December 2009 Status - Subway Track in Place

Subway Test 1574

The subway level track is nearly complete, with the underlying foam and cork glued down, and the Unitrack in place. The photo above was from before the cork was glued down, showing my testing of clearances and reliability of the curves with a pair of trains (a Sōbu line 205 on the left, and a Chūō line E233 on the right) using a pair of DC power packs. The foam arch shows the expected clearance of the subway tunnel, although in reality it will be a little be less due to the 1/8-inch layer of cork under the track. See the Foam Scenery page for more photos and details of the work. Clearance is good, so I’m going ahead with the plan for a single 2-inch layer of foam atop the base 0.75-inch layer.

Right now, the track is a continuous loop with one power feed per track connected. I need to install the insulated rail joiners, and connect the various feeders to the DCC bus, then it will really be done, except for any painting (more on that later).

The conversion of more trains to DCC, and painting and adding lighting and figures to the trains as I did the DCC conversions, was originally planned to continue this month, but was set aside due to limited time and a desire to get the subway track running. I hope to come back to that in January.

I’m also thinking about a change to the lighting. Right now I’m using incandescent track lighting from the old HO layout, but it’s not giving good colors in photographs, and the number of bulbs (14 at present) produces quite a bit of heat. I’m going to try some experiments with compact fluorescent bulbs, possibly in different colors (e.g., warm white, cool white, or daylight). If I switch it will cut the power use from 700 watts to about 200 watts, which I expect I’ll appreciate come summer.

Other work this month has focused on planning future work on the layout and updating this website. I’ve been giving the track plan for the surface tracks some thought, and that I’ll cover in a separate musing when I get a bit further along. I really want to update these with more than just the monthly status updates. I called the section “Musings” rather than “Updates” for a reason.

I’ve worked out what I think will be the construction of the roof of the subway tunnels, although I still have some testing to do in order to confirm it works as expected. That’s detailed in a new Subway Cover page in the Scenery section. I’ve also been looking at prototype stations and urban scenery, and thinking about what that means for the landscape that will be on the upper level. There’s nothing to say yet about the model, but I’ve added several pages of interesting prototype photos to the Reference Images section.

I’ve also been adding and updating the pages on prototype trains in the Background section, as well as some information about lineside signals (still very much a work in progress). I haven’t bought any new trains in a couple of months, but I’ve been thinking about what to get next (probably a Tōkyō Metro train of some kind that will be at home in the subway, although I still want to get a second Yamanote line E231 also).

Finally, I’ve added a page on my Power Wiring Design and Standards to the Electrical sub-section of the Construction section.

Update: Information about real railroads is now in the Prototype section. Pages about the layout electrical systems have moved from their original location and are now in a sub-section of The Model Railroad.