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@Chugman posted:

While we have been very busy working on the signals, Alan and I talked about adding details to my grain elevator and flour mill.  I described to him what I was looking for and he asked me to send him some pictures.  I had taken a number of pictures of the grain elevators in my wife's home town of Ruthven, IA.  I was particularly looking for help on the rather detailed and intricate grain unloading chutes.  Here is a picture of some of the chutes.

closeup of grain chutes 3

shed and elevator looking east

So Alan went to work and designed a 3D design.

grain showing chute at angle

He called me a day later and wanted to know what the outside diameter of the silos was.  I told him and last Saturday we were at a friend's operating session and he said had something for me.  He had a box of chutes, some printed with a chute hinged outward and others with the chute hinged inward.  We both think the inward chute probably looks the best, but he had a couple of the outward ones painted and assembled.  So I posed those on my grain elevator and my flour mill.  Here are those pictures.

Grain chutes elevator 1

Grain chutes flour mill

I don't know about you, but I'm blown away by Alan's work.  I'm  grateful to have him as a friend and helping me detail my layout.  Oh did I mention that the chutes are hinged and they work?


Well done!


We have another big work session planned for tomorrow and hope to get a lot done.  Here are a couple pictures of my grandson, Doug, building Atlas signal board clusters in the work shop.

Doug wiring signal board clusters 2

Doug wiring signal board clusters

Doug with completed Proviso West signal board cluster

This cluster will to drive the signals at our Proviso West Interlocking.  The next step will be to mount it under the layout and connect power to it.  Then we will plug the signals into the correct places and then the turnouts will be connected to the interlocking boards.  After that the detector wires will be connected to show track occupancy.  And lastly wires will be run from the signal boards on the cluster to the corresponding signal boards on the block before this and the block after this one.   There are also more jumper wires that have to be added to this cluster.



Images (3)
  • Doug wiring signal board clusters 2
  • Doug wiring signal board clusters
  • Doug with completed Proviso West signal board cluster

We made a lot of progress over the weekend on the signal project.  I will be adding pictures today to share it.  The first thing that I am very excited about is installing and getting the first signals on my upper line done.  We installed the remaining mast signals and build the signal cluster board for LaGrange, which is the name of the town on my Milwaukee Road branchline.  This town has a station, my Wonder Bread Bakery and a Morrell Packing Plant plus other industries.

Here is the first brackets signal lit up at LaGrange.

Bracket signal at LaGrange lit

Bracket signal at LaGrange lit 2

I will share pictures of the other signals installed and lit at LaGrange soon.



Images (2)
  • Bracket signal at LaGrange lit
  • Bracket signal at LaGrange lit 2

We installed all of the signals at my town of LaGrange yesterday.  We added the bracket signal and 2 - single head mast signals and 2 - double-headed mast signals.  This first picture shows one of the single-head signals that shows if the single track mainline heading West to Chicago has the turnout thrown.

View of signals West of LaGrange lit

The next single-head signal is mounted at the other side of that turnout and also shows if the turnout is thrown for it to proceed West on the same track.  It is located beside the Wonder Bread Bakery and you can see the Wonder-Hostess airslide flour hoppers on the siding beside the bakery.

Signal near Wonder Bread Bakery lit

The first double-head signal is located on the mainline that approaches the turnout from the other direction and shows which route is clear to take ahead, straight or diverting.  It is located in front of my Certified Grocers warehouse.

Certified Grocers signal lit

The last double-headed signal is located beside the Morrison Door factory and protects the turnout that leads East down the interchange track to Chicago Junction.  It looks like the last switching crew on the local manifest spotted a flat car of new John Deere tractors on the wrong siding.  No wonder the John Deere dealer is upset with the harvest coming up.

LaGrange signals lit 2

All the industrial customers in LaGrange are hoping when these new signals are completely operational that it will speed up their deliveries from the Milwaukee Road.



Images (4)
  • View of signals West of LaGrange lit
  • Signal near Wonder Bread Bakery lit
  • Certified Grocers signal lit
  • LaGrange signals lit 2
@PRR1950 posted:

The Milwaukee Road in La Grange?  Now, that is "artistic license!" 

I know, but everyone tells me that it's my layout and I can do whatever I want.  LOL  When we built the latest version of my control panel for that interlocking, I called the area Hodgkins.  That's because the Wonder Bread Bakery that I was modeling was located in that city.  But when I was naming everything as a part of my signal project, I just didn't like that name so I decided to call it LaGrange.  And I don't think that the Milwaukee Road went to LaGrange either? 

How do you decide where reality ends on your model railroad?  I don't know, but it's a fun problem to have.  I don't think the UP runs on the BNSF in Chicago either, but they have trackage rights on mine.

Thanks for helping keep it fun and not letting it get too serious.


We have had a issue with our use of flashing yellow aspects for all of my yard entrances.  The way that we had wired them, they were flashing yellow all the time and they should be red if they aren't flashing yellow.  Flashing yellow on my layout means "restricted approach" or you are cleared to enter the yard at 10 MPH but must be prepared to stop.  If you are not cleared to enter the yard, it should be red.

After consulting with Steve Horvath, Jim and he figured out how to wire this and it is now working!  It may have been a little thing in the grand scheme of things, but I am very pleased that this issue has been solved.

We have been informed that our next order of Atlas signal and interlocking boards will be shipped this week.   We have another big work session scheduled for next Saturday to try to get as many of the remaining four signal board clusters built and installed as possible.  We still have a lot to do, but we are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.


@Hot Water posted:


To be more prototypical, you might consider a "lunar" (white) aspect for entering yards and/or side tracks at "restricted speed". In the real world of railroading, the "flashing yellow" means reduce speed to 40 MPH and be prepared for the next signal to be "yellow" (approach).

Jack - Thanks for the input.  I have heard of the lunar aspect, but wasn't sure what it meant.  There is a lot to learn about how real railroads manage their signal systems.  And there are limits to what the signal boards can produce.  Did they use lunar when the railroads were using searchlights?


We are working on building the last 4 signal board clusters this afternoon.  Then we have a full day of work tomorrow on them to hopefully complete the workbench wiring and then get them installed under the layout.  This is the picture on just posted on the weekend photo thread showing two passenger trains that we had to pull out of Chicago Union Station so we could install signals on the upper line above it.  The second picture is looking the other way at the approach to Union Station.

Trains waiting to enter Union Station

Looking East from CUS entrance



Images (2)
  • Trains waiting to enter Union Station
  • Looking East from CUS entrance
@Hot Water posted:

THAT would be the ideal solution! If they can produce "flashing yellow" then "flashing red" should also be available.

Jack it is my understanding that Lunar is not available, but I am not positive about.  If someone knows differently, I'm sure thy will correct me.

I do know that flashing yellow and flashing green are available.  It seems like there was or is a lot of different applications of flashing signals depending on which railroad your are talking about and which time frame?  I would expect that will get better over time as there has been so much consolidation in railroads.  During acquisitions the fallen flag railroad may have had a completely different style of signals.  Even if the acquiring railroad decides to change them to their style, it still takes time, money, and training for the crews.

Thanks for your input as always.


@Rob Leese posted:

Not sure if these signal LEDs are capable of displaying lunar, but flashing red would be close or equivelent to lunar white indicating the movement to proceed past the signal at restricted speed.  

Rob I really appreciate your input.  I know we can have flashing yellow.  I think with the Atlas boards, you can have flashing green, but not flashing red.  And I don't whether we can't do Lunar because of the LED's or the boards?

I thought it was going to be a lot easier to learn all the real railroad signals, but the more I learn the more I realize I still have a ways to go.


Last edited by Chugman
@Chugman posted:

Rob I really appreciate your input.  I know we can have flashing yellow.  I think with the Atlas boards, you can have flashing green, but not flashing red.  And I don't whether we can't do Lunar because of the LED's or the boards?

I thought it was going to be a lot easier to learn all the real railroad signals, but the more I learn the more I realize I still have a ways to go.


I remember snippets of an old Model Railroader magazine article (1970s) talking about LEDs which displayed red or green.  Someone figured out how to light both colors while blending them at the proper voltages to produce a convincing yellow color.  This new technology could then be made part of a model railroad signal system.  This causes me to think that same LED cannot produce lunar white.

I do not have any experience with Atlas signals, nor knowledge of the capabilities of the control boards.  You say how the boards are not capable of displaying flashing red, so I thought of another solution using lunar white which follows a prototypical practice and could be modeled.  Railroads such Fort Worth & Denver, Frisco, and several others used lunar white at "Absolute signals" to indicate "proceed at the prescribed speed...".  Additionally, other railroads using multi-target searchlight signals would have a lower target which stayed dark until the restricted speed route was lined and then it would display some level of a 'proceed' indication.  A blending of these practices using a normally dark target which lights to display lunar upon the lining of the low-speed route would be a highly prototypical solution.  A 'cool white' LED at the proper brightness looks much like lunar white.

If you opt to break your back trying to model this solution, then all you would need is an O gauge veteran signal maintainer to figure out how to wire it in. 😜

In case you are wondering why I haven't been posting, we have run into a problem with our Atlas interlocking boards losing their memory when the power is turned off.  We have been trying different remedies and haven't found a good resolution yet.  It has held up our progress as we don't want to continue to implement the system until it is working properly. 


@AlanRail posted:

the interlock boards need memory?

Wouldn't they just get commands from the signal boards telling them what's on each "cross" track??

I may not be describing the issue correctly, but here is what is happening.  The interlocking boards were causing the signals to display the correct aspects: if the mainline was clear ahead it would display a green signal and when you would change the switch to diverting, it would a red aspect and so on.  But, when we turned the power off it would "forget" which way the switch was thrown.  I am calling that they lost their "memory" (couldn't remember which way the switch was thrown).  The solution was to "cycle" the switch or switch to straight and then back to diverting.  Then the interlocking board would remember which way the switch was thrown until the power was turned off again.

This is a minor inconvenience with one switch, but a big deal if you a large number.  So, before we feel comfortable moving ahead with the project, we need to have confidence the problem is solved.  We have tried two solutions that looked promising, but ultimately didn't work well enough.  We think we have a good solution in mind, but haven't had time to test it yet.  So, in the meantime I guess we root for the Bears or the Cubs?  LOL


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