A look at my model railways over the years.
South Lincs Terminal Railroad HO
Somewhere in Midwest USA is a city with a railroad and rail yard circa.1980, just like my layout, until I find that city nobody can say it is not the way it is !
So the rail yard is on the edge of downtown, it is owned by the South Lincs. Terminal Railroad, but Union Pacific and Santa Fe ( now BNSF ) have trackage rights into the city on the two lines from west and east.
South Lincs. Terminal usually switch the yard and the local industries in and around the city, UP and BNSF bring in, and take out loaded and empty freight cars two or three times a day.
Within the yard is a small intermodal area, flour mill, concrete plant, small fuel oil facility, furniture manufacturing site, and warehouses. There are also logging and sawmill operations' in the nearby mountains which will provide a regular flow of lumber traffic. This all generates a varied and regular stream of traffic. There is also a regular BNSF train of coal hoppers that pass through the town to the city power generating plant on the outskirts of town. A daily Amtrak Budd unit is also routed along the edge of the yard to the passenger station on the other side of the city.
Locomotives owned by SLTR are an Alco S2, EMD. GP30, GP38 and a pair of F7A's, also a GE. B23-7 on loan from sister railroad, Providence and Worcester. The units are serviced at a small facility formerly owned by UP.
Head end power on UP and BNSF varies on a day to day basis with EMD. and GE units. A mixture of Ahearn, Kato, Atlas and some Broadway with DC sound.
Construction of the baseboard is with 1/2 inch chipboard secured to the wall with batons and brackets. As the layout is constructed inside the house with much less temperature and humidity variations that would occur in an outside shed or garage, I have no problem with baseboard distortion. The layout is a permanent fixture so no need for legs and joints of baseboard, this allows for lots of storage space under the layout. Track height from floor level is 48inches, this I find a good height to view train operations, and makes work on the underside of the baseboard, such as wiring a little easier.Control is with simple DC cab control, with two hand held controllers which allow two operators if required. All block power switching is on a panel mounted on the front of the layout using DPDT micro switches. Switches ( points ) are operated with manual brass rod and tube mechanism from the edge of baseboard. Operating colour light signals using LED's, are switched using a separate panel with track plan and micro switches. Ideally this should all have been incorporated in the main panel, but as it was an afterthought there was just not enough room to fit it all on it.
For night operations floodlights are installed at appropriate points in the yard, on signal boxes and industrial structures, and some internal illumination of buildings. The lights are a mixture of LED's and filament bulbs, this gives a nice mixture of bright white and soft yellow illumination.
When it came to installation of the lights my first, and obvious thoughts where toward threading wires under the baseboard then up to the lamps from below. The thought of all that work under the baseboard and threading wires though the underside of fixed and completed structures gave me sleepless nights.
The obvious answer was there all the time, do as is done in the prototype, power lines on poles around the site.
Poles made from bamboo kebab skewers from a supermarket, inexpensive, easy to work with and strong yet flexible when you invariably knock them whilst re-railing stock. I used insulated copper wire, as used for wiring components on PCB's. flexible, strong, easy to solder and thin, then painted grey after all installed and working.
The transformers and power distribution and control panels are mounted on a boards set on draw slides, as used in kitchen units, this allows them to be pushed under the base when not in use and withdrawn for operating and easy access for maintenance.
A master switch for the layout and accessories is connected to an LED mounted on the landing outside the room too show if I have left the power on, a friend once left his layout 'live' and due to a fault, caused a very damaging fire.
Above, power and cab control panel.
Below, signal control panel.
Future plans are on hold as I have been constructing a 'OO' British (Billingborough) exhibition layout, but long term there is an option to construct a peninsular into the centre of the room with a branch to a lumber mill. In the meantime it's business as usual on the South Lincs Terminal Railroad.
Feature on South Lincs Terminal Railroad in Jan. 2014 Continental Modeller.