Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Category: Trackwork (page 1 of 6)

Scenery has started

After a long wait, I’m embarking on my adventures with scenery. To start off, I’m busy assembling the two through lattice trusses for the Rock River crossing and added a couple small details to the track. After I complete the trusses I will start on the I-280 overpass and the Andalusia section of the layout. Stay tuned. 🙂

Here are the four truss sections stacked on each other. I have a lot of work to do to get all the lattice applied, but it’s a start.
Here’s a photo of one of the Central Valley switch stands…
…and after painting, dull coating, weathering, and installation.
I also installed Hayes wheel stops on two of the industry spurs.

The end is near. Or, is it a beginning?

All the IR sensors are in place for my random flange squeal system. Speakers are installed in the fascia, and I just completed a master control panel (see below).

The master panel will control random flange squeal on the three curves of the layout. The isolators in the upper left go to the three sound modules while the bottom row connectors will feed all the IR sensors. The system is designed to track locomotive speed so that the flange squeals only sound when a train is moving. When the train covers an IR sensor on either side of a curve, the sounds will play until the sensor is uncovered or the locomotive stops.

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!

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