New Year’s Open House – Saturday January 7th

Happy New Year!  The club will be open for visitors on Saturday, January 7th, 2017.
Since our Christmas  Open House was cut short by a power outage, we are expanding our traditional first Saturday open house to include candy canes and hot chocolate.  Join us between 10:00am and 1:00pm.  We are raffling off tickets for both the Grand Canyon Railway and the Verde Canyon Railway.



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Christmas Open House

The annual Christmas Open House will be held on Saturday, December 17th, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Hot chocolate and candy canes will be served.   Come visit with us and see an assortment of different trains running, including Thomas The Tank Engine and the Polar Express.


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Signalling Changes


The MPL signal system has seen a few changes this week. Most obvious is the new intermediate signal at the base of the climb to Timber Creek, for northward movements through the “Mogollon” block. Meanwhile, the absolute signal at the Ogden tunnel portal has been removed – this means movement through staging is governed by signals at Control Point North Hill Valley.

Our “open house” mode has also been reprogrammed. The signals should no longer lock up at Stop when running bidirectionally without a dispatcher.

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2015 Year End Review

Well, it is now 2016, and as we prepare to start new projects this year, I thought it would be nice to review some ongoing projects from last year.   As you read in Phil’s post back in September, we were able to install the new buildings for Hill Valley, including the depot, before the county fair opened on Labor Day weekend.   This project included not only the new building arrangement, but revisions for track and roads as well.  This year, we will continue with detailing the roadways, add additional scenery such as trees and shrubs, install interior detail and lighting in the buildings, and add signs to buildings and building windows.

MPL Intermodal Facility at Flagstaff

The new intermodal facility (left) has been roughed in with new plywood base and Homasote layer. The track has been installed, and necessary changes to turnouts for the new spurs completed.  Next will be paving the entire area and installing the overhead crane.  The paved surfaces will be painted and pavement markings added.  This facility has two tracks and will handle both trailers and containers.

Supporting our goal of adding industries that are indicative of Northern Arizona commerce, we now have a woodchip loading facility at Glenview (below).  The chip loader has capacity to load 4 cars on each of two tracks.

Woodchip loader at Glenview

Another ongoing project is the upgrading of rolling stock and repainting to establish a roster of Mountain Pacific freight and passenger equipment.   Below is one of two bulkhead flat cars for handling tree-length logs.  These cars were originally Ambroid wood kits for a Northeastern U.S. protoype pulpwood car that had a center bulkhead and no stakes.  These cars were donated to the club, and had various areas of damage to the floors and bulkheads.  The floors were removed, white metal stake castings installed, bulkheads rebuilt, and grab iron and stirrup steps installed.

MPL 8900 log bunk flat

Freights cars are not the only rolling stock being upgraded.  The club is working to build a fleet of locomotives and cabooses decorated in a revised paint scheme for the Mountain Pacific.  These fleets will not be made up of random models, but will consist of groups of the same models to represent equipment bought in large lots from a single manufacturer such as is found on Class 1 railroads.  Below is an example of a CF7, and an International wide vision caboose.

MPL 5 CF7 repaint

MPL 110 caboose new scheme

 I will be adding more updates as the year progresses, as well as presenting status reports on our new projects.  Happy New Year!

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Project “Hill Valley” : Installment 4, Completed Installation

It’s been four months since the last Hill Valley post, as my “day job” continues to interfere with my hobbies. In fact, the Coconino County Fair has already passed, and in the final weeks leading up to the Fair the Club scenery experts worked tirelessly to install the completed structures, lay down roads and blend the scenery. Before we get to those photos, I wanted to talk about one more structure. Continue reading

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CTC Installation: Sunset to Page

As of tonight, Centralized Traffic 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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