The Illinois Central mainline has been completed. I.C. trains can now roll from the west staging yard, through Willis, and into the east staging track. The passing siding at Willis remains under construction.
The aforementioned siding will utilize code 70 rail (the mainline uses code 83), and is partially installed. The interchange track with the Louisiana Central branches off of the passing siding and therein lies the hold up. I’m using Shinohara track and switches for the layout. Most of my code 83 switches are the newer “DCC Friendly” variety. However Shinohara has never upgraded their code 70 products to this same standard. The problem is that the two point rails are always at the same electrical potential, therefore it is easy to short the track if a wheel happens to bridge the gap between the stock rail and the open point. With regular DC powered layouts, this generally doesn’t present much of a problem. With DCC layouts however, things are a bit different. Within milliseconds of a short, the electronic circuit breaker will shut down the district it serves. If you are using sound decoders in your engines, this results in the decoder resetting and “starting over”. Very irritating, indeed!
To correct this deficiency, one must rebuild the points such that they are isolated from each other. In addition, you must isolate the frog. The latter is simple; merely cut gaps around the frog. However, the former is quite a chore. I’ve read about a couple methods to perform the necessary modifications, but haven’t actually done one yet. Since I need this code 70 switch installed in order to complete the I.C. trackage, the day of reckoning has come.
I’m also ready to push the sub-roadbed (tabletop in this instance) into the Louisiana Central’s Willis yard area. The plywood and Homasote have already been cut out. I only have to build the risers and then install everything. Once I get the L.C. mainline through Willis, I’ll be free to install quite a large chunk of the L.C. mainline beyond Willis…all the way to Maynard, the next town down the line.
Since I want the entire Louisiana Central mainline installed over the course of this, the second year of construction, I’d best get cracking!