Thursday, March 12, 2020

NTS&B Kathy's and Jennifer's Billboards Finally Installed

I finally got time and energy to finish the billboards.  I modified some medal spotlights I purchased years ago at the York train show.  I replaced the light bulbs with LEDS, and installed them to light up the new billboards.  Here are some pictures of the results.

Kathy was from Long Island, and liked New York Central, which allowed me to buy that line without getting into too much trouble.  I thought it was only fitting to take her picture with a NYC F3.

When Jennifer was little, I bought her an HO Santa Fe set.  She loved it because it was "Santa's Train".  Here is the O-Gauge version with her billboard.

Friday, February 14, 2020

NTS&B Dedication To Jennifer

On January 18th, 2020, my poor sweet daughter Jennifer passed away.  It's been really tough for me to handle.  Over the years, she has contributed many scenery items to the layout.  Sometimes, I think she just wanted to give me a challenge for how to fit them in, since most weren't train related.  Because of this, I wanted to do something on the layout in her honor.  I decided to make a billboard for her similar to the one I made for Kathryn.  Here is the result.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

NTS&B Merry Christmas 2019

Another year has passed, and the layout has progressed very little.   Kathy passed away this past August, and my daughter has moved in to help take care of me, and get help for herself.  It made the holidays much less lonely.  She made cookies, helped set up and decorate the tree, hung the stockings, and picked out and wrapped most of the presents.  It wouldn't have been much a Christmas without her.  We celebrated an early holiday in TN with my son, his wife,  and Jennifer's son, then had another holiday here with Kathy's daughter Carolyn and her husband.  Carolyn carried on her mom's tradition and made a nice lasagna, which Jennifer helped me finish off in record time.  All in all, the kids made it a much better holiday season than I had ever anticipated. Here are a couple pictures.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

NTS&B Trump Train Passenger Car

Here are a couple pictures of a passenger car I recently acquired.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

NTS&B Dedication To Kathryn

This layout is dedicated to Kathryn, my wife of 25 years, who passed away this morning at 7:20.  Even though she didn't actually work on it, she was the main influence to it's design and provided encouragement for the building of it.  She said my original plan, which was a nice simple layout down the middle of the room, was much to “Simple and Boring”.  She wanted multiple trains running over and under each other, at least 1 helix (spiral) to the ceiling, and 4 seasons (she only got 3), the Lionel Disappearing Mountain, and many other ‘minor’ layout aspects.  She even influenced the name of the layout, because she wanted something “Not To Simple and Boring” or NTS&B, which turned into “North Pole, Tinseltown South, & Bigville”.   I believe she regretted her comments on the design towards the end, but was happy with the results.  I think she just wanted to keep me out of her hair for the last 12 years. I decided to make a billboard in her honor.

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.