York TCA 2018 Recap

Life achievement unlocked! We attended the TCA York meet in York, PA this past week which was my first (and likely not last) York TCA meet.  We flew up Wednesday evening and attended the meet Thursday and Friday, and we had an absolute blast. It was certainly an experience, never have I seen so many O gauge trains in one place across all walks (new / used / pre-war / post-war).  Highlights from the show include:

  • Met and had a chat with Mike Wolf from MTH
  • Met and chatted with various vendors, forum members, other hobbyists that I’ve gotten to know over the years
  • Deals on locomotive and rolling stock
  • Ideas for layout scenery and buildings

All told, we stayed within budget and ended up coming home with a moderate take:

  • JT’s MegaSteam Smoke Fluid
  • Replacement Bulbs for MTH passenger cars
  • Pewter Figures
  • Lionel Standard Gauge #312 Observation Car
  • MTH Premier Continental Grain Covered Hopper + MTH Club Membership
  • MTH Premier Southern Tank Car
  • MTH Premier Savannah & Atlanta Caboose
  • MTH Premier BNSF SD70ACe

Here’s a few photos of the new rolling stock:

The Opposite of Congress

We’ve made a fair bit of progress on the layout since the last update:

  • Removed all track, bridges, and accessories and painted homasote and plywood to seal and prep for scenery
  • Painted elevated bridge sections in flat black
  • Cut Gargraves track sections to connect track to switches
  • Installed Ross O-54 switches and wired up the DZ2500 Switch Motors for non-derailing operation
  • Wired up first two drops for the elevated section

We painted the homasote and plywood to seal out moisture and give it a more dirt and stone look. Given that homasote is a compressed paper product, we want to ensure as we’re adding scenery and gluing it down with white glue and water, the homasote doesn’t swell.

The elevated section is coming along nicely, we’ve been able to run a test train around to test connectivity and the non-derailing features of the switches.  We still have the following to do for the elevated section:

  1. Extend insulated rail section for non-derailing operation to allow for faster trains on the upper loop
  2. Wire two more power drops for the elevated section
  3. Cut, paint, and glue track support girders under each switch curved section
  4. Glue down bridge supports in their final locations
  5. Figure out how we want to wire up the DZ2500 switch motors for remote throwing

One “lesson learned” from the Ross switches, or rather the Z-stuff DZ2500 switch motor, is that unlike the DZ1000 motors, the DZ2500s throw at a prototypical speed (read: slow).  While I’m sure it looks great for switches closer to the observer, it’s not really needed for our elevated section since the switches are at the back of the layout and we’re really aiming for fast performance rather than prototypical operation.  What I may do is wire up the non-derailing wires (green and yellow) rather than the Thru and Out wires (blue and white) so the motors will always throw at their fastest speed.

Once the elevated section is complete, we’ll have all tracks operational and be able to run four trains simultaneously with no operator intervention (and five trains if we keep an eye on it).

Yes, we realize there’s some odd consists running on the layout (a 2-10-4 Texas with Intermodal cars and an O-27 Lionel 2037 with a scale Superliner), but that’s just to test overhead and curve clearances 🙂

Lastly, we added a new locomotive to the roster – an MTH Premier Southern PS-4 Pacific.  The purchase was a bit impromptu – we were at Legacy Station picking up our Ross switches and scenery and we saw the Pacific on the display shelf – after seeing it run on the test track and hearing the sound system, we couldn’t leave without it!