In the layout room, nobody can hear you scream


What they don't tell you when you start building a layout


If you are the owner of a layout intended for operations, I don't have to tell you what this is.

Progress at St. Charles

I'm wrapping up St. Charles for now, so I can concentrate on cleaning track.

Here are a few progress shots. I still have some ballasting, ground cover, and background work to do, but wanted to share these pics.

Auto loader at St Charles
Auto loader at the Hazelwood Autoramp

Cars at Hazelwood
Cars awaiting loading at Hazelwood. The NS interchange tracks are to the right.

Latest iteration of the staging hole hiding project

Trailer awaiting loading at the St. Charles Pig Ramp

Tanks at Safety Kleen.

Parsons Yard is coming ALIVE!

Kasper turnouts
The Parsons Staging Yard ladder on Joe's Burlington Northern, Marais Division

It's TRUE! Parsons Yard will soon be operational, and filled with lusty semi-sweet green locomotives pulling manly freight and pig trains.

Not on the Mighty MKT, but on the next best thing - my buddy Joe's awesome and massive Burlington Northern Marais Division. I'd prefer to call it the "Missouri-Kansas-Texas, Kansas City Subdivision (with a few BN trains, too)", but Joe says no. I'll keep working on him about that name.

Joe models the Burlington Northern, circa 1987, and has included the MKT junction at Paola, Kansas. Katy trains come onto the Marais Division at Paola and run into Kansas City. Most MKT trains will terminate at Glen Park Yard (south of Joe's big Murray Yard), but one train, the Houston Chicago Express (the HCX or "the Bull") will continue on into a staging track located near 10th Street. This hot train would typically be handed off to the CNW at Kansas City and proceed on to Chicago.

Today, Joe built the 4-track Parsons Staging Yard, installing his amazing Kasper MK VII, Rev 2 turnouts. The turnouts will be tortimus powered and driven by a Kasper Version 4 Diodifier™ matrix actuator with the optional LED visual indicatifiers, Joe is truly an Elite Track Layer™

Joe is also working on the design of Glen Park, and it's like trying to stuff 10 lb of potatoes into a 5 lb bag. Soon, lovely sight of Katy locomotives growling up the hill at Paola will accompany the ejaculation of excellence that is the BN Marais Division.

Selective Compression?

Glen Park
The layout of the Prototype Glen Park Yard, in Kansas City, Kansas

My buddy Joe has a dilemma. But it's a good dilemma. He needs to fit Glen Park Yard into the space he has delegated for it on his AWESOME Burlington Northern, Marais Division.

And of course compromises need to be made. We Elite Operators™ call that Selective Compression. The goal/challenge is to compress all the yummy goodness and essence of the yard into the available space. It's an age-old problem in the hobby.

You need to determine what can be omitted or made smaller and still keep the flavor of the scene you are looking to model.

Examine the overall scene. What is outstanding and makes it unique to you? Take those elements, shrink them a little, and you will likely get the flavor of the are you are looking for.

Multiple tracks - people don't usually go out and count the track, so a reduction in the number of tracks is an easy fix. If you are modeling a yard or industrial area, pick out the prominent buildings, industries, or scenic elements that make the area unique. For example, at Glen Park, the Bunge Elevators on the south side of the yard are the most prominent structures, so they should stay in some form. Just use fewer of them or make the scene have a smaller footprint.

It's a bit of an art, but with careful planning, and Joe's usual awesome track work, I am sure that he will soon have a rocking' MKT yard on his layout.


Allow me to brag for a minute

Cover to magazine

The Mighty MKT was featured on the cover of the May/June 2016 issue of N Scale Railroading! The article turned out great and It was fun having Kirk Redde in the layout room to photograph the railroad.

I recommend that you go out and buy several copies!

New Panel for Tavern Rock

New Panel for Tavern Rock
Upgrading the turnouts at Tavern Rock Sand and Gravel has been on my list for a LOOONG time!

It's finally happening. Yes, the east end of St. Charles is getting the awesome Kasper MKVII, Rev 2 turnouts! And tortisuses. And a diode matrix. And a new panel.

As usual, special thanks to Joe for the turnouts (and the installation) and the clarification of the Captain America/Avengers story line.

Soon, all of manual throw turnouts in St. Charles will be eliminated - a long-awaited dream.

Experiment with Shapeways

I recently ordered a Westinghouse from Shapeways, the online 3D printing store. The transformer was a big pricey, $17.50 plus shipping and handling, but I decoded to give the online store a try.

The transformer looks good! I will use it as a load from Westinghouse at North Jefferson.

Joel Priest painted it for me, and gave it a quick bit of weathering to make the details pop.

Was it worth $17.50? I'm not sure, but it does look nice and I can be certain that not all N-scale layouts have the same item!

Transformer from Shapeways

New Wireless Throttles!


CVP Products recently came out with their new wireless throttles for EasyDCC, the T1300 "OPS".

I had seen a prototype of this throttle last summer at the National Train Show in Portland, and I was anxiously waiting for CVP to make them available. I ordered three of them the day they came out.

I love them. They approach my ideal throttle design…now if they could offer a center-off toggle for direction, I would be perfectly happy!

Here are some of the things I really like:
  • Rechargeable battery pack with micro USB charging port (no more changing batteries!)
  • The lithium ion battery provides 60+ hours of continuous operation between charges. So, if I operate once a month, and each op session is 3 hours long, then I'll need to recharge them every…1.7 years!? Nice!
  • No antenna. Nice!
  • Slim case design. Fits my hand better. Nice!
  • Contoured case with no sharpish metal/plastic interface. Nice!
  • Single turn, robust speed control knob…no more roundy roundy round.

You select the Throttle ID number by cutting traces, which initially sent a ripple of boos through the Yahoo EasyDCC users group. But I like the idea of "Cut once and forget it". No operator accidentally resetting the throttle number with the command keys. So I say bravo for that!

You still set the throttle frequency with internal DIP switches. You set the transmit mode (scan or burst mode) by cutting more traces.

There are a couple other features that are notable: You can't assign a throttle unless the speed knob is turned to off. And you loose assignment if the throttle is turned off. Both of these are fine features.

All in all, I'm loving the new throttles. The only question is: When can I order more?!