Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

It Ain’t Fun, But It Has To Be Done

Wiring of course. I don’t know too many people who enjoy it. I don’t mind too much as I like the results you get, being able to run the trains or operate turnouts, etc. But it is tough to get under the layout and reach areas for soldering, work on wires in tight spaces, etc. Luckily it is something that you do and get out of the way, and if done well, you do not need to revisit it too often!

A lot of time recently has been spent getting the wiring done on the third phase section. All feeders have been put in on the staging tracks and the Maine Central main line. Next up was the installation of Tortoise switch machines for all remote turnouts, in staging and also on the main where it is not close to the front of the layout. In all, I installed 15 Tortoise machines and wired them into Digitrax DS44 stationary decoders in the last couple of weeks. My knees are telling me “Enough!” with crawling around, getting up and down and sitting in awkward positions to get the Tortoise alignments correct. I still have at least 4 more Tortoise’s to install, although these are in places where the turnouts are not yet installed (the B&M line leading into Whitefield and the MEC switching at East St. Johnsbury for Maple Grove Farms and Ciment Quebec. So, I’ll work on getting the trackwork done in these locations and give my knees a break for a while. One good thing is that these installations are not too hard to reach from the front of the layout, so they will be easier to do than say the staging yard machines. Here is a look at the work done at the Rigby (Portland) end of hidden staging, showing the Tortoise machines, various feeders and bus wires, plus the DS44 decoder.

Another wiring task I took on prior to the Tortoise blitz was installing a remote Short Circuit panel. This feeds off of the PSX circuit breakers that split the layout into separate power districts. As I could not determine a good local location for each short circuit indicator LED ( I do not have local control panels), I decided to centralize them and install them above the backdrop in the central peninsula. This makes them visible from about 80% of the layout. I might still run another local LED over to the paper mill sections as they are visually behind this indicator board. But this is better than walking over to the DCC shelf to look for the warning LED on the circuit board. I built the panel out of styrene, making a small box. I ran the wires as a bus from the circuit boards and used regular LEDS from Radio Shack in plastic mounts. I printed the background on my computer using a drawing program and setting the background to black with white text. Here is a look at the panel:

I plan to build some more panels like this to show turnout positions as well as track occupancy lights for some of the hidden tracks on the layout. I picked up a few IR detectors from Boulder Creek Engineering to install on the Central Vermont hidden staging tracks. When that is in place, I’ll post an entry on that letting you know how it turned out.

1 comment:

Chief Operating Officer said...

I hear you on the wiring. That is my most hated task. I need to find someone who likes doing it locally so I can trade some of my skills for that kind of work.