January 2019 Update
I'm actually starting to go downstairs on a regular basis again. The knee is getting better, but I haven't really been pushing it until today. It still hurts when I have to kneel and rest on it, but at least I can get up after I do.
I've really only done a couple projects this month. The first was learning how to do static grass. The second was a much larger project, and has been going on for the last week, and I'm still not done. I ordered nine new Legacy Bluetooth diesels from the 2018 volume 1 Lionel catalog. Over the last two months, they all showed up. I've been unpacking, programming and incorporating them into the fleet.
It has been exactly nine weeks since I tripped on the electrical cords and did my knee. I'm pretty sure that it was the white one that was my downfall, literally.
Static grass: This is the Noch Grassmaster 2, cost $159.95 on sale at Scenic Express.
This is my homemade applicator, made from an electric fly swatter and a kitchen strainer. Cost, about $11.
I decided to do a side by side test of the two applicators, while I learned the process. To the left of the nail was done with my homemade unit.
The area to the right was done with the Noch. Both units did well with short grass, 2mm.
The real test came with 10mm grass. Again the homemade unit.
The fancy commercial unit. My wife said this looked more like mown hay. It just didn't stand up like the fly swatter application.
My theory as to why the homemade unit out performed the Noch is that it applied a greater static charge to the fibers, making them really stand up, and look more realistic.
On to the unpacking project. I don't use a cell phone or tablet, so Bluetooth isn't really my thing. But I managed to get my wife come down and try it out. It works great. It's nice because it doesn't rely on the track signal when it's being controlled with BT.
So I bought these two SD70ACe's.
Two GP9 Torpedos.
We took this one for a spin over at Hiawatha and did a little switching.
One thing I found out was some of my roads were a little too high, causing the wheels to ride up off the rail, and lose power. I took an X-acto knife and shaved down the high spots. I have a lot more of these crossings to check and possibly fix. I need flawless running if I want to get people to operate on the layout.
I bought three SD45's.
And finally this SW7. Normally I assign channel numbers based on the last two digits of the engine number. Unfortunately I already had a number 11. In order to free up that channel for this engine, I had to do a three way swap.
The BNSF engine near the edge of the layout has the number 1010 on it. Because one of my Amtrak Genesis engines was already number 10, the BNSF became 11. I unwound that whole mess, and now the SW7 is 11, 1010 is 10, and the Genesis became 15 even though it says 10 on the shell.
Here's how that went down. I actually had two Williams six car superliner sets, and two sets of matching Williams Genesis powered and dummy pairs. Well almost matching. Of the four shells, there were three different numbers. One powered unit was wearing 10, and the other had 15. So I took the old number 10 and reprogrammed it to 15 to match the other powered unit. Then I took the two dummies off both trains, removed three cars, and made one big dual loco Empire Builder with an Atlas baggage, nine Williams cars, and a couple express box cars on the end. This is a classic consist for the Builder, and just fits in its hidden yard parking space.
I meant to take a picture of the new train, or even a video, but I put it back down in the yard. As I was working on reprogramming other engines, I was turning the track power on and off. For a while now, the circuit breaker has been popping every third or fourth time I turn the track power on. Out of frustration, I turned the power off, and opened up the electrical box. My plan is to replace both the light switch and the breaker. Saturday is supposed to be warm, as in above 32, so I'll run out in the morning, and fix it in the afternoon, and hopefully that will solve the problem once and for all.
All of these new engines are really getting me excited to do some running. I started to try and get my Challenger working, just before ripping into the electrical box. I bought it used, and while it's been gathering dust on the layout for years, I've never actually run it. I would like to be able to get out my new UP excursion set and theater car.
Next up, I have to fix two critical switches in the hidden yard. For months, I've had them locked in place so that I can only run one train on a through track. I would love to be able to access the rest of the tracks and trains down there. I could also make up a few new ones with all these new engines. I have nine open parking places.