Summer Shunting Shelf Project

MC Fujiwara Aug 12, 2011

  1. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    That did make quite a difference!
     
  2. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    MC,

    Looking much better with the lower valance, hope your following my build thread of the layout?
     
  3. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the kind words.
    Paul: hadn't made it over to the HO forums here for awhile, but now that I have it's good to see your progress.
    Looking forward to seeing more!

    Looking back on my own experience, I should not have set up the shelf layout in the garage--not only difficult to access / too much crap around for more than one person:

    [​IMG] the

    [​IMG]

    But also all the dust in my "California Basement" makes running trains a PITA: always have to clean the rails before each "ops" session.
    (Yes, I could put a tarp / covering over the layout to keep out dust between sessions but 1) that looks lame and 2) see above)

    Really, I should install the shelf layout along one wall of either my bedroom or the family room.
    That way people can just pick up and play!

    And now that I have the wall space (after selling off 1,000 books) and that the fam will be gone to Japan for a month (during the World Cup, no less!), maybe I'll sneak that into the house.

    And as to the holes: it's a rental, but hey, that's what spackle and toothpaste are for, yes?
    [​IMG]

    The more layouts I do, the more I find the "Pick Up & Play" aspect becoming paramount.

    For example: Free-moN modules are awesome IF there is a group a fun dudes to help set up and take down.
    On my own I can set up my modules (about 60 feet mainline running) and get trains going in 2-3 hours, with another 2+ hours to break down.
    Our group (10+ dudes) can get 300+ feet up and running in less than 2 hours, and we can be packed up and gone in less than 1 hour.

    At home, when my 2'x4' Mt. Coffin & Columbia River layout was on my workbench, I could plug in and play within minutes.
    Easy access all around.
    The Alameda Belt Shelf Layout is awkward to access (too much crap underneath) and clean, so I rarely play.

    As family situation would probably frown upon moving the shelf layout into the house, I'll probably clear space underneath, install a dropcloth (keep dust out) and No-Ox it (haven't used it yet, so good chance).

    Probably will replace Caboose ground throws ("Catapults!") with micro-slide-switches to power the frogs.
    But just brainstorming out loud right now.

    Starting a new Free-moN module so we'll see what happens.
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yikes. You are really running out of free space. Only a few square inches remaining!
     
  5. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Well, now that I've gotten rid of 90% of my Free-moN modules (all except Shoofly!)(and 2 cool 45's as photo dioramas), I finally have some space on my workbench:

    [​IMG]

    [Ignore that "Possible New Shelf Project"--not going to happen/for awhile]

    So while I build some structures to finish up the HO logging layout for a friend, I thought I should use the opportunity of a relatively-clear workbench to "finish" the "Alameda Belt In A Box" layout my daughter and I did awhile ago (wow: she was nine when we worked on it, and she just turned 13 yesterday!).
    And by "finish" I mean replace those ugly oversized Caboose Industries ground throws with slide switches that 1) won't look like gargantuan catapults and 2) power the frogs (very important!).

    Based on recommendations from fellow Free-moNster Mark W, I picked up a variety of slide switches to experiment with:

    [​IMG]

    The Radio Shack are smallest (and more accessible), and the Adafruit are solid, with a slight "snap" throw, and black, but I wanted to try the smaller SparkFun first, mainly because they're smaller than the Adafruit (I could always carve a bigger hole!) and they have a metal cover that goes almost all way around (RS are mostly plastic).

    Actually, the most difficult step of the whole conversion is drilling the hole in the handle, but even if you're close to the edge, the plastic is very strong: I slipped the brass rod in and could not break through the plastic.

    I popped the Caboose ground throw off, then drilled a hole with a bit slightly smaller than the width of the slide switch.
    Drilled another one next to it, then used the Dremel to ream out the space. A triangle file helped square the corners and widen the space so the slide switch slipped in snug:

    [​IMG]

    Originally, I was going to try to slip decoder wire under the rails on the surface, but it looked bad, so I just used ye ol' 22 gauge stranded under & back up:

    [​IMG]

    At least the wires don't hang out too much.

    Then I scraped away some paint on the throwbar to expose the copper, and the soldered the brass wire to the throwbar:

    [​IMG]

    I had to re-position one point rail to match the slide switch throw distance, but otherwise it works great!
    I was thinking I'd have to use the uncoupling tool (bamboo skewer) to throw the slide switch, but it's still big & sturdy enough that a fingertip/nail can throw it fine.

    Careful application of NeoLube on all shiny parts really helps the slide switch disappear:

    [​IMG]

    I still need to go back and do a little touch up ground cover, and I'm thinking about ways to make it look less slide switch and more turnout switch stand, but all in all very happy with the new look (and POWERED FROGS!!!!!!!! WOOT!).

    You can see the improvement over the Caboose Catapults already:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    One down, 13 more to go!

    Thanks for looking.
     
    ClassiCut and Hardcoaler like this.
  6. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Fuji, I haven't peeked at N scale land on here in quite some time. It's nice to see you still at it with your modules. Your work just gets better and better.

    I noticed that you mentioned dust in Cali. Is it the city, or the climate? I often mention the colorado "fines" that we get here. It's a semi arid climate and everytime I've made some nice anything and let it sit out, it gets this layer of tiny little particles that are more than dust. It's like this fine grit on everything. The only layout I ever made that withstood the fines was one that I had installed a wire on like a painting so I could hang it on the wall. Dust would only accumulate on the upper side of trees; since all my structures were removable.

    Thanks for all the posts, now gonna go back and look at all your pictures again. :)

    ------------------
    Going backward through the discussing and reading and looking at pictures. Your internment camp sign and door with "I am an american", is a tragic reminder of horrible times. I had a college prof in the 80's who's family was sent to a camp. The interrogation of her father left him mentally unstable. He spent the rest of his life in a mental institution. Their family lost all their property. Despite the pain your module's sign reminds us of, it's good to remember these things especially in such trying times. And I do not mean to start any kind of political debate on here, but thanks for the reminder. We have our own field of empty concrete slabs just outside of Denver.
     
  7. WPZephyrFan

    WPZephyrFan TrainBoard Member

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    Wow. Why hadn't I seen this thread earlier? Your Bella Fonte Cannery reminds me of the Dole warehouse in Alameda that I used to pick up truckloads of pineapples and bananas years ago. What I hate is that you're taking away all of my excuses for not getting anything done on my own layout! ;) I do have the space issue and way too much clutter in my small apartment that I really need to address.
     
  8. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Finished an HO build for a client, got a "real" job, cleaned up (but not out) the garage/workbench, so getting back into my own model railroad projects.
    Not expecting any more space anytime soon, so working to replace the oversized Caboose Industries "Catapults" with SparkFun slide switches.
    Not only smaller & thus better for photos, but also power frogs, which increases running reliability 20000000%.
    Which is worth the kabillion hours installing them.

    [​IMG]

    Compare with the Catapults:

    [​IMG]

    [Slide switch at lower right]

    So finished installing all the slide switches on the right side of the shelf layout:

    [​IMG]

    And just applying some NeoLube helps the slide switch loose its shine & blend in, even before scenicking.
    [Compare NeoLubed left with au natural right]

    But once all the slide switches were installed on the right side, it was a good excuse to run some trains & share some video:



    A quick video, so pardon the janky light & whatnot.
    Just happy to be working on the railroad again.
    And spreading the gospel of powered frogs & slide switches.
    Cheers!

    Thanks for looking.
     
  9. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Finished an HO build for a client, got a "real" job, cleaned up (but not out) the garage/workbench, so getting back into my own model railroad projects.
    Not expecting any more space anytime soon, so working to replace the oversized Caboose Industries "Catapults" with SparkFun slide switches.
    Not only smaller & thus better for photos, but also power frogs, which increases running reliability 20000000%.
    Which is worth the kabillion hours installing them.

    [​IMG]

    Compare with the Catapults:

    [​IMG]

    [Slide switch at lower right]

    So finished installing all the slide switches on the right side of the shelf layout:

    [​IMG]

    And just applying some NeoLube helps the slide switch loose its shine & blend in, even before scenicking.
    [Compare NeoLubed left with au natural right]

    But once all the slide switches were installed on the right side, it was a good excuse to run some trains & share some video:



    A quick video, so pardon the janky light & whatnot.
    Just happy to be working on the railroad again.
    And spreading the gospel of powered frogs & slide switches.
    Cheers!

    Thanks for looking.
     
    BoxcabE50, jpwisc and FriscoCharlie like this.
  10. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    some food for thought, great video
     
  11. badlandnp

    badlandnp TrainBoard Member

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    Glad to see you back more active! And even happier to see that my garage ain't the only one cluttered up!!!
    Definitely agree on the ability to just fire it up and drive a couple of trains, even if it is only for a few minutes. During summer a few minutes here n there is about all I really get to drive. And when g'kids, or kids, want to show up and see, well it is nice to be able to just turn it on and 'play!'
    Them switches look nice! Now to figure out hoe to build a Harp switch stand......
     
  12. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    So I finished installing the 7 slide switches on the right side (the "top" of the layout when folded into a box for travel), & I should have made a video then, as that side was easy!
    The turnout I used for making the "How To" video turned out to be the most difficult (at the edge, so support material underneath):

    [​IMG]

    & everything went wrong every time the camera started rolling (of course), but I think I got enough to convey both how to install slide switches as well as why it's important to have powered frogs for better ops.

    At the very least, the slide switches are more N scale photo phriendly than the Caboose "Catapults":

    [​IMG]

    [At least they will be after I scenic around them!]
    And slide switches power the frogs, which is 20-kabillion-times more important to smooth, happy model railroading than almost anything else.

    So here's the "How To" video showing how to install SparkFun slide switches https://www.sparkfun.com/products/9609 for turnout control:



    If you're installing on pink foam then cut out a 0.030 / 0.040 styrene rectangle frame that slips over the slide switch, then secure the styrene frame to the foam.

    Hope this helps improve ops on your layout.
    Thanks for looking!
     
    FriscoCharlie likes this.
  13. ClassiCut

    ClassiCut TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for sharing your information and I really like this idea and the simplicity of it!
     
  14. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Apparently spray tacky doesn't hold up over 4 years:

    [​IMG]

    So I re-glued that.

    Back to the slide switches!
    Here's a size comparison between the larger Radio Shack ones (with flanges) & the SparkFun slide switches I used for this project:

    [​IMG]

    I think they're too big for N scale, but many people have used them successfully, and with quality scenicking they're not as intrusive as the Caboose Catapults I'm replacing.
    I'm using the small SparkFun due to the pre-existing slim spaces between already installed turnouts & track.
    I would rather use the AdaFruit ones (on left, SparkFun on right):

    [​IMG]

    So I installed one at the back to try it out:

    [​IMG]

    [Haven't connected brass rods to throwbars yet--that will be after family lunch while watching GSWarriors beat the Cavs again]

    Here's a close up for size comparison:

    [​IMG]

    Like I've said before, the AdaFruit are a big larger, but very well constructed, have longer terminals, & have a "click" at end of each travel to hold toggle (& thus points) more firmly in place.
    Will be using AdaFruit on my next projects!

    Alrighty: kids have finished opening presents, so it's off to lunch at parents' place!
    Mother-in-law showed up from Japan a couple days ago (surprise!) & staying with us for 6 weeks (surprise!), & my brother appeared from L.A. yesterday, so will be a crowded table [​IMG]
    (Especially with good food!)
    Then it's back to work off the meal by workin' on the railroad:

    [​IMG]

    Have a groovy day, everyone.
    I'll try to raise a glass to each & every one of you [​IMG]
     
  15. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Did that failing glue cause the curling we can see? Or was it due to another issue?
     
  16. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah: I originally used Elmers or 3M spray adhesive.
    Fine for short term, or for wide areas of paper (doesn't bead up).
    I just should have used something stronger around the edges.

    [​IMG]
     
    ClassiCut likes this.
  17. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    PROTIP: Don't keep the iron long on the brass wire while soldering to PC board throwbar--it melts the slide switch toggle on the other side of the wire! [​IMG]

    Thought I was going to have to excavate a larger hole to accommodate another AdaFruit slide switch, but it "turned out" [​IMG] I had ONE more SparkFun left over (and with hole already drilled through toggle!).

    So ripped out melted slide switch & soldered in new.

    Here are all the newly installed slide switches, with NW2 for reference:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Compare with an earlier photo with the Caboose Catapults:

    [​IMG]

    Can still see those Caboose Catapults from scale Space:

    [​IMG]

    So a little bit of ground cover (tomorrow) & those small slide switches will disappear:

    [​IMG]

    World Champ & MVP Steph Curry (who just moved into my town a few feet away from the old SP line) sez after the win over the Cavs: "Powered frogs & smooth slide switches make for a Warrior of a small switching layout!"

    [​IMG]

    Hope everyone had a lovely holiday today (even those in the Cleveland area).
    Now on to Boxing Day, with FOUR Premier League matches back-to-back-to-back-to-back!
    http://www.livesoccertv.com/schedules/2015-12-26/
    All starting at 4:45 PDT, so Merry Christmas to all, & to all a good night!
     
    WPZephyrFan likes this.
  18. badlandnp

    badlandnp TrainBoard Member

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    Looks great M.C. When the scenery is restored it will be hard to tell that they are even there. Thanks! Hope you had a good Christmas!
     
  19. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Took the "finished" Alameda Belt-in-a-Box to the Great Train Show at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA this past weekend, and set it up on a table that acted as the gate to our Silicon Valley Free-moN layout:

    [​IMG]

    Some lovely sunlight Sunday morning:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    With the table being about 36" high, the layout was a big hit with kids (& parents, who could finally take a break from lifting them up to see our 50"-tall Free-moN modules).

    A short video of the NW2 in action (in faux 4K!):



    Thanks for looking.
     
  20. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

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    Darn ! Now I'm really sorry I could not make it to that show. Hopefully this won't be the only public appearance of the Alameda Belt in a box layout.
     

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