Feb 262014
 

Here are the slides I used with the clinic on rewiring the early production Kato SD40-2 at the NMRA Thousand Lakes Region Convention in Sioux Falls in May of 2012.  This is meant to fix the electrical pickup problems that the unit has exhibited for so many modelers.  This makes a bulletproof runner out of this already great model.

 

Kato SD40-2

May 062013
 
I used white glue to attach my cork roadbed to the 2 inch extruded foam insulation.

I used white glue to attach my cork roadbed to the 2 inch extruded foam insulation.

My wife Beth models beside the newly completed cork roadbed.

My wife Beth models beside the newly completed cork roadbed.

The first bridge that I installed in this place was a Walthers wooden trestle.   Knowing how to fill in around the bents was above my scenery skill level at the time, so I switched to an Atlas steel span without any supports.  This was a good long term choice, but was a temporary setback at the time.  I re-used the Walthers trestle in another part of the layout a few years later.

The first bridge that I installed in this place was a Walthers wooden trestle. Knowing how to fill in around the bents was above my scenery skill level at the time, so I switched to an Atlas steel span without any supports. This was a good long term choice, but was a temporary setback at the time. I re-used the Walthers trestle in another part of the layout a few years later.

A staging yard is one of the best ways I can think of to expand an otherwise boring 4x8 HO scale layout.    I divided this yard and called the left side Corson, SD and the left I referred to as Morefield South Dakota.   This extension has since been demolished and rebuilt.  I neglected to use cork roadbed here and paid for it in hearing loud trains running over it.

A staging yard is one of the best ways I can think of to expand an otherwise boring 4×8 HO scale layout. I divided this yard and called the left side Corson, SD and the left I referred to as Morefield South Dakota. This extension has since been demolished and rebuilt. I neglected to use cork roadbed here and paid for it in hearing loud trains running over it.

I've installed the Pikestuff ramp kit and will move on to painting the surfaces that will be covered with ground foam and gravel soon.

I’ve installed the Pikestuff ramp kit and will move on to painting the surfaces that will be covered with ground foam and gravel soon.

This is the Walthers  Red X Cement Plant.   The tooling is the same as the Medusa Cement Plant, but comes with some added rooftop details.

This is the Walthers Red X Cement Plant. The tooling is the same as the Medusa Cement Plant, but comes with some added rooftop details.

Here I'm working on a cut into a hillside.  I represented this by building up the hillside with shaped scrap foam insulation, wadded newspapers, masking tape and plaster cloth.

Here I’m working on a cut into a hillside. I represented this by building up the hillside with shaped scrap foam insulation, wadded newspapers, masking tape and plaster cloth.

One reason i chose foam is that it is easy to work with and represent changes in elevation of the surrounding terrain around the right-of-way.  The long gently curving line is where my backdrop will be placed.

One reason i chose foam is that it is easy to work with and represent changes in elevation of the surrounding terrain around the right-of-way. The long gently curving line is where my backdrop will be placed.

I also made heavy use of a Sharpie marker to lay out my ideas of where stuff would be placed on the layout.

I also made heavy use of a Sharpie marker to lay out my ideas of where stuff would be placed on the layout.

It is always important to test your tracklaying before you get too far into the scenery process.   It also keeps you interested in running trains.

It is always important to test your tracklaying before you get too far into the scenery process. It also keeps you interested in running trains.

Apr 212013
 
I removed the wheelsets in order to weather them and make sure they were in proper gauge.

I removed the wheelsets in order to weather them and make sure they were in proper gauge.

This Atlas GP7 is basically a unit built for Atlas by Kato in Japan.  It was probably built in the early or mid-1980s.  This predates DCC by many years, so special care is needed to install a DCC decoder in this engine.  Fortunately, Kato has made the job quite easy by the way the engine was originally manufactured.  Here’s how to install a Digitrax DH123 in one of these nice-running units:

I began by disassembling the trucks.  This step technically isn’t necessary for DCC installation, but I find it a good best practice for the running quality of the engine and appearance.  I made sure all wheelsets were properly in gauge (they were not) and painted the outside faces of each wheel with Polly-S roof brown.   This gives the appearance of a dirty, rusty wheel.  I reassembled the trucks and moved on.

I cut the power leads from each truck near the copper wire that runs along the top of the gray plastic board inside the engine.  I soldered the red wire to the engineers side wheels and the black wire to the fireman’s side wheels.  Then I soldered the gray and orange wires to the motor.  I later had to flip these around because I found the engine ran backwards.  No extra work is needed to isolate the motor here because the leads from the trucks now go through the decoder.  Unlike in Athearn and Proto2000 units, the frame in these GP7 units does not conduct electricity, so the motor is already isolated.

Installed on my Atlas GP7 with a Digitrax DH123 decoder.

Installed on my Atlas GP7 with a Digitrax DH123 decoder.

I then shortened the blue wire and split it into two wires, one for the rear headlight and one for the front.  I soldered in 1/4 watt 390ohm resistors to the yellow and white wires.  In series, I soldered in two Miniatronics 1.5 volt 30mA 1.2mm incandescent bulbs.  I still like incandescent bulbs in model railroad applications much better than LEDs.    Before doing so, I checked the length of the decoder wire to see that I didn’t have too much excess wire to interfere with the shell fitting over the mechanism.

All that soldered together, I inserted the bulbs into the headlight assemblies.   I secured them with globs of poster putty, which I consider to be God’s gift to us DCC installing model railroaders! Also, I secured all my solder joints with heat shrink tubing, which I also consider to be a great asset to the hobby!

I used poster putty on the front and rear headlight assemblies to ensure that the bulbs stay where they are supposed to be.

I used poster putty on the front and rear headlight assemblies to ensure that the bulbs stay where they are supposed to be.

I replaced the shell, but then realized that there was a glow coming from inside the shell.  This turned out to be the factory bulb on top of the Kato board, which had somehow survived being placed on DCC current without a resistor.  Not wanting the risk of it overheating nor its unsightly appearance, I removed it and replaced the shell one last time.

A test run on my layout revealed that the wheels needed cleaning (because of the earlier paint step, mostly), so I cleaned the wheels up with acetone, applied with a q-tip.  I have a DC powered wire brush at my bench to make the engine run while placed on a foam pad, wheels pointed up for easy cleaning.

The unit runs beautifully now and the lights look nice.

Apr 212013
 

Work continues on my Atlas GP7 chop-nose project.  I’ve painted the nose and cab front of engine Polly-S Railbox yellow.   Then I masked that color off and painted the cab sides and rear and the long hood and handrails Polly-S Rock Island Maroon.

The maroon airbrushes on quite flat, so before beginning decals, I applied Micro-Gloss to the entire model before applying any decals.   This is to help prevent the decal film from being visible in places where it is not wanted.    I also painted the air horn and Details Associates all-weather window before applying them to the model.

Apr 202013
 

I got out for my second insanely long run leading up to Brookings Marathon today.  I did the bike trail loop in Sioux Falls again.  It was 15 degrees when I stepped out this morning, so my body performed MUCH better than last time.   I was able to cover the 19.45 mile distance in a measly 2 hours, 53 minutes and some odd seconds.  I’m pretty happy with that based on how little I’ve trained so far.  I took my Sansa Clip+ MP3 player with me this time, but I played no music.   I listened to three podcasts.

So here’s my playlist for today

Marathon Training Academy – Angie and Trevor reviewed their experience at The Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon 2013.  We can relate to Trevor an Angie quite well as they are raising a young family and are putting on a really good show and helping people to reach their marathon and half marathon goals.   It doesn’t hurt that both Angie and my wife are nurses.  The New Orleans RNR Marathon sounded like a lot of fun.

The Model Railcast Show – Episode 183 –  The hosts talked about some best practices with wiring for DCC.  Most of this I know, but there are always some tips to pick up here and there.   And it never hurts to review stuff I already know about wiring for DCC.  It befuddles me to learn of veteran model railroaders that still insist on skimping on wiring under their layouts, even when running DCC.  I know at least one of them.  20 or 22 ga. bus wires are NOT heavy enough for DCC.  Ugh.

Runner Academy with Matt Johnson – Episode RA019 – Matthew interviewed Dick Beardsley, who was in his time, a dominant marathon runner.  Dick has a very inspirational story of starting out as a back of the packer in high school cross country.  He tells the story of coming from that level of ability all the way to being a elite marathoner.   Dick also tells the story of addiction to prescription drugs after a series of four separate accidents that nearly took his life.

All in all, it was a fabulous run.  The weather was beautiful this morning (the sun went away by lunchtime), the company was great and I learned a thing or two from each podcast.

Mar 272013
 

DSC_4265Now that I am free of one big Progressive Rail project, I am free to pursue other interests in the hobby.  Tonight, I installed eye bolts (Details Associates) in the holes I drilled in the top of the long hood.   Places to drill were previously denoted by “bumps” that represented the eyebolts molded on the shell.   The older Japan-made Atlas/Kato GP7 had molded on grabs.  This is an example of such, so I shaved them off and drilled holes for Details Associates wire grab irons.

Stay tuned for a future post when I remove the 3M blue painters tape and reveal what colors this unit will be.

Oct 192012
 

Junior is just starting to walk. The Boy 14.75 mo. is taking a couple of steps at a time every other day or so.

I’m still cutting my teeth in WordPress customization and branding. I uploaded a handful of new header images, mostly shot with my old point and shoot camera. All of these models have some level of customization to them.

I was just telling someone the other day about how much of a blast the 2012 Mickelson Trail Trek was.   Yes, it is in the books.   I didn’t end up being cat food.   Some photos here.

Home » Late Fall 2012 » Mickelson Trail Trek 2012
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Starting to look forward to spring marathon season.  Not sure if I’ll have time to do one, but I’m riding a wave of enthusiasm from the ride on the Big Mick.   I’m sure that could easily translate to a good showing on the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon.   June 2013.   If you gave me a long run this weekend and three weeks of taper, I’m pretty sure I could do it if it were in November.

Right now, I’m just very thankful for my trusted Landice treadmill.

Thats it for now.   Maybe some modeling pics later.