I am using the Fasttrack filing jigs for frogs, points and stock rails. I am doing it the old fashion way and since I will be using 1 inch foam on top of the 3/8 inch plywood train deck, I need a solid ‘ish’ base for my track hence, the 1/8 inch basswood sheets for roadbed. Though I am considering using 1/8 inch birch plywood going forward.

I did manage to get the French cleat on two of the walls so a start.
Before: RoomRightCorner-Before.jpg

After: RoomRightCorner-After.jpg

So, progress this week, just not in the progress I was hoping for.

Until next week.

For information about me check out the About page on this blog.