I scheduled an open house this past May as a part of GGRS (Georgia Garden Railroad Society meeting). I wanted to meet more Model Railoaders around me and to get an opportunity to show off my layout. In addition, it is a great motivator to get everything ready and show finished.
One thing I have found about working on my layout, is there will always be things to do. Sometimes you just need a date that says everything must be running by this time that is available to run.
My son Tony keeps telling me that I have all of these ideas for the train layout but I don’t need to get all of them running each time because I am the only one that knows I want them done.
So 3 months before the meeting date I set my goals on what I want to accomplish at the open house. For the next 2 months between traveling to Battle Creek to run Behnke, visiting my children, and some vacation time with Suzanna, not much got done. The biggest culprit was the rain and weather. Very few days were available to work on the layout when I was in Peachtree City. I concentrated on interior tasks to get everything ready but the majority of the work needed was outside on the layout. My children and grandchildren helped during some nicer weekends to help install new track connectors and rewire part of the layout.
My goal for the layout was to make it more reliable. During the National Garden Railroad convention last year it was apparent that little things would go wrong that needed a person to intervene.
- Track connections were not reliable – we decided to install Split Jaw connectors on all track connections
- Wiring was causing DCC detection issues, track would show a loco with no loco on the section – we decided to install with a new type of wire, XHHW and then to wrap it with electrical tape.
- Level the track better so loco and cars won’t disconnect couplers.
We ended up getting about 70% of the split jaw connectors installed and about 70% of the new wire installed but did so in the critical areas of the layout.
I had also wanted to add additional buildings but during last summer we found that PLC material melted in the Atlanta heat. I have since been experimenting with ABS and PETG material as an alternative. I was able to print some structures but I did not have time to make sure they did not melt so I did not want to print additional structures before the materials were proven out.
With the weather we did not have time to finalize the crossing gates nor the signals. They will have to wait for the next time.
I was able to get the layout more reliable with the new wiring and the split jaw connectors and the layout was able to run the 5 trains using JMRI successfully. The difference between last year and this year was it was just me running the trains and last year I had 3 of my children baby sitting the trains to keep them running.
Thanks to all who attended the open house this year. I hope to do even better next year.