Some simple flatlands


I was able to take a little time today to work on some train stuff, had a simple task in mind. For one of the sidings the intention was to use a Walthers Medusa cement kit (which I had already purchased and assembled for an earlier module idea). The problem was I needed some flat land along the tracks to bring the building up to the correct height.

Enter all the boxes I’ve been saving for a while to my lovely wife’s chagrin, I tried explaining how they would come in handy on scenery but I got the impression she didn’t entirely believe me ūüôā


I found two pieces of cardboard gave the perfect height to get the building to track level. I will later use other scenic materials to blend it into the surrounding area. For now I have an industry with a building.


Figuring out operations


When I started out this module re-construction I had an idea of how I wanted to run operations on it. Specifically I wanted to make sure that I could operate it without any additional modules under the head of I needed something to run trains if I never made it to a free-mo setup again. Longer run I plan to solve this with a shelf layout I’ve got marinating in my head but that’s another post for another day.

Free-mo Redo2

This is the layout of the track work, trains are staged on the right (will probably do some sort of staging cassette) so the locomotive is on the correct side of the trains.

Siding 1 is a cement distributer, this is just extra cars and nothing complex for switching and will work one of four ways 1) incoming cars are just drop if there are none 2) cars will all be picked up if there are no incoming 3) existing cars will be replaced with incoming or 4) remain untouched. This siding will only ever receive the small cement hoppers and can fit approximately 3 of them.

Sidings 2 and 3 are a single industry that will receive general freight. I’m still working on the back story but expect the possibility of boxcars, flat cars, gondolas, etc. These sidings were designed to support a 50′ car size and I had intended to support 3 cars each. However they are too close near the switch so it’s realistically just 2 each. This was a slight disappointment but ended up being not that bad because the main on either side of the points wouldn’t support longer trains. With this in mind I thought 3 cars was probably the most I’d want to be in these sidings at the end of any operation session.

I started a test operation run with a smaller locomotive that was handy (that ended up being terrible at low speed) and a full replacement run of three cement hoppers in the staged train and siding 1, and 3 boxcars in the staged train and between sidings 2 and 3.

This uncovered some issues, first it uncovered some out of gauge wheels and paint on track I hadn’t already gotten cleaned off. Then I discovered that there wasn’t enough space to the right of the points to support switching out all the cars. I ended up having one boxcar stuck in¬†front of the departing cars because I couldn’t shove them far enough to the right.

I see there being two options to fix this 1) use my Raging River mini module to give a little more switching room or 2) reduce the maximum number of cars in the train. I’m torn on both solutions but I think I’ll do some playing with either configuration to see what works best for me.

Additionally with my GP9, which is shorter than all of my running locomotives, and the staged six cars just barely fit between the points and the left end of track. This doesn’t seem to be as big of a problem as I shouldn’t need to pull that many cars that far and one of my projects is a Proto SW1 that is geared really low that needs a decoder and a custom paint job. I might have¬†to move¬†up the decoder in the project list.

Track/Tie painting


With a little time off from work I took down the module sections and re-located them in the garage for some tie/rail painting. I went with Camo Brown spray paint because it was cheap, easy to get, and didn’t require getting the airbrush out. I was a little hesitant at first with how dark it looked but it’s definitely growing on me.

I was lining up a shot and my little helper Jacob insisted in posing for the shot, of course the problem was he was too busy looking at the track.


Some Important Progress


I was able to negotiate some railroad time tonight from my better half and was able to achieve some important milestones.

  1. Wiring is functionally finished. I can now operate trains but there are three things related to wiring that are still on the table
    1. I couldn’t find my electrical tape so I need to go through and tape up all my feeder to bus connections
    2. I was going to use the mechanical switches in the tortoises on the mainline switches to power the frogs but given the complexity/hassle of the wiring and the simplicity of the Tam Valley Depot Frog Juicer I’m just going to frog juice it. In my test running today I don’t strictly speaking need them¬†but since these are built to be Free-mo modules they need to be powered
    3. My old modules had Jones plugs as was the old free-mo standard, however it has since changed to Anderson PowerPoles which I have not gotten yet. I’m using my old Jones plugs for sectional power connections
  2. The curved run to the larger industry crosses a section border, I had laid the track as single pieces across this joint with the intent to cut them when things were running well. Tonight aftera couple test runs I cut it (and didn’t make a mess of it!)I also started the alignment system for the sub-module connection I’m using 1/2 copper pipe and couplers. A hole is drilled in both sections the same size as the coupler. A coupler is glued in each side of the connection and a copper pipe is inserted to¬†align the sections.

    I got this from a Free-mo modeler but I’ve modified it slightly by using Stub out & air chamber which has a conical end that helps achieving alignment.

My plan is to try and get the rails and ties painted next week. This is because I have time off from work and because I want to get the airbrush or spray painting done while it’s still nice out in the garage. Beyond that things are going to slow down a little bit in working on fine tuning the operations plan and working on starting scenery.

Some Track Progress


The summer has been pretty slow for my modeling just because I’ve been busy and my little bundle of teething hasn’t been a big sleeper (meaning I haven’t either)


Who me?

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten anything done, I’ve been putting down slowly putting down ties and rails when I have a little time and before I knew it my tie supply was looking a little worse for wear

Slightly less than the original 1,000

Slightly less than the original 1,000

Even worse on the rail front

Does Tim Warris make a rail stretcher?

Does Tim Warris make a rail stretcher?

It’s really kind of amazing because it was often only 5-10 minutes every couple days but all of a sudden all the ties are glued down and everything but one siding has rail spiked down.


My next planned steps are wiring/tortoises for the main, a ground throw and frog juicer for the industry switch and working on better alignment pins so I can tear it down and re-setup in the garage for painting ties and rail (but I want to do some test running first)

Track work continues


I was able to get some work done in the train room today¬†(with my little helper Jacob). The entire 8 feet of Free-mo mainline has ties glued down (4′ was already done which includes the two switches I’ve laid so far). This means with four more feet of rail and the mainline will be done. I also started dropping feeders on the part that has track completed. I’m going with one feeder per piece of rail with the only exception being switches where it’s one feeder per electrical area (if a PC board tie connects two pieces of rail and they are the same polarity it’s just one feeder). I’ve also installed one of the tortoise switch machines. I’ll also be using it to switch the frog polarity

On the section that’s done I did a little test run today with a small SW1 and DC power. Things ran pretty well except a couple of spots (dirty track and unpowered frogs) but good for a first run. I also realized I’m running pretty low on rail and ties so I’ll have to stock up soon. I’ll definitely be able to finish the mainline though.

Some track work and plan thoughts


Over the weekend I was able to get some additional work on the two main switches.


The switch on the right has a tortoise installed (but not wired up). My plan is to start wiring things up so at least I can do some DC testing and then continue on to the left (speaking relative to the picture above) but that got me to thinking.

Free-mo Redo idea

My idea with the top left segment was really more display than functional with the possibility that it could do something like a branch line crossing. The reality, though, is that it almost certainly never would be used which means that building it would just slow things down and over complicate things.

So is it worth it? I’m starting to think¬†probably not but I’m having a hard time just deciding to not do it so my current plan is to just do straight track so all the way across so as I get things on the right side done I can actually start operating things. Then if I decide do it I’ll just cut in both the mainline switch and crossing.

Quick Update: Another turnout


I’ve been trying something new the last couple of days, instead of winding down after putting the kids to bed I’ve been trying to do something train related. It can be something as simple as reading a train magazine or something a little more complex like tonight’s project.

Speaking of tonight’s project I discovered a friend of mine had purchased a Fast Tracks #6 turnout jig and was wiling to loan it to me for a little while (Thanks again Troy!). So I’ve been doing small projects to get ready for turnout building. Tonight I assembled my first turnout using a jig (and second turnout built overall). This one turned out quite a bit better.


I still need to do some finishing up like trimming to length and cutting gaps. I really need to work on my soldering, some of those joints really don’t look too great but it’s a good start