June 12, 2011

A Layout Visit and Layout Tune Up



I had the chance to operate on Paul Dolkos' new HO Scale Baltimore Harbor District layout this weeekend.  It is an urban switching layout based on Baltimore, MD, but not a literal interpretation. It's more  a prototype freelance design in that the layout features railroads, scenes and structures from Baltimore but doesn't attempt to replicate any exact scene. The scenes that Paul has completed are completed to his usual high standard and are very well done.

Paul's layout was documented in MRP 2010 as the cover story.

After the op session at Pauls' layout, Gerry Fitzgerald visited my  layout where we spent about 3 hours testing and tuning track and engines.

I was able to regauge the southern most turnout at Stoneman's switch and it now operates well.

After numerous test runs over the northern most turnout at Brook, we concluded that there was a slight bump in the turnout. I lossened some of the spikes and added a 0.020 inch styrene shim. That help smooth operations. I also noted that one of the guards rails was a bit tight. I fixed that by filing the restrictive section.
The styrene shim will be invisible once the rail is painted.


We also spent a good amount of time trying to debug the intermittent short that the Whiton has been experiencing. A bright spark showed that the short was happening at the front truck where the pilot truck wheel was striking the cow catcher. After several disassembles, re-soldering parts and adjustments the engine ran without a problem. One of the problems seemed to be that joints where the main frame was soldered to the the cylinder saddle were broken. It took two irons, my 35W iron and my soldering station, to get enough heat to re-solder those parts. That got the cow catcher pilot back in correct alignment. I'm not sure how they broke in the first place, but they are fixed now.

We also discovered that the radio throttles were having trouble getting a clean signal when the hand held transmitter as at the far end of the room. i.e. near the Falmouth turntable. I may need to move the radio base unit around.  Through out the test we were unable to get good performance out of my second radio throttle. There may be something wrong with it. More debugging is needed.

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