Friday, April 19, 2019

Preparation for Saturday's Operations Session


I went down to the shed this afternoon to turn everything on and run the track cleaning train all the way around the layout and to visit most sidings as well.  I fired up the track power and you guessed it.  I was getting a short.  It was in power District number 4.  That is the section of track from Cougal Spiral just north of Kyogle through to Acacia Ridge Yard until just short of Rocklea Sidings.  Well that was a disappointment!  So I isolated that section and ran my track cleaning train all the way up to Kyogle and them jumped into problem solving mode.  I quick glance at all the track work revealed nothing.  The last time I was in the shed, I had that section of track operational as I was testing my narrow gauge 2300 class loco.  So I knew the problem had to be relatively simple.  I then started looking under the layout at all the wire from the power district track bus ensuring that the two wires in the bus, had not come together at any of the points which had track power jumpers up to the track soldered to them.  Nothing was evident.  My next thought was to get out my multimeter and measure the resistance at various points along the track to determine if I could find the point of least resistance.  But as I got to the farthest end of Acacia Ridge Yard on my visual inspection of track, I started checking out my parked Steel train that was in siding no.2 of the reversing loop.  Well I looked at one wagon, it had a set of wheels directly on the joiner that separates the section that is the beginning of the auto reversing section on the return loop at that point.  Well I moved the wagon about 3mm so it was no longer on that section of track spanning the auto reverser and turned track power on.  My layout ammeter was no longer spiking up to 3 and half Amps.  That short had now gone.  

I guess there may not be many power feeds in that section and the track is getting the power feed along through the joiners in the track.  I single wheel on that join at track power up time was not enough to trigger the auto reverser.  I can drive trains through that section and the auto reverser operates every time.  Maybe this one wheel was not suitable to act as a trigger.  Well, eventually I completed the track cleaning activities all the way from Grafton Yard to Cassino and then out along the Murwillumbah branch.  I then backed up to Cassino and proceeded to Dutton Park and took the Fisherman Islands Branch, before again back tracking to Dutton Park, and then travelling through to South Brisbane Interstate Station and Yard.  The track cleaning train then ran back along the main line until it made it to its siding in Grafton Loco.

The fridge has been stacked with some more soft drinks and ales.  The outdoor setting and pergola were cleaned.  The timetable cards are ready and the updated train graph has been installed with the latest trains included.  So tomorrow the only things to do is to get the tea/coffee, milk, suger and coffee cups out, turn on the layout lights and fire up the Raspberry Pi for wifi access for the poor people who cannot afford an NCE radio throttle – which is my preferred way to operate the layout.  The BBQ will be cleaned and then fired up for tomorrow’s snags for lunch.

I have about 9 coming over, but 2 will be late starters.  We have about 36 or so trains to run and I may pull a couple from the timetable.  The Fastclock will start at just before 15:00, so we have about 10 hours to get through.  

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Tidying up Loose Ends


This week started when we all gathered outside Shelton’s place for the appointed hour to arrive before invading him.  Guess what?  He has changed his layout AGAIN!  However, the changes looks quite good.  The scenery continues to evolve, the trees multiply and the lit signals look very nice.  He has done a very good job of a dry creek bed.  A few suggestions were offered and maybe some might be accepted.  The operation of the signals which includes two setup for automatic operation, with these going from red to green and back to red as the train passes, looks very nice.

Just before I went to Shelton’s place, I visited my shed, and installed my ESU sound decoder back into my 2300 loco that I received back from Rocket in the post earlier that day.  I gave it a bit of a run and it seemed to work, although it was stuttering rather severely.  Maybe a combination of dirty track and dirty wheels.  So both were cleaned and the pickups on the Loco oiled in the same manner that I did to the Railbus, which fixed its running issues.

I was sick on Wednesday so went down to the shed in the afternoon.  I installed a snubber under the Acacia Ridge Yard feeders and another at the far end of South Brisbane Interstate Yard.  I will see how this works with the layout.  Sometimes we get some slow response in those areas.  I also did some minor work on a dual gauge point that I scratch built in the lead into Acacia Ridge Dual gauge yard.  This point, allows me to hide a standard gauge loco in this location when I need to do some shunting in the yard.  Basically I used a cutting disk to open up the flangeways.

I have also doing some work on the narrow gauge timetable.  I was desk checking the various trains and what they were dropping off where and who was picking those wagons up to ensure that everything got back to its original position on the layout.  It was then, that I realised that one of my 1720 class narrow gauge locos was in the wrong place.  So I had to add a local light engine movement from Clapham Yard to Acacia Ridge Yard.  I am thinking of moving a couple of trains starting locations.  So these timetable cards were updated.  The timetable has these trains entering and leaving from dead end tracks.  So towards the end of the timetable, I will add two movements inside Acacia Ridge Yard to allow the reversing of the loco on the coal and grains trains.  The length of these trains starting locations will limit these trains to 8 wagons maximum unless I do some more work in Acacia Ridge Yard.  That might allow me to take then to 10 or even 12 wagons.  I might look at this in the future.  Lengthening these trains will take quite a bit of saving of my hobby budget to accomplish.  The financial controller is starting to tighten her grip on my finances.  

Thursday I had a scheduled day off work, and in the afternoon I cut out the centre section of more than three dozen give way signs.  I broke about a third of them in the process.  So I had to glue then back together.  I then painted the resultant triangles red ready to affix to the various sign posts.  I will then package them up for a couple of mates and then have a couple for the May Show to sell off.  I also returned about 4 locos to the layout that had been in a travel box which I took to the Club last month.  Now I just need to remember where I took the locos from.

On Friday I updated the timetable spreadsheet and printed out two new copies for next weekend.  One for the North Coast Controller and one for the operators to take from.  I was very lucky that some weeks back now, Darren provided me some new reams sheets of A4 4 part paper that I use for the timetable cards.  So Friday night these were torn along the perforations and assembled into train sequence order.

Saturday was Club meeting day.  So I went to the other side of town and we had the smallest ever assembly of members that I have ever seen in the current Clubrooms.  However, I got to have a good talk to PK and Greg, as well as a few others.  Today I got down to the shed in the arvo.  My first task was to reset the decoder in the 2300 loco.  Well that did not fix its whoas.  Basically, with the sound off it runs reasonable well.  However, Function 6 – the brake does not work at all.  And some sounds continue to appear from the loco even with the sound off.  With sound on, it is a very stuttered runner.  The sound ship is getting very hot.  I think the one I got back from Rocket is an absolute dud.  I think I will drop him a line next week, and see if it can be fixed up at the May show in Brisbane.  I will be working with Arthur on the Structure Building Stand.

By the way, I just clicked over 400,000 hits yesterday.  I am also about 2 posts short of 600 posts.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Very Little Progress


The weekend started with a night down at my local hobby shop.  Simon Says Hobbies and Games hosts a modelling night on the first Friday of the month.  Geoff, Darren and Brendan were also there along with many others.  Various activities were undertaken by those present and the numbers attending were very good.  I was working on cutting out the "Give Way" triangles for some railway crossing signs that I am making.  I did a bit of gluing of the last eight of so of my crossbuck ‘Railway Crossing’ signs to code 40 rail posts and then cut out about 36 or so "Give Way" triangles.  I still need to cut the centre out of these triangles and paint them red.  They can then be glued to my couple of dozen posts, for my layout and few mate’s layouts.  I might have a few spares available at this year's May Show for a dollar or two.

On Saturday I attended a morning working bee for my son's soccer club, so following that the only thing in the afternoon I did was assemble a drop saw I picked up at Aldi the previous Thursday.  I intend to use it to cut a few lengths of timber when the need arises.  Not bad for $59.  Although it did take some time to screw it all together and I think it gave me a sore back.

Today I jumped in the car and went to the All Gauge Club’s Buy and Sell at the Carina PCYC building.  This looked suitably well attended by both sellers and purchasers.  After doing the rounds for a couple of times, and having a quick chat with lots of people, I finally found something to purchase.  I picked up a set of Tichy Train Group’s fettler’s handcar and trailer set which contained 6 pairs of the vehicles for $12.  That will make a very good addition to the layout, spread around all my fettler sheds.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Relaxing Weekend


Basically this weekend I did very little related to model trains at my place.  The weekend started soccer trials with my son, and then when we got home, it was time to visit Darren’s on Saturday and had a bit of a run on his layout.  This was Darren's turn to host the Tuesday Sighters on a Saturday.  Darren has now painted his fascia a nice dark green colour and helps make some items on his fascia really stand out.  Darren has also been doing some more scenery detailing on his layout.  He has sceniced a very nice section of railway right of way about 150cm long with fences either side, and cattle paddocks outside that.  Inside the fences, the grasses seem longer and there is also a little bit more greener.  It is just perfect.  A few suggestions were provided to further enhance the scene with some bee hives and some sort of abandoned farm machinery.  Just brilliant!  Darren with the help of his wife and daughter provided a fantastic lunch.  I think quite a few of us would have been quite content to just sit on a comfy chair and nod off to sleep after lunch.

Today the only thing I did was do down the shed for about 20 minutes and paint up about 11 tea bag tarpaulins in a nice yellow oxide colour and allow them to dry.  These are destined for use on some VR GY wagons on a mate’s layout.  I think they will turn out pretty good.

This week on Tuesday a few of us ventured over to David’s place for our usual Tuesday Nighters meeting.  David was running a Loco around the layout for all those present to see.  Proof that trains do indeed run.  I can’t wait until the last little bit of track arrives from OS and he installs it.  That will create some fantastic point work outside his Manchester station and will mean that trains can go on any route and get to every bit of track work.  That will be a great milestone.  He will then probably start running real trains on the layout.  That is locos and carriages, both passenger and goods, to shake the layout down and find any issues.   I’m sure the next major phase will be eletrofying the points with point motors and then that will then lead to the creation of some new control panels.  David does some very fine work when he builds his control panels.  That probably leads to me get involved and programming up the NCE Mini Panels with the codes to set his various routes at each of his major junctions.

My next week will involve planning for a Friday night at Simon’s Hobby Shop and attending his modelling night, and then on Saturday starting to get ready for an upcoming Operating Session around Easter.  I may even continue working on a couple of scratch built tarped QR open wagons for completion before Easter.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Finishing the New Point Control


My plan for Friday night were cancelled very early on Friday morning when Geoff, our host, called in sick.  Oh well, I watched some Bronco’s brilliance instead.  When I came home from work I picked up a roll of wire from Jaycar.  On Saturday I completed laying the wire from the point motor in Fisherman Islands Yard to its controlling NCE QSnap.  I then used the push buttons on the control panel to test it and the point was not initially throwing.  I re-aligned the motor in regards to the point and everything was then working well.  Next job was to move a wire from Input 22 to Input 23 on the South Brisbane interstate NCE Mini panel.  I then coded up the command to throw point 1631 in the first step for Input 23.  I also recoded step 2 for Input 21 to reverse point 1631, and for step 3 to link to Input 22.  I then had to install the shorting jumper on the NCE Snap-It that was under the point for track 9/10 in South Brisbane Interstate Yard.  I set this point to address 1631.  I then removed the shorting jumper, and used the South Brisbane Interstate Panel to toggle between track 9 and 10 and you guessed it.  It went in reverse.  So I had to swap the two wires on the point motor and all was good.  It then dawned on my soon after that when I set Input 23 in the mini panel, I forgot to set the other points in the lead up to track 10, which is the track into the Oil siding.  So I need to set a few more points and then also get this input to link to Input 22 to throw the common points from the mainline into track 10.  Doh!  Late on Sunday I added a throwing of point 1644 to normal and then linked to Input 22.  A quick test and everything is perfect.

So back to Friday, and I then moved down to Clapham Yard and cut a small section out of the fascia so I could mount the new point motor.  The cut out was about 2.5cm wide.  I installed the point motor and then wired three wires in parallel from the other point motor that this point motor is to operate in unison with.  A test by pushing the button for either track 5 or 6 at the southern end panel of Clapham Yard soon revealed that the new point motor operated in the opposite direction to the original.  So a quick swap of the two actuating wires on the new point motor and another test revealed that everything was now working correctly.  Yee hah!

I then did a quick run of my Southern Rail Models 2300 loco with sound.  This was sitting in Acacia Ridge Yard with 4 coal wagons behind it.  I ran it out to the dual gauge point at the entry to Acacia Ridge Yard and back again about a half dozen times.  I then went through a different track in the run around tracks.  This loco sounds quite good - maybe still a bit loud.

Today my mate David arranged a visit to his place to help him wire up his layout before Tuesday Nighters this week.  Basically, I connected the two wires from the power supply to the NCE 4 pin plug going to the PowerPro, with the other two wires going to a distribution panel to then go to his 4 NCE EB1 circuit breakers.  I set all the circuit breakers to 2.5 Amps.  I then wired the distribution panel to the inputs to the EB1s.  This was followed by the EB1 outputs to the main track bus to the various sections of layout in the shed.  I powered the PowerPro on and it came on and three of the EB1’s lit up.  The fourth started flashing.  That was not good, so I disconnected it.  Even though David had promised that he would clean the track, it was covered in gunk.  So after cleaning, the first loco ran from the main yard to Hammersmith and onto the first of the return loops controlled by AR-1 auto reversing controllers.  The loco ran straight through and out the other side.  We then tried to run it around in the other direction via the second AR-1.  It also worked well.

David had advised that his London track was the source of the short.  So we disconnected its main track feed, and reconnected the EB1 and there was still a short.  While David went and got some beers (it was hot), I was going to humour myself, and disconnect his middle section of his layout and then reconnected the EB1 and mysteriously the previously shorting EB1 can back on line.  So I then reconnect David’s London track bus and the EB1’s stayed on.  Sometimes it is hard to get good help!  So we narrowed down the short, to another section of track.  So I could not see where the short was coming from.  So now with the London section also available, we tested that also around one of his two reversing loops.  Again success.  The next job was to clean the track in the section where the short was coning from, and I removed one passenger car from the track.  I then tried to reconnect the disconnect power bus and mysteriously now, the short had gone.  I was very confused.  However, we now had track running very well in the middle section.  That just leaves his lift up bridge which is not yet wired.  So we will certainly have some discussions on Tuesday Night.

Before I ventured over to David's, I shot down to the shed for half an hour and did some programming on the main to about 5 double/triple header loco combinations on the layout.  While I’d been running operations for years, I have never worried, (actually I was too lazy to open a manual) about setting up the headlights correctly on the locos in consists.  So I disabled F0F and F0R in CV22 in all my consist locos.  I also turned off F1 and F2 in all the locos as well, except my sound locos.  This is in CV21.  I tested all locos, and everything worked as expected.  So now when the driver turns on the headlight of the train, only the headlight will come on and not all the locos in the consist.  I also set up F1 and F2 to be the cab lights in the No. 1 End and No. 2 End respectively.  So a driver can turn on the cab lights when stopping at a crossing loop, so the loco crew can see their way around the cab when making their way to the steps to exit the loco and exchange the staffs.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Point Motor Refits

Saturday involved a trip to Anthony’s place to run some Victorian trains.  This was the second Operating Session in a row that I have attended.  last session I was Victorian Railways Driver 2.  This session I was the VR1 driver 1.  Nine people were in attendance and it was quite cosy within the confines of the train room, but it was a fantastic day.  I dropped off a couple of coil loads for Anthony install in his Coil steel wagons and I also delivered a dozen tarps of various colours to detail his layout.  My next plan is to make some larger tarps for Anthony’s (and possibly some of the other VR/SAR modellers’) GY and similar wagons.  The order has been made for some green ones, so they will be available for the next session I attend or at the Brisbane May Model Railway Exhibition - which ever comes around first.

Tuesday this week, we visited Cliff’s place for our Tuesday Nighter's get together.  While there Shelton gave me three Peco point motors to try out, as I needed three more to complete some outstanding tasks on the layout.  I eventually got down to the shed on Sunday afternoon, following lunch and a morning driving lesson for the daughter.  I then started to install the point motors.  The first one is for the Fisherman Islands Yard on the narrow gauge track.  I have run two wires from the NCE QSnap located under the northern end of the Yard to the point at the southern end of the yard.  However I have run out of yellow wire for the common connection.  Next weekend will feature a trip to Jaycar to buy another roll of wire.  The second point motor is for track 10 at South Brisbane Interstate and will allow trains to get to the Oil Siding.  I got a bit further with this one.  I have run three wires from the point motor to the NCE Snap-it that I had spare.  The NCE Snap-it was installed under the baseboard very close to the point,  I also ran two wires from the Snap-it to the track bus.  I have also installed an extra push button in the South Brisbane Interstate panel and run a wire to a spare connection in the NCE Mini Panel located at South Brisbane.  Just before I wrote this update, I looked at the code in the mini panel and found out that the location I connected the wire from the control panel to, already has some code in there to throw some points via a 'Link' command.  I just need to move the wire to the next connection.  The code in the Mini Panel will require a slight adjustment for the new siding, and I think it will mean that the code in the Mini Panel for track 9 will have to be recoded to ensure that the new point will throw the correct way.  I will make these changes to the code next weekend.

The third point motor is destined to be installed into a track in the narrow gauge section of Clapham Yard.  This will ensure that the dead end siding on one of the tracks is not left selected (it was previously a manual connection via a push-pull rod) if someone was doing some shunting when a train is supposed to head south out of the yard towards Rocklea Siding or Acacia Ridge Yard.  It gets a bit embarrassing when a freight train heads straight into some train stop blocks in the siding instead of out onto the mainline.  If the train goes through the stop blocks, it is long way down and it might get quite expensive.

During the week I have been thinking about doing some more work on the scratch built 12mm open wagons, but I have not gone down that path this week at all.  Slight lack of motivation.

I think I will be scheduling my next Operating Session around Easter.  I have not consulted the boss yet, or looked at the calendar to see what else is occurring.  That will give me some time, to fix up there last few enhancements (point motors) and then give the layout a once over with a test run on both NSW and QR gauges and then clean the track a bit following this wet weather of late.  Not a simple task when you have so much track to clean.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Trying to Tarp Over it


On Friday night, I had to venture over to my daughter’s school to pick her up after a minibus trip for the School leaders to another school on the northside for International Women’s Day.  So while I was waiting for her to arrive back at school, I continued what I was doing in the shed after I came home from work.  I was folding up HO scale tarpaulins made from tea bags with cotton ties.  I must have done about a dozen before I left home, and had done another half dozen or so before the minibus arrived back at school.

Saturday this week was Club meeting day.  So I left early and went via Aurora Trains and picked up a Wuiske Models HJS kit in 12mm to put together over the next few weeks.  There didn’t seem to be the usual number of guys at the Club.  But I did have a good natter to quite a few.  While at the Club I was also folding up the last 6 of my cut up HO scale tarpaulins.   While at the clubrooms, I pulled out my HO Scale Auscision Paybus and put it on the track and gave it a run around the layout. It ran like a trouper.  I am still swearing by the remedy of putting a drop of Wahl Oil on the axles of each of the 4 wheels.  This solution has made mine stop hesitating on straight track let alone curve track or point work on my layout and the Clubrooms layout.  Just like a bought one.

While I do have an ever increasing list of projects either thought about, or even started, I still continue to add to the list.  My next project, of which I did do some work on last night, was to make a few HO scale 12mm open wagons and install a fake load under a tarpaulin.  These wagons will have a tarpaulin covering up all the wagon side and end detail and people will not know it will just be a styrene box.  Shhhhh!  I tried cutting up a couple of wagons from 0.75mm styrene last night.  I might even get around to building the basic box this week.  I do have a few spare bogies, of which I am certain they will be incorrect for this type of wagon – but most will not know.  I just won’t show them to Arthur, who will most certainly be able to advise that the wrong bogies have been fitted.  The added benefit of having a tarp over the top, means that I can put a piece of sheet lead in the wagon to weight it, and ensure that it keeps on the track.  There have been some very good Blog Updates this week by the No 1. QR Modeller going around - Arthur.  Head on over there via my Blog List.

Tuesday Nighter’s this week is at Cliff’s place and I will be picking up Shelton on the way.  That will be another great evening of discussion and banter.