The Union Pacific Soggy Bottoms Subdivision (HO scale)

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flyboy2610

Loveably weird
I realized I haven't fed the pic-hounds in a while, so I'd best do that.
I got all the girders glued up. There are 16 each of AB, BB, and CC girders, so it takes a bit of time. The AB girders you can see in the previous post. The BB girders have X webbing on the top and the bottom, as compared to the AB girders which have X webbing only on the bottom. The B girders halves all have webbing on them, while the A girder halves are solid, so depending on the combination they are assembled in determines whether they are an AB or a BB girder. The C girder halves also have X webbing, but they are much smaller than the B girder halves.
In this pic I am gluing the last splice plate onto the sides of a BB girder assembly. The BB girders run horizontally along the bottom of the truss assembly. Just above that are the BB girders for the other side, and the AB girders are "staged" in their proper positions for the truss itself. The CC girders are in a pile above the AB girders.
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The splice plates have nice rivet detail on them. For some reason the circle in the middle of the splice plate is absent from a few of the splice plates. Those will be used on the back of the bridge. ;)
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Here are the left over pieces of girder after cutting them to length. I also kept the X webbing I had to remove from the top of the BB girders to make room for the CC girders and diagonal braces. Looks like a couple of gondola or flat car loads to me!
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I also called the corporate "facility status" hotline Friday evening. It appears I have another week at home to work on this! :mad:
I'm ready to go back to work. (Never thought I'd say THAT!) I wouldn't mind so much if unemployment would kick in, but I'm still waiting for that, too! I'm starting to wonder if they'll ever reopen.
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
While the splice plates dry on the BB girders, I decided I may as well get a start on the truss assembly itself. As I noted earlier, this bench was originally built to construct RC aircraft on, so it's dead flat and has a Homasote top to allow pins to be inserted. I folded the plan until it was a good working size, laid a piece of waxed paper over it, and pinned it to the board. Then I pinned the finished BB girded assembly down and pinned the two outer AB girders down. For the truss I am going to use the dreaded Testors tube cement in the red tube! :eek:
These girders are rather thick plastic, and I find that the tube cement does a better job on thick plastic than the liquid cement does. I'll let these dry overnight, then install then next AB girders and their gussets. As any experienced RC plane builder knows the best way to get two identical assemblies is to build one right on top of the other, so when this side is done I'll remove the pins, put down another piece of waxed paper, and build the other side right over the top of this one.
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flyboy2610

Loveably weird
Hello! It's me again, your friendly neighborhood crazy person!
I got the first side of the truss assembly pretty much done. The gusset plates still need to be installed on the other side, but that can't be done until the assembly is removed form the building board. The diagonals still need to go in, but I'll do that later in the construction.
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The AB girders needed just a touch of sanding here and there, but otherwise joints fit almost perfectly! I guess making that miter box was time well spent!
I also spent some quality time on the plywood prairie. I made a trammel out a $1 wooden yardstick I bought at Menards. Using the bridges over the river scene I determined fairly closely where the center-line for both track loops would be. I decided to have the outer loop C/L 3-1/2" in from the north side of the table, which is to the right in this pic. The C/L of the outer loop is 2-1/2" from the table edge where the double crossover is. Protection for the trains will be installed. I also determined the C/L for the loop where the decline will be, and using the Woodland Scenics foam pieces I determined where the decline will end. I have 13-1/2" from the end of the decline to the double crossover. This is more than enough to prevent an S curve.
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The curved turnout on the right is a stand-in. I haven't decided yet if I want to use a curved turnout here or a regular straight turnout. There is plenty of room for a regular turnout here, but at the top of the layout it's a different matter. I'm pretty much going to have to use a curved turnout there. The turnout is sitting on the C/L of the inner loop. The diverging route will come out of the passenger station. The turnout is a Peco ST-245. The inner radius is 17-1/4 and the outer is 19-7/8. I don't think my 4-8-4 would like either of those too well! The smaller locomotive probably wouldn't care, though. I'm thinking what I'll do is use a regular #6 in this area, and find a larger radius curved turnout for the top of the layout.
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The outer loop will have a 28" radius, the inner loop will have a 26" radius. I haven't drawn the inner loop yet. All the markings you see will be covered by 1" of extruded foam and 1/2" of Homasote, now known as 440 Sound Board.
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Here is where the decline will start. The "gap" you see will be bridged by the bridge I'm currently working on. Behind the Woodland Scenics incline/declines will be the tunnels where the tracks to nowhere will represent interchange tracks. There will be a crossing in the middle, so the track on the left will be heading onto the layout, the track on the right will be leaving the layout. You'll see how it will work when I get to the track laying stage.
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Back to the double crossover. The outer loop will connect with the crossover on the tracks labeled 2 and 4, the inner loop and passenger siding to the tracks labeled 1 and 3. Coming off the crossover on the inner track will be a turnout leading to an industrial area. Both tracks will have a re-railer before continuing onto the bridges going over the river. These re-railer's will also form a grade crossing for a road coming out of the industrial area. The river scene and the double crossover are the only two major elements, other than some structures, that made the transition from the previous layout to this one. The turnout between the crossover and the re-railer is a pre-Walthers Shinohara turnout, not DCC friendly. I will not be using this turnout. Someday I may convert and rewire it, but that's a future project. I have a Peco SL-E92 on the way for this spot. (Thanks, Yankeedabbler!) One reason I chose this configuration is because having the turnout before the re-railer means there is nothing under the plywood to interfere with the switch machine.
Unfortunately....
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the same cannot be said of the double crossover. :(
I am probably going to have to trim the top of that leg off and move the joist over a couple of inches, and relocate that cleat on the left. This is pretty much where the .220" clear acrylic base for the double crossover has to go. Oh, well. That's one of the advantages of L-girder benchwork! 👍
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Before I can really start laying track, though, I need to finish the tabletop. As I mentioned, I plan to cover the table with 1" extruded foam and 1/2" Homasote... err, 440 Sound Board. :oops:
The foam will allow for scenery work below grade, and the Homasote will take track nails easily, but hold them firmly. Except for on the Woodland Scenics inclines and declines, I will using track nails on this layout and not adhesives. Because, that's why! I also plan to paint the cork roadbed and forego ballasting the track. Again, because! But before I can do ANY of that, I have to fix two windows. I noticed that these two windows
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were cracked on the outside. I think maybe the mower flung something into them. I got some 3/32" thick polycarbonate sheet and cut it to the size of the windows, but I need a nice dry day or two to replace the windows. The window molding is on the outside of the house, so the majority of the work will be done from outside, but I don't want to have foam and Homasote covering the table in case I have to climb on it. There's a good chance of rain each day for the rest of the week, so it may be Sunday before I can get to them. I should at least have the bridge done by then. I can also run the accessory power bus under the layout. I'll find ways to stay busy. Hoping to be able to go back to work Monday. Of course, I've been hoping that every week since March 29th!
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
I finished assembling the trusses.
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The directions call for using weights and straight-edges to temporarily attach the trusses to the sides of the base while installing the top and inner supports, then remove the trusses to paint the whole thing. I have decided to go ahead and glue the trusses to the base and paint the whole bridge when it's finished. The kit is designed so that the top can be removed from the base, but I honestly don't foresee ever removing the top, so I'm going to glue it all together.
The ends of the cross bearers are designed to fit into the sides of the CC girders, the small girders that run vertically in the trusses. On each truss assembly I had to use my chisel blade and slice down between the CC girder and the bottom BB girder because they did not line up with the end of the cross bearers. I had to do this with the second and third CC girders from the right on both assemblies. The girders line up perfectly with the plans, but not the cross bearers. All the other CC girders were lined up properly. The cross bearers cannot get out of alignment due to the way the base is constructed. Don't know what happened, but it's all good now! If I ever build another one of these, I'll glue the middle CC girder into place, and the tops of the others, but I won't glue the bottom in until I line it up with the base.
I'll glue the trusses onto the base starting in the middle and working out towards both ends.
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
I found out yesterday that I have another week off work! The company has two facilities here in town. The other one started up two weeks ago Monday. Ours is still waiting. I wouldn't mind so much if the unemployment insurance would kick in, but I'm still waiting on them, too! Reminds me of something Sean Connery said in "A Bridge Too Far": "They said we'd be here for three days. We've been here nine!" It's supposed to take three weeks to get a claim processed, been waiting 5! In the meantime:
I got the trusses glued to the base and have started on the center braces. There are 5 braces that get glued inside the bridge to the upper part of the trusses, and one on each end on the outside to frame the portal. I'm gluing the braces in one at at a time, one side at a time.
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I've been thinking of how I want to mount the power supply I made to power switch machines, LED's, etc. The PowerCab has it's own power supply, it won't get hooked up to this one. I would have liked to be able to slide it between the ends of the joists, but it's too tall. I really didn't want to have to crawl under the layout to wire anything to it, so I decide to have it be able to pull all the way out, like a cabinet drawer. I bought some drawer slides from Lowe's, and pulled the power supply off the base. Some 1 x 6's are going to become sides for the base, and I will mount some 1 x 10's vertically between the L-girders. A piece of 1 X 12 will be glued and screwed to the bottom of the 1 x 10's to give strength and rigidity. Here are some of the parts drying from the first coat of paint. I'll give hem another coat of paint tomorrow.
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The inside of the base. The power supply is held in place by Velcro. It does a good job holding it!
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I also made a new front for it from the a piece of .220" acrylic, the same as I used for the base of the double crossover. I gave it a couple coats of spray paint. It's upside down in this pic.
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The 1 x 10's will extend below the L-girders and the base will be mounted to them. I plan to mount the power supply in this spot:
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My Peco turnout came yesterday, so I cut some 1" foam and a piece of Homasote to fit the benchwork in front of the river scene. Here is how the tracks will be positioned:
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Just before the bridges I put down some 1/8" thick cork strip. That was just enough to get the re-railers pretty well even with the bridge rails. I made need to put a very thin piece of cardboard, such a from a cereal box, at the left end of the re-railer yet. A piece of 3/16" thick cork tile will be trimmed, along with a couple pieces of 1/8" cork strip, to form a road and a turnout pad. After that cork roadbed will be used. So from left to right is are the river bridges, the re-railer's, the Peco turnout and a piece of Atlas flex track below it, the double crossover, and an Atlas #6 left hand turnout, the diverging route of which will come out of the passenger station.
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Some measuring revealed that these two pieces of 1 x 3 will probably be in the way of the mounting bolts for the base of the double crossover. :mad:
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So my plan is to cut those back far enough so they won't cause an issue, then sister in a 1 x 8 along this entire side, and then screw the end of the table to the sister-ed 1 x 8.
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That way I won't lose any strength in this area. Tomorrow is supposed to be a nice day outdoors, so I'll probably be spending some quality time with mother nature. After I replace those two windows.
 
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flyboy2610

Loveably weird
This place is a disaster!
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I got the cabinet built for the power supply. I still need to put a 1 x 4 across the top so the top doesn't splay out. The slides are full extension slides so I can have easy access to the terminal block. I think I'll make a new front for this so it looks more like a drawer. It opens NICE!
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I got the base for the double crossover mounted. Had to do some surgery under there and drill new mounting holes along the far side, but as Bobby Bare said in his classic song "But I got 'er, that makes me The Winner!" I'll mount the terminal block later. I put everything in place on the foam and Homasote up top drilled 4 1/8" holes for the frog wires, and also the holes for the throw-bar wires. The foam and Homasote were then removed. Then from underneath I used the 1/8" holes in the base and some screws to temporarily fasten the base into place, after removing a bit of wood that was in the way. I then drilled the mounting holes on the near side, using the holes in the base a template. T-nuts were installed on top of the plywood and the bolts along the near side installed. Along the far side the original holes were too close to the benchwork to allow bolts and washers to get in there, so some new holes were drilled, T-nuts installed, and the base fastened into place.
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I also got the foam and Homasote installed on top of this section. I used Glidden Gripper primer paint to glue the foam to the plywood, then after it was dry I used some cheap caulk to glue the Homasote to the foam.
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At each step I enlisted the aid of some friends to help ensure that everything was re-aligned with the base. These are what you see sticking down through the base in the previous pic.
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I'll let this dry overnight before unclamping it. I can't mount the power supply cabinet until then because I need the bar clamps.
I also got the upper braces and gussets installed on the bridge. Only three more steps to go and I can paint it!
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flyboy2610

Loveably weird
Look what followed me home from Menards! Admittedly... it was in the trailer, but it really did follow me home!
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There are 4 4 x 8 sheets of 1" thick tongue-and-groove extruded foam. I would have preferred square edge board, but those are special order and "increments of 96 may be required". I don't need THAT much! Besides, I wanted to get this stuff home so I can start on it.
I also got 4 4 x 8 sheets of 1/2" Homasote. The foam board I got down the stairwell OK (not much room to spare, though!), but I knew before I went to Menards that the Homasote was going to have to be cut when I got it home. I cut 2 sheets at a time with my circular saw while it was outside on top of the foam in the trailer. I wore safety goggles, ear muffs, and my dual cartridge respirator. I looked a Darth Vader wannabe! I cut the sheets into 2 3 x 4 and 1 2 x 4 foot section each. Fewer trips up and down the stairs that way, and the back section of the layout is 3 feet wide. I'll still have to plenty of cutting, but a good razor knife making repeated passes makes a pretty clean cut.
"Ya know what? I'm happy." Droopy, the basset hound
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flyboy2610

Loveably weird
Except for the installation of the bridge shoes and painting, the bridge is finished! I'll install the shoes when the abutments get here (the tracking number says they should be here today) and I can fit the bridge to the abutments. I'm probably going to have to cut the steel center brace. I'll put some epoxy on some of the cross bearers to hold it in place first. The center braces, top braces, and diagonals are made of some pretty thin plastic in spots, and it doesn't take much to break them. I tried to put all the repairs facing the back of the bridge, so they shouldn't be very noticeable.
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I won't install the deck until after the bridge is painted. CVMW includes these build plates which I thought were pretty cool. There is one on each end.
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According to this plate, this bridge was 56 years old at the time my layout is "set". If I turned that plate around and flipped it it would read 1061, but I don't think they built railroad bridges like this back then. 🤔
After having built this bridge, I can honestly say: NEVER AGAIN! The kit makes a nice bridge, but it was an awful lot of work!
I think that for paint, I'm going to give it a base coat of flat black, then a misting of silver/aluminum. I'll use some rust for highlights. I watched a video of a guy building a Walthers truss bridge kit, and that's how he painted his. I though it came out looking pretty good.

I also got all the foam and Homasote installed on the layout! :D
The last piece to go in was the Homasote over the lift-gate. I installed it in one piece, then used my razor knife to cut it along the 15 degree angle in the plywood. I followed the angle as I worked the knife through the Homasote, rocking the knife back and forth to make the cut. It was slow going, as I needed to take frequent breaks. After a few inches of cutting, the knife handle started hurting my hand. It took a bit, but it's done now!
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A close up. The razor knife is to the right. Make sure you get plenty of spare blades before cutting Homasote, you'll need them!
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One more with the gate open.
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I also changed from a hook & eye closure to these. I had a tough time finding out who in town had them because I didn't know what they were called! ("It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question." Ambassador Sarek, Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home) These are called draw catches and Menards had them. They were a bit fiddly to get installed while working under the layout, but I got it done. I did not use the screws that came with them, though. I pre-drilled pilot holes and used 2" long #8 coarse thread drywall screws on the bottom pieces, and 1-1/4" on the top pieces. 1-1/4" so the screws don't stick out back of the boards. They hold the lift-gate down nice and firm!
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Today's chore list includes cleaning off the layout, sanding down any height mismatches along the Homasote seams, and using some drywall mud to fill in any gaps. Once the mud dries (I'll let it sit overnight) I'll sand the seams and paint the Homasote. We have a gallon of a light tan latex paint we've never used. I think I'll use that. I'm almost out of the brown paint that is on the river scene and double crossover. Don't feel like spending more money on something that will get covered up anyway!
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
I got the seams in the Homasote filled with drywall mud. I'll let it dry then sand it. That's always fun!
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The leftover tan paint I was planning to use has turned out to be unusable. We've only had it 12 years! So I bought a gallon of $19 paint from Home Depot, beige in color. That'll work.
While waiting for the drywall mud to dry, I got started on another project. I find that I start one project then get distracted by another. Seems to happen more and more as I get ol... SQUIRREL!!
I decided I wanted a bit more of a permanent power source than a power strip screwed to the back of an L-girder, so I made this:
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I made a switched outlet. The switch is a commercial grade 20 amp switch, the outlet is a heavy duty 15 amp outlet. I had the outlet, had to buy the switch. The cord appears orange in this pic, but it is a yellow 12/3 extension cord. The cord runs from the outlet on the north wall into a 4" electrical box that is 2" deep. If you look at the top of the outlet box you can see the cord. There is a 3/8" cable clamp on each end. The cord then runs into the switch box mounted on the front L-girder. The outlet, switch, and boxes are all properly grounded. Because this is stranded wire and not solid wire, spade terminals were used to connect the electrical terminals. That eliminates the possibility of stray wires strands shorting anything out. I wasn't sure about doing that, but I read some things online from electricians who say that is the best thing do when using stranded wire, because it does eliminate stray wire strands. The switch is recessed behind the front of the layout, although it doesn't look like it in the pic.
I used plastic cable loops to secure the cord to the bottom of the L-girder.
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You might have to look, but you can just see it along the bottom of the rear L-girder. I considered using a cable loop from the switch to the outlet, but that puts the cord rather close to the power bus. I was concerned that the 120V AC in the cord may cause interference with the 14V AC power bus signal. I don't know, how close do you think the two could be before problems arise? In the above pic, you can see 2 cable loops screwed to the benchwork closer to the front than the power bus is. Those are where the accessory bus wires will go. I haven't run them yet, because I ordered another computer supply, of a better grade than the one under the layout currently is, and plan to use that one for the layout. The one currently on the layout will become a workbench power supply. So I'm waiting until I get them swapped and will then run the accessory buses.
This way I will have one switch that kills all the power to the layout. Right after I got this installed I though "Maybe I should have bought a surge suppressor outlet?" They do make a style that will plug into an existing outlet, so I will be getting one. Power surges and sensitive electronic devices do not generally play nicely together.
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
I put plastic over the backdrop and sanded all the drywall mud seams in preparation for painting the Homasote.
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The paint is Glidden/PPG flat interior latex. It was the cheapest that Home Depot had available. For what it's going to get used for it doesn't need to be super high quality paint. The color is "Best Beige".
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Before I paint the Homasote I want to airbrush the bridge. It's too big to fit in the paint booth, so I want to do it out here. I'll put plastic down, and any overspray will be covered by the beige paint. That's my goal for the weekend. I don't have as much time to work on this during the week because the place I work finally started back up again.
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
I gave the table top and exposed edges a coat of paint. That Homasote really sucks up the paint! It took about 3/4 of a gallon to do what you see here.
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I think it gave the edges a more 'finished' look. Eventually there will be fascia around the layout, but until then I think this looks better.
I got the bridge painted as well. I still want to rust it up just a bit. This is where it will go. The center vertical upright will be on the center-line of the layout. I ordered some Monroe Models split stone abutments (https://www.ebay.com/itm/324187240430) for the bridge. I also ordered the matching wing walls from a different supplier. Since there will be a tunnel behind the bridge on either side, I only needed one set of wing walls, one wall for each side of the bridge. You'll see more of how it will all go together when I get to that point.
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The abutments will have to be raised about an inch. The bottom of the track will need to be 4-3/16" above table top height, 4" for the Woodland Scenics foam inclines and 3/16" for the cork, plus a smidge for the plaster cloth. I need the abutments before I can start installing things back there. The abutments were processed through the post office in Phoenix today (tracking number).
I've also been working on the accessory power supply for the layout. I bought an EVGA 500 watt computer power supply, and converted it the same way I did the other one. https://modelrailroadforums.com/for...computer-power-supply-for-layout-power.31752/
I made a new front for the drawer it's in, also. I may have gone a bit overboard with the screws, but I don't want the 1/4" MDF to warp. I haven't decided whether or not I'll paint this.
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As I noted in a previous post, this is connected to the switched outlet, so when I turn off the main switch this is turned off as well. Here's what it looks like inside:
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The wires are bundled into groups of 3 or 4, the ends are soldered and ring terminals are installed on each bundle, then heat shrink tubing is used over the terminal and wires. They aren't going anywhere! From the left are 4 sets of ground wires, then on the other terminal block are 2 sets of 3.3V, 2 sets of 5V, the -12V wire, and 3 sets of 12V wires, one of which is yellow with a blue stripe, indicating that those wires go to a 12V rail in the power supply different than the other 2 12V wire bundles do. The wires closest to the front of the drawer are for the switch and LED's. Unlike the previous power supply, no ballast resistor was needed for this power supply.
I also made up a new base and reused the old panel for my bench top power supply.
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This is not the final configuration for this one. I want to get some binding posts and install them on the panel, then I will attach a single wire of each voltage to a positive binding post and a negative to to a binding post. There will be a total of 8 binding posts, a positive and negative each voltage: 3.3V, 5V, -12V, and +12V. There is a brown sensing wire on these ATX power supplies which must be attached with a 3.3V wire to allow the power supply to properly regulate the voltage. This will come in handy for testing purposes!
I'll move the power supply more to the front and shorten the base as well.
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
I finished the re-conversion of the computer power supply into a workbench power supply. I bought some binding posts from the Radio Shack section of Hobby Town, along with a couple sets of banana jacks and some alligator clips. I also bought a set of cheap multi-meter test leads from Menards.
I made a new panel from some 3/32" polycarbonate left over from the window replacement. The binding posts were 4 red and 4 black, but some Testors enamel soon gave me the appropriate colored posts to match the wire colors from the power supply.
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I probably could have gotten by with just using 1 ground jack, but this way I will have enough to work with whatever may come along in the future.
Here's a pic of the back side of the panel. The wires are crimped onto small ring terminals, which are secured to the binding posts with nuts. There is plenty of separation between terminals to prevent short circuits.
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I used two wires for the +12 volt terminal, just because. You will note that there are also two wires for the +3.3 volt terminal. The orange wire is the actual power wire. The brown wire is a sensing wire which must be installed with the 3.3V wire, or the power supply will not function properly. Some ATX power supplies also have a sensing wire for the +5 volt line, but this power supply did not have one.

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I made up a couple sets of test leads using the banana jacks, alligator clips, and multi-meter leads I bought. I cut off the multi-meter jacks and installed a banana jack. I soldered an alligator clip onto the end of a piece of 18 gauge stranded wire and installed a banana jack on the other end. Now I have test leads that will allow me to clip a lead to an object, or just touch it with a test probe.
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Here's a pic of a test of the power supply and alligator clip leads. The "testee" is a nano yellow-gold surface mount LED. I bought these from here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/100-x-12v-...e=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649
They come pre-wired with resistors installed. The seller has a variety of sizes, styles, and colors of LED's available, so check out their store. This LED will work all the way up to 12 volts, but I have it on 3.3 here.
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These really do cast a golden yellow light. I might get some bright white nano's and install them in the outdoor lights on the RustEze Medicated Bumper Ointment shipping and receiving building.
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flyboy2610

Loveably weird
Having finally gotten the Monroe Models split stone bridge abutments, I decided to start work on them. The abutments and wing walls are from Monroe Models, the abutments are #718 and the wing walls are #703, both split stone style. The wing walls were about 1/2" too tall and the abutments are about 1" too short! :confused:
The abutments are also about 1/8" wider on one side than the other, due to a mold error I'm guessing. I cut the wing walls down 1/2" using a cut off blade on my moto tool. It makes cutting plaster quick, but it makes a LOT of fine dust, so wear a respirator and do it outside. Here's a mock-up of how things will look. Of course, all of this will be along the back of the layout, but you can get the idea of how this is going to come together.
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The 1" extruded foam gets the track up almost where it has to be, but it's not quite perfect. When this gets installed, I'll adjust as needed to get it spot on. The extruded foam will be cut to fit the bottom of the abutments. The Woodland Scenics incline is 4" tall at the bridge, so that is what I'm using as the baseline. Adjustments will be made as needed.
Here you can see that the abutments still need to come up a bit, maybe 3/16".
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I used a very diluted wash of Walmart Apple Barrel Pewter Gray craft paint to color the abutments, wing walls, and Woodland Scenics C1255 Random Stone tunnel portals. The portals were purchased several years ago at a train show (remember those?) for use on the previous incarnation of this layout. The right side of the portal on the left was broken when I bought them, but I glued it back together. That side will go towards the back of the layout.
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The camera flash really washes it out, but there is good definition between individual stones. I'm almost hesitant to give them a wash of black. I'm pretty happy with them as they are. I will airbrush some black along the top of the tunnel portal arch to simulate smoke and soot. I had to notch the upper center of the bridge abutments to clear the two steel center supports in the bridge. I could have cut the supports flush with the end of the bridge, but decided to do it this way.
I'll let the plaster pieces dry for a few days, then give them an airbrushed coat of flat clear.
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
While scooting around under the layout yesterday, I though to myself "There has got to be a better way to do this!" So I looked online for a reclining mechanic's creeper. After looking at quite a few and reading reviews of them, I settled on the Whiteside 2UP 44 in. adjustable creeper. I ordered it from a company near Chicago. Remember, this was yesterday. I got it today. It came overnight air shipping. I did not pay for overnight shipping. I specified their free shipping for orders over $50. Overnight shipping costs about $160, which is more than I paid for the creeper! It was nice of them to do that, though!
It seems to be of good quality. Plenty heavy, it's got some weight to it! It's comfy, too! I like the fact that the leg side inclines, helps prevent sliding off. I best not close my eyes under the layout, might be a awhile before I wake up!
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flyboy2610

Loveably weird
It's a HOT one outside today! Air temp going to get up around 98, heat index of around 110. Perfect excuse to stay in the basement and work on the layout. Not that I really need an excuse, but I feel less guilty this way! :p
I've been working on a couple of projects. I messed up the area where the double crossover is going to go, so I had to cut out the foam and Homasote from that area and redo it. I also had to cut out an area about 8" x 4" of the 1/2" plywood. I cut 45 degree angles on the plywood base as well as the patch piece (to increase the gluing surface) and just about fainted when it all fit perfectly on the first try! :eek: That NEVER happens! I didn't get a pic before gluing the foam and Homasote patches back in, though. This pic shows the patches in place and some drywall compound around the edges. The Homasote patch is about 1/32" thinner than what is on the layout. That happens with Homasote, sometimes the thickness of two different batches is not quite the same. I've seen it with plywood from two different mills, as well.
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Once the drywall compound has dried, I'll sand it and paint the Homasote to match the surrounding area.
The other project I've been working is I wanted to find an arrangement of track that would allow me to make the interchange crossing under the bridge. The plan is to have a track going into a tunnel on each side of the bridge. These tracks are going to be like one of the staircases which Tevye sings about in The Fiddler on the Roof: going nowhere just for show. The track on the left will be coming onto the layout, the one on the right going off the layout. I will stage some rolling stock on them to give them a purpose. Why? I'll tell you... I don't know. But it's something I want to do.
Here's an overall look at it. The thin pencil line in the middle of the layout is exactly that: the middle of the layout. It is 117-1/16" from that line to either end of the table top. So the plan is to start in the middle and work towards both ends.
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Here's a closer view. The crossing is an Atlas code 100 45 degree crossing. Attached to the crossing at the top is a piece of 24" radius track, followed by a straight piece of track into the tunnel. This is the same on both sides. At the bottom of the crossing is a straight piece of track. The #6 Atlas code 100 turnouts each have a piece of 1/2 18" radius curved track. When I go to install this for permanent, the straight piece of track will be replaced by a piece of flex track "massaged" to fit. The turnouts are spaced 18" apart. I think will look pretty good.
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The pink foam pieces forming the sides of the tunnel will be cut down 1/2". I have some 1/2" foam board I will use to make the roof of the tunnels. The tracks will only run into the tunnels for about 12", just far enough to create the illusion that there is more to the tunnel than there really is. The track coming off the turnouts will be electrically dead. I plan to use insulated rail joiner on the diverging routes. The frogs for the turnouts will be powered. I have some Caboose Industries ground throws with electrical contacts I will install, both to power the frogs and to keep the turnouts tightly aligned.
The bridge sits on Monroe Models split stone bridge abutments, and each side will have a matching retaining wall. The abutments needed to be raised about 1-1/8" so that the rail tops would match from the bridge to the risers. It comes out pretty close, but I think it'll need a bit of tweaking when the time comes.
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I'll need to do some scribing and carving to the foam so it better matches the abutments. The top of the retaining wall looks pretty well matched, though.
I also want to cut down the pink foam a bit to better match the foam incline and not be so overwhelming.
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I still have long way to go before the inaugural run, but it'll get there!
 

flyboy2610

Loveably weird
I took the day off work today, but it's OK: I turned in a vacation day request last Friday like I'm supposed to. Things are a bit slow out there anyway.
Let's start with a game of "What Is It?"
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Hint: It has to do with Tortoise switch machines. OK, enough suspense. I'll show you the other side:
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Yup. It's my drilling template for Tortoise switch machines. I'm going to be using 5/16" holes for the throwbar rod, so after gluing the paper template from the instruction sheet included with each Tortoise onto a piece of 5mm lite plywood, I drilled a 5/16" hole through the large hole in the template, and 3/32" holes through the screw hole marks. I cut a piece of 5/16" dowel to the length I wanted, and drew a line on each end. I took care to make sure that the line on one end was exactly parallel with the line on the other end. I then glued the dowel into the template making sure that the line was parallel to the arrow on the template. To use it, I push it through the hole I drill for the throwbar rod. I line up the line on the dowel parallel with the track center line, thus ensuring that the template is properly aligned down below. I use a small steel awl to mark the screw holes, remove the template and drill the holes with a 3/32" drill. I use #4 x 3/4" Phillips pan head sheet metal screws to mount the Tortoise. In the above pic you can see two of them in their holes to the right of the template. I saw this idea on a YouTube video, and it works great! If you use a different size hole for your throwbar rod, just drill the hole in the template for the size hole you're using. The friction of the table-top and roadbed will hold the template in place, but allow it to be easily adjusted and removed.
The plywood piece that the template is up against is the patch I made the other day. I do not solder wires directly to the Tortoise. I much prefer to use edge connectors. ( https://www.ebay.com/itm/6-PK-Card-...e=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649 IMPORTANT NOTE: Circuitron has changed suppliers of their circuit boards, and edge connector that will fit the "old" Tortoises with the tan circuit boards, which is what these are, will not fit the newer ones with the new circuit boards. Make sure of what you have and what you need before ordering edge connectors! )
There are two reasons why I prefer edge connectors. (1) Repeated soldering and unsoldering wires from the circuit boards can eventually result in the metallic strips coming loose from the circuit board. Not good. (2) I prefer to be able to do my soldering at the workbench, not under the layout. Yes, you can remove the Tortoise and take it to the workbench, but I'd rather leave it in place unless absolutely necessary to remove it. You may see it otherwise, but that's my story and I'm stuck with it.
Try as I might to get the double crossover to work properly with two Tortoises and bell-crank linkage, one of the 4 turnouts just would not play nicely! The other three did exactly what they were supposed to do, but one just would not! :mad:
It wasn't the turnout itself, but I think one arm of one of the bell-cranks was a bit weaker than the others, and it just would not move the throwbar rod like the other 3 were. The system worked flawlessly when I bench tested it, but when I got it installed under the layout, I think the leverage required was just too much for that one bell-crank. I have 4 each of the Tortoise remote mounts and the linkage kits to enable one Tortoise to throw two turnouts, but those are rather fiddly to install and adjust. Besides, I have some other places on the layout where they will be needed worse. So I decided to use 1 Tortoise for each turnout on the double crossover, for a total of 4. I got two of them mounted, but the ones I drilled the holes for in the previous pics need to wait until I can get the edge connector made for the Tortoise closest to the side of the layout (the one the two screws are for) because I will have to mount that Tortoise with the edge connector installed. Not enough clearance under the Tortoise to install it after the fact. It doesn't take too long to make up an edge connector, though.
I did get the two Tortoises mounted under the other end of the double crossover, though. One of them got mounted just a bit off kilter, but it still seems to work just fine. It's the one with the edge connector on it. The Tortoise to the far right is not part of the double crossover. That controls a Peco Electrofrog turnout which goes to an industrial area.
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The terminal block will be connected to the main power bus. It is a 10 position bus, and I have wound a piece of bare 18 gauge wire around the top row of terminals, connecting 5 positions on each side together. I do not yet have it connected to the main power bus, however. The red and white 18 gauge solid wires attached to the top terminals go to the Peco turnout. The 18 gauge stranded wires on the bottom go to the internal switches on the Tortoises to power the frogs. The 18 gauge green stranded wire goes to the frog. The one for the Peco turnout is connected. I am using bullet connectors for the frogs so I can disconnect them if needed. I am really trying to avoid the situation where an electrical component must be literally cut out the system to fix or replace it. The black and yellow wires run to terminal blocks on the other side of the benchwork.
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It looks more complicated than it actually is. Just as I did on the terminal block for the main bus, I have jumpered the top row of terminals, 1/2 for positive, 1/2 for negative, except for the terminal block in the upper right. Starting with the terminal block on the bottom, on the top row in position 1 is a 12 gauge stranded wire which is +12 volts DC. Position 4 is a 12 gauge stranded wire for ground. This terminal block supplies power for the DPDT switches which control the turnouts. The power wires go through the hole to the control panel and are wired to the switches. The wires out from the switches come back out the hole, and those for the double crossover go to the block on the left, while those for the other two Tortoises that will be in this area go to the block on the right. When I was trying to get the double crossover to work with just two Tortoises, I had the wires for those going to the block on the right as well. I didn't install the block on the left until I decided to go with 4 Tortoises. I can run all the positives to one side and all the negatives to the other, and switch wires around until I get everything working right. If I do have to move a wire, I'll wrap colored electrical tape around the spade connector to indicate where it has to go, as I did with the two bottom wires on the right block. That block will be replaced with 4 position block, it doesn't need 6 positions anymore.
Like I said, it looks a lot more complicated that it actually is. I need to get some more nylon wire loops to secure the wires up out of the way.
This is the control panel for this area. There are 3 DPDT switches to control things. The top center switch is for the double crossover, the bottom right is the Peco turnout for the industrial area, and the one on the bottom left is for the turnout coming from the passenger station. Each turnout has two LED's, one green and one red. The green indicates that the turnout is thrown for the through route, and red indicates it is thrown for the diverging route. The switch handle in the down position will be for the through route. This will be a rule on my entire layout, that way there will be no confusion (yeah, riiiiiiiight!).
I have since gotten some 5 mm bi-color LED's, so future panels will only have 1 LED per turnout. 2 per turnout is a pain to wire! The panel was made with Microsoft Paint and printed on regular printer paper. I bought some Fellowes self adhesive sheets and "laminated" the panel. I made a frame for it and mounted it with some hinges I bought at Menards. I don't think it came out too bad for a first attempt.
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Gotta wrap this up now. Take care, all!
 




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