Ran a train

The wiring is not even started yet but I have all of the rails in place for the three main loops so I ran a train.

The two outer loops had just two rails missing.

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Once those were in place I finally had a complete loop.  In this case I actually had two complete loops.  I thought about jumping to actually running a train but I just continued replacing track.

The dog bone had four sections cut at this part of the table.  One was the C bridge that was already put in place.  These three were left.

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The outer two in that photo were pretty simple.  I had the track that was originally there.  I had to cut some track to length for the middle rails.

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At this point all three main loops have their track in place.

Rabbit joined me in cleaning the tops of the rails.  I was planning on running the outer loop but when it came down to actually doing it the inner loop would be easier so that is what we cleaned.

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Shiny rails among still tarnished track.  I tried to run an engine but it would barely move.  I needed to clean the pickup wheels on the engine.  The track cleaner was not up to the task.  I ended up using one of those glass sandpaper like brushes.  That made the pickup wheels very shiny.

With the track and engine ready a 9 volt battery was able to drive the train.  Zoom(ish)!

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Finished the switch

There is just the one switch that was taken apart when the table was disassembled.  It was missing wood underneath, etc.  I got it assembled to the point that it looked ok but it was not finished.  Maybe finished is the wrong title for this.  The switch is now operable.

I started with a screw that was too small.  I eventually gave up on finding a box of screws the right size.  I took the screw from a switch in a box of track.

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Having the screw in the pivot really really helps the switch work.  Once that was in place it was obvious that I needed to do something about the height.  The rails were hitting way too high on the frog.  My test caboose would derail.

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I spent some time trying to slightly bend the rails downwards.  I got something passable but not perfect.  I expect I will be working on this some more at some point.

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The test caboose wobbles a small amount but does not derail.

My birthday is the day before Train Day.  I plan to run an engine on Train Day so I wanted to get this switch in a better state than it was.  I will not have any wiring done but I expect to have a loop of track complete.  I am planning on using a 9 volt battery on the track to power the train.

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Table lined up

The table for the layout is basically two C sections with an X in the middle.  That means there are 6 places where the table sections meet together.  5 of the 6 were lined up nicely and I was able to put the rails back in place.  1 of the sections did not line up nicely and needed some work.

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Andrea and Seth helped me with the table after Brianna’s birthday party was winding down.  It went much easier than I was expecting.  I thought we would have to shim the legs or do something to that affect.  I loosened two bolts.  Andrea broke the putty that was holding the worst section in place.  She and Seth held the table in position and I tightened the bolts again.

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There is some more track behind these two sets of rails that is part of a grade.  They were not lined up but they are basically floating.  The two boards are not secured to each other.  I can move them by hand until they meet.  I may secure them but I think they might be fine once the rails are connecting them together.

At this point I should have no problem putting the last track for the main 3 loops.  Once that is done all of the main track will be in place.  There is a 3 way switch that goes into the mountain that needs rails but that can wait until I have trains running.

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AC Wiring complete

I bought some 3 conductor AWG 14 stranded wire that did not fit in the holes drilled for 2 conductor AWG 16 stranded.  I bought some 3 conductor AWG 14 solid and that fit with room to spare.

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The table has 4 electrical outlets connected by 3 runs.  I used the solid wire for the two outer runs and the stranded wire for the middle run.  It was easier to connect 1 solid and 1 stranded wire to the same post for the neutral connection.  The stranded wire is much easier to work with.  The middle run did not cross any joists.  It gets nailed to the side of a board.

I took a break after the first outlet was wired.  I actually had the second outlet with 1 wire left to go when I went to see Cowboys & Aliens at the drive in.

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Only 1 outlet gave me any trouble.  I cut the wire slightly shorter than I should have.  It was the first cut I made – the second outlet that I wired.

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I could not find anchors the right size for the stranded wire so I zip tied the wire to smaller anchors.  I wanted zip tie anchors.  I did not find any locally so I made my own :)

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There is a scary magic plug that has plugs on both sides.  Connect one end to a live outlet and the other end to any plug on the table.  After that all of the outlets on the table are live.

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I purchased two solderless plugs but I do not believe in solderless anything.  I soldered the wires in the cord to the plates using the screws on the terminals to hold the wires in place.

In the end everything went well.  The train table has power.

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First Switch

I did do some work on one of the switches earlier but today I installed both the outer and inner rails for a switch.  I cut some wood to replace some that was missing.  It does not look nice but I think it will be fine once it is covered with ballast.

Rabbit finished the curtains.  I was planning on working on the A/C wiring and trying to line up one side of the table.  Instead I cut some old wood to fit the gaps by the window and hung curtains.

I had to cut one of the rails so that it would fit in its old location.  I used wire cutters.  That brought the rail to a point.  I rubbed the end of the rail on concrete to flatten it a bit.  I scraped the ends with pliers so that there would not be a flange leftover from the ‘sanding’ that would catch the rail joiner.

All and all it went well.  The switch still needs a screw to be the pivot and it is hitting a little bit high on the frog so the test car derails going one way but not the other.

In a box of random track there was a piece of a switch that was 3 ties wide.  I cut 1 tie off of it to span the gap under the switch.  I pulled the spikes out of it.  The older spikes seem a bit larger than the ones I am using.  While the switch does need a little more work the rails for that side of the table are all in place now.

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AC Wiring

I want to replace the power plugs in the table.  I bought new receptacles on Saturday and then new wire today.  I purchased 3 conductor power cord.  It does not fit through the holes in the joists drilled for the 2 conductor cord that I am replacing.  Dang.

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Wiring Plans

I am hoping to be able to use DCC (Digital Command Control) on the track. Because of that I am planning on wiring the track for DCC so that I do not have to rewire it again. I am also going to try to make it easier to disassemble it for the next time the layout needs to be moved.

I have been researching on how to wire for DCC. The most time has been spent at wiringfordcc.com.

The current plan is to add a 2′ x 2′ piece of plywood that all track wiring will terminate to. The DC to DCC switches will be on this board. I want to use 14 AWG stranded wire for all connections to the switchboard since it moves on wooden rails. I want to use solid 14 AWG wire for the main bus lines from the plywood. I want to use 20 AWG solid wire as feeders from the bus lines to the rails.

I want to twist the bus wires from the plywood until the beginning of the track they will power. At that point the twisted wires will connect to a terminal bus. There will be a 1156 Light Bulb for surge protection at this point and a jumper in place of a block detector in case I install those in the future.

The bus lines will be attached to the bottom of the joists with nylon zip tie anchors.

I want any wire that crosses a point where the table can be taken apart to connect to a terminal bus on each side with a small jumper wire that bridges the gap.

I purchased replacement power outlets today.  I think the old ones were OK but for less than $4 I was able to buy replacement receptacles and matching outlet covers.  I am planning on replacing the wiring to the outlets as well.  Hopefully they will be the only exception to the no wiring will cross a break point in the table rule.

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Hello world!

Rabbit suggested that I blog the repair of the train set.  I am going to try to back date some old info.

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Rails and an Engine

I added another 2 rails (off of the switch that goes to the 3 way switch at the top of the grade). I connected the (if you will excuse the descriptions) solid bridge on each end. One side was relatively easy. The other side connects to the ‘C’. The C section bridge has HO scale railroad spikes on every other tie – 2 per rail. That was a lot of spikes to get back in place. I did not connect the other end of the C – where it connects to the mountain.

I also cleaned up an engine. The packing foam had disintegrated. There was red powdery stuff all over and inside of everything.

Things are definitely moving forward. Still reading up on the wiring. I want to do it in a DCC compatible way so that if I switch to digital I will not have to rewire the track.

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Rails and Wire

Another successful Train Day. I placed 8 rails – bridging gaps. I connected 6 rails that were already mostly in place. Lots more to do.

I purchased 1200′ (12 spools of 100′) of AWG 24 wire last year and found out that the train requires thicker wire. Dang. Running at 12 volts I was not expecting it would need thick wire. Ah well.

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