Train Cellar - Journal

Great Train Expo/Show

Centerline Track Cleaning Car

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


Organizing and identifying (labeling) feeders on terminals.
Dedicated terminal block for accessories 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.

Stock Pen

2015-01-30 16.38.262015-01-30 16.39.46


2015-01-20 19.51.14

2015-01-20 19.51.24

2015-01-20 19.53.25

2015-01-20 19.53.35

Ground Cover and Tallus

2015-01-18 17.58.17

2015-01-18 17.58.44

2015-01-18 17.59.01

2015-01-18 17.59.06

2015-01-18 17.59.54

2015-01-18 17.59.58

2015-01-18 18.00.05

2015-01-18 18.00.11

Rock Painting

Great Work, Guys!

2015-01-13 15.47.122015-01-13 15.47.162015-01-13 15.47.192015-01-13 16.17.512015-01-13 16.17.582015-01-13 16.18.022015-01-13 16.18.052015-01-13 16.21.562015-01-13 16.21.582015-01-13 16.22.02

awaiting painting,...

The painting crew is under-the-weather.
So we wait,…
But, I think its going to look nice.


A River

Luke says we need a river here.

2015-01-03 11.57.26

It could go from the canyon, under the trestles, under the flat tracks, and right off the layout.
2015-01-03 11.57.41

But we'll have to excavate,…
we'll need more bridges.
2015-01-03 11.57.33

Let's do it!

Just need a bit of finish work,…
2015-01-08 15.20.38

2015-01-08 16.32.35

But, first,…
Some water!


Retaining wall


Awaiting the Painting Crew





Making Rocks


Plaster and Carving

I hate this part. :-)





Tearing into the hillside

remove a bit here,…


Bump out a bit, go up a bit,…

Cover with some plastercloth,…

Let's fix that incline while we're at it,…


Build a retaining wall,…

Figure out where to place it,… (not here)

Maybe here, some excavation needed,…

Didn't like that raised lip on the middle terrace,…

lopped it off,…

just a few finishing touches left (quite a few) ;-)

Planning the upgrade to the bland side

Holidays are over, time to tackle that bland terraced side of the mountain I've been putting off.


Some inspiration,…

I like this for the central section of the terrace.

A retaining wall might help break up the long artificial looking mid terrace.

Something like this might be the transition into the central portion.

I also like the spire. It gives some depth here, but, I'm not sure I have enough room to do that?

Growth of the city

The back wall needs some work.


Maybe add an industry and a support for the bridge.

need another section of bridge.

We'll deal with the right side of the layout "eventually".

Kragle Industry


Kragle Spur

New Spur for Kragle Dock


Super Chief additions

The Kato 8 Car Super Chief entender set.


Running the Trains

Pre-Christmas testing

December Layout

layout Dec 2014

Tweaks for Operations

Gfx_Sacto Dec 7 2014

Layout Operations

On & Off

Combined route - 3 stations 
Grand Median Station
Luke&Nick Station
Rural Station

High Route - 1 Station
Grand Median Station

Lower Main -2 stations
Luke&Nick Station
Rural Station

Mixed Freight to AD track
sort to industry tracks
- Mill Track - logs and emptys
- Rural Freight - boxcars
- Milk Depot - Boxcars
- Industry 1 - Boxcars?
- Industry 2 - Boxcars
- Shipping Dock - Boxcars

Lumber Mill
logs to mill pond
empty flats to mill siding
Lumber Loads to docks

Rural Freight
standby load & unload

Warehouse district
load & unload - needs dedicated siding(s)

Station Spur
dedicated switcher?

Milk Depot
empty boxcars in
loaded boxcars out

Industry 1
empty boxcars in
loaded boxcars out

Industry 2
empty boxcars in
loaded boxcars out

Shipping Dock
empty & loaded boxcars in
empty & loaded boxcars out

Control Center

Digitrax Zephyr
2 "jump" throttles
the DC mine train control.

Luke & Nick Additions

An overview

Another Station

Maintenance area

Tunnel and road

Road crossing and Parking lot

Gold mine!