Great Train Expo/Show

Picked up a Centerline Track Cleaning Car.
Simple little device. Seems to help clean the rails.
But, I need a vacuum car to pick up the debris.

2015-02-28 19.23.46

Electronics Clean-Up

Managing the Spaghetti
Or at least attempting to.

Switch Wiring

2015-02-22 12.47.48

Switch wiring to DS64, and Loconet interconnect, amidst power wiring.

2015-02-22 14.35.18

Now tucked away under layout, in space between racks, while providing plug in access to Loconet.

2015-02-22 14.35.44

And folds open to provide access to switch wires.

Power Wiring

2015-02-22 10.58.19

14 AWG twisted pair power Bus
20 -24 AWG feeder wires (spaghetti).
Many pairs of feeds "Siamesed" together on, too few, terminal blocks.
Very few track blocks isolated.

Defined and isolated several new power blocks.
Consolidated existing separate terminal blocks in a central location.
Added new feeds, lengthened feeder leads, where needed, to reach new central distribution area.

2015-02-22 18.30.53

Added several terminal blocks at new location.

2015-02-23 11.53.29 2015-02-23 17.15.27
Looks better, and eiser to work on (once feeders are wired), but still room for optimization.


Organizing and identifying (labeling) feeders on terminals.
Dedicated terminal block for accessories currently using track power; 2 switchKats, 2 DS64s.

Truck Tweaking

"Grandma's Switcher" (Bachmann S4) and
Lil' Yellow (Bachmann 44 Ton switcher) never did run right.  

The S4 couldn't make it 3 ft without getting stuck (no power) and the 44 needed momentum (run fast) to get through crossings and turnouts.  Pretty frustrating.

After quite a bit of exploring and testing and examining I believe I found that the S4 trucks didn't have enough "play" to stay in contact with the track when encountering less that perfect spots (of which there are a few).
The 44 turned out to be bad wipers on one side of one truck, so that was a pretty easy fix.  Its running like a champ now!

The S4, more problematic.
I believe it's a poor design, although most every review reports how strongly these little switchers run.  Slow top end, yes, but strong.  Not this one.
I found the trucks to be held, rather tightly in place by a white plastic "clip" over the worm gear of each truck.  Each “clip” has a couple of “ears” that sit on top of the chassis.  This arrangement does not allow much “droop”, hence very little vertical “play”. 
Since the performance of the S4 was in the “throw away” realm I felt I had little to lose from drastic actions. So,…
I cut off the “ears”.  Results in a disconcerting “droop” of the trucks, but wow did it help!  Runs powerfully through even the worse of the “less than perfect” spots on the layout.  Still runs smoothly and quietly.
Might just be my favorite switcher now?

Feb 2015 Track Update

Well, with the major scenicking update more or less done, it must be time to tweak the track plans,…

Gfx_Sacto ops Feb 2015

Got tired of cleaning the local freight track, so decided to make it a loop so the trains can polish the rails with their traffic. Well thats the plan. ;-)
Added a double crossover wher the local/yard line connected to the lower main west of the river. Repurposing the two #6 turnouts to replace the crapy #4's in the local line. Extended the local line from Kragle, through the incline, and connecting to the local/yard line before the tunnel, thus making a third loop. This freed up another #6 which provides acess to two new industry spurs inside the lower main loopback.
  1. Mountain Loop
  2. Upper Main Loop
  3. Lower Main Loop
  4. Local Loop

B, C & D can be run as one.
B & C can be run as one.
C & D can be run as one.