Friday, May 26, 2023

On the Valley Line (and Air Line!) Today

After regretting my decision a few weeks ago not to take 10 minutes out of my commute to work to shoot rare 6-axle power on the Air Line in Middletown, I wasn't going to make the same mistake this morning . . .

Admittedly, not the same level of exciting as seeing Big Power, but still pretty cool. There are G&W-painted engines on the fuel service track alongside the old Valley Main, and some power still painted in P&W on the Air Line about to cross the Connecticut River eastbound.


Sunday, May 21, 2023

Progress Report - May 21

So, by way of explanation rather than tired-ol'-excuse, things have been a bit quiet 'round here lately since it's my busy time of year at work. Thankfully, there's only 2 1/2 weeks of crazy left and this year's legislative session will adjourn just in time for the New England/Northeast Railroad Prototype Modelers Meet (aka the NERPM). Good thing too, since I'm scheduled to give a presentation and a layout tour that weekend.

But in order to maintain my sanity - as well as provide a much-needed break - I've been doing my best to take advantage of the little blocks of time I can eek out on the weekends. In no particular order, here's what I've been up to lately . . .

My "Old Deep River Road" scene is going to need a bunch of New England's most common crop: Rocks. So I've been casting a bunch of them using a variety of molds and Woodland Scenics Hydrocal. Pro Tip: Be sure the Hydrocal isn't old, or the castings will come out all crumbly. Ask me how I know. Fortunately, I learned my lesson and now make sure I use fresh material, mixed exactly according to the instructions.

I've also spent some fun time on a little "scenery practice" - all on a 9" diameter disc of foam. For the aforementioned NERPM, I plan to display my recent pride & joy - B&M SW1 #1109. And just placing it on the table was certainly not going to do it justice, so I'm making this little scene for it. It's just a piece of ME Code 70, with ties weathered, some ground goop and ground foam added - not enough to distract from the engine (I'd considered a super-detailed diorama, engine service facility, or some such) but enough to put it in a nice setting to show it off. In the pic above, I've just done the goop and saturated the foam with glue. Static grass and additional scenery materials will be added later.

My recent sojourn into ESU/Loksound v5 decoders prompted me to print out the v5 manual and go through it to see if I was missing anything critical. Well, there's a TON of information there that I don't think I'll ever need, but at least I was able to add little Post-Its to remind me where to find what I know I'll need in the future.

And speaking of DCC and locos, I've decided to dive into my New Haven DEY-7 (EMD SW-1200) by Rapido Trains (insert jingle here) to see if there's an easy way to shoehorn a capacitor into it. I know the TCS KA-2 will fit, but I'd much rather use an ESU PowerPack. Unfortunately, the latest version of the PowerPack inexplicably got a little larger(?!) since the previous version, making it just a wee bit too large to fit. Argh!

But, despite this little frustration, Model Railroading is STILL fun - and a great way to give your dayjob brain a break. Here's hoping I can get to the bench or basement again sometime soon!

In the meantime, I plan to spend the rest of a quiet evening reading a few more chapters from this little gem . . .

PS: How many of you subscribe to this blog to get email notification of when new posts are posted? I used to subscribe myself (to make sure the emails were going out), but I don't get the emails anymore. Neither does DanR, who emailed me about the problem an embarrassingly long time ago (sorry to be so tardy in my reply Dan!!). Is ANYbody getting the emails anymore??

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Proto 2000 S-1 Decoder Install/Test

As you may have noticed in my last post, I've made a bit of progress in Essex (fine-tuning some terraforming and tweaking a build template/footprint for the Dickinson's Witch Hazel distillery), and also Deep River (widening/moving the aisle to provide more room for the lace factory). But hopefully you also noticed at the end a couple of pictures of my latest decoder install. . .

This is going to be the main diesel power for the Valley Local: New Haven DEY-3 class (Alco S-1) #0967. I've been noodling on this install since at least late last year (click here for the last detailed post starting the project), trying to determine the best way to approach it and fit everything. But as of tonight, I can declare the install "DONE."

What we have here is an ESU v5 micro sound decoder (with hardwired Next18 plug), ESU PowerPack ("keep alive"), and a Scale Sound Systems speaker. Per the speaker installation instructions, I removed the weight from over top of the drivetrain and attached the speaker using the factory screw. Prior to all of this though, I first had to isolate the motor to make the model truly DCC-ready (click here for how I did that).

Couple of things to note:
  • The motor wires must be backwards since I matched the gray and orange wires to the decoder, but the loco ran backwards. Instead of reversing the (now-soldered and shrinktubed) wires, I just changed the direction in CV29.
  • If I were to do this install again, I would direct-wire the gray motor wire and the two speaker wires to save 3 splices (and the associated shrink tubes, and extra wire that has to be tape tucked).
  • I don't think removing the 1.5oz of weight is going to make that much of a difference to me. All of my layout is flat except for a 2% grade from East Haddam to Middletown. But even on the prototype, typical trains up the grade would only be 3-5 cars max. I'll report back.
  • While JT at SSS strongly cautions against any modification of his speaker enclosures, I found that I had to file down the molding ridges on both sides to allow the body/frame to slide down onto the chassis more easily. As long as you're ONLY removing the ridge, and not thinning the wall of the enclosure, you'll be fine.
  • Note that I have not (yet) installed lights. I don't know that I'll bother (the New Haven didn't use headlights during the day during my era, and the Valley Local didn't operate at night), but I left the white/yellow/blue wires intact just in case I change my mind later.
  • Speaking of wires, I removed/cut off the green and violet wires (AUX 1 & AUX 2, respectively) since I didn't need them, don't expect to ever need them, and didn't want them in the way.
  • The only thing I mounted into the body shell was the PowerPack:

As you can see, it fits really nicely above the rear truck and doesn't come into the cab (which will have a full interior).

So, how does it run and sound? GREAT! And even without doing the ESU tuning. Check out the video:

So there you have it - lemme know what you think. And special thanks to the AML Wednesday Night Chat guys for keeping me company and for all the helpful tips and tricks. Those zoom chats are ideal for working at the bench - and with folks "joining" you for a visit!

Next step(s): Modifying and detailing the body to transform this model into as true a representation of a DEY-3 as I can. Stay tuned!