Monday, December 31, 2012

Tight Places and Special Trains

Squeezing as much railroad into a small space as possible often leads to some problems if you do not plan ahead or if you are not lucky.  In my case I think I was just lucky.  As some of you may have noticed, the washer and drier are in the garage with the layout.  I often say that I have a small oval of track in the laundry room.  Well it came time to replace the washing machine.  We had been nursing it along for a while and then saw a deal on "Black Friday".  We ordered the washer on line, saved over a hundred dollars and got free delivery and installation. 

All that was fine and good until I started thinking about getting the old washer out and the new washer in.  The narrowest part of the aisles is the section that the washers would have to pass through!  I measured the narrow space at about 27".  I measured the old washer at about 26".  So I had an inch clearance to get the old washer out.  Then I went online and looked at the dimensions of the new washer.  It too was 26".  The day arrived for the delivery.  Two men were with the truck.  I showed one of them the old washer and discussed the narrow passage.  He was not concerned and started disconnecting the old washing machine.  The second man was at the truck, off loading the new washer and the flexible stainless steel water hoses.  As he was unloading, he was calling their next delivery, telling them they would be there in 20-30 minutes.  I was skeptical.   The new machine came off the truck, the cardboard shipping box was removed, the dolly was attached and the machine came up to the garage.  The dolly was removed and moved to the old washer.  Once attached they moved it cleanly through "The Narrows" with a 1/2 inch on each side.  The new washer was attached to the dolly and it too moved through with the same clearance.  The hoses were attached.  The washer was partially filled and tested.  The delivery and installation was completed in about 20 minutes.  Amazing!

This is the 27" tight spot the washers had to pass through

This is a view of the laundry area adjacent to the layout

The new washer!
A couple days later the operator on the garage door stopped working.  Now since the garage door and the original operator had been installed I have built the railroad.  The Thin Wall between Santa Barbara and Miramar goes right through where the operator is located. 

Old operator above Santa Barbara

Old operator above Tangair. 
Note my father's 1930's Craftsman drill press which I still use.  This is deep in the layout room and needs to be wheeled out when we are working on the layout.
 In fact I custom fit the wall around the operator. 

The hole around the operator was cut before the wall was installed and then slipped over the operator and secured.
 I called the manufacturer and they thought it was probably the electronic control board.  They informed me that the maker of the board had gone out of business and they did not have any replacement boards.  That meant I would have to replace the operator and possibly the entire mechanism to raise the door.

I visited the showroom of the firm that had originally installed the door, and found that they had an operator that looked like it would fit.  It was a belt drive and the current operator was a chain drive which meant that we would have to replace the belt/chain bar.  I explained to the salesperson that I had a model railroad in the garage and there might be some difficulties with the replacement installation.  He agreed to come out and take a look.  He came out the next Monday and took a look.  He took a few measurements and then declared they could do the replacement without to many problems.  I agreed and we scheduled an installation later that week.  They ended up postponing to the following Monday.  Originally, they were going to send two installers but only one showed up.  There were a few complications but between the two of us we had the new operator and belt drive installed within a couple hours.  The operator easily fit in the hole the old one had been in.  The old chain drive had to be removed and rotated 90 degrees in order to be passes over the outside wall [Summerland/Double Track].   The new track had to be passed up and over the same way.  I stood between the two walls and held the track up while he attached it to the operator and to the wall over the door.  All the safety's and keyed and keyless controls were installed using the same wires as the old unit.  This was fortunate as the wires went up into the attic space.  When they were first installed there was not ceiling in the garage.  All in all, everything went very smoothly.

New operator from the Santa Barbara side
New operator from the Tangair side

Two installations in tight places!  Now it was time to relax and enjoy the holiday season.  We were invited to the Christmas Party for the Gold Coast Garden Railway Society.  Our last name fell into the group assigned to bring desserts.  I had been given a stoneware gingerbread mold that made a train which seemed appropriate to me.  After baking the gingerbread, I assembled the train and mounted it on aluminum foil covered cardboard upon which I created frosting ties and rails to place the train.  As it turned out the train was such a hit, no one wanted to eat it!

Gingerbread Trains

The train also made a return appearance at the holiday party of the South Coast Society of Model Engineers.  I even played Santa Claus at that party. This is me in the red outfit behind my wife Andrea. 

That about wraps up this year but watch the blog for more next year.  Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Structures, Flowers, and End Lights

Most of the structures along the Coast Line are unique and do not always lend themselves to the commercially available models.  Sometimes we get lucky and there is something close that can be a stand-in or maybe kit bashed into a building that resembles something near the tracks.  Most times the buildings need to be scratchbuilt.  At the moment I have not made time to scratchbuild anything.  I did get a friend to scratchbuild one structure.  At one time this was the Coast Wholesale Grocer.  Bob Lyon, proprietor of Elmira Branch Manufacturing, [] built the model from photos I supplied him. The structure still exists

I have also put together some oil tanks for one of the Santa Barbara industrial area petroleum distributors.  The facility was originally Union Oil of California.  The tanks are still there but are no longer in use.

I also put together a couple of quonset huts.  I may try to modify them later.  Here are photos of the model structures and the prototypes I will try to imitate.

Beyond Santa Barbara, I have acquired a couple of passenger cars that will be placed at the Miramar Hotel.  The National Embassy was there for years and is now in Fillmore.  Here is some history of the car  Here are some photos

I remember eating trackside in the Santa Fe Lunch Counter Diner which has now been relocated to 6801 White Ln, Bakersfield, CA and is called the Burger Depot.  We made a visit there a couple of years ago.  It is still fun but no trains to watch just a parking lot.

A side note about the Miramar Hotel.  About 12 years ago they closed and a new owner was going to restore or rebuild or whatever.  That was about three owners ago and just this last week they finally got around to demolishing the old buildings.  All of them are leveled now.  I do have some photos I took and will probably share them on this blog later when we finally get around to completing this section.

Further east in Summerland, I have started to accumulate structures to model a small refinery.  I also assembled a Walthers Oil Pump.  I have placed a switch on the fascia so you can turn on the pump and add a little animation to the layout.

Still further east on the way to Carpinteria, I have added a billboard sign in the lemon orchard.  The sign is for Pea Soup Anderson's in Buelton.

Temporarily, I have placed a very nice model of a warehouse built by Joe Heumphreus up at White Hills.  It looks very much like the warehouse that was in Guadalupe so if I every build a third level it may relocate to there.

I hope to have some flower fields in Lompoc so I purchased 240 tulips and 600 roses made by Busch.  I have made some but not all of the flowers.  My wife helped me with one batch of 120 tulips.  We accidentally dropped one on the floor of the layout room and I needed the optivisors to find it.  They are very tiny.

Lastly, I have added some end-of-train devices to a few of my cars to be placed at the end of trains.  These are produced by Ring Engineering and are very easy to install.

Friday, December 28, 2012

FRA Track Inspection

In the real world, at least in the United States, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) conducts periodic track inspections.  Standards are set in the Code of Federal Regulations.  Track is not my strong suite so I asked Gary Siegel to come over and do an inspection.  Armed with an NMRA gauge, some other tools and a roll of red tape, Gary made his way around the first level.  What he left me with was a sea of red tape which I have slowly been working through and making corrections.  Some of the problems involve the rail connection to the ties coming loose and the rails being out of gauge.  Most of the problems are in the turnouts.  Here are a few photos of the red tape around the layout.

Red Tape at West Carpinteria

Red tape at Summerland

Red tape at east Santa Barabara

Red tape at west Santa Barabara

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lompoc Track and Paint

One of the features I really like about the Southern Pacific track into Lompoc is the street running.  Take a look at my earlier March 14, 2011 post on Lompoc

I had hoped to use the Easy Street system from Proto 87 but I tried and found it just was not working for me.  I think I am not a good enough modeler.  I was getting derailments mainly due to the rails being out of gauge and the joints between the pieces of girder rail.  I decided to take it out and put in regular track and "pave over" the ties to make it still seem like street running.

Girder rail in place at west Lompoc. 
Note the brass strip is conductive track power connection

Girder rail and street turnout at west end of Laurel Street.

Side view of the girder rail.

Girder rail removed and slot for the tie strip prepared

Slot for tie strip and turnout

Tie strip in place

Tie strip and turnout strip laid in slot

Gluing tie strip and styrene street - weighted by full size spikes

Lompoc and White Hills are the two sections on the upper deck that are made using Homosote and plywood.  I decided to paint the Homosote.  I taped all the tracks and quickly added a "dirt" paint.  At White Hills, I added white latex paint to the "dirt" paint to lighten it up and make it look more like diatomaceous earth.

Tape on tracks along Laurel Street, Lompoc

Tape on tracks approaching White Hills
Tape on tracks at west White Hills

Tape on tracks at east White Hills
Lompoc Yard after paint
Lompoc approach after paint. 
The colored squares to the right of the tracks are flowers in the making. More in a later post.

West White Hills after paint. 
Note that this area is covered by white diatomaceous earth thus the color.

East White Hills after paint

While I was painting, I decided I would paint the hardboard behind the future location of the Santa Barbara depot.

Hardboard behind Santa Barbara depot location with primer.