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Have not done much. Things went down hill real fast with my back - upshot lower back surgery on Nov 20 (T12 down to L5). Never did anything in a small way...............

I am filling in some space in the back. My plan is an elevated section with an industrial building front (got a bunch of old Korber flats) plus a straight track not connected to the layout. I figure it would be a good place to store box cars rather then in a closet. I have enough room for a 3 inch side wall, docks plus the track.

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Prescott Layout Nov 2018 002


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I'm back (no pun intended). Surgery was Nov 22. It took a bit to get into shape enough to start bending over the layout. Fortunately doc only needed to scrape bone on all 6 discs. My legs don't hurt anymore and that is a blessing.

I am trying something new for me on an elevated section of the layout. Jury is till out on how it will look. I had some Woodland Scenics vinyl sand mats left over so cut them into sections to lay over the foam inclines. I used a heat gun to bend the mat into place then hot glue on the edges to glue into place. I went over the edges with the heat gun again to remelt and flatten any rough sections. There is a seam I need to cover up. The plan is to place cork roadbed then ballast. Hopefully more sand over the seams plus scenery will work.

Guess we will see what happens


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Joe, Welcome back!!  I'm glad you got relief, but that sounds nasty what the doctor had to do.  I only have one bulging disc, but it is pressing on the sciatic nerve.  The doctor hopes a steroid shot will cause the disc to not bulge as much and get off that nerve.  We will see.

As to the layout, I think the vinyl sand mats looks great covering the foam risers.  So far, so good I would say!

Thanks guys

I was getting epidural shots. They work great until they stop working (that's why the surgery). I still get them - once every three months for my neck which affects my right arm.

I had some sand I purchased from Hobby Lobby a while back. I spread wallboard putty over the seam in a small section and poured the sand over it. It worked good except the sand is the wrong color. I have an email into Woodland Scenics asking if there is a fine ballast or some other product that has the same color as the sand mats.


Did a little work on the layout - actually backwards. As shown below my original intent was to glue the Woodland Scenics vinyl mats across the foam risers.

It was a neat idea that did not work out. No matter how hard I tried to glue the mat down it was always loose. Screwing the track down through the track bed and the foam risers will not work unless I could find #4 screws over 1 1/2 inch long. Plus I found out when placing the track bed the risers were too narrow (so much for planning ahead).

So I removed the vinyl, cut some pink foam and glued it to the sides of the risers. I then used a wire foam cutter to bring the pink foam down roughly to the height of the riser. By the way lay some painters blue tape on the riser when using the foam wire cutter otherwise the wire will go right through the foam riser. I finished off by hand sanding with 60 grit paper to smooth everything out.

I also cut away some of the vinyl mat on both sides of the riser (not shown below). I will tape in some paper next week to create an 'embankment' then try plaster cloth.

Prescott Layout May 2019 [1)

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Finally did some more work. I am going to try plaster cloth. I spent the last few weeks setting up for it. I found that if I spread foam glue between the paper and the risers it holds the paper better while I use tape.

I have come to the conclusion I don't know what I am doing but I am having fun not knowing...........


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Last edited by Joe Fauty

finally got back to laying track and promptly ran into a proble hopefully some one can help with. fist the update then the problem.

I laid all the track from the start of the incline all the way to the back of the layout at the end of the incline. As you can see I have feeder wires every where - probably overkill but I sure don't want to find 'dead spots' down the road. I usually use split jaw connectors but did not want to drill through the plaster cloth and foam inclines so I am going back to the rail joiner method for this portion of track.




Now the problem - I usually simply screw the track through the road bed to the plywood using Atlas O track screws. I even bought some longer 1 in screws from ACE. However these are not long enough. The screw will not hold down the track and road bed on the plaster cloth / foam incline (figure about 1.5 inches). I have foam tack glue I can use don the road bed to plaster cloth but what about the track????????????? ALL SUGGESTIONS WELCOMED!
What ever method is recommended I will try drilling the hole for the screws and filling with super glue then using the screws.




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Some progress

I ran an experiment. I know Woodland Scenics foam tack glue will work on cork roadbed to the plaster cloth but I was not sure about Atlas O plastic ties to the cork. Fortunately I also have Mod Podge Matte I use for other purposes. So I glued some spare track down to scrap pieces of cork, let it dry overnight under weight. The next day I tried peeling the track from the cork. That glued with foam tack glue came right up. That glued with the Mod Podge stayed put.

I have glued down some road bed and will keep working on it. The track is not glued down. I used it to align the road bed especially on the curves. At first I stuck Woodland Scenics foam tack pins through the roadbed and into the plaster cloth so the roadbed would not move. Then I placed the weights on the track. After about an hour or so I move on to the next set of road bed.

I am using MidWest cork. I like this stuff. It stays pliable even after paint. I don't remember the other brand I used but it turned so stiff after paint that it would break when one tried to use it on a curve.


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Last edited by Joe Fauty

All the cork has been glued down to the plaster cloth. I have just started gluing the track to the cloth using the Mod Podge. I also dripped some super glue on a track screw and drove it into the foam. I'm not too sure how this is going to go.


I thought about dropping in ballast while the glue under the track was wet but decided against it since the track is fairly loose and needed to be weighted down as soon as possible.

Once I finish gluing track U will be going back to wiring. I have three independent power districts each with its own power brick and powermaster (I am only running Legacy). The basic wire scheme consists of running power and ground from each power brick through the powermaster. The grounds from the three powermasters are connected to one terminal. From there I have wires running to various terminals under the layout. In effect all track has a common ground. Power goes from each powermaster to its own terminal board. Power is then routed to other terminal boards within each power district. For spurs I want to control power to I run power to a toggle switch on a control board to a dedicated terminal then to the track. It's overkill but I am using 10 watt SPST toggle switches.


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Finally got run some trains in a circle - for me an event!



I will start wiring for the inside loop next week. This is mostly Atlas O track so I am reserving the Splitjaws for this track. I bought some Ross pins / pigtails and spent the afternoon soldering extension wires on them. These will be used for the various yards where Ross track governs.


The white wires on the track are for non-derail of Ross turnouts.

Took an aside and photographed a small diorama I have on the layout. This is a scrap yard sort of. I purchased a Lionel tool shed that has a crane sound package inside. I also bought a couple of Preiser packaged figures I will place in the diorama. The gantry crane is a Lionel command control. I thought I was not much on motorized accessories but this crane is a bunch of fun to run and it works/looks great on the Gargraves gantry track! The traveling crane, wood water tower, maintenance shed and inspection stand are my designs.







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Remember that old saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it". Well I decided to fix it. There are some O54 Atlas O turnouts is hard to get areas so I decided to replace them with Ross O54. Only I forgot that Atlas O are 22.5 degrees and Ross O54's are 30 degrees. So out went all the Atlas O O54 curves - I could recover by using two 1/3 O81's but decided against it. I also did screw up and ordered a O64 Ross turnout which turned out to be fortunate since it is a 22.5 allowing me to use Atlas O stock.

I did some reconnoitering and came up with a fix that involves no new purchases and also solves an issue I had with a siding (no way to bring in or remove cars - I wanted a resident locomotive there). I put the Atlas O turnout back where it belongs and am using the three Ross turnouts in the siding are to the left. Down the road I will start replacing the Atlas O switch motors with Z-Stuff DZ1000's. This way one isolated rail and one wire will control non-derail.

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I wired in one siding over the weekend that consisted of all Ross track. I used something new for me to connect track power and ground. Not sure if these are Gargraves or Ross product. They are track pins with wires soldered to the bottom. The jury is still out on these. If the pins are pushed too hard into the rails the solder joints shear and break. If one pulls too hard on the wires after installation some of the joints fail. However once installed since the wires go straight down they are almost impossible to see.

I also place these pins at the ends of the spur where they excel. I can also attach the bumper lights to the pins. I will hide the wires later with ballast and scenery.



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Finally got the track placed - still need to wire four studs but at least the track is down. I deviated from the plans I posted earlier. I ended up curving one track into the back end of a little town. I hope to set up some track side businesses with road work on the other side.

2020-09-06 Prescott Layout 001

The new design looks like below. I hope to have all track wired next Sunday.

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Finally finished wiring power to tracks - only took 2 years! (I have only Sunday afternoon to work on it). I will clean track then run a locomotive around to make sure I have adequate voltage in all sections. If I need to add wire I will most likely solder power (middle rail) in those spots since I use a 'double ground' (both outside tracks) every where.

One advantage to being slow is that I ended up trying different methods of attaching wire to track. I started out using the Atlas O wired connectors (see below) then discovered split jaw connectors. These are iron clad once connected but you need to be very precise where drilling the holes as there is a crimp connect that needs to sit straight down into the hole. when I started using Ross track I tried the wired connecting pins but soon discarded them. Two issues - if I inserted the track too tight I sheared the solder joint and if I pulled too hard when running the wire under the table I pulled the wire off the connecting pin. For the last series of connections I reverted to the tried and true method of soldering wire to the track rails. among other things I could solder the track on a bench, insert it on the table then drill holes where ever I wanted them.

In the end I would say soldering followed by the Atlas O connectors were the way to go.

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Atlas O soldered rail connectors

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Split Jaw Connectors - originally developed for outdoor G scale track. As you can see the location for the hole for each crimp connect has to be precisely drilled

I have 13 spurs that are connected to toggle switches - next up is to make some lighted bumpers so I can tell when the track power is on.
I bought a bunch of Lionel bumpers a few years back and am using those for now. I did have a few of the lighted bumpers but discovered the bulbs were rated at 12 volts which is incompatible with the 18 volt track voltage so I bought 18 volt red lights (Circuit Concepts - see photo) and depending on which track Ross or Atlas O soldered the wires to the appropriate connectors and attached them to the track ends. I have designed both wood and plastic and built my own track bumpers which eventually I will replace for the Lionel.

2020-10-04 Prescott Layout 002

Lionel bumper with the Circuit Concepts light. I had to drill a larger hole on top so glued a Plastruct SX-4 which stops the bulb from falling through the hole. I solder the wires to the appropriate connectors while installed in the bumper.

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This a the wood bumper design. There are two posts in the back that fit between the track ties that hold it in place. this design would be no good for Fastrack.

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This is the plastic version. You can see the two pins that are inserted into the Ross track.


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All Spurs now have power indicator lights (aka lighted bumpers).

I had Lionel lighted bumpers however the bulbs were rated at 12 volts which to me made no sense since typical command control track voltage is 18 volts. I popped out the light sockets from these bumpers and bought more unlighted bumpers at a swap meet a while back. I painted all the bumpers black.

Next I found 18V red lights from Cir-Kit Concepts

2020-10-11 Prescott Layout 001

To make these work in the bumpers I drilled a hole in the top to fit a Plastruct SX-4 'stand' and glued it in upside down.

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Since I use both Atlas O and Ross track I needed to solder the leads for the lights to the appropriate terminal joiners. To start the process I threaded each light through the top of the bumper, added electrical tape on the bottom to hold the light in place and cut the leads to length.

2020-10-11 Prescott Layout 007

Once that was done I soldered the leads to the appropriate terminal joiner.

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The leads for each bumper were attached to the ends of the spur tracks.

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Next week I start wiring turnout switch motors. I am using both Atlas O and Ross turnouts. Where I have Ross turnouts I will wire non-derail. I have both Z-Stuff DZ-1100R detectors (which when black tape is placed over the IR sensor can be used as an position indicator) and MTH dwarf signals I will be using to indicate turnout position. These indicators will be connected to the switch motors through two different relays I have - Z-Stuff DZ-1008 electronic and Atlas O 200 electro-mechanical.
All turnouts are powered with a Lionel CW-80 transformer. At first I had the turnouts powered through the programmed accessory port. I started out with all DZ-1008 relays but kept blowing them up. I found out from a friend with a fast oscilloscope that at transformer turn on the accessory port spiked to 32 volts before settling down the the programmed voltage. The DZ-1008 relays rated for 25 volts kept blowing up. This is when I started buying the Atlas O relay. I have also switched the power connection to the handle of the CW-80 so now I turn on the transformer with the handle in the off position then raise the handle to the desired voltage thereby bypassing the issue of the voltage spike.

I have all the turnout motors connected through momentary toggle switches to power. Yea I am one of those guys who uses 10 amp toggle switches for both spur power and turnouts. I really like the size - they are big and easy to handle. To protect the Atlas O relays from burnout I use a diode in line with the power connection to the relay. Note the diode will not work with the DZ-1008 due to internal electronics.

Bottom line as turnout 'things' wear out or blow up and get replaced I will be using the following - (kind a like 'if I knew then what I know now".........)

Ross Turnouts - DZ-1000 motors
Atlas O 200 relays
DZ-1100R detectors
DZ-1000 motors as replacements for Atlas O switch motors until the turnout goes south then Ross as a replacement.


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Started wiring turnouts. I have two types of turnout machines on the layout - Ross and Atlas O so have both DZ-1000 and Atlas O switch machines. I have all switch machines connected to momentary toggle switches (center connected to track ground). All switch machines must be connected to track ground to make the non-derail function work for the DZ-1000 motors.

Right now I am wiring the switch machine with DZ-1011R detectors (electrical tape over sensor) and Atlas O 200 snap relays. The switch motor controls the position of the snap relay which controls the red/green position of the DZ-1011R's. While the LEDs on the Ross motors are momentary the DZ-1011R lights are 'constant on' so they indicate which position the turnout is in.

The diagrams below show the wiring schematic for this set up.

Connecting Signals to Turnouts rev 3 - 12

Above is the overview of needed connections

Connecting Signals to Turnouts rev 3 - 13

Above shows interconnections to European style terminals under the layout. The snap relay will also be under the table.

Connecting Signals to Turnouts rev 3 - 14

This diagram is for controlling two switches whose position will always be in tandem. Only one relay and detector are needed.


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  • Connecting Signals to Turnouts rev 3 - 12
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Below are photos showing the process of connecting a DZ-1000 switch motor to a DZ-1011R detector and Atlas O 200 snap relay.

Below shows the European connectors. I used 20 / 22 gauge wire and wire ferrules from Ferrules Direct

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DZ-1000 connected to 22 gauge ferrules

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I used a crimp splice to extend the switch motor wires. I crimped the 22 gauge into an 18 gauge ferrule then crimped the assembly into the splice connect.

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This is a shot of the complete circuit for one turnout under the table. The red / white / black wires on the right are from the DZ-1011R.

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Success - sort of. The detector is green however it should be red. easy switch of wire connection the the Atlas O snap relay.

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@Joe Fauty posted:

Since a forum member expressed interest in the split jaw connectors I thought I would add a little more info on how I make connections to them. the spilt jaw connectors come with a ring crimp connect. The normal method is to crimp a wire into the ring connect then attach the connect to the jaws. I want to make absolutely sure the wire never slips out of the crimp connect so I use ferrules. I first crimp the wire into the ferrule then I crimp the ferrule into the ring connect. Using this method the wire is not going anywhere.

Split Jaw Connector 005various 001

Also if anyone is interested in building their own bumpers from wood or plastic see the attached file. If I install lights into the bumpers I use a Plastruct SX-4 flange upside down. I drill a hole to fit the top of the flange then glue it in place. The light bulb fits nicely inside the flange.


Thanks for posting this.  I have always had trouble keeping wires connected to Split Jaws.  Now I know the solution.

NH Joe

NHJoe - you are welcome sir!

EMD - it has been a while but starting info is below

Splitjaw Products, Inc

The guy to talk to is Jerry.

Power Supply Connectors (Standard)
SKU B-250-PSC-5.0
Weight  0.02lbs
Material: Brass
Code: 250 - 5.0mm
Type: 16-14 Gauge

Note - if you use Gargraves track because of the flange at the bottom the clamps are too shallow to fit properly. I am not sure if Jerry has modified any clamps to fit Gargraves since that was two years ago. The standard clamp will fit Ross track perfectly. If you are using Atlas O track Jerry will need to shave off about 1/32 from each piece so they will fit. He has done this for me and other people so it won't be an issue.

I am still wiring turnout switch motors. I had issues with two Atlas O switch machines which kept me scratching my head for a few Sundays. They would work by themselves but as soon as I placed the DZ-101R detector and Atlas 200 snap relay in the circuit the switch motor either became very sluggish or stopped working. This is with a Lionel ZW at 20 volts so plenty of current and voltage.
I set up a bench test to make sure the snap relays and detectors were functioning properly which they were. I used an extra Atlas wye turnout as my test vehicle for the bench testing. Once I determined a set of DZ-1011R / snap relay worked on the bench I wired them back into place on the layout but disconnected the turnout switch motors. The snap relays and detectors worked just fine by them selves. Next I connected the switch motor wires to thew the wye to make sure I was electrically sound. With the wye wired in place of the curved turnouts every thing worked great. So it turned out to be the Atlas O switch machines - what the issue is I don't know but now I am replacing them with DZ-1000 motors. Next Sunday I will be able to determine whether the DZ-1000, DZ-1011R, Atlas 200 snap relay work.

I had time this morning so wired DZ-1000's in place of the Atlas O switch machines. Ever thing worked fine. Again I do not know what is wrong with the Atlas O machines since they work when they alone are connected to power but not when the Atlas 200 snap relay and DZ-10011R are in the circuit.

Below are photos of a DZ-1000 in place connected to an Atlas turnout. I did have to carve out a small section of cork roadbed under the throw bar otherwise it interfered with the switching. I will need to pay attention when it becomes time for ballast that I do not fill up the hole in the cork roadbed.

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