Getting Ready for National Garden Railway Convention 2018

The National Garden Railway Convention is coming to Atlanta and my layout is on the tour.  If you are in town, you can see my layout on Friday, June 8th 8AM-1PM.

It has been a long process…. over 3 1/2 years getting the layout ready.  We haven’t even had the official opening yet !  That is planned for Memorial Day.  Not everything will be complete as we envisioned but the layout will look fantastic.

For the last several months we have been busy getting the layout completed for the convention.  Landscaping is now complete with the dirt and landscape walls completed early this spring.  The plants have been planted and the irrigation system is now operating.

All the DCC zones are working and final track adjustments are just about completed.  We are now working on the final train configurations with engines and cars and working to make sure they reliably stay connected and on the tracks.

The plan is to have 8 trains on the layout, 6 running at the same time, all controlled by a computer running JMRI.  An ambitious task and hopefully will all come together.  The programming is complete and works in simulation mode, the majority of the program works on the physical layout.  We just need to finalize the train configurations, get the couplers aligned and then do a complete test of everything.

Coupler have been  a challenge because we have locomotive and cars from all the manufacturers.  Most couplers do not work well or at all with different manufacturers.  We have decided to create a set of cars all from the same manufacturer with the same couplers but have the lead car have a Kadee coupler and all locomotives to have Kadee couplers.  This will give us the flexibility to move locomotives around if needed and to be able to run all of the trains. We are in the process of changing out the couplers to make this happen.

Our plan was to have lots of buildings printed on a 3D printer.  It has been more a challenge than expected desiging the buildings and getting them to print.  Will be a little short so as a stop gap, we are printing bill boards that we will put on them a sign about “future buildings”.  Faster to print and it was easy to design.  I have also created some framing for builings that we can show some buldings under construction, quicker to print and already designed.

Still working on getting the crossing signals all working.  The signal lights are next, hopefully we will have some running for the convention.  The electronics are in place for the signal lights, the programming is complete but we need to finish the wiring.

We have our ski lift and gondola lift but it needs to be installed.  We have been waiting on this as it will be a little fragile and as we walk over the layout to work through other issues, we wanted to save this to the last type of installaton.

We need to wire up the street lamps.  Many are printed with the LED lights installed but we need to mount them on the streets and connect them up to power.

A lot of work over the next several weeks and hopefully the weather will cooperate.  One of the challenges was over the last 6 months it has been wetter than normal and we could not get out on the layout to finalize everything.

The National Garden Railway Convention in Atlanta this year will be fantastic and I encourage everyone to attend.  You can find the details here –

I thought it would be appropriate to show a short history of the last 3 1/2 years as our layout became a reality.


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