April 4, 2018

Infrastructure Improvements Wrap Up

I am just about finished with infrastructure improvements for the basement and the layouts. I finished repainting all the common areas that I planned to repaint. I did not target the areas with backdrops, fascia, or valances, though I did touch up a few places on the fascia. We are supposed to get new carpet for the stairwell in a week. That will be the last of the planned improvements. Hopefully it will give the overall layout room a neat and clean appearance. I also took the opportunity to reshuffle the wall hangings and swap out some of the old pieces with new.

New lights eliminated back lighting at Falmouth

Next I installed new LED light strips to replace several of the problematic fluorescents lights. Thanks to a tip from Frank Hodina I ordered an 8 pack of these LED lights from Amazon (click here). Combined with some 18-inch long LED light strips I got from Home Depot I was able to greatly improve the lighting in my layout room and shop. These lights are supposed to last 50,000 hours. I hope that is true since I had bad luck with the flourescents. Nearly every one of the fluorescent lights I had in the layout room have failed over the 8-12 years they have been installed. Usually it was a bad bulb, but I also have several ballasts go out too. They were a real pain to replace.

The LEDs also use less power, create less heat, do not emit much UV, produce a consistent color light, and are linkable making wiring much simpler.  These fixtures are also very light weight. I used hot glue to install them. I was able to put them in locations that help avoid the back lighting that my existing light system created.

Like many of us, I have way too many books and magazines.  I wanted to add more book shelves to the layout.  To do it, I added a display shelf under the Borax peninsula on PoLA.  I used the same Ivar shelf system I used elsewhere in the layout. I put various models on display in this area since it is visible from and back. The shelves freed up from no longer displaying models are now holding books.

I think Ikea is discontinuing these shelves, so I was unable to order extra shelf pins. But my local hardware store had some double threaded studs that worked perfectly to secure the shelves.

During the last op session Engine Haupt was acting up again. I think the decoder and perhaps the current keeper on it are bad. So I ordered a new Tsunmai 2002 steam decoder and current keeper. George Bogatiuk at Soundtrax suggested this approach as the new decoders are more efficient. Hopefully this is the answer, as Haupt is a good runner, heavy puller, and sounds great,... when it runs.  Yes, I hate DCC.

We had a busy Easter weekend. My brother and new fiancé visited. After a triple party to celebrate their engagement, my mom's 94th birthday, and our retirement from government service, my brother did an informal op session on PoLA.
A few days later, my friend, Bayo Adedeji, stopped by with his 10-year old twins, Alexander and Ariana to run some trains. They are on spring break. This is the second time they operated the layout.  Hopefully, they will come back again.

Last but not least, Seth Neumann and Steve Williams of Model Railroad Control Systems sent me this test video showing progress on the Telegraph system.  They are nearly ready to send the Arduino systems to me for installation on the layout. I'll post more about that as it gets installed.

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