Friday, July 8, 2016

Early July Update

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July for my readers here in the States. For everyone else around the world, I hope your summer has been going well since my last update at the end of June showcasing the NMRA Lone Star Region Ops Session. Since my last update, I have been traveling considerably for work, leaving little time for the layout but that's part of a hobby. The time that I have had available has been utilized to finish up two Soundtraxx Econami installs  for a good friend. Lets walk through these installs, showcase two new railcars on the railroad, and talk about the next few posts in July.

Soundtraxx Econami Installs
A few months ago I began doing Soundtraxx installs for friends. Having done quite a few of the TSU, AT, KT, and IM 1000 type sound decoders, my customer asked about new items on the market. It worked out well that Econamis were in full force so I recommended we use the PNP board for his two Athearn R-T-R engines.

PNP board is very similar to the AT boards making install straight forward.

One improvement I enjoyed immediately was the plug for the Currentkeepers. I have been adding these to most every install, although the smaller the space the tougher it can be to find room. Partnered with a Railmaster DS1425-8 speaker the sound fidelity and motor control out of the box is definitely an improvement over the older generation boards.

For lighting on the engines I upgrade all to LEDS. Streamlined Backshops makes a custom clear tube with microled mounted on the end. These are self contained with one light per headlight so there is a lot of light output once installed.
Package of 4 SBS4DCC custom LED lights for Athearn engines. Resistors included!

While these lights fit right into the headlight, a #51 drill bit is used to open the headlight a little more. Using Microscale Micro Kristal Klear, I simply create new headlight lenses for the back and front once the led light assembly wired and installed.

Bottle of Kristal Klear - $3.00, last a long time.
Kristal Klear applied on rear light housings

Following the directions and using a toothpick I apply a dab in the headlight housings. Within 15 minutes it begins to go transparent, I give it a entire day to setup and dry.

Front and Rear light housings dry - perfect lenses!

With this MKT SD40-2 install complete I put the engines through around 6 to 8 hours of running to test and break in if they are new out of box. Completing this engine, I have turned my attention this week to the last work order which is a Cotton Belt SD40-2T. 

Initial board installed with Currentkeeper and speaker. 

This install will six led tubes, 2 on headlight. 2 on nose light, and 2 on rear light. Additionally the locomotive will have a flashing beacon on the cab roof like its prototype.
Details West cored out Rotary Beacon and wired micro LED from Streamlined Backshops.

I should have the locomotive finished this weekend with photos of the operating lights next week. If I can get fancy, maybe even post a video of the operating lights on my Youtube channel..

Any questions on my installs, parts used, or techniques please feel free to ask.

New Railcars
Two new Athearn 60' plate F boxcars lettered for CRLE arrived today. These will be in service hauling plywood, OSB building materials from the Upper Peninsula via Mackinac City gateway.

 Very nice railcars - will be great adds to the overall fleet.

July Posts Outlook
Previously I had asked for ideas about future posts and you the reader provided great feedback. Since there will be no layout work until August I am going to use July as an opportunity to fulfill the post requests. 

- Next week we will tour the layout from a locomotive engineers perspective heading westbound. Along the way we will look at each station and their diagrams to give you an idea of the track layout.

- Late July we will look at a behind the scenes of the layout showcasing its construction, lighting, wiring, and control systems.

Beyond July we are going to have a exciting series of posts working on a great layout project that will build on each other in phases as we progress from Summer into Fall. The series will be designed to help you the modeller get inspired to add the same items to your pike. 

A sneak peak of the series coming in August.

Have a great month, stay cool.



  1. What kind of signal system?
    PTC, CTC,ABS, interlocking or manual blocking System

  2. Modernized DTC-ABS combination. We are going to have an exciting few months coming up.