What a Promise to a Grandchild Can Achieve

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.

Completed Roadbed

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.

Circuit Breakers for Owen Sound South and Park Head
Wiarton Circuit Breaker

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.

Park Head Snubber

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.

The End of the Line at Wiarton

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.

Scratch-built Curved Turnout From…!#@@

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.

Suitcase Connectors Used Under Park Head

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.

Engineer Isla at the Helm
Everett Waiting Patiently. His Steam Train is in the Background

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.

5 thoughts on “What a Promise to a Grandchild Can Achieve

  1. Great to see the update, sharing the layout with youngsters is fun. I will have to look into the snubbers. Thanks for the tip.


  2. Simon, While this is not an answer to your question, I have found the twist sticks from Fast Tracks are great to use when you are making a curved. I have only made a few for industrial areas so their number 6 twist sticks were a good starting point. I wonder if they could help figuring out what size to start with for larger radius curves. Curved turnouts and curved crossings sure look good on the railroad. Ken


  3. Sorry Simon, I have been up north away from the Internet. I don’t know what number the turnout is. It was built to fit where the track was supposed to go with an outer 42″ radius and an inner 39″ radius. My guess is number 8? The lower level will require more of the same and I try to build them in place like one of my friends in HO does.


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