So, as I finish writing this, my pals are on their way back from E. Springfield, MA and the "Big E" train show, but not I.....I decided to be a "good boy" and stay home this weekend and work on the layout. OK, OK, that's not exactly true, but I do have plenty of cleaning up to do before next Friday's shakedown session hits.
Why cleaning up and not working on the layout? Well, LAST weekend, with the three day weekend thanks to MLK Day, the guys came down on Saturday as hinted to in my last blog post, and then I did a little more on Sunday, and then even on Monday, when my father came over (on his 80th birthday, mind you!) and helped me wrap up a few more things.
Now before we go any further, he WANTED to come over and work on his birthday, so please, no "You made your father work on his 80th birthday? You rotten son!"-type e-mails, please! He got a nice dinner out of it at Joe's Crab Shack (he's wanted to go since last year), so he got treated just fine on his birthday, thank you very much! All he had to do was help put up some facia, and solder a few drops (I suck at it). Oh, btw, he's up at the train show with the guys, too.........All I know, is I got to sleep in Saturday morning, and not get up at 3AM to drive 3+ hours north!
Moving forward, let's take a look at what got done last weekend, shall we?......Here's Sniffles, aka Craig Bisgeier, working away on four DCC signal snubbers. We've had engines mysteriously ceep during the last three shakedowns, so it was time to make that dissapear (or so we hope). We'll know in a week, the next shakedown is February 2nd! Craig was nice enough to come down, even though he was suffering from a cold/bronchitis/pneumonia thingy. Hopefully, he won't get any sicker at the show this weekend like he usually does.
Meanwhile, as seen behind Craig (and Dave Ramos checking his phone), Jay Held and Tom Callan decided upper staging (East Claremont) wasn't level, even though we rebuilt it two work sessions ago. Jay is a engineer at his day job, so maybe that's why he spotted it? Anywho, away went the heavy four foot piece of 1x5 supporting the yard, and in went some more insulation foam (always plenty left over to go around in this basement!) as the new base. Best part about that is, that it's now lighter, and slightly thinner in profile. And unlike the plank of lumber, it's not skewed like a hockey stick! Oh yeah, Jay extrended the remaining tracks to the end, too.
An army of layout builders works on their stomachs, or at least their tastebuds......Two pizzas and a bag of chips were also killed in the filming of this work session......
Remember the giant hole in the backdrop, as seen here?
Well, with the guys here to offer suggestions on how to fix it, we replaced that missing chunk. It's not perfect, but it's better than it was, and it's fixable. I have to do some filling (and feathering) of joints and the foam layout base with some lightweight spackle, but that's nothing.
And the piece de resistance of the day was when Dave spent (pretty much all day) setting me up with a spare computer to allow me to run Decoder Pro and more importantly, JMRI so now I can operate engines using a smart phone! This will increase operator flexibility when there aren't enough NCE throttles to go around, should that ever happen. After a few false starts due to network conductivity issues, we got it to work. Right now, the computer sits UNDER the layout, but the "master plan" is to mount it above the layout in the overhead fascia and use the screen to transmit, via web cam, a view of the other side of the backdrop so the yard guys can see what's coming (trust me, they need it!) Now all I need to do now is buy a smart phone........
So crew #1 left last Saturday, just as "Crew #2", "The Sheriff of Bloggingham, aka "Scary Ted" Ted DiIorio stopped by, and we (OK, he) dropped the feeders for the "new and improved" staging tracks.
So after an hour or so, Ted left too, so while still on my "model railroad high", I spent the rest of the night tying it all into the power bus (not neatly, but it works with no shorts!) Also seen here is one of the DCC snubbers that Craig made.
The remaining work on Monday that I spoke about with my dad was to put up some fascia boards, and even without paint, it's amazing how much more of a finished look it gives.
Oh, and that "punch list" from a few posts ago? Pretty much decimated, I'm happy to say! The few that remain that I didn't get to actually require time and/or money, both something I don't have enough of before next Satrday. So in closing, the rest of today will be "Clean The Basement Afternoon", followed by "Take A Quick Look At Any Bad Order Cars Evening" before I spend most of the rest of the week staging for Saturday's session. Fingers crossed......
P.S. - Apparently the boys had TOO MUCH fun at Springfield, as I was the butt of many Facebook posts this weekend......Details to follow in my next post.......