Thanks for joining me!
This is a trip that I have wanted to take for over two decades and it is finally under way. Wye not come along? Cheers!
Thanks for joining me!
This is a trip that I have wanted to take for over two decades and it is finally under way. Wye not come along? Cheers!
I like to be frugal so I build mostly the same number turnouts using Fast Tracks fixtures. The number I use is 6. I have one of the earlier fixtures purchased in 2001. It does not have all the features of the latest ones but still works well. After having built more than 35 turnouts, it seems that I am still challenged to build a turnout in less than an hour. The instructions say that they can do the same in 45 minutes!
Shown here is a scratch built curved turnout using Fast Tracks techniques but not their fixture. I believe that the outside radius is 42″ and the inside is 39″. This depicts before the turnout control was added. I am not sure about anyone else but I have to tweak my turnouts over and over until everything runs through them. I hear there are people who can actually build them so well that they just plop them in place and everything works famously. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. Then again, they may not be using P64 wheelsets. Why do I use P64? One, they look really, really great and two does the word masochist have any meaning for you? At any rate, that is what I chose when I first got into S scale in 2000. You would think that after 19 years in S, I would know better. The combine you see is the first pilot model for the CNR combine. It is 2 scale feet too long and does have P64 wheels. The subsequent kit was corrected. Since I don’t really need another combine, it most likely will never be completed and remain a track tester. If it can go through the track work, anything can.
While visiting my friend Willie Waithe’s wonderful N Scale layout, Willie showed me a turnout control system using model aircraft servos. The system is called Berrett Hill and can be readily found on the web at this address. http://www.berretthill.com/trains/Welcome.html . Kevin Hunter is the owner and master designer of these controls for both servo and Tortoise turnout control. Since my Styrofoam bench top is only 1” deep, I liked the idea of the shallow depth of the servos and the dedicated programmable controls.
The servos can be used under the turnout in a support or to the side with a 3D printed well. I opted for the well because I really don’t want things hanging down over the lower level.
Here is picture of the same turnout showing the well and the servo in place with a control wire attached to the drawbar. Eventually scenery will cover the well and the only thing visible will be the servo arm and wire connector. Because I wanted to retain a shallow bench work that would not protrude into the lower level, I decided I could live with this non-prototypical looking method. At any rate, they work really well and that is what is most important here.
The controls I chose are touch toggle held in a 3D printed mini-cup. I chose to have two LED’s on mine to show green for mainline and red for diverging tracks. The touch toggles use cables that connect to a Servo Control Base which in turn directs the signals to the appropriate servo. The Servo Control Base is programmed by the user to limit the amount of travel which the servo does. It is a fairly simple task once learned.
This picture shows the 1 the Servo and 2 the Well that the Servo will be placed into. The Servos come with different levers and wheels one of which you can choose to best provide an arm to connect through a rod to your turnout drawbar. The well, 2 is shown without and with the well cover in place. The slot in the cover is for the arm from the Servo to go through. These are both 3D printed and have variations in them.
Number 3 shows the Servo Control Base. Number 4 shows the Two Light Mini-Cup Toggle. Number 5 is the Setup Remote and number 6 is the flat DCC cable which connects the Setup Remote to the Servo Control Base.
The Servo Control Base comes with either 4 or 8 sets of I/O connections and requires a 5 volt 2 amp power supply. Although I managed to source the same locally, it was actually cheaper for me to buy direct. You can buy a complete setup called a Servo Control Package for 8 turnouts at about the cost would be for a 6 pack of stall motor turnout controls. However, when purchased separately, things are not quite as cost effective. There are a lot of other parts that are optional that can help like extension cables for both the Servos and the Power Supply. The extensions cables became a necessity for me and they come in different lengths.
The Servos must be programmed to only throw as far as necessary to close the points either way. With the power off, you need to plug the DCC cable into the Servo Control Base and then turn on the power. You then cycle through all the inputs/outputs of the Servo Control Base and at each input/output you program the throw of the arm. You must go through all the input/outputs even if you do not have that many Servos attached to that particular base. For example, I found that if I stopped programming at input/output 6 instead of cycling through to 8, then the programming would either not take or would be off. Programming takes a bit of trial and error but once it is understood, it goes fairly simply. As yet, I have only had the odd time where I had to reprogram and it is because I added more toggles to particular Servos so I could control them from more than one location. If you do go this route, and have multiple toggles on Servos, you have to go through the program cycle using only one toggle per Servo, turn the power off, attach the other toggles and then everything should be okay. It took a bit of learning but I did manage to have both sides of the wye at Park Head controlled on different sides of the wye.
This picture shows the underside of the wye where the Control Base is and the Multi-Input Adapters so that more than one Toggle can control one Servo. The Multi-Input Adapters are on the left and the cables out to the Servos on the right. All cables are numbered to correspond with where they go into the Control Base.
The next two photos show a typical installation at the end of Wiarton. The one showing the cover off also shows the .040” plastic shims I found necessary to hold the Servos in place securely. This is not something they outline in their instructions but something I found was necessary. The rod I started out with was 0.032” but found that 0.025” worked much better. 0.020″ is too weak for S. I also found that the recommended 1 ¾” hole saw was too large for Styrofoam and used a rarer 1 5/8” hole saw instead. The fit was more secure. The ones drilled with the 1 ¾” hole were too loose and needed to be shimmed and glued in because the Styrofoam was not as stiff as plywood would be.
The other thing I should mention is a mechanical cam/relay system is available that attaches to the Servo arm which is for changing the polarity of the frog. I found this to be quite frustrating to adjust and keep in place. I stopped using this method and used Frog Juicers instead for the turnouts at Park Head. I have had comments about the extravagance of using Frog Juicers from some MR visitors to the layout but since this is going to be my last layout ever, I want to make sure that everything is fool proof. Frog Juicers are so much easier and don’t need adjusting.
Scenery will cover the Servo Well Cover eventually.
Control panels were made from 0.060” sheet plastic cut into 3.5” strips. These strips were donated by my friend, Ken Wilson. I made up a pattern to design where the mini cup toggles were to go depending on mainline or siding use. I used green tape for mainline, red tape for the divergence or the turnout and orange tape for sidings. Yellow tape was used for the legs of the wye. I labelled the tracks wherever I could. I used my wife’s label maker.
Please excuse the temporary scenery. It is in place just to get a feel.
Overall, I am quite pleased by the final results of the Berrett Hill turnout control system. However, I already have enough Tortoises and toggles for the lower level so I will most likely use them. It would be more time consuming in some ways but more cost effective since I already have them.
Next: The Conversion of the Walthers Sn42 Turntable to S Scale Standard Gauge
I am sorry about not posting for a while. I have been busy with other projects like building a stairway at our up-north cabin from the lower deck to the lake. Our cabin is on top of a high ridge of rock. At one time, I could manage the effort easily but now that I have aged and slowed down, it took most of the summer; however, I can still mix cement with a shovel. Next year, we finally get a dock again after having been ruined by ice a few years back.
In my earlier installment, I spoke of having all the track work in the upper level installed. This a miss-guided tour of where the layout is today.
The 5 foot train turntable that you see was built for me by Jim Martin in exchange for me building and painting a brass tender for him. I think I won out on that one. I did modify it a bit and it works well. It will not handle the length of the trains I need for more prototypical operation and once all the track for the layout is finished will be modified and or extended in some way.
This is a shot of the north end of the wye. The station has been removed and is having the correct number of windows applied. Yes, it matters to me. The fairly cool looking Plasticville water tower was built and hand painted by my father when I was 5 years old. I patiently watched him do it and have been inspired ever since. It was for my American Flyer set up. It does not really have a purpose on this layout because neither Owen Sound or Wiarton had one. It is nice to have though and may end up somewhere in the background as an industrial tank.
This is showing the east leg of the Park Head wye proceeding to Owen Sound. As you can see, the turnouts are in as are the controls. The montage on the wall was done by my artist friend Sean McClare when we were on a drama department road trip to investigate Hanover, Ontario. It was an information gathering and verification trip for the last musical I wrote, called ‘Small Town Summer’. The montage will have to be moved to make way for the back drop. The clock was built by my father from a black walnut tree which he grew and processed himself. He was quite a guy.
Here is a shot of the north part of the wye and yard at Park Head. Starting from the left, this track is the west siding. The track to the right of the west siding is the Wiarton Sub Mainline that serves Park Head station. The track to the right of the Wiarton Sub Mainline is the East Siding and the farthest right track is the end of the north leg of the wye. The stock car indicates where the stock pen will be. The hardboard for the backdrop is propped in place to get an idea of where it should go.
All around the corner past the circuit breaker panel cabinet and on to Wiarton. I hope to conceal that panel with a removable backdrop. Removable is good because of various reasons, none the least is Murphy’s Law which can come into effect at any time. I have a great respect for that Law which seems to encompass most everything I do.
My old piggy bank from when I was a youngster is where the Highway 6 will cross over the track. Didn’t my parents throw anything out?
More trackage as the Wiarton Sub proceeds into town. Those two pictures will have to be moved into the front area where the Train Turntable is. You may notice the Star Trek ships around the layout. They will be hung from the ceiling to portray the episodes where the crews went back in time to either save the world or by mistake. Remember, Star Wars is fake but Star Trek is real! Just ask my flip phone which I still proudly use. One to beam up please.
Finally we are in Wiarton. Here is where the future station will be with the siding for the freight shed which was pulled there from where the turntable is/was. It will be a bit of a challenge to build this thing since I can’t seem to find complete plans. I do have a floor plan and some simple side elevations. Murphy’s Law dictates that, “When you slave over a model that you really want and have no plans from which to draw, someone will step up with the plans upon completion and you will find that said model needs important things redone!” I always keep that in mind so I get started on things.
Now we are getting into the yard at Wiarton. Those trees were made by Chris Creighton formerly Schomberg Scale Models. They weren’t up to his standards and he gave them to me. I think I have high standards but then again, free is always better than not having trees. I think they are great!
The siding will service the coal shed and a cattle pen. It should make for a bit of interesting operation if one has to move stock cars out of the way to get to the coal hoppers. The hoppers that CNR used were not CNR company cars but US imports like Louisville & Nashville, Reading, Pennsy and Illinois Central. For some reason still beyond my comprehension, coal was imported from the US because it was cheaper to send it across Lake Ontario by barge and pick it up by rail than get it from the collieries in Nova Scotia and Alberta. The US coal may have been better suited to the demands of the steam locos.
As we enter Wiarton yard, the turntable, run-around track and the siding are shown. The turntable is a Walthers HO 110′ modified to S Scale. It works great and I will do a segment in the future about the conversion once the sides etc are put on.
Progressing through the yard, temporary cliffs are in place to give the impression of where things will have to be in the future. It is a nice duck under that kids can breeze through here. I love those annoying phone calls when they want to clean my air ducks. I always tell them that we have geese and they can clean them instead. For some reason, I don’t get those calls that much anymore.
The end of the line. It is truncated but that is as far as I can go without making comfortable aisle space uncomfortable. Speaking of aisles, my granddaughter, Isla helped me to lay some of the lower level roadbed. She was enthusiastic which is nice. I believe she now knows just how long it takes to just simply get track down. At the end of the yard will be an ice house and fish house with some water’s edge to help out the illusion. Once again, the temporary Styrofoam cliffs do help with my visualization of what is to come.
For a coda, I have had a number of non-train people operate this portion of the layout, running the real trains as they did. Some have been children, others adults. In all cases, they did well even with the Sergent couplers which seem to prove to be so troublesome to regular model train people. Are non-train people more open to new things? I wonder if the quicker, easier Kadee experience has somewhat biased the model train people? Next time, turnouts and their controls.
At the end of July, early August, our granddaughter from Kelowna comes to visit us, Grandpa and Grandma and our in-laws Granddad and Gran. When she was here in the summer of 2018, the bench work for the upper level was done but no track was laid. The modules were put away under the Kennedy and Sons section of the lower level of the layout. Isla was disappointed when she could not run any trains and requested that when she and her brother, Everett were to visit in October that the trains would be operational. So, with a bit of a time constraint, I set out to fulfill my granddaughter’s request.
Late August and most of September 2018 found us in Italy attending my daughter Andrea’s wedding to Luca Lavorato. It was magical at a vineyard and I am very glad it happened. Otherwise, I would never have been able to experience Italy being comfortably numb in the basement. On my return, I had a little over a week to make good on my promise to Isla that she and Everett could drive trains.
With the roadbed all in place and sanded to level it, the wiring and track needed to come next.
The turntable is a Walthers HO Cornerstone 110’ motorized one, not DCC. (There will be a future post on how it was modified to S Scale.) The main focus was to get enough track in so that both grand children could drive trains at the same time so the turntable was not ready for them. The track was glued in the normal fashion using watered down Carpenter’s Glue and stacks of old magazines to keep things in place.
I decided to get the wiring in first. I am still using DCC because all the locos I have built have decoders installed and I hate taking something apart to redo things unless it is a repair. Even that I begrudge. The wiring was not too difficult as I had experience with the modules I built. I had already made the decision as to where districts were going to be but now had to decide where the circuit breakers would go. I use NCE but I know that their circuit breakers are not too good for sound equipped locos because of current draw. I opted for DCC Specialists instead. I got the ones that come grouped together in four. They have perforations and are easy to split apart. I installed two on the side of the bench work at Owen Sound South for Owen Sound South and Park Head and one at the ‘north’ corner of the Owen Sound bench work for Wiarton. The feed went up the wall to the upper bench work for Wiarton.
I made sure that I labelled everything so I knew what was what.
I lurk on the NCE Yahoo Group and have observed the discussions about needing snubbers at the end of the buss runs in districts. Having been a computer site administrator for our school for some time, I had already known that terminators on a network were necessary. So, I checked out the web and discovered that one of the local hobby shops had 3 packages of two in stock at pre-US dollar inflation prices. I purchased them all just in case. I have already used 3 of them up and the other 3 will be used in the lower level and the helix.
I purchased some standoffs from an electronics supply and used them to install the circuit boards with number 4 screws. I love those tiny little Robertson screws!
Once the buss wiring was in place, I started on the trackwork at the end of Wiarton yard.
I had to scratch build a curved turnout to fit in place to complete the run around track. It has an outer radius of 42” and an inner radius of 39”. I used an HO template from FastTracks which I blew up to S scale. I had to rework it at least three times to make it work well enough but that is expected. The last measure which actually was not too hard was to replace the frog while the turnout was still in place. Now it is acceptable enough in that even P64 wheelsets will make it through. Also, now that the pain of re-building it over and over has subsided, I feel much better.
Next I installed feeder wires from the Buss to the track. I used typical off brand suitcase connectors which can be bought in bulk at a nearby electronics store.
Here are some pictures of a couple of happy engineers driving the trains. Isla ran the F7A while Everett waited patiently to drive the steam passenger train in. The buildings were just set in place temporarily to add ambiance.
I did not manage to get any of the turnouts motorized by their visit but did get them to work manually and hand switched the polarity of the frogs.
As you may have guessed, now all the upper level track is in place and operational. All the turnouts are motorized. My next installment will detail the motorization of the turnouts and the trials and tribulations of having a lift-out wye.
It was the summer of 2018 when I finally got around to putting in the cork roadbed into Wiarton. It was fairly typical, one strip then another. I used Tee pins to hold things in place and watered down yellow construction glue. The trees below were built by my friend Chris Creighton formerly Schomberg Scale Models. He has high standards and didn’t like the results. My standards are not as severe and luckily he gave them to me. They will eventually find spots in the foreground and my tree building efforts will copy these.
Up until 1935, Wiarton was the home terminal in the Upper Bruce Peninsula for the CNR. That all changed to Owen Sound because it was a better and deeper port. Wiarton had a turntable and a 4 stall round house. All that shifted to Owen Sound so the round house and storage tracks around the turntable were taken out. The turntable remained. Therefore, I needed a turntable. I was going to scratch build one but I knew that Simon Parent had purchased a powered Walthers HO version and successfully did an S scale conversion. He got it when it was on sale a few years back and of course I passed thinking that I would build my own. Wiarton had a 70’ turntable and because of its position on the model railway, it would need to be bullet proof for a 180 degree turn. The Walthers one assured this. Unfortunately, the Walthers versions only come in three sizes, 90’, 110’ and 130’. Still, I decided to make life easier and compromised with 110’ which actually comes out to about 79’ in S scale. I wanted a bit of insurance for the length of the locos and if I needed to turn the combine which was always on the Wiarton mixed. I did not immediately convert the turntable to S but did install it before I completed any road bed so I knew where I was going to have to end up. I did have to add a bit of aluminum ‘L’ bracing after the fact to support it.
Wiarton’s turntable could hold any of the locos sent from Owen Sound. Typically though, Moguls and Ten Wheelers were found on the Wiarton mixed from Owen Sound. Occasionally, a light Pacific would venture in and sometimes the Northbound Way Freight from Palmerston would go straight in if it was warranted.
The roadbed continued down to the Wiarton yard but I had to do selective compression to be able to fit in the space I have.
Around this time, my granddaughter Isla was visiting from Kelowna, B.C. She was only 6 at the time and was quite impressed with the work so far but she really wanted run the trains. As mentioned before, the modules were down and stored so no train running was to be had. Isla and my grandson Everett were coming in October so Isla asked if they could run trains the next visit. “Of course,” I replied. However, my daughter Andrea was getting married on September 7 and I had a lot to prepare for that wedding including making a recording of me playing selections on the piano for a 90 minute duration. I could only manage to squeeze one more week of building in after the wedding and before the kids arrived. Next, what a promise to a grandchild can achieve.
The drawing below shows the Owen Sound Lower Level with the tracks grayed out. The Route to Wiarton Upper Level track is shown in light green. The brackets are magenta and the aluminum outer framing is shown in blue. There was a bit of modification as the build progressed but for the most part it all worked out according to plan.
It is now March 2018. The next step was to attach the aluminum railing to the brackets along the wall. This would be the base the for the Wiarton mainline coming into Wiarton. 0.060” styrene cleats were attached to the top of the brackets compensate for the level difference between the shelf bracket and the railing. At the rear I attached coved quarter round to add support for the Styrofoam against the wall. I went back to the Park Head area and retro-fitted cove quarter round there.
The corner frame work needed to be supported by the lower bench work until all the bracketing was in place. A temporary vertical support was clamped in place. Part of the web of the ‘L’ was cut out in several places so the rail could be bent to conform to where the track would eventually go.
Aluminum ‘L’ extensions were added to the ends of the shelf brackets. All were drilled out and tapped for 4-40 screws. Nuts were used to tighten everything down. Because the Aluminum rail and Bracket Extensions caused layering, 0.060″ shims had to be added ensuring a level surface before the 0.060″ styrene support sheet was glued on top. This was so the styrene sheet would be level with the outside ‘L’ rail. Once everything was stable enough, the vertical support from below was removed.
When everything was level, the Styrofoam sheet was cut and glued in using foam friendly adhesive like ‘No More Nails’.
Wooden support legs were attached to the second part of the Wiarton Corner. They really help with the leveling and keep the bench work stable.
The Wiarton yard extension was an aluminum frame attached to an island made of wooden uprights with shelving underneath. This was suggested by Trevor Marshall. Originally, my idea was to suspend the extension from the ceiling but that would not have been stable enough. The second shelf became a great place to put tools while working. Eventually all shelving space was used to store various containers that had retired M.L.W. Services kit projects in them. This allowed the bar fridge to be moved to where the containers originally were.
Those rear upper leg extensions will have a back drop attached which will block off some of the other parts of the layout. Florescent lighting was added over the Wiarton Corner and the Yard. Next…Roadbed for Wiarton
After the removal of the bar, it was time to continue the lower bench work of Owen Sound. Julia put together the next two parts for me. These are shown below. They will become the mainline and the access points to the grain elevator and the boarding tracks which will be on narrow peninsulas. I built a corner to attach to it and it is shown resting on the bench work that Julia built.
The corner was attached to the end of Julia’s handiwork. At the same time the upper railing has been removed for test purposes. I test and retest everything before it is finally installed semi-permanently. The area below the bench work is a bit more clear now.
Around the corner and down the wall over the bar fridge. More legs are leaning against the bench work where the boarding tracks peninsula will be attached.
The bar fridge will be moved to a location under the bench work just prior to the branching off to the grain elevator. Easy access is mandatory.
That was it for the rough lower bench work framing for Owen Sound. Next Wiarton.
In October 2017, my daughter Julia and I drove across Canada from Calgary to Toronto to move her here from Revelstoke. She has begun a new direction in her life taking a course in Home Renovation and Carpentry. (So Proud!) When were arrived back home, she helped build some of the lower bench work and really took pleasure in the removal of the wet bar. In the past, the sink was rather convenient to use in the line of modelling. It was nice to be able to mix plaster and do other modelling jobs there. But In the words of Bluto from ‘Animal House’, “They took the BAR, the whole $#@#% BAR!” Unfortunately it was necessary because it was in the way. Julia is a natural at demolition. There were some smoked mirror tiles on the wall with shelving as seen in the right of the photo. Luckily the glue that held them was old and they came off easily with only two breaking. The sink is in the corner barely seen behind an ultrasonic cleaner.
The bar left behind a legacy of missing carpet, loose vinyl tiles and a blank wall. Sadly, there was no longer a place to hide my liquor stash.
The pipes had to be capped. It is good to know how to use a blow torch. And more importantly, I would not have known this skill if not for my building in brass purposes. If anyone wants a copy of my soldering clinic, please let me know, I can send/email it. I also have copies of the instructions for my K-3/J-3 kits. Those too are available.
The removal of the wall tiles also left a blank wall.
The smoked mirror tiles stacked up nicely. Terry, my wife wisely thought we should donate them but no one would take them so they went into the garbage because recycle would not take them either. They had to be carefully boxed. I respect garbage workers and don’t want them to get injured on the job. You can see my modules still standing on end beside the tiles. As I go along more things get on the decision block and some stay and some remain.
It was a good idea to get matching paint but I should have purchased a gallon instead of a pint. I am out of it now.
As you can see in the following photo, there are floor issues. There must have been a water leak in that the tiles in this area had all come off the floor. Also, who carpets directly over old, dirty, loose, curled-up tiles? I would have scraped them all off first and then done the job properly. Accordingly, I glued all the loose tiles down.
Julia and I cut out parts of the plywood from the old bar to fill in the gaps left by the removed tiles. They too were glued down.
The original owners of our house kindly had left a roll of surplus carpeting. It was fairly easy to cut out pieces and carpet tape them down. I am not a carpet installer and this is the best I could come up with.
Now with the bar out of the way, the process of the Owen Sound bench work could continue. October 2017, that will be the next topic.