N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio

and My Model Railroad Hobby


       Finally got the TV stand painted. looks like painting is done except for the everpresent touch-ups. On Tuesday, I took my new Shay loco down to the Model Railroad Club because although I had properly installed the DCC decoder, for some reason I could not get the tender back together again and I was unable to change the loco number or address from the default 3 to the actual number on the loco "5". I was hoping that Dave, the go to guy for all such problems was there but no such luck. I decided to have a go at repositioning the tender shell myself and wonder of wonders I got it to fit properly. THen one of the other members offered to help with the loco address and slam bang the job was done. Many thanks to the members of Real Rail, the model railroad club I belong to, and now you know why I am a member. I brought the Shay home and set it on the tracks and it worked perfectly. I then took a hacksaw to the weight that should fit in the coal bin and thinned it down so it looked right. There are several detail parts still to apply to the Shay but I am in no hurry to do those since I may yet buy a sound decoder for the locomotive and the detail parts would just get in the way.

       Today is Thursday and the unbuilt kit of a Roundhouse box cab arrived today. Once I got a look at the parts that needed assembly, I decided a different course of action was needed. After much research on the subject of upgrading a box cab to DCC I decided one of the approaches was the one I was after. Thus, I ordered a Bachmann GE 44 tonner in DC form. I will convert that to DCC with a simple plug in or solder in

module. A degree of decapitation of the 44 tonner will alow it to slip into the box cab shell and create a complete locomotive with a drive that is much quieter than the original box cab drive and much smoother to boot. The DCC decoder will only cost a few dollars more and presto one working loco. I am still waiting for my replacement F-3 and my new power pack but they should be here soon.

This photo shows the latest additions to the layout. They are very small but add much to the scenes and will add still more once the people to be added arrive from the vendor.

The gift shop and ticket office have been added to the parking lot and paths have been added to get the guests arond the turntable to the locomotives on display. I have taken delivery on another loco but as it is a kit it will be a while before it shows up on the layout. 

The F-3 is on its way back to the dealer and a replacement should arrive in due time. THis is the first time I have had to ship anything back in all my dealing on EBay. Let hope the replacement works better than the original.

         I went digging through my storehouse of spare parts yesterday looking for HO scale people. I found 3! I also found 2 park benches, 3 small camp  tables and one patio type table along with a patio umbrella, all in HO scale. It looks like I will have to order some more figures to populate my layout. I just checked on the progress of the picnic tables I ordered from China. Apparently they got sent to Minnesota which is kind of out of the way a bit. They are now estimating delivery around AUGUST 7th!!!. Time marches on. I also ordered a bunch of 1/87th figures in various poses today and finall solved a potential problem with the impending curtains at the bottom of the fascia which will hide a lot of the stuff that one stores under the layout. There was one section under a shelf at the front of Phase 1 where the fascia was about 4 and a bit inches shorter that the rest of the fascia. Today, I built and installed a plug panel to make the fascia continuous under that shelf. It has been painted to match (of course it needs another coat to be finished) so now the curtain material can be run across the bottom of the fascia without interuption or any kind of special length curtain. Painting of the second coat will be done after supper tonight. 

Here are the photos of the latest additions to the layout. On the left is one of four new uncoupling tool holders spaced around the layout with attention as to where there is going to be the most need for the tools. Above is a shot of some of the new people who now inhabit the layout. There will be more but the work goes slowly.

      I am still awaiting the delivery of the replacement F-3 locomotive and the delivery of the 5 amp smart booster/command station and UTP panel which will allow me to use the Power Cab exclusively on the programming track in my workshop. The cab unit may wind up back on the layout just as a throttle but only if I feel it necessary. Since I usually am the only operator on my layout the presence of two throttles seems a bit redundant.

       The SB-5 smart booster and the UTP panel arrived today in fine shape. THey have already been installed under the layout. I did take the time top add an LED to the UTP panel and initially wondered why it did not light up. Then I realized that I had not yet installed the 1K resistor on the UTP board. OOPS! Once the resistor was soldered in the appropriate place, the LED lit up just fine. I used a green one this time because it fit the hole in the panel better than the larger red ones that I had on hand. 

        I finished the current level of work on the Roundhouse Box Cab shell this afternoon but I am waiting for the GE 44 tonner that I ordered to show up so I can finish the job. I found a web site that details out exactly how to do the modification and since I have no desire to try to assemble the Roundhouse drive( which has a terrible reputation I will happily substitute the chassis from a Bachmann GE 44-tonner in it's place. When the rebuild is done the only way to tell will be the more modern truck frames under the box cab. 

        Today is Saturday and the replacement CN F-3 arrived. Unfortunately, it runs just as bad as the first one so I have asked E-Bay to get my money back. I will never deal with that company again. They do not test their merchandise before they ship even when it is a replacvement for a known bad performing item. Live and Learn!!. On a happier note the HO scale people I ordered have also arrived and they look fine. Very soon they will be populating the layout. Very bad business about the locomotive but I am sure I will find one someday that will work well.

        I have ordered an F-7 locomotive from another dealer. It is DC only but installing a DCC decoder in an F-7 is a doddle as they say across the pond. I have added numbers to the storage tracks as small signs at the end of the tracks in most cases to make choosing the correct toggle switch to throw even easier. Somehow I managed to lose the sign for the number 6 track on Phase 3 but I will make a new one soon. 

         The seller of the malfunctioning F-3 has asked for his loco back so I will ship it out tomorrow. I will be glad to be done with that vendor. He says he will refund my shipping costs. We will see.

          Monday I will recieve a bottle of what in the model railroad world they call "Tacky Glue" apparently it is the "go-to" adhesive for placing figures on the layout. I have 100 people figures to place. I doubt that they all will get placed in one day if ever, but I do plan on making the city scenes on the layout a bit more populated. Arriving some day from the far east will be 10 HO scale cars to take the place of some if not all of the "Hot Wheels" cars that are the wrong scale. I used them initially because they were cheap but the mismatch in scale is becoming more apparent by the hour.

           Well now it is Monday and the Tacky Glue arrived. Also in my mailbox was the 44-tonner I ordered on Ebay. The shell has been modified to accept the box cab shell and the mechanism has been stripped of its DC wiring. The only real problem is that this 44-tonner is an old style one with 2 motors so it will be a while before I figure out how to add a DCC decoder to the system. It is basically a question of isolating the motors from the pick-ups on the wheels so that the track voltage first goes through the decoder and then back to the motor. I think I will need some help with that problem. In the meantime I have added 4 6" pieces of 1/2" copper pipe to the fascia at various points around the layout and filled them with 8" bamboo shish-kebab spears. THese are an ideal tool for uncoupling the Kadee Couplers on all my rolling stock and locomotives. The bottom ends of the copper pipes are capped with 1/2" copper caps and the pipes are secured to the layout fascia with copper clamps. I have not decided whether to paint the pipes with paint or polish them up and coat them with clear gloss. Decisions, decisions!


Back on Page 15 I wrote that I was done buying locomotives for a while. Well, the while didn't last very long. Since then I have purchased a Roundhouse Box Cab diesel which I am repowering with a GE 44-tonner because the drive in the Roundhouse chassis is so terrible. Many have done this conversion before so I have good instructions to go by. I have also purchased a replacement for the F-3 that was so terrible (twice) and tonight I broke down an purchased a Bachmann 4-4-0 pre-1900 steam engine with DCC and sound that will look great at the head of my old fashioned excursion train. Next I will be looking at the Real Rail club store to find a suitable car to convert into an open tourist car with bench seats that I can populate with some passengers. I have also re assigned a couple of tracks on the Phase 1 portion of the layout as 1, a storage track for the excursion train and 2, a reassigned caboose track. I may have to reprint the track diagram for Phase 1 with the new assignments.

My Model Railroad Page 16

      I have decided to order an NCE SB-5 smart booster and a UTP panel to replace the Power Cab which up to now has been running my layout. I really don't need the extra amps but I am going to use the Power Cab on my completely separate Programming track. I will also be able to use the Power Cab as a straightforward throttle once the cable is switched to the coil cord that came with it. The heavier duty straight cable will remain with the programming track. Until there is more than just me to run the railroad I do not need a second throttle. 

       The stand that the TV sits on has now been painted the same color as the layout fascia. I am just waiting for the paint to dry before I put everything back together. My daughter and I did discover that the TV while still on the stand will slip out from under the fascia. It scrapes the bottom of the fascia a little bit and one has to get around the plate for the electrical outlet but is will go back in without having to do a lot of work.

      The legs have now been painted. THe next item to get paint will be the base for the TV although I am thinking of trying to stain the base to match the bookcase next to it. Time will tell which way I decided to go.

These photos show the latest addition to the layout. My daughters Lisa and Rose and Rose's family came over this morning and sewed and installed muslin drapes all around the layout, except for the TV and the bookcase. This has hidden all of the wires and cables that are necessary to the operation of the layout but are not so nice to look at. By simply lifting the drapes I casn get at all of my stored stuff under the layout with ease. The next step will be to paint those legs that remain exposed. 

Here is the latest addition to the locomotive roster. A 1929 Box Cab Diesel. Actually one of the first diesel loco ever built. My model has the shell from a Roundhouse Kit of the Box Cab sitting on a modified chassis from a GE 44-ton loco with DCC by Bachmann. I did have to fiddle with the settings of the DCC decoder a bit but now it works fairly well. I did mount the egineer that came with the 44-tonner inside the shell of the box cab. I am still waiting for a brass bell to mount on the shell, it should be here in a couple of days.

These three pics show some of the "people" that have been  placed around the layout. some as singles others as couples. You might also note some of the cars which are true 1/87th scale. All of the old "Hot Wheels" have now been retired with the exception of one truck style ambulance. When I find a replacement for that one it will be retired as well.

These three photos show some of the footpaths .I installed around the turntable for "visitors to the museum". I cleaned the lens on my cell phone and the quality of the shots went way up. The picnic tables and benches have not shown up yet but I am assured they are finally in the US. The next step will be to add a lot of HO scale people on and around the paths.

        The populating of the layout continues. I have added figures to Phase 1, 2 and now 3. Phase 4 is unscenicked and so there will be no figures over that area. The Tacky Glue appears to work fine for securing the figures to the scenery and I have even used it to secure some small boats in the port scene area. Ity does dry clear and since I try to use small amounts of glue with each figure, once dry it is not too noticable. I will shoot some more photos of the figures and post them soon.