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Lennart's Model Railroad Blog

About this blog

This blog is about my current model railroad layout project; The N scale "Summit" layout, which is a freelanced interpretation of the Southern Pacific Tehachapi tunnels and their surroundings. Or at least, that is what it is meant to be. What it will turn out to be is another matter. The banner photo above shows what I want to recreate in N scale.

Trees – final cut

Scenery Posted on Wed, September 07, 2011 20:12:21

I was not entirely happy about how the trees turned out (see previous post). Something was wrong but at first I could not really see what. But after a while I realized that the tree trunks were simply too long.

So one by one I popped the trees out out, cut off a piece of the trunk, and put them back. This is the result.

A big improvement, I think, compared to this which are the same trees before the cut.


Scenery Posted on Wed, September 07, 2011 15:07:36

I finally came around to do some trees. It is not only laziness that has kept me. I have also waited for the live bush, a Spirea bush, I wanted to use to reach the proper state. This is what the Spirea looks like when it blooms.

Around this time of year the flowers have withered and can be “harvested”.

After some pruning I ended up with this little forest of various size trees.

A piece of extruded foam is ideal to stick the trees into while being made over.

Next I mixed some water and white glue in a plastic bowl. More water than glue. A kind of milky liquid is good. Then I dipped a “tree” in the glue mix…

…and then into a plastic container with some Woodland Scenics turf. When needed, I used my fingers to scoop and sprinkle the turf so that I got a good cover.

I actually had two jars. One with Burnt Grass Turf and another with Green Blend. To get some variation I used the burnt grass for some trees and the green blend for others. Some of them even got a little of both. Here is a finished tree, with the green blend…

…and the complete batch.

Finally, I planted the trees on the layout. This batch was enough for the area around tunnel #16.

Freigth action video

Scenery Posted on Sun, August 21, 2011 16:40:34

I put together a video showing some freight action. A westbound freight takes the siding, and is being overtaken by a prioity freight. Shot with my cell phone so the quality is not exactly HD.

Some of you might recognise the audio from the Southern Pacific videos by Houtenkop (on YouTube). “Stolen” with permission by Léon Honing, the creator of those videos.

Decoder swap

Electronics, signals Posted on Sun, August 07, 2011 16:04:18

The Digitrax DZ125 decoder I ordered when I had managed to burn the DN144 sound decoder (as told in the previous post) has arrived and been installed. It was an easy install and everything went along fine. Even if SW (Cotton Belt) 7292 does not give off any sound, it at least runs. Here is a picture of #7292 sitting in the siding, being overtaken by SP 4810 and 4827.

SP 6702, on the other hand, is a poor sight, as you can see in the next picture.

It does not run very well at all, and never has. When started it barely moves at all. It creeps and jumps forward, with an occasional nudge. But after a while it sort of warms up and runs quite nicely. I have tried a bunch of things, cleaning, resoldering the decoder etc but nothing seems to help.

So when I bought a new docoder (DZ125) for SW 7292 I though I should get one for 6702 as well. Yesterday I took out the TCS M4 decoder and installed the DZ125 instead. But no difference. The loco behaves as before. I’m running out if ideas.

Sound decoder mishap

Electronics, signals Posted on Sun, July 31, 2011 18:19:19

Work has continued on the sound decoder installation (Digitrax DN144 in an Atlas GP38). The first test run, with the decoder and speaker wired, but still “hanging loose” on top of the naked frame, revealed a problem (problem #1). The sound came on alright, but when moving forward the engine stopped and went silent, while first issuing three short beeps. It did not really stall. It more of made a controlled shutdown of itself.

If the engine was left were it sat, and with the throttle untouched, it soon started to move again. But after having picked up speed it stopped again. The problem went away when the sound was turned off (F8).

After some head scratching and some more test runs I finally decided it must be a power pickup problem. Apparently the deocder is fussier about uninterrupted power when the sound is on. Meticulous track cleaning made things better, for instance.

Time to install the capacitor, which I had so far left out of the equation. This since I could not figure out where to install it. But I could always solder it in place for a test run with the shell off.

Problem #2, the black capacitor wire was all of a sudden gone. Must have broken off during all the decoder and engine handling while running all the initial tests. After prying loose part of the decoder shrink wrapping I managed to solder a new wire to the decoder.

Problem #3, the red speaker wire fell off in the processm but it was soon soldered back, but I must admit my spirits were starting to fail…

But in the darkest of hours – success! With the capacitor in place the engin ran like a charm, where it earlier dropped dead every 10 inches.

All is good then you might assume. But no. Problem #4: At this point of triumph the capacitor which was sitting on top of the frame fell off and its legs shortened on the engine frame. Result = burned and destroyed decoder.

I have just ordered a Digitrax DZ125 deocder. The sound adventure is over for this time.

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