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N-Scale/N-Track Modular Model Railroading Climb Aboard Now!!!

 

Figure 1-25 Click for variations in lengths 

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Currently there are only sizes 22 feet through 42 feet long but more are planed.

  The ANTFARM (Automated N-scale Train Facilities And Railway Maintenance) is a set of at least 7 modules belonging to Darren Hensley. Constructed over a 3 year period from originally two modules, it has grown into quite a monster. It is a railway yard developed for, and considered as, an informal club asset. It is currently composed of 9 each 30" deep modules totaling 34í in length. Expansion is easy with the addition of a "straight track" 4í or 6í module inserted between the center control module and its neighbor on either side. The ANTFARM provides a practical and automated yard facility at the disposal of the club. It has demonstrated itís value in numerous display shows.

The ANTFARM has a total of 20 tracks which includes the main lines placed on a cellotex surface and pine frame work. There are sidings for both the Red and Blue Main lines. The siding turnouts are just inside the yard inlet crossovers. This makes for the longest siding possible on these main lines. Each siding is split with a KATO double crossover connected with the main thus creating two shorter sidings if you need them. You can rotate between three trains without using the yard. The yard control spans the entire module length beginning with the 2í outside mainís extension modules. Each line on the ANTFARM is switch-able between two local cab controls, A Cab and B Cab. Each yard throat web can be switched through all cab controls, local and club. This enables temperamental engines and engine groups on main line club power to completely enter the throat beyond the inlet. Once beyond the inlet local power should be assumed. It also allows the use of club main line power to be used in the Blue-Green Pass-through option. The Blue Green Pass-through option will be discussed later.

The ANTFARM contains 10 parking blocks (4 to the south and 6 to the north) for a pass through capability yard. The two most northern lines are used for passenger consists. There are two lines directly through the center of the yard used to break down long freights and or as run-around tracks. At the west end of the yard is the modern diesel maintenance and servicing facility. Six stub tracks with individual power controls allow for display and storage parking of engines. The southern most stub here is the yard lead track and reaches the most western point on the 2í extension. The northern most track continues west to stub inside a tunnel of the 2í extension. This stub becomes an alternate under the mountain route when adjoined with a similarly configured module. This makes for an alternate Blue line entry from the west. A sanding tower, fuel station, over track overhead crane, and 2 stall engine house make up the facilities at this end.

To the east, the southern most stub is the east yard lead. It extends to the eastern most point on the 2í extension module. The northern most stub is the Steam servicing lead. A coaling tower, sanding tower, and water tower make up the service station here. In the center of this end is the motorized turn-table and 6 stall round-house. This lead and area is controlled with a completely remote operation system. With a track polarity switch included, the table will rotate either clockwise or counter clockwise. Each stall has a diode strung in series with a cut rail for parking control.

To the north of the yard is the mountain transition leads or grade leads. To climb the grade to reach the mountain track you need only enter the yard from either side. Over the length of the 6í center control module is a 6% grade lead to the mountain main line. Although rather steep, the 6í module contains the entire grade thus preventing a track joint alignment mismatch. An 8í module would have been better here but my 6í was already built (hind sight is 20-20). Up to a 50 (short) car train with a single engine has climbed this grade without any trouble. Commonly a consist of 35 each 70 ton ore cars and a LifeLike engine is used here. The eastern half of the grade lead contains a siding control for the coal download facility. This facility allows the down load of mountain coal cars to the plains level where the coal is stockpiled, while other mountain trains pass by. The coal is then transferred to the coaling tower for use to service the waiting steam engines in the steam facility.

The Green grade lead is on a rotary power control. With Blue, Green, Cab A, or Cab B power here it may be set for the Blue-Green Pass-through option. This option uses the WEB and INLET area of the yard set as required to get or give the train to its destination. Green main line power assumes the train on top while Blue main line power works below. This makes for interesting operation when coupled with Don Francisís Clear Water modules. Up to and then down from the mountain makes good use of the green line when it is not connected all the way around the layout.

The ANTFARM makes use of a large 4í control panel. This control panel automates all functional aspects of track and power operation. Diagrammed as accurately as possible and using state of the art equipment it is fully functional. An internal power supply and connections to club power give the panel versatility and flexibility. Connected to the modules via Telecomm 50 conductor connectors, 250 - 22 gauge solid conductor control wires pass control throughout the length of the yard. Each module is connected with Punch-down terminals to the main cables. Each cable is passed to the next module with another set of connectors at the next Punch-down terminal. Using this method of connection made setup and teardown a breeze. The 22 gauge wire is used on the mains as well and supplies a gentle slowing of the passing trains through the yard area. Just like the prototype slow order. This was an unexpected yet harmless and pleasant side effect. Each of the tracks has a power on indicator. Each web has individual turnout push buttons. Each block has a convenience button connected to a diode matrix to throw each turnout in the line of travel to and from that block. Coupled with super snapper capacitance discharge machines from Circutron you have pass through control at your fingers. Itís almost too easy to have fault free switching.

Although the ANTFARM is not modeled after any particular area it does represent a practical solution to a common model problem. The most common S.O.P. is "Run it for a while then park it somewhere" . The ANTFARM solves where to park it and allows for reuse of pre-constructed consists under close to prototypical conditions. We canít pack and unpack the car loads for real, but we can make new or break down current consists with little assistance from "The Hand Of GOD". With the use of well placed magnets and Magna-Matic couplers weíve had lots of fun. There is one draw back we have noted. When bringing in a train off the Red line you must stop an approaching Blue or Yellow train. Similarly when coming in from Yellow you must stop an approaching Blue train. So you canít have every thing. Once installed an electronic control unit will do this automatically. Otherwise itís very functional and practical.

This text is an excerpt from the ANTSģ constitution and is copyright protected by the ANTSģ and by H-10-K Enterprises.

H-10-K Enterprises Copyright Darren L. Hensley, 1996-2010

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