Progress, I Guess??

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Bob Collins, Feb 1, 2002.

  1. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Here is a picture I took a year ago tomorrow of my layout. Note please there there is nothing but the wood for the benchwork which I had just finished cutting.


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  2. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    And here is a picture I took a few minutes ago. I suppose that is progress, but gad it seems to be soooooo slow at times. I spent most of an hour soldering leads on two DPDT switches. I just don't work very quickly doing that sort of thing:D


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  3. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    You're not alone Bob...
    I spent a couple of hours last night working on another kitbash, & I'm still a long way from where I want to be with it. Sometimes I find myself just sitting & staring, trying to figure out what I want to do next! :rolleyes: (If only I could be more like Shamus!)
    But hey, it sure beats the heck out of that 9-to-5 grind!
    BTW...I think you're making great progress! Keep 'em coming!
  4. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    That's a lot of progress. Not everybody (me included) can go at warp 10 like Shamus. Main thing is you are going forward not standing still. Better to go slow and hopefully not have to undo as much because you tried to hurry it.That was my mistake on my first attempt (I'm currently on my 2nd attempt), things seem to be going better now that I'm not concerned if I get it finished yesterday or not.:D
  5. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    BTW you know anybody that spends 6 months doing one tobacco farm is in no danger of getting the nickname of "Lighting":D
  6. kettlestack

    kettlestack Member

    Bob, it's looking good. All you need now is Shamus to lay the foundations of the scenery, that will create the will to get on with the detail work.
    That's the first time I've seen Woodland scenics columns used in such vast numbers, that product must have been a godsend to you :)
    I bet you can't resist just runnin-them-trains now that your trackwork is all done ... hehehe ... (we've all been there, and I for one am still there!)
    I still wish I had space like some of you lucky guys have for a layout.
  7. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Space is okay, but this is my first time out and as we used to tell the kids, "your eyes are bigger than your stomach" :D

    I have learned a bit since I started this monster about setting intermediate goals and just concentrate on completing one thing at a time.

    And yes, I found myself twice today walking over to the layout and doing nothing but running a train or two :) I keep telling myself that if I would stop doing that and concentrate on getting the two reverse loops wired it would be a lot more fun.

    Errol, I also am not completely done with track as I have some yards and spurs to complete and I still haven't decided whether or not to try to build the turntable I bought that has at least a million pieces. I need to learn more about getting the indexing mechanism for it and then I will decide what I am going to do.

    So what did I do last night but start reading a book on scenery. Now that's putting the cart before the horse:D

  8. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    It's already been said several times, but it looks like progress to me! I'd be excited to have the space to build such a cool trackplan. Just think of it this way: You've still got a lot of fun stuff left to do!

  9. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member


    I sure can't argue with your logic. I have LOTS of fun stuff yet to do. I think that one of the most interesting and fun things for me so far has been to learn that there are a lot of things associated with building a layout that I have done that I didn't know I could do. I've never thought of myself as being particularly handy with tools, but when I sat down and thought some task through I usually came up with an way to do it that worked...maybe not always exactly the way the pros might have done it, but still it worked.

    I have taught myself a lot about learning to solder recently... had never tried it before, stuff like that. I'll eventually figure out my wiring situation, thanks to Shamus and others here on the Gauge who have been so helpful. As I said earlier, some parts go more quickly than others.

    I need to get it up and running to handle all the rolling stock I keep buying :D I see something I like and I buy it. Need to develop some dicipline there. Son gave me a beautiful 4-8-2 in Southern green for Christmas so nothing would do but I bought the Southern Crescent heavyweight passenger cars that go with it. Can't see using that beautiful engine to haul a consist of hopper cars :D :D

  10. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Bob,
    Looks very good to me friend, is that the woodland scenics you are using for the subroad bed.?
  11. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    With all the other things life throws at us, you've made great progress! I hope you are not modeling the Northeast, you'll have about 4000 trees to build. Mine take between two and four hours apiece to make.
    Space!!! I've got two, three module sets in my basement, and there's no room to breath much less work!
    There's no time like right now to start reading up on scenery, and there's no time like when running trains to start picturing, in the mind's eye, what the scenery should look like.:rolleyes:
    The important thing is that you are enjoying the hobby. Keep the throtle in the company notch, and the exhaust clean.
  12. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Yes Shamus that is Woodlands Scenic sub roadbed. I think it is great. Maybe a little pricy, but I think it works great. I have a couple of places I will go back and modify one of these days, but it is not the fault of their materials, it is more my application. In one case I created a situation where you go from level to sort of like driving over the edge instead of being more gradual. The other place I have somethging of a bit of a rise in the middle of an otherwise 2 percent downgrade, but I went out and looked at the BNSF mainline that runs through this srae and thery have several of the same things so I guess it is okay :D

    Also, please allow me to thank you here for all of the loop wiring diagrams. I know you have provided some of it before, but I think it is just now beginning to sink into my thick head and having all of that together will be a big help for me. I am going to try to draw out on here the one loop that is confusing because for the untrained eye is it difficult to see where the loop actually exists, but it is there :eek:

  13. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member


    NO, I am not modeling the northeast :) I really haven't made a final decision, but if I use the name for my layout that I like right this minute "Bristle Ridge and Western" I will have to use some trees like here in the Ozarks. I expect to have a lot of it open agricultural land, hilly in some spots to justify the different elevations I have built into the track plan.

    It's fun and I guess my frustration from time to time comes from now being into a phase where the little details take lots of time and you don't se the progress like when we were out laying track every day:rolleyes:

    I will finish up a soldering job today that I started on last night and then get back to work on putting in two yards and a spur. That will about finish up the track work and then I figure I can start to bring all the wiring to the place where I am going to put my controls. Need to be giving some serious thought to how I am going to have those displayed too. Am thinking I want a walk around controller and how I do all of that will make some difference on where I put the rest of the controls. All this thinking makes my head hurt.

    ;) ;) ;)

  14. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, I think you should consider going DCC. Cost should not be a problem considering you chose to use woodland scenics foam roadbed risers. Your wiring will be so much simpler! I know I will never wire a DC road again. Operation is much simpler as well. You do need to install decoders, but only the first one is difficult. Now would be the time, since you are only about to start your wiring. Forget about control panels. Or build small ones just for turnouts in the yards. Just a suggestion.

  15. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    You know what Gary, I think all along I have thought I ought to go DCC, but for some reason I can't really explain, thought I ought to be a purist, or something, and block wire this beauty.

    I think I will stop with the wiring and do some studying and see what it is I need to do. From the very little I know about DCC I assume all I need to do is have hot track and all of the control comes through the decoder in the engine, is that correct?

    If you are using DCC do you have a constant flow of power through the track as now and you just regulate train movements through the decoder in each individual engine? Wouldn't you still have to be able to reverse the polarity where you have a loop?

  16. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, With DCC all your track can be one block, with the exception of reverse blocks. These require gaps in both rails at each end and can be powered thru reverse modules. Several manufacturers make them, in two basic styles I'm aware of. Before I go into the reverse modules, you should be aware that DCC systems (basically) consist of: a cpu (command station), boosters, throttle and decoders. A good site to visit is Some systems combine the command station and booster. I am only familiar with Digitrax, which has seperate units. OK, the first method of reversing trains uses a second booster, dedicated to the reverse block. It can operate more than one reverse block, but only one at a time, meaning that only one train can be entering or leaving a reverse block at a time. Other trains can be within a reverse block, as long as they do not enter or leave simutainuously. The other (automatic) method is reverse modules (I use the ones by Tony's, see ) MRC also makes one, I do not like them. Both methods automatically change polarity of the reverse blocks power whenever a wheelset crosses the gap from the main. This happens so fast that circuit breakers do not see the temporary short. Locos do not change direction when the polarity changes because with DCC you tell the loco to go forward or backward with the throttle, the decoder applies power accordingly regardless of the input polarity. Direction of travel is not the reason for changing polarity, it must still be changed to aviod shorts. The MRC modules are not as fast as Tony's, and often would not work at all with steam locos which do not pickup power with the lead truck. Diesels lacking all wheel pickup would probably exhibit the same performance. I use Tony's on a total of 11 reverse blocks on my layout, they work flawlessly. The modules are wired as follows: Two wires in from track power bus (polarity doesn't matter), two wires out to reverse block (polarity doesn't matter). It really doesn't get much simpler. You should also check the Digitrax page at There are a lot of extras you will see, I do not use them. I am not a computer type of guy. One more thing for now, although you can wire the layout as one block (except for reverse blocks) you may want to break it into two or more just for troubleshooting (you can disconnect blocks to find that mysterious short someday) Check out the websites and let me know what you think.

  17. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member


    I can't thank you enough for the wealth of info you have given me. I will check out the websites. I have also gone back through my MR's and RMC's and found a series of articles written about "Demistifying DCC". There are 11 sections and I can find all but the first one:eek: I will get busy and start figuring out exactly what I need to do.

    I see where I might still want to control power at the throats of the yards and spurs, but maybe as I get into doing some reading I will also gain a better understand of how best to do that too.

    It is sort of exciting actually, partly thinking about not having to block wire this beast and also because of what I see now is offered in the way of flexibility by using DCC. I do have one question though. When you mentioned the Woodlands Scenics materials were you suggesting that if I could afford that stuff then I shouldn't become too concerned about the cost of installing DCC. I can assure you that the WS WAS expensive, I have about $400 tied up in it. I did buy it in three batches and that actually saved me some bucks as I had a much better appreciation for waht I really needed and would up with just a couple of piece left over. I did the same thing with flex track where I bought 150 three foot sections and would up with less that 3 feet of "pieces" left over.

    Anyway, I will check out the sites and will get to my studying:D :D

  18. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Yes Bob, I was insinuating that you could afford DCC. I hope you are not offended, I certainly did not mean to offend you. A lot of people can't afford DCC but I would not expect to see them build a layout using WS materials. I can only speak for myself, but if I could only afford either a DCC system or WS risers, there would be no contest. My suggestion for a DCC system would be the Chief, either standard (infrared) or radio. I use the infrared, but will switch to radio when (if) the duplex radio comes out. The standard system goes for about $350 (last year) It includes a premium decoder, but not a power supply. Figure another $40 or so for the power supply. Depending on what functions you want in a decoder, you can pay as little as $15 per. This is a basic speed/direction/lights decoder. I have several. Or you can pay $150 and get Soundtrax decoders(awesome). You may want to buy an Atlas unit with decoder installed so you can run as soon as your system is delivered. Then I guarantee you will be eager to install decoders in your favorite locos. And at this point I will state that all inexpensive AHM type diesels are not worth installing decoders in. The docoder costs as much as the loco did, and the install is labor intensive. I have always prefered quality over quantity, do your installs in LL P2, Stewart and such and you will be in heaven.
  19. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Gary. I certainly was not offended. I just took your comment to mean that to go to DCC wouldn't cost me much more than I had already put into the WS risers.

    I am carefully putting all of this away that you are passing along. As I said last message, I am doing some readibng so In fully understand what I need to do to go to DCC other tahn buy equipment. I have lots of wires hanging beneath my benchwork right now and I would firsdt want to make a decision about bringing them to power in such a way that I have probably three "blocks" for troubleshooting purposes. I also don't want to wire those spurs and yards until I'm sure what I'm doing goes along with DCC.

    Anyway, you have convinced me to go ahead with the DCC. I really think I have known all along that it is what I should have been doing.

  20. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    Layoff from work= train time

    Hello Everyone:

    After a long year working in 2000, I took volunteerary layoff for 3 months! I started in September of 2000, but alot of work was done last winter in the 3 months.

    I took 2 month layoff this year. VERY little modeling though because of the move in June. Getting alot prepared though! Here are my pictures of my progress from last year.

    Nect time I am going to get a digital camera. This way I can download them quickly to my computer. Also take more pictures!


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