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.

2019-11-03 - Recent Randall Maintenance

Category Randall

I don’t usually blog about all the little things that happen on the Randall Museum’s train layout here. There’s been a few in the couple past months that I did not blog about so let’s compile them here for the sake of completeness. While I get some compliments for the automation running smoothly, I want to keep educating people that this does not happen magically. This is an old layout and it does require quite a bit of maintenance.

Let’s look at the most recent maintenance tasks:


UP Passenger train derailed on turnout T311 during automation. I took the opportunity to switch UP engine 8736 with its sibling 8749 as my goal is to swap the engines every few months to give them a rest.



Mainline in front of Stockton Yard suddenly became non-functional for some engines. That took some time to understand. Turned out to be an old power selector that had been toggled by mistake (follow link for details).


Noticed yard track warping in Napa. See entry “Warp Drive” for details. This still needs to be fixed.


Lately the Stockton Yard has also been the source of random shorts. This is easily worked around by triggering all the turnouts in the yard ladder. It’s possible that one the old twin-coil turnouts motor is making a bad contact and not properly powering a frog.


Automation stopped with the whole Mountain 2 circuit breaker shorting. Upon examination, turning off block B372 (the unused siding on top of Summit) solved the short. That’s odd as this turnout is not in use (in fact the turnout is spiked and the turnout motor is non functional). I still need to go back in there and understand why it is shorting.


Automation stopped due to a derailment of the Halloween Special freight train. Jim went there and fixed the issue by removing the Halloween cars.

 Generated on 2020-07-05 by Rig4j 0.1-Exp-61675ac