Introduction

Blog & News

About the Layout

RTAC Software

Videos

The Randall Museum in San Francisco hosts a large HO-scale model train layout. Created by the Golden Gate Model Railroad Club starting in 1961, the layout was donated to the Museum in 2015. Since then I have started automatizing trains running on the layout. I am also the de-facto layout maintainer. This blog describes various updates on the Randall project and I maintain a separate blog for all my electronics not directly related to Randall.

2019-06-18 - Turnout T06 “Repair”

Category Randall

Recently turnout T06 had been out of commission. When throwing it, it would short the mainline. On the layout track plan, this turnout is part of a mainline cross-over in front of the Stockton Yard, which is fairly frequently used by the Saturday Operators -- they can build their train on mainline track #2 and then use that turnout to get it out on mainline track #1, for example.

Usually when I repair something, I made a protocol of documenting what was wrong and how it was fixed. My goal when doing so is to build documentation over time, as well as document changes to the layout. We really lack up-to-date documentation on the technical aspects of the layout besides the few schematics I got from Mr. Perry.

Click here to continue reading...


2019-06-15 - Work Update: Cleanup, and Future Plans for Napa

Category Randall

Today was another cleanup day. Mr. Morgan was here and helped me clean Napa quite a bit.

While he was doing this, I was trying to get this running for Jim, as detailed on my train blog page:

Click here to continue reading...


2019-06-03 - Jupiter Steam 4-4-0 Engine

Category Randall

Jim got this engine for Randall in commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad, and he ran it on the layout multiple times:

I had some issues with power pickup with this so I decided to toy a bit with it.
You can read the details on
my train blog page.


2019-05-31 - Back Room Electrical Outlets

Category Randall

The other day the back room had no power, while seemingly the rest of the layout had some. I don’t know if there are electrical schemas around -- I certainly don’t have any -- so I decided I’d document that and make a schema myself. Since I’m not an electrician, I need to look up how these folks draw their schemas first. In the meantime I compiled this:

Click here to continue reading...


2019-05-18 - Work Update: Napa and Sultan

Category Randall

Last week I spend most of the Sunday cleaning the Napa yard and its ballon track. The goal is to eventually be able to get a train out of the Napa yard and on the mainline. There’s still a number of challenges.

This Saturday, I did install a Frog Juicer Auto-reverser on the Napa balloon track. I simply put it in serie with the reversing toggle, which means power can still be cut simply by using the “A power” 3-state toggle (yard, N, valley). Usage is thus simplified, one just needs to select the A or B push-buttons to align the entry turnout and the yard ladder.

I ran a train from Napa to Sultan to understand the various issues. I was running the TGV in MU with two opposite “head” units. That was sort of required as, although I spent a lot of time cleaning that track last week, it’s still kinda rough. It needs to see more usage before it gets smooth. A single engine will typically lose power at the most inconvenient places.

Let’s look at the track schematic on how to go from the yard to the mainline. The “normal forward” direction on the mainline (when operators run in a continuous loop) on this schema is from right to left:

Click here to continue reading...


2019-05-12 - Napa Yard Cleaning

Category Randall

This week I’ve changed from my regular “fix something that’s broken” schedule to deal with a long postponed task: cleaning the Napa yard so that it can be used. This yard has not been properly cleaned since 2015. I’ve somewhat asked others to take care of it and I didn’t get what I expected so I’m just doing it my way. I’m halfway done and to make the task more interesting I made a video:

Click here to continue reading...


2019-05-03 - May Mainline Automation Update

Category Randall

An update on the automated mainline on the layout at Randall Museum, San Francisco: the UP passenger train now has two coach cars, and the freight train now has a Santa Fe F7A engine on the point. In the back of this picture one can see the special engine waiting May 10th to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the completion of the American Transcontinental Railroad.

Previously the automated freight train was pulled by the NYC 4-6-4 Hudson. This engine has worked flawlessly and superbly. It will likely return after a well deserved break.

Video of both automated mainline trains in action:

Click here to continue reading...


2019-04-09 - Branchline Interchange

Category Randall

I’ve just completed recreating one of Mr. Perry’s hand-drawn schemas, this time explaining the power routing for block B322, which is the interchange track between the Mainline and the Branchline near Sonora:

Let’s look at what’s going on.

Click here to continue reading...


2019-04-07 - RDC Santa Fe on Branchline Automation

Category Randall

The Rapido RDC Santa Fe has been working nicely on the Branchline with the automation for a few weeks now:


Click on player above to play full video.

These are the latest Rapido RDC Santa Fe, numbers 191 and 192. I had to adjust the front plow as it was riding too close to the rails and actually binding on some flex track junctions. I also did their “break in”, and performed the LokSound “slow crawl” adjustment as well as adjust the volume.

For more history on these unique RDCs, please visit this site: http://atsf.railfan.net/atsfpres/dc191.html. They have a unique story and is quite worth reading and this site actually explains why both cars are looking different.

Click here to continue reading...


2019-03-09 - RDC ATSF & Branchline, continued

Category Randall

Still having some small trouble running RDC ATSF on the Branchline. Two weeks ago I fixed a turnout issue and thought that would be the last of it. Now we have a dead spot, and I’m trying to address that.


RDC ATSF on the dead spot on the Branchline

Looking at it more closely, the track feeder is on the right; next to it on the left is a small 2 inch piece of track then the turnout. Power for the turnout rails comes from the track attached to it.

Click here to continue reading...


 Generated on 2019-07-13 by Rig4j 0.1-Exp-febf662