Goods Shed III

Spent a few hours making some ad hoc drain pipes, because the out-of-the-box pipes fit poorly and looked even worse.

These were made with Ratio’s “Gutters and Drainpipes” kit, which really only contain straight drain pipes. I used a hobby knife to cut beveled lengths, then used Testors plastic cement to tack them together before reinforcing each joint with superglue. Then, I superglued them into place.

I must have been distracted toward the session’s end, because I accidentally glued the drainpipe meant for the rear awning onto the front of the structure. It took me a few seconds before realizing my mistake, and in the process I damaged the structure a little by ripping up the pipe and leaving some superglue behind. It isn’t very noticeable due to the heavy weathering, but I might wind up putting an advert sign over the affected area (luckily, I considered doing that anyhow… and almost exactly where the damage is).

Here’s the damaged section:

You probably can’t even tell anything is amiss, which is great, but I’m just a tad bit disappointed in the fact that I messed up on the very last piece to be added! Oh, well…

After the glue had set, I used acrylic black to touch up some of the pipes and weathered them with acrylic “Steel Gray.”

Goods Shed II

Some progress on the goods shed interior and roof. The roof has a couple of skylights, hence my detailing of the interior.

Normal scrutiny:

Extreme scrutiny or harsh lighting (photos taken with flash):

The doors in the back of the interior are actually a photo of the doors on the back of the model, which I printed on cardstock. Here’s the backside of the model:

I still need to add drainpipes, then spray some Dullcote over the whole thing, but I’m happy with how it’s turning out so far.

I didn’t do a great job lining up the roof sections; superglue only offers about 0.5 seconds before it sets. To cover a gap, I cut a thin strip of card and glued it across the apex of the each roof section, then painted it to match. This is standard procedure for laser-cut kits anyhow, so it looks pretty good (except I glued the card crookedly across the smaller roof!)

Edit: I started on the gutters and drainpipes, which seemed pretty straightforward. I painted them with black acrylic, then glued the gutters to the eaves. This is finicky work, requiring tweezers, a small file, and a sharp hobby knife. One of the gutters was very stubborn; due to the poorly aligned roof there was virtually no overhang, so I had to cut down the width of the gutter and glue it to the wall instead.

This same roofing issue meant that the drainpipe wouldn’t fit, either, as it stretched from the eaves on the larger roof to the down-spout beneath the botched gutter.

I spent two hours building two failed drainpipes before finally succeeding:

Good thing I have a box of spare Ratio gutters and drainpipes!

Carriage Shed I

I started kit-bashing the Ratio carriage shed, transforming it from a double- to a single-track width, and doubling the length. The kit was made to lengthen easily, by simply putting two short kits back-to-back, but I wanted to remove the odd legs and the gap that would have been between them. Nothing a razor-saw and some superglue can’t fix. I sanded the tops of the arches into shape; just eyeballed it, really.

And together, painted, but roofless:

I need to add some interior bracing near the middle, just to strengthen it a bit, before adding the roof. The roof will require some additional kit-bashing to fit the thinner (and thus steeper) roof… maybe sometime this week.

Goods Shed I

Got rid of the unsightly hole in the goods shed floor (why did Peco put it there?) and painted it:

Added walls, windows, etc. and painted all with spray paint, then thinner, then more spray paint, and more thinner. Then I hit it all with washes of black acrylic, and followed up with dry-brushed black and white acrylics:

As an afterthought, I painted the interior walls with black acrylic. When the roof is on, it gives a nice effect of a dark space. I received some miniature crate-stacks and barrel-stacks, and intend to paint a couple and put them inside so that they are barely visible when peeking through the doors.

New Platform V

Just made a quick project of repainting the white line along the platform’s edge:

And you can’t really tell in this photoor any photo, reallybut I also sprayed Testors Dullcoat over all the trackwork, including the turntable. This removes the satin sheen of the spray-paint. Took about five minutes this morning, then I spent about an hour tonight with a Bright Boy rail cleaner to remove the Dullcoat from the railheads.

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed when running my engine that the SMAIL motors aren’t powering the frogs reliably. Frustratingly, I keep getting dead frogs that will only work again after power-cycling the entire layout a few times.

I will need to think about my next steps toward fixing this issue. I’ve read that the SPDT switches in Tortoise/SMAIL machines are spotty, leading some modelers to use a separate frog juicing system like the one offered by Tam Valley. Maybe I will do the same.

Weathering and Some Planning

Using a black acrylic wash, I weathered the well of the turntable and the edging stones on the station platform:

I might repaint the white edge along the platform, but I’m undecided at this point. The stones themselves are lighter now, so the edge might be overkill. Either way, I will still be hitting everything with some weathering chalks eventually; these are just “sub-weathering” washes to provide a bit of grime and depth.

I also did some thinking about how to simulate traffic coming into LSR’s station. Ideally, engines will be able to come into the station facing forward, then leave again after turning around on the turntable. They would then be able to return again facing forward. To accomplish this without removing engines and rolling stock from the track (which requires the sometimes frustrating task of re-railing), I considered using removable cassettes which I would manually have to flip around. However, I feel that a second module with a reversing loop would be simpler and more immersive. it would consist of a bit of scenic track which enters a tunnel. Once through the tunnel, a semi-hidden loop turns the train around and sends it back toward the station.

Such a module would look something like this:

LSR Extension

This version would allow me to swap between two trains. A simpler version would omit the two turnouts on the loop. I’m really leaning toward the latter, because it would be cheaper and easier to run. In fact, if I did it right, the entire loop would be automated, consisting of a single wye turnout.

I should briefly note that a reverse loop isn’t simple, electronically speaking. The loop itself would need to be completely isolated from the turnout, and there would need to be an automatic reverse module to switch the polarity of the tracks before the train hit the end of the loop. For this, I’m leaning toward the PSX-AR, which can automatically switch the turnout when the train approaches it from the frog-end. This mean’s I wouldn’t have to manually control the hidden turnout, and I could focus on preparing the switches at the station for the incoming train.

If I wanted to get really fancy, I could add a second reversing module with a sensor near the station, and program a delay. That way, a train could pass back and forth on the layout (without turning the engine around at the station), and I wouldn’t even have to touch the throttle. This would be a neat feature for when it comes time to bring Little Snoring to the annual Northwestern Vermont Model Railroad Association expo. This past year, my favorite layout was a small point-to-point logging railroad which ran back and forth automatically.

More on this later. I want to establish my current module a bit more before thinking too much about expanding. It is exciting to consider these long-term goals, though, especially when I’m working on some of the more tedious aspects of modeling.

Painted Track

I finished painting all track today, and started painting the turntable. The well of the turntable, which was a sandstone or khaki color, is now gray (I simply used Rust-Oleum Flat Gray Primer).

Once the primer dried, I used a Testors Rail Brown enamel paint marker around the turntable rail:

I also used the same paint marker on the rails, spikes, and plates of my track to differentiate the color from the rail ties. This took several applications and almost four hours! I am pleased with the result, though!

Reprogramming the Turntable

Tonight I began painting all of my track using Rust-Oleum Satin Espresso spray paint. I sprayed about a foot of track at a time, masking points as needed and wiping down the railheads with an old tee shirt to remove the paint while it was still wet.

However, I posted a question on Reddit earlier today asking about where I should place a coaling stage (I haven’t been able to find a picture of Hemyock’s coaling stage, although I’m sure it had one), and one of the responses suggested that I add another “slot” from my turntable, citing realism and wasted space.

It’s something I’ve been considering for a long time, but I was kind of hoping the consideration would just go away because actually adding another slot would mean reprogramming the Arduino that controls the turntable.

Well, it wasn’t too difficult. I simply reloaded the old sketch and added another DCC address to create a ~15-degree turn (18 steps of the motor) clockwise or counterclockwise. Then I loaded this into the Arduino, and bashed my head against the wall for a couple of hours wondering why it wouldn’t work. As it turns out, the NmraDcc library that I was trying to load was an updated version, which “causes the sketch to silently stop working” if certain call-back functions are used. So I loaded an older version of the library, and it worked immediately.

Here’s the new sketch:

#include <NmraDcc.h>
#include <Wire.h>
#include <Adafruit_MotorShield.h>

#define DCC_ADDRESS 7 //Change accessory address here.
NmraDcc Dcc ; //Declare DCC Shield.
Adafruit_MotorShield AFMS = Adafruit_MotorShield(); //Declare Motor Shield.
bool firstloop = true;
//Comment: getStepper(steps, stepper#)
//Stepper# is which port the motor is connected to. If using M1 and M2, indicate port 1. If using M3 and M4 indicate port 2.
//NEMA 14 Stepper Motor has a 0.9 degree/step. 360/0.9 = 400.
Adafruit_StepperMotor *myMotor = AFMS.getStepper(400, 2);

//This function is called whenever a normal DCC Turnout Packet is received.
void notifyDccAccTurnoutOutput( uint16_t Addr, uint8_t Direction, uint8_t OutputPower )
{
Serial.print(“DCC Turnout Packet Received\n”);
if ((Addr == DCC_ADDRESS) && OutputPower){
Serial.print(“Move 180 degrees\n”);
myMotor->step(200, Direction, MICROSTEP); //Move 180 degrees in the specified direction.
} else if ( (Addr == (DCC_ADDRESS + 1)) && OutputPower){
Serial.print(“Move 15 degrees\n”);
myMotor->step(18, Direction, MICROSTEP); //Move ~15 degrees in the specified direction.
} else if ( (Addr == (DCC_ADDRESS + 2)) && OutputPower){
Serial.print(“Nudge 1 step\n”);
myMotor->step(1, Direction, MICROSTEP); //Move 1 step in the specified direction.
}
delay(200); //Wait 200 ms for debounce.
}

//setup(): This is executed first and only one time.
void setup()
{

Serial.begin(115200);
while(!Serial); //Wait for the USB device to enumerate.
Serial.print(“Start Setup\n”);
AFMS.begin(); //Create with the default frequency 1.6KHz.
myMotor->setSpeed(0.025); //Set speed for 1/2 rotation per minute.
Dcc.pin(0, 2, 1); //Setup external interrupt, the pin it’s associated with that we’re using, and enable the pull-up.
Dcc.init( MAN_ID_DIY, 10, CV29_ACCESSORY_DECODER, 0 );//Call the main DCC init function to enable the DCC receiver.

Serial.print(“Setup Over\n”);
}

Just when I thought I was completely done laying new track, here’s the new length of track with the glue still drying (and the foundation of the engine shed to ensure proper clearance):

I still need to add feeders to power this length of track, and you can see in the second photo where I added a facing bit of track on the far side of the turntable, which has no other purpose except to hold a buffer stop so engines won’t fall off. That will not be powered, for obvious reasons.

Laying Track IV

Bit of a slouch’s idea of progress today, but I made a couple of slight alterations to the track which I’ve been planning to deal with for a little while. Namely, I straightened the section of track behind the station platform (I ended up simply replacing the Flex Track, as I destroyed a few ties when pulling up the old length). Then I trimmed the ends of all the sidings on the layout with a pair of Xuron rail nippers, and now these are flush and “clean-looking.”

I’m quite certain that this will be the very last track-laying project that I will need to do on this module. My next track-related project will be painting the ties and rails so they look grimy and rusty, and then I will move on to painting the well of the turntable!

I also updated my plan. I’m still trying to decide where to place the “service” items such as the water tower and coaling stage, but this covers most of the layout:

Little Snoring Station