Test Track

Track laying

So what’s happened in the last week? Well, I’ve been laying the track that makes up the second set of storage sidings on the Southern and Eastern sides of the room. It’s a long and often tedious job, starting with the turnouts which need to be wired up before they are pinned down. Then the point motors need to be wired and installed. Each motor has eight soldered connections and the turnouts have three, so for this part of the project that’s 121 solder points, 121 wires to be routed back to the connection blocks, 121 wires to be cut and stripped and 121 screw connections to be made. As I write this today, I have laid around 40% of the storage tracks, hopefully one more day should see that work completed and then I can start work on the second helix.

Baseboards Planning Track

Back to the drawing board

I’ve been using Anyrail software to plan the track layout so after finalising the pointwork design for the second storage yard, I printed the plan off at full scale.

The Anyrail track plan being assembled sheet by sheet.
Storage sidings in the southeastern corner
Creating the board extension under the track plan.

he main benefit of this is to make sure that the point motors will not be positioned where there is framing below the plywood baseboard. I knew that I would need to expand the baseboard on the approach to the helix so with the paper plan in situ, I was then able to measure and cut the timber to size.

The triangular extension is built
The extension immediately becomes a workbench!

I then took the opportunity to position the oval rings which will make up the second helix, screwed them to the base and then drilled 12mm holes right through all of the support lugs. This will make the helix construction easier and ensure that all of the holes are aligned accurately.

Finally, I began laying the pointwork at the eastern end of the storage sidings, the southern end is already complete so as soon as the eastern end is complete I’ll lay the flexi track in between.

The pointwork leading into the base of the helix.

Power District 2

After completing the testing on Power District 3, it was time to make a start on its mirror image, Power District 2. I had previously prepared all seven sets of points by soldering the feeder wires to the rails and by attaching pieces of track which are 93mm long to the “toe” of the points. These pieces provide the correct spacing of 67mm between the storage tracks. I had also previously soldered wires to the tortoise point motors so with everything pretty much pre-fabricated, I was ready to go. I drew a straight line on the baseboard to align the pointwork and then started with the first set of points. As before, it was a matter of placing the point and then marking the position where the hole for the point actuator wire would go. That hole was drilled out with a 13mm spade bit and the point was then positioned and pinned down with Peco track pins. The remaining six points were added in exactly the same way before I drilled holes to pass the feeder wires through the baseboard. I then pulled the wires through to the front of the baseboard and connected them to the connector blocks there, completing the work for the morning.

After lunch, it was time to fit the Tortoise point motors by crawling under the baseboard, cleaning up the underside of each hole where the drill bit had broken through the plywood and then marking the holes for the fixing screws. It’s a simple process to thread the actuator wire through the hole in the tiebar of the points and then tighten up the fixing screws. I then pulled each bundle of eight wires through to the connector blocks at the front of the baseboard and made the connections. As with the points, it was just a matter of being methodical with all seven motors.

Finally, I set up an eight way accessory decoder (A Bill Cuthbert designed board) in a temporary position and wired in the Tortoise motors. I then tested each motor to ensure that the motors worked and were going in the correct direction, two of then needed to have there throw adjusted by moving the fulcrum on the side of the motor. When that was done, I then configured the points in the Train Controller software and tested again. All that remains now is to cut the excess actuator wires so that rolling stock can run over the track.

Beginning of the second storage yard