Sunday, January 15, 2017

Painting and weathering some new (to me) brass log cars


Nothing too difficult in the way I painted and weathered these 3 brass cars. Spray bomb red, then dull-coated, then added Bragdon's weathering chalks. The trucks are old MDC/Roundhouse trucks with Reboxx 33".88 wheelsets, which I will paint the wheel sides tomorrow. A very enjoyable afternoon job.








Non Railroad Related


My second (third and fourth) love is boating, fishing and the outdoors. Here is a picture of my favorite lake, Caddo Lake in NE Texas. 






















Friday, December 23, 2016

Adding a Tsunami 2 Sound Decoder to a Mantua Classics 2-6-6-2 Saddle Tanker


This is a fairly simply engine to work with as the cab, fuel bunker and side saddle tanks are simply removed by gently pulling.  
Once these are removed, assuming you are working on a recent "DCC Ready" model, you should see the white 9 pin JST connection for a "plug and play" install of the decoder. I won't be using this so I cut it off and harness, and also drastically shortened the engine harness, the less wire clutter, the better. Originally I had thought about placing the decoder inside of the rear fuel bunker, but had been curious if the saddle tank(s) could work. Upon further inspection, yes the Soundtraxx TSU 1100 Steam decoder would lay snugly withing the left tank. There is no room for two sided tape, nor really a need for it. Next I carefully measured (eyeballed) and located a good spot to drill the hole in the boiler to thread the decoder wires through. There is a larger cavity inside the boiler, above the motor to allow room for these wires and the Keep Alive capacitor.



Hole as drilled.


Soundtraxx TSU 2 where she will rest under the saddle tank. 


With decoder harness threaded through boiler into the cab area.
I did however lay a piece if electrical tape on top of the wires so to better hide the brightly colored wires in the seam between the tank and boiler. 


Rear view of the install thus far.


From here all to do is solder the connections for the decoder. keep alive and sugar cube speaker.



Monday, December 19, 2016

Decoder wiring Standards

  • RED WIRE – this is to pick up power from the track. Traditionally, this should be connected to the pickups that collect power from the RIGHT rail
  • BLACK WIRE – this is also to pick up power from the track. Traditionally this should be connected to the pickups that collect power from the LEFT rail
  • ORANGE WIRE – this is to connect the decoder to one of the motor brushes. There is no “normal” left or right for this one, as motors do not always face the same way in the chassis. Don’t worry – if the loco runs backwards, simply swap for the Gray wire OR use the instructions to change CV’s to make the loco run the other way (easy and works every time)
  • GRAY WIRE – this is to pick up power from the other motor brush.
IMPORTANT – Red and Black wires must NEVER share any form of direct electrical  connection with the Orange or Gray wires. Nor should the Gray and Orange wires ever share a connection with the pickups in any way. Fail to check or ignore this and you will destroy your decoder immediately – The result of this contact, no matter how slight, is usually a puff of smoke and a black hole in one of the decoder IC’s.
  • BLUE WIRE – This wire is the COMMON wire for all functions. It is used with  other “accessory: or lighting wires. It is always POSITIVE, and is the common partner for every function. For example, front light = white + blue, rear light= yellow + blue.
  • WHITE WIRE – “Front lights/functions”. To connect the headlights or “front” function, use the white NEGATIVE wire and the BLUE POSITIVE wire. How your decoder controls this wire will be clearly stated in the instructions, but it is usually via Function Zero on your controller (Often helpfully marked “lights”)
  • YELLOW WIRE – “Rear Lights/functions”. To connect the rear lights or “Rear” function, use the Yellow NEGATIVE wire and the BLUE POSITIVE wire. How your decoder controls this wire will be clearly stated in the instructions. Please note as follows: o Rear light functions can often be used for things like firebox flicker on steam loco’s\ o If the function needs more than 100mA, you can parallel two functions to make a higher power function – i.e. Yellow+ white to one side of the smoke unit, blue to the other side. o Lighting can be configured to be manually or automatically reversed, plus MANY other options.
Check your manual, and if they don’t light as expected suspect the need to switch them on at the controller! This wire too is usually set to operate on function zero.
  • GREEN WIRE – “any other function” including lights or accessory control. Use the Green NEGATIVE wire and the BLUE POSITIVE wire. How your decoder controls this wire will be clearly stated in the instructions. Usually 100mA Max. On non sound decoders, this will be set ex factory for operation by function 1
  • PURPLE WIRE – “any other function” including lights or accessory control. Use the Purple NEGATIVE wire and the BLUE POSITIVE wire. How your decoder controls this wire will be clearly stated in the instructions. Usually 100mA Max.   On non sound decoders, this will be set ex factory for operation by function 2.
  • BROWN or STRIPED WIRE – “another optional function” for use with any lighting or accessory of 100mA or less. Rare, but useful for complex MU or diesel lighting SHORT Circuits and HEAT kill decoders! On non sound decoders, this will be set ex factory for operation by function 3.

Monday, November 7, 2016

United 2T Brass Shay with LED lighting, firebox flicker ESU Loksound

I've completed the hardest portion of my old Brass Shay updates, improving the power pickup on this Brass Shay with home aid wipers, added an ESU Loksound micro decoder with Shay files, added LED lighting and fire box flicker. Next is the details and couplers, removing the old lettering, adding a engineer and weathering. I picked this up at a train show last spring for $150.00. It weighs a ton pulls like it!





Friday, October 21, 2016

Soldering an ESU Powerpack to an ESU Loksound V4 Micro decoder

These require you to solder the wires from the cap to the decoder. This issue I had was the diagram in the manual looked nothing like my decoder. Not wanting to test fate by releasing the magic smoke, I threw in the towel and asked tech support for some help. They were gracious enough to send me these pictures. Thanks guys.






Friday, September 2, 2016

The end- Milwaukee Roads North Montana Division.

Photos courtesy of Long Bell Bob from Missoula MT. Very rare pictures of the closing years of Milwaukee Roads North Montana Division.






Just east of Great Falls yard.

 

Belt Creek Trestle


Small Trestle just before Red Coulee Trestle, notice how the soil has shifted.





Geraldine MT


Square Butte MT.


East of Falls yard across the grain fields.









Local crossing the Missouri River in Great Falls, heading towards Agawam MT.




Moore MT.


Red Coulee Trestle


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Adding Blackstone lighting to an Athearn/MDC Shorty Passenger Car

Having installed LED lighting using various methods, from using an old decoder, lights always on direct from the track, through the resistor, and Soundtraxx soundcar, I was intrigued when I seen the "Long Caboose Lighting Decoder" from Soundtraxx/Blackstone models. (Part No. 8100137) This is meant as a plug and play install straight into the HOn3 Blackstone Long Caboose. 

It's lists at Soundtraxx for $36.00, but my dealer was having a sale so I picked up two for $27.00. What I can appreciate is the resistor and "keep alive" capacitor are already part of the board, all you need to do is solder track power to the two solder pads on the decoder. I had a 4-pack of the Roundhouse passenger cars I picked up at a train show for a very good price (D&R.G.W.) and plan on removing that lettering. 

So lets begin:


I'm starting with the car "Solitude", the roof simply pops off. 



The decoder isn't wide enough to put directly on the ceiling so I glue a couple of lengths of styrene across the roof and applied two sided tape.


Wires presoldered  onto the decoder, and decoder mounted with tape.


The next task was to remove one truck from the car and drill an access hole to route the power wires from the truck. There is a metal weight sandwiched between the car body and frame, so be careful and patient.


After that it was time to drill and tap the truck for 2-56 screws, these will hole my homemade wheel wipers.




Next I added a quick disconnect so I could seperate the roof from the car for maintenance.


My homemade wheel wipes using Kadee coupler springs, I then soldered the wires and screwed them to the truck. One truck is all that is needed, I suppose you wire up both but since the board has a capacitor, the lights shouldn't blink.


I threaded the wires through the floor and soldered in the female quick disconnect, made the connections and put it on the track.




I love the color of the lighting, one down, three more to go!.
It took me about three hours for this installation, I hand-drilled through the floor which took up a lot of time, us a Dremel and be done in seconds. The next step is too install some Woodland Scenics Light Diffusing Window Film so you can't see the workings inside the coach.