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Martijn Meerts

A non-Japanese layout

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Bernard

Marti - Any more Updates on the layout? It looks fantastic so far.

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Martijn Meerts

Not much, still lots of painting going on as well as some more ballasting and such. I haven't done much with the layout the past week or so because my shoulder acted up, and I continued cleaning up the attic a little (made some space there for a temp layout so I can run my trains from time to time ;))

 

Right now we're ballasting all the station tracks as much as possible, and adding some details there. We're also trying to figure out where all the cables should go, because we need to make space in the cross sections for the cables to go through.

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Bernard

Ballasting.....that's where I learned how to curse.  :cussing: :cheesy

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Martijn Meerts

The ballasting isn't all that bad, just a tad boring ;) It also doesn't help that the cork starts warping when getting wet and leaves rather large bumps all over.. How I wish we hadn't skimped on the glue.. Ah well, lesson learned ;)

 

As I said, not all that much happening recently other than ballasting and painting and such. I did manage to make a start on the new station building, but was forced to wait for new LEDs to arrive to light both the station building and the platforms. Unfortunately 1 store sent us the wrong LEDs, so we ended up with 50 LEDs that were too big to fit in the platform roofs. Those will now be used for lighting buildings. For the platform roofs we ordered a bunch of new ones from a different store =)

 

Following are some general and detail shots. I've been trying out a couple of things, so some bits are more detailed than others.

 

Image 039:

Current state of the right side of the station.

 

Image 040:

Close up of some detail on the right side of the station. Ballasted the tracks with WS dark brown and a tiny bit of grey. Then used WS black and dark brown fine ballast in between the tracks. Also added a little bit of dark green WS turf. Everything turned out a bit darker than I hoped, but it should be fine after adding a few bits of light green grass here and there.

 

Image 041:

Detail shot of a track bumper. More experimenting here to get an okay look. Basically the thing was ballasted right up to the bumper. I then added dark green WS turf. After that I dripped on some white glue at random places, and put on some light green grass (it's the static stuff, although I didn't use one of those machines, just grabbed a bunch of grass and pushed it into the glue ;)) To get some sort of gradient between the colors, to make them flow a bit better so to speak, I sprinkled some dark green turf and the black/dark brown fine ballast on top, and sealed it off with diluted white glue.

 

Image 042:

Left hand side of the station got some initial ballasting as well.

 

Image 043:

Detail of the signal house, started weather the roof, it's still a bit too shiny, but I'll just go over it with a flat clear coat.

 

Image 044:

Slightly blurry detail shot of a Tomix catenary mast after receiving some custom paint. I wasn't going for boring prototypical color, but it turned out a bit too dark in the end. Although, with some decent light it's not so bad. The green is a Tamiya spray can (aircraft dark green), the isolators are Tamiya hull red (or is that hull brown?) and the little thingy that the wire is supposed to hang on got a bit of Tamiya dark copper.

 

Image 045:

This is what we needed for the next step. On the left, a PLCC (I think) LED. We were supposed to get 1206 LEDs, but they didn't have them and so decided we could use bigger ones as well ...... Anyways, the left ones are sunny white, and will be used for interior lighting in buildings. The right one is a 1206 LED (a yellow one in this case, but we've got golden white ones now as well) which will be used for platform lighting.

039-main_station_right_side.jpg

040-main_station_right_side_detail.jpg

041-track_bumper_detail.jpg

042-main_station_left_side_detail.jpg

043-signal_house_weathering_stage_1.jpg

044-catenary_mast_detail.jpg

045-LEDs_for_station_lighting.jpg

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qwertyaardvark

Even though not quite done, this station is already looking beautiful~~ ^_^

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scott

Yeah, it's very impressive--a detailed station area is a great thing.

 

Martijn--forgive me if I missed this, but do those Tomix catenary poles have more clearance for the tall, spring-loaded pantographs on European locomotives than the Kato poles?

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Martijn Meerts

Yeah, it's very impressive--a detailed station area is a great thing.

 

Martijn--forgive me if I missed this, but do those Tomix catenary poles have more clearance for the tall, spring-loaded pantographs on European locomotives than the Kato poles?

 

Nah, not at all actually. Most sprung single arm pantographs go WAY up. Unfortunately the trains will be running with their pantographs down. The reason I went with the Tomix catenary is that it's so much cheaper than European variants (Vollmer, Sommerfeldt, Viessmann etc), mainly because the European variants are designed for live wire.

 

1 Vollmer mast = 6 Tomix masts, quite the difference when you need a lot of them ;)

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KenS

Even incomplete, that's looking very good.  The traces of grass around the catenary mast are particularly well done. And the little details, like the yellow boxes near the end of the cable raceway (at least I think that's what the gray bar is) break up the potential monotony of rail, ties, and rock.

 

And to me, the dark green color of the mast looks "real".  Not in the sense of matching any particular prototype, but in the sense that dark colors are often used for metalwork, particularly older stuff.  Probably in part because they didn't have light pigments that could stand up to weather, but also because it tends to look better as it ages and gets covered in soot, grime, and rust.

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Martijn Meerts

A wee update... I've been working on some electronics the past weeks, building some lighting for the platforms, figuring out how to light the station building itself, as well as soldering together a little device that can control German signals. The signal I tested works absolutely wonderful, the lights fade in and out rather than just go on and off instantly, and all the various indications are supported (all 8 of them in case of a German exit signal with distant signal.)

 

The signals do have a problem though, the supposedly white LEDs are actually yellow, a problem I fixed on the sign we bought for testing. When commenting about the LED color at Conrad, they said they'd soon get them with white LEDs instead of yellow ones. 3-4 weeks later we asked when they're expecting to get the signals with white LEDs, and now they claim the manufacturer no longer produces them... We're still figuring out what's going on, but if we might end up with no signals after all, which is a shame.

 

Other than that we've started working on the hidden junction bit underneath the station. We cut the wood and laid it in place to check clearances. Of course that didn't work out too well, when I designed and measured everything, I calculated the height difference between the levels based on thinner wood than we actually used. We ended up re-using a lot of wood from the old layout, which I initially thought we wouldn't be doing. Anyway, with a bit of adjusting here and there it'll work just fine.

 

Some shots of the puzzle that is the junction that eventually gives access to the hidden yard.

 

 

Image 46:

A shot from the front of the table showing the right "leg". The grade of the double track seems pretty bad here, but in fact it's only about 2.2%. The single line which will be at the front is around 3.4%, which should be okay for the trains that will run on it. It's a dedicated freight line, so it'll mainly use strong pullers or shorter, more local-like freight.

 

Image 47:

A shot of the junction and how it snakes its way through the cross sections. Quite a puzzle to figure out where in the cross sections the holes should go. Everything is held in place temporarily, and some bits and pieces need to be adjusted somewhat.

 

Image 48:

Same as above, except shot from a bit higher up. The 4 tracks going off to the bottom left corner should make for some interesting running eventually.

046-right_leg_overview.jpg

047-clearance_testing.jpg

048-clearance_testing_birds_eye.jpg

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qwertyaardvark

[1 user likes this] :)

 

mmm.... spaghetti~~ ^_^

 

though its a shame about those white LEDs... I'd personally go the extra mile (kilometer) and replace the LEDs if it meant i could have signals on my layout. :) out of curiosity, I've never really came into contact of signals that used colors other than red yellow and/or green. What light patterns were you intending on using with the white ones and what would they mean/signal?

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Mudkip Orange

the doubletrack wye is ICEEeeeeee...

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Martijn Meerts

[1 user likes this] :)

 

mmm.... spaghetti~~ ^_^

 

though its a shame about those white LEDs... I'd personally go the extra mile (kilometer) and replace the LEDs if it meant i could have signals on my layout. :) out of curiosity, I've never really came into contact of signals that used colors other than red yellow and/or green. What light patterns were you intending on using with the white ones and what would they mean/signal?

 

we're going to try to get the signals, even if they have yellow LEDs, but we're just not sure at the moment if they can deliver the signals with the white LEDs either... The difference between the kit version and the pre-built version is about 20-25 euro, with the amount of signals we need, that turns into a lot of money :)

 

Replacing the LEDs is easy enough, I have a special tool for soldering and de-soldering SMD components.

 

As for the white LEDs, a German exit signal has 2 of those, 1 red and 2 white means stop except for shunting moves. Very common at train stations.

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Hobby Dreamer

Great job Martijn..

 

Its like a master class in layout building..

 

You are lucky to have such a bright room for building!

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scott

Some complex junctions there--you'll have to be on your toes with those two-track turnouts  :-)

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quinntopia

Good stuff as always, Martjin.

 

I really like how you painted the Tomix cantenary poles, they look fab.

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Martijn Meerts

Great job Martijn..

 

Its like a master class in layout building..

 

You are lucky to have such a bright room for building!

 

It's only bright during the day =) During the evening it's actually pretty bad right now. The light we had there sort of went poof not long ago, and we can't find a decent replacement. (Not that we really spent a lot of time looking for one ;))

 

 

 

Some complex junctions there--you'll have to be on your toes with those two-track turnouts  :-)

 

Computer control =) Obviously, if a sensor somewhere fails, or the computer program messes up, it could go very wrong. However, we haven't had a lot of problems with that on the previous layout, the only problem was that occasionally the turnouts wouldn't work, because the minitrix switch machines are pretty unreliable.

 

 

 

 

Other than that, not all that much progress. Had to do some work on the kitchen which cost a few days, and my shoulder has been acting up (I seem to have chronic RSI, so my shoulder hurts pretty much all the time, but it gets real bad once in a while), however, we did get a few things done.

 

We started putting together the first loop of the spiral, mainly because we needed it to figure out where the tracks to the hidden yard were supposed to go. Once that was done and everything was fitted, we cut out all the necessary bits and pieces to build the double wye/junction underneath the main station. Space there is limited, and it's hard to work on, so it's taking a while. But we only have 2 more bits to go before we can put the station itself in place. With the station in place, I would guess about 2/3rds of the track will be done (not counting the spiral and hidden yard anyway), so we're getting somewhere. The bit we're building now is the most difficult bit of the layout track-wise, so it's taking quite some time.

 

I'll post some pictures when the progress is a bit more visible compared to the previous pictures I posted.

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Martijn Meerts

Well, amateur moment time this earlier this week. We've put down a lot of track in the area that'll eventually be hidden underneath the main station. We've also removed the temporary screws/washers and replaced them with temporary screws without washers which are low enough for trains to drive over.

 

So, some temporary wiring meant we had power to the tracks and I thought we were ready to test some of the steeper slopes underneath the station, but (and here's the amateur bit) I entirely forgot that a wye means you have a return loop, so obviously we had a massive short ;) Easy enough to solve, but it means additional cost for 2 digital return loop machines, as well as some limitations with the longer trains.

 

During testing we came across some issues though. Minitrix turnouts just aren't all that great. Especially the 2 rails that move don't always get power, and on the longer turnouts like the curved ones we have some issues with power loss as well.

 

Not entirely sure what to do about it yet, but it's taking time away from building the rest of the layout of course, so still no new pictures ;)

 

 

What I've learned though, is that I won't use minitrix turnouts for my own Japanese layout =)  (I'm still not entirely sure I want to use Tomix for a static layout, I'd like to keep the Tomix stuff for temp layouts)

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Martijn Meerts

Finally a couple more images ;)

 

Image 049:

As mentioned before, we're having some problems with some of the minitrix turnouts, including both old (20+ years old) and new (less than a month old) ones. The problem is the hinging point of the point rails. There's a little pin connected to the closure rails, and the point rails have a little loop as the hinge point. This loop goes inside the little pin. Theoretically that works great, and in most cases it does in practice. However, dirt will build up inside the hinge point, and you just can't clean that stuff. Also, when painting turnouts, paint might squeeze itself into the hinge point as well. Be it paint or dirt, the hinge point will no longer conduct electricity, and thus the point rails get isolated. The point rails should also get power from the stock rail when touching it (and in fact, this is how Minitrix turnouts do power routing), but that too is very unreliable. The arrow in the image points to the hinge point.

 

Image 050:

A fix to the problem. I soldered 2 bits of 0.2mm diameter, 0.5cm length tinned copper wire between the pin of the hinge point and the point rails. This way the power is transferred from the pin to the point rails. Since the pin always has power, so will the point rails. It makes the turnout move slightly heavier, but it shouldn't cause any problems. After painting the wires I guess they won't be very noticeable. Not sure how this holds up in the long term, we'll see. (On the wiring for DCC page they note this as an optional fix to improve good electrical contact, although most turnouts they mention are more open, and allow wires to be soldered to the bottom of the point rails.)

 

Image 051:

Pretty much all track has been put in place on the wye underneath the station. The single line with the DD16 on it is a bit steep, but unfortunately there's nothing we can do about that anymore without tearing down parts of the layout. However, it's the freight line, and most freight trains will be fairly short. The longer ones will be pulled by heavier loco's which have no problem getting up the slope. We've tested this with a DB V300 with a string of 10 tank cars, which is the longest freight train that'll run there. Most track on the picture is (Roco) flex track. I've started to really like working with it, even if I'm still making some newbie mistakes ;)

 

Image 052:

2 of the test locos. The left one a JR-Freight EF65-1000, which surprisingly enough has no problem with the minitrix curves. The box of the EF65 actually mentions it can run on Tomix's mini curves, which are the C140 and C177 ones. The one on the right is the DB V300, which is probably the strongest non-Japanese loco we have. At 4 times the cost of the EF65 though, it still doesn't quite have the pulling power of the EF65 =)

 

On a side note, the EF65 is a Tomix with a Trix decoder installed. The decoder can handle both Selectrix and DCC. I'll eventually replace it with a Lenz decoder, because I don't like the limited functionality of the Trix decoder.

049-turnout_problem.jpg

050-turnout_solution.jpg

051-hidden_wye.jpg

052-loco_test.jpg

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Bernard

I didn't realize that the turnouts that you where having problems with were curved. I've never used them because I was never sure how trains would handle them.

Great photos, the 051 shows great progress on the layout. You say that in photo 51, the track is a little steep, what grade would you guess it's at?

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Martijn Meerts

I didn't realize that the turnouts that you where having problems with were curved. I've never used them because I was never sure how trains would handle them.

Great photos, the 051 shows great progress on the layout. You say that in photo 51, the track is a little steep, what grade would you guess it's at?

 

It's not only the curved turnouts having the problem, but it was really noticeable with the large radius curved ones because of their length. The frogs of these turnouts are plastic, and if you have a locomotive like the V300 or EF65, you'll end up with the front bogie on the plastic frog and the rear bogie on the unpowered point rails, which is obviously not a good situation for a locomotive to be in ;)

 

I doubt I'll solder the jumper wires into all turnouts though, just those causing problems. Not only is it quite a bit of fiddly work, but there's a fair chance you destroy the turnout. The plastic underneath the pin I'm soldering to is very thin.

 

That said, once I start my own Japanese modules, I'll be soldering these kinda wires to my turnouts, I don't want them to start failing somewhere down the line.

 

As for the track being steep, I'm guessing the grade is around 4 to 4.5%. It's not much of a problem, since that track will be hidden later on, and there will be only 2 long/heavy freight trains. One with the 10 tanker cars and another with 9 ore cars. The tanker cars will be pulled by the V300, the ore cars probably by a V200 or by an EF510 once that one (finally) gets a new motor.

 

We haven't tested all trains yet, and some trains really need new traction tires. We have trains that are have been driving on the layout for 500+ hours without ever having gotten maintenance or new traction tires =)

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CaptOblivious

I wonder if a little Conducta might help? It's like a conductive WD-40; it might help clean out the pins a bit, and as it dries it forms a conductive coating.

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Martijn Meerts

I wonder if a little Conducta might help? It's like a conductive WD-40; it might help clean out the pins a bit, and as it dries it forms a conductive coating.

 

I was considering using some conductive oil or something initially. I don't have any though, and haven't really come across it in any store. I'm guessing I could order it online though.

 

Anyway, soldering those jumper wires wasn't that much of a problem, and it's a fairly permanent fix. With a bit of paint they won't be all that noticable either. I'll just fix a turnout when it needs to be fixed. The only problem will be the ones hidden underneath other track ;)

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quinntopia

Once again Martijn, really enjoying your posts on this project!  Thanks for the information on the Minitrix turnouts.  I don't know if there's that many users on this forum, but its good to see any information on these in English!  I have a couple that I use just for yard duty and they've performed flawlessly (even using the 'upside down' turnout motor, which seemed sort of sketchy to me at first) so this could be very useful information for me in the future I expect!

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Martijn Meerts

The upside-down turnout motor is quite a weird system, but it does seem to work ;) We've decided to just leave them visible, we know that the turnouts and/or motors like to give problems, so it's important being able to quickly and easily get to them.

 

 

Not many new visible things recently. I've started adding some wiring, so I can test run some trains and play around with the blocks and computer control. I'll see if I can shoot a simultaneous video of the actual train movement and the screen of the computer control program.

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scott

Forgive the ignorant question, but when you say computer control, do you mean pre-programmed train movements to simulate and operating schedule, or just using a computer rather than a set of controllers?

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