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March '98
This page describes work accomplished on the new TMRC layout during the month of March 1998, as taken from the descriptions posted to the club mailing list.
March 3

As a result of much work last weekend by Alvar, Jeff Birkner, James Knight, Alan Kotok, Tim McNerney, John McNamara, John Purbrick and others, plus work since then by John Purbrick, plus some additional work this evening, TNP engine #2415 (which decommisioned the Building 20 layout) pulled a two car consist around Phase I of the new layout. The exact time is contained in James Knight's FLASH message.

FLASH: The first train successfully ran around the temporary loop of Phase 1 at 9:25PM 3/3/98 amid rounds of cheering.

Power distribution was via block feeders powered from a heavy gauge common feeder operated by a power pack. The next steps are to install some separate blocks and a switch throwing system, plus (of course) some scenery!).


March 7

This weekend was dedicated mostly to S&P as Jeff, James, Howard, and Alvar went under the layout and prepared 25 pairs of 14ga wire to serve as the power feeders for the tracks. Jeff and James also worked on figuring out the best scheme to divide the layout into blocks so that it works with both System 2 and System 3.

Meanwhile Bill continued to work on the ping-pong track and the mainline sidings after that. He prepared two blocks to serve as the stand for a soon to appear bridge from Gifford City.


March 10

Alvar built up the ballast slopes on the "ping-pong" track where needed and added ballast. The ping-pong track will be ready for operation by on-lookers standing in the hall after 1) a control system is added, 2) a scenic backdrop is added, and 3) the cover over the viewing window is removed.

John M retrieved the roof panels of the roundhouse from storage. We will probably buy a set of three stalls of Heljan roundhouse to obtain some added parts we need in the new location. John M, John P, and Alvar discussed the redesign that will be necessary at the rear of the roundhouse in its new location. The central stalls that used to go up against a wall will now go up against a hillside that will blend into the backdrop that surrounds the tower.

Jeff, James, Tim, and John P discussed the connection of the current layout to the proposed electronic switch throwing system and (on an interim basis) to (existing) System 2. It is likely that all blocks, including those within P-yard, will be connected to System 2, and that switch kludges will be used in those situations where very short blocks and/or "swing blocks" are required. It is unlikely that the the P-yard control system will be resurrected in its previous form, although some of its relays might be used to control the elaborate P-yard entrance trackage.


March 14

A lot of work occured this Saturday! John Purbrick installed the electronics of the turntable and successfully tested its operation. Ben FrantzDale and John McNamara installed a switch off the mainline and into the turntable; the turn table is now accessible! Alvar installed the Tortoise switch machine for that switch and another switch at the West end of P-yard. Bill Onorato continued work on the bridge that will go above the East exit of Gifford P-yard. Howard worked on the track that is missing on the ping-pong track. Prof. Hidetoshi Katsuma worked on another section of track missing in a spur on the West end of P-yard. John McNamara began restoration work on the back of the roundhouse. Jeff Purbrick installed a power cord that powers up System 2's track power when "Power Goes On".

Then the meeting occured! During the business meeting the members present voted on not keeping some of the old layout pieces any more; and keeping the one with most scenery and dense switch work. After these decisions were made (and the meeting was adjourned) major re-organization of the room occured. Jeff and Alvar worked until late to clean up all the 'back' of the room. The painting area was completely revamped; the table was moved to be at the back of the room, as far as possible from the nice shelves. A metal cabinet was provided where all the painting materials are to be stored . The connections to the compressor were fixed to the painting table so that they won't move any more. After the painting area was cleaned up, the remaining layout parts were compacted again; the womb-boxes were all stacked together, and the lumber was reorganized so that the 3/4in plywood pile can be accessed directly from the front. Finally the S&P area was straightened up and the tables were cleaned.


March 17

John M worked on the roundhouse restoration, and John P added some trackside toggles to control his double crossover and the access switch for the turntable. Jeff, James, and Mike worked on some computer wiring projects, and Andy painted some models.


March 21

Today an important decision on the future of the layout was made when John McNamara, Andy Miller, and Howard discussed, and came with a concensus, on the location of the ladder up to the tower. The ladder was built and positioned approximately at the 'south-west' side of the tower (when using the orientation of New Gifford City as reference). The ladder is extremely sturdy, slightly slanted, and has a platform at the same level as the floor of the tower, which connects the ladder and the tower in a safe manner.

John McNamara also continued to work on the roundhouse. Meanwhile John Purbrick worked on a method to use the tortoise machines with the old-style switches. This 'hack' makes it quite simple to replace the old 48v and 24v switch machines with the new 12v, slow motion, continuous force tortoise switch machines.

Jeff Birkner and Alvar Saenz worked hard for several hours on the old D-board. With the help of others they were able to raise it and the D-board now sits happily above the long hallway window (the D-board is 12' long; so is the window!). Jeff later worked on the clock. At 1:23am TMRC time, the D-board clock came to life again!

Alvar was able to borrow a computer from MIT EECS for this week. Ben FrantzDale and Alvar worked on the new PC for many hours until, thanks to Ben, we were able to do a test live internet broadcast from the club to the rest of the world! This computer will be used Friday March 27th to transmit the first official run of the Aaron Burr around the Phase 1 loop.


March 24

John Purbrick worked on a control panel for the turntable control pad and the turntable turnout control. He also worked on a siding switch for a new industry to be located near the P-yard throat. Bill Onorato and John McNamara worked on salvaging scenery from one of the old Berkmanville modules.

Jeff, James, and Alvar worked on a number of projects associated with the upcoming old/new TMRC presentation that will be part of the Building 20 retrospective this friday. These included electronics to control the ping-pong track, painting the clock cable that runs to the recently re-installed D-board, and mounting the power movie screen that will be used in conjunction with a video projector, high speed computer, network link, and other high tech goodies associated with Friday's presentation.


March 27

"TMRC - the future." A presentation for MIT's Building 20

TMRC took part in the ceremony "MIT's Building 20 : the Magical Incubator", by MIT's EECS Department, by holding a special presentation in the clubroom. The presentation "TMRC - the future" included information on the move out of Building 20, and the club's plan for the new layout in N52-118. During this presentation the club held the first official run of the Aaron Burr around Phase 1 of the new layout.

The presentation was broadcast live over the Internet, and a copy of the broadcast has been saved for everyone to watch. For all the information on the broadcast, including a link to the saved video, go to TMRC's live-web cast page.


March 28

The presentation Friday was a success! Approximately 30 people, mostly MIT alumni and administrators/faculty, attended the presentation. The talk included information on the 'phases' in which the layout is being built, System 3, the "Big Move", and the internet in the future of TMRC. The presentation was broadcast live over the internet, and a copy of it is available in our Live-webcast page. This presentation included the first official run of the Aaron Burr around Phase 1 and a demonstration of the ping-pong track fully operational.

Work did continue Saturday night, since we obviously have a lot more to do. John Purbrick worked on Aaron Burr's locomotive (2415) to improve its performance. Bill Onorato continued to work on the sidings and bridge at the far east end of (new) Gifford City. Then John, Bill, and Andy Miller began to unpack more buildings out of the old layout to start work on the design of (new) Gifford. After some discussion the need for a good plan (scale drawing) was recognized, so that everybody can agree of what is to become of one of the largest landmarks of the new layout.

Ben FrantzDale enjoyed the equipment from EECS for a few more hours by creating a new short video of a 'cabs-eye level' view of a locomotive entering the turntable, turning around, and then going into the roundhouse. It will soon be posted in the web-page for people to enjoy! Alvar, for once, dedicated his time only to supervision, as any good governor would :-)


March 31

Work continued on an industrial siding switch just east of P-yard. A toe-shield was added to the tower ladder to prevent cruft from getting onto the tracks that encircle the tower.

Specifications for a switch and signals receiver card were developed. Current plans are for the existing System2 to be used for track power administration until System3 is ready. However, track switches and trackside signals will step immediately into the electronic age via a data bus that will send commands to switch and signals receiver cards that each serve eight switches. Spare cards, to used for future phases of the layout, will be used temporarily to supply System2 with track switch position information so that it can route power appropriately.



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Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT
MIT Room N52-118
265 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

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Email: tmrc-web@mit.edu
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