T-Trak Update 2-21-19

No much of an update, really, except that to show that the little T-Trak layout is coming along, albeit slowly. I’ve had to shift gears for a few days to take care of some commitments with my band, but I should be able to get back to work in earnest on Sunday.

What I have been doing is laying in a supply of structure kits, mostly for the “non-industrial” sections of the layout so far. The idea is to create a “residential” area on the far side of the layout, with transitional areas on each end. The space between the front and rear modules allows for a parial view block to be installed to visually separate the scenes.

There are also now plans for a larger N-scale presence in the train room. The peninsula of the On30 layout has never been satisfactory to me, much as Kevin and I have tried to make it work. So, it’s going away. The idea now is that the On30 will run around the walls of the room, and a provision will be made for continuous running (maybe), while the N-scale will occupy a good-sized island — about 4′ x 13′ — in the middle of the room.

T-Trak Layout Update

I finished up building the T-Trak module frames yesterday, and started finalizing the track layout. I decided that I wanted to not have any of the switching tracks spill over into the end-cap, which would necessitate having an extra module when the layout is included in group setups. The result is a shorter run-around, and a little trickier switchback operation. I’m thinking, at the moment, that I may permanently join the single and double modules on each side of the layout into triples, if for no other reason than to make a couple of cross-module joints a little more stable.

Revised T-Trak switching module(s)

The tail of the switch back is long enough for a locomotive and a couple of cars, depending on the lengths. Right now, my one locomotive is a VO-1000, and all the cars are 40-foot cars. None of the track is currently “spiked” in place. One of the beauties of using the Kato track is that it holds together well enough to test fit and test run your track plan before committing too much.

I had a fun time switching the module, but I gotta tell you: those Micro-Trains couplers are tricky to “pick” with a skewer!

New Directions, New Adventures …

Frustrations …

I’m going to lead off with a bit of griping. You’ve probably noticed that it’s been pretty darned quiet around here lately. In fact, I even deleted a lot of the more recent posts, and so there’s not been anything relevant left after March of 2017! Aside from the occasional grumbly post about the cost of postage and privacy notices, not much (read “nothing”) has been happening.

DelTang continues to sell well when I can get it. Shipping of late has been really slow, and I suspect that will continue to be the case for a while. I have gotten a “flow” for throttle builds settled down, so once I do get parts, I’ll be able to turn them around really quickly. Heck, might even be able to have them in stock!

The LITco debacle continues. There was a fair amount of miscommunication during the transfer of the company (nobody’s fault, really), and we didn’t get some key hardware we thought we were getting. And, since we’ve been neck-deep in other projects, we’ve really not been able to get up and running effectively. We do talk about it a lot, and we do work on the processes as we can. LITco will be back … eventually.

The boxcars were, apparently, a complete waste of time. No one seems to be interested in them. So, I’ll make a few more for myself, and call that a day. It’s too bad, as they’re were a really nice kit.

The bottom line is that, frankly, for the past couple of years, I’ve just not been having any model railroad related fun. I’ve been playing trains for other people, but not for me. And that’s gotta change.

Getting Adventuresome …

It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about having some fun. In fact, while I was busy being very sick for the last week of January and into February, I thought a lot about it. In conversations, and in some old posts here, I’ve mentioned that the first layout I ever “finished” was a small N-scale layout (unfortunately, there are no pictures). And, that it was HOn30 modeling that really got me interested in model trains. I’ve even had some fits and starts at doing something in HOn30. So … hmmm ….

Over the past couple of years (five years, to be exact!), I’ve been having some conversations with the local group who have been making “T-Trak” modules, and thought that might be a way to play with N-scale or HOn30. And, I’ve been wanting to recreate that layout of my youth, or, at least something similar. My first thought was to do it on a hollow-core door panel, but very recently, a company came out with kits for T-Trak modules. You see where this is going …

T-Trak modules from CMR Products and Kato track will be used to approximate a layout from my childhood.

At the train show this past weekend, I purchased a handful of modules, a big bag of Kato track, and a train. (I’ll talk about each part in separate posts over the coming days and weeks). The basic layout is roughed out in the picture above, and I hope to have it “complete” in time for the Midwest show in March.

What’s This? DCC?

New Zephyr Express from Digitrax

I thought long and hard about this next part. In the interest of “playing well with others” and “maintaining my sanity”, I decided that for the T-Trak stuff, I’ll be going with DCC and track power. First, there’s just not enough space for batteries in the N-scale models. And, again, there’s already a standard involved. So, I also purchased a new DCC system, Digitrax’s newest Zephyr Express all-in-one DCC system. This newest version was just announced a few weeks ago, and I was lucky enough to be able to pick one up this past weekend. I’ve always liked the Zephyr series, and this new version really is a sweet package. Again more on this later.

Kevin has started playing with some HOn30 using the same types of module frames, although he’s not sure his stuff will be to any “standard”. I’ll be following suit at some point, but mine will be built to meet local standards.

Speaking of standards … (yeah, I know. We don’t need no steenking standards!), there’s a long-standing N-scale standard for T-Trak, but not for HOn30. So, we finally decided on what the local HOn30 T-Trak standard is going to be, which is something that has been hemming and hawing about for a couple of years now. Two of us literally stood over some T-Trak modules, pointed, and said “this” and so it is. So much more refreshing than the On30 module standard war that occurred back in the late nineties ….

So, that’s it for now. The On30 layout remains. And, I’ll get some work done on it as time permits. I have most of the supplies needed to “complete” it. It’ll just be a matter of inclination.

Setting up DelTang’s Rx102 Receiver

I’ve recently started to resell DelTang’s Rx102 receiver, which is intended for use with live steam or large scale trains that have power requirements that go beyond the current handling capabilities of the Rx65 (by use of an external ESC and reversing switch). While the Rx102 is highly configurable, it deviates from many of the “standard” DelTang binding and setup procedures, instead relying on jumper plugs for setting most functions. We’ve set up a special page just for the Rx102 programming options, which you can view here.

Back From the Convention

I’m back from the 36th National Narrow Gauge Convention up in Augusta, Maine, and I had a blast — although I still managed to run out of time and not see everything — for instance, I completely ran out of time to see the models in the contest room. But I did get to meet, after all these decades, Bob Hayden and Dave Frary (who inspired my interest in Maine narrow gauge when I was a kid) and Bob Brown, who publishes the best magazine for narrow gauge modelers, The Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette. I also helped out Kevin at his tables, and helped showed off the DelTang dead rail gear.

2016-09-08-15-45-56Other highlights of the convention were a visit to the WW&F Railway Museum — my third visit, and Kevin’s first. We road behind newly restored WW&F Forney #9, and poked around the new car shop and turntable pit, and once again wandered through the old shop and the museum store. The WW&F has got to be one of the best run and organized museum railroads anywhere. If your in downeast Maine, be sure to visit.

We also visited the Boothbay Railway Village, which features some really neat little Henschel tank engines pulling a variety of cars, and a couple of neat railcars, including a restored SR&RL rail bus. They’ve also got a fantastic collection of antique cars and outboard boat motors, along with numerous displays explaining the history of railroading in Maine. It was my first visit to Boothbay, and I found it well worth the price of admission.

I took in a number of clinics during the convention, all of which were very informative and generally well presented, and learned a lot about the industries along the 2-foot lines, about coastal shipping in and out of the Maine seaports, and gained some more insights into background painting.

Of course, being in Maine, we ate some great seafood (and some not-so-great pizza) and did some fun sight-seeing. In no particular order, here’s a slideshow of those pictures. Cheers!

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