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.

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