The Slow Methodical Process of Kit-Bashing a Metro Station

As noted in my last post, track (and the related elevated track structure) is on hold until I figure out the precise electrical requirements to automate the metro trains.  On the other hand, I was able to make some progress, albeit somewhat slow, on the metro station itself.
I am using Walther's Northern Light's Power Station as the early 20th Century inspired basis for the elevated station. Its not as long as I needed, nor do the windows align properly, so some cutting and kit-bashing has been required.
First, I had to decide that in order to have the proper elevation for the track level, I would need to add at least 15mm of space between the windows on the ground level. Fortunately, this Walther's kit is made of fairly soft plastic to cutting and filing is not a big issue.

I initially planned on having five windows centered on a central lobby, but I couldn't figure out how to have the right pedestrian entrance on the ground floor; the Kato structure - that was the original inspiration (and will still likely donate some parts) - has a large entrance with stairways which I like a lot.

Ken (of the fabulous Sumida Crossing blog) left a comment (see? I read and listen to comments! At Quinntopia, we're all about listening! :-) )  that inspired me to open up the ground level some more, and be less focused on lining up windows with interiors (if you read his comment on this post, you'll see what he means).
I also decided to lengthen the structure so the entire Metro train will be in the station, so a second Northern Light building was ordered and sacrificed to kit-bashing to help complete the station.  I originally planned on have the second Norther Light station used for the 'back site of the station, but now I'm not so sure.  Basically, I'm tired of spending money on kits and don't want to order a third, but I expect I may have to!

The photo at the top of this post shows the general look that Latveria Station will ultimately have.  Lot's of 'open space' for parking/pedestrians, and nice open entrance to the station proper.  I've also ordered some girders and other etched brass detail pieces which I think this project will require to get the right look.  This is starting to get fun! Some projects (I have found) are good ideas that require more effort, but then it seems like a 'tipping point' is reached where you find a newfound enthusiasm and vision for the project and it really starts to get FUN!  That's where I'm at now. Thanks for reading!


The Pain of Automation!

I remember why I didn't have any automation on my old layout. It's hard. It's a pain and takes a lot of concentration and planning. It's like work.

So...here's the story....as I may have mentioned, the New Quinntopia will have an elevated, two track 'metro' line that will 'wind' its way through the city. There will be one station (there should be enough large buildings in the city so that you don't get the sense this is merely a 'loop').  I want the metro trains  - each going opposite directions - to automatically stop for the station, wait a few minutes to passengers to load/unload, and then accelerate away from the station.  I would also like a couple of signals to handle minimal signally duty.

Easy, right? Well, part of my problem is my interest in using newer / different technology from Europe. So after doing some initial browsing of potential solutions to how I could accomplish the above solution, I ignored all the logical and practical solutions I read (Lenz ABC, Computer Control, etc... for various reasons) and decided to try and use the signalling system from Viessmann.

So I've acquired two Viessmann 5224 Signal Control Modules and two 5228 Train Control Relays to go with them to control signals, which I've connected to small loop of track with appropriate 'gaps' and contact points to activate these relays (thus the photo at top!). But these are not enough (apparently, as I'm learning).

Its funny how wiring diagrams always make things look sooooo simple!
I also need a "DCC Brake Generator".  Viessman does not make one. In another one of those infernal conspiracies from our German friends, most of the design and resources are for that Marklin brand. So another DCC Brake Generator needs to be sourced. What's available is not cheap (everything seems to be $100 or more) and not well received and/or out of production (Roco used to make one, but was expensive and did not have good reviews). So I spent another day off 'hobby time' researching potential solutions.

Here's what I think might work.

A DCC Bitswitch Basic Brake On DC Signal Generator and a DCC Bitswitch Timed Stop Bitswitch.

These are 'on order' and apparently will take some time to get to me as they are in the process of manufacturing.  Which means rather that figuring out the precise electrical and wiring arrangement I need for my two track elevated line, I'll have to wait and work on other projects.  Which will likely be the station and the elevated structure itself, which still has plenty of work needed.  I'm looking forward to providing an update on my attempt to get some automation 'the hard way' (in retrospect, the Lenz ABC system is probably the easier and more standard way to go, but I'm too deeply invested in my own dumb solution to turn back now!) so stay tuned!

NOTE: Why I chose not to use the Lenz ABC method: they require decoders from Lenz and others that can detect the right asymmetric signal (whatever that means! People put up diagrams of an 'asymmetric symbol' which I suppose they think is helpful, but is meaningless to me!), but since I have decoders from various producers, I didn't want to start removing/reinstalling decoders if I could avoid it.


Metro Line Progress and Latveria Station Decisions

I completed one of the gradual curves for the metro line that will link it to the 'turnaround' curve. This was decidedly challenging as I needed a curve that wasn't based of a track radius (flex track will go on this part).   After some time thinking about how to create this very slight 's' curve, I finally decided to cut the center portion of the curve from a larger sheet of Sintra.  This formed the 'spine' of the structure, and I then glued by Styrene cross beams onto this. It worked!

The below picture shows how everything will eventual 'line up'.  The red surface areas is going to be where the station platform will be.
I also did a 'test' to see how well my Kato Ginza Metro Line train will perform on the Minitrix R1 radius curves....and I don't think there will be any problems.  Granted, I don't think I want to even think of going more narrow than R1, but it seems to just work on this tight radius! Whew!  As you can see in the below photo, I also test to ensure that my track distance was adequate (I'm pretty much going with the 'default' different for these Minitrix curves, so I didn't anticipate any issues, but you never know!).

What has become a little bit of a mental challenge is the construction of Latveria Station.  As I mentioned in my last post, the Kato 23-125 Elevated Station is too modern and also too large for what I want with Latveria station.  So I'm going to be using Walthers Northern Light structure to create a brick structure/facade for the station.  This is completely freelance, based on what I think an old Metro line station should look like, the closest real world example found in the real world (and the internet!) is Hackescher Markt S-Bahn Station.
The challenge I am trying to work through is how (and IF) to align the brick facades, portals, windows, with the 'interiors' - particularly the stairs and so forth.  I think I like the idea of a more open, pedestrian area such as the Kato station is designed, but nothing lines up well with the Northern Light brick facades - which means I need to do a lot of cutting and splicing, or go a different route with the interior altogether.  Hmmmm.
Stay tuned. Perhaps next week I'll have made a decision!