CTC Installation: Sunset to Page

As of tonight, Centralized Train Control is in effect from Sunset (the station formerly known as Switch 10) to Page.  Control Points have been installed and programmed from Sunset to North Hill Valley,  with an intermediate signal at the Page tunnel.

The two-track cantilever at North Hill Valley, showing clear for northbound traffic on the main.

CP North Hill Valley

Train detection is by a combination of current sensors (4 Digitrax BDL168s) and scratchbuilt optical sensors masquerading as ties.  The layout was originally rewired in early 2013 with no provision for optical detection, but once the first signals were installed it was clear that detecting only locomotives and lighted cars was unacceptable – signals tended to clear in the middle of long trains or take multiple car lengths to drop at O/S sections.

Dispatcher control is from JMRI, on a Union Switch and Signal type panel.  Fleeting capability allow long strings of trains to follow each other without dispatcher intervention, and the panel logic prevents the dispatcher from directing two trains into a cornfield meet.

The new signals should make this year’s Fair slightly less stressful – no more need to remember whether the tunnel through South Mountain is clear!

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Project “Hill Valley” : Installment 3, Building Construction

It’s been three months since the last Hill Valley post, and by now you’re probably wondering what’s been happening with the project. Truth is, my work schedule has been so busy with travel and overtime, that it has been hard to find modeling time. But I have managed to squeeze in some building construction here and there, so I wanted to bring you up to date on the progress. Continue reading

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FMRRC on NAZ Today

NAU students Holly Switay and Xavier Rangel have been visiting our club this past couple of months as part of research for Holly’s graduate thesis.  After shooting stills and video of several us working on projects, they produced a short feature for the local NAZ Today television news program. Continue reading

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Project “N Scale Modules” : Installment 5, Track Wiring – Hooking it All Up

Back to everyone’s favorite task, wiring up the track. Admit it, now that you’ve been through the planning process it’s not so scary – right? Well even so, remember to invite your wiring buddy from the Club and have some refreshments on-hand. The work will go quickly. Continue reading

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Project “N Scale Modules” : Installment 4, Track Laying

Believe it or not laying the track was my biggest concern during this project. I would be trying something new (at least to me), gluing the track down with silicon caulk. I had read about the approach, but never tried it – until now. And I’m happy to say it went well. Continue reading

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Project “N Scale Modules” : Installment 3, Track Wiring – Planning

My apologies – I haven’t posted progress since last December. Life has been pretty busy these past few months. I’ve been out-of-town traveling for work more than usual. I was gone two full weeks in January, another two in February, and another two in March. Now that April is upon us, my travel schedule has slowed down. I did manage to get some work done in-between trips, but it really hadn’t been until late March / early April that I’ve really had quality time with the project. So here we go … Continue reading

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Flagstaff Railfanning – UP Detour Trains

During the past two weeks, Union Pacific has been detouring trains along the BNSF Transcon route through Flagstaff.   These trains are intermodal trains IDALB (Dallas-Long Beach) and KLBNS (Long Beach-Dallas/KCS*), operating almost daily on BNSF between Sweetwater, TX, and Barstow, CA. Continue reading

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