Adding R/C

So, my layout isn’t perfectly flat. I tried to level it when I installed the roadbed and track, but there is definitely a low spot on the front straight and a high spot at one back corner. 

For DCC controlled locomotives, which use electronics to maintain a constant speed, this is no problem. For analog engines, it doesn’t really matter as I can increase or decrease the power to the track if needed. But for live steam, which is controlled by the throttle in the cab, it’s trickier.

The solution, of course, is to add radio control to the live steamers using a car R/C transmitter and receiver and a servo to open or close the throttle. As a first step, I’m working on installing such as system in my Saxonian. I fabbed up a servo bracket from aluminum and installed it in the cab. I ran it on a 6′ radius test circle in my garage and it performed as expected.

Next I need to set up a trailing car to carry the battery and receiver. That would allow me to mount servos in the cabs of all my live steamers and just move the R/C car between them depending on which one I want to run. But it does mean figuring out what to do about couplings. My Frank S. has LGB loops, the Dora has link and pin, and the Saxonian has a chopper.

I’ll need to noodle on that a bit.

Kansas Weeds

In California, when you don’t plant something, you get dirt. Maybe a little wild oats, but pretty much nothing grows in the desert unless you plant it and then water it regularly. Here in Kansas, if you don’t stay on top of weeding you get wild strawberries, chickweed, and corn. Yes, corn.

Why I’ve Been Busy

So this year I’ve been pretty much too bust to run trains except on rare occasions when all the stars align. I’ve probably done less than one run a month since January. Because:

The reason we moved here to Mac was for me to obtain another Bachelor’s degree… in Auto Restoration this time. So finishing that up, with my Senior Project, has been filling my days pretty full. Now that things have slowed down on that front, maybe I can get back to trains 🙂

Late Summer Flowers

I love the tail end of summer, when the garden is growing nicely and the days are cooling down. There’s still some weeding to do, but it’s less than in the spring and early summer. Earlier this year my wife was commenting that there weren’t as many flowers and that the layout looked “brushy” and less attractive than last year. The alyssum hadn’t grown as well I think because of a lack of rain. But the last few weeks we’ve had quite a bit of rain and now it looks like this:

Missing Picnickers

When I left for California in June, there was a scene on the railroad that included a couple picnicking and a boY flying a kite

When I came back from California, the picnickers were mysteriously gone. I looked around pretty thoroughly, and couldn’t find it. So I had to make a replacement.

The shininess is from the UV resistant coating. I’ll spray with some matte clear later to make it look less plasticy.

Too hot to run trains

As usual in Kansas in the summer, it’s too hot to run trains again. I’m working on some repairs of stuff I’ve brought inside and to replace some things that disappeared this summer. Namely, the family-picnic that was out behind the station on one of the hills.



Drained Pond :-(

I’ve had various problems with my pond since I first installed it. Partly my fault, as it is probably too shallow (18″) and not quite big enough. Plus, I was using the cheapest pump/filter setup possible. I rectified the filter issues by switching to a much higher capacity, non-submersible filter that I installed in the train shed and plumbed to bed fed and return water to the pond via PVC piping.

While I was in California, the old pump–which I’d reused for the new filter setup–died. So I bought a newer, more powerful pump, set it up, and thought all was copacetic. Unfortunately, sometime between the install and a couple of days later, one of the PVC joints on the pump lines let go and the pump happily drained the pond and then killed itself trying to run dry.

I’ve now fixed the pipe and installed the replacement pump. I’ve also added some pond dye to try and help keep the algae down… We’ll see.

Maintenance Work

The last few weeks have been spent working to address some of the stuff that’s happened to the layout over the winter:

  • Several figures needed to be repainted, reset on their bases, or otherwise repaired.
  • Some roofs needed repainting
  • Cleaning buildings of mud/rain splatter
  • Sprinkler repair
  • Getting the last of the leaves out of the tunnel

Plus there were other things to take care of:

  • Weeding
  • Re-leveling/settling track
  • New plants

Continue reading Maintenance Work