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September '11
This page describes work accomplished on the new TMRC layout during the month of September 2011, as taken from the descriptions posted to the club mailing list.
September 7

Under construction-- a timber grade crossing at the chemical factory. Not paved like the one shown earlier because it's too difficult through a turnout.
Ever-helpful member in exile David Lambeth made some partially-complete signals. The soldering of flimsy photo-etched components is the most difficult part of making signals, and he figured out that making a jig is the best way to do it (you can see the jig in the picture). There are 35 signals here, and if we install them all we'll be multiplying our inventory of signals by a factor of 8.
A close-up of one of David's signals. The photo-etched parts are from Free State Systems.


September 11

Last week there was some trouble finding all the tools we needed for the Activities Midway. This week: a brand new toolbox just for the Midway!
It contains all the tools and hardware we'll require next year. We're ready to go fifty-one weeks early!
New member Phoebe made some trees for us. Presenting "Phoebe's Forest" in the suburbs of Berkmannville. Note all the shrubs, rocks, and downed limbs in the forest understory.
The view for passengers on the Berkmannville platforms just got a lot nicer.
The mill pond in Berkmannville finally gets wet!
The Woodland Scenics resin is still drying in this photo. The bottle assures us the cloudiness will go away in a week or so.
John Purbrick has been taking apart the helix! Why? To add more track so it can climb all the way to the planned second level.
Quentin got the Green Building tetris back in action. Somehow, the contoller was sending false signals to our lights network. When someone pressed a button on the control panel, it turned all the room lights off!


September 14

We've decided to start construction of the upper levels this fall. The partially built helix had to be taken down and rebuilt to meet the new plan.
Three levels of helix are in place.
It will eventually rise to about 5 feet in height.
The mill pond at Berkmannville has now set, and the blue color has disappeared.
We experimented with some "weathered shale" model rock product. We plan to have the pond looking silted-up and weedy.


September 17

Today the long-awaited tour of the Boston Engine Terminal occurred. We had a group of 15, and we each got a hard hat. It would be nice to report that the hats have a pattern of stars on a blue background, but that's just the reflection of the overhead lights.
This is the wheel and truck shop.
A view of replacement generators.
Cars outside the building, with a derail in place.
We trooped through the inspection pit.
Here's a passenger car from underneath. Some of the taller people found out why the hard hats are issued!
Illustrating wheel-rail geometry.
View from the pit.
The yard outside the maintenance facility.
This is one of the cutters from the wheel-profiling machine. This setup is used to inspect and adjust the cutters to meet the "official" template.
Back at TMRC, Cab 1 was reported to have a problem. Not just the reverse button--the entire left column of buttons had failed. But that made it obvious, a bad electrical connection. And in fact the connector that feeds the front panel controls had separated slightly.


September 21

This isn't entirely new, but the last of the ground cover in Middle Heights has been put down.
Most of today's Progress was in the direction of preparation for Saturday's Operating Session. Here are cars and cards at East Berkmannville.
Likewise, F-yard is organized with some trains ready to go, cars waiting for pickup by through freights, and a few left to sort.
And at Staging, trains are ready to go out.


September 28

Switch 161A jammed, and the motor had to come out for adjustment. It's part of our menagerie of "long armed Tortoises" and other beasts. (The reason for the extension arm is that the return loops around the Tower are directly below the heaviest concentration of turnouts in F-Yard, so space under the tracks is limited.)

A strange incident occurred just before the Operating Session on Saturday. Some guys from the Electronics Research Society next door were testing a death ray gun out in the hallway. That's nothing unusual in this neighborhood, but when it began crackling*, the clubroom lights and power failed, and we haven't been able to restore them. It's something to do with the microprocessor-controlled system that runs the lighting and power control, and fortunately there's a manual override, but something's wrong. This is the interior of the control box.

* Maybe we have to tell the truth and say it was actually a Tesla coil.

At the same time as the lighting failure, one of the "Cab drivers", the processor boards that interface the control cabs to the system bus, also failed. Luckily we have a spare, which we installed. This is the failed one, and the strange thing is, it's not dead. LED D21 keeps flashing, which normally means that the processor hasn't been programmed. Could the firmware have been damaged? It is a mystery.



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Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT
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