First Op Session!

At 1:30pm today, engineer Vos (P), along with conductor Vos (D), started a shift at the State Belt enginehouse.   After a quick stop at the clerk’s office to pick up some B-7’s, the crew made their way to Pier 43, where they picked up 8 cars off an inbound Santa Fe car float.

Over the course of the next two hours, 9 cars were spotted at their destinations, and 10 cars were picked and delivered to their interchanges (9 for the next ATSF float and one shoved down to the SP interchange at King Street).

Operational difficulties were kept to a minimum.   The track crew will need to inspect a couple of turnouts, and the car maintenance crew will be busy as well, since the rolling stock fleet just came out of storage for the first time in 4 or 5 years.

Owner’s Notes

I wasn’t at all sure how quickly cars would be moved.   I’d prepared for 3 inbound float’s worth of cars, at 8 cars per float, along with around the same amount of work to be performed making pickups.

As it turns out, only one float’s worth of car were spotted over the course of about 2 hours.   That’s not disappointing at all; I honestly had no idea how long it would take.   It’ll be easier the next time, said one crew member, because the “start-up effort” of figuring out how things work will be reduced (provided he can remember from one session to the next).

But this session serves as the culmination of a lot of work to get to this point.   Benchwork, track laying, wiring, fascia controls, car movement paperwork, and more.   The next chunks of construction will go much faster, as I won’t have to do everything from scratch.    For example, the next track work will probably be the 3rd “main track” along the north part of Embarcadero, including the spurs off into the piers.   As each pier is set up, and the track laid, they’ll become operational very quickly since all of the power & DCC wiring is in place.   The notion of building upon what’s already there takes over.

So I’ve got some debugging to do on a couple of noted track locations.   And some tweaking on cars that have been in boxes for a long time.   Nothing too serious, and certainly nothing that will stop me from having additional op sessions over the next several months.

And continuing to do more construction as well.



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.