Modelling what might have been in southeast BC and northwest Wasington

Measure three times, cut twice

When “Measure Twice” is Not Enough

Fascia on the layout. It is a very important aspect that helps make a layout look finished, and it has to be good otherwise everyone notices. As one of the last construction steps before VanRail in September, the fascia around the corner with the Morning Star Mine was installed on Saturday with the help of my trusty Saturday gang. Everything was installed just fine, and it was left for me to drill out the three large holes for the switch control pushrods and guide cups. Due to the very tight space along that section of the layout with the track near the edge, there is no room for normal length pushrods. They are so short that there is no room for error and things have to line up well or it won’t work. So, I did a lot of careful measuring up, down, left, right, etc., etc., and made copious notes so that I could position the holes very accurately on the fascia, which is what I did. Or so I thought… I forgot to include the amount that the fascia sticks up above the plywood roadbed, so when I positioned the holes down from the top edge, they were in fact too high.

Oops, the push rods should line up with the centre of the holes.

Then, after remounting the fascia, and noticing my mistake and immediately knowing why, Suzy came along to inspect and tried to push the plastic control cups in and found that they hit the plywood. No problem, as the holes are too high, so that is to be expected, right? Well, it turns out that even if I had positioned them where I had so very carefully measured, it still would not have been right, as I had neglected to allow room between the cups and the switch mechanism attached to the bottom of the plywood. The track is so close to the fascia at that point that the cups have to be even lower than normal to clear the mechanisms.

Notice that the cups are hitting the switch mechanisms on the bottom of the plywood.

The solution was to install offset push rods that lower the rod so that the white cup can be below the switch mechanism and all will be well.

Now the cup can be lower and miss the switch mechanism.

So, even if I had “measured twice” and “cut once”, it still would have been wrong. I needed to measure “three times” and “cut once”. This is exactly what I did on the newly purchased second piece of fascia hardboard the next day. Tom was a huge help in coming over mid-week to help get it installed, and this time everything lined up correctly. We also decided that since we had a new piece of hardboard to play with that we would cut some significant undulations in the edge to add more scenic interest. So, in the end, it all worked out even better than had I done it “right” in the first place. Thanks Tom!

Morning Star Mine development 3 – The mountain

More work on the mountain beside the Morning Star Mine. The track was first enclosed inside a cardboard tunnel, with side access, to keep dust and scenery materials off of the track. Then a web is made of cardboard strips, followed by a layer of brown paper to even out the “ribbed” effect from the strips.

Gordie and Tom installing cardboard strips for the mountain.
Looking good.
Tom completing the brown paper overlay.

Second go at the new ops scheme

Hoping that the new operating scheme’s success last week was not a fluke, we decided to do it all over again on August 3rd, just to be sure, with VanRail only one month away.

If I may say so, I think it was one of the best operating sessions we have ever had on the layout. Lots of cars were in motion, even with 10 extra cars on the layout than before, but with no real tie-ups or confusion. The Grand Forks yard did what it was supposed to do, namely be a place to organize cars when a train is in town, and not be a big storage bucket all of the time. There was even space for two trains to meet and pass, because the siding was not clogged with cars.

Grand Forks yard working as expected and not clogged.
John switching Grand Forks – notice that the yard is not full.
Continue reading “Second go at the new ops scheme”

Continuing on with the elves

The next Saturday after I returned home we continued on from where the elves had left off during my absence. Work began as Gordie contemplated various connection schemes between the two sections which were almost on top of each other. He was inspired with a concept of two temporary switching leads one for Curlew and the other for Darestof. (What would we do without him?) Thanks again to John for the photos and comments.

Gordie contemplating

Most of the day was spent locating, adjusting heights, unwarping new plywood and securing the temporary Darestof section so it could be connected in a manner that would ensure smooth operation of both sections.

Gordie gluing

While leveling and arranging was ongoing, Greg and Brian were busy locating and installing track feeders in the permanent Curlew section.

Greg and Brian contemplating track feeders

And Tom was working on the cardboard web supports for the mountain behind the Morning Star mine. Tom is also responsible for the very nice retaining wall at the bottom of the hill beside the track. That is the narrowest spot, due to the proximity of the lower main line, and he offered to build a wall for the spot. Thank you!

Tom “webbing”

Off to one side Ken was quietly busy building the land of the “Ents”. (Tree-hosts, look it up online.) Although the scenery in this area does not represent a West Coast rain forest, nevertheless many, many trees are required to achieve scenery appropriate to the area around Grand Forks, British Columbia and looking down towards Spokane in Washington State.

Ken, the Tree Maker

For once, we had everyone present for the work session, but unfortunately somehow Brian got missed in the final shots of the gang. Everyone looks a bit tired from a good days efforts on the layout. Many thanks to you all!

Weary helpers
And the rest (except Brian, sorry)

Morning Star Mine development 1

One corner of the layout just begged for a mine to fill an otherwise empty space, so some ideas where tossed around. It quickly became clear than a simple spur off of the mainline simply would not do, as it would be rather boring to switch. Stop, pickup a couple of cars, drop off a couple of cars, and carry on. Ho, hum.

An alternative presented itself in the idea of a short branch line heading back north from Curlew to the mine. This would represent a distance great enough to require a dedicated train, complete with caboose, to switch the mine. Even though the distance is not great, and the number of cars low, all of the elements of a branch line train would be there, to add operational interest.

Once again, the CAD program helped to plan what could actually be done in the small space, without sacrificing too much on curves and grades. It quickly became apparent that a small run around track plus the mine spur itself could be squeezed in, resulting in about three cars to and from the mine.

Morning Star Mine arrangement.
Continue reading “Morning Star Mine development 1”