Short Circuits and Stupid Questions

“Where the #$&^(*@!! did I put those screw drivers!???”

This catches the flavour of one of the stupid questions I asked myself today as I continued rewiring the layout under Queens Wharf yard, but it wasn’t limited to just screw drivers. I also managed to mislay my glasses at least twice and my electrical tester, which didn’t turn up until my friend Phil dropped by and pointed out where it was after I’d told him I couldn’t find it to test a loco we were discussing.

This shot shows the turnouts I built a few months ago finally installed at one end of the QW yard. This had taken far longer than it should have but the job is finally done. The turnouts in question are the three closest to the camera.

I laid the new turnouts and track to extend the loop of Queens Wharf yard over a couple of days with 2 weeks in the middle when I don’t enter the train room. This included 5 days in Bali. When I arrived home last weekend and had recovered sufficiently from my jet setting lifestyle I put some time into finishing the track laying and two days ago I started to really come to grips with wiring the new track. I’d been putting off rewiring QW since I’d started building the Morpeth line but the time had come to bite the bullet. The entire layout is wired using red and black wire as the standard colours for the DCC bus wires. Black droppers on the front rail and red at the back. However QW again caused me some issues because it had been wired in reverse of this basic pattern when built 15 years ago. So I had the new layout wired up one way and two small segments of an old layout wired up in reverse. This wasn’t too much of an issue when I first installed the old modules in the new layout but I had been planning to install block occupancy detectors on the loop and the main lines in QW yard and these require a single rail for the section to be detected isolated from the rest of the layout. The thought of trying to distinguish which red and black droppers should be mixed and in what way was keeping me up at night. So yesterday I did what I should have done in the first place and removed all the droppers from the older sections of QW and swapped these so they conformed to the same pattern of black and red that exist on the rest of the layout. After doing this I started actually wiring QW yard. Not the new sections of track and the new turnouts mind you. I had to start about 3 meters away from the new track and start hooking up the wiring down the far end where the first section of the old QW resides.

The installation of the new track in QW yard should have been quite a quick job but deciding to install block occupancy detectors (at the same time as planning for the installation of signals and replacing a stationary decoder [Switch 8] for an upgraded model) has turned this into a major re-wire taking about 4 days so far.

There are times when you should take the easy route for a job and there are other times when it’s best to say “bugger it” and start again. To some degree I chose the second course with the QW re-wire. I couldn’t see any point in continuing to cobble together sections of layout that didn’t match, especially as little QW had been a test module I’d built 15 years ago and had never intended installing block occupancy detectors on it. Installing NCE BD20s is quite straightforward really but not when you try to mix and match the colours of the dropper wires that lead to the isolated rail that is at the heart of the process. One wrong wire and the detector wouldn’t work. So I’ve essentially replaced and upgraded 60% of the wiring in this section of the layout. One more day should see this forest of wires trimmed neatly and back in place.

This shot shows my complete collection of rolling stock and locomotives set up in the storage sidings. Doesn’t seem much after nearly 20 years working in O-scale does it?

To give myself a break from crawling around under the layout I decided to unpack my loco and rolling stock collection and place it all on the storage lines. If we’re going to be running an operating session next week I need some trains to run. I even got 1919 out of the glass cabinet she’s lived in for the past 2 years and placed her on the track to film her first run on Morpeth. She’s never actually run on the layout. I set the camera rolling but she kept stalling on one of the turnouts. The loco was running beautifully, there was just a dead spot between the frog and the end of the switch rails on one particular turnout. So my break from crawling around under QW consisted of two and a half hours of crawling around under the storage sidings sorting out a dead spot on one of my Peco points. It happened to be one of the oldest turnouts I owned which had been installed by me a few months ago after being recycled from at least 2 different layouts. The point motor and PL10 switch were already in place under the turnout when I installed it in the storage sidings. This simply confirmed for me the need to get rid of all the Peco solenoid motors on this part of the layout to be replaced with Tortoise motors. Another job on the to do list.

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2 thoughts on “Short Circuits and Stupid Questions

  1. Personally red and black paint on the offending wires would have been the easy way out of correcting the color coding. As an aircraft electrician on F4Bs the wires were all white with numbers stamped on them try reading them by flashlight with your head inside an access panel!

    I really enjoy reading about your RR adventures.

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