Friday, September 30, 2011

Tool Control

 Tools are starting to get scattered.  Normally this isn't a big problem in a small room, but when my daughter is here the sharp tools are a major concern.  I got out my tool caddy that I bought many years ago from Pep Boys and put it together.  This is a fantastic tool.  It elevates over the layout and I can keep everything together, plus get some needed extra light.

 I walk through the room and gather up most of the sharp objects and adhesives.  We'll try to keep them on the table.  Taylor knows not to mess with things on this table without training.

 Here I've switched the Tippi hot wire cutter to a square blade that I use for digging.  We are going to dig out the rough shape of a grade on Section 3, up near the turntable pit.

 Using slow and easy passes I gently dig an upward slope in the foam along the track line, making two passes.  One pass for the left hand side of the track, the other for the right.

 I keep digging and digging, making a slope on the side of the track location.

 More goes, but not too much.  We'll later take a Surfoam tool and grind it down to a gently slope.
Done...or at least roughed in.  I'll have to take some more out, but we'll wait for that.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Underground Roadbed

I had a little extra time, so I put in the base roadbed in the hidden trackage section.

 This area is below the upper level, so it is a hidden track.  Mostly it is a section for allowing the point to point layout to be a continuous running loop for exhibition.  I need to raise the roadbed, so we'll take a piece of scrap foam and build it up.

 Here I've rough drawn the trackage.  Using a box knife (or utility cutter as it is properly called) I slice through the foam and "break" it loose.

 Here we test fit the new foam roadbed.  Perfect!  I glued it down with a foam adhesive.

 Taylor used a piece of foam and towel to clean up the extra glue that seeped out under the roadbed.

 I noticed that one part of the 2" foam had broken away from the benchwork.  I probably didn't glue it properly in the first place, so using the foam glue I re-glued it back in place and used some handy Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette Magazines (the best magazine on the market about model trains) to hold it down while the glue set.

There is a grade from the riser block down to the pier, so I grabbed a spare piece of foam that was already cut in a semi-circle and test fit it for the grade.  I'll glue this in place and later shave it down with a Surfoam tool.

Using the foam glue, it is in place for good.  We'll carve it some other time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Riser Action

Let's put those little boogers in...

 First we'll add the other set of risers to Section 4.  Taylor has decided to color while I do this step.

 I made sure the areas were clean and free of foam.

 Then using a bottle of Elmer's Wood Glue (I finally found the bottle) we'll mount these to the benchwork.

 The risers are not quite level, but that doesn't matter.  Before we put the track on we'll sand them to a slight angle to match the track grade.

 The next ones are between Sections 4 and 1.  I've not drawn them so we'll have to figure out where they go.  A few clicks on 3rd Plan It and we have a print out with the dimensions.  We'll measure them and draw them on the benchwork.

 Once I have them located we draw around the riser with a Sharpee (you did buy a box full, right). 

 Dr. Pepper is required in large quantities while working on the layout.  This used to be bourbon, but having kids has rescued me from my wandering eye and wicked, wicked ways.

 With the foam removed by using a serrated edge knife, the areas are ready for assembly.

 On the Section 1 side we'll have to carve away the 2" thick foam using the knife.  Careful!  You CAN and PEOPLE DO slice their hands doing this.  Go slow. 

 A one gallon shop vac is a necessity for working with foam.  Keep your area clean or you'll have pink foam pellets on you at work tomorrow.

There!  All the soldiers are glued in place and standing tall.  We'll leave them for a few days to dry thoroughly.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Risers on the Dixie Donut

I have some time today.  Just got over a very bad case of food poisoning while on a trip to Chicago.  Barfed on a Delta plane for the first time.  I actually got sick on three different planes.  Nice little payback to Delta for all the crappy service over the years.  Feeling better, but needed to rest.  Trains = rest.

 The Pit Boss says we need to finish the risers so we can get some trains running.  I agree...

 First, we need to clean off the cabinet so we have a place to work.  All of this was put in its proper place.

 The steam loco was put on the stairs so I'd remember to take it to the Train Shoppe later.  Taylor, Katie and I ran it down later that day to have Randy put in a DCC system.  I'll pick it up in a few days and start thinking about a paint job.

 The band director grabs a ruler and the plan (always keep your plans handy) to think through this evening's work.  Today - risers!  The bright red clipboard is great for keeping plans and notes together.  I can spot it easily and that is important as paper plans tend to get scattered all about.

 Walking tall?  Not exactly.  Sheriff Buford Pusser here examines his only remaining 2x2.  There are some knot holes, but it is perfectly straight.  This will do for the risers.

 Each of the risers was checked against the plan.  I use a steel rule and a square to mark each cut in the shop.

 A nice straight line for this 2 inch riser.

 Bad shot, but I told Taylor to stay back.  I'm using the DeWalt to make a very smooth and precise cut.

 Notice I have on my safety glasses.  I'm sure you ALWAYS wear yours, right?

 Yes, there is a law against baggy pants now....but you can still wear them at home.  I've lost some weight.

 Each riser is carefully measured and cut.  The high speed saw makes quick work of it.

There!  A family of risers, each marked with its dimension and location.  Next....assembly!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Do the Locomotion (Little Eva)

Welcome back!  I'm trying to get more done on the layout, so there are more frequent posts.  Taylor loves to work in the basement so it is a great motivator when I'm tired at night and don't feel like playing trains.

Tonight I'm tired of foam and just wanted to let the smoke out of some trains.  Taylor and I whipped out the DCC system and set up a test track.   She is new to DCC, so this should be fun.

I've always used Digitrax because I lived in the Marietta, GA area where Digitrax was founded and everyone I knew used it.  So there were readily available parts, supplies, and repairmen in the area.  Would I choose it again?  Probably not.  I set up the system and after chasing down one little bug, it was working.  First on the track was a half finished diesel switcher that used to run on the Heart of Georgia layout.  Sound is working great.  I gave Taylor a throttle, gave her some quick instructions and she was a master.  Funny how kids these days are already pre-wired digital.

 Next, we got out the 4-4-0 Southern locomotive that I had planned to use on the Dixie Central.  Come to find out that it did NOT have DCC or Sound like I thought.  Why the hell did I buy it?  I must have been crazy...or I have my engines mixed up.  Thought I had a sound unit loco for the layout.  Oh well, an excuse to go to the hobby shop. 
 I put the diesel back on the track while I looked at the steam engine.  There is plenty of room for a sound and DCC system, so I'll go see my friend Randy at the Train Shoppe in Salt Lake City.  He will put one in for me.  Yes, I can do it myself, but I'd rather him ruin the chip instead of me!!!

 This little CSX diesel is running great, so I spend a minute teaching Taylor about horn signals.

 I grabbed another old Southern loco (a diesel) from the test track and blew the dust off of it.   We'll run it later.

 The Southern 4-4-0 goes on to the track, setting 0, and we run it back and forth, with a little motor noise.  Yes, this is a great loco for the small railroad, so we will put sound into it.

 Taylor learns to start and stop the locomotive slowly...and never ran it off the track.  Good job!

We end the evening with the old Southern test engine.  This was a $25 loco with a DCC system that I use to test trackage.  No loss if it goes off the edge.

So, we have a loco, the DCC system is working.  Good!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Risers On The Storm (The Doors)

Tonight we did a little foam work.  Ignore the photos as Taylor is still learning and getting better.

 The next step for getting us to track work is to put in the risers at the end of each module.  This is the start/end point of the track on the section and they need to be precise.  Here I'm check the foam to make sure it is lined up.
 Each section of the module needs to be lined up carefully.  There are of course faults in the benchwork that will have to be worked out.

 The foam is pretty deep, so we'll have to cut through it in sections to install the risers.

 I had forgotten that my large poster size layout drawing was now out of date.  Using 3rd Plan It I printed an updated copy that has the riser heights on it, corrected for the 2" foam base.

 Using a chop saw and some 2x2 stock, I cut two of the risers.  These will match the risers already installed on section 3.
 Using my handy 40% off coupon, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought another hot wire cutter.  I loved the one I had before, but I broke it.  While wiping the wand/wire off with a rag I was too vigorous as I pulled away from the handle during the wipe and pulled the wand out of the base.  @$@$.

 Carefully I measured again to make sure that the riser was in the proper position, then drew around in onto the foam with a Sharpee marker.  If you don't have a box of Sharpee's...go get them now.  This is where I'll cut out the foam.  The riser will be glued to the top of the benchwork.

 Then I draw around the second one.  Normally I used Elmer's Wood Glue, but for some reason I can't find a bottle anywhere.  It's like losing the peanut butter jar. 

 The two riser blocks are ready to be installed using regular Elmer's White Glue.  Notice the other riser is below the foam level.  That is by plan.  We'll carve down the ramp to the block some other time.

 !@#$!@#$ and double !@$@$.  The new hot wire cutter I bought won't even turn on.  Not even warm!  I paid $17 for this silly thing.  And now I can't find the receipt.  Not my day.  Back to the super dependable Tippi Hot Wire Cutter.  You MUST buy this one!!!

 Just a few brief seconds to heat it up and the way...turn on the fan.  You won't want to breath the fumes from the melting foam.

 And the wire is not hot...I use a special extension cord when using the hot wire cutter.  It is heavy gauge and grounded.

 See the fan?  Be sure to use one, especially in a room that is tightly sealed.  I also have a window open.

There!  I cut out two squares in the foam and glued the risers in.  If they look unlevel it is because I unfastened the section next to it and it is a bit lower.