Great Northern railway

Cleveland visit:

Took daughter for a visit to where I grew up.  She was born in Cincinnati.

They have a light rail system (RTA) that runs from the airport to down town and continues to the east side.

it runs along the main corridor for heavy train traffic from New York to Chicago.

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Down town flats have a lot of really nice bridges.


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Down town terminal square.

Where passenger trains once arrived.


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Couldn't leave out where Ralphie saw his red rider BB gun in the store window

and the Lionel train display!  Sadly, it's now a casino.

No, that's not Jodi Foster, that's my daughter!


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3rd Saturday night GNRW operating session.

Had a good time.

Joe had his 3 diesels: two pulling and one pushing.  A first on my layout.

Rick brought a N&W Y6b and a class A.

Mike brought a C&O allegheny.

Using DCC allowed 4 long trains on the mainline at one time, some following just a few 100 scale feet behind each other: couldn't have done that with my old DC setup.  That kept me busy where trains passed each other at two key sidings.

The use of the 3 track return loop/staging got a lot of use by not stopping at the St Paul yard and going, instead to the 'loop'.

Of course, the two pizza's went quickly along with the junk food and beverage!

After a few 'war stories', we finished up around 11:30.




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This has been the heaviest use of the DCC since it's installation as there were several trains/engines moving at once.

One problem that occurred was when one train was shorting, then the entire GNRW was shorted.  I thought it would be easy just to turn off block toggles to locate it but the engineer usually knew if it was his train but it was annoying that the entire layout was shut down.  Usually, only for a matter of 15-60 seconds but still annoying.

I'm looking at getting circuit breakers for the layout.

I found a video saying auto bulbs 1156 in series will act as a circuit breaker.

I put one in series for one block and it didn't work for me.  The video claimed he's been using them for 15 years with no problems.  I'm guessing my latest digitrax isn't compatible with the 'bulb' method. 

Initially, I thought it would be expensive, over 500 bucks, to put a circuit breaker at each of the 22 blocks on the GNRW.
Instead, it appears I can group blocks together and route a circuit breaker for each group of blocks.
This means for DC operation, if one block is thrown, then a group of blocks are all active but, since it appears I'll hardly be using DC,
except to run some lone one or two trains, it academic.
It appears that the circuit breakers require both ground and hot wires be isolated with the simple setup with 2 wires input and 2 output.
This circuit breaker is the cheapest and appears to 'fit the bill':
I'm figuring 8 'districts':
Blocks (B)
B-1,3,4: Seattle's yard and the double track (DT) leading out of the yard.
B-5,6: Cascade tunnel
B-7,8,9,10: Tye to Hillyard DT
B-22: Canyon area with trestles.
B-11,12: Glacier,Shelby DT
B-13,14: Glasgow, Wilmar
B-16: St Paul yard
B-15,17,18,19,20,21: leads to and the interchange/staging 3 track loop.
When I ordered my reverser for the return loop, the tech man said I can use the 'onguard' auto reversers for my turntables.  I got two of them but I found the walther's TT don't need them.
The instructions say they are also circuit breakers.
DCC onguard reverser,circuit breaker 01
I decided to test it with B-1,2,3,4.
I installed the circuit board and another terminal strip.  Ran all 4 block hot wires to one connection, ran an opposing hot wire into the circuit board and then routed the hot to the outgoing terminal strip for B-1,2,3,4.
The instructions for the more fancy PSX shows both the hot and ground side of the track as separate.  I figured this wasn't necessary for the circuit breaker (CB) so the ground just routes from the DCC station through the circuit board and to the 12 gauge bare wire that runs around the entire layout.
With just one CB, it worked with no problems.
I shorted out the B-1 and the red LED that I have connected to the CB board went off and blinked every 2 seconds as the instructions said it would in trying to restore power.
I had other DCC engines sitting on the rest of the layout and they were unaware of any short in the B-1 district.
Next, I'll connect the 2nd CB board I have and see how they work together and whether there's any interference having a common ground. 
If all works well, I'll order 6 more of the onguard CB's. 
DCC onguard reverser,circuit breaker 02
Additional terminal strip to route B-1,2,3,4 through the CB and then to the terminal strips leading to the tracks on the layout.
DCC onguard reverser,circuit breaker 03


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Two districts set up.

The 2nd CB board was installed for Blocks B-5,6 and all worked great.

I had several DCC engines on the layout including one in District 2. 

An induced short in district 1 had no affect on district 2 or the other DCC engines and the command station did not 'beep', which indicates a short, thus the CB is "doing it's job".

The reverse was done shorting out district 2 with the same results.

I can now order 6 more onguard CB's to cover the remaining districts.


I soldered some LED's to the CB to indicate power/short status.

DCC onguard reverser,circuit breaker 04DCC onguard reverser,circuit breaker 05



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GN W-1 electric (custom brass) decoder install.

With no electric sounds, I used the TCS 1485 KAM4 with keep alive for the electric.

GN W-1 custom brass #5018 01

GN P-2 4-8-2 decoder install.

The usual TCS 1517 Wow 101-KA steam for this engine.

Drilled out the marker lights and installed LED's for marker, head light (engine and tender), running board lights and fire box.


GN P-2 4-8-2 Tenshodo #2523 01




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GN Y-1 electric (tenshodo) converted to DCC.

As with the W-1, a TCS 1485 KAM4 with keep alive decoder was used.

The motor is a huge open frame motor.  I left it in and will see if the decoder can handle the amps.  Fortunately, both ground and hot had insulated tabs so no insulation of the motor from the frame was necessary. 

Surprising, this engine is very quiet, even with an open frame motor.

The W-1 electric with two can motors is very noisy.

GN Y-1 electric tenshodo #5012 01GN Y-1 electric tenshodo #5012 02


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Well, so much for that theory!
My order of onguard CB's just arrived.
I connected one of the onguard CB's to another district (district 3) and when testing it, it shorted out the entire layout.
To insure the CB was the problem, I connected the onguard CB to District 1 where the onguard reverser/CB was connected,
and the results were the same.
I called the tech man and he said I have to use the PSX-CB for digitrax and program it for digitrax.
Last week when I called the tech man, I wish he would have asked if I use digitrax plus their web site does a comparison of
the onguard versus the PSX CB and no mention is made for digitrax.
The tech man says the onguard reverser/CB that I'm using won't work when an engine crosses between two districts. 
I didn't test that scenario when I set up the CB's.
Of course I had to test that after talking to him.
Ran an engine across two districts (from district 1 to 2) and the engine stopped a split second and then continued running.
Running back from district 2 to district 1, there was no hesitation.
Hey, all I have to do is run trains ONLY in one direction!
Anyway, ordered 8 of the PSX and they'll credit my MC when they receive the 7 onguard CB's.
Live and learn!
samparfitt posted:

GN Y-1 electric converted to DCC.

As with the W-1, a TCS 1485 KAM4 with keep alive decoder was used.

The motor is a huge open frame motor.  I left it in and will see if the decoder can handle the amps.  Fortunately, both ground and hot had insulated tabs so no insulation of the motor from the frame was necessary. 

Surprising, this engine is very quiet, even with an open frame motor.

The W-1 electric with two can motors is very noisy.

GN Y-1 electric tenshodo #5012 01GN Y-1 electric tenshodo #5012 02

That's a beauty

Jim Waterman - Lee Lines Limited

Custom Made Standard Gauge Trains

Thanks, Jim.



GN P-2 4-8-2 mountain (tenshodo) decoder install.

Wire connector pin made for headlight, marker lights and running board lights.

GN P-2 4-8-2 Tenshodo #2523 02

8 pin connector made for engine to tender.


GN P-2 4-8-2 Tenshodo #2523 03

A lot of short pieces of heat shrink tubing keeps the wires flexible, together as well as makes them look like piping.


GN P-2 4-8-2 Tenshodo #2523 04

Wiring complete.


GN P-2 4-8-2 Tenshodo #2523 05GN P-2 4-8-2 Tenshodo #2523 06GN P-2 4-8-2 Tenshodo #2523 07

Two electrics plus the mountain recently converted to DCC.


GN P-2 4-8-2 Tenshodo #2523 08


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Train show at Springfield, Ohio.

One day show covering 2 buildings and a connection building on county fairgrounds.


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Some nicely built up walthers buildings selling for what the kits cost.


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Two modular layouts: HO and N.  A lot of work for a one day show.


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This guy always has the corner spot and mint pre war and post war lionel.


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Had one of these Gilbert sets when I was around 7 or 8.


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Rob and I went to the same collage: this year is our 50th anniversary reunion: long time ago!


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Picked up a few items.  

2 bucks each for some power packs for layout lights, etc.

Can always use 1/16" diameter heat shrink tubing and terminal strips.

Some torx heads and a hot wheels for grandson's birthday.


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Took the back roads to the event.  More relaxing and can actually see stuff versus highway!



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County court house.


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Farmers ready for spring.


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Kind of houses that railroaders want, with full basements.


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Went over to Ric Case's house who only lives several miles away.

He models EBT (East Broad Top, narrow gauge) in a 1700' space and about a 400' mainline.

He also likes D&RG narrow gauge so I 'chased' a K-27 along it's route.

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Good use of an O gauge signal bridge!


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Interface with the Pennsy.


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Left from  my daughter's house in Middletown, Ohio and took the back roads.

Some nice modeling buildings!


A couple heavily used main lines through town.

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A lot of nice houses along, what else, Main street: probably the most popular street name in america!

A lot of houses still have slate roofs which would cost 50-100 grand to duplicate, today, just for the roof!

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PSX circuit breakers (CB) arrived yesterday.

They have to be re-programmed for digitrax: which is easy and only requires moving a program connector and powering on/off the system.

I tested them, as the instructions say, by shorting out the 2 output terminals.  

Momentary shorts no problem but a 3 second short causes the command station to short and the command station then shuts down voltage which shuts down the CB's.  The tech man says the short was too long and normal and 'under normal shorts' they will operate correctly.  Doesn't seem normal to me as it seems this will shut down the entire layout.  He gave me Larry's email, who developed the circuitry so I emailed him about it and awaiting a reply.  See below for train test.

Since I had the CB's, I installed them (right side, 8 total) and will conduct a 'on going' test of them.

One can route just one set of hot/ground wires to all the inputs to the CB's but I wanted to still be able to run DC so the block toggles were grouped into 8 districts and routed, via new terminal strips, into each of the CB's.  

The tech man says I can run DC through the CB's; the CB's just won't detect shorts in DC mode. 


DCC PSX circuit breaker 02DCC PSX circuit breaker 03

I used green tape to indicate districts and, since multiple blocks now go through 

one CB, all related district block toggle wires were bundled into one wire and routed through its respective CB.  

Only one block toggle is needed to activate that district so it was also marked green.  This reduces any DCC toggles to be turned off, in case of isolating a short, to only 8 toggles.  Not counting the 3 track reverse loop which is controlled by a PSX-AR.


DCC PSX circuit breaker 04DCC PSX circuit breaker 05

So far, one train has been run from Seattle to the return loop.  

All 8 district toggles were turned off to test isolation of each district, so as the train entered the next district, the train stopped until the next district toggle was activated. 

I did have a couple derailments and the engine kept running.  I'm guessing no short resulted from the derailment.

I'll have to run some cars through a closed turnout and watch what happens to a train on the mainline.

Lots of testing to be done, yet.


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Got a reply from Larry.

Need to buy some spst normally closed.

The problem is that the 210 does not like the auto reset function of the PSX. This is easy to fix. Install a jumper J7-1 to J7-2 with a normally closed push button in series with the jumper. The PSX will trip but will not try to reset. Once the fault is fixed, you can reset the PSX by pressing the button (opening the jumper). You can also reset the PSX by sending a SWCH command to address 997 and hitting c. To use this address, you will first need to remove power, install the Digitrax configuration jumper (J7-3 to J7-4), move the program jumper to the program position, apply power, and wait for D6 to stop flashing. Remove power and restore the jumper to the operate position. This will set the default address to 997. Use SWCH, 997, then c to turn the PSX on. A t will turn it off.

I now wished I would have put all the CB's along the top of the control panel, exposed so I can see them.  I'm going to have to relocated them all.

CB's moved to above the main control panel.

First, two green wires were soldered to J7-1,2 for the spst toggles 'normal closed' buttons that will arrive in a few days.

Both '4 sets' of CB's were moved to above the main control panel for ease of identifying which CB is shorting plus able to push the reset button (SPST) after the short is cleared.

Took about 3 hours to move and rewire the CB's.

Probably a narrow 1/4" thick piece of ply will be mounted along the left side of each bank of CB's for the spst buttons.

All eight districts were marked D-1 to D-8 on the main control panel and also the CB's.

DCC PSX circuit breaker 06DCC PSX circuit breaker 07

Except of D-8 (off to the far left), the remaining district labels are sequential and aligned with each other.


DCC PSX circuit breaker 08


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Re-test after moving CB's above main panel:

Was wondering why the chuffing was so 'soft' but realized that, with only a 17 car train, there's not much voltage needed by the motor so the decoder keeps the chuffing low.


Made up some narrow 'panels' to hold the spst button toggles when they arrive.


DCC PSX circuit breaker 09


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Always something!

Once in awhile a car or two would derail coming from the 3 track return loop onto the mainline.  There's two turnouts and a curved crossing and I thought that was the problem but two rail ends were miss aligned and causing it.

I needed the above creeper and had to move a large building to get to it, just barely!

Lucked out on the creeper as it is at its max height and just cleared the upper yard lead tracks.



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Correct: digitrax.


Thanks, Mike,


CB's for each district.

The spst normally closed toggle buttons arrived and installed.

I had to push all of them to engage them, properly.

DCC PSX circuit breaker 10

District 3 tested (middle CB).  Output LED off and center LED on.

Push button resets it.

I think I'm going to like this method as, once it's off, one has to push the button to reset it, thus eliminating any possible severe damage happening to the command station or decoders instead of the old method where the command station kept beeping due to a short.


DCC PSX circuit breaker 11


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New delivery.

My backup turntable arrived that I ordered a few weeks ago.  I asked them to test it first to make sure there were no 'bugs' in it and they wrote on the outside box, tested.  I'll test it, just to make sure, and store it for parts, etc in case one of the two on the layout ever 'goes south' on me.

pictures getting errors.

Tested the new turntable from walthers that they said they tested before shipping.

This one also has the defective circuit board.

Someone didn't get the 'word' on how to test them!

On well: it's my 'backup'. Will wait for the new circuit board to be delivered.

turntable walthers 130 foot 55turntable walthers 130 foot 56


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