Sunday, September 25, 2016

Container Flats and Ballasting

Following last weekend's overdosing on Model Railways, this weekend was much more sedate.  On Friday night I got an urge to build some 40’ container flat racks with wire cage ends.  I’m not sure of the correct name of these are, but I found a few photos on the web, particularly on blogsite by Wagonfreak.  So after lunch on Saturday I went down to the shed and grabbed a commercial 40’ container as a template for the base of my 40’ containers.  I built my container bases from a 2mm styrene sheet with 2mm evergreen styrene channel section on each side.  I also built up some gate sections from 1.2mm styrene rod and 1mm styrene rod and the cross pieces were made from 0.025" styrene rod.    As usually happens when I start building something from styrene, I ran out of 2mm Channel and 0.025" styrene rod.  So it will be off to the hobby shop next Saturday to get some off Ray.

After a while I went down to the Shed and whipped out my trusty spray can and gave two containers a base spray.  They look quite good.  I now need to identify what wagons they will be assigned to on the layout.  I did make a third container flat, but it needs the cross bracing from 0.025" styrene which I don't have enough of.
The first 40' container flat with cage wire end.

The second 40' container flat with a different cage wire end.

Not content to potter around in the shed, I decided to apply some ballast to a couple of sections of track just inside the shed door.  These were applied and spread out by my trusty soft brush.  Basically the ballast was only spread around from the road overbridge show below to just out of view to the right.  Two different colours were used to depict a freshly ballasted section on the track.
The two loops of track from Grafton Yard are seen above.  Grafton Yard is located by following the track on the bottom right another 1.5 metres around the curve, and off to the left and heading around the spiral we get to a tunnel mouth and then re-appear at the other end of Rocla Sleeper Siding and on the inner loop about 4 inches higher.

A close up view of the point into the Rocla Sleeper Siding.  Just seen in this view are the gates on the road entrance to Rocla and the gates on the rail entrance.  Yes they work!

So today, I made a cardboard shape to fit around the point motor and then applied some more ballast here.  That was followed by wetting the ballasted sections with my spray bottle and then dropping diluted aquadhere onto the ballast.  I think it came up quite well.  I don't have any photos of the after view as yet.  Following wetting and applying the glue the ballast gets a lot darker until it dries off a bit, when it does go a bit lighter, but nowhere near it is in the above shots.

I also spent some time gluing some wooden sleepers into a track crossing at the end of Cassino Platform.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016 Modelling the Railways of Queensland Convention

This weekend has been spent doing activities associated with the 2016 Modelling the Railways of Queensland Convention.  Yesterday the actual convention was held at the Ekibin Bowls Club.  It was a nice open and airy venue and I had a ball.  First off there was setup of the hall and presentation area 2.  This was followed by important things like help set up the demo layout, stacking drinks into the fridge along with the cheese cakes for consumption following the night's BBQ dinner.  Then there was giving help to the various demo guys and some shops by assisting to carry their stuff down to their stands.

Then registration began, and there was plenty of hellos to people I had not seen for some time and plenty of hellos to people I had not met before.  After Arthur’s introduction speech, my session was first up in presentation area 2.  I was behind the 8-ball as we were running late and my session was timetabled to run a little later than normal.  Oh - No!  We had a good turn up of attendees at the session and there was one old bugger heckler from Sydney consistently asking questions.  Hopefully I was able to get across some of my thinking and why I implemented the things I did, the way I did it.  Additionally I hoped that the attendees could get a feeling for operating a train on the layout in the second half of the presentation.

I enjoyed the lunch while talking to other attendees.  I also had the opportunity to attend other sessions during the afternoon and learn some interesting information.  So thanks to the presenters for sharing their information with us all.  I certainly learnt some things both operationally on QR practice and also picked up some more modelling tips. 

During one of the sessions I did some work on one of the modules of Gilligulgul.  I installed some fencing along the railway corridor.  I ran out of fence posts so I will have to create some more and install them next time I see the layout. 

I was lucky enough to pick up a prize in the raffle draw at the end of the day and selected a QR buffer stop donated by Queensland Scale models.  I also had another ticket drawn out later, but decided to not collect and let the masses have an opportunity to win something.

After attending the separately registered dinner which was a BBQ put on by the bowls club, we had Arthur give us a great recap of his life as a junior fireman up in Mackay during the sugar season when he was a young 18 years old.  So to the people who had a hand in organising everything, especially Arthur and committee who met on various Thursdays when I was at work - Guys and Girls – you did an awesome job.  Thank You.  See you all in 2 more years.

Today the convention sort of continued at alternate locations across the south side of Brisbane.  Various layouts were opened to Convention attendees to come and have a visit.  Funnily, the open layouts were all related to members of the Tuesday Nighters group.  Peter, Arthur, Geoff, Darren and myself.  We all had a quite a few convention attendees rock up and have an inspection of our various layouts.

I was lucky enough to conscript a couple of my normal operating crew – Shelton and Greg (Greg also bought his two mini me’s) to run some trains as I was talking and walking around showing off various features.  Darren had the same idea as he had scheduled another three guys from our operating sessions (Anthony, Mark and Brendan) to assist him.  It got quite cramped at time in various locations in Cassino, but everyone got on quite well in the cosy environment.

I also invited a mate to pop over – George from up the road to have another viewing.  Luckily Shelton took some photos of the attendees checking things out on Cassino.  At various times, we also had numerous flashes going off all around the layout as other convention attendees took advantage and snapped away, after something must have caught their eye.  Although I have been working on this layout for almost 11 years, I still think there is another 10 years left to complete the scenery.  There is lots of ballasting to do, more ground cover work to complete, then the various buildings to scratchbuild, and then more fencing and then the detailing of all the various scenes around the layout.  Did I mention trees?  I need another 1000 at least I think.  I am very blessed to have an understanding and tolerating wife, and a great groups of friends – both the Tuesday Nighters and the extended Operating Crews of the various session that we all cross over at.  Without these guys and the inspiration that they instil in me, the layout would be nowhere near as far along as it is now.

Hopefully, some guys might get some enthusiasm and desire to convert that long term plans into something physical following this weekend, and we might hear about it at the next convention.  Thanks for the weekend everyone.

Below are three photos sent over by Shelton.  Thanks Mate.
Some of the first groups of visitors.  Yes Eddie is there providing assistance in moving people around on the layout tours.

The second group of visitors.  Noel the audio guru from the Convention was among that group.

Our esteemed Secretary of the Convention seems to have found his seat while others are wandering around.

Just before the visitors arrived, Shelton was able to assist me in re-attaching a PECO Point motor to a set of points at Dutton Park and testing it out.  This point moved about 6 inches with all the track modifications last week and I never got around to moving the point motor.  Not sure if we used that point in the running that occurred  as visitors were wondering around, but thanks Shelton.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Working Back Towards Dutton Park

So it was back to a normal Friday this week, with an early mark obtained from work and I decided to bite the bullet and scratch build another dual gauge diverging track to separate narrow gauge from standard gauge at northern end of Clapham Yard, just outside Loco Pilly.  So that was finished just a few minutes into the first half of Friday's televised football match on and the test runs with bogies going through the track while it was on the kitchen table were all OK.

Saturday was a right off as I had to go the AGM at the Club.

Today was when the real action started.  I started off by building a multi-gauge test track for the Club.  It will house HO standard gauge (16.5mm), HO narrow gauge (12mm) and N scale (9mm).  It will consist of 4 rails and it will be installed in the Clubhouse and be connected to one of our two SPROGs and it will be used to test and program DCC Locos in the Club office.  So far the track has been assembled with 3 of the four rails attached.  I will get around to adding the fourth rail during the week or next week.

My next task was to get a few items out so I remember to take them next weekend.  I am doing some modelling at the Modelling the Railways of Queensland Convention next Saturday.  I then turned to one of the models that I was going to take along to display next weekend.  This is my Murwillumbah Cement Silo structure.  It needed a couple of touch ups done with paint.  I followed a technique that Arthur Hayes spoke about in his modelling talks and it worked out quite well.  It was emptying a few shots from a spray can into a small cup and then using a paint brush to put that paint onto the model. 

The next task was to cut up some fencing from Tulle to be installed around the perimeter of the structure.  The tulle fencing had been spray painted grey many weeks ago now.  The various lengths had been stuck to my white board in the shed with a magnet to let them hang and dry.  Well they are truly dry after many weeks passing.  I have left one section of the cement silo's perimeter unfenced, as this will be under construction by some sub-contractors when the structure finally hits the layout.  Although I did cut the fencing to complete the final section, I rolled up the wire into a roll and left it leaning against the fence posts.

After this, I hit the shed and installed the new dual gauge piece of track that I built on Friday.  This went into just north of Clapham Yard.  I then gave it a test with both standard gauge and narrow gauge rollingstock and locos.  It appears to work, although there was short at one point, but a few slides with a file through all the sleepers seemed to fix that issue.  The only down side of this new track installation, is that the whole track from Loco Pilly to Dutton Park and around to Fisherman Islands had to be ripped up and relayed.  The reason, is that after the installation of this new piece of track, the third rail on the dual gauge has changed sides.  It was on the right hand side heading towards Dutton Park.  It is now on the left hand side.  Luckily most of these changes are quite easy to do.  I just lift up the various lengths of flex track and turn them around.  I had previously created my own lengths of flex track based on standard code 100 flex, with a length of code 83 rail soldered to one side via PC board lengths.  So four or five lengths of flex track later and the track was relayed all the way to Dutton Park.  I also had to remove power jumpers and re-attach these to the track.

The next issue was how to change the point located at Dutton Park?  I found a right hand curve point that already had a third rail already added to the left hand side of the point in my spares box.  I think I had just removed it from Clapham Yard last week or the week before.  I filed the standard gauge rail slightly so the narrow gauge track can go through it better and a quick test proved that it seemed to work well.  So that has been installed, and I just have to add another 6 inches of flex track to the left fork that heads toward Park Road Siding and that will be all fixed.  I hope to do that on Tuesday evening before my visitors come over.

I will then hopefully get around to laying the last two lengths of dual gauge track from Dutton Park towards Fisherman Islands.  Again hopefully I will get that completed by Sunday morning.  That will make the whole layout operational again.

I will have to have a bit of a clean up as my layout is the location for Tuesday Night’s get together, and it is also the destination of one of the open layouts following the Modelling the Railways of Queensland Convention next Sunday afternoon.

Next week we might have some photos of the convention and the newly relayed trackwork.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Clapham Yard is Almost Complete

On Friday evening this week, I was lucky enough to get along to another great night at Simon Says Hobbies and Games.  First Friday of the month is modelling night.  Not many of us but we had a good time.  While there I was working on building a couple of small detail items to go with my Murwillumbah Cement Silo scene.  Another model railway guys, Darren was there working on some buildings.  I finished off three items during the night.  I just need to paint these and try and install on the diorama in the next few weeks. 

This weekend as usual I managed to spend some time in the shed in the afternoon of both days.  On Saturday I spent time wiring track jumper leads to the various track sections to ensure that the northern end of Clapham Yard had power.  I also added the new route to the small control panel located at the northern end of the yard, by drilling a hole for a new push button and wiring the new push button up to the common power and connecting the other pole of the button back to input #19 in the mini-panel.  I also replaced the narrow gauge diverging track at the northern end with another one and made a few adjustments to it and it now seems that the 12mm wagons all go through there with no issues.

Today I updated the NCE Mini-panel located underneath Loco Pilly with the new codings to ensure that the points at the northern end of the yard, connected to the northern control panel all throw correctly.  Upon testing the three narrow gauge buttons, they threw the wrong points – Doh!  That was quickly fixed and then I found out that one point that controlled the northern end of the yard for selecting track 1 or track 2, only threw in one direction.  So I found that the common on the point motor had come adrift.   I then fixed up the point throw for selecting track 3 or track 4 that is provided via a long linkage that was not working last weekend.  So that was realigned, tension on the screws holding the point motor base to the baseboard were loosened and after a few tests and slight adjustments, everything was tested again and it is now all working. 

I thought I would then trial a train through the northern end of the entry to Clapham Yard and everything work well except that my 12mm loco derails in the narrow gauge to standard gauge diverging track.  The 12mm wagons seem to go through OK.  Bugger!

So it seems I might have to buy a Tillig divergent track to fix that, instead of using one of the ones that I made.  That will be a bugger as the third rail is on the opposite side with the Tillig track.  I might set back up a test section with the piece of track I removed and some track at each end and test the narrow gauge loco through that section again on the work bench.  I did some fine tuning to that yesterday and it now works better than it did on the layout.  It used to derail the 12 mm wagons due to a small section of track being just about 1mm too long.  This was the reason I removed it yesterday.

There are still some sections of track on the 12mm that need some fine tuning.  These are sections where I have hand made my own 12mm track and the track is on a curve.  So my gauge widening was either too much or too little.  Sometimes I just thing it would have been easier to just use standard dual gauge flex track, but the cost was going to send me bankrupt.  So I might purchase a couple of small lengths of dual gauge track and just blend it in with my home made versions for optimal layout performance.

Only two weeks until the Modelling the Railways of Queensland Convention and I will be presenting a talk on Operations on Cassino, and then following up by doing some fencing work on a module from Giligulgul during the day.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Making Clapham Yard Usable Again

This week I was really crook and spent a couple of days at home and did not get anywhere near the shed.  However, Saturday at about midday was another story.  I ventured down and started work on the southern end of Clapham Yard.  Firstly I soldered power jumpers to each of the tracks at the south end of the yard.  I also wired up the two relocated points motors.  I then reviewed the programming on the NCE Mini-panel that controlled the southern end of the yard and identified where I had to change the programming as I removed some points from various routes.  Basically 5 of the 7 routes are now working from the old control panel.  I drilled two more holes in the control panel and moved one push button and added another one.  However, these two new routes will have to be controlled from another mini panel – the northern end one, as there are no longer any free buttons in the existing southern mini-panel. 
My very expensive control panels.  I have not rubbed out the old lines, nor filled the hole left by the moved push button.

While testing the power connections out on the southern end of the yard, it became obvious that I had made my dual gauge track very tight.  So I slightly widening it bit by bit with the help of my soldering iron.  Levering the third rail out slightly.  After this was done, I had no issues running my 1550 up and down all the tracks.

So after completing this work, I decided to re-attach the layout lighting to the section above the northern end of Clapham Yard.  I first added a small extension onto the southern end of the lighting pelmet above The Risk.  I then added two new ‘L’ brackets to attach the pelmet supports to the wall.  I then cut a new pelmet to joining the section from Clapham Yard to The Risk section. 

After lunch on Sunday (after doing some garden work for the boss) I added the metal reflector to the pelmet and then reglued in the LED strip. I then ran the power cord back to the power supply and then gave the lights a test run.  Perfect!
It looks now like we have a continuous lighten from the southern end of Clapham Yard all the way around to The Risk.

I then decided to wire up the two changed push button on the southern Clapham Yard Panel back to the mini-panel at the northern end.  I just had enough wire.  They have been tested and work well.  I have also hand drawn where the new push buttons will go on the northern panel.  I also identified what point was what number and tonight I will write out the changes for the mini-panel so I code it up this week. 
The mini-panel in question with the new connection in locations 17 and 18 on the left and northern control panel with the new button locations drawn on the panel.  Again the old connection shave not been rubbed out yet.  I will have to lay a new wire back to mini-panel for the new button.

I then set about wiring up the two moved point motors at the northern end of Clapham Yard.  At this point in time, the motor on the left works like a charm, and the one of the right has a huge bind somewhere in the throw chain and nothing moves even though the motor is trying to move it.  Well that will be next weeks job.
The two new point motors located away from the points and using wire under the track to activate the points.

So the last shot shows the current view of Clapham Yard populated with a few locos and wagons and everything works up to this position in the yard.  More jumpers need to be added to the northern end next week.
The now half usable Clapham Yard.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ripping up Clapham Yard

I had been thinking of doing some surgery to Clapham Yard for quite some time.  Well last Friday week I did exactly that.  The yard was originally to have four tracks.  But when I added the dual gauge some years ago, it grew to 5 tracks.  Two tracks were standard gauge, two were dual gauge and one was narrow gauge.  I originally thought that was going to provide enough options or train movements.  But as the timetable developed, I knew that I did not have enough tracks available. 

Well after being basically ripped up on last Friday, the yard grew again to 6 tracks wide.  A piece of 68 x 19 pine was added to the front of the yard.  This made the yard level of the layout the same width as the level below – Glenapp Loop.  The yard is now three standard gauge tracks, one dual gauge and 2 narrow gauge tracks.  There is also the opportunity to add a couple of sidings to the narrow gauge side. 

So here are the before photos.
The southern end of the old Clapham Yard.  The front and the third track are the dual gauge lines.  The back two tracks are standard gauge and the second from the front is narrow gauge.

The Northern end of Clapham Yard.  In the distance is Loco Pilly.  This is where various locos and railmotors bide their time between uses on the top deck.

So basically last Monday and Tuesday I completed relaying the southern entry to the Yard.  On Sunday on the weekend just gone, I managed to relay the northern end of the yard.  I have run a few wagon consists through the various points - especially the dual gauge ones that I have recently made and all seem to work almost flawlessly except for one at the northern end of the yard.  Today I started building another one to replace this one- to see if I can do a better job.  I hope to complete this tonight. 

Here are the after photos.
The new southern entry to Clapham Yard.  Three standard gauge tracks on the right, a dual gauge track and two narrow gauge tracks.  There is also a dead end narrow gauge siding visible.

The middle of the Yard shows some narrow gauge points to allow for shunting to occur on the narrow gauge railway.  On the third track is a set of scratch built ore wagons given to me from an old mate who has now left this world.  This was my test train.

The northern end of the yard.  An old point with a point motor still connected is still sitting on the layout.   I will have to rewire most of the point motors at this end of the layout.  Two points have been converted to wire in tube operation from the back of the layout.  One siding in Loco Pilly was cut short by about 4 inches to fit the two point motors.

This is where the narrow gauge separates from the dual gauge track from Dutton Park.  This point is the dodgy one.

I also installed a new diversion track in Fisherman Islands Yard and it also seems to work well.  I forgot to get a photo of that one.

There is plenty of work still to be done to complete the work.  I have not reconnected any power droppers and I have not tested the point motors.  I think I will need to reprogram the NCE mini-panels and rebuild the various control panels for each end of the yard.  But there are plenty more weekends up my sleeve to do that work.

While copying photos up, I decided to add an extra one that shows the ballast train sitting in Bonalbo Ballast Siding with all wagons loaded with the removable loads that I made up.  They have a washer underneath and can be lift out with the help of a magnet and a bit of persuasion.
The loco locked away in the siding with the 10 ballast wagons.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Week of Leisure

I was on holidays this week and did spend quite a lot of time pottering around doing modelling activities.  Early in the week, I was scratch building some Fast Track transition tracks that allow the standard gauge and narrow gauge tracks to diverge in separate directions.  As the week progressed, as I built more of these items, they got better. 

On Wednesday I went over to Peter’s place and along with Arthur did some very basic scenery work on the Giligulgul layout.  I was weathering a few sleepers on a new module.  So that was a new trick that I learnt.  I just need to add some Isocol alcohol to the boss’s shopping list and I will be doing the same thing to my layout.  It was fun, it will take some time on my layout to cover all the visible track, but I think I will get stuck in doing this very soon.  While at Peter's I also got the task of building a fence for this new layout module.  So that afternoon when I came home, I built the required posts for the fence.  The fence will be a standard one using my 0.060” Styrene ‘I’ beam method.  Each posts has five holes drilled in it to take five strands of wire.
This shot shows two of the dual gauge transition tracks made from PK's borrowed Fast Track jig.  The top item also has a scratch built transition track on the left that takes the third rail from on the right hand side to the left hand side.

The various fence post elements ready for painting.  These are roughly spread out at the correct spacing we will be using on the layout when installed.

On Thursday and Friday most of the time on those days was taken up doing some gardening work under supervision of the boss.  With that work out of the way I could spray paint the fence that I had built and then that left yesterday free for an Operating Session on Anthony’s Border District layout.  Well we had the largest crew that Anthony has ever hosted with 7 visiting operators showing up.  It was a great day.  Everything ran well, except for one wagon on a train I was operating that just derailed when going through Nankiva crossing loop.  We backed the train up and ran it through again and it derailed again and again.  Every time it went through it derailed.  But by end for ending the wagon it ran through without problems.  It is great to see I am not the only person to have these sorts of issues.  The room was not too crowded, even with 8 people in the two aisles.  Rarely did we get more than 6 in any one aisle.  There is a bit of a write up over on Anthony's blog.

This afternoon I spent some time in the shed and boy doesn’t time fly when you are having fun.  At one stage I looked at the clock it was just before 4:00pm, and next time, it was nearly 6:00pm.  So I needed to come up for dinner.  I will also post another blog tomorrow with some photos of what other things I have been up to in the Shed.