Blog & News

About the Model Railroad

RTAC Software


The Randall Museum in San Francisco hosts a large HO-scale model model railroad. 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 model railroad 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.

2018-09-09 - Richmond Panel & Yard

Category Randall

One more thing that happened this week-end is starting to look at the Richmond Yard, the track connecting it to the mainline, and the associated yard panel. As usual on this model railroad, the major issue is a crucial lack of labelling. I’ve started by applying notes with blue painter tape, and I’ll figure out better labels once everything is understood:

All the track power switches seem to work perfectly. The power selector is somewhat redundant due to the switch to DCC, however I still need to figure out which boosters are connected to the Cab 1 / Cab 2 / Valley positions on the selector, and whether they depend on the selectors present on the Valley Panel.

The two powered turnouts are mostly functional. One of them doesn’t manage to switch back from Reversed to Normal. Either it’s broken solenoid in the twin-coil or a defect in the commutator spring. It’s an odd design where only two turnouts are electrically controlled and the rest of the yard is using manually thrown turnouts.

It’s also yet another typical example of a fine-looking panel that is labelled at 94%. Somehow that one black push button and the 4 red ones (for the turnouts) mysteriously escaped the labelling effort.

All the manually thrown turnouts seem to do power routing via the point. In some cases we’ll need to carefully clean them to ensure proper contact.

Some of the turnouts needed to enter the yard from mainline (Sultan, T150/151, T160) are controlled from the Valley Panel, on the other side. This is fairly inconvenient. The desired goal is to use a Switch-8 and make them DCC controlled so that they can be thrown using a DCC controller.

 Generated on 2020-02-28 by Rig4j 0.1-Exp-febf662