Now that all of the new track at Carson and Curlew had been tested by VanRail and other operating sessions, it was time to paint it before we start on the scenery.
I have been using a spray paint made by Rust-Oleum called Specialty Camouflage – Earth Brown. It is very flat and covers well, and seems to stick to the plastic ties.
I clean the tops of the rails after it dries with a special tool I made from a simple piece of aluminum with one end sharpened with a file. The aluminum is softer than the rail, so it does not scratch it, but the paint peels right off with very little effort. The tool needs to be sharpened a few times, as the rail wears a groove in it. I found that if I tried to wipe the paint off while it was still wet, I would manage to hit the ties as well, messing up the nice finish. Also, by carefully using the tool, the tops of non-running rails such as guard rails can be left brown.
I have not bothered to try to paint the rails a different colour, as I just don’t have the patience for that. I find that the dark brown colour of the paint seems to make the track just recede from view, and once it is ballasted, it looks fine to me.
The only problem with this painting method is the fumes. You can’t really take the layout outside to paint it, so the room quickly fills with noxious fumes. I close the door to my workbench area which closes off both it and the layout room from the rest of the house, and I use a respirator when spraying. Afterwards, I run my paint booth exhaust in my workbench area for about 24 hours to clear the air. One window elsewhere in the house is left open a bit to let in fresh air, and it seems to travel through the heating ducts to the train room to replace the air that is being exhausted. This works well and we don’t smell the paint elsewhere in the house.
While the spray paint works well, I really need to find a suitable acrylic alternative and learn to spray it before I need to paint future track additions.
Following the “Fateful Friday” test operating session debacle, I did some deep thinking about how the layout should be operated now that Carson and Curlew had been added. I wrote a number of posts about the problems and what we should try instead:
- Operating Grand Forks as a Classification Yard is a Mistake
- Too Much Yard Switching Busy Work
- Who Should Switch Grand Forks Industries?
- Still Too Much Congestion
After all of that, I designed a simplified train operating scheme without a dedicated switcher at Grand Forks. During the week, I ran numerous simulations to fine tune it until it seemed very workable.
The following Saturday, July 27, 2019, and still smarting from the previous session, my brave crew agreed to try out the new operating scheme. This meant that each train was just a way freight that switched its portion of the layout’s industries, with very little interchange of cars between the trains. I tried hard to keep the trains in different areas of the layout so that we would not have too many people in one place at the same time, and that seemed to work out pretty well.
Afterwards, everyone agreed that it was much more relaxed and enjoyable, even though there was still lots of work to be done switching all of the industries. What a difference from one week earlier where we had to abandon the session because it was just impossible to continue. Same guys, same layout, same number of trains, just a different approach to what the trains did. Thank you for not giving up after the previous week!
Thanks once again to John for capturing the day in photos and for his captions.Continue reading “First operations under a new scheme”
Following the construction and commissioning of the new towns of Carson and Curlew with their additional industries, a new operating scheme was developed to include service to these new towns. It was a simple extension of the one used to date, whereby trains from all four compass points would exchange cars in Grand Forks as well as service their assigned industries. The local industries at Grand Forks were switched also as part of the classification switcher duties at an appropriate point in time. This proved quite successful, and it was used during VanRail 2017 for two sessions.
With the significant increase in industries wanting cars, the classification role at Grand Forks was expected to become a full time position, leaving the local industries to be switched by a different job.
The Saturday gang bravely agreed to try out these ideas on one Friday evening that will be well remembered for all the wrong reasons. Let’s just say that my ideas didn’t quite work out as planned. If you are interested in the gory details of my analysis, it continues below the following pictures that were taken before everything went wrong.Continue reading “That Fateful Friday – or the first attempt at switching Grand Forks after the addition of Carson and Curlew”
When the main line was build past the town of Carson, only a switch from the main track was installed. Carson is located southwest of Grand Forks and is right on the US border. In reality it had no rail served industries, but we are not going to let a little historical fact like that stop us! Gordie came over one evening and we brainstormed and doodled with the idea of getting as much switching activity as possible in a very small space. We also had to include the border, with some form of customs house. He had a brilliant suggestion that with a spur for the customs house, cars could be randomly selected for inspection moving in either direction, so this became another of those “universal industries” that can accept any type of car.
I had realized that to have enough tracks to be worthwhile, the land first had to be extended just a little, so out came the plywood and clamps…
Then Gordie went to work and played around with bits of track until he had a very workable arrangement. I captured it for posterity (and so I could remember it!) using a panorama feature on my iPhone.