Finally got all the parts happy together. Ended up with a combination of several components I had not tried before- a Pololu 18v7 motor controller plus a relay for the lights. I had to add some code to the PT receiver but I think I will keep that as a configurable option from now on. I tried to use an old soundraxx sierra board but it just didn’t work very well. So I also added an old soundtraxx tsunami which gives the ooh-gah sound but unfortunately only diesel locomotive prime mover sounds. The speaker is a tiny 2 inch visaton-frws-5-r-2-fullrange-speaker, but it sounds pretty good.

Rail Truck

Picked up a used rail truck for $75. Nice little fellow, all metal. Looks like it was modified by the previous owner to look like one of the old ‘goose’ rail cars from the 20s. I think that’s a bit of an overkill so I took it all apart down to the motor and cut out a new back end from sheet styrene.

I’ve been working on some repaints and touch up for my growing fleet of used locomotives. First shot is an old Aristo F1 unit. It started out as a Southern Pacific, I disassembled it down the the gears and stripped the paint off the shells. Did the same with a B unit (it used to NH paint)

I’m trying to get at least close with this paint scheme on the cab units and the Chessie scheme of mostly orang-ey kinda of yellow on the others. I also like the all blue with yellow letters like this S4 scheme. I have an S4 new in the box but that is a future project.

For the paint, I am a rattle can sort of person so a quick trip to Lowes got me very close I think. Here is a list of what I’m using:

Strip 91% ISO alcohol in a very big plastic bin
Primer Rusoleum Universal Grey
Yellow Nose Paint Krylon Gloss Sun Yellow
Light Blue Krylon Matte Vintage Blue
Dark Blue Krylon Satin Oxford Blue
Chessie Yellow Rustoleum Caterpillar Yellow
Flat Black Krylon Flat Black

Finally finished. Well, more or less. Needs a bit more stain on the back and a porch. That’s later. For now, all the junk in my main Shop is going to go in here, then I’m going to do a deep clean on the Shop, then by spring, this will become the train display/storage/staging shed.


Zack, our big dog, has heart disease. He is under the care of a specialist in Richmond and is now on 4 heart meds. It’s going to shorten his life but we are not quite sure by how much. He’s doing quite well so far, the meds perked him right up and he is (more or less) back to his old self. With any luck we can keep it in check and since he is not a real active fellow anyhow, we are hoping for the best.

(Update: Zack passed away at the end of October 2019. We miss him.)

Latest version of the Protothrottle Receiver. This is driving a TCSWow 501 Decoder with a USAT Smoke Unit. This one is getting sent to the West Coast but an identical unit will be going into my USAT GP38-2 Chessie.

July in the Garden

My pond and assorted creatures that it attracts.

Bull frog, saw him wrestling with a competitor just before this shot.

Grape tomatoes on the deck. Have way more in the garden.

Rescued sunflower, coming along nicely.

My shop, 16×12. Full electric 30amp, heat, air, currently the new chickens live in here too.

Work progresses on the train shed.

Above is my latest Protothrottle Receiver. There are some features I would like to add but for the most part, it is code complete. I have more info on it here: Protothrottle Receiver

This is an Airwire Receiver (or transmitter if you wish) that interfaces to the popular Airwire System of Model Train Controls. I picked an Ardunio with this one as it is probably more familiar to the many computer hobbyists out there than a naked Atmega328. I wanted to keep this one accessible and as open source as I can. The Github Repository is available here: Github AirMini
More info on it is here: Airwire Mini

New Chickens

New chicks. Buff Brahmas, six hens, one rooster. Or they will be, right now they are all little fluff balls. This one looks pretty serious. I’m not sure chickens really ‘think’ but it looks like she is trying.

Gilbert Fixes

Finally found some time to fix up Gilbert, the winter was pretty hard on it. I added a water tower and cleaned up the buildings a bit. Still needs some ballast work but it’s coming along.