Friday, November 12, 2010

Just Call Me Sparky

Being crazy busy at work, while driving all over the state under cloudy skies has kept me from posting much lately. Even when there has been a bit of free time, being infected by the modeling bug once again has also cut into what was once internet time. Maybe that's a good thing.

So what's been keeping me so busy? The idea that I wanted to be able to let one train run on the loop around half the basement while switching with another at the same time led me to create this:

So what's that, you say? Well, all the REAL model railroaders have fancy control panels, and it seemed like I needed one as well. But I didn't want to spend a whole lot of time or money on it, so this panel is cobbled together from odds and ends. It allows you to select the main or siding for one throttle, and operate the yard with the either of the two throttles at your choosing. No fancy DCC system for this old timer (yet anyway). Applying my PhD level electrical knowledge, some old lamp cord, kindergarten-level soldering skills, and a handful of wire nuts along with some actual store bought SPST and DPDT switches, I came up with this:

That's the rear view of the panel shown above. I'm thinking this isn't the way you really want to do something like this. In fact, when I started trying to troubleshoot why things weren't working like they should have, it became crystal clear why people use many colors of wire, along with wire labels and terminal strips to connect up things like this.

But after a bit of troubleshooting, it worked, and that's what really counts. The first time an intermodal train drifted by the yard while I built a train to leave later, it was worth it. This model railroad bug bites hard and hangs on tight. One of the troubles with it, though, it that every time you accomplish some little thing like building a panel that allows you to control more than one train, you have to stop and play with it for a few minutes hours. And so once again progress comes to a screeching halt as a string of covered hoppers is assembled so the yard job can take them down to the local elevator for loading. And the paper mill needs 4 more clean box cars. Oh, and I almost forgot there are two kaolin tank cars to drop there as well. Those coal gons that were set out last night need to go to the RIP track. Sounds like this will be a full shift...

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