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The Altamont and Blue Ridge 2
Starting Over: A Comprehensive Project Blog
Page 5: Beginning 12/21/2020

Go to "Starting Over" Page 1: (7/2015 through 2/2018)

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Go To "StartingOver" Page 4: (2/1/2020 to 12/20/2020)

Go to "Starting Over" Table of Contents

Go to "Starting Over" Alphabetical Index

A Few More Structures


While I am waiting for my order of more large Woodland Scenics tree armatures and more SuperTree material, I will finish the remaining structures: a couple of small sheds to go beside the barn and the chicken house, and a lumber mill to occupy the designated space at the end of my mountain spur.

shed Shed and barn with landscape rough- in. 
lm Lumber Mill in place with no landscaping

Continuing with the Mountain Scenery

My tree-making materials have now arrived, and I can go back to creating the forested areas in the foothills below the large, center-bench mountain, but first, I'll work on the scenery around the newly-completed lumber mill.

Lumber Mill area nearing completion.
for A section of the foothill area with trees installed.

1/15/2020 There are quite few patches of forest in the foothill area that I am now working on, so it will take a while to populate them all with trees. I began with the larger trees using Woodland Scenics 3 to 6 inch tree armatures liberally coated with contact cement. When these became tqacky, I applied various colors of WS clump foliage. Generally I lightly over-spray these using either light or dark green spray paint - just enough to create a little color variation and some subtitle highlights. I then liberally spray on a liberal coat of matte finish lacquer (I used to use hair spray, but the spray lacquer makes for a better, harder over-all seal.)

Next, I built my larger Super-trees using Scenic Express Super Tree material liberally over-sprayed with 3M-77 spray adhesive and then dipped in either coarse or fine turf material. After shaking off the excess, I highlighted these as above and finally sealed them with matte finish spray lacquer. I have found that a small piece of green florist wire, cut just the height of the tree and inserted into the tree material parallel to the trunk and affixed by the spray adhesive, will add signicant strenght to these delicate trees.

Finally, I add some smaller trees and shrubs using both small WS tree armatures and Super Tree material. This is tedious work, so I generally work in 1/2 hr to 45 minute sessions, making and planting only five or six trees in a session.

Beginning Work of the Mountain

Since I have now completed the forests at the base of my mountain, I'll begin by adding a temporary, plywood guard to protect this work as I reach over the trees to add Sculptamold, paint, ground texture, ground cover, and landscaping to the plastic screen that I earlier stretched over the frame of my mountain.

m1 Here is the guard and the beginning of the Sculptamold surface. Before beginning to apply the Sculptamold, I added a few rock foam rock forms using pieces cut from an I.S.L.E. Multi scale Embankment,
m2 Here is the Sculptamold complete.
m3 Now a first coat of paint: just plain ol' flat latext wall paint - dark gray for the rock areas, red earth for the open meadow areas, and dark brown for the forest areas, and dark green for the forest canopy area near the top.
m4 1/23/2020 Now some zip texturing using plaster of Paris mixed with tempura powders. For the exact method, see my post of  3/12/2018. Here I have also dry-brushed the rocks and rock faces with a medium gray, and when that is thoroughly dry, I'll dry brush rock highlights with white like the rocks in the foreground. 
mt5 Now for the ground cover and landscaping.

1-26-2021 Ground cover:
For the open meadow areas various shades of green Woodland Scenics fine turf (green grass, green mix, and brunt grass and perhaps the occasions touch of yellow grass)   For the forest floor areas: various shades of brown fine turf (soil and earth and perhaps a sprinkling of yellow grass and burnt grass) and then a few patches of WS coarse turf (light and medium green shades). I first paint an area with a washy mixture of equal parts white glue, alcohol, and water adjusting the ground color if needed by adding a little latex paint. Then I sprinkle on the various colors of turf, gently pat in all down with my palm, and finally lightly over-spray with a 50/50 water alcohol mix. When this is dry I do a good vacuuming to remove any loose material.

1-29-2021 Landscaping:
WS clump foliage (med green, light green, dark green) for the bushes and for the  forest canopy at the top, and trees made with both WS tree armatures dipped in contact cement and covered with WS clump foliage in three colors and with Super Tree material sprayed with contact adhesive and covered with coarse or fine turf in many green shades. Note that significant forced perspective is achieved by decreasing the tree size as I go up the slope.

2/3/2021 Mountain pictured near completion.

Running Schedules

With one side of the mountain complete, I uncovered the layout and prepared to run some schedules. It has been several month since I ran the trains or even turned on the computers, so things were a little sluggish until I got all the automatic software updates done, and cleaned and treated the track in the areas where I have been working. The turntable needed some adjustment, and I reprogrammed all the schedules that involve the turntable, in order to add a warning buzzer that sounds just before the turntable begins a move. Then, I ran schedules on the center bench only. Tomorrow I will run the sequences of schedules that run trains over the entire layout using both computers and +Net software to hand-off control of schedules from one computer to the other. I'll be cleaning track, if needed, as I go. Then I'll run the entire demonstration sequence a few times with six trains, lights, sound, and the whole nine yards.

Air Filter

I have purchased an air filtering unit, a Bissell air320, which is rated to handle room of 1000 square feet or more (my train room is 38 x 24 = 912 sq ft.) It is hard to assess just how effective this unit is, so I will continue to cover everything at least until I finish the scenery. I will also put out a few clean test surfaces so I can check them for dust every few weeks. I'll continue this testing after I am finished building scenery and decide whether I need to use my dust covers going forward. They are pain in the ass, but I think they are necessary. When I dismantled the old AB&R1, I could not believe how dusty it was.

Turntable Repair

After standing idle for several months, it took some time to get everything running smoothly, but I finally got all the kinks out and was able to reliably run the entire demonstration sequence with five trains and sound and lights. I did, however, have problem with the sixth train, which was programmed to run a series of moves using the turntable. The gears that drive the turntable bridge were occasionally slipping on the circular rack even after a thorough cleaning. At first I thought the plastic bed had warped out of round and the ends of bridge were binding as the bridge moved. But upon closer inspection, I found that somehow I had broken off one of the four tiny metal bridge guide-wheels that ride on the rim of the rack, and thus, the bridge was not always running perfectly level, and the gears occasionally slipped. I remedied this by gluing very small shim cut for .015 styrene in the place where the missing wheel had been. This shim replaces the missing wheel a gently slides along the rim of the rack lifting it ever so slightly to keep things level. Problem solved; and after running the full sequence a few more times, I replaced all the dust covers.

Ballasting Track

I have yet to ballast a few sections of track on the center bench (specifically the long spur to the industrial area, the spur to the lumber mill, the loop traverse section, the section from the entrance to the terminal ladder to the far tunnel entrance, and the section leading to the near tunnel entrance), so I'll finish all this ballasting and landscape the corresponding track side areas before beginning work on the back side of the mountain.

The Back Side of the Center Bench Mountain.

The back side of the center bench mountain features a large, removable hatch, which when removed, will allow ample access to the track in the tunnel beneath the mountain. I have used this mountain to cover most of the 28 inch radius of the turnaround loop, so as these kind of things go, this is a pretty large affair. As usual, I constructed the frame using contour cut sections of homasote board cut to exactly match the contour of the fixed mountain sections. Once a sturdy frame was competed usung sheetrock nails to securely joint the frame members, I stapled cross members using florist wire, covered the entire thing with plastic screen stapled in place, applied a coat of Sculptamold, painted it, and applied ground texture and ground cover.

b2 Back side of the mountains with hatch removed.
b1 Back side of the mountains with hatch in place. I have left space for two small removable panels in order to allow me room to reach underneath and get a good grip on the hatch for removal. I have reinforced the two exposed homasote members so they will bear the weight to the entire hatch. The hatch is quite sturdy, yet, since the hatch is constructed using homasote and sculptamold, it is surprisingly light-weight
b3 Hatch removed.
b4 Hatch underside.
b5 Nearly completed mountain with hatch in place.

Landscaping the Back Side of the Center Bench Mountain

I have completed the placing shrubs and low growth in the area. I will work on the trees at a later time. All of my material for completing the layout fascia board  and skirts is now on hand, so I'll turn my attention to that.

Shrubbery on the back side of the mountain.

Fascia Board, Trim, and Skirts.

There are 134 running feet of 9.5 inch wide plywood fascia board around the layout. All of this needs black Formica laminate, a trim strip at the top, and a 36 inch, black, Velcro-attached skirt at the bottom to hide the area under the bench. Below is a photo of the now-no-more A&BR1 showing a similar black Formica fascia with a fabric skirt.

abr1 Black fascia board and skirt on the old A&BR1.

I now have on hand 5 4' x8' sheets of black Formica laminate, 134 feet of custom-made black polyester skirt (some of it for the old A&BR1 and some newly
ordered on line (from Premier Table Lenin), a gallon of contact cement, 134+ running feet of 3/4 inch trim molding, and 134+ feet of Velcro sticky-back hooks. The plan is to complete the carpentry on all corner radii, paint the trim black and install it first using small finishing nails, then rip the Formica into 9 1/2 inch strips (using a table saw with a fine blade (10" - 60 tooth), laminate the Formica to the fascia board using the contact cement, and finally install the Velcro and the skirt.

The selection of the trim is critical because it has be flexible enough to smoothly bend around my 12 inch radius corners, both inside and outside. After a little trial and error, I settled on a 3/4 inch inside trim molding that bends nicely when installed with the rounded side against the bench (see photo below).

c2 Rough carpentry on an outside radius. The idea here is to give good support and a sufficient glue-down area for the Formica fascia as it rounds the corner. Fortunately all of this will be covered, so I don't worry too much about my marginal carpentry skill.
c1 An inside radius.
c3 A section of the top trim installed. The finishing nails are counter-sunk and the holes will be putty-filled, sanded, and repainted,


I am at the beach until April 24. I'll finish the trim and begin cutting and laminating the black Formica where I return.

Bench Fascia and Trim

I am back at work on the bench fascia. I finished the trim yesterday, and cut four Formica strips today using my neighbor's table saw. Tomorrow I'll glue in  these four strips and cut the rest of the Formica strips. I'll need 17 8 foot strips.

c4 Fascia installed.

Fourth Annual Train Room Cleanup

It is time for the dreaded annual train room clean up. After the fascia was complete and the Velcro installed, but before installing the skirting, I took everything up off the floor, swept and mopped. This year, after sweeping, I actually hosed the floor down before mopping. All this work took a few days, and now everything is spick and span, and the skirting is in place. I also cleaned out my little service cart and built some new shelving and two small work benches (one for electrical work and one for trains and model building) in the aisle behind the backdrop wall. Finally I constructed a tabletop cover for the computer table, laminated a black Formica finish on it, moved the computers to a shelf under the table, and hung some short skirting around table.

s1 Skiting complete.
ct Service cart
wb New workbench behind the back drop wall
ct Completed computer table cover.

While I was working, I turned on the computers (they have been off for several months) and ran windows updates and and Norton scans and updates etc. I am now ready to run trains. I'll run all my schedules one at time, checking and cleaning track as I go. I'll also clean and lube all the locos. Then, I'll test everything including all 100 or so turnouts, for operation, dwarf light switching, and frog polarity switching. I feel this is a good idea, because I have been hammering on the bench driving and seating finishing nails for the fascia trim, and I might well have jarred something loose. While I am at it I, I'll check all my structure lighting and the operation of the turntable. Once everything is operating properly, I'll spend a few days running my complex, multi-schedule, multi-train demonstration sequences.


My testing did turn up some problems. The most serious of these was the failure of two DBL168 Occupancy Detectors to report occupancy. This tuned out to be a bad loco net cable that I had inadvertently pierced with a mounting staple when I installed it. It had previously worked fine, but I guess the banging on the bench caused it to short. This was difficult to find because, even with the short, it tested "good" using my four-light cable tester. Once I found the problem and replaced the cable, everything worked fine. I also found a structure lighting zone failure caused by loose zone wire on the distribution block of my 12 volt supply. Also, I had one BDL168 that reported one of the four detection zones as occupied all the time. I had been wrestling with this problem of months, but it had been intermittent and never stayed in a failed state long enough to find the problem. Finally, the failure persisted, and replacing it with my spare fixed the problem. I returned the suspect unit to Digitrax for repair.

Finally, for a long time now, I have been experiencing problems with my TrainController Net software. It was often difficult to establish a connection between the two computers, and the second computer continually reverted to the demo mode and dropped its connection to the layout. I posted a question on the TrainController Forum, and Herr Freiwald, himself, replied, suggesting a network problem. Checking into this, I found that I had both a wireless and a hard-wire connection in place, and when I disconnected the hard-wire network cable, Net functioned perfectly. 


So, it has been a bit of a ride, but as of today, the train room is clean, all fascia and trim is complete, all track is clean, all locos are cleaned and lubricated, all electrical elements are functioning properly, and the dust cover are back in place.

Marrying the Scenery to the Bench-edge Trim

m2 The first order of business was to construct two hinged, black Formica-faced panels to cover the space between the trim strip at the top of the bench fascia and the Atlamont Terminal north/south ladder 5 inches above bench zero elevation. Here is one of the panels in the open position allowing access to the Tortoise Interfaces
m3 Here is the same panel closed. 
m8 5-20-2021  I next completed the landscaping for the areaabove these panels at Altamont
m5 6-1-2021and then I began at the Fitzhugh curve.
m4 6-10-2021  including fashioning a little waterfall, pond, and stream next to the Fitzhugh curve.
m6 first coat
m7 6 -20-2021 Styrene pond bottom sealed with sculptamold and then with a coat of gloss medium and then with latex paint. 
m11 6-23-2021 The completed pond
12 6-25-2021 The completed bench-edge on the Fitzhugh curve.
m10 6-23-21 The completed bench-edge at  Fitzhugh.

Troubleshooting Hue Lights

Phillips periodically updates the Hue system. This often involves software updates to Hue apps. Last week, my custom Hue software suddenly stopped working, and when I tried to access the Hue lights via a commercial App on my cell phone it began to attempt to update. For whatever reason, this proved difficult, but after a bit of knocking on the door, I got the update to download and install and was able to control the Hue lights via my phone, but my custom software remained inoperative. I did a little checking and found that, for whatever reason, the Main computer in the trianroom had reverted to the automatic assignment of its ip address, rather than the static, set ip address I had assigned it. This set address is required so that the Hue bridge can get permission the run the software from the registered list to custom apps in my Hue account. At least that's how I thought it worked. But, after resetting the ABR2-MAIN COMPUTER network ip address to what it had been before it lost its static setting, and then resetting it to static, the programs still failed to work. After a bit more fooling around, I found that if I registered the bridge's network ip
address, things worked fine. So I had to re-register all the applications I had written using the bridge ip, the computer name, and application name - and then alter the code in each app to reflect the new registration code. Once this was done, it all worked fine again, until the the Hue bridge's ip address changed because it had not been set to static. It took me a while to figure how to set the bridge IP to static, but once I found that this could be done in the Settings section of the HUE app on my iphone, things worked fine.

Continuing Marrying the scenery to the Bench Edge Strip.

I first applied a narrow strip of grass to cover the exposed edge of  3/4" plywood all along the South edge of the center bench, and then (after a 4th of July weekend running trains and a wifi adapter failure and replacement - see below) I turned my attention to the Westridge section in the Southwest corner of the room. There is a steep elevation change at the curve and at the edge of the town where the finished scenery is well above the brend-edge trim stip, so a good deal of rock terracing and retaining wall is required all along this section.

m14 7-5-2021 Westridge Curve before.
7/6/21 An upper black Formica paneln (right), rock faces, and screen.
m16 7/7/21Sculptamold
m17  7/11/21 First coat.
m18 Dry Brushinhg, groumd cover and shrubs / trees yet to come
Completed Westridge Curve.

Replacing a WIFI Adapter and Troubleshooting Net+

After some early difficulties with Net+ caused by my network setup, my Net+ software has been humming along flawlessly until yesterday when it refused to connect. After quite a bit of network troubleshooting, I finally found that the network adapter on the main computer was intermittantly failing. This took a while to find, because it was an intermittent, and becuase I really did not expect a hardware failure.

When I replaced the devise, my network appeared to work fine, but I still could not connect the two computers using Net+. The second computer could not find the license on the first, even though it appeared that nothing had changed with the Net+ setup on either computer. Checking Dr. Railroad, I found error code 60.  Since the set up screens in TC looked good on both computers, I spent several days checking my network. Everything seem to be right and the network seemed to function fine except for the difficulty with TC and Net+. Was this a network problem, or a TC software setup problem?

To find out, I created two simple new TC switchboards using two new TC files. On the first computer (the one with the license stick) I created two blocks (A and B with B as a distributed block) and on the second computer I created blocks B and C (again with B as a distributed block. So I had a staight line of track with three blocks, with cen
ter of three, the distributed block B on both computers. I went through a new network setup in TC on both computers, and low and behold they connected right away. I reasoned that it was re-entering the two license codes that did the trick, so I went back to my original files thinking I would re-enter the codes in the Network setup window, but when I started the second computer, it found the license and connected right way. It appears that entering the original codes in my test files solved the problem globally for all files.

However when I tested the connection on using my original files, the software appeared to be connected, but it was not recognizing any of the the distributed objects. After a bit of tinkering, I found that the setup window for the distributed objects had changed on both computers (the destination computer selection on each was blank fro all distributed objects.) As soon as I corrected this, everything worked fine.

The lesson here, I guess, is that for any Net+ problems, before beginning detailed troubleshooting, it is probably a good idea to first do a complete re-reset including going back the the original license codes and checking the set up of all distributed elements on both computers.

Completing the Bench-edge Scenery

I'll now continue with the work of marrying the layout scenery to the bench edge, working my way down the remainder of the South bench, along the lengths of the East bench and the South bench, and finally completing the area beside southern, upper-level entrance to Altamont Terminal on the West bench. All of this will involve the application of Sculpatamold ground surface, base-coat earth colored paint, texturing, and grassy ground-cover and shrubs. I'll come back and install all the trees later.

m19 7-14-2021 Roughing in the terrain between the mainline roadbed and the new   bench-edge extension at Westridge.
m27 7-17-2021 Paint and add ground cover and shrubs  to the new  terrain between the mainline roadbed and the bench-edge at Westridge.
m20 7-20-2021 Installing a Formica fascia board extension above the trim strip to the at East River.
m22 7-23-2021 Bench edge extension at East River complete
m23 7-28-2021Bench-edge extension at the Little River Curve and along the East end of the North bench
m24 8-4-2021 Bench edge - North bench
Completing the scenery on the West bench.
m21 With all of this complete, I have gone back and added trees as needed  to all newly-complete bench-edge areas

A To-do List

At this point the scenery/bench-edge marriage is complete but for two small areas that will requires some steep rock walls. I am waiting for my back-order of foam rock casting from ISLE Industries. In the meantime I can move on.

With virtually all the scenery now complete, I can now go back and attend to some details that I have skipped over or left undone. To this end, I spent sometime surveying my work and making a list of future projects.

As I go along, I'll document my progress by noting completed items in red, and by updating the progress list below.

AB&R2 To-do List - 8 18 2021:

Add telephone poles
In the trench at Fitizhugh
On the Little River Spur
Center Bench

Build and Install Drawf Signal Boxes for all dwarf signal lights on the center bench.

Install Rock Cliffs at the bench-edge at the East River Curve, and by the steel viaduct on the North Atlamont Curve. Complete 9/30

Rock cliffs by the chicken house Complete 9/30

Rock cliffs at the Northwest corner of the center bench - complete 10/6

Hatches in the mountain on the center bench

In the trench at Fitzhugh 11-23
Altamont Terminal Upper level 12-2
Uncovered turntable spurs

Program Schedule start for the Mountain Crescent - complete 8/19

Purchase and Install Floor Tiles

Repair railings on RS locos - complete 8/20

Repair metal screen on F locos complete 8/20

Check signals and crossing gates, complete signal mounting and repair and needed.

Check bench lighting repair as needed.

Clean & Lubricate  all Locos 9/30

Calibrate all Locos

To-do List Progress:

8/19/2021 Programed Distributed Schedule Start buttons for the Mountain Crescent.
8/20/2021 Repaired rails and screens on RS 11 units.
8/21-22/2021 Purchased Floor 180 18" self adhesive floor tiles.
8/23-25/2021 Remove skirts - Complete floor cleaning with shop-vac - Tile layout measurements and chalk lines.
8/26- 9/10/2021 Lay flooring.
9/11/20 Rough in rock faces
9/30 All Rock faces and cliffs complete
f1 Laying Floor tiles 
marry28 9/13/2021 Floor laying complete

Installing Rock Cliffs at the bench-edge at the East River Curve, and by the steel viaduct on the North Atlamont Curve.
m28 9/15/2021 Rough in rock wall on the East River curve.
m29 Rock wall on the East River curve complete
m31 Rock at the Altamont curve viaduct
m31 Rock at chicken house
m32 Rock cliffs at the Northwest corner of the center bench.

Some Overview photos of the nearly Completed Layout

o3 Altamont Yard Ladder with Altamont Terminal and Altamont City behind  - West End of the Center Bench
o4 City of Altamont  West Bench
o5 Altamont Yard Ladder - Center Bench with the North Bench Behind
o6 Roundhouse and Shops - Center Bench with the Southwest Bench and the Town of Fitzhugh Behind
o7 Altamont Terminal and the City of Altamont- Center and West Benches
08 Altamont Terminal and the City of Altamont  - Center and West Benches
010 Center Bench with the Southeast and East Benches in the background

BDL168 Problems and Re-sets (Optoion Switch #9 - Sending Electrical Short Loconet Messages)

For sometime now I have been wresting with an intermittent problem with Zone 1 of my BDL168 #95 (Fitzhugh). Here are the symptoms. When a loco enters one of the four blocks in Zone 1 (blocks 1 - 4), all four blocks show occupancy and track power to all four is cut off. It is like there is a short in the zone (there is not) but only the four blocks in the zone shut down. I have replaced the BDL168 card and the problem intermittently persists. I can sometimes fix it by shutting the layout down and powering back up, or by unplugging the card and reseating it, or sometimes just by unplugging the loconet connector and then plugging it back in. There are times when none of these fixes work. If I shut things down overnight, the problem is always gone in the morning. I am going to first check all the track wiring for correct isolation, phase, and continuity. I'll then check option switch 9 to make sure it is closed (I suspect it is not. If that doesn't work I'll lower the sensitivity, by closing Option switch 19, and then maybe try installing 4 10k resistor between the Rail A card input and the output of each section in Zone 1.

11/5/2021 All of the replies I got from various Digitrax forums and from Digitrax support suggest a wiring problem. After the above fixes failed to solve the problem, I tend to agree. Today I finally got another failure, and I was able the fix it by physically lightly pressing on the wires coming out of the 22 pin connector. If there is a trace intermittent short in the connector wiring it would explain why all of the above-mentioned fixes sometimes work - they all involve physically moving the card and the connector. I'll check these solder points later.

While I am at this, it may be notable that, although Digitrax and many other TC pundits recommend setting the BDL168 Option Switch #9 to closed(off), I find it handy to leave it set to thrown/on. In the thrown position the BDL168 sends a power-off messages for all 16 blocks in the case of a short. This is very visible in TC, and it points me directly to the zone where the short is occurring. In addition, in the case of my intermittent failure in Zone1, when Option Switch #9 is set to thrown and the failure occurs, I get power-off messages only in the four blocks in Zone1. Again very handy. I have posted a question on the TC forum asking if there is any compelling reason not leave option Switch #9 set to thrown when running under TrainController.

While waiting for and answer, I set all 6 of my BDL 168s to Option Switch #9 = thrown and tested the reporting by shorting a block in a section associated with each BDL168 unit. Three of them worked fine. One failed to report any short (this is the only BDL168 that has a zone setup for auto reversing, so that might have something to do with it. Also, I noticed a few blocks in the detection zones that were not getting rail B power, so I need to check all this out. Finally, there are the two BDL168 units on the center bench, which seem to be interconnected in some way that causes all 32 blocks (16 for each BDL168) to report shut down when any one of these 32 blocks is shorted. Operationally I don't see this a much of a problem since knowing that the short is on the center bench is really enough. Still, it is curious. I suspect that it might have something to do with the turntable, or a Digitrax BXPA1 unit am using for auto reversing on the center bench. Further testing is needed. Generally, and despite these problems, this should be a big help in quickly finding and clearing hard-to-find short. I don't have them often, but sometimes they can be though to find.

11-16-2021 Leaving the problem on the center bench for later (or never), I began to do some testing on  BDL #100 that failed to report. There is most certainly wiring problem here. One zone is set for auto reversing and gets its power from a different PM42 than the two zones which are set for detection. The fourth zone is un-used. I will do a away with the auto-revering zone and replace it with a BXPA1. This will leave the BDL with two live detection zones (8 blocks). I will remove inputs from the  PM42 that was sending track power to the now-disconnected auto-reversing zone, and then carefully check the wiring to the eight blocks being detected and then check the wiring from the other PM42 zone that will now feed track power to the entire BDL168. This should do the job.

11-17-2021 BDL #100 now functioning properly. Tomorrow I'll install the BXPA1 unit.

11-18-2021  The new BXPA1 will replace Zone 3 of BDL100 that was set for auto-reversing of the Altamont Yard Crossover. It will power from  and track power from the output of PM42 #91 Zone 2 (the input to BDL #97), and be given the board address of 76. So the loconet address will be 151- ((76 x 2) -1). I have checked my loconet address list to ensure that this address (#151) is not in use.

11-19-2012 Installed BXPA1. Auto reversing works fine. However, occupancy shows occupied when loco crosses over onto the turnouts at the end of the auto-reversed block, but not when the loco is in the block. I need to check wiring of the crossover block and these turnouts.

11-20-2021 After a lot of testing, I find that reversing the inputs to the BXPA1 fixes this. All good now.

More To-Do List Progresss

Between 11-21-2021 and 12-5-2021 I completed all the bench-edge scenery, ballasted track at Fitzhugh and on the Altamont Terminal Upper Level, and added telephone poles at Fitzhugh and on the center bench. I also continued my work on the dwarf signal boxes for the ladder at Altamont Terminal. This work is now complete but for three signals that must be moved to allow proper loco clearance.

1-24-2022 I have completed all of the bench-edge scenery work and balasting and spent time running trains and cleaning and treating track with thin coats of No OX A Special. I have also worked on the short circuit power sub district reporting problem on the center bench. Both the PM42 sub-districts for BDL168 # 96 and BDL168 #98 short shorted when there is a short in either sub-district. I have checked all the B rail (black) common wiring and I find no detection section or route that shares a BDL168 #96 and a 98 common. I will now check all the routes A rail (red) route wiring on the center bench to ensure that no route is powered by both the an A rail (red) output from sub-district 96 and an A rail (red) from sub-district 98.

2-10-2022 After exhaustive checking, I have been unable to find the "leak" between sub-districts 96and 98, so I'll live with it. It really isn't a problem. I'd like to find it, but it really does not much matter.

2- 27-2022  Meanwhile, I am still filling in details in a number of areas. The largest of these was an empty field on the center bench near a cluster of building beside Altamont yard. I had on hand a fine European kit for an embassy building, and I decided this would make a great school building, so I created "Altamont Academy" pictured below. Clearly, I have more detail to add.

aa More detail to add here, but a good start.

3-20-2022  The plastic adapter I built years ago to attach the florescent lighting servo arm
to the florescent dimmer tab broke today, and I built another. Because the two adapters were not exactly the same size, I had to re-program all my servo control apps to ensure that the throw of the apparatus stops exactly at the full-on and at the full-off positions. Tedious work, but it is all working fine now.

9-24-2022 Six months since my last post. I must admit that, since I have more or less finished the A&BR2, I have lost some of my former zeal for the project, and I have been occupied with other projects. Of course, a model railroad is never really finished, and I have been regularly, uncovering the layout and running trains for a few days every three weeks or so. In addition, I have thoroughly cleaned and lubricated all of my locos, and made countless coupler and wheel truck adjustments.

All along, the biggest single problem I have encountered has involved maladjusted or mis-aligned couplers. This is very delicate business in N scale.
Micro-trains body-mount couplers have been among the most problematic. I have purchased some spare centering springs, and gone through and adjusted and lubricated all of these units. Finally I have found that, if I mount the coupler just slightly out of square, so the closure angle is just slightly greater, I get much better reliability.

Angled Micro-Trains body-mount coupler. Just a tiny bit off-center will create more reliable coupling. But be careful, too much angle can cause serious problems, especially when backing up.

I have also continued to add detail to scenery. I have a large collection of tiny details that I have saved during the course of building both the th A&BR1 and the A&BR2 consisting of leftover kit parts, and all manner of miscellany - anything that thought might add convincing detail a rooftop or a vacant lot etc. I am slowly going thought all of these items and adding 
roof-top piping and vents and AC units etc. along with piles of lumber and junk etc. etc.