Wednesday, September 30, 2015


A bit of a vacation from the railroad was needed following the intense effort leading up to the NMRA National convention and the high energy expended during the convention.  The first couple of weeks of September found me in my lounge chair reading a couple of books.  I still have a tall stack of books to go, acquired over this past year.  A measure of my layout construction focus can be found in my deferring reading books by favorite authors, normally done immediately upon publication.

I returned to work on the layout with a couple of useful tasks that were deferred to “higher” priority tasks for the convention.  Both involved wiring.  The first task added a pair of circuit breakers to the Eugene Classification Yard.  Fortunately, I had wired the yard with circuit blocks that supported easy conversion to the new plan. 

I previously wrote about the task of DCC circuit protection assignment as that of “short management.”  The goal is to minimize the impact of a short by one crew on any other crew.  I originally configured the Eugene Classification Yard as one big power district, protected by a single circuit breaker.  Actual operations of this yard have had two switch crews assigned, one at each end.  Though my crews have not reported problems with shorts, the potential has always existed for one crew shutting down the full yard. 

The solution was simple—add more circuit breakers.  Fortunately, I wired the classification yard as several different power blocks, tied together at the station electrical panel.  It was very easy to isolate the two yard leads from each other and the main yard body tracks.  All had separate circuits that were joined together within the terminal block for the yard.  Those have now been separated such that there is a circuit breaker (power district) for the west yard lead and ladder, the east yard lead and ladder, and the body tracks. 

Eugene station electrical panel.  Two new circuit breakers are above the original group of four. For wiring convenience, they are arranged as the west yard lead on top with the east yard lead below it.  The depot tracks are the third district and the yard body tracks are below that.  The bottom two circuit breakers are for the Oakridge power districts. 

The second wiring task was to rearrange the NCE radio base station and repeater antenna already in use and add yet another repeater antenna in the “back room” where the reverse loop staging is located.  I had expert advice during my operating session for the NMRA Convention.  Good friends from my California days, Mark Guirres and Mark Schutzer, were part of the operating crew.  Based on Mark Schutzer’s advice, I relocated my base station (RB02) to the middle antenna location with the two repeaters split off at that point to locations to the left and right. 

NCE radio antennas in the main layout room .  The base station is in the upper left of the photo.   Repeater “B” is in the former base station location on top of the backdrop spine at the RR-East end of Springfield in the lower right corner of the photo.

Repeater antenna in the “back room” serving the staging yards.  Radio reception had been poor back here during the convention operating session.

I needed to mount two of these to the ceiling.  I fabricated mounting brackets from 0.060 inch thick styrene, reinforced by styrene strips.  A pair of toggle bolts was used to hold the bracket to the ceiling.  The NCE radio antenna base slipped into the bracket and the antenna and cables were attached.

Antenna base mounted in fabricated ceiling bracket.

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