For me model railroading is a work-in-progress because I make changes as I learn and grow from experience. By way of laying out this evolution I will post what I did on the Plywood Empire Route to this thread, updating from time-to-time as I make changes, additions and tweaks. Also by way of laying it out I will go back and move previous content of mine to this thread as well. This way too, no one need be upset by me cluttering things with an occasional family photo or story because anyone so minded simply needn’t view this thread.

 

I’ll start with a couple pics of PER 1.0.

I started with the familiar switchman's nightmare with a short run-around track and a switchback siding.

           IMG_5583

                       IMG_5760

          IMG_5582

          IMG_5756

 

The beginning of Mt Crumpet:

          IMG_5579

I quickly learned that for me the switchman's nightmare was boring and stressful so I began tweaking:

           IMG_1367

This iteration, (call it PER 1.5) had a long passing siding and one industry at the East End and two industries at the West End:

           IMG_1510

But, with a lot of drilling going on that S curve (at the left) was  awkward. In this pic a second stub siding had been added. The S curve:

            IMG_2753

Fixed:

                        IMG_2756

The second siding did nothing so I ripped up one stub siding:

                        IMG_2779

Upon examination I decided to move the runaround track leftward to a much more natural position immediately beside the mainline thus creating a proper passing siding appearance. Of course I had to move the paint factory and shorten what had been the runaround into a stub spur. A more railroad-like looking trackplan with no loss of operation potential. I liked the West End this way:

           IMG_2787

 

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

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Original Post

 

                   this is awesome LEW  

           You always have great stories in all your posts, on both real trains, 

                  and trains running on your layout, and I really love reading them all !!

           You are very fortunate to of been around so much train activity,

                   experiencing more things than I will probably ever read about.

            You have a "gold mine" of train photos, please keep them coming !!

                   looking forward to see, more of the, "Evolution of the Plywood Empire Route"...

                                                    Thank you...             

 

 

Meanwhile the East End evolved as well, the product of experience gained.

It started like this:

       IMG_5584

And then with the first track-plan change room was made for an industry:

       IMG_1475

Then two more industries were added:

      IMG_2095

And then this tweak was tested:

                  IMG_2776

Then a big change came to the PER: a Lionel 282 Gantry Crane! Real Estate was developed so this wonderful Post War operating accessory would have a home front&center:

       IMG_2971

This mock-up shows where a stub siding was added for the Gantry Crane:

       IMG_3238

The Crane worked beautifully in this spot but after testing with operating sessions I decided to re-design the East End so that everything would fit and all East End traffic would come off the Mainline on a branch track. After moving Oil Creek Northward I added the necessary decking and laid track:

       IMG_3445

 

       IMG_3444%20[1%29

Thus the East End became an Operator's delight with switching there taking up to 40 minutes.

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

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Another significant track-plan change was made between the East End and the West End: the elimination of the short run-around siding, going from this:

         IMG_3025

To this:

        IMG_3026

As well as being a simpler track-plan with no loss of operation interest, this change eliminated two track switches.

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

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Yes, I can attest to the importance of doing all room prep work BEFORE constructing a foot of Benchwork but like so many others I was in a hurry to see trains run. I managed to not get paint on any of the beautiful trains though. 

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

geysergazer posted:

Yes, I can attest to the importance of doing all room prep work BEFORE constructing a foot of Benchwork but like so many others I was in a hurry to see trains run. I managed to not get paint on any of the beautiful trains though. 

I think your track work looks good very straight 

steve t

That is an interesting layout in a nice room with windows through which to view the outdoors. Much better than a layout like mine in a finished basement. Is your layout point-to-point or does it loop all the way around the room?

MELGAR

The most recent track-plan change was the elimination of the passing-siding/engine escape/runaround and the necessary facilitating changing of  West End track switches such that all points face in the direction of travel from interchange to town.

First was the ripping up of track:

         IMG_3732

 

        IMG_3727

Gotta' break eggs to make an omelette!

                     IMG_3729

         IMG_3731

Emperor Joseph II said of Mozart's newest opera that it had "too many notes!" and that is how I've been feeling: "too many tracks!" The Emperor suggested that Mozart should just "take some notes out" and I decided to take out some track....a passing siding, to be precise.

That is to say, I was not finding engine-escape moves to be operationally satisfying but rather just distraction from the real work of pick-ups and set-outs. So out it came. Track was re-laid in it's new configuration and everything put back in place.

The West End:

        IMG_3753

Studying the area I realized I could change things around a bit and gain a bit of open center space. This is supposed to be a spare bedroom and the Pike has been encroaching a little too much. The next small tweak pushed the front of the layout back 6"-8" while actually improving operation:

        IMG_3812 [1)

One more small tweak improved operation by creating another car spot for the Paint Factory on the Fuel Wholesaler's siding (covered hoppers of Titanium Dioxide pigment which are offloaded and stored in that tall white silo). The Paint Factory has the gray lighted storage tank and the yellow tank while the Fuel Wholesaler has two storage tanks (seen in the background): The West End as it is now:

        IMG_0361

The Paint Factory has (4) car-spots and the Fuel Wholesaler has (3) while the Paint Factory has a fifth spot on that siding as well.

The East End is now an Inglenook:

        IMG_3925

Four industries, (5) car-spots and room for switching maneuvers.

An overall view of the South wall showing the connection between the East End and the West End. My Atlas station finally found a perfectly suited spot with the Mainline in front and the East End Branch passing behind:

          IMG_0357

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

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MELGAR posted:

That is an interesting layout in a nice room with windows through which to view the outdoors. Much better than a layout like mine in a finished basement. Is your layout point-to-point or does it loop all the way around the room?

MELGAR

It does continue around the room in a simple loop. The North wall and the return loop in the next room:

        IMG_0358

 

Trains usually make two loops before reaching their destination (unless I feel like watching it roll ). Most operating time is spent switching though. There has even been an evolution in Interchange operations. I started as many do by simply assembling trains on the off-wall (North wall) but I soon tunneled into the adjacent [sewing] room and installed a return loop there. Today (6) consists are in play on the PER, 4 of which are stored around the return loop:

        IMG_0348

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

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Let me ask you something. Forgive me if you have mentioned this as I may have overlooked it. My layout is very similar to yours including the use of fastrack. Is yours noisy? My train is very noisy almost to the point of drowning out the train engine sounds. I’m thinking about spraying underneath the plywood with flex seal to see if it will dampen the sound echo. Thanks for posting your progress. I really like the plan.

I have no noise issues wrt Fastrack but the top speed on the PER is maybe 20smph. I know people do complain about Fastrack telegraphing noise. There  are threads here about it. IIRC one fix is to fill the hollow underside with silicone seal (a bit expensive for my taste).

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

Lew - you have a wonderful switching layout!  It looks like lots of fun to operate. Thanks for sharing the layout's story and photos.

Cheers and Happy Railroading,

Patrick W  

CEO - The Free State Junction Railway 

" Where the music is sweet and the trains always run on time"

Home Office - Patsburg, Maryland 

An important driver of evolution on the Plywood Empire route has been the car-stoppers I invented and deployed at remote uncoupler locations. I put up a Topic laying out the whole story here:

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...85#90547142152123785

so I'll just summarize here. After running Lionel PWC NW2s the Plywood Empire Route recently acquired three MTH PS3 SW1500s and a new era has begun. With speed control these engines make switching moves at a [scale] walking speed possible. Unfortunately Lionel “claw” couplers require a lot of force to couple so they need more like an Olympic sprinter’s speed and that defeats the realism of slow-speed switching. A switch to Kadee couplers would solve the problem BUT the only space available for a return loop/interchange track/fiddle yard requires an O31 circle so truck-mounted couplers must be used and no one yet offers a way to mount Kadees on MTH freight trucks. So I’m stuck with crash-coupling claws. What was needed was "brakes" for standing cars so I assembled and installed several such devices.

The basic bit is a Circuitron Tortoise slow-motion switch machine. It actuates a 5/32" brass tube which is fitted inside a larger 3/16" piece of tubing.  The 3/16" tube is friction-fitted and hot glued and the whole assembly is attached to the underside of the plywood decking:

        IMG_3383

Installed in the roadbed adjacent to an electromagnetic uncoupler, it looks like this:

       IMG_3378

In the raised position:

       IMG_3377

This is how it works:

      IMG_3379

The train approaching from the left is able to couple slowly because the tank car's truck-frame is securely stopped against the raised brass plunger.

Anyway, the thing is that because coupling became suddenly so easy and reliable switching became so much more satisfying and entertaining and this in turn drove Operations to evolve in the direction of more and more switching. While I am also a Looper with no intension of doing so, by now I could do away with the traditional train-watching and still have a satisfying pastime of operating an exclusively switching pike.

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

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Hawkshaw posted:

I may try the silicone route if the flex seal underneath the plywood doesn’t work. Keep up the postings. I look forward to it.

You could try cork road bed.Or buy a roll of cork from lows.And cut it and place it on the lay out.You will need to use some type of glue to hold the cork in place.Then place your track on top of the cork.It won,t stop noise but it will reduce it.I do not know if your going to use the track in place.Some use small nail or thumb tacks or even even glue.

And now a word about control(s). As my interest in Operation grew and the track-plan evolved so did controls. The PER started out with a variant of the familiar central control panel.

Mine looked like this:

         IMG_5583

 

       IMG_1367

An MTH Z-1000 Throttle, track switch remote controls and uncoupler remote controls. The first move away from centralized control was a walk-around throttle:

       IMG_2332

Then a big change came to the PER. Motive power had been a Lionel PWC NW2:

       IMG_2956

But then the PER tested an MTH PS3 SW1500 and I was smitten by Speed Control:

       IMG_4358

Slow speed switching moves suddenly became a reality! Then I discovered DCS. My original interest was because using DCS gives access to the 100-step throttle which provides even better slow-speed control. But as well, DCS provides a walk-around throttle. I chose to use the Remote Commander, a simple inexpensive throttle consisting of a hand-held IR Remote (like a TV) :                         

                      IMG_4150

and a Receiver which picks up the IR commands and produces the necessary DCS signal to the tracks:

                      IMG_4356

Here is the hybrid control panel that resulted with both DCS and Conventional Walk-around. Also seen in this pic are car-stopper controls which by then I had invented:

        IMG_3468

The next iteration usied all miniature toggle switches and dropped Conventional control:

        IMG_3568 [1)

 

Putting it all together; with slow-speed switching, uncoupling and coupling I found that I really wanted to get right up close to the action so I went total walk-around with de-CTC (no central control panel at all). And that is where we are today:

      IMG_0367

 

       IMG_0368

 

       IMG_0369

 

        

        

A few details wrt wiring now. 

First, a pic of the underside of the PER illustrating a benefit of using DCS and of de-centralized control:

        IMG_0398

Layout wiring consists pretty much of three buss wires, a 12ga common, a 12ga track power buss and a doubled 18ga accessory buss. Short wire runs connect mini-panels to the track switches, remote uncouplers and car-stoppers they control. And that is it.

Since the PER runs equipment with lots of electronics (PS3 under DCS) TVS Diodes are a must to provide Transient Voltage Suppression. A TVS is installed across the transformer output terminals:

       IMG_4351

Also in this pic is a 22uH toroid-wound inductor in series with track power. This is necessary when using a DCS Remote Commander in passive mode.

Most important though is a TVS Diode inside each locomotive wired directly across the track power and ground inputs to the PS3 board:

        IMG_4186 [1)

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

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Other stuff I've learned through experience.

On a whim I picked up a Lionel PW 282 Portal Gantry Crane and found a home for it on the PER. A real-live operating accessory:

                     IMG_3051

It migrated across Oil Creek to the East End as that industrial area evolved and grew:

         IMG_4346

But every time I operated it I was struck by a deficiency: when you reach into that miniature world and give the Crane a shove (several times to load that Gondola) the illusion/caricature is destroyed. I set out to give the Crane remote traverse (along it's rails) movement. Having another 282 on hand that was in pretty rough shape I determined to use it's guts for a traverse winch.

The first step was to reduce the crane cabin base to the essential bit. From this:

        IMG_0160

To this:

        IMG_0161

Then remove the unwanted bits from the base:

       IMG_0167

Reassembled, we have a power winch:

       IMG_0166

Installed under the deck:

       IMG_0180

With the business-end above the deck:

                IMG_0175

The cable strung and attached to the Crane legs (that is part of a wiring terminal-block hot glued to the leg):

                 IMG_0176

A pulley redirects the cable to hang vertically and under the deck a weight is suspended which applies tension to the cable in counterposition to the winch take-up drum:

                     IMG_0178

The winch-house:

        IMG_0184

In this pic you can see the whole setup with the winch house to the right, the redirect pulley at the left and the cable strung between. It works well and surpasses expectation by adding a whole dimension to the operation of the Crane. With all functions remotely controlled the operator has the ability to move any scrap anywhere.

         IMG_0258

 

There are three 70ft K Line aluminum passenger cars in service on the PER:

        IMG_0340

Of the three, two have a case of the wobbles. That is, they don't sit stable on their trucks but rather wobble from side-to-side disconcertingly when in motion. I quickly changed out a pair of good trucks and put the business car on the line but I wanted to see if I could do a repair. If I have two cars doing it there are probably a thousand out there with the same issue. So I dissected the trucks completely including driving out the center pins.

          IMG_0043

And there is the problem:

           IMG_0045

The hole for the swivel-pin is punched (poorly) rather than drilled (saves pennies) leaving a bulged surface as a swivel-bearing plate. Hence the rocking back-and-forth. So I punched that dimple back flat and dressed it with a nice flat file:

 

          IMG_0047

            IMG_0046

Nice flat mating surface.

BTW, any truck with a coupler must have the coupler-centering bracket bent up to allow access to the truck mounting pin and then bent back flat when the pin is driven home again:

           IMG_0051

A nice fit with no wobbling or rocking:

           IMG_0048

Ready for final assembly:

           IMG_0052

And there you have it.

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

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