DC Wiring Part 2 – Powering the track continued

Well I finally finished the wiring to power all the track. The two separate sections (the branch line and the traction freight line) are controlled from their own SPST switches. The crossovers required a little thought and in the end I came up with a couple of schemes to wire them up. I created a third bus not connected to either of the other two sections. The crossovers will always be on and are directly connected to the throttle. In order to control the frog poles I connected them to a DPDT switch and simply flip the switch to power the correct frogs for either direction.

This diagram demonstrates the general idea of how the crossovers are powered. I used just one DPDT switch to power all three crossovers.

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DC Wiring Part 2 – Powering the track

Having finished isolating track the task was now to start powering the trackwork. There are going to be three independent DC systems:

  1. Powering the sections.
  2. Powering the turnouts.
  3. Powering any lights and accessories around the layout.

Before starting wiring I decided to clean up some of the track. I polished down many of the solder joints but importantly I filled in the gaps in the PCB ties and the gaps in the rails in the crossovers.

I used Woodland Scenics Foam Putty. It was the easiest to control of the three that I tried. I will be using it to build the ballast profile around and between the track so it didn’t matter if some got between the ties. Once hardened I polished the top of the ties and used my Dremel to remove any foam that got in between the rails.

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DC Wiring Part 1 – Lay track and isolate sections – Crossovers

Back to the project afer a short break. I continued to lay missing sections which I then isolated followed by the turnouts and finally the crossovers.

The nice thing about working on small modules is the ability to turn them around and work on them from the back. It allows me to get in very close. This will be particularly important when detailing the track bed. Here I have turned the module so that I could work on the back side.

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DC Wiring Part 1 – Lay track and isolate sections

Now that the control panel has been designed and fitted I have begun the wiring. The steps are basically:

  1. Lay missing sections of track.
  2. Isolate rails .
  3. Connect sections to the control panel.
  4. Wire up the crossovers and connect them to the control panel.
  5. Add the turnout motors and connect them to the control panel.
  6. Add three docks to the exit points for the removable cassettes.
I had previously left several sections to be laid with rail while I focused on the turnouts and the crossovers. I have begun to lay those sections. It sometimes has meant removing rail and adding new ties but the goal is to lay the rail in complete and isolated sections wherever possible. The various tracks that will comprise a single wiring section will be powered by a single bus connected to an on/off (SPST) switch.

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Control Panel

My brackets arrived from Shapeways and I waited no time to fit them. They are made of very tough plastic that called strong white and flexible. From the Shapeways site:

This material is incredibly versatile, and can be used for a wide variety of applications, from iPhone cases to jewelry, remote controlled quadcopters to wearable bikinis. When thin, it’s flexible enough for hinges and springs. When thick, it’s strong enough for structural components.

There was no doubt that the brackets were going to do a good job. My task was to sand them down so that the controller attachment slid nicely and easily into the board attachment.

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AC system

I managed to set up the internal AC electrical system which provides power to the DC adapter/s and the lighting system. I built the lighting system a while ago but had housed the switches in an ugly box that protruded from the front. I removed this and have now located the switches on the control panel.

I’ve covered the lighting system in the past but as a quick reminder here are some pics of the process:

Power comes into the module using this adapter which itself connects to the mains.

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New control box and diagram

I had decided a while ago that I was not going to settle for second best when it came to The Town module. I’m not in a hurry to get things done and I really want to make sure I’m 100 percent happy with each stage before moving on to the next.

I wasn’t happy with the first box that I built. I felt it was unnecessarily bulky for such a small layout. I decided that I wanted to keep the design of the box very simple – just the basics – a firm flat surface for the switches with a couple of angled supports to join it to the main board. I did a new design in SketchUp to get a feel for what I needed and then built a foam board demo.

This is my first attempt. I added a couple of hinges on the inside so that I could pull the cover forward to do maintenance. The biggest issue then became how to join the box to the main board. Continue reading “New control box and diagram”

Control Panel

I decided that I’ve been avoiding working on the Town module for long enough. On one of my Facebook groups a new modeler asked the group for tips about the hobby. One of the tips that really struck a chord with me was: don’t get distracted by other smaller projects. I realized that I’ve been distracted for most of the year by the diorama project and had not given The Town module the attention it needed to keep it moving at a reasonable pace. I’ve seen other modelers complete at least two layouts in the time that I’ve been working on The Town.  So with no more excuses or distractions I put the weathering project away and got back to building the control panel for The Town.

Time to get back to The Town.

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Matte Varnish

Before proceeding with my weathering project I wanted to find a matte varnish that would actually lay down an unmistakable matte finish. I first noticed the problem of shiny matte when I went to seal my first weathering attempt – the corner of the boxcar. The finish went from very dry matte to an unmistakable sheen – ruining my wonderful work! I decided to find the perfect matte before proceeding. For years I’ve been using trusted favorites such as Testor’s Dullcote but I’ve never been happy with the finish. I generally found the result too shiny – not really matte at all and much more of soft sheen. I believe it really ruins the look of a nicely finished model makes the result look toy-like. I really wanted to find a matte varnish that would do a better job.

After spraying this with Krylon Matte spray there is an unmistakable sheen on the boxcar which ruins it and makes it very unlifelike.

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