Monday, January 27, 2014

Operating Signals Installed in Wrightsville Port!!!!!!!!!!


Finally - a long time dream comes true!

Wrightsville Port now has operating signals. Here is a video of two signals in operation - caption included.

The signals are 100% scratch-built. I used Circuitron mitey-lites 1.4 mm dia micro lamps. I could not source for the colored lamps, so I improvised. I created tiny colored lenses in those lamp shades using glass paint - behind those lenses are the tiny bulbs - the effect is no less than that of a colored lamp, I have to say. Also, the brightness is very prototypical to the low power lamps generally used in signals.

The two signals here are actually for two different purposes - the right one, in front of the white truck is the block signal that protects the single line block approaching the port. The one on the left is basically the one that protects the diamond crossing with the main (Please refer to the track plan) - ideally, this signal should have been further down nearer to the crossing, but then it would have been facing the backdrop, so I moved it a little ahead of its intended place. The default 'clear' for that signal is also amber ('approach with caution') rather than green. There will be similar protection given to the other side of the diamond crossing once I get to make the rest of the signals.

I used Circuitron's BD-2 detection system. s Since night time operation is equally important for me, I decided to try resistance detection despite the extra work of putting at least two resistor wheels per car (which I am yet to start working on).

I have to say that these signals improves the realism of this layout many fold. Can't wait to build the rest. :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014


The original plan was to animate the lighthouse with rotating lenses - just like a real lighthouse. I have placed the order for a slow motion motor (23 RPM) which I am expecting to receive by end of next week, but I could not wait to install the lights and make the lens housing. The details of the lighthouse animation will be covered later in a more descriptive manner, but for now, here are some photos of lighthouse with it's lamps lit and lens being static. I have installed light in the crew's quarter as well.

Now that there is light in the two terminal structures - the hotel and the lighthouse, the layout now has a defined frame even during night time simulation.

More to come, and hopefully soon. :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Beginning of a new chapter

Now that we are all somewhat settled in the new city and dealt with all the changes, it is time that we revisit Wrightsville Port and see where it stands. Overall there is not much of a difference in the overall appearance of the layout, however, I did take the advantage of this relocation to correct a few things:

  • Get rid of the dust: as in case of most layouts, you generally do the dusting in prominent and easily accessible areas, and once you start detailing, it is not feasible to use the vacuum as effectively. So now that there are no models on the layout, I took the liberty to do the spring cleaning - not that the spring is very far away, so I'm good! There has been another initiative - I had to device a certain way to keep the dust off as much as possible. Given the shape of the layout is very unique (it's neither a shelf layout, nor a solid rectangle to use glass cubicles), a ready option was not really available. Till the time I figure out a better way, I made a temporary cover using transparent plastic sheets, cut along with edge of the layout. I need to play with it a little more to make it look better, but overall this serves the purpose for now:

  • Organize wiring: Given the layout is meant to have extensive lighting effect, I have dedicated power lines in 3 voltage ranges - 1.5V, 3V, 6V, 12 V and a variable 6-12V (all DC) - each power lines divided into various phases to help short circuits and total blackouts. As you can understand, this means a lot of wires, and I never took the pain to arrange and label them properly owing to the fact that in order to do so, I had to dismantle the layout - till now. So wiring is revamped, categorized and more 'power hubs' created for future lights. Sorry, no photograph for this one (I am ashamed to say that it still looks pretty messy!)
  • The background hill required more bushes and trees and required a smoother transition to the backdrop. I did order JTT foliage long back, but never managed to complete this task, until now:

  • The dock scenes that I created remained static for quite some time, so I made some subtle changes. I used the same figures to 'move' scenes or make some minor changes for the sake of variation, and added a new one too:

  • Finally, something that has been long due (really) - installing light in the tall hotel building. I also took the liberty to add a neon light (The previous Cafe sign being out of commission, I desperately 'needed' this animation):

And to end with this post, here is a night time view of the port. Still requires a lot of work to be done to look life like, but nonetheless, this is quite beautiful to look at!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Change, A Journey, A New City, A New Home

April 7th, 2012 - that's when I posted the update to move to our new apartment in Calcutta -

As the title reads in that post, I really hoped that that apartment was a permanent home for Wrightsville Port - been lived in 2 places before that, I'm sure the tiny residents and workers of Wrightsville Port were a little apprehensive about another move... I myself was a little weary even to think about another move. It went pretty well for a year, and as it happens in my line of job, things started changing rather a little faster than I expected. And even before I could comprehend the length of the turns, I had a job offer that looked very promising - an opportunity to move up in life as they call it, but it also came with a condition - moving 1500 miles to another city - the city of Nawabs, called Hyderabad. As excited I was about a new opportunity, a new city, I was particularly concerned about Wrightsville Port. Although I have built this layout to suit this type of lifestyle, moving 1500  miles is definitely a tough, and may I call it, the final test of the robustness and agility of my design.

Moving ahead, night of Dec 11th, 2013 I was busy making the final preparation to 'dispatch' Wrightsville Port the next day. As you can see, all buildings, ships and details were movable, so they were removed from the layout and packed in tough plastic containers (from Mouli's kitchen) and secured with packing peanuts. The rolling stocks and locos went back to their respective plastic boxes in which they had originally arrived from the US. By midnight, everything other than the layout was packed and wrapped.

Then I removed the layout and took the opportunity to clean it thoroughly before the packing guys came the next day:

Next day, the professional packers and movers did their tricks. Along with the rest of the house, the layout components were wrapped in protective covers. I wouldn't get into the details of the professional packing methods, here is just a shot of the layout after three layers of cardboard and specialized covers wrapped it nice, warm and cozy before it was put inside a wooden crate:

Evening of Dec 13th, the layout started its journey in a 32ft container truck. We started on Dec 18th, and as you can very well imagine, in a train!

It was a special train from Shalimar, a Satellite station of Howrah Railway station - one of the worlds biggest and busiest. The train itself looked awesome in its bright red color.

I took the privilege of booking first class for this trip! It was a two person cabin, so it was sort of a overnight stay in a tiny hotel room - we had all the space for ourselves without worrying about where we were putting our luggage and shoes. Here are some shots of the cabin:

Now, travelling in train after 5 years, I couldn't help taking some pictures! Nothing fancy, as taking pictures through the thick glass wasn't easy due to detraction and dust on the window, and if you want to go to the common area, open the door and take a picture of something that you saw while sitting in the cabin, that thing is nearly a mile behind you by the time you take stance with your camera!

To start with, the Salimar yard:

An inbound passenger in Santragachhi yard:

Below three locomotive pictures are taken in various location, and I cannot pinpoint now where:

Then there is a MOW somewhere in Odisa:

Entering Visakhapatnam, also known as Vizag. These two WDMs did attract my attention:

A goods train in Vizag yard:

An oil rake in front of a oil storage facility, near Vizag:

The final shot, and my favorite one in the lot - the bright red train in the background of the setting sun, somewhere between Warangal and Secuderabad.

Finally on reaching our temporary guest house after a 27 hour pleasing train journey:

Wrightsville Port, accompanied by its legs and the bookshelf-cum-staging yard, plus the rest of the house arrived on Dec 20th. Upon opening the protective packing layers, there she stood, unscathed and as pretty as ever:

Today, I think I consider my greatest success as a model railroader is not being able to build exciting structures or ships, or making compelling model scenes, rather building a model railroad that has become my true companion - it goes wherever I go, it grows how I grow, it distracts me from disturbing thoughts and helps me stay focused in life... it is now a part of my small, but very dynamic and crazy family - that was the true intention of building Wrightsville Port, and I am glad that I succeeded in that - in gaining a friend in that 6X3 tiny model railroad!