July 11, 2010 Update

I've just spent the last week working on the railroad...my vacation! I calculated I spent 42 hours working on various things. Prior to my "vacation" I made a list of 32 things to do and of course everything takes WAY longer than calculated. However, I completed or made great progress on many of the items on the list, most of them big time consumers. Here are some of them:

1. Re-designed the BDL168 Planning sheets - The old sheets needed revision so this was on the list and it took about 4 hours to redo. I obtained the original sheet from the Digitrax site. It's actually labeled a BDL162 sheet but it's the same for the BDL168.

2. Finished installing the BDL inside the helix - This will give me detection on all 6 levels of the helix. Each track has it's own detection so there are 12 detection sections inside the helix. By the way, the helix has been renamed to the following: Quantico, Magunden, Edison, and Sand Cut. The helix was the beginning of the layout back in 1998 so I could determine elevations for the two levels. The wiring on it was "built-to-last" and was installed when things were accessable. Installation of detection require a re-wire of the helix...a major pain in the butt may I add...so this project took about 10 hours...don't ask! May I suggest that when you build a layout that if you have even a hint of wanting detection and signalling that you install it as you build the layout. Major time saver!

3. My wiring looks like a birds next. So one BIG project was to clean that up. I've been working on this for the past month or so and my body hates me for all the twists and turns under the layout. A part of this project, which is about 2/3rds complete is re-stringing LocoNet. I am pleased to say that I just finished the LocoNet portion of the re-stringing this morning...tested too!

4. Got with Mike Stoner for help on the RR website...thanks Mike! You've made this much easier. Time for the advanced training...uh...lemme work on this for a couple weeks. ADDED THE FOLLOWING PAGES to the home page: DCC & Wiring, JMRI and Tunnel Problems.

5. The turnout coming out of the tunnel at the loop for whatever reason had a hump in it. In a recent Model Railroader article they talked about putting electrical tape on the bottom of the turnout for ballast. OK, I did that and then glued the turnout down...hump gone!

6. Had a contractor come out to discuss AC for the RR room. After much discussion we've decided it would be much easier to install automatic fans high up in the corners of the attic on each side of the house. This will disapate some of the heat (created by the sun on the roof) and then using the portable AC unit this should help keep the room cooler. Need some bodies to test this!

7. The valence over Fresno city needed an extension. About a month ago Mark Lestico and I added this extension. This week I added the top of the valence, moved the lighting forward, and had Albert Lopez (professional house painter if you need one) paint the valence. Of course while it was drying yesterday in the backyard it rained! Aren't we in Southern California?! All is fine however. It needs more paint which will happen tomorrow and then it can be reinstalled.

There were other miscellaneous projects done and about 30 trips to the store, etc. but I'll spare you all that detail. And photos...yes, I know photos would be nice. It seems I never have time for adding the photos and I always promise I'll add them...and I will...thanks for your patience! On the other hand, if you're tired of waiting for photos you can always stop by...lol.

Next is the completion of the painting of the valences for the Fresno city area and Bena...also in the paint shop. I've decided to make a change to the end of Fresno by the entry door. I will be installing a wall (plywood) there so when you walk into the RR room you don't see the lighting, etc. over Fresno. This will make it cleaner. Plus, I can use that wall for backdrop in Fresno. That wall is in the paint shop too. The valences and the wall should be installed by the end of the week.

Also on the list is continuing to clean up the wiring. However, due to the extensive re-wire that takes place when installing the BDL's, I'm going to wait and do that at the same time so I'm not doing it twice. That will save about 10 hours here and there!

Mark Lestico went on vacation this week too to Denver and surprised me with...FINALLY...the Atlas curved turnouts. I've been waiting for these for about 2 years! I will need to tear out the old Peco turnouts and install the Atlas turnouts and then add about 6 new ones for a total of close to 20 turnouts. Ok...I need to plan another vacation! MIKE...H-E-L-P!