Tuscarora Railroad

The Tuscarora Railroad is a 1:20.3 garden railroad located in suburban Denver, Colorado. The railroad is based on the East Broad Top RR which still operates today as a tourist line in Orbisonia, PA (south-central PA). Be sure to check out Garden Railway Basics , Kevin's book on building and maintaining garden railroads for information on how the TRR was built.

Location: Denver, CO

Monday, March 28, 2011

Good Grief! Is it Spring already???

 someone please tell me where Winter went?

My "to do" list for the winter

1) Bring in buildings and fit with LEDs for lighting.
2) Do some "urban planning" in Neelyton to take advantage of extra space gained from the plant that died.
3) Finish the 3 stillborn passenger car projects sitting on the shelf for the past 4 years.

My "to done" list for the winter

Oh, wait...

Well, in honesty, it hasn't been a totally wasted winter, but none of my "to do" list has yet been done. My LED lighting experiment has proven successful, and I'll write more on that in the future once I'm able to take photos of what I'm doing. Suffice to say, the Tuscarora RR is going green when it comes to lighting.

Okay, I have been doing some work. Hopper 162 in the background of this photo is chronicled in my last post, along with EBT 3rd #2. I've been doing some work, just not what I set out to do. The two hoppers in this photo are two more examples of projects that crop up to keep me from doing what I "said" I'd do.

The hopper on the left is an Accucraft 1:20.3 3-bay hopper. It just came onto the market in January of this year, and is a fairly accurate model of the EBT's ubiquitous 3-bay steel hopper. (There are some minor issues, but nothing that would keep me from proudly running a string of them.) The "biggest" cosmetic change to them is replacing the non-prototypic "C" channels that run across the middle of the car with proper lengths of rail. This is a pretty simple change to make. I just used a razor saw to cut out the old, cut off the "L" brackets to the side of the car, and then cut new lengths of code 250 rail to sit on top. I also changed the lettering of the car, as Accucraft's lettering isn't 100% accurate. I had given them correct artwork for the "acorn" herald and lettering, but for whatever reason they didn't use the artwork for the lettering. So, I sanded off all of the lettering but the acorn herald, and relettered it with proper artwork. The dry-transfer lettering I used is available from the Friends of the EBT Company Store.

The car to the right is the Bachmann 2-bay hopper, also based on an EBT prototype. The prototype is one of 4 2-bay hoppers built in 1930 specifically for the ganister rock quarries. The Bachmann model is fairly accurate for that car as well, but the lettering was all wrong. So, a little steel wool and denatured alcohol to get rid of all the original lettering, new dry transfers, and some weathering, and viola!

So far, I've done 4 hoppers (three 2-bays and one 3-bay) and will be adding a few more 3-bays to the roster over the coming months.

The other project I've been doing over the winter is modernizing my control systems. I've abandoned the old RCS "Elite" pushbutton control systems in favor of the newer high-end control systems from AristoCraft (Revolution), Airwire, and QSI. I particularly like the added functionality of these new systems, specifically adjustable momentum settings for smooth, slow starts and stops (though switching gets a bit more challenging) and the interaction these new systems have with the more modern sound systems from Phoenix and QSI. It adds a whole new dimension to running.

Currently, I've got the Revolution systems in my locos that have the "old" Sierra sound boards. The Airwire system drives my Phoenix sound boards, and the QSI is a throttle/sound board in itself. The benefits of each of these systems is a blog post unto itself, so keep checking back for that. Suffice to say there's no one clear "winner" system, and with each manufacturer continuing to up the ante, I don't think there will be any time soon.

I have managed to get out and run some trains over the past few weeks, even do a bit of early-Spring trackwork to take care of some trouble spots. I don't foresee a whole lot of other maintenance in terms of the railroad itself this spring, though the dry winter has taken its toll on some of my plants. I know I'll probably have to replace about a dozen shrubs. (Where'd I put that stupid receipt???)


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