Four Corners News #2: Never Done with a Layout

Standard Gauge Stock Yards Switch, Durango

While some take a lifetime to plan the perfect layout, I tend to think the best layouts are those that don’t wait on a perfect plan, because they tend to actually be projects that run trains, no matter how imperfectly. This week’s projects show how improving unanticipated things that you’ve found irritate you is a part of working towards perfection over a lifetime of work.

First up is a pic of the Stock Yards switch in Durango. Over several years I’ve converted many locations to remote control of turnouts. For Durango, the biggest conversion yet, I used NCE Swicch-8 modules. These provide a easy to use and program user interface, while being economical. However, they allow for groups in increments of 8, which in my case meant a handful of turnouts around the periphery of Durango continued to operate by toggle switches. Such was the case here.

What was worse was that Stock Yards was controlled from a small panel that was tucked out of the way. All other turnouts it controlled were converted to remote operation. For my layout. the Stock Yards control was placed fairly distant, about 2 feet to the left from where the pic above was taken. However, the narrow aisle next to Stock Yards precluded anything protruding. This was my solution to a better, easier to find location.

Recessed control made from plastic snack cup

I used an otherwise recyclable plastic snack cup (like those used for fruit or pudding), which had a nice rim around its lip. I used a suitable size hole saw to cut the opening in the fascia. I used the circular blank cut-out to reinforce the bottom of the cup. You’ll need to safely cut a 1/2″ hole through both the cup and the cut-out disc to have a place to mount your turnout control toggle switch. I mixed up a small batch of 5-minute epoxy and applied it to the lip edge of the plastic cup. You could clamp it, etc but I held it in place until it stayed stuck.

As the top pic shows, the control is now adjacent to the turnout it controls, so is obvious to anyone wanting to use the Stock Yards turnout. It is also protected against the snags and bumps of a narrow aisle.

Next up was “drive time.” I like to move vehicles ar5ound to keep things interesting. I moved the Menards crane into position to do some work at the ASARCO mill complex.

at the ASARCO mill and smelter

Down by the river near Silverton, I reshuffled some of the rafters for a fresh look at having fun in the Rio de las Animas.

A warm day on a cold river

Most of the layout enjoys adequate light now, but a few spots still remain less than optimal, including the short segment at Crater Lake Junction, with its stingy 10″ of overhead clearance. It could be gloomy under there, although this pic doesn’t adequately depict the situation.

Crater lake Junction Before new lighting

I found that Menards has changed their lineup of LED strip lighting. Instead of getting a choice between Warm White and Cool White color temperatures, you get a LED control unit that allows you to select whatever color temp you want. It also allows for a wide variety of other colors, along with sound-activated effects, all of it now possible to control via wifi. All I need is something close to Daylight.

More light for Crater Lake Junction

While iPhone photo magic makes it seem as if the two scenes are similarly lit, in person eyeballing shows the new lighting to be much improved. These new LED strips are easy to hang, as they have industrial strength 3M magic sticky stuff to attach them with.

Besides maintenance and construction, I also did some operational testing. A lot of this was standard gauge, but also working on improving transfers between standard and narrow gaiuges and on intermodal traffic.

The HP Zephyr meets a local freight at Dove Creek.

Durango Lift

That’s this week’s report from the Four Corners Division. Anyone have any news to pass along, post it up or forward it to me to do so.