East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

February 2008

Trackwork Extends to Cove

Gluing down crossties for the track around the end of the peninsula and into Dust Mill yard.

Fabricating more turnouts.

Crossties going in on the mainline and down the Cove Quarry siding.

Using the turnouts as a guide for placement of crossties at Cove Quarry.

When I revised the trackplan and eliminated the Apex Quarry track, I realigned the railroad grade in this corner. The track closest to the wall once led to the transfer yard in the next room. After the realignment, I planned on simply abandoning this grade, but have since changed my mind and will be using the grade for a loading spur.

Tripping Breakers

Laying out crossties was cut short by the arrival of reverser units from Tony's Train Exchange. The track power campaign could continue.

The PSX-AR controls a power block that includes the transfer yard. Eventually this track will form a loop allowing continuous running. The PSX-AR will automatically manage the polarity of the track so locomotives can cross into and out of the loop block without causing a short.

Without exception, every new set of power feeders off the DCC buss brought problems. The circuit protection in the Digitrax Command Station popped every time I tried to power up. At first, I would post messages and place calls to customer service in search of solutions to a wide range of mysterious problems. After a while it became clear that the common thread running through all my electrical issues was problems with my wiring, trackwork, or turnouts. Eventually, when the circuit breaker in the command station beeped, I stopped running to the phone and instead started working up a diagnostic routine for determining the cause of the problem. The aggravation of having the system go dead with me alone in the train room was nothing compared to what it will be like when a crew of operators is standing around looking at me and wondering why the trains won't run. A routine for quickly getting the layout up and running will be essential then.

I extended the LocoNet to a temporary UP installation at Glade Junction.

Once all the stationary decoders were powered, I could throw all the turnouts in unison, which was strangely gratifying, but hardly practical. Tony's provides elaborate instructions for programming the decoders, which includes setting CVs and assigning each decoder with a unique address.

The electrically isolated frogs in my Fast Tracks turnouts are about 2 inches long, so they must be powered in order to run small locomotives. Frog polarity is controlled by setting 10 dip switches on the stationary decoders to the proper sequence. Once these were all oriented correctly, the work train could really roll through Glade Junction unimpeded by electronic seizures and hiccups.

Time to build more track!

Along Glade Creek

Recent construction has seen a proliferation of wires under the roadbed at Glade Junction.

I am using Tortoise switch machines to throw my turnouts, and TTE Hare II stationary decoders to control the Tortoises. My reasons for using the Hare stationary decoders are to reduce the clutter on the fascia, and hopefully incline operating crews to bring their train to a complete stop, throw the turnout, roll through, stop, close the turnout behind their train, and continue. On such a small layout, delaying operations with some prototypical ceremony is essential for slowing everything down to extend run times.

The little work train runs back and forth finding dead spots and confused frog wiring.

Here the work train is delivering new crossties to the railhead. Soon the line will be extended up Glade Creek to Dust Mill Yard.

Laying out ties for the first turnout in Dust Mill Yard. This is the only turnout on the layout I plan to build in place. All others will be built at the bench using Fast Tracks fixtures.