It Ain’t Pretty But It Works

As the saying goes, it isn’t that a dancing bear dances well that is amazing but that it dances at all. I have got the diamond installed after much fiddling. It works but there were a few alignment issues with the frogs that make for imperfect lines through the crossing. I am impressed that my eye is less tolerant of variance than a finescale track standard. Anyway, I did not remake any parts but I will probably remake the whole thing at a future date. I will keep the functioning present version in order to get things running.

Here is a shot of the diamond from overhead. diamondinstalled

And an artsy track level view.diamondlow

Getting the challenging part of the trackplan inspired me to press on with the more mundane bits and now have the spur in front of the traverser tacked down as well. (I consider it installed enough for operational purposes when every third tie is spiked down.)diamondlong

All the track laying remaining to be done is at least partially visible in this shot:

  1. closure rails and points for the front track at centre back.
  2. inactive turnout and spur off the upper right leg of the diamond.

That is a refreshing short list! After that, I am down to point servo installation and wiring before I can operate Comstock Road. Well, that and banging together enough rolling stock…


This Diamond Might Actually Work

Not installed or trimmed to length but I got the second k-crossing done tonight and just had to pose the two bits in situ on the layout. So far, things seem to be going well which probably means I have overlooked something. I am still half expecting to have to scrap and redo something but so far so good.kcrossingsfinished.jpg

Measure Twice…Oh, Bother!

diamondderpI bent up the second knuckle rail for the Comstock Road diamond and set about filing the two other running rails. I very carefully blued (with a big Sharpie marker), marked the angles using  a scribe like a proper machinist, and filed up to the line. The first rail works beautifully. The second one had a slight issue. (If you look closely, you can see that the second rail has the angle going precisely the wrong way.) Fortunately I have lots of rail and the filing process is not too time consuming.

I am also glad that I took the time to make up my set of roller gauges. They made setting the rails for the second half (side?) of the diamond a snap.rollergaugesftw

I also got the frog and the straight closure rail for the turnout leading to one leg of the crossing down. I plan to do the same for the other turnout before putting down the crossing since they are less mutable than the diamond itself.

Trackwork, Various

I managed a few trackwork related moments in the last week in amongst assorted excursions, tasks, crises, crises requiring excursions, etc… Most significantly, I got the first K-crossing for the Comstock Road diamond formed and pinned down ready for soldering. This took place on a larger pine board which I acquired for the purpose. I despaired at the price for a 1x8x6′ pine board until I spotted a stack of 1x10x5′ “pine shelves”  in the next rack over. These looked suspiciously like 1×10 boards and were a quarter of the price. The mysteries of retail!

Here is how far I got.firstkcrossing

While I was acquiring that bigger piece of pine, I also purchased an inexpensive engineer’s protractor. This is a handy way to measure and transfer angles and I wanted to make sure everything matched when I moved it over from the template. The crossing angle is 24° for those who were wondering. That bit of rail has marker on the end so I can mark the angle I need to file. This sort of protractor makes that much easier than the half circle sort.protractor

I also did some other things including getting the start of the second rail down on the main where it leaves the traverser. This rail will feed into one leg of the diamond. I also applied paper to the ends of the rails on each of the four frogs remaining to be laid, two turnouts and the ones I made for the diamond. Rather than rely on an air gap, I try to have something solid and unobtrusive as an insulator. I have used a mere layer of paint in the past but always worried that expansion would squish a short into being. Paper to be trimmed after the adhesive cures.froginsulation

Diamond Ho!

This weekend I kept up the momentum created by getting the first turnout servo installed and started in on the only bit of Comstock Road’s trackwork that requires hand made frogs, the diamond crossing. Through the miracle of Templot, the diamond is asymmetrical with one leg being on a transition curve. Not something you are going to get off the shelf but a feature that let me squeeze things in the way I wanted. Now I just have to build it.

I started by re-reading the relevant sections of Trackwork Handbook for Model Railroaders by Paul Mallery since I have never built a diamond and haven’t built a turnout frog a very long time and not many of them then. Including the diamond in the trackplan was a deliberate creation of an opportunity to do something a bit challenging.

I printed off a copy of the crossing template, found a suitable bit of pine 1×4 and my file and dove in. Much bending, filing and fitting later, I was ready to apply some solder.firstfrog.jpg

Once I figured out that my piddling little 80W digital iron wasn’t going to cut it, I broke out the big 120W Weller and things started flowing. I soldered things into a blob and then spent more time than I like cleaning it up. Nevertheless, a result was achieved that compared well with the paper version.templatevsreality.jpg

The second frog aka V-crossing went considerably faster as I applied my learning from the first one. It was necessary to redraw the reference lines before I started since the wood block got a little singed.secondfrog.jpg

At the end of the evening, I have both V-crossings built and am looking forward to doing the K-crossings. I have not applied any detailing to the frogs and may not do so prior to installation. I will probably regret this decision. Here are both pieces posed in situ on the layout.vcrossings.jpg

Finally, A Throwbar

As I may have previously mentioned, actually hooking up turnout points is one of the mental hurdles in my path to layoutdom (layoutness?). Today’s project was getting started on hooking up the points for high track with a throwbar. The method of pinning the two together was the challenge. Learning took place.

I had a plan that involved using very small hex bolts 1/8″ 00-90 that did not survive contact with reality. The clearance hole for the bolts is a drill number in the 60’s that turned out to be too big a hole to reliably drill in the tabs of the American Switch & Signal (now sold by Right O’Way) points. I managed one and then the next tore out. Break time!

For the second attempt, I went with an idea I vaguely recall from somewhere, cut down straight pins. The standard steel sewing pins almost fit through holes as-is so they work much better. They are easy to make which is fortunate since they also fly very far if your grip with the tweezers slips.

After assorted bits of filing, drilling and fiddling, the test fit was completed. I expect the installation of the rest of the throwbars to go much smoother.


Comstock Road at One Year

It has been approximately a year since I finalized a trackplan and started construction of Comstock Road. As one does, I took stock of how things had gone.

Current state is still mostly bare trackage abuilding but what trackage there is is considerably more functional that it was before. Here is how I see the state of things

  • Steady albeit slow progress still going on. This is the main achievement. I am still interested and still getting down to the shop to continue the project.
  • Just this afternoon, I got the high track and main on the non-traverser end wired up and can now run a train from one end to the other. And did!
  • First DCC sound install completed and DCC system wired up.
  • Still haven’t got a turnout servo installed although two turnouts are essentially complete. This is obviously my next psychological hurdle to clear.
  • The sectional design is holding up well, I can take them apart and put them back together with impunity. This includes wiring connections.

Goals for the near future include:

  • Get that first servo installed so I can start Inglenook style operating.
  • Basic foam ground forms in so I can stop worrying about derailments (which haven’t happened) causing a long drop to the concrete.
  • Traverser automation installed. Manual alignment from the front is challenging.

Here is the obligatory status shot. Not visible is the wiring and the 40 percent or so that of laid track that has tie plates spiked on all ties.