Friday, April 27, 2012

020 The Utah Night Shift - AP Electrical

AP Electrical for the Utah Night Shift Railroad
I’m going to work on Electrical, Civil and Scenery all at the same time, but Electrical will come first as I need the layout operating before I install hand built trackwork items or the scenery.  So we’ll focus on this with the intent to get it done by late June. 

My notes in BLUE
Steps I need to take in RED

Here is my check list:
To qualify for the Model Railroad Engineer - Electrical certificate, you must:
A. Construct and demonstrate on own or club layout, the satisfactory operation of an electrical control system on a model railroad capable of simultaneous and independent control of two mainline trains in either direction, and containing at least:
The UNSRR (my own layout) will be a DCC operated layout.  The layout will have two DCC locomotives with sound for demonstration.  Need to build the shelf to support the DCC system!
For conventional DC wiring (non-command-control), five electrical blocks that can be controlled independently. For command control wiring (DCC, TMCC, and others), sufficient gaps and switches to maintain polarity, phase if needed, and troubleshooting.
The layout is in three sections, so each section will be electrically isolated by insulator connectors.  These are for trouble shooting only.  There is no need for polarity switches.
1.       One mainline passing siding.  The passing siding is on the Utah RR main.
2.       One reversing loop, wye, turntable, or transfer table. There is no plan for this on the layout, which is a switching layout.  I need to draw on the plan an optional Atlas turntable that will be bolted on to the yard section for demonstration, then removed after completion.  There is no requirement for the turntable to be powered, so it will be remain manual.  I’ll probably build a small, self supporting box section that just bolts on to the inside part of the layout, and then wire it.  The Digitrax system will handle the auto reverse.
3.       One yard with a minimum of three tracks and a switching lead independent of the main line.
The yard has three tracks (some may be removed later for scenery as they aren’t needed for operation) and the yard lead, separate of the main, will function also as the connector to the Trax line.
4.       Facilities for the storing of at least two unused motive power units
There is a siding next to the yard that is long enough to store two locomotives, and provide fuel, light repairs, etc.  The DCC system provides for “power down”.
5.       One power supply with protective devices (short indicator or circuit breaker) to ensure safe operation.
The Digitrax DCC system provides the protective devices which include an audible short indicator and an automatic circuit breaker and reset system.
B. Wire and demonstrate the electrical operation of at least three of the following items:
1.       Turnout
The layout features many turnouts, so one will be chosen and wired with a Tortoise switch machine.
2.       Crossing
There are two 90 degree crossings that will be wired in.
3.       Crossover
The left hand crossovers will be wired together for simultaneous throw, normal for Trax operations.  Most likely with Tortoise machines and buttons on the front panel.  I may do both crossovers.
The rest of the options were removed.
C. Wire and demonstrate the electrical operation of at least three of the following items:
      Items not needed/considered have been removed.
7. Electronic throttle with inertia and braking provisions. (This requirement could be combined with requirement A-6, above.)  This is mandatory with a DCC system, so I will demonstrate how the inertia and braking work on a DCC throttle, plugged in to the bus.
11. Installation of an advanced electronic and/or computer control for the model railroad.
This is mandatory with a DCC system, so I’ll demonstrate the Digitrax implementation with is both advanced electronics and computer controlled.
15. Installation of a command control throttle buss line around a layout capable of handling at least two throttles at three or more separate locations.  This is mandatory for DCC so we’ll include this one.  I’ll put in three DB5’s, two inside and one outside.  I will have two throttles.
D. Prepare a schematic drawing of the propulsion circuitry of the model railroad in (A) showing the gaps, blocks, feeders, speed and direction control, electrical switches, and power supplies.

Note that this requirement includes ONLY the propulsion circuitry. It is not required to include the wiring for electrical turnout control, signal systems, building lighting, etc. You do not need to include the details for parts of the diagram which are repeated. If a number of parts are wired in the same way, it sufficient to draw one section in detail and indicate other locations with rectangles.

Prepare a separate electrical layer(s) of the track plan to cover these items.  Use common symbols for the indication of components. Focus on propulsion circuitry only!

5. Prepare schematic drawings identifying the wiring and components of the six items under (2) and (3).

For the sake of clarity, these schematics should probably be separate from the propulsion circuitry schematic in (D) above. If you already have one over-all schematic of the layout, you might want to consider making multiple copies and going over the applicable lines with a highlighter for each feature.
Note that this is just turning in the kind of documentation that you should be preparing for your layout anyway. It will make trouble shooting much easier in a couple of years when you 've forgotten how it all went together!

Prepare a separate wiring drawing layer for these six items.

E. You must submit a Statement of Qualification (SOQ - available from the Regional AP Manager) which includes the following:
1.       The track plan for the layout used in (A).  Be sure to update the final plan and then print it.
2.       A description of each of the features used in (B) and (C), including:
a. A description of the item.  Start a separate word document with photos for each of the 6.
b. The methods of construction.  Add to word file.
c. Identification of commercial components used. Add to word file.
3.       The signed Witness Certification form, showing that each of the above items are operational and meet all applicable NMRA standards.
Get Mark Evans to evaluate and sign.


  1. For step 2, perhaps consider using a transfer table of certain length, or the turntable, as part of a staging area?

  2. The Atlas powered turntable is very cheap and readily available used, plus it is very compact. I want to install it and then sell it off. Even the cheapest Walther's transfer table is $166. This is a place where we go quick and cheap. Actually I may not even have to power it...just hand crank. Now we're down to $30.


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