It’s been a while since I posted an update about our progress down at the local model railroad club, so here goes. This time: More scenery, running trains with cellphones, setting up operations, and more!
Scenery at the Idaho Falls Yard
Vet and I have continued working on scenery at the I.F. yard area, but we did take a break for 3 weeks or so to work on some other things (more on that in a bit). Vet has darned-near finished the ballast on the track, and has been working on painting the ties to give them a weathered, worn look instead of plastic.
I’ve been working on ground cover at the north end of the yard, specifically near the ‘Y’ in the track. I’ve been getting better at using my home-made static grass applicator, and placed some static grass inside the ‘Y’. I then put down some basic “dirt” (aka grout) to cover the rest of the area that didn’t have any ground cover. I’ll be adding some static grass to some of this soon.
Track and Electrical Work on the Gillmore Branch Line
The club layout features a representation of the Gillmore & Pittsburgh branch line. This area of the layout is still very much under construction, and Casey and Dave have been working on the track and wiring.
We’re starting to get ready for Railshow 2018, the annual Idaho Falls train show, which will be held on October 13 & 14, 2018 (I visited the show last year and shot video). One thing we decided to do was to make up signs to attach to the layout fascia that indicate what town or area the various locations on the layout represent. We felt it would be beneficial for visitors if they could know where they were. I photoshopped up some signs that resemble the signs that can still be seen on railroad stations in the area, such as in Blackfoot, Shelley, etc. Vet printed them on his laser printer and attached them to foamcore. I think they turned out great! Here’s our sign for Idaho Falls, below the model of the Idaho Falls passenger depot that was beautifully scratch-built by Leo!
JMRI (Java Model Railroad Interface)
JMRI is a very advanced, open-source program that runs on a computer and interfaces to your model railroad. It’s VERY full featured, including the ability to program locomotives, control signaling on the layout, display a map of your layout with indicators of where trains are (with the appropriate sensors in place), and more! Dave installed the connection between the club’s PC and the layout DCC system (EasyDCC), and I set up JMRI’s wifi throttle feature. This means that we can now use a free app on our Android and iOS smartphones to run trains. This is a huge advance for the club, because now the club doesn’t have to spend $150 for each wireless throttle. It’s been great! Here’s a quick video of me running a train on my home layout with the same app.
If you’d like to know more about JMRI, visit the JMRI Website
JMRI Operations Pro Setup
JMRI also features “Operations Pro”, a program that helps you set up operating sessions on your layout. An operating session is when you actually operate trains as you would on a real railroad, with assigned car pick-ups and deliveries (set-outs) for each train – Vet likes to call it “transportation simulation”. I’ll probably make a separate blog entry on setting up operations in JMRI, but the basic idea is that you set up routes with locations, then enter all of the railroad cars into the program, and it generates manifests for trains, indicating what cars need to be picked up and set out at each location. It’s a bit labor-intensive up-front, because you have to measure each siding (a section of track where cars can be picked up and set out) and each and every railroad car. Once you’ve done the work up front, however, JMRI generates the manifests for all of your trains at the click of a button.
Vet and I have spent 3 or 4 evenings, plus a Friday, entering everything in and setting it all up. We’re about done, and we’ve done a few test runs. It works well. Hopefully, very soon we’ll be able to actually hold a club operating session!
N Scale Layout
A former member of the club recently had to move out of the area. He had started building this small N scale (1:160) layout, and left it with the club when he moved. Scott, Troy, and Casey have been working on it.
Operating Session at Bob’s
In addition to all of the work we’ve been doing on the club layout, several members of the club once again attended an operating session on Bob Davis’ BEAUTIFUL PRR layout. As is always the case, we had a great time running trains. I didn’t shoot any video or photos this time, I had too much fun running trains.
I think that’s about it for now. We’ll soon turn our attention to cleaning the layout as well as the room in prep for Railshow 2018.
On a final note: We were recently contacted by a local magazine who wanted some photos of the layout, so they could advertise the upcoming show. I snapped a few and sent them over. I’ve included them in a gallery below. Enjoy!