October 15, 2012

A Two Mile Tune Up

Up to now I had been focused on building the layout and doing scenery. I have built about two scale miles of track. I haven't spent much time trying to operate. So I had a lot of deferred maintenance. It was time to fix that.

Since the ACWRRHS Open House, I have spent some time converting all my couplers to my photoetched couplers with the open back design. I removed all of my laser cut and SMR couplers and installed my photoetched ones. I also checked and adjusted the coupler height on all my cars so they are the same. While I was tuning things up, I replaced a few wheel sets that had high friction journals. I also repaired some broken brake chains so the brakes work on cars so equipped. Then I cleaned the wheels.

I also developed a revised link, which I call the Easy-Link. I made these on my laser using resin impregnated paper, which is already a rust color, so no painting required. They are slightly narrower than the ones I have been using, so they bind less in the coupler holes. But the key difference is they have a transverse bar across the middle. This prevents them from sliding completely into the coupler pocket when trying to couple up, but does not prevent the coupler faces from pushing on each other when backing. They work great. And a laser cut fret has about a 100, so losing them is no big deal.

Next I turned to my locos. I thoroughly cleaned the wheels and pickups on McCallum, which has a Tsumani sound system with track power, and Whiton, which has a Stanton S-Cab battery system. I also ensured that the wires for the decoders and batteries did not interfere with the operation of the locos especially in the tender where excess wire was causing some binding at the drive universal joints.

Finally I cleaned the track, checked and adjusted the gauge in some trouble spots. Because some of my curves are very, very tight, I have used guard rails to help prevent derails. These are not unprototypical, they really help and are visually unobtrusive. I also have number 5 turnouts that create ess curves in crossovers. But so far they have not been a problem.

Since doing this, my layout is operating at about 99 percent reliability. The battery unit is awesome. It just chugs along. But even McCallum and Haupt are running great with only an occasional stall (maybe once per back and forth run). I am able to run 7 and 8 cars trains back and forth over the layout. So overall I am very pleased and psyched to keep pushing on.

Next weekend we start building the bench work for the ACWRRHS road show. More on that later.

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