This site is dedicated to my model railroad, the HO scale Virginia Midland Railroad. This layout comprises a 12X9 room with two levels. The upper level is complete and the lower level scenery has just begun.

I do a handful of train shows in the Virginia/Maryland region with Makin Tracks.
I also can help you find that freight car/locomotive or other hard to find item.

Email: virginiamidlandshops@gmail.com
You tube videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/Virginiamidlandrr/

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Short Video of my new signals

Here a little teaser video from my layout.  Not big fan of showing unfinished areas on videos by wanted to show that working signals do add a lot to a layout. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Soldering and signal frustration

Well after about a month or more of doing other things, I decided to install more signals on the layout.  This did not seem to be a long task but a tedious one.  My signals at the crossing have been put in for a few years now.  I installed them with on-off-on toggle switches.  I did the same with these.  These toggle switches have 6 connectors in the back to connect the correct wires.  I did myself a favor and ran the 2 main power wires all the way around the layout when I first thought about the project.  So that was done.  Those connect in the middle connectors on the switch.  Then the LEDs are on one (with the correct resistor) and the common is on the other.  Simple as that, right!  Solder them in and your done right!  Wrong! If the common and LED were switched connections, they would not work.  I found this out the hard way.  Soldering them in: not working, clip them in: working.  I went through toggle switches.  This was the obvious choice.  Went out and got some heavy duty ones like the other switches.  Then I found out about the common and LED thing.  Talk about frustrating.  I spent most of the day trying to get these to work!  The positive:  I did go several hours of soldering work without burning myself.

Soldering is something that if you are going to be in this hobby, you are going to have to learn.  It used to be painstaking but I found something that makes it so easy.  Tinning flux by Oatey is sold in Home Depot and other hardware stores.  Before this, my soldering was bad but this makes it so easy.  Put some on the end of the wire or connector and the solder bonds instantly.  No preheating!  I use and old soldering iron that has a little indention that holds my melted solder.  Works for me!  I use Micromark's Soldering Iron Stand instead of the little one that come with the iron. I use the same method on decoders and those expensive Tsunami decoders.

On with the progress:
My working (frustration) area above my desk.  The signals would control exiting of Battlefield yard.  Gator clips are great for testing connections.  Lots of tedious soldering work.
This is the larger signal that controls the VM out of Battlefield Yard.
Red signals coming out of the yard.  The one on the right is the RF&P connection that leads to hidden staging.  Need to lean it to the right some

Green Signal on the VM and an approach on the RF&P connector.  I wanted to wire the toggle to show a red over green or visa versa and it would not let me do that.  I'm sure you could but I could not figure it out.  I was happy they are lit!
Toggles are set and the fascia did not fit back even but that might be for another day!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Saturday Operational session on the VM & VC railroad

A friend of mine, Kevin Olson, was in town for the weekend.  Since I have been wanting to do a op. session on the layout, why not this weekend!  It's fun to operate alone, but in my opinion, having friend over to run trains and shoot the breeze is even better.  I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon, cleaning up the little mess from the On30 extension (have not finished yet),getting the switch list ready and staging the trains/cars.  We ran a total of 7 individual trains.  That's the most I have ever run on my small layout.   You have to have hidden staging on a layout that small to run that many.

Here are the highlights:
Kevin Olson gets his train ready VM100 to leave Battlefield Yard.  His cars for Fredericksburg Flats take up two tracks.
These sand hoppers are ready for the Virginia Central to pick them up.
The yard power switching some freight in the yard.  That's the On30 layout below.
Kevin's train, the VM100, heads by the VC engine house.  Power for today's train is rare, VM MP15DC #285 and a VM SW1500B #278 with 7 cars for the Fredericksburg Flats.  The trackage heading in to the wall is the hidden staging to Orange.
An RF&P GP40 #124 brings in a cut of cars for Battlefield Yard.  VM #281 rests the engine yard track.
VM GP11 #280 clears up for the incoming RF&P train.
The RF&P engine waits in track 5 for a empty stone train.  The VC has made an appearance and places it's caboose on the end of it's hopper cut.  They ran over to the yard caboose light.
VC #3 brings in 7 full sand hoppers into their trackage.
The rock train has came in from the Orange line and must run around it's train to get into Battlefield Yard.  CF7 #256 leads #292 as they prepare to leave the VM siding.
Kevin on the other hand, continues to switch the Fredericksburg Flats maze with it's many industries.  He will have to clear up occasionally for eastbound trains.  Today he doesn't have to worry about a westbound.
Here are some of the rock cars on VMW200.  The caboose is now at the front.  It's entering Battlefield Yard.
The RF&P leaves with it's empties to hidden staging.  The overpass hides the hidden staging "hole in the wall".  Those buildings are not intended to go there but they do look good on the bluff.
The Orange turn VM150 has run around it's train and heads to Battlefield Yard.  U23B #289 leads this 4 car train.
VM100 (Kevin's train) has finished it's work & prepares to leave the Flats and head to Battlefield Yard.  It's now lead by the B unit.  The VC yard is look crowded!
The VM100 power now leads the Orange turn.  VM150 is preparing to run around it's train to head west.
 We also switched out the VC line and I did not take any pics.  It's took us about 3 hours to do it all.  Not a bad day on the VM & VC railroad!