Friday, February 22, 2019

NTS&B Cable-Stayed Bridge Finished After Only A Little Over 10 Years

I finished the cable-stayed bridge on 01/12/2009.  I originally planned to have the cables illuminated with changing colors similar to Niagara Falls, but could never get it to work. I could never get the lights to illuminate the cables.  Now, only 10 years, and 1 month later, I finally have it working.  I also added side trim, and repainted it to a lighter color.  I used a multi-color LED strip with the LED's surface mounted on a copper strip.  The unit came with an IR remote-control, so you can set solid colors, or blinking or fading colors, along with the brightness.  I mounted the strip face down, to limit the light showing on the ceiling.  I cut the string in half, ran jumper wire under the track, and ran a strip on each side of the bridge.  I also had to use some diodes in series with the controller to balance out the different color LEDs.   I then added the side trim to contain the light on the bridge.  Here are some pictures. I also made a video on youtube at

Bridge in 2009 and up to time of upgrade

Updated Bridge

LED strips face down on bridge

And a few pictures at night.  The camera is very light sensitive,
so the ceiling looks like it is lit up a lot more than it really is.

And now a movie.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

NTS&B Lionel 197 Radar Tower Motor Replacement

I finally got some time to work on the layout again. My Lionel 197 Radar Tower used a vibrating motor consisting of a coil, a rubber 'drive' washer with stubs on it that grabbed the base in 1 direction to cause the rotation, a medal washer, and the radar antenna.  The drive mechanism was very noisy, and currently undependable.  No matter what I did, I could not get to dependably rotate.  I finally decided to re-motor it with a 12VDC 60 RPM Gear Motor. I planned to run it off a 3VDC adapter to get the required 12-15 RMP for the antenna.  The problem is, my 3VDC adapter was actually putting out 3.5VDC, so I added 2 diodes in series to drop the voltage to 2.44, which ended up right at 15 RPM.  Here are a couple before and after pictures.

 Original Radar Tower

Parts removed from original Tower

12V 60 RPM Motor 25mm x 72mm w 4mm shaft ($4.99) 

 Created plastic mounting washers from medicine bottle
 above and below the tower to hold motor.

Resulting smooth, quiet running tower 
(with motor hanging way down).

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

NTS&B Merry Christmas 2018

Kathy was in the hospital and nursing home with pneumonia from mid November to December 14th.  We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner in the nursing home with Carolyn and Anthony.  We had planned on going to Tennessee over Christmas, so I wasn't going to decorate this year.  Since she was so weak, I decided to cancel the trip, and have the house decorated for when she came home.  Here are a couple pictures of the outside decorations. Carolyn came over Christmas, made Lasagna and spent most of the day, so overall we had a nice Christmas also.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

NTS&B Union (Rico) Station completed

I finally got the courage to light up and detail the Rico Station.  Here are some pictures of the final product.  Following these pictures are descriptions and pictures of the steps.

For the lighting power, I used a 4 pin connector which included a voltage, a fixed ground, and 2 switched grounds.  The connector  allows for easy removal of the station.  One of the switched grounds controls the passenger platform lights, so that was connected to the passenger area of the station.  The following picture shows the freight lights off, with the passenger side lights on.

The other switched ground is used for the parking lot street lights, so that was connected to the station freight area and outside lights.  This picture shows the passenger lights off, with the freight side and outside lights on.

The fixed ground was connected to the tower light which is always on.

I connected the 4 wires from the connector to a 14 pin barrier strip. The strip distributes the grounds to the light and  LEDs,  holds the bridge rectifier to convert the AC input to the DC required by the LEDs,  and contains the 1 resister to control the brightness of each group of LEDs.   This made it very easy to modify the brightness of the LEDs without re-soldering resisters. It fits perfectly under the raised sidewalk on the freight station end.  I used a little poster putty underneath the strip to hold it in when putting the station on the layout.

About 20 years ago, I added a wheat light to the tower, which I left (and never connected).  I added a 2 pin connector between the light and the barrier strip, for easy roof removal.

For the passenger side, I used 5 yellow LEDs from another Christmas string, without sockets.  I made a ticket office from foam board, painted it about the same color as the station,and put 1 LED in the ceiling.  I then printed out wainscoting for trim and glued it to all of the walls.  I had bought 2 doll house chandeliers about 20 years ago (and actually was able to find now), and modified them with 2 more LEDs.  I glued a balsa wood rafter near the roof peak, and hung the chandeliers from that.  The inside wasn't bright enough, so I added 2 more LEDs glued to the sides of the room.  After the station was put into position, I added benches and people.  Here is what the passenger side inside looks like.

For the freight side inside lights, I used 6 bright white LEDs from a Christmas string, including sockets.  I used 2 balsa wood 'rafters' to mount the lights on.  Originally I did not use the sockets, and had it made up very neatly.  Unfortunately, I touched the wire directly to the voltage, and blew all six.  The sockets do not make such a neat job, but at least the LEDs can be changed easily if required.
I printed out a wood floor pattern, mounted it to foam board, in put in a false floor.  All of the wires from the other lights are fed through this area, so the floor allowed me to hide them a little easier.  I also installed five LED sidewalk lights to the outside of the building, which I had found on EBay for $15.  The lights are mounted by drilling holes in the wall, and fastened with a nut.  The wires for these units were run along the rafters with the other lighting wires.   After the station was put into position, I added shelves, pallets, barrels, and other freight items.  Here is what the passenger side inside looks like.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

NTS&B Lionel 132 Operating Stop and Go Station platform extended

Although the 132 station has been servicing passengers for a number of years, sometimes the poor passengers had to make a major leap (of faith) to reach the passenger cars, since the station was in a curve.  I finally extended the platform for their convenience.  The extension was made from a printed page as close as possible to the original color and pattern of the original, glued to a piece of Styrofoam. So far, the passengers seem quite happy with it.  The following pictures are the before and after.

   Station before adding the platform extension.

 Station with platform extension.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

NTS&B Layout Billboard illuminated

I bought a set of 3 Life-like 16V HO street lights for a good price with no idea where I would use them.  Then I remembered that my layout billboard could use some illumination for night time running.  I cut about an inch of one of the lights, and used it behind and over the billboard.  And, I still have two more left for future projects.  Here is what it looks like.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

NTS&B The aliens have arrived

With all of the news about illegal aliens on TV,  I found some trying to sneak into my layout.  The flying saucer is actually an 'S scale' model from CatzPaw Innovations LLC, which is a 3D printing company.  They printed the unit, painted it, and added the LED lighting which sequences around the saucer and illuminates the top and bottom.  After many attempts at hiding the wires, this is the best I could do.  I originally had it hanging right underneath one end of a florescent light, and no matter what I did the wire stuck out like a sore thumb,  I had tried painting the wires 3 or 4 different colors with now help.   I finally moved it away from the light, and hung it closer to the ceiling, which is much better.  Since the top light is close to the ceiling, I put a piece of tape on it to keep it from lighting the ceiling so much.  Installing it also gave me a much needed break from the passenger yard lighting.  Here it is.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

NTS&B Union (Rico) Station parking lot

Now that the lighting is complete, with the exception of the Rico Station itself, time to add a road, parking spots, steps to the platforms, and people.   The gray car featured is a 1959 Chevy Impala 2 door, which is the closest I've found to my first car which was a 1960 Impala 4 door.  Notice the blonde young man driving the car :).

 Parking lot with stairs and parking spots.

Road and parking lot by station.

1959 Chevy Impala.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

NTS&B Union (Rico) Station side lighting

I still hadn't added any lighting for the Rico station side parking lot, final subway entrance, and final station platform.  Here are the results. All that's left now is the Rico Station parking lot and lighting. 

 Parking lot street lights.

 Final subway entrance and station platform.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

NTS&B Outside platform lights

The outside platform is too narrow to actually put on any street lights or station roofs, but I still wanted some  lighting on it.  I found some soft brass tubing, and used it to make overhanging fixtures that are mounted under the upper level.  The tubing may be too soft though, because if you accidentally hit it when placing trains underneath it, it will bend out of shape.  I then took some bases from the Model Power 12-16 Volt Peel and Stick lights, and made fixtures from them.  Here are the results.