Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Category: Miscellaneous (page 2 of 4)

Let there be sound!

I finished installing six small speakers around the layout. Five were installed on the fascia as you see above, and the sixth is embedded into a small river island on the Rock River.

These speakers will play sounds of the Rock River’s spillway with ambient birds,
I-280 road traffic, and random flange squeal from an ISE Arduino module. The spillway and bird sounds have a zen-like quality that puts me in a good mood.

Track cleaning and conductivity

After getting some sought-after advice and reading a very good article in Model Railroad Hobbyist about track cleaning, I purchased mineral spirits to clean my track and Wahl clipper oil to topcoat the rails.

Both the mineral spirits and Wahl oil are what’s called non-polar solvents. Non-polar means that the solvent prevents micro-arcing which creates dark powder-like gunk that inhibits good electrical contact. So, between both products, I should be good for excellent operating performance.

Update on rail conductivity: after using the Wahl oil approach for a while I wasn’t happy with the results. Initially, I cleaned the track and applied the oil sparingly, but over time the engine started hesitating quite often. I discovered there was a large buildup of black on the rails which was hampering performance.

After cleaning the track with a cloth multiple times until the black was gone, I decided to apply a thin coat of graphite by quickly rubbing a carpenter’s pencil on the inside of all the rails. The engine now performs flawlessly. Obviously, I’m going to stick with the graphite!

Folding brackets for staging

We just had a brand new Menards open in my town so I promptly went shopping for materials for my three staging extensions. I picked up some aluminum L-channel and 1/2 in. birch plywood to make each extension, but I also needed some sort of swinging or retractable bracket to support the extensions. I was apprehensive about the brackets because I thought I would need to design and fabricate them and I wasn’t looking forward to that work.

But, in the shelving department I ran across an inexpensive product that made my day. It’s a retractable 12 in. bracket that works fantastic and was only $4.50! Very good quality. See pictures below.

For two of the extensions I plan to add a wood cross piece so that the bracket will reach out far enough to hold it up, but the third bracket will be attached directly to the fascia for the Eagle Sub. extension.

If anyone’s looking for a well-made but low-cost folding bracket, check these out at Menards. Made by Storage Shop, #225-2254

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