Inaugural Train

First Train 1455
The first train ran tonight. As you can see, the table is still a bit unfinished. I added the legs and framing for the end that won’t have scenery, and put down the plywood for the subway level return loop. That inspired me to lay down an oval of track, and break it in with my new ten-car Chūō line E233. The complete loop is just over thirty feet of track, and at half-speed on the Kato powerpack the train makes a loop in almost exactly a minute, or roughly a scale 50 mph.

In other work, I’ve started the DCC conversion project with my first “DCC ready” E231. That’s working now, after quite the “learning experience”, but I’m also installing lighting and figures in the cars, and that’s going slowly. I’ll have more on all of that when it’s done. I also want to do some programming of the speed table and a few other variables. The oval of track I’ve laid down will be used for that, since I can make a good estimate of speed based on the time it takes to make the circuit. The old KTL could have been used, but the 2% grade to the rear station would have been a problem. I’ll eventually make sure the back-EMF is set right so grades won’t affect the speed, but that, too, is on the to-do list.

In other DCC news, I have JMRI working on my old Mac, and connected to my Digitrax Zephyr with an RR-CirKits LocoBuffer USB. That’s been very helpful in programming the decoders (I’ve programmed decoders using the Zephyr keypad, and that’s a pain). The “slot display” JMRI provides of the decoders currently known to the Zephyr, and their status, has been very helpful in solving some of my problems in getting this first train set up.

I had to raid the KTL for some of the track, so I now have some motivation to get the new layout to the point where I can run at least one loop on a more regular basis. But there are things to do first.

I’ve been thinking about the backdrops all month, and have decided to switch to a lighter shade of blue. That will mean disassembling the four tables enough to take the backdrops off, or else I’ll paint them in their upright position, but that seems like it would be prone to streaking, so I probably will take the extra time to do it right. I’m also going to add a backdrop on the end of the Sumida river table, for photography purposes among other things.

In addition, I finished cutting the foam into 2-foot by 4-foot sections, and did some planning on where I’ll make the cuts for the two rivers (placing and measuring track to make sure it fits where I think it should). Once I finish the backdrops, I expect I’ll do that cutting and glue down at least the first (0.75 inch) layer. Then I can glue down cork for the subway roadbed, and put in the subway track, or at least the first attempt at that.