In the layout room, nobody can hear you scream

Work Night

Another great work night

Wow! What a fun and productive work night we had tonight!

Joe came over to install some sweet Kasper MKVII, rev 2 turnouts at East Rhineland, and Steve, with his out-of-town friend, Matt, helped with scenery and LED lighting.

Pat Lana had previously presented me with a pill bottle full of silica sand from the actual Tavern Rock Quarry area, and Steve used the material to make the layout's Tavern Rock industry look like a dusty, sandy place that it probably was when it was active. The silica sand is very fine - I'm sure that every building, piece of machinery, and rail car was covered with it!


Joe spent the night installing two turnouts at the east end of Rhineland. With the addition of these turnouts, all of Rhineland will benefit from the coveted Kasper MKVI, Rev 2's! Then it's on to Mokane!

The result of Joe's work tonight at east Rhineland. We still need to add ties, cut the ties to length, add tortoises and wire the track and frog. The locals will really enjoy the silky smooth operation of the Kasper MKVII, Rev 2 turnouts!

While Joe and Steve were busy with their projects, Matt helped me with a project that has been on my list for a while: adding LED lights to the backdrops at St. Charles. We installed a few tonight, but I didn't really have the correct size wire, so we abandoned that project until I get the proper materials.

I switched over to installing LEDs at Yuasa Battery, a small industry in west Rhineland. Using my copper foil bus technique, I quickly installed five LEDs around the building. I really like using the copper foil - it makes wiring so much easier.

Closeup of the copper foil bus, showing the resistors needed for the LEDs.

Rhineland lights
The Yuasa lights are really bright! I may need to increase the value of the in-line resistors to dim them down a bit (especially the roof-mounted security light). Note that the buildings are not in their final locations. I need to adjust the resistor values, then I will plant the buildings.

By now, I know the question that you are dying to ask, "Did you serve Fiddle Faddle, the official snack of the Mighty MKT work nights?" The answer: OF COURSE! It wouldn't be a work session without Fiddle Faddle. We even had Mountain Dew (or, as my daughter says it, Mountain Dude) for Stevie.

Thanks for all your help, guys!

Work Night - St. Charles is ROCKING!


I am SO grateful for friends like Steve and Joe. At tonight's work session, Steve helped toward completing the ballast and base scenery at St. Charles, and Joe tackled the "turnout replacement project from hell" at West Rhineland. Joe hung in there until all the turnouts and track were installed. i marvel at his tenacity and ability to think through a problem and, believe me, those turnouts were a problem. We were trying to retrofit the turnouts without disturbing too much of the ballasted and scenicked track, when we probably should have just ripped out the entire area and started over.

Thanks Joe and Steve for your help tonight!

Scenery work really makes a mess of the layout. I will soon put all the scenery materials away and start concentrating on cleaning the room and the track in anticipation of the layout tours and operating sessions for the N-Scale Convention coming up in late-June.

Scenery materials aren't cheap, but they seem to go a long way on the layout.

New Scenery at St. Charles!

Phase I scenery - ballast and basic landforms. We'll come over this with additional scenic elements and weathering

Last night was another great work session with my scenery gurus, Steve and Dan. We worked at the St. Charles area, ballasting track at Tavern Rock, improving the pig ramp area, and continuing work on the pavement at Safety Kleen and the autoramp.

The new scenery looks great, but along with the improvement comes a maintenance headache – frozen turnouts. Ballast and glue doesn’t mix well with moving parts, and each turnout needs to be “exercised” while the ballast dries to ensure that movement is free and non-binding. Often, we will need to spray water into the turnout points to free up imbedded ballast. It’s not a big deal, unless you forget to check them until just before an operating session, then PANIC!

Special thanks to Steve and Dan for the help, and especially to Dan for the lively Bob Dylan impressions!

I also added a TON of additional trees to the visual divider between St, Charles and Lick/Boonville. It looks GOOD!

Here is an imitation of Bob Dylan almost as good as Dan's:

Update on the Fiddle-Faddle train

I've received a couple of requests for more information about the Fiddle-faddle train mentioned in an earlier blog entry. During a recent track cleaning session, Dan used a couple of gravel hoppers and a Mighty MKT GP40 to deliver a little snack to Steve, who was cleaning loco wheels in the staging yard.

Hauling some fiddle faddle

Hauling more Fiddle Faddle