Subway Track Cleanup, Etc.

Track Cleaning 2084

This weekend went largely to the beginning of the final (I hope) laying of the subway track, which has been in place, in whole or in part, through more than six months of construction. As a result, it has gotten a bit dirty. All track was pulled up, cleaned with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad, and relaid. At the same time, insulated unijoiners (black, in the photo above) were inserted to divide the track into electrical blocks (for power feeds and future occupancy detectors) and power feeds were wired up to terminal strips under the table. I didn’t get it all done, perhaps a bit more than half, but I should be able to finish it during the week and run trains by next weekend.

My approach to power wiring is described in the Power Wiring Standards page, which hasn’t changed significantly in months, although I did do a little cleanup recently. There’s some background on the Electrical Blocks page that precedes it in the Electrical section.

The terminal strips will be temporarily connected to two sets of “DC Bus” wires, each of which will be connected to a Kato Power pack (I have several from my previous layout). This will allow me to run one train on each track of the subway loop, until some future time when I’m ready to switch to DCC.

Isopropyl alcohol does a good job of cleaning Unitrack, perhaps too good. On some sections, it took off some of the paint on the railroad ties, although most sections did not have that problem (it may have been that the pad had more alcohol on it for those sections, or perhaps they just used a different paint). But it also picked up all sorts of dust and grime from the carved ballast and from the railhead. I need to work out some kind of dust cover that can go over the layout when I’m cutting wood, to keep airborne dust off the table and track.

For wiring up the feeders and connecting the blocks, I used the track plan as a reference, as it has feeder locations and insulated unijoiner sites marked (the latter with a thick black line across the track).

Although you can’t really see it in any of the photos, I also finished the mounting for the plexiglass on the Riverside Station scene. Unlike the Urban Station scene it’s fairly low-key. Most of it is behind the fascia, so it provides a solid “window” for the two views into the subway station, to keep a derailed train from falling out the window. But it also sticks up about a half-inch above most of the fascia (except a bit at the far end where the fascia rises with the track) to provide a lip to keep a derailment on the Shinkansen/Rapid line (not yet built) from cruising over the edge of the table.

I also did some scenery work over the weekend. Last week I’d painted the foam for the “hilltop” section along the bank of the large river (the Sumida river), and I continued that work this weekend, painting the foam of the embankment itself (although my “concrete” color turned out too yellow, and I’ll eventually need to fix that). I also cleaned up the edges of the embankment, filling gaps and rough areas with Foam Putty, and then coating them with sections of plastic window screen embedded into Flex Paste to give a “stone block” texture. This needs to be painted, but I need to find a better color “concrete” first.

I also cut out a plywood base for the expressway. Right now it’s just resting atop the support columns, but it will eventually be drilled so that it sits snugly down atop them. And for now, the foam core “temporary expressway” deck is just set atop it. Eventually a better model of an expressway will be made from styrene laid atop and around the plywood, but that’s probably a much later project.

In preparation for the first run of the subway, I put most of the buildings that had been removed for construction back on the layout, and took some pictures. I’ve updated the Riverside Station scene page considerably, but also made changes to the River Crossing and Urban Station scene pages (and “phase 2f” construction page), and added the same photos to the photo albums as noted below.

Once I get the subway running, I’m going to turn my attention to actually finishing the foam topography of the Riverside Station scene, and getting a roof over the subway, so I can close the two upper-level loops (Commuter and Shinkansen/Rapid). I don’t expect to get that done until at least July at the present pace.

Other website changes:
- I updated the track plan, mainly to show the final (I think) configuration of insulators and power feeds on the subway, but I also added the buildings near the station entrance.
- I added a bunch of photos to the Construction and Scenery photo albums.