Saturday, February 19, 2011

Street Running in Wrightsville Port!!

I had many wishes before I started this project - I wanted ships and boats, I wanted large water body, bridges, over and under action, good operation, unique design, trestle, lighthouse, urban theme as well as scenery, both passenger and freight operation, operating signals, everything must be packed in a small space... basically it was nightmare planning for this one (and that's why probably, I took years to plan this). But after all, the way it's taking shape, I am happy ...

Now, I had another demand to myself - street running! I did some research long time back on street running in California and the moment I saw those prototype photos, I knew I had to model this.

Another reason for finalizing this plan was that I could incorporate street running here - not literally, but every modern port has tracks concealed in concrete or asphalt - so from my perspective it's equivalent to street running - it looks similar, technique and technology is similar (for prototype) and street running modeling techniques are absolutely perfect for ports as well.

By the way, in the mean time the tracks for the cranes are also laid:

The modeling approach I adopted is actually from an article in Nov 2000 Model Railroader Mag. by John Pryke for his Union Freight layout. John used the technique for HO scale, but I figured that it can be easily adapted for N.

It's simple - mess free street modeling using cardboard and styrene. I used tracing paper to copy the track profile and used carbon paper to transfer it to Cardboard/Styrene. I used cardboard for the outer side of the rail - there is basically no risk factor at all. The cardboard is cut precisely as per the track profile using a hobby knife, then thick posterboard support below for strength and shape, then just glue it to the masonite. Just keep vigil that any part of the cardboard is not above the track level, especially the part adjacent to the tracks. This might (and will) derail trains.

The challenge is the inner side. Now in the article the method looked easy - and it is easy if you are HO and above. I realized that this wouldn't be a simple task the moment I started working on it. First of all it's half the size, secondly, 90% of tracks in my layout are curved, thirdly, N scale wheels need to have a lot of clearance which is not helpful for prototypical representation. Anyway, I started drawing the track profile on Styrene and cut them using a heavy duty scissor. Shape them using scissor and hobby knife. The pieces that went between the track had a bevel edge to facilitate easy wheel movement.

I used Micro-engineering wooden ties (used for hand laying track) as a support to these pieces:

Then just glue the styrene and dry for 2-3 hours (preferably with weight application).

Continuous testing for each piece is very important. Since this is at track level, the chassis of the loco might get stuck if there is a little bulge - also there is chance of derailment.

As of now, half the yard is done... need to do the rest. For fun, a small video... :)


Staging Yard

Well, it has been a crazy start to the year for me... average 10-12 hours in office, root canal treatment, buying a new apartment... everything is moving in a rocket speed! Eventually, very less time to spend with my railroad.

But I didn't sit idle... the track and wiring needed some fine tuning, so that's done. another important part is taken care of - staging yard.

Initially I had a plan for a cassette and also made arrangements for that. But when I went to build it, I saw that the drawer is not working properly and it's pretty stiff. I tried lubricating it for some days and tried to do some fine tuning, but it never became smooth. Given I had less time in hand anyway, I couldn't really give a lot of focus on the drawer - moreover I badly needed a functional staging to start operating my layout properly. I thought of dumping the cassette and decided to go for turnouts - I had a few insulated type left from my previous layout and decided to put them to use. Two are Atlas manual and three Model Power (remote, but they were damaged when I had to dismantle my last layout in a hurry while moving to Calcutta). I modified them a little bit so that they can be hand thrown. Then it's a simple fork of 4 arms - 3 arm can hold 10 cars each, one primarily meant for loco/RDC storage.

Note that two tracks in the center are always live - ones on the sides can be switched on or off based on requirements. I am planning to put another turnout on the far end and connect the 2 tracks in the middle on the other end to create a siding/runaround. This will reduce the need of lifting a loco and will be particularly helpful for one man operation.