Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wiring, first test run on the Palmer Industrial Park

Today I ran the bus wire, connected the feeders to it, fixed a screw up on a turnout, and did a bunch of track cleaning and test running.  I'm pretty pleased, and eager to get the track going on the other side of the layout.

The feeders (#22 solid) are connected to the bus wire (#14 solid) with scotchlok 905 connectors.  The scotchloks are insulation displacement connectors, very easy to use and reliable if you choose connectors that are rated for the wire sizes you're using.  The 905 connectors are rated for #14-#18 on the run, and #18-#22 on the tap.  Perfect for N scale, I think.

Scotchlok 905, with #14 bus and #22 feeder

905s installed on the layout
The screw up I discovered after powering up the layout.  The closure rail of one turnout was unpowered.  Presumably the reason is I had had to shift the stock rail a little bit to get the notch far enough along so the points would seat properly.  So I had to solder a feeder on it in place, and it looks pretty ugly.  I don't think it will be too obvious once the track is painted and ballasted though.  Overall I'm shooting for a "good enough" appearance, not proto 160.  I will definitely be more careful to check absolutely everything about a turnout before installation in the future.

Ugly feeder to fix screw up
With the wiring under control, and the track cleaned, it was time for an actual test run!  For the time being I'm using an NCE power cab (I don't want to subject code 55 track and N scale loco wiring to the arc welding power of the 10 amp booster on my NCE system for the O scale layout).  I have an NCE SB5 on order to power the Palmer Industrial.

I want to have only metal wheels on the layout, in part to keep the track cleaner, and in part to get a little more weight on the trucks and help tracking.  Turns out the only cars I have so far with metal wheels are some ExactRail box cars.  I guess I need get going on figuring out what metal wheels to use on all the Atlas cars I have.

The first test run was 5 boxcars and an MP15.

MP15 test run with 5 cars
Looks just the way I hoped going through that #10 turnout.  I like the look of MP15's, but an N scale one just does not have the traction necessary to work this layout.  The next test was more boxcars and a GP40-2.  It became apparent pretty quickly that the trucks on those ExactRail cars are not the most free rolling ones, and at least one of them has some sort of problem that causes it to derail on everything.  Also at least one of the couplers must have some flashing wedged into the coupler box - it's almost immobile.  Some more things for the todo list I guess.

GP40-2 pulls a cut off the interchange track...
Sets them onto the runaround track...

And finally (after running around) starts the shove to Maple Leaf Distribution
The appearance of the cars on the # 10 turnouts and the gentle curve in the runaround is exactly what I was hoping for.  It doesn't even look too bad shoving around the tight curve at the end.  Although those are only 50 foot cars.

All in all, I'm quite pleased with the weekend's progress.  Having got a taste of running now, I'm really looking forward to getting the whole layout operational.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm also using Atlas Code 55, but I have not gotten very far on my layout. On an aborted mini-layout attempt I tried Fox Valley's 33" metal wheels on some cars, but did not like how they dropped down into the frog gap on turnouts. They did add a tiny amount of needed weight to the Micro-Trains log cars and flat cars, however. I've thought of trying Fox Valley's wide tread wheels, but have not done so yet because of higher cash priorities. I wonder if there may be a difference in behavior between dead frogs and live frogs. By that I mean will there be a problem with the wide-tread wheels shorting the system from the frog to an opposite polarity track?
I briefly tried Atlas metal wheels, but after never-ending trouble decided they were really designed for the wider frog and point gap of Atlas Code 80 track, and not the narrower gap of Code 55 track.
At the moment, I am using mostly plastic wheels of three types: stock Atlas on Atlas cars, "Atlas wheels for Micro-Trains trucks" on older Micro-Trains cars, and Micro-Trains latest mid-profile wheels on newer cars. I've had no trouble with these wheels on a club layout built with Peco Code 55 or the minimal Atlas Code #55 track I have. It's the couplers that have been the biggest headache. There's simply nothing as reliable as a Micro-Trains coupler.