Great looking Elliot, It sure must be nice to get a little help here and there. Things are really coming along nicely! You sure did a lot this month and I cant wait to see what you get done next month!

Mike

USMC 5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

Busy...busy...busy...   It is interesting to follow all of this construction.  What a magnificent layout this is turning out to be! 

Wow as usual!

Elliot what are those blue bins ? Are they full of track screws? Also what type of ballast are you using on those corners and how much of it do you plan on using, is it pre-colored or do you color it to a shade you like? 

George

Thank you all so much. I don't think I could do this without you. As Carl (Pingman) points out, I do post some of the daily happenings over on "What Did You Do On Your Layout Today" in case you want more in depth coverage.

Just starting some scenery, makes it feel like I've rounded a huge corner. There is very little heavy construction left. Track wiring is almost done, as are the backdrops and fascia.

George - The blue bins, and I have a bunch of them, contain drywall screws of various lengths. One of them does have my track screws in it. The ballast comes directly from a local quarry. That is its natural color. I have close to half a ton of it in my garage. It is a screening know as head lap, but you may know it better as roofing granules. It is reserved for shingle manufacturers, and not typically sold to the general public. What is more interesting about this particular quarry is, they supply the real railroads with their ballast. Can't get more prototypical than that!

xferyard posted:

Which air distribution system did you install?

 

It was this one, but I added a couple pieces, an extra port and a couple T's.

Another nice update. Looks like things are really starting to come together now and it's getting that more finished look. Good luck on the progress next month and you new helpers. As always, looking forward to the next update.

Randy - For the fascia I use 1/4", for the backdrops 1/8". The paint is regular latex. The fascia is all coated / primed with flat black. I plan to switch to semi-gloss for the final coat, as it will be a little more durable, and won't show as many scuffs.

Scott - It allows me to have compressed air outlets in all four aisles for tools and air brushing. Nothing on the layout is air powered. BTW, using an air nozzle is not a good idea, because all it does is move dust from one place to another. Dust needs to be vacuumed up and emptied elsewhere.

Elliot, I would also like to thank you for sharing so wonderfully the progression of your layout. I'm sure every single person reading this thread has learned something (or 20 things) to keep in mind for future layouts - or current ones.

On a personal note, you have two things I have always wanted on a layout: A Helix to an upper level and a hump yard - so cool. I look forward to your future updates.

Paul

... still have my fare - with just a trifle to spare...

 

 

Thank you Paul, and it is my pleasure to share my layout and experience with all of you.

I have been a member of the NMRA for over 40 years. They have a thing called the Achievement Program. I've known about it for almost the whole 40 years. There are 11 different certificates that can be earned. Collect 7, and you earn the title Master Model Railroader. I thought about starting this series of tasks years ago, but it seems now is the right time. I have the layout that I'm building anyway, why not get some credit?

What would make this rather interesting if I was able to accomplish it, is, I don't think anyone has ever done it in 3 rail before. That would be a cool distinction!

Short month, but still a lot got done. I didn't have my usual strong finish, as I've been a little under the weather, but it got off to such a great start, I'm not at all bothered.

I have a new helper from here on the forum. Scott, screen name Miggy, came over a couple times, and we made some great progress.

The dispatcher's corner is really coming together, both monitors got hung.

IMG_7277

Eventually, this one will display the layout schematic. This is actually the ATCS monitor for the Twin Cities, which is the area that I'm modelling. Pretty close representation.

IMG_7278

Here we see all 16 security cameras displayed on the left monitor. They cover 3 hidden yards, both helixes, and some other hidden areas of the mainline.

IMG_7282

This is Scott, getting right "down" to work, as our first project together was to put in the new counter tops.

IMG_7286

He applied the clamps to the miter joint, and fastened the unit to the ledge I built.

IMG_7287

Then it was time to go into mass production on uncoupler magnets.

IMG_7288

Here we see the prep for inserting the magnet into the GarGraves track. Cut away the center rail, and part of two ties.

IMG_7289

Here are a couple more, I'll get back to these in a bit.

IMG_7293

I spent an hour calling train shops all over the country looking for these simple bumpers for tubular track. I'm still scratching my head over why these are so hard to find. Many say they are discontinued, but they are listed on page 106 of the brand new 2017 Lionel catalog. Go figure!

IMG_7295

As if the layout didn't have enough switches, I decided to add four more. Two will form a third track at the BNSF Midway intermodal yard. The other two will create engine pockets at Midway and Shoreham. More on this later.

IMG_7298

With the exception of a single 3 pack, all of the bumpers were installed around the layout. I like these because they are cheap and sturdy, so you can actually bump them.

IMG_7300

On Scott's second visit, I showed him how to install the uncoupler magnets. After that, he was off to the races, getting 19 of them done in a single afternoon.

IMG_7304

I picked up my new Atlas F7's, for my early Amtrak Empire Builder rainbow. The Pennsy baggage and combo are due for a kitbash and a repaint. Sorry Pennsy fans.

IMG_7306

Another thing Scott helped me with was pulling more wires over the door. I think I've got it now.

IMG_7312

I took an afternoon, and painted the plywood panels lining the aisles.

IMG_7315

Doesn't it feel weird drilling into something brand new? I placed this grommet in the counter top.

IMG_7318

This old 50 pair phone cable will be used to control a bank of relays under Red Wing. Those relays will turn track power off and on in both hidden yards, when parking trains. Low power to throw the relays, whose contacts control track power.

IMG_7317

I made this table to assign which wire went to which relay.

IMG_7319

More of the bumpers installed.

IMG_7320

It had been quite a while since I had seen Red Wing. It's clean, and I plan to keep it that way.

'IMG_7324

Same for Pig's Eye.

IMG_7325

A little over a year ago, I started this topic about how to control all of my uncoupler magnets. After a fair amount of discussion, this is what we came up with.

IMG_7331

Kudos to GunrunnerJohn for the idea of the capacitive touch sensor, the small boards on either end of this setup.

IMG_7333

The next big project is underway. I've already explained bits of it here today. This is the old control area for the big hidden yard (before).

IMG_7330

This is what it looks like now. The monitor is gone, its function moved to the big screen. Also gone is the track occupancy board.

IMG_7337

After a trip to the table saw, it is over in the new dispatcher's corner, leaner and meaner.

IMG_7338

As long as I was going for a cleaner more professional look, gone are the hand written numbers, replaced by vinyl stick ons.

IMG_7341

Three of the four switches I mentioned earlier have been cut in and secured. It's a little more difficult to replace track between fixed ends. The pins have to be bent and started, then gently pressed and wiggled into place.

IMG_7342

Ta-da!!!

IMG_7344

Once again, as if I needed more, I added about a square foot to the layout. This was purely cosmetic, as I wanted the edge of the upper deck to line up with the curve of the lower.

IMG_7348

This is right at the entrance to the layout, and that is the duckunder bridge.

IMG_7347

Finally, for those of you who may have missed it, I shot a short video of my new Empire Builder in action. Enjoy!!!

Attachments

Photos (31)

Short month and long on accomplishments!

I'm wondering if this is going to be the biggest layout owned by a single private citizen, the thing is massive!

Once again quite impressive. The quality of what you are doing is amazing. I bet it looks even better in person. I honestly look forward to beginning of the month just because of you updates!!!

Corey West

Aircraft for work, trains for fun.

Elliot, once again Great work! Its a good thing we don't have short week's you would get as much done then that most get done in a month! I tank you for your monthly post and pictures, as it is a great teaching aid for me.

Mike

USMC 5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

gunrunnerjohn posted:

Sort month and long on accomplishments!

I'm wondering if this is going to be the biggest layout owned by a single private citizen, the thing is massive!

I agree; this has to be the largest, and if not, certainly the one with the most intricate and well thought through track plan. What Elliott has done, and where he is going with this monumental layout is simply mind boggling.

Elliott, once again- thank you for taking the time for the very detailed update.

Alex

PS. BTW, I also used quite a bit of the 50-conductor telephone cable, which I salvaged from the trash container some 40+ years ago following an old factory demolition.

Happy O-Gauge Railroading!

  Alexander Müller

See My Mostly Completed Layout Here

YouTube: 03Patines

Latest Video: Passenger Trains

OGR Articles: Runs 256, 263, 267, 292

OGR  forum member since 26 January 2008

Another great month!  I am still amazed (probably more so each month) by the way you keep track of all this!!

 

Seacoast,

I don't know if the Lionel bumpers will fit Atlas track? However, Atlas makes some that are very similar and are made specifically for their track.

As always, a huge thanks guys!!

Pat - I think the major driving factor in my progress is the impending layout tour at the end of April. There are a lot of things I'd like to have done by then. There is another major milestone that I'm anxious to reach, and that is being able to have operating sessions. Finally, there's the National Narrow Gauge Convention, Labor Day Weekend 2018. Lots to do for all those things!

John - I'm not sure about the largest layout tag. There is another local guy who has me beat for room square footage, and he's in HO. On the other hand, his layout isn't multi deck, and it doesn't use the technology that I'm building into this layout. Kind of an apples and oranges thing. Let's just agree that this layout will be unique, especially in its use of a computer as an integral part of its control.

Mark - This thought has actually crossed my mind. I'm just not sure who will want to take on a layout like this when I'm gone. It won't move well, so it's very stuck in the house.

John - For what it's worth, it's not a separate room. It's just a corner off the main space. Maybe the reason more people don't do this sort of thing is that they don't use a computer to control their trains. I still haven't hooked up the computer, but it's coming.

Alex - When it comes to the track plan, much of it is taken directly from the real world. I'm just following the BNSF, CP and UP through the Twin Cities. Yes, there is some license taken, and things are compressed, but if you go to Google maps and earth, you can start at Red Wing, MN and just follow the tracks up through Fridley, MN, about a 60 mile run. It's kind of unfortunate that so few 3 railers choose to model the prototype.

George - As long as we don't run the trains at warp speed. I'm not sure if those bumpers will work with Atlas track. I do have to use screws behind them to anchor them with the GarGraves track.

RTR - How do I keep track of things? I cheat! I make lists on the computer, and check off my progress as I go. Been doing it this way for almost 3 years. It works!

Ingeniero No1 posted:
gunrunnerjohn posted:

Sort month and long on accomplishments!

I'm wondering if this is going to be the biggest layout owned by a single private citizen, the thing is massive!

I agree; this has to be the largest, and if not, certainly the one with the most intricate and well thought through track plan. What Elliott has done, and where he is going with this monumental layout is simply mind boggling.

Elliott, once again- thank you for taking the time for the very detailed update.

Alex

PS. BTW, I also used quite a bit of the 50-conductor telephone cable, which I salvaged from the trash container some 40+ years ago following an old factory demolition.

Big Boy's layout is pretty huge ... maybe the TWO largest?

Elliot as usual phenomenal work accomplished. I was rereading some of the post and comments and I was thinking

Computer control of the layout.:  Smartest idea yet.  Its to bad someone on the forum hasn't offered to write a program that would tie in everything from operating switches ,accessories, tying in the video feeds, but control the trains at the same time keeping proper spacing on the main and into the built up areas. This would also allow for local control of engines used for yard and switching at the same time.  Not only would it be a leap in technology this would be a huge contribution to the hobby that would potently have applications in G,S,HO and N scales.

NMRA Certificates:  Yep, would love to be the fly on the wall when they see the completed layout.

1. Because of the size of the layout and its in O scale.

2. The amount of buckets and mops you will need to clean up the liquid  emancipating from their mouths.  

3. because you will most likely take all ten. They will have to create a new category.  Just hope they don't find the skeletons in the closet. Then its over.

Selling after your gone, like that will happen after all your work. Maybe when hell freezes over.  I can see the ad,  Layout for sale. Haunted House included.

I agree we all have learned and gotten good ideas.  Maybe a an OGR special,  Layout from hell, What not to do, The trail and tribulations of a layout gone mad.

Cant wait for next month update!!!!!!

US Army retired

Suncoast Regional Coordinator 

First Florida  Chapter of the MVPA HAZMAT SME(RID,DOD,IATA,ADR,CFR 49)  

 

Kerrigan - Let's not get carried away, no need for hyperbole.

John - I've said this many times, there is an open invitation for forum members to visit. I know I'm a little off the beaten path for this group, but if you ever find yourself coming to the Twin Cities, you just have to drop me an email, and set up a time. Private showings are better anyway.

Doug - I'm not sure I would have even thought about computer control if I hadn't bought all of the equipment for enterTRAINment at Mall of America twenty five years ago. Most of the work was done back then, I just have to reconfigure it for this layout. C/MRI is a very powerful tool. It is also a fairly straight forward concept. It allows you to "talk and listen" to devices by turning them on and off.

Inputs talk to the computer, and convey layout conditions. The main function of inputs will be detecting train location.

Outputs tell devices on the layout to turn on and off. The main functions are throwing turnouts, and changing signals.

All of this is tied together with software. In my case, I'll be using JMRI. Once I can control devices, and know where the trains are, the real fun begins. The serial port on the TMCC base is then connected to the computer, and suddenly it is talking to the trains in real time. This is the main reason DCS is useless for me. The codes are not available to run the trains.

As for the NMRA Achievement Program certificates, there are very specific requirements involved to earn them. Some are quite easy, others take a lot more effort. You do get to pick your battles in many cases. So yes, building this layout will go a long way toward many of those tasks, but some take more work beyond what happens in the normal course of construction. A lot of the requirements have to be judged.

Elliot very impressive as always.

After I think you said 300 or more switches 2 more is just icing on the cake. 

When you talk of red wing pigs eye yard and all the other places near St Paul I can close my eyes and see it as it was in the 1950's as an 8 yr old thanks for the memories.

In reality how close to having operating sessions are you?

I'll be awaiting the day you can create a video of a train going all over your fantastic layout without any signal issues!

Now to await for the end of March update.

 

StPaul

Big_Boy_4005 posted:

 

Doug - I'm not sure I would have even thought about computer control if I hadn't bought all of the equipment for enterTRAINment at Mall of America twenty five years ago. Most of the work was done back then, I just have to reconfigure it for this layout. C/MRI is a very powerful tool. It is also a fairly straight forward concept. It allows you to "talk and listen" to devices by turning them on and off.

Inputs talk to the computer, and convey layout conditions. The main function of inputs will be detecting train location.

Outputs tell devices on the layout to turn on and off. The main functions are throwing turnouts, and changing signals.

All of this is tied together with software. In my case, I'll be using JMRI. Once I can control devices, and know where the trains are, the real fun begins. The serial port on the TMCC base is then connected to the computer, and suddenly it is talking to the trains in real time. This is the main reason DCS is useless for me. The codes are not available to run the trains.

As for the NMRA Achievement Program certificates, there are very specific requirements involved to earn them. Some are quite easy, others take a lot more effort. You do get to pick your battles in many cases. So yes, building this layout will go a long way toward many of those tasks, but some take more work beyond what happens in the normal course of construction. A lot of the requirements have to be judged.

Elliot, this what I was thinking. Updated software ( Tailored to O Scale operating systems 2R / 3R and all the components packaged as a product ( circuits, relays, sensors and so on). In your case you built a system on your own using suggestion and component recommendations from forum members and trial and error with more to come..   

NMRA Achievement Program certificates: I understand the criteria's. but with the level of work you have done now and attention to detail. I would expect nothing less  from you in the future to smoke them like a cheap cigar when the time comes.   The great part we all will learning and be part of the ride.

US Army retired

Suncoast Regional Coordinator 

First Florida  Chapter of the MVPA HAZMAT SME(RID,DOD,IATA,ADR,CFR 49)  

 

Elliot; As usual another fantastic month of progress. I still look forward to your monthly installments. If I ever get anywhere nearby I hope to be able so stop by for a visit. Never been anywhere near there. Would make a nice "Road Trip" for my wife and myself. Time will tell.

Jay

Ray - I'm getting very close to having operating sessions. I want to finish the uncouplers, and these last bits of track. The signal issues have been narrowed down to a few locations, and only some engines at those locations. I think it will be fairly easy to correct those. Then I want to get a bunch of rail painted, so I can start unpacking cars, and make the cards for them.

As for the computer stuff, the layout can easily be operated without it, and it has always been the plan to phase that in as it becomes ready. I have designed the systems with an easy transition in mind. Turnouts will be the first system to come online, along with the JMRI track diagram used to control them.

Doug - Neither C/MRI (hardware) nor JMRI (software) have any scale bias. Both systems can be used with any type of trains. Furthermore, JMRI can be used directly with many brands of hardware other than C/MRI, and C/MRI can be used with other types of software. A lot of C/MRI guys are still stuck on Visual Basic, partly because, if I'm not mistaken, Basic has been Chubb's language of choice since the system's inception back in the 80's. Mainly for its ease of use.

Just to set the record straight on my C/MRI hardware, the original system used at the mall was compartmentalized in the form of a series of panels with the components mounted to them. The panels were actually built by an electrical engineer I once knew. I really can't take credit for that, as my understanding is only of the basic function. I have a lot of reading to do.

Where once there were ten "nodes", the current layout will reduce that down to four. My task is to reestablish the wire connections between nodes, and make the new connection to the computer itself. Technological advances have moved us from 9 pin serial to USB connectors, but I think I have that issue taken care of.

Jay & Eliot - All you have to do is drop me an email, and let me know when you plan to make it out this way. Happy to have you visit!

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