A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

October 10, 2015

PoLA is Operational

I have been alternating work on the Aquia Line, PoLA and other projects. The past few days I focused on PoLA. I was able to finish all the track laying and wiring in spite of having a nasty cold.

I glued the track to the foam surface using yellow carpenter glue. I like how easy it is to use and the track can be popped off if you need to correct a mistake.

I used a "high tech" jig to get the track spacing. i.e. a block of wood with slots filed in the appropriate spacing. I used 2.125 inches track spacing for most sidings, but the lead and the run- around siding are 2.5-inches apart  because there will be a fence between them in a few places.

I added four tracks in the staging yard. For this area I used Atlas code 83 track and turnouts. Since this is staging I made super simple switch stands, just a piece of 0.010 inch brass with two 0.052 inch holes drilled 0.110 inches apart. A brass 0.052 inch rod bent into an L shape holds the points in place.  

Looking east, the glue bottle on on the future site of the
Borax silos.
In the visible part of the layout I used MicroEngineering code 83 turnouts. They have nice spring loaded points. But I discovered that one can damage the mechanism if you put too much pressure when trying to slide on the rail joiners. After spending an hour repairing one of the turnouts, I was much more careful when sliding on the rail joiners.

With all the track down I did some testing and tuning of the track. I did a simple op session switching cars. It was fun. The long run around makes things take longer. Since the staging tracks are short, trains have to double out of staging.

Everything worked pretty well. The main trouble area is the tight curve that connects the staging tracks to the main layout. It passes under the stair landing with barely enough clearance. The curve has  a radius about 19.25 inches. Most equipment makes it through OK, but the UTI brass DODX 40000 series flat car cannot handle a radius that tight, its  6-axle trucks can not rotate enough.

I also noted that when backing 89-foot flat cars the inner corners touch on the curve. I'll have to add a rule to prohibit backing 89-t flat cars through that curve.  Also, one of my 89-ft flat cars has a high coupler that doesn't want to stay coupled. I need to sort that out. Otherwise the rest of the cars are running well.

The difficult experience with running tracks under the landing convinces me that in future layouts I will not do it again. As I was working on PoLA, I was think ahead to expanding the Aquia Line to this area. I am really looking forward to getting started on the Aquia Line Harbor and eventual expansion.

I have two Pacific Harbor Line engines. a SD40 and  GENSET. Both are DC. I also have two DCC equipped engines, a GP-60M and GP-60B s thanks to Matt Gaudanski at Fox Valley Models. They are gorgeous models. I plan to add a connection to the Aquia Line's DCC system, so PoLA can run DCC. Eventually I plan to convert the PHL engines to DCC sound.

This week I also took delivery of some shorter rails for my Rhino slider. These work much better in the confined space of the Aquia Line. The slider system is rock solid and smooth as silk. I am looking forward to shooting more video with it.


  1. Wait a minute. When did the PHL become HO? I thought it was an N scale layout up until this post.

    1. Peter, It was always intended to be HO for various reasons. Don't worry, there will be other N scale stuff in the book.