Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rolling to 1000 hits ...

The site is now approaching 1000 hits. Granted for larger sites 1000 hits may not seem a lot but as a small site as our own this is a milepost as we travel. When we first started this we had expectations but this has far exceeded those initial expectations. I am looking forward to our forum to begin to gain members and for the crew members of The Roundhouse to grow with that. To gain those friendships, knowledge, expertise and humor at times is a valuable asset to anyone. It is a resource that money could not purchase. So we push the throttle forward and lay on the horn as we approach this crossing of 1000 hits. Thanking everyone who has visited and hope that the visit was an enjoyable one.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Have returned ... finally

Sorry I haven’t been around for a few days. As life and the computer had different thoughts of what I should be doing. I think I am back in a forward direction now and am looking forward to some good work on the layout this week. I have started to work on the GP40 that I will be painting in the Tacoma Rail Paint scheme. I am trying to decide which red should be used for it. We were able to run some trains over the weekend which felt ... well very good. Upon doing so we have found we need to do some work on tunnels as they will not allow a double stack well car to pass. That will be some major construction items we work on this week. I am still continuing to work on securing the wiring under the bench and will be sealing them soon with liquid tape. Also I will be starting from the back wall and adding some ground cover to the ballast already added and test that application. Hmmmm ... and we will be also using the Weathering System from Bragdon Enterprises and the Rusty Rail System from Joe's Model Trains. Reviews to be posted within the next week on both items.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Found the short and packages arrive ..

I did find the short last night. The issue was with an Atlas Snap Switch in which the rails on the frog ended up touching. Maybe because of soldering joints? I am not sure. We have replaced the switch and all is well except for now putting every thing all back together. Thanks to everyone for their ideas and help to resolve this problem.

We also received two packages in the mail today. One was from Walthers, which included two new projects, a GP40 that is painted Western Maryland and my goal is to create a Tacoma Rail GP40. The package also included the Rusty Rails kit for painting rails that we will be reviewing, so stay tuned for that. We are also excited that we received a package from Bragdon Enterprises including their Weathering system. This, as with many things, is the first try at weathering so we will be sharing our trials and reviews of this product as well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

To find a short ...

So I started to clean the Freight yard leg of the layout. I will be working on a drawing of the layout so that you will know the areas that I am talking about. But this is the area that we have been laying ballast in and painting. This section is disconnected from the rest of the layout and I wanted to supply power to it so that I could test the track and begin to run some trains. Well that is where I am stuck at now. My DCS100 keeps shorting out whenever I apply power to the section. It worked at one time and now doesn’t. The only things really that has changed is that we have added ballast, painted, and soldered joints but there is a short somewhere so I will be researching today to find it. So lesson learned. Ensure all track is functional before moving to any other phase. Also if we would have been running trains to this point we would have noticed when the short happened and maybe have a better chance of finding it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Running trains?

So over the weekend I unfortunately did not get a lot of time to work on the layout. But I did spend some wonderful time with the family on Sunday and a day out on the water on Saturday fishing. Though no fish were brought home it was a fun filled weekend. Now we are back to focusing back on the layout. I have read different approaches on laying the ballast within the freight yard and can now see that I need a little more glue into the ballast that is there. Then the clean up of the rails and ties can begin. One of the things that have bothered me is that we have not run trains. In almost 2 years we have not run trains. What I would like for us to begin is a process to get the tracks clean so that we are able to run trains as well build. I think we would gather even more enjoyment from the layout with that happening. Agreed we have much cleaning to do, I think we are going to focus on this so that we are able to get some freight moving over the rails. So my question is how many are running and building? or building and waiting to run trains?

Friday, August 17, 2007

DCC Short Protector ...

One of the things that have bothered me is that when I am running trains and something shorts to stop all trains. Though this is a good feature to protect the system I think it may be a little to much. As I researched this I have found that I am not in the minority on this. There are a couple options but there is one that peaked my interest and that is the use of an automotive brake light bulb. Breaking the layout down into power districts and then installing a bulb in each of the districts seem to work very well from what I have seen. Here is a link to John Fugate's excellent demonstration and explanation of the use of the brake light for this purpose.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tacoma Rail?

I have begun thinking of a new rail line to add to the two that I already have. I really wanted to add a west coast railroad but David is running BNSF and UP. So that caused me to think smaller and more local. The two choices that I ended up with are Tacoma Rail and Port of Tillamok. As the Tacoma Rail engines rumble not but 100 feet outside of my office that was my choice. I think I am going to start with a GP40. I see that Bachmann has one on sale right now through Walthers so I will look at it a little more. It will be some work as it is painted in a different scheme and I will need to strip it clean and repaint but I am pretty excited about that thought. We continued to add sand for the service road to cover some of the bare spots. I will be working more on completing the interlocking tower and adding some ground cover over the mainline. Look for some new pics coming soon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tacoma Northwestern Railroad Club

Both David and I made our second visit to the club as they have a meeting each Tuesday. They are also open to the public the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. We have gotten some ideas for our layout by taking a close look at the things that they have done. The most interesting for me is the diesel fueling area. They had used a Walthers Cornerstone kit but both we are both in agreement that we are going to scratch build our own. Looking at theirs did give us a sense of direction on that project though. We have now added a link to their site ( under our Tried and True. We had spent some time talking with Al, the president and Herb, the treasurer of the club. It was a very enjoyable visit and am looking forward in returning to see their progress and to gather a bit more words of wisdom.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ballast, rock work and a service road

Much was accomplished yesterday just as I had hoped. The ballast for the freight yard was secured. Quickly I might add. I still need to double check it today after it has dried but I used a spray bottle for the alcohol which was so much faster. I also used a spray bottle instead of a dropper for the glue solution. I am not 100% confidant that is going to work like I wish but we will see. Also David worked on the rockwork of the interlocking tower retaining wall. I am very happy on how that is turning out. We had been talking about the service road and what we would use to cover it. I had some sand from Seaside, OR (which is my wife's most favorite place) and I knew I want to use the sand someplace on the layout. We tested it on the service road and were happy on how it looked. A dusting with an airbrush and I think it will be perfect. Make sure you check out the Photo Gallery for the newest pictures. I am researching the concert pads that I want to place for the fueling station and will be attending a meeting of our local model railroad club where I want to get some pictures and talk to them on how they did theirs. All in all a very good evening.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A new week ...

The best laid plans always seem to take longer than expected. I still do not have the ground cover laid but it is on the to be completed list for this week. I am still continuing to work on finishing the ballast for the freight yard. Once this is completed I can continue to work on the ground cover for both main line traveling into Mt Dew Curve and the freight yard. I am also working on finishing the structure of the interlocking tower. As the weekend didn’t show the amount of progress I was really looking for, I am eager to begin moving forward again tonight. There have been some changes to the site as we have posted the review of the Rubber Mold System by Bragdon Enterprises and have added some additional Topics in the forums section. Please take a moment and join our new forum as the membership is open. Thanks again for visiting!

Friday, August 10, 2007

To ballast before or after ...

We had made a visit to the local model railroad club a couple of days ago. A discussion came up on how best to lay the ballast ... before or after ground cover was placed. This has gotten me thinking on which will work best for us. I can see the points given for doing it after groundcover as it will all the ballast to flow more naturally and appear above the ground cover like it is if I go to the tracks right now and look. But the piece that concerns me as I look at the layout and where I am working on ballast right now. And that is the ballast that gets flicked allover the layout as I work on placing the ballast and manicuring it. Granted some of this probably won’t be as bad when I improve my spread and my technique but I can still see pieces of ballast finding its way all over the ground cover that I put into place. I will have to try both techniques to find the one that fits our situation better. I really cannot say one is better than the other for me unless I try both. As I finish up I think I have found the most important tool when laying ballast. No it is not a brush or a ballast spreader but this tool is just as valuable if not more. That is patience. Ballasting is a time consuming and sometimes monotonous project. I have found it is best to look at it in very small sections instead of the whole as that vision can be very daunting. Unfortunately there are no secret techniques and no magic wand that will make it all be done quickly. But if you chip away at it soon larger pieces will be seen complete and the whole will become smaller in time.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

And the ballast continues ..

I worked on a little more on the ballasting of the mainline leading into Mt. Dew curve. As I write what I am doing it occurs to me that not many but the voices in my head know where I am talking about and that we do not have a track plan written out. Makes a note and puts that on my To-Do list. I did finish the main part of ballast that I wanted to accomplish on the out side edge of the freight yard and now can work on touch up and then ballasting of the freight yard itself. With that I will be able to start some type of ground cover but so far I am very pleased with how it is beginning to look. It is very, very time consuming and can see why many articles that I read this is a piece that is the bane to many a model railroad. I did finalize the placement of the engine yard / freight yard retaining wall so next is repainting and working on the gravel road. I am going to add a little more on the forum on things I am learning about the Digitrax system and a section regarding ballast. Makes another note as I will work on my Tips & Tricks for the ballasting as well.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A night off ... or was it?

We took a night off yesterday and visited the local model railroad club that had just relocated to our area. It is always nice to talk with others in the hobby and listen to both their experiences and ideas. It never fails that just a quick conversation can get you to look at a project with a different vision. The website is still growing and so much quicker than I would have imagined. We are finishing up on the review of the Resin Casting System by Bragdon Enterprises and I will also be sharing my thoughts and experiences as we begin to ballast. A new addition to the website is our forum. Please check out this link to access the forum. Though just in its infancy I think the forum will be a wealth of information as it too grows with the website.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Retaining walls ...

We worked on two portions of the layout yesterday. One being the retaining wall along the edge of the freight yard and the other being the interlocking tower area. With the interlocking tower we placed a retaining wall and moved out the level ground a little to allow the access road to flow a little better through the area. We had cast a resin stone wall, a few months back using the Resin Casting Kit from Bragdon Enterprises and found the product still very usable and pliable for our needs as we wanted a curved stone retaining wall in that place. Also the wooden retaining wall we had designed was put into place and both walls secured and blended into the landscape with Sculpta-Mold. Initial results from both projects are looking promising. We did secure a little more ballast. Wow this is a task I do not see the end anytime soon but will be very happy when it is. Make sure you check out the J & C Railroad Gallery on the home page for pictures of these projects and more.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Houston ... Ballast has landed ...

Well looking from where we started it seems like it has been a very long time to get some ballast laid. We have laid ballast now along Mt Dew Curve and the Mainline leading to the curve. Also we have layed the ballast for the freight yard. Needless to say this project is far more time consuming than we would have imagined but the results are coming together. Check out Tips & Trick to see and hear of our experiences. We are also in the process of building the freight yard retaining wall. The wall is now built and just need to place in and secure it. We have a couple of ideas on this and we will see which pan out and win in the end.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The whole picture ...

Trying to hold on and not fall off of the moving train. The additions to the site almost feel like they are arriving at a lightening pace. Check the News section of the site for more details. As we have mentioned there have been trial and tribulations, lesson learned and not learned sometime but it is always and enjoyable adventure. One of the things that I have to keep remembering is that the layout not too much unlike life is a journey. With that I am finding that taking the layout and breaking it into smaller pieces is an easier way to wrap my arms around all that needs to be done. If you are to look at the layout as a whole it can often be very daunting and at times frustrating. It is a hobby after all and with that I would like to enjoy it. With that said we have taken the freight Yard leg of the layout and we are going to focus on its completion before stretching our arms and resources over the rest. Wish us luck and we will post updates as they are made.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Another Stall added to the Roundhouse ...

So the changes keep coming to the site. We have now added a photo gallery link on the home page so that you can see some of our processes of the layout. More will be added so do check back often. We have tried to document the layout the best we could and will be bringing in pictures from the very humble beginnings until now. Also on the horizon we envision a forum so that you and us may share our experiences and learn new and different techniques.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Roundhouse opens ...

We begin the first steps of bringing our experiences, thoughts and often times rambling to you. The hope is that you will find a place to also share and learn as your experiences grow. We have enjoyed our process and travels within the hobby even past great mistakes and wonderful accomplishments. And we invite you to join us on that journey.