Sunday, March 19, 2017

If it Could... it Did...


With this weekend having the third Saturday of the month, that meant that we had Anthony’s Operating Session in the afternoon scheduled for Saturday, but I had to provide my apology due to cricket being on and supposedly scheduled from 2:30 – 5:30pm in the arvo.  We also had cricket break-up scheduled from 4:30pm until 7:30pm.

Also on Saturday morning and into the afternoon, we had the local NMRA meeting just up the road at Arthur’s place.  Again I could not attend due to cricket. 

However, our game was scheduled for 11:15 – 2:15pm.  But early in the morning our game along with about 7 others were called off due to a wet outfields, or water on the pitch.  So I decided to take my son to the first XI game down the road as they were crowned Undefeated Premiers before the game, but this game also got abandoned at 11:00am due to a wet spot in the outfield, near slips and the bowlers run ups.  So we just went to our Spirit of Cricket Awards in the arvo and we stayed there until about 7:00pm.

Apparently the school came away with at least 6 premierships out of 12 in the interschool aggregate, but may have still finished second overall.  Damn!  My son’s team, while undefeated throughout the year, may have only finished second and may not have achieved their Premiership either.  I find that hard to believe, as they were playing the only other undefeated team on Saturday, before being washed out, so I would have thought they would have received a shared Premiership.  But official status will be advised during the week. 

So Saturday was a day of things going wrong.  Today, I had plans of doing lots of wiring for Clapham Yard.  So after a morning down pour and having some lunch, I went down to the shed and started working on the various track jumpers in Clapham Yard.  I had finished that when I applied the Multimeter to the track and I got a direct connection through both rails. Hmmm.  That can’t be correct.  So I turned on the power to the layout and power district 5 was showing a short.  Bugger!  So off came all the wires I had just connected.  Still a short!  So I move a few trains around in case some were sitting across a set of points causing a short.  No difference.  There was another wire I had soldered to my dual gauge separation track in the headshunt and of course I assumed that this piece of track could not be causing the short.  Well I was wrong.  I unwired it and Voila – the short disappeared.  So everything else was reconnected.  I then got out my trusty file and went over each PC board sleeper and ensured that each isolation file mark, was filed the whole way through the copper cladding.  I then re-checked the piece of track for continuity across the rails and everything was now good.  So I then wired it back up and everything ran well in the standard gauge yard.

I decided to run my narrow gauge loco for the first time in a very long time.  It was very reluctant to run.  It had to be pushed in a few areas, and then I discovered that again there was a whole track without a jumper.    However, it ended up being that an existing jumper had pulled away from the track when I was doing some track cleaning.  So that was reattached and then the narrow gauge yard was working well.  This included going through the dual gauge separation track and all the point work.

The next task is for Tuesday night, to pick up a large radius Y and then install it and then get some 1mm steel rod, for point actuation of the cross over points in Clapham Yard via the old fashioned push-pull method.  Then I can mark Clapham Yard off my to do list.

That will allow me to move onto creating about 10 power supplies to run off the DCC bus for various lights around the layout.

Just before I exited the shed for the day, I checked the RDH carriage that I had put the windows in last weekend and everything looked good.  So I reattached the base to the shell and re screwed it together.  The car had been added to me Brisbane Limited set currently sitting in Clapham Yard.  Next weekend will involve a run of this set over the layouts again.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Marking Time and More Planning


On Friday night the complete compliment of our modelling group (Darren, Geoff, Brendan, Grover and myself) turned up at Simon’s for his scheduled modelling night.  We were joined by 5 others and Simon himself for a great evening.  A couple of other guys came in for a short period and left again.  I was again working on more 40’ Container flats, but this time, it included a number with a thicker container base.  I also picked up a Bergs model RDH in Tuscan livery from Brendan on Friday night as well.  I thought it was a very nice model and will look good on my passenger trains.

With an 8:00am Saturday morning cricket game on, as well as being on the other side of town, I made great use of that situation, as I just continued onto the Club for the meeting after the game.  That meant that the boss also had to travel over to the cricket game to pick up the young cricketer when we finished.  Next Saturday will be interesting as that will be the last game of the season and a game between two undefeated teams for the premiership.  Apparently there are 9 teams out of the school’s 34 cricket teams that are still in with a chance of a premiership.  There are three in my son’s age group, the 7A’s, 7B’s and 7C’s.  I’m not sure if the other year 7 teams - Green, Gold and White teams even compete for premierships.  But that is a great effort.  The 1st XI has already sealed their premiership due to other results.  

So on Saturday while at the Club after the meeting, the IT literate brains trust were sitting around one of our new meeting area tables having a chinwag.  That was very relaxing, discussing the issues with JMRI’s decoder pro and how these perceived issues are affecting my Operating Sessions.  My issues relate to the Fast Clock not taking information from the NCE base station if you set that up as the master.  A few weeks back I posted on the JMRI forum on Yahoo and no one responded, and as far as I know, no one is looking into the code in question.

While at the Club I did see that work is progressing on the track laying on the top deck of the HO layout.  Both standard gauge and narrow gauge track is being laid.  I did see a diamond crossing that allows both 12mm and 16.5mm track to cross wired up incorrectly.  Someone at the Club did mention that they were experiencing shorts in that section of track so they disconnected it.  I just shake my head sometimes.  I swear that sometimes it is the blind leading the blind.  I wish people would ask someone, instead of just doing something and not knowing what they were doing.  Enough of a rant!

On Sunday morning I ventured over to the UPMRC (Union Pacific Model Railroad Club) for their open day. I knew they had some table sales happening there, and while I didn’t buy anything, the NSW modeller would not have been disappointed, as there were some absolute bargains - e.g. a weathered NPRY $22.  I was on the lookout for a PECO large radius Y point.  But my second hand seller mate who was selling stuff at the event did not have any with him.  He thought he had one at home, so he will bring one to the Tuesday week Buy and Sell night.  That will be good, as I can then work on the last standard gauge point for Clapham Yard.  At this time, it will also allow me to concentrate on adding all the required droppers into the Yard so trains can run between all the tracks without running into a dead section.

While at the UPMRC today, their open day attracted quite a few people and they gave up their gold coin for the privilege of seeing some trains running.  The things that interested me where the strings of multi-colour LED’s around the edge of the layout room controlled by a remote.  The colours that they ran were red and blue, but I was told they also use a yellow colour as well.  This colour LED worked quite well, when the layout room lights were turned off, and with a very well illuminated layout, with locos, passenger cars, various street lights, yard lights, building lights, flashing advertising signs, etc. all generating background lighting, it was very affective.

Also being used for the session by the operators, was a PABX system.  This allowed drivers to phone up the dispatcher for permission to move to the next section of track, or for the dispatcher to call a loop and wait for someone to pick up the phone.  If the despatcher is busy talking to someone, you can’t call.  But you will know if he in on the phone or not as the light on your phone will tell you.  This seemed to be working very well.  I would very much like to go down this path in the future on Cassino.  I would love to replace the current headset set up, which has a push to talk feature.  That will make the drivers jobs so much easier, as they don’t have to carry their headset around from location to location, or it won’t matter, as occasionally, drivers walk off with it still plugged in and it rips the headphones off their head when they reach the end of the cord length.

Also being used on the UPMRC layout, was a small LED monitor screen that was connected up to 4 video cameras.  That was used by the dispatcher so see what was occurring at four locations on the layout.  I’m not sure I could use something like that, but I do occasionally (and more often many visitors lose a train on the layout), so that might allow quicker finding of the said lost train.

This arvo, I spent some time in the shed and also got the aquadhere out and used this to attached the windows to the recently purchased RDH carriage.  This car will be able to run on both my Brisbane Limited set or my Gold Coast Motorail set.  So that will be a good addition to my fleet.  That reminds me that I must go back and complete my FAM sleeping car, which will also be able to be added to both the Brisbane Limited consist or the Gold Coast Motorail consist.

Last weekend the list of presenters for the 34th Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention to be held on the 20th May this year came out.  I know that Darren and Geoff have already booked their accommodation and registered.  I booked accommodation for 5 at the same motel, with 3 of us (PK, David and myself) driving down leaving Brisbane on Thursday and John flying down from Toowoomba on Friday, and Darryl driving up from Nowra from work and bunking with us for the two nights.  I also hear that the Toowoomba guys have also booked two rooms at the same hotel - someone should really tell them that they have  booked the double bed rooms and not the two bed rooms. Hehehehe!  Now given that we might end up having 11 hard core NSW modelling guys from Queensland in attendance at this event, you may not want to stay at the same motel as us.  We might be a bit loud at night.  We had a ball last year, Thai food, pizza, great drinks, great company and plenty of laughs.  This year I’ll bring a carton with me for the trip down and back, Darryl has already said he’ll have a couple of bottles from a local vineyard.  All we need now is some invitations to attend some local layouts or Clubs on the Friday and/or Saturday nights (maybe even Sunday morning) for a quick operating or photographic session from our mates down in Sydney, as we will have three cars for us all to get around with this year.  So let the challenge begin if you are game!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Clapham Yard Upgrade Continues


On Tuesday this week, we ventured over to Arthur’s place and took a look at his excellently sceniced QR/NSWGR dual gauge layout.  It truly is a masterpiece.  The layout has been on the receiving end of some fencing along the railway right of way over the last few weeks and it does look nice.  The contractors are still in the process of finishing off the job.  There was also a clothes line installed complete with washing and a young lass swinging on it.  I hope the parents don't see this or all hell with break out. 

I picked up a LH curve point from Shelton to allow the installation of a set of crossovers at the northern end of Clapham Yard between track 2 and track 3.  This will allow the running round of the Railset train in track 2 without it having to get access via North Coast Control to the staff machines at each end of the Clapham Yard – namely Clapham Yard to Dutton Park and Clapham Yard to Acacia Ridge.  Darren Lee also picked up a couple of second hand points from Shelton.

On Saturday morning I went down to the shed to spend a couple of hours working on the southern end of Clapham Yard before we went down the road for my son’s afternoon cricket match.  For those interested we got the opposition all out for 88 after having them 8 for 38.  I think they reversed their batting order.  My son took a good catch, almost ran someone out and took the last wicket for bowling figures of 0.1 overs and 1-0.  We then got the runs in the 15th over with the score ending up at 3/90, when the coach pull the pin.  My son top scored with 17 retired.  This team is a little ripper.

Anyway while down at the shed I spliced in one of my large radius Y points and stole a narrow gauge LH point from somewhere else on the layout and I had the dual gauge head shunt in place.  I still had to relocate the dual gauge diverging track about 2-3 feet further down the mainline back towards Acacia Ridge Yard.  But when this was completed I was pondering if I would replace the Y point located on track 4 that I just installed with a double slip point and then move the Y point to track 3, I may be able to have an extra track having access to the headshunt – namely track 3.  Again this will keep a loco away from having to take a staff to move around with the yard.

After Tuesday night, I knew that Shelton had a couple of spare double slips.  I’ve also had  a few of these previously but had sold them at various Buy and Sells.  I thought where would I use one on the layout now so I sold them?  Anyway I left a voice mail for Shelton and sent him an email asking if I could drop buy after cricket and borrow a double slip to see if would fit geometrically into where I was pondering. 

So after cricket I detoured via Shelton’s house and picked up his double slip.  So when back home, I was straight back down to the shed and ripped up the large radius Y point I just installed that morning and spliced the double slip in, and moved the large radius Y to track 3.  Hmmm!  It looked pretty good.  I ran my railset train through the various tracks and it had no issues.  So we will call it a success and I just need to score a few 12mm sets of points and another large radius Y and I think I will be done remodelling Clapham Yard.

Today I went down to the shed and reattached the point motors and track power feeds that I removed yesterday.  I also installed one of the points required for the crossover between track 2 and track 3 at the northern end of Clapham Yard.  I am still one large radius Y point down in order to complete the cross over.

I then fired up the layout and ran a 44 class loco through the various standard gauge tracks.  Whoops!  I have lots of insulated joiner around my electrofrog points, and I have no power feeds.  It looks like that is next weekend's job before I can finally complete this task.
The before shot of the northern end of Clapham Yard.  The railset train is visible in this shot.

The after shot when the curve point has been installed at the northern end of Clapham Yard.

The before shot of the southern end of Clapham Yard. 

The after shot of the final rearrangement of the track work at the southern end of the yard. 

This is before view of Clapham Yard.  The southern crossover is shown here as well as some narrow gauge QR wagons.

This shot shows where I may have temporarily borrowed a LH narrow gauge point from so I can complete the lead into the yard for the narrow gauge trains.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Powering Along in Clapham Yard


Yesterday I picked up some styrene as I was planning what I was doing to do this Friday at the modelling night organised by my local Hobby Shop at Simon Says Hobbies and Games.  Quite a few of our local group head over there for a night of modelling.  I’ll be making another 4 or maybe 5 of the 40’ container flats that I have been making.  That will bring me up to about 20 container flats.  I will then also make some gates for the container flats.  I hope to be able to get through a complete set of 10 gates for a single wagon.

Just after lunch, I decided to start working on building 6 of what I call my power supplies that I use on my layout.  These take DCC track power and rectify the voltage and with a capacitor, and a small resistor, will allow an LED or in some cases many LEDs to be illuminated.  In this case the LEDs area going into a few of my incinerators to be installed around my layout and those of a few mates.  I picked up 12 flickering LED candles over Christmas period and while the button battery in each LED candle is good for about 72 hours of burning, I’d have to have a stash of button batteries to go around to replace these when they go flat.  So my aim is to connect these up to the track bus and they will draw less than 0.01 Amps and can flicker away in all of my fettler camps.  The flickering candles along with my incinerators made from styrene painted rusty brown look really good on the layout.  I use this technique in a few areas around the layout - particularly the Staff machines in each section of track between crossing loops.

I have completed two power supplies today and given them a test by connecting them  to the track power on the layout and yes they do work.  I have 4 more power supplies completed ready to just solder an LED and resistor to.  I still have parts for another 5 power supplies and will probably build some more after that.  The limiting factor in these flickering devices is getting my hands on the LEDs that I need.  The ones in these candle sets just flicker at the correct rate to make them look like a fire is raging away inside my 44 gallon drums.  These seem to have a random flicker compared to a constant on/off in some LEDs.  I will give some of these to a few mates when I next catch up with them this week or next.

This afternoon I went down to the shed and was working on cutting and installing the extended baseboard at the southern end of Clapham Yard.  This will allow the proposed changes to the southern end of the Clapham Yard to be catered for.  So a few extra dead-end sidings will eventually be installed.  Now that the baseboard has been completed, the next phase in the plan turns to track acquisition.  I need a few lengths of flex track and a few more points.  The plan is that none of these points will be motorised.  They will be worked by hand only.  I’m thinking of scouring the next few Buy and Sells in Brisbane on the lookout for the required track items.  This baseboard work has meant that a few existing point motors need to be moved around and the staff machine for the Acacia Ridge to Clapham section and Clapham to Dutton Park section needs to be moved.  I have a bad feeling that I will need to extend all four wires for one of the staff sections (if not both) as the existing wires may not reach to the new location just a couple of inches further out from the wall.  But that is a job for next weekend.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Creative Juices Have Been Piqued


The week didn’t start off too well for me, as I was home crook on Monday.  What better medicine than to sit at the kitchen table and build another 11 gates for my 40’ container flats.  Later that afternoon, I was cutting up the old flyscreen that I removed from my front screen door and making 99 sheets of HO scale reinforcing.  These sheets of reinforcing are about 20’ x 8’ in size.  These will be destined for various loads on some of my 40’ container flats. 

On Tuesday this week I ventured up the road to Lefty’s place.  We had a good rollup and we all spent quite some time trying to get Lefty motivated to lay some more track on his bottom deck and then venture into building his helix up to the top deck which does have track on it.

On Friday night, four of us ventured over to Brendan’s place for a Friday Travelling Modelling Group get together.  Brendan put on some very nice BBQ snags on bread with cheese, onions and a selection of sauces, and with us all bringing our own flavour of liquid poison, it was a good night.  We then hit his modelling table and we were all working on many different projects.  I was the first to go for the night, and I think Darren ended up staying the night, with the theory being that Geoff was to give Grover a lift home. 

My main modelling project for the night was the raised platform on which the signalman stood to perform the staff exchange.  My platform is destined for my Glenapp Loop.  I was also discussing a project with Darren that I am keen to implement on my layout.  Along the back of Cassino station, I plan to model and install all the houses that back onto the railway line.  In one of those houses, I plan to put a couple of the 20’ x 8’ sheets of steel reo to use.  I intent to have a mini scene in one of the houses, where a new driveway is in the process of being built, with the driveway all boxed up with wooden boxing in place, and the reo being installed.  There would of course be a pile of dirt where the dirt from the driveway had been dug out to, and also a pile of gravel and sand and of course a model cement mixer.  I’ll also need a couple of wheel barrows and some helpful scale HO mates about to assist.  I’m just trying to work out what house will be getting this upgrade.

Yesterday was supposed to be our Operating Session at Anthony’s place.  I believe there was a good representation there, but alas I could not go.  While I thought my son had an afternoon cricket game from about 2-5, we were surprised that he had a very early game from 7:30 – 9:55am.  We ran slightly overtime, but they recorded a very big win – 4/161 to about 7/83.  Kyle was 6n .o. at the end of the innings and took 1-8 from his two overs.  He could have had more wickets if two LBWs were given and if the guy at fine leg caught a sitter which ended up going through him for 4 runs.  His team played very well.  What made this early start a shock to the system, it was at the farthest ground from home.  So we left at about 6:20am on a Saturday - my sleep in day.  While the day was sort of developing for a surprise appearance at Anthony’s, my daughter had a party at attend in the afternoon, so I would have been leaving Anthony's early to get home to stay with Kyle as the boss took my daughter to her party.  The day was also the local NMRA meeting at Eddie’s place, and I would have liked to attend that as well.  Sometimes things just don't go your way.

Today after doing the mowing, some tree trimming and the gutters on one side of the shed, I went down to the shed to do some running.  Yes, I decided to give my Brisbane Limited consist a run from Grafton Yard until South Brisbane Interstate.  The train has only made it to Clapham Yard and few things have caused this.  When the train was approaching Clapham Yard, one of the Auscision sleeper wagons derailed on my dual gauge diverging track.  I think one bogie has under gauge wheels.  I will check this out in the future.  When the train was leaving Clapham Yard, the locos jumped a bit as they went over the point allowing for locos to diverge into Loco Pilly.  Upon inspection, I discovered that the point motor actuator, was sticking though the point too far and hitting the bottom of the bogies on my 80 class locos.  So out with the dremel tool and the actuator was shortened by about 1mm.  The locos now seem to run through this now.

When I parked the train in Clapham Yard, it brought back memories of a few things that I have not completed in this yard.  I need to install two sets of points at the northern end of the yard.  So I must buy one more point to complete this.  So I will be trying to get around to this over the next few weeks at a local Buy and Sell or I might see what a local hobby shop has on sale.  Now this observing, also reminded me that I also needed to buy a couple of 12mm points to finish off the narrow gauge yard.  This is a longer term plan.  This will allow a couple of narrow gauge dead end sidings to be installed.  But while thinking, I discovered that if I could put a HO set of standard gauge points at the southern end of the yard, and by slewing the narrow gauge track slightly, I could obtain a small loco storage road for my standard gauge locos.  Upon further contemplation, If I used one of my existing dual gauge diverter tracks, and used another 12 mm set of points, this locos storage track could be dual gauge.  But I will need to move my existing southern yard entry back by about 12 inches at least.  Now this thinking thing, is pretty dangerous!  I was now contemplating moving the southern yard entry down a few more inches and then I could reroute the narrow gauge entry a bit earlier and make a couple of narrow gauge dead end sidings at the same time.  To accomplish all this i will have to do a bit of cut and bash on the baseboard.  I am looking at adding a new baseboard piece to the existing baseboard, supported somehow and thus allowing all these changes to occur.  The creative juices are really starting to flow at the moment.  They are all costing me more money as I need to purchase about 6 sets of points now.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Heat Up Here!


This week I saw my Auscision car carriers arrive.  I had to pick them up from the local Post Office yesterday morning as my wife was out on Friday when the courier was trying to make the delivery.  My delivery of 4 packets get split amongst 4 people, with various sets divided up according to people's requirements.  So I have already put one of the Motorail wagons into my Brisbane Limited set and the other will go to into the Gold Coast Motorail Express.  I think I will need to introduce a new train into the timetable that departs from Acacia Ridge and heads to Grafton and returns about 12 hours later.  That way I can add some more carriages to this train.

On Friday, the whole of my son’s Saturday school cricket competition had their matches cancelled due to the temperatures expected, so that gave me an opportunity to ventured across to the Banyo Library and went to a presentation arranged by the Local MERG group.  Visiting Scot, Davy Dick, who is out here on his yearly house swap gave a presentation on adding sound to a layout.  The presentation was very informative it has got me thinking about adding sound to my layout through the use of various small recording devices, with local speakers.  There were 5 current Club members and one past member as well in attendance who decided to attend this air-conditioned library meeting room instead of to the hot clubrooms - as it was our monthly meeting day.  It was good to talk to some of the people there, and boy did it make me feel small in the electronics space after listening to these guys talk.  I wonder if I can download some sort of plug in like you can for a browser to get me up to speed in this space?  My brain hurts!

Today with the outside temperature even greater than yesterday, after a small shed stint in the morning playing with JMRI before I posted some questions on the JMRI Yahoo group, I decided remain in the air-conditioned house to build up another 10 sets of gates for a 40 foot container. I used a combination of 0.035” evergreen styrene rod and 0.025” evergreen styrene rod for these gates.   I think they have come up quite good.  They currently need painting.  That might be a task for next weekend.

With all this heat, I can’t get motivated to head down to the shed and do much there.  I still have a huge list of things to do to finish off some projects as well as a stack more new projects on the 'to do list' that I could start.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Trying to Finish Some Projects


I’ve been kept quite busy this week.  On Tuesday evening I ventured up the road to Shelton’s place for our fortnightly get together.  Shelton has done some fine tuning to his layout and the changes are looking good.  It proves that some small scenic items can actually lift a layout by a huge amount.  Shelton has some fencing near a couple of oil sidings and these looked really good.

On Friday night this week I went to our local hobby shop – Simon Says Hobbies and Games for the usual first Friday of the month get together for the modellers.  Initially I was working on my gas refuelling structure.  Following that I spent some time drilling holes into one of my 40’ container flats so I could put 5 gates on each side. 

Yesterday was spent at my son’s cricket match which they lost on the last ball of the second last over, but they played quite well.  Today I got down the shed early, but only did a small amount of spray painting.  Firstly I painted some Tulle grey and then sprayed 5 container flats and 11 gates the same colour.  It was quite hot in the shed, so I adjourned back up stairs.

Later this afternoon I attached the tulle to my hen house gate and then some more tulle to the four walls of the hen house.  Yes I still need to make the nesting box.  I then ventured back to the shed and fired up the Raspberry Pi and proceeded to do some testing of the fast clock and it syncing to the NCE fast clock.  What I have not done is look at the code, but there must be some dodgy code written around that function.  I will post some comment on the jmri group later in an attempt to get someone to look at the code.

The Gas Loading rig.  This supplies a water quenching facility around the gas tanker.  The two pieces of styrene at right angles to the structure are there to keep the two sides the correct distance apart until they are glued onto the layout and covered in scenic material.

My hen house is starting to take shape.  Yes it needs some nesting boxes to provide cover to the hens.

The almost completed 40foot caged container flat.  I need to put a cage on the left hand end.  All the side gates are removable.