Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Trains are back!!

I had arranged for a friend to come over today to help me seal the timber decks, but the forecast top temperature of 38C put an end to that idea.

Instead, after finishing my daily chores, I headed down to the train room and cleaned the layout.  It was actually a lot less dusty than I had expected, although the thousands of dead ants and spiders scattered about made the layout look like it was used to film both Them and Tarantula.

Once I'd done with the vacuum cleaner, I wiped down the mainline with lighter fluid using a cloth wrapped around a small block of wood.

Then I set up my track-cleaning train - four track cleaning cars (my own Huey, Dewey and Louie plus a borrowed Aztec car) sandwiched between a pair of SD24s, and set it to doing laps around the layout:

The two end cars are home-made sliders. The pads are rectangles of masonite held loosely in place by nails that run up through holes in the floor of the cars. At the top of each nail I fitted a fishing sinker by squeezing it to the nail with pliers.

The holes in the car floor are just wide enough for the nails to slide freely. The sinker glued to the car floor holds the car on the track, and the sinkers on the nails press the masonite pad onto the rails.

The red car is an Atlas promotional car body that I mounted on a Roco track-cleaning car mechanism:

The fourth car in the consist is made by Aztec, and I borrowed it from a friend (Graham) in case I needed extra grunt to clean the track.  It can be filled with fluid, and it has a magnet to pick up any metallic material that might be laying on the track. You can just make out small bits of metal clinging to the rectangular magnet in the photo below.

After every few laps around the layout I clean the pads and the loco wheels, which do much of the cleaning. When the loco wheels no longer get dirty, I know the track is good to go.

Here's a video I made of the track-cleaning train in operation:

Once I was satisfied that the mainline was safe to run trains around, I broke out my BLI PA/B locomotives.  I bought these locos about two years ago, just before we demolished the old house; but I barely had time to even test that they worked before the electrical power to my train room was disconnected.

Both my units are powered, and have sound.  A single powered A unit (plus a dummy B unit) would have been much cheaper, but is not able to pull one of my passenger trains up the inclines from the staging yards. This is only the second time I've run these locos and I still have to adjust the sound levels. Here's how they looked and sounded:


I tried to sound the horn at the grade crossings, but I couldn't do that and hold the camera (phone) steady at the same time.

Unfortunately, the PAs stall on one of the turnouts under the layout, so I have some work to do on that turnout before they can be used for an operating session.

Thanks for looking in.



  1. Congratulation Ron on getting your layout up and running again. It's amazing how a well built layout or module can survive a long period of storage in spite of the insects, mice, etc. and just needs a little cleaning & TLC to get back into operation again. Have many more years of fun with your layout !

  2. Hi Ron.
    Those PA's look and sound the goods. Looking forward to the next ops session and that looks like it might not be to far off. hint hint.

  3. Good to see you running trains again