This past week in addition to adding the Hulcross siding, I wired my Digitrax system to 4 of the PSX circuit breakers as well as one of the RRampmeters. I’m using a DB150 for a command station which feeds 3 power districts, with another DB150 set up as a booster for the remaining 4 power districts. I still have to purchase 3 more PSX breakers, but they can be aquired at a later date. Power to the system is fed from a dedicated breaker from my home panel, through a light switch which allows me to turn the layout power on and off from one switch. Thanks to my buddy Jack for the idea!
System installed and powered up:
Rramp meter for the helix installed and powered up:
I drove down to Calgary this weekend for Canada’s largest model railway show Supertrain. While at the show, I picked up 30 sticks of Atlas code 83 track, since the Rapido track is 3 to 4 weeks from landing in my basement. Today I finished laying track in the first siding on the upper deck.
Extra 710 south waits at the south end of Hullcross siding
Mid point of siding:
And the north end of the siding, with the helpers cut into the train:
So with the siding complete I can fit a 20 car train into it with 3 road units, 2 helpers, and a caboose. The train pictured is 22 cars long, so I figure I’ll set the typical length of mainline freights at 20 cars, which works out pretty good since the max train length on the Dawson Creek branch is 10 cars. Trains on the upper deck feed and transport cars from the Dawson branch, so a 20 car train should work out ok. Next up is to start stringing bus wire and build some more bench work!
Another milestone was reached today, the helix frame is complete! I still need to lay one more loop of track but finally the monster is constructed!
Now the track curving off to the right of the image, that will be the mainline to Prince George. Why so high you ask? Well, I wanted to avoid a duck under, since the biggest problem with a duck under is operators forget to duck! The area on the lower level under the “bridge” will have the Chetwynd yard lead as well as some industry tracks. Here you can see the future site of the yard lead and spur to the lumber mill:
The 1X4 that is sitting on the lower deck was not planned, but I need it to take out some flex in the plywood bridge. I’ll end up hiding it behind a building/oil tank/ picture of Kate Upton’s boobs or something like that.
The mainline leaving the top of the helix is 6 feet from the floor level, which looks pretty cool!
The track will drop to 60″ or so on the upper deck before it gets to Pinesul. I’ve got a siding to build on the top deck to give trains a place to meet too, and I think I’ll call it Hulcross. The real Hulcross siding was south of Pinesul, but I need it on the other side to prevent a bottle neck of trains waiting to use the helix.
Here’s how you figure out the width of the benchwork required for a 36″ curve. A couple curve templates and some Ikea shelves and you have the track plan laid out on the floor!
Got a package today from Tony’s Train Exchange. I ordered a DCC Specialties PSX4, Tortoise Buddy Seniors, and a couple RR Ramp meters.
The PSX4 contains 4 circuit breakers on one board. I’ll need a total of 7 power districts on the layout, so in the future I’ll order one of their PSX2’s as well as a PSXAR (auto reverser)
The tortoise buddies are for controlling the switch machines, and the RR Ramp meters measure Volts and Amps on each power district. I plan on mounting the meters on the helix frame to provide short detection
And my good flunk- er I mean friend Dave came over the other night and we threw up some hardboard:
This is a full 4X8 foot sheet of 1/8″ hardboard in the corner, really doesn’t look that big!
And we started on the lower level bench work. You are looking at the site of the yard lead for Chetwynd
And the helix is still growing. A few more loops and it will be finished!
Today I finished framing part of the upper deck, as well as installing some 1/8″ Masonite back drops. The upper deck section shown in the photo will become the siding at Hulcross. I need a siding at this portion of the upper deck since it will take some time for trains to climb the helix, which creates the need for the siding on the upper level.
I did some more helix trsting today with a “heavy” freight of 25 cars plus a caboose. The 3 units on the head end pulled the train ok, however the locomotives were much happier with a 2 unit set of helpers cut in 16 cars from the head end! Everything went smooth, and nothing ended up on the floor, which is good.
Photo shows the freight near the current “end of track” with the helper set visable in the distance
And the head end with the tail end almost directly below the power. I ran the freight backwards down the helix several times, thinking that if everything could be pushed down the hill without ending up on the floor then going up hill should be easy!
Work is progressing on the helix. I got impatient, went to the hobby shop and cleaned them out of Peco Code 83 flextrack, which only amounted to 19 3 foot long pieces. In the past I had used Atlas Code 83, however Atlas has some serious problems with their Chinese factories and has been unable to provide the hooby market with enough track. I didn’t think much of the whole situation until I needed track. The unavailability of Code 83 track husrts many hobbyists. I had planned on using 100% Rapido Bendy track for the layout, but I didn’t want to sit around waiting for track. Mike at Rapido assures me the track will hit Canadian soil this week, so I should see some track in a couple weeks.
I think I’ll start ordering a case of track a month until I’m finished with track work, just to make sure I have enough!
Now, onto the test train. Pictured here is a 6 car Pinesul Local. This local will run out of Chetwuynd on the lower level, up the helix to Pinesul, the site of a sulphur loadout. The local will swap empties for loads, then return to Chetwynd. The local may also make a run farther :South” to Tacheeda to lift any bad order/off spot/ MOW cars as needed. Since I had the cars on my work bench, I decided to test them up the 2 loops of the helix that I’ve built so far.
Test was successful, and the 2 RS-18’s ran well together considering the 615 is an Atlas model with a Tsunami decoder and the 611 is an Overland import with no decoder in it (yest). As you can see I’ve got some weathering to do on the 615 and the sulphur cars…….
I framed up and installed a couple sections of the upper deck today. The sections are a foot deep and roughly 7 1/2 feet and 5 feet respectively. I ran out of shelf brackets so that’s all I got done for today.
I also did some planning for the siding that will go on the upper deck at the location of the photo, as well as some planning around the Pinseul area.
I spent a good portion of the day cutting out the 36″ curves for the helix. Here they are sitting roughly in place:
And in the background, the lighting for the upper deck is in service!
I did have the first construction/planning snag, that being the upper level exit from the helix. I have to fit a reverse curve into the upper deck, which means increasing the height of the upper deck at the helix exit to avoid a duck under. Its hard to explain, but when I get the bench work built it should be easier to understand.
And since I’m starting to work on the helix, I need to send a message to someone:
Hey Shron! Where’s my bendy track????