Train Operations

I’ve been working the last couple months on bringing operations into the Southwest Washington club. I’m learning how operations are handled in the Clackamas club and modifying these procedures to fit the Vancouver club. We are slowly building interest and participation. Last night we had nine members participating. It was a little disorganized with so many new operators on new positions. Each time we operate we learn ways to improve the process. I find myself investing more time each month. I guess I’m enjoying myself.

Ops at SWWMRR club

I’ve been working on implementing operations at the Southwest Washington Model Railroad club. We now do a limited operating session on the Saturday following the first Monday of the month. The first Monday is our business meeting. So far we have about five regular members attending the Ops.

Operating at the club

Operating at the club

Working on club projects

At home I’m mostly gardening but I’m working on moving the Southwest Washington club closer to actual operations. This coming Saturday we will try for a first full layout OP session. So far to go yet, but I must remember to take small steps. This is an old group with a lot of us old members not use to change.

Train day at the Vancouver Amtrak station was slow but may yield a couple new members. All in all it was a good first time experience.

At the Willamette club we had problems with our computer that runs the WiFi throttle system and the JMRI decoder programming having a dead mother board battery. As I feared changing the battery resulted in the Windows Vista system having to be completely reloaded. That’s the second time I have had to do that.

A new beginning

At the request of family for more open space in the family room I have downsized the layout and relocated the theme to the  rail lines in the Vancouver industrial area. Of necessity due to the large area covered by rail I am only modeling the port area. With Spring upon us and the garden calling progress on rebuilding is progressing slowly. I will still run PC Ry traffic on the layout along with SP&S, NP and GN power.

Changing my layout design

After considering my available time for modeling and the interest at the Vancouver RR club in railroads in Clark County I have decided to alter my layout design. Thursday I drove around Vancouver and took lots of pictures of the BNSF and Port Authority rails and yards; there are a lot!  Using my Anyrail CAD program I then designed an around the room modular layout, of parts of Clark County, that could be moved should the need arise. This transition will involve removing the large center benchwork of the current layout. I am still refining the final drawing but am posting the current design now. This location will allow me to run my PCRy engines plus SP&S, NP and GN trains.

SP&S in Vancouver

Some of the rail around Vancouver

Control panel work

I’m working on a prototype control panel for the layout. I have a sheet of white-faced press board to use for the panel facing, but want to try out some turnout control ideas before I commit the good stuff. I’ll be using both some tortoise motors and some timer motors for the turnouts. This will require having both toggle switches and push button switches on the panels.  I have to get all the turnouts in the hidden area wired before I can build the upper track above it.

Laying track again

I’ve started laying track again after a couple of months respite.  I was finally able to overcome a computer to Loconet communications problem that has been plaguing  me for most of the last year. I was given an older used Dell laptop running 32 bit Windows Vista and the USB driver problem I had with my 64 bit  Windows 7 went away. Hurray!!I hope in the next week to be able to complete my main line and start laying turnouts and sidings. Stay tuned.

Computer problems

I recently obtained a used HP Pentium 3 with Windows XP on it in the hope of overcoming the problems the Digitrax PR3 computer interface has with Windows 7. When the XP system wouldn’t communicate with my Loconet I was feeling very frustrated. What I didn’t realize was the PR3 was in programming mode from my fiddling with it. After consulting with the Digitrax and JMRI forums I found the problem and fixed it. Now at least the XP computer is talking to Digitrax. If only I could get my Win 7 laptop to communicate.

Building track switches

Using some ideas from the “Fast Tracks” company (thanks) I have developed a switch (turnout) jig, using track spikes, to facilitate building my own switches in less time and trouble. Counting the switches on the autocad drawing of my layout, I will need 20 left hand, 20 right hand and 16 curved switches.  I’ve made three so far.

switch jig (1)

Back to work

After taking the summer off for house painting, new gutters and rain barrels, and a new kitchen, I’m back to working on the layout. I’m finishing the mainline, both lower and upper loops, and then can start on the yards in Yakima and Chehalis.  Since I build my own turnouts, it’s less expensive but more time-consuming and more fun.

I’ve built interest in both the Clackamas and Vancouver RR clubs in using JMRI and the WiFi throttle. Now I just have to learn how to use JMRI for engine programming.