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Building a new club layout (and other club related activities)

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  • Member since
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  • From: Bradford, Ontario
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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 2:17 AM

Good news membership wise!

We have two new members! Actually, they are old members, but not age wise. Both belonged to the club years ago so we have welcomed them back with open arms. They are both nice guys!

Happy, happy!!

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, June 14, 2019 1:53 AM

The club is a bit bogged down right now due to budgeting issues for the new layout. We started the current fiscal year (October 2018 to Sept 2019) with a $2500 budget. By early December 2018 we had spent most of that and the rest was used up quickly in the new year. We decided to ask the club for permission to spend more money and they readily agreed, but we only asked for another $500. As it turns out, that estimate was rather low.

We had expected that we would only be spending money on scenery supplies, mostly foam. However, a rather successful running session two weeks ago demonstrated that we will very soon need both a booster and several more UP5 connection panels. I suggested that we spend the money on them now. That raised the issue of going back to the club members for a third time this year to ask for more money. Unfortunately for me the other three members of the Executive Committee were reluctant to do that because they thought it would make the committee appear to be pretty inept at calculating budgets (which would be true).

So far, so good, except I decided to raise the issue one more time after the Executive Committee had made its decision. I felt that the $500 limit had been poorly calculated and by sticking to it we were just furthering the mistake. Now I know what it is like to get blown out of the water!! Bad move on my part! To put it politely, I got shot down!Sad

So, the decision is that we will wait until the fall to aquire some obviously essential equipment instead of continuing the rapid rate of progress that has been made in the last couple of months! That is both called "management by committee", and "politics"!

Oh well!Sad We will get there eventually!

Cheers!!

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 12:37 AM

We had our monthly business meeting on Tuesday night and we made some real gains IMHO.

The primary accomplishment was that we got several members who are not currently part of any of the existing committees to volunteer to form a committee that will deal with operations. That is a refreshing change. Up until now the four members of the Executive Committee have also formed the majority of the other committees like the Layout Committee and the Annual Show Committee.

The Operating Committee's first goal will be to identify the various types of rolling stock that will be needed to service each of the industrial areas. That includes the main loads in and out as well as the occasional shipments of equipment, etc.

The second goal will be to inventory all of the rolling stock that the club owns.

The third goal is kind of obvious - figure out which items that we own actually fit into the operating scheme(s).

Once we have sorted the inventory into which cars are appropriate for our initial operations, the committee will arrange for each of the appropriate pieces of rolling stock to be brought up to NMRA Recommended Practises in terms of coupler height, weight etc., and they will arrange for the replacement of couplers and wheel sets as needed as well as whatever other repairs are necessary.

All of the above will just be the preliminary work for the committee. The next step will be to start developing operating sessions using the tuned up cars as well as members' own rolling stock. Operating sessions can get quite complex, so part of the goal is to start simple and increase the complexity as the comfort level and capabilities of the club members increase (i.e. no more cornfield meets!!).

We recognize that this won't happen overnight, and there will be a bit of a learning curve involved for many of the club members who have never operated before, but I think we are off to a good start.

As always, your input would be appreciated. As I'm sure you have already figured out, we are learning as we go.

Cheers!!

Dave

 

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 7:36 AM

 That seems to be fairly common in a club environment - different people are there for different things. So far, nothing that's been done is in the interest of those people who volunteered for the operations committee. They joined for operations. Now that it's getting to that point - there is something they wanted to do. So those who weren't interested in design or construction volunteer for the Ops Committee because that's why they were there the whole time.

 The real trick will be keeping those who just want to run trains happy and avoiding conflict with those that want prototypical operation. And you see why I have no desire to be the leader of anything Big Smile

                            --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 9:53 AM

As far as club money problems, you must have a member who sells on e-bay. Sell off those things which the club has desided don't fit and ask for donations from members of items they just want to get rid of. You could also do what a club out our way dose. They have a member out here that agments his income by selling on e-bay, his percentage is 25% but he dose all the work, good for him and good for anyone that wants to get rid of any train related item. He got rid of alot of my unwanted stuff.

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 11:26 PM

rrebell
As far as club money problems,

Hi rrebell,

We don't have money 'problems' in terms of being short of cash. Quite the opposite. It is more an issue of how fast we are spending the money. The layout is eating up funds fast and most people get a bit uncomfortable when that happens. As the Layout Committee we are obliged to demonstrate that we are in control of the spending, and that's where our mistake of underestimating near term expenditures causes problems. We are reluctant to say to the members "hi, we know we only asked for $500 between May and September but we actually need $2500 right now!". I'm sure you get the picture.

It is not a serious issue in that the expenditures can wait until our new fiscal year which starts in October. However, it will delay progress in some areas and I'm not happy with that.

Dave

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, June 20, 2019 9:48 AM

Still an influx of funds could for upgrades (with other items hidden it) would not slow your progress.

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 4:43 AM

Turns out the money thing is a tempest in a tea pot! We got so concerned about the outlay that we pretty much stopped spending all together. The only thing we have purchased recently is a booster and the related power supply. We still have about $450.00 in the budget up until October. We had a discussion on what to spend it on on Monday night and it was determined that nothing immediate was required. We can wait.

I kind of feel like I am on one of the rides at the Canadian National Exhibition which takes place in Toronto in late August every year. You spin round and round and maybe get dizzy, but ultimately when the ride stops you get off at exactly the same place you started!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaughLaugh

And yes, I plan on running for a second term as President in October!!LaughLaughLaughLaugh

Dave

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Posted by Bigjim7 on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 6:51 AM
Why don't you spend some of the money on a camera. I check in now and then here and their is never any pics of the layout. Pretty boring thread just reading your club problems.
  • Member since
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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 2:10 AM

Bigjim7
Why don't you spend some of the money on a camera. I check in now and then here and their is never any pics of the layout. Pretty boring thread just reading your club problems.

Really?!? Our club problems are boring? I apologise. I'll try to stir up some real crap so that my posts will be more interesting!Smile, Wink & Grin

Seriously Bigjim7, no offense intended. You make a very good point. I am perhaps being a bit too open about what goes on in the club, but my hope is that some of you will find our trials and tribulations to be entertaining.

I will endeavour to take more pictures soon. The problem is that not too much has changed in the last few months in terms of the appearance of the layout. It is still a plywood paradise. I was actually concerned about posting pictures of the same old same old because not a lot had changed. One of the problems was that the Atlas #4 turnouts which we were so desperately in need of were on backorder for months. That slowed us down a lot.

Now that we have the turnouts we have recently been able to add more sidings which I will take some pictures of. We have also installed a tiny bit of foam as an initial experiment with scenery methods. However the bulk of the progress over the last few months has been made under the layout. So far we have installed a total of 75 Tortoises with approx. 20 more to go. All 75 are wired and working. That is no small task, but it also isn't particularly photogenic.

We have also had a few running sessions and I could have videoed those, but ultimately that would only have lead to embarrasment since a few of the members still seem to be unable to look ahead of their trains!Bang HeadBang HeadSmile, Wink & GrinLaughLaugh

I'll take some pics next Tuesday.

Dave

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 5:21 AM

hon30critter
 
Bigjim7
Why don't you spend some of the money on a camera. I check in now and then here and their is never any pics of the layout. Pretty boring thread just reading your club problems. 

Really?!? Our club problems are boring? I apologise. I'll try to stir up some real crap so that my posts will be more interesting!

 

Dave, I will counter Big Jim's complaint by saying that I find this thread extremely interesting. The title of the thread says it all - - - Building a New Club Layout and Other Club Related Activities. It is a fascinating insight into what it takes for a group of model railroaders to come together to build build and operate a large model railroad.

Now, I realize that words typed out in a forum thread may come across more harshly than the spoken word, but the criticism here seems unwarranted. After all, this thread has over 53,000 views, so I find it hard to believe that so many model railroaders are tuning in on a regular basis just to be bored.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by Bigjim7 on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 6:46 AM
Maybe my post was to harsh' did not intend that. I know about clubs and their different problems. Just would like to see more pics of what you guys are doing even if not much progress. Would add some faces and trains to the mix. That's all I meant. I know it is not easy to get all to agree on something in a club. Thanks
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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 10:05 AM

Me, I like pictures too but I can get those anywhere. I am here because I like the problems and controversy of running a club and that the thread starter is willing to discuss them with an open mind, very rare.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 11:06 AM

Dave, keep doing what you are doing. We are interested.

Despite my reputation for being outspoken, I read lots of stuff on here and don't respond.

And if I'm not interested, I have the self discipline to stop reading and move on.......

Sheldon

    

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Posted by maxman on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 12:08 PM

hon30critter
We started the current fiscal year (October 2018 to Sept 2019) with a $2500 budget. By early December 2018 we had spent most of that and the rest was used up quickly in the new year.

Sounds like you need to be more forward thinking with your budget.

What we do is decide how much we have available to spend in the coming year.

Then we try to do is determine which things we would like to accomplish,  Each of these is a "project".  Then an estimate is made of what each project would cost, and what items are proposed to be purchased. The total of the estimates is added up.  If that total exceeds the available budget, a pin gets stuck into someone's dream idea.

The reason we discuss the potential purchases is because it mostly restrains folks from buying things on a whim, such as that $4500 folk art loco, because they just had to have it.

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 8:07 PM

Bigjim7
Bigjim7 wrote the following post 13 hours ago: Maybe my post was to harsh' did not intend that.

I did not find your post to be harsh. It was an honest comment and it was a bit of a (needed) wakeup call.

Of course, your suggestion about buying a camera would have thrown another wrench into the budget confusion!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaughLaugh

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 8:37 PM

maxman
Sounds like you need to be more forward thinking with your budget. What we do is decide how much we have available to spend in the coming year. Then we try to do is determine which things we would like to accomplish,  Each of these is a "project".  Then an estimate is made of what each project would cost, and what items are proposed to be purchased. The total of the estimates is added up.  If that total exceeds the available budget, a pin gets stuck into someone's dream idea.

Hi maxman,

We did exactly the same thing. In fact our total expenditure from the start of construction to having the mainline running and the bulk of the Tortoises in place is within a couple hundred dollars of where we said we would be by that point in the construction.

There are a few reasons for why the budget has come up again. One is that we are ahead of schedule as far as the construction is concerned. Our budget was supposed to do us until October and we didn't expect to be starting scenery until after that. Turns out we can start scenery now. That's going to require about $500 for the peninsula alone just to get the basic terrain in place.

We also made the decision to buy all the turnouts we needed for the sidings at once instead of buying them on an as needed basis. That decision was prompted by the Atlas turnout backorder situation which had delayed us for several months already. We bought 46 turnouts all at once. That was almost $1000. We also need 11 more Tortoises. Hopefully we can find used ones at the shows for cheap. (If the costs seem high, keep in mind that we are talking Canadian dollars.)

Another issue is that we had not anticipated the need for a booster until we were well down the road. However, we realized at our running session a month ago that we were already getting close to the maximum capacity of the Command Station without anyone running consists and with only three sidings in operation. That has added another $200 to what we need to spend.

Fortunately nobody seems to have their shorts in a knot, and we have enough to buy the booster and some of the scenery materials before October.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, June 27, 2019 12:22 AM

I had a great discussion last Tuesday night with one of our club members, Brian, who just happens to have spent his entire career with Canadian National. We were talking about signals for the layout.

He was dilligently explaining what prototypical signal aspects would be shown for the turnouts and other parts of the layout. I was trying to figure out what signal aspects we should actually use in the immediate future in order to prevent head on and rear end collisions. As I have said many times, our members are still learning to operate. In fact, we have barely begun to learn how to operate.

As a result of our discussion we decided (subject to the approval of the Layout Committee) to use a somewhat modified system. The main line will have red/green signals. Red means stop, green means go (sorry if that is too obvious).

The sidings when being approached from the main line will have a red/yellow indication. Red means that you are staying on the main line. Yellow means that you will be going onto the siding. There will be a bit of redundancy involved in that if the mainline signal is red then the siding signal should be yellow and if the mainline signal is green then the siding signal should be red. Brian explained that we could do the whole scenario with just single head with red/green/yellow indications, but the wiring complexity immediately becomes far more complex. Maybe we will go there in the future, but for now all we want is a simple traffic light system. Red="you can't go that way", green or yellow='this is the route that you are about to take'.

Unfortunately I have yet to develop an automatic system which slaps the operators in the side of the head when they are not paying attention to their trains! Any suggestions?LaughLaughLaughBang HeadLaughLaugh

Thanks for following this thread, and for heaven's sake, if you have a suggestion, please speak up!!

Cheers guys!! Every time I get on the forums I feel good. That is on you!

Dave

 

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Posted by "JaBear" on Thursday, June 27, 2019 12:46 AM

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, June 27, 2019 2:41 AM

JaBear!!

LaughLaughLaughLaughLaugh

Great solution!! I can just imagine the looks on the faces of the club members when I tell them they have to wear one of those! Problem is that I would have a hard time restraining myself from 'stimulating' a couple of the members just because they have screwed up so often in the past! In fact, in one case in particular, I would have a hard time not leaning on the button all night long!!!

You do realize that you are bringing out the worst in me, don't you Bear?!? I do forgive you! The fantasies are very cathartic!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaughLaugh

I'm so glad that most of the club members don't follow the forums!LaughLaughLaugh

DavePirateCowboyClown

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, June 27, 2019 7:27 AM

 The club layout has full signaling following NORAC guidelines - helps when several people work for an actual railroad, and the guy who set it up is actually the head signal guy. However, not everyone works for a railroad, or has memorized the entire rulebook, so they get simplified instructions - basically, if the signal is anything but red over red, you can go. And unless it's green on top, slow down when you do.

 Seems to work, no one seems to run into anyone else. So we can have accurate signals yet have them work for people who don't know real railroad rules. It's pretty impressive when the aspects change to all different sorts based on what should be displayed.

                               --Randy

 

                         


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by hon30critter on Friday, June 28, 2019 4:42 AM

rrinker
The club layout has full signaling following NORAC guidelines -

Our eventual goal is to have a working signal system with occupancy detection and dispatcher control. For now, we just want to be able to see which way the switch is thrown.

Dave

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, June 28, 2019 11:28 AM

Automatic signal device

Can I get one of those for myself Confused

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, July 02, 2019 1:46 AM

Take the camera to the club! Take the camera to the club! Take the camera to the club!! Dianne - remind me to take the camera to the club!!!

LaughLaughLaughLaughLaugh

If I don't put it in the front hall right now I'll probably forget it!

(Exits temporarily to put the camera in the front hall.)

Camera is in the front hall!

This has been a lesson in how to avoid senior's moments.

DaveClown

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, July 02, 2019 1:50 AM

railandsail
Automatic signal device Can I get one of those for myself

Our current signalling device is already automatic. Since we don't have any signals yet, if you run into someone else you automatically get an earful from me and probably several others!LaughLaughLaugh

Dave

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, July 02, 2019 6:43 AM

Dave, if I may suggest a better signaling approach, forget about "block signals" and only install "interlocking signals". They will still be tied to detection, but do you really have room between major junction points for more than one train? If not, you don't need block signals.

On most prototype systems, as you approach a controlled turnout, or group of turnouts there is a signal head for each possible route, typically no more than three. 

The top head indicates the main route, the second one the next most important, the last the most restricted diverging route. 

If conditions require a complete stop, all will be red. 

This type of signaling is easy to wire up either with solid state boards or simple relays, detectors and contacts on the turnouts, and is easily made into a simplified CTC system.

It will look more realistic, and should meet your needs.

If you want more info, let me know.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, July 02, 2019 9:24 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Dave, if I may suggest a better signaling approach, forget about "block signals" and only install "interlocking signals". They will still be tied to detection, but do you really have room between major junction points for more than one train? If not, you don't need block signals.

Thanks for the advice Sheldon. It makes sense. I'll think about it and will probably be back with some questions soon.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, July 02, 2019 10:32 PM

I remembered to take the camera to the club!!!

Here are the results:

This is on the east side of the layout facing south. The tracks through the center are the mainline and passing siding, and they turn west as they approach the wall. The tracks going to the left will run into the Hearst Pulp Mill and the tracks on the right run into a TransLoad faciliity, a power plant and a cement plant.

This is the other entrance to the Power Plant, the Transload facility and the cement plant, with the Hearst operation in the right rear. All of the uppermost raised track will be on a bridge system:

This is the other side of the aisle that ends where the power plant will be. We have made an initial attempt at base scenery:

This is the Brewery. Seven turnouts in less than 18" x 6' of track. It looks much bigger than it is:

This is the south end of the main yard:

This is the main service facility and behind it the tracks turn left leading into the north end of the main yard. Some of the buildings' positions are not final as of yet:

Here is the first attempt at a control panel for the south yard. It requires a few modifications before we produce the final version. For example, only one toggle switch is needed for turnouts 2 and 4 because it is a crossover. Also, we have changed the track plan around turnout 11 by adding in another turnout which is not shown on this diagram:

The Control Panels are only mock ups. The final versions will be much more attractive, likely black backgrounds with white track, and stained wood frames.

So, that's where the layout stands today!

Some of you will be thinking that the layout is a real spagetti bowl, and you are absolutely right! We designed the layout to maximize the number of operators. So, for example, we have seven turnouts in the Brewery area which is barely five feet long, and 13 turnouts in the Hearst Pulp Mill which is only 13 feet long.

All comments welcome!!

Thanks for your interest.

Dave 

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Posted by carl425 on Tuesday, July 02, 2019 10:55 PM

One man's spaghetti is another man's pasta.  Just remember the oft quoted phrase "it's your railroad".

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, July 08, 2019 3:38 AM

Just finished the wiring for the Service Area control panel.

The black wire is stranded, hence the relative lack of straight lines. Had to work with what we had.Wink

I have to say that my new (relatively) Xytronics soldering station is amazing compared to the Weller station I was using before. If you are having trouble soldering, consider upgrading your unit. I wish I had done it years ago!!!

Dave

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