The computer that the Divide Operator uses to control their territory had been located in a temporary location on the layout itself, shoe horned behind Hicksville Station so the Train Director had to stand facing the station to route trains.
This was actually a great location for testing since the controls were right in the aisle along with the wayside elements they controlled. But since Holtsville was to be located right above Hicksville the presence of the screen prohibited any contraction of the third deck there.
Since every switch was under control of the Operator, the Divide control computer was moved back into the staging area where it was always intended to go. Now it’s much more of a workable arrangement!
The operator enjoyed working from a real desk very much (I think). And to boot this opened up the 3rd deck for more construction.
East end of Ronkonkoma
I decided to add the Team Track at the end of the KO south siding. There are no regular freight customers here, but you can tell the season by which MOW equipment is laid up on that track, the fire protection water tank, or the snow plow
Prima Asphalt – Holtsville
Now part of Posillico Materials, Prima Asphalt was a going concern during the era of the layout. Prima was the destination of the “Tunnel Muck” Stone train that brought stone from the City Water Tunnel excavation in Maspeth, Queens. Athearn was kind enough to release the 24′ ore jennies that were used on this train recently, so now those cars “have a job” on the layout.
In addition to aggregates for asphalt, Prima also takes tank cars of propane, delivered on the stub end track, and Bentonite in covered hoppers used in creating a protective layer in a local landfill. Basically it’s a trans-load facility in addition to an asphalt plant.
I had to make the tough choice of putting Medford station in the middle of a turn-back curve, a big u-turn at the end of an aisle. The underlying problem is the length of the block between Ronkonkoma and Yaphank. In that long block are a lot of industries but operationally it needs to be as condensed as possible to make train movements as fluid as possible. So Medford and it’s short platform was placed at the end of the aisle.
DiCarlo Foods was placed in a location where there was open space, the layout of the spur really doesn’t reflect reality.
There will be a Medford Team Track but although the switch is installed I’m not going to build it until I get all of the bench work properly sliced up in Medford to put the station up on a bit of an embankment as it is in real life.
Gershow is the last part that I’ve recently gotten track down for. Gershow is a huge junk yard, or these days “recycling facility”. Over the years I had accumulated a large number of gondolas and it’s nice to finally have a place for them to go. There are three spurs for loading and a small storage yard on site for both empties and loads as required. The “switch-back” entrance is prototypical as well as the lack of a runaround. NY&A often runs with an engine at both ends of the train and since any run around siding is a distance away, it really helps for layouts like this one which are both facing and trailing point.
Rail expansion and electrical gremlins
Since construction began in 2015 I’ve never had a rail gap close up – until this winter (2020-21). I can’t say why this is, but there were a number of electrical problems that eventually came down to gaps that were no longer gaps. It was time to do what I should have done to start with – put styrene in the openings. In this case I had to open up the closed gaps with a cutting tool and then super glue in some .020 styrene. I do this with oversized bits that I cut to fit the rail edge once they are secured. Cutting to fit later makes it less critical how the position of the piece is when it gets glued in.
The ESP32CAM board is all you need to make a working HO scale camera car. Here it’s fitted into a container “well car” with a FuelRod used as a power supply. The board can be programmed using the Arduino Development Environment among others. I’m putting together a clinic on this to be presented at a NMRA Sunrise Trails Division zoom meeting. It will also be posted here once it’s been “premiered”.
Scenery added at Astro Ready Mix
Once the stone is unloaded at Astro Ready Mix it’s stored in bays divides by 2′ x 2′ x 4′ concrete blocks. I set out to make some similar stone piles.
You can see from the pictures that I’ve also filled in the area with spackle painted grey to simulate paving.
Automatic Block Signals
The Rule 251 “Current of Traffic” Territory between Bliss and Jay on the Lower Montauk Branch is now protected by automatic block signals. In addition to protection against rear-end collisions the other big selling point is that these signals downgrade to “Stop and Proceed” when there is a hand thrown switch out of position anywhere in their block, which can happen when the Fresh Pond Yard area gets busy and operators forget to line and lock switches for the main behind their train.
That’s about everything for now!