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Discussion Starter #101
Frankenwiring here LOL. Took all the switches and wiring out for a re-do and refresh. Turnout wiring will be red+ and black-, lighting yellow+ and green-, with the feed to the Digitrax as a 2nd throttle blue+ and white-. I'll also have enough wire so that if I have to open this up there won't be any strain on the wiring
554339
 

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Frankenwiring here LOL. Took all the switches and wiring out for a re-do and refresh. Turnout wiring will be red+ and black-, lighting yellow+ and green-, with the feed to the Digitrax as a 2nd throttle blue+ and white-. I'll also have enough wire so that if I have to open this up there won't be any strain on the wiring View attachment 554339
WCB;

Ahh! A man after my own heart! Build something, then take it apart. Build it, take it apart. Build something else and then take that apart. I've been doing that for years.

Traction Fan 😄
 

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Discussion Starter #103
WCB;

Ahh! A man after my own heart! Build something, then take it apart. Build it, take it apart. Build something else and then take that apart. I've been doing that for years.

Traction Fan 😄
LMAO :D Juss glad I could make yer day. I did kinda slap that version together and didn't allow enough slack in the wiring to open the case, working on that plus having to add / rearrange / combine the switches due to added turnouts. I may even get another metal plate and mount the switches on a diagram of the track and turnout locations with a smaller box for the Kato controller still as a second throttle
 

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LMAO :D Juss glad I could make yer day. I did kinda slap that version together and didn't allow enough slack in the wiring to open the case, working on that plus having to add / rearrange / combine the switches due to added turnouts. I may even get another metal plate and mount the switches on a diagram of the track and turnout locations with a smaller box for the Kato controller still as a second throttle
WCB;

I think the track diagram on the control panel is a good way to go, maybe with smaller toggle switches that will fit the narrow lines of the diagram better. I never liked the Atlas controls or others that were set in a line, and you had to guess which control operated which turnout. Even with labels, I always found it easier to comprehend when the toggle switch or button was on the line and in the right spot on a diagram.

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Here is the latest running of the trains, short but sweet. The DCC is the main controller with the Kato DC being the second throttle piggy-backed off the Digitrax on "Jump 1". there is an additional "Jump 2" for a third throttle
I like that layout shape. You definitely are making progress, I like the way you are keeping the trains running while building the layout. That is something I am also trying for.
 

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Discussion Starter #107
Pardon the mess lol construction zone

Thanks Steve, last night I was like "I'm GONNA run SOME train in one form or another, and I did (should have had one running the other way though) I had to R&R the decoder on the E5A loco last night. It was real herky jerky for whatever reason, it would go a few inches then die, give it a nudge and maybe a foot and die. I also gave it's wheels a good cleaning and OFF she took
 

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Discussion Starter #108
Am I a genius or what ? LOL I was staring off into space a while ago (some call it spacing out, some call it taking a nap LOL) and realized I was staring at a sheet of styrene plastic that will be the new turnout control panel. I'll have to get a smaller box to mount the Kato throttle, no problem
 

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A new control panel is on my list of future projects too. Right now I am still using the bank of Kato switches but I have two odd ones that won't use Kato on the trolley track. I was going to leave the two on my trolley track manual, but my son decided to electrify them as well.

I think we will use the Stapleton switches for the control panel. I like the idea of the diagram on the panel with the LEDs indicating which track is the live one for each turnout. But $125 or so for the switches is a little much for me to bite off and justify over the Kato switches right now. And the cost of buildings seems low when you look at them, but it adds up fast when you start trying to build enough to represent a city. Now I know why it seems so many layouts are set in what I consider rural areas. My trolley area was going to be a loop around the outside of four city blocks (an oval with two cross streets inside it). I think my "blocks" may be lucky to get two or three buildings each now. I have a friend who just retired as a city planner up in Pennsylvania. I wonder what he would say to that plan.
 

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A new control panel is on my list of future projects too. Right now I am still using the bank of Kato switches but I have two odd ones that won't use Kato on the trolley track. I was going to leave the two on my trolley track manual, but my son decided to electrify them as well.

I think we will use the Stapleton switches for the control panel. I like the idea of the diagram on the panel with the LEDs indicating which track is the live one for each turnout. But $125 or so for the switches is a little much for me to bite off and justify over the Kato switches right now. And the cost of buildings seems low when you look at them, but it adds up fast when you start trying to build enough to represent a city. Now I know why it seems so many layouts are set in what I consider rural areas. My trolley area was going to be a loop around the outside of four city blocks (an oval with two cross streets inside it). I think my "blocks" may be lucky to get two or three buildings each now. I have a friend who just retired as a city planner up in Pennsylvania. I wonder what he would say to that plan.
Steve;

You can make a control panel with ordinary pushbuttons, or momentary toggle switches, for a lot les than $125. Just out of curiosity, how many Stapleton controls was that $125 for?
All you need, electrically, is a momentary shot of positive DC for your Kato turnouts to throw one way, and a momentary shot of negative DC for them to throw the other way. Whatever power supply you're using now (probably the Kato power pack) is already producing positive DC and negative DC. You just need an alternative to the bulky Kato turnout controls to apply these voltages, as needed, to operate your Kato turnouts.
A pair of common doorbell buttons will operate one turnout. (NOTE: I would avoid the miniature red buttons of the type that were once sold by Radio Shack. They tend to short circuit internally, or burn out. They don't have much of a current rating, and a CDU, or simple repeated use, can damage them easily. Or, you could use the DPDT momentary toggle switches like those Wooky Choo Bacca uses. There are also smaller mini toggle switches which may fit on a small control panel better. The important thing about choosing toggle switches for this job is that they have to be the spring-loaded center-off kind.
A conventional toggle switch works just like a light switch in your home. When thrown to the "On" position, the power to the light goes on, and then, stays on. This is fine for a ceiling light, but disastrous for a coil-driven turnout like Kato, Peco, or Atlas. Staying on more than a second can burn out the coil. That brings us back to using a CDU (Capacitive Discharge Unit) to protect your turnouts. The reason I suggested the Stapleton controls was that they have a CDU built-in. But, that's not the only way to get a CDU. You can buy one separate from any turnout controller. "Snapper" is one trade name. Check www.walthers.com or google "capacitive discharge units."
If you were using all Peco, or Atlas, turnouts, with their twin-coil switch machines, You would only need one CDU to operate all the turnouts on your layout. However Kato turnouts are different, in that they use only one coil, and it needs to be alternately given positive, or negative DC. For that, you will likely need two CDUs, one producing a positive charge, and the other producing a negative charge. It is also easy to make your own CDUs for very little cost. You might end up needing three CDUs one +DC & one -DC for all your Kato turnouts, and a third one for the Peco turnouts on your trolley line. There is probably some way of combining and/or simplifying the electronics for this CDU business. We have some electrical engineers on the forum, who may be able to help with that. Or you could simply skip the CDU thing and be careful not to hold any buttons or toggles in the "ON" position for more than a second.

You say your city blocks may be lucky to get two or three buildings each. Is that due to cost, space limitations, or both? You can have one large building filling a city block. My N-scale model of Seattle Union Station does. Or you can use several smaller buildings. Scratchbuilding structures is way way cheaper than buying commercial kits or worse, built-up finished structures. In terms of representing a city, there are only a few multi-story city structures commercially available. Modern skyscraper high rise buildings are especially limited, and very expensive. So, you may have to scratchbuild, or kitbash a lot of your city. Design Preservation Models (now part of Woodland Scenics Co.) makes lots of two & three story stores.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #111
Speaking of . . . . . . been working on repurposing the control box, don't ask me the cost, CRS but it was about 12 bucks. I've ordered another box to mount the Kato controller in. Here is a partially completed turnout control with the switches laid out where the turnouts are. I'm orienting the switches so that when thrown the points flip to the direction that the switch is operated. I'll add the lines denoting the track layout soon as I am short by two DPDT momentary on switches and I'll pick up another box of red terminal lugs. There is enough room to add a couple of off/on switches for lighting, or may just get another box, we'll see

554490

The second siding pictured at the bottom right is not there and the shop siding does not curve up the side
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You can make a control panel with ordinary pushbuttons, or momentary toggle switches, for a lot les than $125. Just out of curiosity, how many Stapleton controls was that $125 for?
That was for ten of the Stapleton switches, preassembled. I could cut that down in price if I wanted to do some soldering by buying them from them as kits. That would probably reduce it by half. But I haven't done soldering on circuit boards since maybe high school. I would have to buy a new soldering gun of a much lower wattage than I normally use and with a point, like the pencil style soldering guns. I am sure I would recover that money quickly in other projects and this one might even cover the cost of the whole setup.

I knew I could work it other ways. I had looked for DPDT switches but could not find any that were spring centered. I know they are out there, but the closest I found were rocker switches designed for door windows in cars and I decided they were two big. The part I really liked about the Stapleton switch was that it included two LEDs to put in the panel to show which way it was set. Making a disagram of the layout on the panel and putting the switches near where the turnouts appears and the LEDs to actually light the track appealed to me. For now, I am continuing with the Kato switched in a specially build wood bank that holds tham where I can get to them.


You say your city blocks may be lucky to get two or three buildings each. Is that due to cost, space limitations, or both? You can have one large building filling a city block. My N-scale model of Seattle Union Station does. Or you can use several smaller buildings. Scratchbuilding structures is way way cheaper than buying commercial kits or worse, built-up finished structures. In terms of representing a city, there are only a few multi-story city structures commercially available. Modern skyscraper high rise buildings are especially limited, and very expensive. So, you may have to scratchbuild, or kitbash a lot of your city. Design Preservation Models (now part of Woodland Scenics Co.) makes lots of two & three story stores.
This limitation is a mixture of cost, space, and interest. I bought a couple of the commercial house kits and scenery and it is more expensive than I imagined. I know we can do it a little cheaper by being careful what kits we buy or by scratch building. My original idea was that one side of the oval was for a residential district and the other side was for a commercial district. The oval is about 18 x 30 inches, which when scaled out is a pretty good size, so we added a the cross streets. Subtract the street widths and you end up with four city blocks that are each about the equivalent of 90 x 180 feet which strikes me as a little small for a small town but close to a downtown in an older big city.

Chris had mentioned that he had seen a couple kits that did a whole block of store fronts and that it would be easy to modify those into what we wanted. The houses would seem to be in the three to a block range for that but for each side of the block. It just gives small back yards. I may try to talk him into building a block of row homes like in Philly. Each home is 12 feet wide and all connected into one building. That would give me six or seven homes in one block.

But the more I think about it, I keep thinking that I only need enough houses to give the impression of a residential area. That lowers the count of houses a lot. I can take advantage of the selective compression we talked about to make it representative where everyone can get the impression, instead of trying to make it more lifelike or anything. That is what we are doing with the trolleys anyway, because there is no city in the world where there is a single trolley line going around four city blocks, especially with it in just one direction (we could not make it work very well with two directions for the trolleys - just not enough room for the loops).

Steve
 

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That was for ten of the Stapleton switches, preassembled. I could cut that down in price if I wanted to do some soldering by buying them from them as kits. That would probably reduce it by half. But I haven't done soldering on circuit boards since maybe high school. I would have to buy a new soldering gun of a much lower wattage than I normally use and with a point, like the pencil style soldering guns. I am sure I would recover that money quickly in other projects and this one might even cover the cost of the whole setup.

I knew I could work it other ways. I had looked for DPDT switches but could not find any that were spring centered. I know they are out there, but the closest I found were rocker switches designed for door windows in cars and I decided they were two big. The part I really liked about the Stapleton switch was that it included two LEDs to put in the panel to show which way it was set. Making a disagram of the layout on the panel and putting the switches near where the turnouts appears and the LEDs to actually light the track appealed to me. For now, I am continuing with the Kato switched in a specially build wood bank that holds tham where I can get to them.




This limitation is a mixture of cost, space, and interest. I bought a couple of the commercial house kits and scenery and it is more expensive than I imagined. I know we can do it a little cheaper by being careful what kits we buy or by scratch building. My original idea was that one side of the oval was for a residential district and the other side was for a commercial district. The oval is about 18 x 30 inches, which when scaled out is a pretty good size, so we added a the cross streets. Subtract the street widths and you end up with four city blocks that are each about the equivalent of 90 x 180 feet which strikes me as a little small for a small town but close to a downtown in an older big city.

Chris had mentioned that he had seen a couple kits that did a whole block of store fronts and that it would be easy to modify those into what we wanted. The houses would seem to be in the three to a block range for that but for each side of the block. It just gives small back yards. I may try to talk him into building a block of row homes like in Philly. Each home is 12 feet wide and all connected into one building. That would give me six or seven homes in one block.

But the more I think about it, I keep thinking that I only need enough houses to give the impression of a residential area. That lowers the count of houses a lot. I can take advantage of the selective compression we talked about to make it representative where everyone can get the impression, instead of trying to make it more lifelike or anything. That is what we are doing with the trolleys anyway, because there is no city in the world where there is a single trolley line going around four city blocks, especially with it in just one direction (we could not make it work very well with two directions for the trolleys - just not enough room for the loops).

Steve
Steve;

If you decide to get a smaller soldering iron, I have a recommendation. I have two Weller brand, pencil type, soldering irons. I also have one of their big black soldering guns the 100-140 watt type that's shaped vaguely like a German Luger pistol , hence the name soldering gun.*
The little irons come in 25 watt, and 40 watt versions, and I have one of each. The 25 watt iron is good for electronics and soldering rail joints Which you would probably never do with Kato Unitrack. I also use it for scratchbuilding N-scale code 55 turnouts and crossings, but again, that's not something a Kato track guy is ever going to need to do. The 40 watt iron is good for soldering larger items like the wye shown below, or a complete yard throat on one big piece of PC board. So. for your basic electrical soldering the 25 watt iron should be fine. Both these Weller irons have an unusual, triangular shape at the top of the handle. This lets the soldering iron be its own "stand" which is a handy feature. so are the LEDs built into this triangle. They light up what you're soldering. Home depot caries these irons. I think they are about $25, which is a decent price for an iron this well designed and made. I have been using both of mine for years, and apart from occasionally replacing worn tips with heavy gauge copper wire, have not had to do anything to them. Very few places will sell you just a soldering iron tip anymore, like they used to. They would rather soak you for a whole new iron. I hit on the copper wire idea and bought one foot of the heaviest wire Home Depot had. I got at least twenty tips for a buck or two.

* Long ago I worked for Diebold, a company that makes all sorts of security equipment for banks. One of our techs was working on the hold up alarm and accidentally triggered it. He was using one of those big Weller soldering guns and immediately dropped it on the floor. When that alarm goes off the cops appear at both doors of the bank in a minute or less. Our guy didn't want to be holding a gun-shaped tool when Barney Fife, and his trusty 12 Ga. riot gun, burst through the door. He preferred to keep his head on his shoulders! 😄

My other Weller soldering gun story happed while I was in the Navy. We had the bigger 200-240 watt soldering guns. The carrier my squadron was deployed on was headed home for christmas. We were crossing the North Atlantic in December, and traveling at a pretty high speed. Needles to say, it was COLD up on that flight deck where we were trying to solder a little wire into a co-ax connector on one of the planes. In the immortal words of Ed McMann to Jonny Carson, How cold was it? The 240 watt soldering gun couldn't even melt the solder, that's how cold. You might say the wind chill factor was a bit high! 😄
 

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Discussion Starter #114
My other Weller soldering gun story happed while I was in the Navy. We had the bigger 200-240 watt soldering guns. The carrier my squadron was deployed on was headed home for christmas. We were crossing the North Atlantic in December, and traveling at a pretty high speed. Needles to say, it was COLD up on that flight deck where we were trying to solder a little wire into a co-ax connector on one of the planes. In the immortal words of Ed McMann to Jonny Carson, How cold was it? The 240 watt soldering gun couldn't even melt the solder, that's how cold. You might say the wind chill factor was a bit high! 😄
A'fore I forget again, Thank You for your Service, I too am a Veteran, Army, but also was a Navy Brat 'til I was 8 years old
554571

Dad was a Hospital Corpsman on a Minesweeper, MSO 461 the Observer. Then my son came along and was also a Corpsman for 10 years before getting
 

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Discussion Starter #115
Been busy the last few days, I was running the freight and it was derailing over on the crossovers. I thought they were #6s until I got them here but I think they are #4s. Looked on youtube and found a fix, filing a notch in the rail where the point rail goes, so far no derails after an hour of running through the two turnouts. It's fissed WOOO HOOO. Next was the new enclosure for the Kato controller to be used as a Jump Throttle on the Digitrax, looks like it was made for it. I've got the turnout switch panel almost finished, waiting for more terminal ends, ordered some and they wait for 4 days to tell me they are unavailable 😡 cancelled that order and ordered some elsewhere, can't find any in town
554849


554850


Now to fashion a panel to hold all the controllers in that corner
 

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Been busy the last few days, I was running the freight and it was derailing over on the crossovers. I thought they were #6s until I got them here but I think they are #4s. Looked on youtube and found a fix, filing a notch in the rail where the point rail goes, so far no derails after an hour of running through the two turnouts. It's fissed WOOO HOOO.
Glad to hear that fixed your problems. I had just posted in a thread about two Kato questions because I wasn't sure if it was my GG1 that was bad or my turnouts. My Mikado had no problems but my GG1 was derailing t any speed above about 1/3 throttle. I got a few answers that suggested that I do the same thing you did. @traction fan also suggested that I check the GG1 wheels to make sure they are within gauge too. So, next week my son and I have some work to do on our turnouts and on the GG1.
 

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Discussion Starter #117
Glad to hear that fixed your problems. I had just posted in a thread about two Kato questions because I wasn't sure if it was my GG1 that was bad or my turnouts. My Mikado had no problems but my GG1 was derailing t any speed above about 1/3 throttle. I got a few answers that suggested that I do the same thing you did. @traction fan also suggested that I check the GG1 wheels to make sure they are within gauge too. So, next week my son and I have some work to do on our turnouts and on the GG1.
Yeah something about the turnout points not fitting tight against the rail so the notch gives it some room to get out of the way .Don't know if Kato is aware of this glitch, the points on these two turnouts are flimsier than the #6s. So far the modification seems to be working, if it starts acting up again I'll have to get another double crossover to replace these two. OOHHH our modern problems LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #118 (Edited)
I've got the turnout switch box finished wired up. I'll write down the schematic for my own purpose here juss in case someone else were to stop by and help fix a fault, pretty simple though it's a "go - no go" set-up

And now for something comPLETEly different ;) I've also been working of the Tank Farm / Petrol Yard. Not set in stone yet and I need to paint the scratch built building and I have one more tank in the midst of painting. The Yard may not be like the real ones but oh well LOL Servicing not only storage but also rail service and truck fuel haulers
555411

Oh, the piping you see from the building to the various tanks are from an HO sized kit meant for a refinery but I made do with them and the hoses going to both the truck and rail cars is insulation from solid copper wire slipped of in one piece
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I've got the turnout switch box finished wired up. I'll write down the schematic for my own purpose here juss in case someone else were to stop by and help fix a fault, pretty simple though it's a "go - no go" set-up

And now for something comPLETEly different ;) I've also been working of the Tank Farm / Petrol Yard. Not set in stone yet and I need to paint the scratch built building and I have one more tank in the midst of painting. The Yard may not be like the real ones but oh well LOL Servicing not only storage but also rail service and truck fuel haulers View attachment 555411
Oh, the piping you see from the building to the various tanks are from an HO sized kit meant for a refinery but I made do with them and the hoses going to both the truck and rail cars is insulation from solid copper wire slipped of in one piece
View attachment 555412
WCB;

Looks like you're off to a good start.
I have a couple of suggestions and questions though. Railroad tank cars are usually filled from the top, and emptied from the bottom. In your second photo, the hoses seem to be attached to the side of the car? If they are loading oil from the dock, into the cars, then shouldn't they be feeding into the top of the dome? If they are draining oil out of the car, well that's usually done from the bottom of the car into an underground pipe, or a hose that is lower to the ground. It would take a lot of pumping to get oil up that steeply-slopped hose and into the dock structure. Not impossible, but a little odd looking. I seem to recall seeing prototype loading facilities with the hoses smaller, and supported by posts, but I'm not at all sure. In any case, you may want to check online for prototype photos.
My question has to do with the era of your tank farm . One built in say the last twenty years? would have a **** wall around the tanks and sometimes another around the whole facility, to contain leaks. That might be a nice detail to add as you develop your scene.
Second question: It looks, in your first photo, like Kato N-scale turnouts have all metal frogs, is that correct?

regards;

Traction Fan
 

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Discussion Starter #120
On the tank load / unload, that makes sense and the fueling deck is just sitting there for the moment, I can add the lower drain / pump out lines as I make it more permanent. The containment will be with the storage tanks down in a dugout. I've seen pics of that as well as the containment berms, I don't know what era I'm going for, train-wise it's modern, road vehicle-wise it's European and British with some American sprinkled in, house and structure-wise it could be most anything post-Civil War to present day LOL

Yes, all of the turnouts I have are Kato and all have metal frogs, all are power routing with the single crossovers being #4s (I believe) and those can be switched from power routing to not by moving a screw underneath (I moved the screw on these 2)
 
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