Trains are running at last

It has been a long time coming but trains are finally running on my DME layout.  The lower deck and all the wiring has now been completed.  Many thanks to David L. for soldering all the droppers while I banged my head under the layout attaching the droppers to the barrier strips and then to the bus.  All the PSX circuit breakers are installed and wired too.

The first train did the circuit on the lower deck yesterday, Sunday 27th March. My test locomotive was actually a Wisconsin Central loco (#6001) but this failed on the momentous first circuit and was replaced by another Wisconsin Central loco (a Kato SD40).  This loco did the circuit without any problems at all.

As most of my DME locos are currently being sound-chipped elsewhere, I managed to dig out one of my Proto 2000 DME GP9 locomotives (#1471) for the photographic shoot that takes a rake of test freight cars around the layout.  Take it away the City of Watertown….

This first photo shows the train leaving the (hidden) storage sidings and entering the layout over a hinged drop-down flap across the doorway.  The track is only temporarily laid down here as there will be a turnout on this flap to direct trains to the DME main line and the BN main line.  This train will enter the DME main line at Ivanhoe, SD.

DSC03546_webThe next photo shows the train in Ivanhoe, SD.  There is a siding and a spur here to service the local grain industry.  Last year I said that I was going to have a branch line joining Ivanhoe with a moveable cassette from the aisle-way.  I decided not to go ahead with that and put Ivanhoe back to where it was on my original plan. The track in the middle towards the rear of the photo that goes diagonally from left to right (just in front of the Tortoise motors) is the BN track that will connect to a turnout on the flap shown in the previous photo.  You can see four tracks on the far left and these are (hidden) staging for BN trains.  The town of Wabasso will be on this section of the upper deck.

DSC03547_webWe leave Ivanhoe and go around a 180 degree bend and come to Rosa Park.  Rosa Park is a busy industrial area to the west of the main town of Marshall (MN).

In the next photo the DME train is on the DME main line.  Immediately to the right are sidings for some industries that include Red Owl food distribution, Sealed Air plastic packaging, and a lumber dealer.  Immediately to the left will be a large grain facility.  The tracks on the blue mat will be (hidden) staging for the BN.  The DME and BN lines cross on a diamond just in front of the water tower.  In my previous (ancient) post I said that I would hide the diamond and use some form of lighting indicator to let operators know where the BN train was sitting as it waited to cross the diamond.  I am now keeping the diamond open to view.

DSC03548_webThe train leaves Rosa Park on a 180 degree peninsula and then enters the main town of Marshall (MN).  On the curved section around the peninsula the inside track is the DME main line and the outside (aisle side) track is the BN main. Inside the peninsula is the small operating well where the dispatcher will sit.

The next photo shows the DME train in Marshall heading east (sorry, my east is to the left on this layout!).  The track next to the train on the left is the BN main line.  To the far right is more (hidden) staging representing the (former CNW) branch line northwest to Ghent.  The town of Ronald (after my father) will sit above these storage sidings.  The storage sidings here on the lower deck I have surmised as being a truncated branch line now operated by the Twin Cities & Western (TC&W). The TC&W has trackage rights over the DME from Marshall to Evan (MN) from where it heads north to Redwood Falls and onto Redwood to meet sister railroad, the Minnesota Prairie Line.  I understand that this Redwood Falls-Redwood rail link is not prototypical (or even possible) but I am relenting for operational interest.

DSC03551_webThe train does another 180 degree turn to continue through Marshall and the main DME yard.  DME trains are made up here and there is a small engine terminal and RIP track.

The next photo shows the bulk of the DME yard. We see the DME train on the DME main line.  The track on the right is for DME/BN interchange and it also allows DME/BN trains access to each other’s lines.  The next two tracks on the right are the BN main and BN loop line where the station will be.  I plan on running an Amtrak train and the odd “excursion train” on the BN main.  On the left are sidings for the DME yard and industries such as Schwann Foods.  You can see the plywood for the second deck in this photo as well and, ironically, there are no hidden storage tracks underneath it. This part of the second deck will support the town of Evan and the junction for DME and TC&W trains.

DSC03554_webThe DME train will continue straight ahead before curving to the left (right as we view the above photo) to start the climb to the second deck and the line to Evan (MN) and onto Sleepy Eye (MN).

You can see where the DME line is to go in the next photo where the Woodland Scenics foam incline starts. There are four (hidden) storage sidings under the upper deck baseboard here as well, albeit access is good from the garage doors.  Above will be the terminating storage sidings for the DME at Sleepy Eye and these will be hidden behind a narrow scenic barrier.  In front, as shown by the TC&W loco on the upper deck, will be the line from Evan to Redwood Falls.  The tracks on the lower deck in the open are the MSC/ADM industry sidings and spur tracks in Marshall.  The first two tracks on the left are the BN main and passing siding.

DSC03558_webAs the DME line is point-to-point (and the upper deck is still under construction) I am, for now, rerouting DME trains along the BN main line for a continuous circuit.

The next photo sees our train having backed up to get access to the turnouts that allows it to move onto the BN main line.  The BN main line is continuous run.

DSC03561_webThe next two photos shows our DME train on the BN main; the first photo showing the train passing the MSC/ADM complex on the left at Marshall. The second photo brings us almost full circle with the storage sidings on the left.  A scenic backdrop will separate the BN main line from the storage sidings here.

DSC03564_web DSC03566_webLastly, we see in the final photo below the freight wagons back in their storage siding and the loco is about to reverse back into loco storage (middle set of stub-ended spurs on the left).  You can also see the raised narrow strip of plywood (with a stacked set of foam risers) in the background which will take the DME line to the upper deck at the full eight inches in height.  [To explain – the first foam incline brings the DME track up to four inches above the lower deck.  To prevent additional drag on the incline on the ninety degree turn, I have maintained a four inch run around the curve. On the straight I will place the next four inch foam incline (8 foot in length) that will take the track to the full eight inches, crossing the doorway on a flap that lifts up this time].  The section where the DME goes from lower to upper deck (about 21 feet or roughly seven metres) is not part of the scenic layout and is ostensibly hidden.

DSC03568_webIt is a good feeling to finally get some trains moving around the continuous run of the lower deck. The last twelve months have not been easy as my dad was diagnosed last April with terminal cancer.  Amazingly (and thankfully), he is still with us.  Despite being in palliative care, he is still mentally alert and maintains his positive frame of mind at all times.  More recently, I have my own health problem which hopefully will be sorted mid-April with some specialist surgery.  All the more reason to get the trains moving on the layout!