Sunday, 5 June 2016

Improvements, Wiring and Operation

Motivation came back and work has resumed on Harlem Station. The first major modification was changing the bluish gray color of the concrete pad by a more prototypical light tan color. It was easier to do than anticipated but required a lot of masking tape!!!

It was also time to glue the steel girder on the wood supports over the pontoon. Some details and weathering are still lacking.

 Then it was time to do the wiring. With Jérôme's help, we did a minimal job here. Cleaning the rails, turnouts and connections was a real pain and there's still a lot of work to do. Later, I want to improve the wiring a little bit. But let's just say we can run train with not too much hiccups to be bothering.

The third thing to do was to add weight to the freight cars à la Confalone. Why? Because with radii as sharp as 13", normal freight cars have a tendency to derail at an alarming rate. Now, the cars all weight around 8 to 9 oz and they performed flawlessly during our first mock up operation session. Must I stress the layout is an "exact" replica of Harlem Station and that 50ft cars did find their way without problem - albeit at low speed - on this intricate set of tracks. Forget the fancy Bronx Terminal, Erie built a spartan affair without using a single curved turnout.

And finally, we enjoyed the first ever operation session on Harlem Station since the late Carl Arendt wrote about my project back in the days. I'm pretty sure he would have loved to hear about our impressions. Let's just say it is a very strange experience to be facing a model railroad devoid of any selective compression. What we saw and the miles we travelled were the real thing. That's quite impressive.

Some action during the operation session

Our improvised operation session took an hour at a leasure pace. We spotted 12 cars and pulled out the same number. The carfloat wasn't at full capacity, so I guess 90 minutes would be required if it was the case.

We had to improvised a little bit how to handle the cars, but it looks like you are almost forced to use the carfloat as a yard because there is no place to store all the cars on the property. It may sounds inefficient, but in fact it isn't. After a few moves, we got a good grasp of the pattern.

What is strange with such a small layout standing in the middle of the room is tthat you feel you are playing at some king of board game. Quite weird. We were sitting during the entire session with the layout at eye level. The weirdest thing of all was to be standing where famous pictures of Harlem Station were shoot 60 years ago. Since the layout is accurate, the panorama is exactly the same.


  1. Looking good! In the last picture the Harlem Station building is hiding behind the crane - and it looks finished?! How about a close up!?

    1. It's just a random brick building from another layout used as a stand in. It's about 50% smaller than the real freight station.