It wasn’t a fluke

The second op session on the State Belt happened last night.   Unfortunately, the company photographer fell down on his duties, so evidence is lacking unless the guilty parties wish to come forward and corroborate the story.

There’s trackwork that needs to be done before the next one.   Alas.

But it’s all fun anyway.

The Runaround

Tracklaying, switch machine installation, and wiring has been completed such that the first section of track along the Embarcadero is functional, including the first run-around on the layout.   There’s enough track stubbed out on the north side to hold a 10 car train, and enough on the south end to allow an engine and 3-5 cars to go beyond the run-around switch.

I’ve also been busy making labels.   Each track has some sort of name associated, and the fascia has labels for each turnout’s pushbutton.   The destination shown on the label is where the train will go when the turnout pushbutton is lit.   These are Tortoise switch machines, controlled via a latching pushbutton, and there’s a light in each button that is active (lit) when the turnout is in the reverse (non-normal) position.

I found the latching pushbuttons at a good price at Adafruit, which makes them much easier to use than the Arduino based setup I had been planning to use with the non-latching buttons I found earlier.  There are still a handful of places where I will use the Arduino configuration, since I want to control those turnout from each side of a peninsula.   That will put the latching function into software rather than hardware.

Visually, the buttons look the same (latching & non-latching) so it won’t be too jarring (I hope) to have different types of buttons in use.

Pictures of the buttons on the fascia to come soon.

As will samples of the paperwork that I’m writing up for my first operating session.



I had been wondering what to do about switch controls. Blue Points, servos, Tortoise, something else?


Found these at the flea market today. 50 Tortii, at a price that can’t be beat.

Exiting stealth mode

Okay, I had some sort of brief fantasy of just calling people up one day and saying “Come over and operate” and having them show up to discover that I had done something completely different than they though I was doing.

Oh well.

I am no longer building the Washington, Idaho & Montana.  The railroad in the basement will now be the State Belt Railway of California.

The Belt serviced the waterfront of San Francisco, from the south edge of downtown (where the ballpark now is) along the Embarcadero  to Fisherman’s Wharf and on into Fort Mason (an Army shipping depot).  It was owned by the State of California (along with the entire port infrastructure of San Francisco), and operated more as a public utility than as a normal railroad.

No waybills were used on the Belt.  Someone shipping to/from the area serviced by the Belt would call one of the connecting railroads to arrange the shipping details.  That railroad would then direct the Belt to move the car as needed.  All billing was done on a per-movement basis, not as a partner in the billing tariff.

I’ll be modelling 1952, when the Port was once again busy shipping men and materiel to the Pacific Theater, this time to Korea.

Bill Kaufman, of San Rafael, Calif., introduced me to the Belt when I operated on his railroad back in January.   I was intrigued, and when his book came out, that sealed the deal.  So I’m back to an urban railroad, instead of the hills of North Central Idaho.

I’ll be keeping you all posted here.

What’s with ‘Way’ when the picture so clearly says ‘Road’

Most importantly, I like ‘Railway’ more than I do ‘Railroad’.  Don’t ask me why, I just do. Every other line I’ve modelled has been ‘Railway’, so I’m keeping with that tradition.

But the layout I’m building will be different than the actual State Belt, in ways big and small (it’s a condensed version, if nothing else), and calling mine the ‘State Belt Railway’ is one way to note the differences.

Bill Kaufman’s is the ‘State Belt Railroad’.  Mine is the ‘Railway’.