Zmod module in work again

2 years have gone since last time I did anything with my Zmod-module, but now in 3 week, I shall on the road again with Saguaro River and my Zmod-modules, a weekend with 2 days of exhibition.

The module have never been finished, as I started to plan and build my new permanent layout. So I need to hurry, so the new Zmod-module can run trains.

I have now wired the electrical for the internal roundtrack, and tonight I have blended in a tunnelportal and also the abutment for the big trestle. The trackbed and beams for 2 other short bridges have been installed also, only missing some abutment for this 2 bridges.  

Mountain and bridge work


Some work have been done to create the concrete bridge abutments.

Some mountainwork has also been done. In the left corner, the whole mountain is made by gluing foam together and the whole mountain can be lifted up so the track inside the tunnels can be checked.


A lot of activity finally documented

The last months I have been busy with a lot of different parts on the layout, from installing Led String Lighting for the layout, making of the fascia front, finishing trackwork and all the track wiring, including Power Distribution Panel and the conventional block switches for part of the yards to be used with traditional DC Power. Since my main power will be DCC, only a few tracks have switches.

The power is divided into several Power Districts, giving the possibility to run both DCC and DC at the same time on different part of the layout.

Near all tracks are painted and the first landscaping have started to be done.

Finally I have taken some more pictures to document the progress. Enjoy!

Read more about the Power Districts and the final as built layout drawing here.



Time for The Golden Spike Ceremony

Tonight could have been the time to celebrate The Golden Spike Ceremony on the layout. All main track are installed and the first run with heavy freight in both directions in the mainstation have been done tonight. I had 5 engines operating at the same time. Great feeling, finally I can run some trains!!

A total of 55 meter(165 feet) of flextrack and 40 turnouts have been installed so far. With both the High Line and the Tehachapi Level, the total amount of flextrack will be app. 72 meter(216 feet) and 49 turnouts.

I have used MicroTrains flextrack and a combination of turnouts from Märklin, Wright, Rokuhan and scratchbuild Fast Track turnouts with Tortoise motors. 

There are still a lot of wiring to be done, and also some adjustments of the tracks and some of the FastTrack turnouts. As soon as the track are adjusted, painting can be done, before ballasting the tracks.

I hope I soon also can start some landscaping. 

Slow progress, turnouts installed

There has been slow progress the last months, but now I have installed 9 Tortoise motors under the turnouts on the West entrance of the station. 5 of the Tortoises are electrically connected to the frogs tonight, some remote cabels installed, but still some time will go before all the turnouts are installed and all tracks connected.

After that I need to build a lot of more turnouts, for the yard and the east entrance of the station. A little boring, but I think and hope that the end result will be better than using Märklin or other readymade turnouts. Time will show.

3 new turnouts build

Tonight 3 new turnouts grouped together are finished as one big piece. It will be installed on the west side of the mainstation and hidden station, on the mainline. The woodsleepers are installed, but there are still some gaps that need to be cut at the correct position on the rails.

6 Fast-Track turnouts and Tortoises installed

Tonight I have finished the installation of the 6 homebuild Fast-Track turnouts and the corresponding Tortoise turnout motors on the west entry to the main station.

Actually I cut out a piece of the plywood on the layout where the turnouts should be installed, so I could install the turnouts and motors on my workbench. Much more easy, specially when all this 6 turnouts shall work together and a lot of cutting of track. It would have been much more difficult to install them directly in the right position on the layout.

Installing all sleepers and painting are still to be done.

I think the result will be fine when everything is in place.

Some turnoutmotors installed, basement for city in place

There has been a long time and a long summer without any postings on the blog, but there have been some development on the layout, both when installing some turnouts with motors, and a lot of time have been used on the JMRI-software, to be familiar with the software and decide if I want to use it to control the layout.

The basement structure for the skyline city behind the High Line and above the hidden station are put in place. The trackbase for the High Line are also installed and soon the track can be finished on the High Line. I still need to construct the structure for the High Line, and I need to select how to build it; using brass, laser cut material, styren, molded structures or printed paper structures.

JMRI-software to control the layout

I really love the JMRI-software and have used DecoderPro before to run trains on the layout with my NCE Power Cab DCC-system connected to the computer with the USB-interface. Now I have also started to use PanelPro, to create panels to show the tracklayout. The software is good to use even if you only want to have a nice image of the layout, but I have decided to use it also to control the turnouts on the layout. Then I do not need to build any physical switchboard, but instead I can use a virtual switchboard on the computer. Easier and cheaper. But, I then need to buy many stationary DCC-decoders, but the price is not very much higher compared to buy all the switches and lights needed on a traditional panel. And I also think it is much more fun to use the computer. I have done some testing with the Digitrax DS52 that works good. And the price on this was better than other versions from Digitrax. NCE also have 2 pieces I will use, Switch 8 and AIU01.

I will also later build a USS-style CTC-panel. All the tools to do that can be found in the JMRI-software.
There are some nice examples on the JMRI-pages, like the Quaker Valley Railroad CTC-panel, that I want to learn from and implement virtual USS-style CTC-panels on my own layout in the future.

I have created a simple panel showing the layout and all turnouts. For the moment this can be used to operate all turnouts as soon the DCC-decoders are installed.

Near all track installed

There have been done a lot the last days and now is near all track installed, except for the tracks in the main station. There are still missing some turnouts, but now the East Main Line, and up and down to Lower Line, can be run by train.

The basement for the High Line is close to finish and tracks can soon be installed.

Some final adjustments on the layout drawings has been done, so you can check out the final design here: Revision 8.1 of trackplan.


Good progress in track laying

The last weeks I have installed some more track and have good progress. Using MT flex-track on visible parts and Peco flex in tunnels and hidden areas. 

The hidden station is in place and most of the outer double track. Still need to connect the handbuild turnouts. Also need to build many of them. In hidden areas I use Märklin turnouts.

Some minor changes in the trackplan as we build. 



First run on the new layout

Check out my first run on the new layout. The lower track is installed, and I needed to check if the big AZL steamers would run on the track. Minimum radius on this part is 195 mm. 

Building turnouts

Now I have started to build the turnouts and have finished 1 stright and 1 curved turnout. I am planning to use this on all visible turnouts on the layout. It takes some time, so I must see if I can build all the 12-15 stright I need. For the 10 curved I need, I must build them all, because they are bigger radius than the standard Märklin curved turnout. I use 220mm on both curved tracks. Hopefully they works better than the Märklin turnouts also. I must test that.