Sunday, January 11, 2015

IT’S ABOUT TIME


While clearing the stacks of packing/storage boxes along my basement east wall, I finally located the controller unit and two more clocks for my GML Fast Clock system.  I purchased the controller and clocks a half dozen years ago, knowing I would need a fast clock system for railroad operations.  I settled on the analog clock system sold by GML Enterprises.  (http://www.thegmlenterprises.com/)  The analog clock faces are appropriate to the era of timetable and train order operations up through my layout’s “modern era” of 1985.  Digital presentations may be appropriate for current day, but railroading is a conservative business, particularly where safety is involved. 

I ordered my clock controller with 3:1, 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, 8:1, and 15:1 ratios.  I expect to use the 3:1 ratio on my Cascade Line.  In retrospect, I probably should have skipped a couple of the higher ratios to get a 1:1 and a 2:1 ratio.  The 1:1 would be useful for some operating schemes.  Having an “official railroad time,” even at the same time step as real time could be useful in some operating scenarios.  Still, the 3:1 ratio is my best guess as to a good ratio for this railroad.   That ratio compresses twelve hours of railroad operation into actual four hours—about the limit of most operating sessions I have attended.  By the way, the 15:1 ratio is useful for checking the clock operation (just done!) and for setting up for a future operating session without directly interacting with each clock.

Most of my clocks are GML’s six inch size.  The Dispatcher’s clock will be a four inch one (to be mounted when I build the Dispatcher’s work station).  Three of the clocks have GML’s “real time” feature that allows them to function as regular clocks when the fast clock system is turned off.  Two of the clocks in the main room are so equipped.

I built frames for the clock faces from ½ x 1-1/2 inch poplar.  The frames are much like picture frames.  The clock faces are mounted on plastic plates by GML.  I mounted these to the frames.  Inside, I found I needed to provide terminal posts to connect between my main distribution cable and the smaller wire desired for the terminal connection to the clock mechanism provided by GML.  I used an old model railroader’s (aka “cheapskate”) trick of making connection posts from brass wood screws.  Once the wires are looped around the post (with solder-tinned ends), I could secure the connection by screwing the post into the wood frame.


Two fast clocks.  Just visible on the back of the left clock are two connecting posts at the bottom of the wood frame.  The clock on the right has the “real time” option and controlling toggle switch.

I placed four of the clocks above the backdrop on the single post in my basement, effectively creating a clock tower.   At least one face of this post is visible from most everywhere within the main layout space.  A clock above Wesfir covers it and the future locations of Wicopee and RR-East Cruzatte.  Another clock is located near the RR-East yard throat of Eugene Depot and Classification Yard.  The final large clock is mounted in the “back room” where the staging yards are located.


“Clock Tower” on basement post as seen from the Eugene operator aisle.


“Clock Tower” seen from Oakridge.


Westfir Clock.


Staging Yard Clock.  Clock for the RR-East end of Eugene Depot and Classification Yard can be seen through the passageway.

I am glad to finally have my clock system installed and functioning.  This becomes one more tool as my railroad comes to life and begins operations.  

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