Weekend Engineering – Foam & Plaster Cloth ‘How To’ & Trains Running 5: Testing track on foam track bed

This is a basic how to on laying down a foam riser and covering it with plaster cloth. This is just how I do it, there maybe better and other ways to do it.

The foam track bed has been glued down for the outer track, most of the track has been cut and is loose fitted. Time to try some trains! Sorry for the non-prototypical running, the idea was to test more than run, but it ended up being a very long session.

Weekend Engineering 5 & Track Testing 2

Slightly shorter update from over the colder winter period from December. I will add some more videos related to this update showing the track testing and how I did the plaster cloth later.

The first section of permanant track gets tested with a strange testing train made up of a class 20 in the middle, UK passenger stock on one side and mixed US passenger and freight on the other, being pushed and pulled round the new track. A second locomotive in the form of my second Union Pacific Heritage unit takes a couple of circuits with the US rolling stock to test out curves and points. The idea here was to try to get as many of the more torublesome and different types of items to test with. The UP loco has a long chassis and is very low to the ground. The class 20 has kadees at one side and tension locks on the other making it perfect for connecting both types of rolling stock at once. I used a newer MK3 coach by Hornby (one livery) and older Lima MK3 and a Hornby MK1 (which seems to de-rail on everything) and a mix of the US rolling stock.

Weekend Engineering 4

A bit late with this update as I had limited internet access, and this was actually posted while away in Canada, as I didn’t have enough time to upload it before leaving. This will be the last ‘Weekend Engineering’ (layout update) episode until I return in 3 months time. I will continue to provide videos while I am away, but they will be mostly running sessions I recorded just before I left.

In this update I cover the need to paint the MDF boards with MDF sealer, and this ofcourse meant I had to tidy up a lot, which has certainly made it look better and made it easier to work. I also cover some changes to the bench work – its now more sturdy and a little higher. I also fitted an extension socket to the front of the bench and had the wall socket moved up ready for adding in back boards later. I also splashed some grey paint around where the track will go just to make a background for when the ballast is done.

Automatic Block Signals & Train Control with Lenz Automatic Brake Control

Demo and tests of Block Signaling using Lenz BM3 block modules. Here is how to make trains stop at red signals and to automate block control on your model railway. Also I include some other things you can do with it such as protection for lift up bridges or points.

My intention is to have the entire layout operating with block signals, and to get these to work with the points automatically. At this stage its mainly testing it and giving a demo. When I get in a more final setup I’ll make another post and video on it.

Main Layout – Points Testing & Incline Tests

When designing the new layout I had planned for inclines on the main running loops, however thinking back to the test layout and all the problems I had there, I thought I had better do some testing to make sure it would be reliable. One thing I really don’t want is to have constant derailments and not be able to run a train without lots of frustration, that is an easy way to loose interest or loose the fun from a layout.

In this first video I’m using my Athearn GP60 with a mix of passenger and freight cars of different lengths, running at different speeds to test out the new points. These are large radius electrofrog points from Peco. The idea here is to use a train with a tighter radius limit to make sure there wont be any issues switching tracks later on when the track is fixed down.

This train combination should give me a nice mix to cover most situations – these are deliberately the more fussy cars to try to find issues quickly.

In this second video I’m testing various trains up and down an extended 4% incline set from Woodland Scienics. The ‘extended’ part means I have added in some level sections at 2 inches high to try to make the grade a little easier.

During the tests one of the trains split and a short recovery operation started.

First – Lima HST, DCC fitted, lights from Express Models and cab interior from Hornby spares.
@00:36 – Athearn Genesis EMD SDP45 with Tsunami sound and Athearn SD40 in Southern Pacific livery & recovery operation.
@10:30 – Hornby EWS Class 90, DCC fitted and lights from Express Models.
@12:00 – Hornby East Midlands Trains HST.
@15:40 – Athearn SP GP60 in Southern Pacific livery (DC).

In addition to the trains in the video, a Lima class 66 was tested and failed to make the incline with a train even with a full run up at full speed.
The pair of bachmann class 20s off in the siding in the video also made the incline without issue.

From these tests, I think its better to have the main line on a flat level without any changes in grade, although most of the newer trains have no issues, older trains have problems and that inclines in general tend to be problematic. One issue I noticed right from the start is that the track tends to lift on the corners, making one rail higher than the other. I want this layout to be reliable and as trouble free as I can, therefore the mainline is going to be flat, and I’ll create another line on a higher level which will be more varied. This gives me something interesting while still having a reliable main line, at least that is the idea.

Please feel free to share any comments or experience you may have with inclines and gradients you may have, as I’m interested in what others have done or had issues with.