Sunday, March 28, 2021

Advantages Of T-Trak For Home Layouts

I'm beginning the process of reconguring my T-Trak modules for the expansion I talked about in my last post. As part of it, a module based on the Springfield. MA Amtrak station is moving from a shelf to active use on the expanded layout:
I began to realize this is a result of the thinking I've done in taking the T-Trak idea to develop a portable and configurable layout. The idea started as a very basic staging module built on white foam using extra pieces of Unitrack:
Then I thought it might be intereting to add features like the Springfield Amtrak station:
I finished one baggage elevator like those in Springrield.
I began thinking about building flats as background and using it on a shelf as a photo background:
But then I decided I miht as wel turn the thing into a full module and ordered a half-depth dobule-side kit:
And began building a full scenic development, eventually with lights.
The point of this is that the basic T-Trak idea encourages things like prototyping on a very manageable scale.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

T-Trak Expansion

I've been continuing to experiment with the idea of T-Trak for home layout use. As the mainstream concept has evolved, it still isn't much more than a series of tail-chasing continuous loops with, at best, a set of big "staging track" yard modules that feed the individual loops. As I've worked on T-Trak at fome with DCC, I've found that with crossovers between mains, you can hold trains on sections of the double track and route trains in either direction around them -- sort of a slo-mo CTC. /

My original project expanded onto a 30 x 72 nch folding table. As time went on, I built additonal modules, at first intended to branch off from the original oval on the table and run onto an old desk, as in the photo below.

However, I slowly begsn to realize that if I got rid of the old desk and rearranged a few other things, I could replace it with a second 30 x 72 inch folding table. In fact, I began to realize that I had enough modules that, with the addition of just one more double-wide module kit, I could reconfigure the existing modules into an L-shaped layout.

I drew each module I have to scale using a Kato transparent plastic Unitrack planner, scanned and printed my drawings out, and came up with the drawing below. It's messy due to all the copying, cutting, and pasting, but it gave me an idea:

This will give the newer modules I've built a home, like those below:
The kit I have left to buy will be a double wide recessed deck to hold the Richmond Main Street Station project:

Sunday, March 14, 2021

N Scale Detail Item

I was looking around the web for some kind of N scale modern mining truck like those used in the Powder River Basin and elsewhere, but I didn't think I'd find one. A guy on an N scale Facebook group pointed me at a CAT 793D Mining Truck model by Norscot Minis, their number 55426. This was produced ten years or so ago, but it can still be found on eBay. I discovered you need to search with various combinations of words and SKU to find them.

They turn out to be pretty inexpensive, and I ordered two. The ones in the picture have had the bed weathered with grimy black, as videos from the Powder River area show the trucks weather this way.

I looked up the prototype dimensions of a 793D. It turns out its overall length is 42.2 feet. The model is 1.75 inches long. 1.75 inches times 160 is 280, divided by 12 is 23.3, so the model is roughly half size for N, but the effect is good, and it looks like it will work as a background item. I find there were other construction items produced as Norscot Minis, apparently to equivalent small scale, so my eye is out now. A post on Trainboard says the 315C L excavator is about 1:155, very close to N.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Wiring And Tracklaying Complete On The Inglenook

This past week I completed wiring and DCC switch machine hookup and programming on the Inglenook. Below is a botom view:
In the upper left is a Digitrax DS52 switch machine decoder configured to operate the Peco solenoid switch machines. At right are two terminal strips connected to the DCC bus. There are three sets of leads connected to track on the layout, whih is maybe a bit of overkill, but the belt-and-suspenders approach will lead to trouble-free operation. Over years of use, solder joints do come loose.

There are enough spare positions on the terminal strips to allow other features to be added as technology develops. I think this layout is potentially a good pilot candidate to operate with a computer and JMRI. The switch addresses are set up not to conflict with any other addresses on any of my other projects, such as the main HO layout and the T-Trak modules.

Below are the completed tracks on the layout. I've drybrushed the ties with reefer gray and railroad tie brown pending ballasting. The cutouts for the Peco switch machines and the Kadee 308 magnet have been covered with heavy brown paper.

The diamond at far right will connect to a dummy track. One thing I discovered in doing this layout was that N wooden-tie code 80 flex track has disappeared from the stores, both local and on line. I didn't notice it at first because I had enough left over from previous layouts to salvage for this one, but not enough to add the dummy track for the diamond. I'll either use concrete tie track or wait for wooden tie track to become available again. The dummy track is a scenery item and a nice-to-have, so it can wait.

I took the layout to a temporary test location on top of our clothes washer and connected it to the DCC bus on my HO layout for proof of concept and final test. Everything works:

The layout will now move to its projected semi-final location for finishing.