Slow Train Progress

Not a lot of progress on the layout at the moment. New track arrived tonight, along with a nice (second hand) set of Alco FA1/FB1 locos:

I’ve re-laid the track including a couple of bridge sections to I can fine tune the gradients and work out where the stream/river is going to go. You can see how the bridge sections line up in the photo below. The stream will run under those. I don’t really know where it will go after that though… maybe a small lake for cooling/processing water for the factory that I’ll stick on the ‘ground level’?

Next thing to do is lay out the yard (right about where the laptop is), then I think I’ll just wade into fixing the track down. I have a bit of a problem with the camber on the left hand uphill section. The hot wire I used has left that whole side sloping outwards a tiny bit. Might have a go at flattening it with the wire, and if that fails I’ll work out some way to prop up the trackbed to it is flat.

Hotwiring

Parental Advisory: It’s gonna get a little N-Scale up in here for the next few weeks at least. You’ve been warned.

I regularly do dodgey electrical stuff. Possibly risky, but I’ve only once actually electrocuted myself on 240v AC current. However when I say my hacked up hot wire is unspeakably dodgey, I think it requires a picture (click for more detail):

Dodgey Hot Wire

Yes, that is a couple of bare ends of wire with some nichrome soldered across them. The socket on the end plugs straight into a 4 Amp 12V DC supply. But it worked, and it worked damn well. I did need my lovely wife on hand to manage the power input (i.e. unplugging the wire when I wanted to put it down). Read on to see what it did for me.

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N-Scale Trains: A Slippery Slope

Train MovingTo be honest, I never saw myself as a train geek. Sure, I’ve always loved seeing model trains rolling around nicely designed layouts. I think my first experience was the grand old layout at MOTAT, and since my son was old enough, we’ve made regular trips to view the amazing club layouts at the Model-X exhibition. I always took the position that these incredibly detailed dioramas were the domain of a peculiar type of geekery; one that I might delve into once retired, but not before. I never saw the irony as I spent hours carefully painting a single 20mm Eldar Farseer over the course of several days, while frowning on the fine-scale geekery of railroad modellers.

Sure, I’d done a tiny bit of research into trains, assuming that the most popular HO scale was the only way to go, and that the complicated setup of switched track sections was the only way to run multiple trains on a single track. The commitment required for HO scale just didn’t sit well with me. I don’t have an entire room or basement to dedicate to trainery.

Then I somehow stumbled across N Scale and DCC. I could describe N-Scale in great detail, but you’ll be better served by the knowledge that ‘N’ is short for Nine, as in Nine millimetres, being the track gauge in N Scale. Additionally, Wikipedia (as usual) has more than enough information on the genre.

As a computer and electronics nerd, my discovery of DCC was even more exciting. Once again, Wikipedia can tell you more than you’d ever want to know about Digital Command and Control. From my point of view, using electronics to address and command trains just makes more sense than old fashioned Direct Current.

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