Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Author: Scott (page 4 of 9)

New addition for the track gang

It’s been a while since my last post and not much has been happening on the layout because of business commitments. But I did add a new tool to help me with the remaining track laying – four custom track weight/gauges.

Since I’ve been working with a machining company to produce faceplates and handles for our ProtoThrottle, I asked them if they would machine some steel to help me hand lay my track more efficiently. They agreed, so I sent them some simple drawings and, bingo, relatively heavy track gauges that will work perfectly for my code 70 rail.

These are going to be a welcome addition because they’ll hold the rail securely in place because of the steel’s weight. Plus, they will come in handy for other uses where I need extra weight to hold something in place.

Rock River bridge girder spans

I just received my two Rock River girder spans from my friend, Clark C. They came in a very well designed protective wood enclosure because of all the delicate parts. The spans look fantastic and I’m excited to get to work on prepping them for placement.

Both spans need to be reinforced with metals strips along each inside length to make them more rigid to support the weight of the trains. After that, I will prime and paint them in a dark rusty brown color, add the ties and rail and then move on to scenery construction for the piers and river scene.

Clark provided the spans so that I can get the track work up and running across the river. The lattice trusses will come later and will be attached via the side beams. Both spans measure roughly 16 inches in length.

Here is an overall view of the two spans.

This closeup shows some of the detail. There are rivets lasered into the acrylic, but it is hard to see in the photo.

Random flange squeal system

Over three years ago my friends, Michael Petersen and Nathan Holmes, designed a system that would allow random flange squeal on my layout’s three curves. The system has sat, waiting for me to get far enough along with construction to install and test. Even though I only have one of my three curves built, I can no longer wait. I have to install the system and see if it will perform as originally designed.

Below are the components of the system: an Arduino Red Board along with the programming and LCD keypad shields attached; several IR sensors; and a Squealer sound module. I plan to install all the IR sensors even though additional trackwork needs to be laid. I can still test the system on my single curve.

The system is designed to play random sounds via four channels on each Squealer sound module (there will be one Squealer per curve). I plan to copy a variety of flange squeal sounds from online railroad videos and isolate each sound to upload to the Squealer’s microSD card. IR sensors will be positioned at each end of the curves and wired in series. Once tripped, the sounds will play randomly through speakers installed on the layout fascia.

The beauty of the system is not only that it will play the flange squeals randomly, but it will also sense the locomotive’s speed and will not play any sound after a specified reduction in speed. The only limitation is that only one locomotive can be active on the layout. This is ok because I only run one loco at a time.

Below is a schematic of the wiring diagram as well as a layout plan showing the positions of each IR sensor. The plan shows all the IR sensor positions which include sensors to be used for eventual grade crossings and a reversing module for automatic back-and-forth train operation.

Once I have the flange squeal system operating, I’ll post a video to demonstrate how it works.

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