Sunday, January 15, 2017

I've Been Doing a Bit of Travelling

Not much has been occurring on the layout this week.  I have spent some time with pen on paper thinking about a couple of detail items to make for the layout, but no actual modelling.

Saturday this week I ventured over to the Clubrooms for our first meeting for the year.  Boy it was Hot!  By 3:30pm everyone had left so the ex-Prez and myself shut up the Clubrooms and locked the gate and left for the afternoon.  We used to have people sitting around until after 5:00pm.  Maybe the heat had something to do with it?  While at the Club I received an order for a dozen 40 foot container flats.  That will give me something to do over the next few weeks.  But first of all I will need to buy some more styrene from the local hobby shop.  I think I have about 6 already made.  I will use this opportunity to build a fully caged 40' container and see how much effort it requires to build it all from styrene rod.

Today I was met by Darren, Ken and Arthur out the front of my place at 7:30am and I drove up to Maleny to visit Bill Dunn’s layout for a running session.  We met up with Peter who was already up there and was staying for a couple of days and three other local modellers.  I had a great time.  The layout runs well and every loco has sound.  There is an immense number of powered points from various lever frames and I continue to see small scenes as I move around the layout.  I took a few mental notes and I will try and build some similar scenes on my layout.  They say imitation is the best form of flattery.  I took quite a few photos but my phone is not letting me connect to it to download them.  I will try again at work tomorrow.  Maybe I can post some later this week.

We also brought Peter back home to Brisbane with us this arvo and went through a ripper of a storm on the highway.  I then gave Peter and Ken their first look at the layout.  I think Peter started shaking his head and was worried he would not be able to sleep tonight as he would be going through the layout operation in his head.

Tuesday Nighters this week is at my place.  Hopefully it will be fine and not as hot as it has been.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

I Seem to Have Lost my Mojo Again

So following a pretty intense period of Model Railway operation, I seem to have lost my mojo.  While I have undertaken quite a few railway activities this week, when I go to the shed, I feel like walking back out again.  I just can't get motivated to do something.  maybe I have quite a few other things on my mind.

With Monday being the New Year's Day public holiday I did spend some time down the shed.  I fixed up the couple of items that caused issues with the last Operating Session.  It appears that the dual gauge track just north of Clapham Yard, had developed a bow.  One of the check rails was on one side of the bow and it then sat proud of the track.  Every loco that ran through the point heading south ran into the check rail and got caught on the proud check rail and caused a derailment.  So a few strategically placed nails to make the track section sit back down flat and trains have now resumed running through that section of track.  A similar bow developed south of Clapham Yard but not to the same extent and this was also fixed via the same method. 

A few more sections of track were ballasted.  The mainline section covering the points either side of Cassino Meatworks has been ballasted.  A few more feet of track was also completed around the Rocla Sleeper Siding leading to Rappville Loop.  While on the topic of ballasting, today I also did a bit more around Cougal Spiral in the section that I basically ripped up out of the ballast before the last Operating Session when I added some cardboard underneath the outside rail to add a bit more super-elevation to the track.  That has all been covered up now.

During the week I put my order into for a set of Auscision RUB cars.  The next night I received $27.60 in Thursday’s big lotto draw.  I don’t think this will cover the cost of RUB set but it will buy a pair of wheels in one car.  I would have liked to be part of the $55million dollar syndicate that won.  I hear that the Auscision car carriers are heading our way.  Hopefully I will be on the luck ones getting the scares motorail cars first.

Friday night this week, four of our modelling group went to Simon Says Hobbies and Games for their regular modelling night.  It was certainly a full house. I decided to start building the gas unloading facility that I will install at Lismore so my Speed-e-gas tanker can get unloaded.  I have built a base frame all from 0.040” styrene rod.  It has a lot more re-enforcing to add as well as the top pipe work.  This model has been built from photos that fellow modeller Rohan Ferguson of Bolivia fame sent me after my request for photos a few weeks back on my blog.  His photos are just amazing and hit the spot perfectly.  Thanks mate.

Yesterday I went over to Austral Modelcraft and picked up a couple of right hand medium points.  I installed these into Clapham Yard at the southern end between tracks 2 and 3.  I will pick up another set of points, when money allows, which will be installed at the other end of the yard between tracks 2 and 3.  This will allow the Railset train to have its loco run around, without venturing out of the yard and asking for a staff at either end of the yard.  All movements can now stay within the yard.  Also when there is some shunting in the Yard during the timetable, the shunt loco can also go from track 3 to track 2 and run around his train before he adds these wagons from track three onto the end of the container train that will soon take track 2 heading south.  I am also thinking about another set of crossover at the northern end of the yard between track 2 and track 1 to facilitate this shunt loco moving from track 2 back to track 1, as it picks up its next loading from track 1 left there by another container train head north.  This loading then goes to Park Road Siding and onto South Brisbane Interstate.

Last night I started building a hen house for Baker’s Farm.  I initially started building it from styrene.  When complete it just looked really crap.  I then decided to give it a go building it out of 3” x 2” scale lumber.  This looked a bit better.  Today I cut out a few lengths of Tulle to be used in various wire fencing sections around the layout, and at the same time, cut some for the hen house.  The tulle was all sprayed with grey primer.  A job over the next few weeks is to affix the tulle (aka wire fencing) to the many fence posts I have around the various oil sidings on the layout.

Also today I spent some time adding jumpers to the various sidings in Loco Pilly.  There were about 4 tracks there that were not powered if the point was not set for those tracks.  So this has been rectified and all tracks are now live all the time. 

I’ll see if I can regain my mojo over the coming weeks.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Operating Session 31st of December 2016

The second 12 hour shift of my 24 hour timetable Operating Session was successfully completed on Saturday afternoon with the help of 6 regular operators.  Boy was it hot.  Luckily the aircon was on in the shed when we went down there for an almost on time kick off at 12:48pm.

Generally we had most Trains operating very well.  I fixed the issue at The Risk from the previous session on Tuesday and I heard of no issues with location.  However, I witnessed multiple issues the trackage on both sides of Clapham Yard.  I think I might have some nails protruding just slightly above the rail height at the northern end of Clapham Yard just outside Loco Pilly.  I also identified that I needed to add a few more power droppers to Loco Pilly as some tracks have no power supply at all except through the point and that is not reliable and just not good enough.  I also identified a couple of dead end sidings in Grafton Yard that are in the same boat.

I also had issues with my current Brisbane Limited consist with the train having issues at a couple of locations.  So that will get some more attention before the next session.  I also identified one wagon with what appears to be a low coupler which caused a runaway of the last three wagons from a container train from Clapham Yard down to Acacia Ridge Yard, so that will also draw some attention tomorrow – when it is hopefully cooler in the shed.

So apart from these documented issues, and two slight additions to the timetable cards to fix up some ambiguities, the next session should be even better that what we had over the last week.

Following on from last session Darren had time to look at the Auscison Brisbane Limited cars.  We have a solution and it has been implemented.  A simple test has been run, but I think I might do a more detailed test tomorrow to see if we have fixed the running qualities of these great looking cars.

I had been having trouble with my Raspberry Pi that runs JMRI and connects to my NCE system to allow those guys who don’t have a radio ProCab to operate wirelessly via their smart phone.  Yesterday Greg brought his more powerful Raspberry Pi over and swapped it for mine.  We still had issues.  Greg also read something that one particular JMRI release caused some issues with our model WiFi adaptor.  Bugger.  That may well be the issue we are having.  Additionally, whenever we try and have the Raspberry Pi sync its time from the NCE command station, it was forcing its time of the command station instead of getting the time from the command station.  Well the Raspberry Pi continually overwrote the base station’s time.  I’m glad Greg was in charge of the system when that was occurring, as I thought that had been occurring previously.  Again, maybe there is a further update to the JMRI code that fixes this syncing of the Raspberry Pi with an NCE command station.

Shelton updated his blog with an update of my session.  Go here to read it.

I also have provided a pictorial update of the session.
Shelton's pick up freight from the Branch is heading past the Rocla Sleeper Siding and will soon by stabled in the Grafton Loops.

The banana train from Murwillumbah has arrived in the Loop.  It will pick up the wagons from the Siding and continue onto to Old Cassino to do the same.

The banana Train sitting in Lismore.

The ballast is making its way back past the Rocla Sleeper Siding and towards Grafton Loops.

The Container train handled by Anthony is about to enter Clapham Yard.

The banana Train has made it to Old Cassino and will pick up the two wagons located at the goods shed.  Also visible in this view is the wagon left behind by Shelton in the Norco Siding.  Bad ordered my foot.  He just forgot to add it on.  It was uncoupled by the magnet set into the track and Shelton did not check he had all his wagons.

My Murwillumbah Cement Silo with the now unloaded cement wagons.

The stock train has unloaded at the Kyogle Stock Siding and is now heading back to Grafton Loops for storage.

Here the Gold Coast Motorail is coming into Old Cassino for a quick station stop before head to Cassino and then onto Grafton.

Greg is the driver of the Gold Coast Motorail.

The loaded steel train is heading towards Brisbane, having just crossed a train coming in from the Branch.

The Steel train exiting the yard and heading north.

The Cement train doing a shunt three wagons at a time from the cement siding onto the main.  Once all the wagons are out on the main, the driver will push these back to the platform and then run around this train, before heading back to Grafton Loops.

The sight of Shelton's cross at Glenapp Loop.  Shelton has the container and Barry has the train heading north.  Above at Clapham Yard are the three container wagons to be sent towards Park Road and South Brisbane Interstate for unloading, while the rest of its train went to Fisherman Islands.

Barry surveying his handy work in being able to pull his train up just short of the train entering at the other end of the crossing loop.

Another cross occurring.  The branch container train heading to Murwillumbah is on the main, while the cement train is taking the yard to ensure the track is long enough for the cross to occur.

This shot of Cassino shows the mountain goat in the dock while a stock train sits in the yard awaiting its path further south to Grafton Loops.

The paper train is on the main line, while cement train is coming in from the branch.

A few seconds later the trains are further along the line in their cross.

The cement train has received the staff for the section from Cassino to Rappville and is crossing the Richmond River bridge, heading towards Grafton.

The paper train is crossing another train at Kyogle.  The Rail train is locked away in the siding.

This shot shows a triple header just about to enter Grafton Loops. 

Almost the last train of the day.  A shunt is occurring at South Brisbane Interstate.  The three containers are in the run around road in South Brisbane and the run around is occurring.  Another photographer is taking a shot from the other direction.

The locos have been released and are about to be shunted back onto the containers.  North Coast Control is having a break standing up as all other movements have been completed.

The train will be pulled forward and then shunted back into track 6 where they will be unloaded.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Operating Session - 27th December 2016

My traditional end of year Operating Session for the 27th December has come and gone.  I only had 7 visitors but we ran quite a few trains.  The day started with a BBQ and introductions, with one new attendee (a NSW modeller) and one whom hasn’t been here for a while.  As is usual now, Arthur just jumped into North Coast Control’s shoes.  I find it amazing, that this man can just come in and gets the feel of the process and has trains running on time for about 2 and a bit hours before we started to have a few trains fall behind the table.  Arthur had no clock in front of him, but he had trains running to timetable - it was just amazing.  Of course one of the reasons for falling behind the timetable, is that there are up to 10 trains running concurrently in the timetable at this point in time, but if we only have 7 drivers we are going to be pushing some running stuff up hill with a rake.

As you would expect, there were some issues.  One wagon lost its bogie.  So it was plucked from its train and the train continued.  I never did find the screw.  Another loco lost its coupler twice.  Hopefully now I have fixed it a little more permanently.  We had another loco in a double head, lose its bogie locating clip, and thus lost its drive shaft.  That loco was declared a failure.  About three trains going south through The Risk has issues with the point at the end of the loop.  The traffic office then decreed that all trains were to use the Loop and good running then resumed.  However, this caused issues for North Coast Control having a loop out of action.  I had one operator derail his train as it went through a turnout that had recently been ballasted.   Over the few days before the session, I ran four trains through that same point in the opposite direction and one in the same direction as the troublesome train.  But the operator found ballast in the frog.  After he cleaned it out, his train ran through.  Sometimes I just can’t take a trick with my testing.  The rail train was having some issues exiting Clapham Yard, as I had added some toothbrush bristles to the track to stop runaways.  But I had not trimmed them off and they were too high and it was causing the rail train to uncouple.  I must get around and fix that.

Of course there were also the usual operator errors.  As expected one person appeared at the top of the list.  I know that he ran the Mountain Goat which runs north from Cassino to Border Loop, but this operator ran it in the wrong direction.  He reversed out of the Dock platform and headed south.  Hmmmm!  We had a lost train at one point.  The ARHS special that runs south from South Brisbane Interstate and heads to Kyogle, got lost.  The driver said it was somewhere in the Running Creek area in one of the tunnels, but after a couple of minutes looking it was found in the Cougal Spiral. I'm going to have to fit GPS tracking to my trains!

Another of the drivers, has a tendency to have his train arrive at its destination and assume that he has completed his shift, when there are usually a number of shunting movements to occur.  We think he will read the timetable cards better next time.  Mind you, the timetable cards have fairly small writing on them, and if you are of the older age group and usually need glasses, then you will struggle to read the cards, so we can’t totally blame him.

So since the session has ended, I have replaced two KD look-a-like couplers with KDs.  I have fixed the wagon with the lost bogie.  The locos have been returned to service.  I also fixed up a couple of scenic areas (actually fencing) that I damaged.  To attend to the comments of one operator about the weight of a few AR Kits Banana wagons, I added some lead weight underneath the wagon on two wagons.  I also added weight to another AR Kits louvre van and a single AR Kits open wagon.  All wagons have been returned to service. 

Today I went down to the shed and decided to wind the fast clock back from its end time of 12:05pm to 11:30am for the next session that is approaching on Saturday.  I then positioned one train – the ARHS special back a crossing loop and the Mountain Goat forward a crossing loop and did some shunting at Park Road Siding.  I also expedited the steel train from Grafton Loops to Rappville Loop as its starting position for the next session.  I have a feeling that I need to look at the Brisbane Limited and its various shunt positioning moves – the fast louvre van that gets attached and the motorail wagon and that train's light engines to ensure that they are in the correct spots for the new timetable start.  My next session will be on New Year’s Eve at 12:45pm with running for 3 and a half hour session at a 4:1 fast clock, I should be able to get to the end of the timetable session before people break for afternoon tea at about 4:15 – 4:30pm.

From Tuesday’s session the following photos have been provided by Shelton – who may or may not have been the driver who drove the Mountain Goat in the wrong direction.  You know what they say “Whatever happens in the session stays in the session”, unless I can make some good reading out of it.
The ARHS Railmotor Tour from South Brisbane Interstate departing on its way to Kyogle.

This shot captures Barry running the Container train travelling from Dutton Park to Clapham Yard.  Our photographer (or TW as known by the crews) was in charge of the Rail train seen in the Main at The Risk.

First timer Dave is running the Steel train through Border Loop.

The rail train has made its way to Broder Loop and doesn't have much further to run as it only goes to Kyogle and stables.

The following photos were taken by me during the session.
The steel train making its way through Nammoona Loop at speed.

A cross is occurring at Kyogle.  in the siding is the rail train.  On the Main is my train the container to Fisherman Islands (located directly above Kyogle).  On the Loop is the fruit train.  This cross stresses the loop at Kyogle to its maximum, as both trains just fit into their respective tracks.

This shot shows that the container has started leaving north while the fruit train is heading south towards Fairy Hill Loop.

The container train has now made its way to Cougal Spiral heading away from the camera.  In a minute to two it will appear again on the top section of track heading towards Border Loop.

Two trouble makers - Darren and Shelton sitting in the naughty corner plotting some despicable act.  I'm driving the train heading around the loop from Cassino to Old Cassino taking the yard.  The loco will run around and then push 4 wagons into the Norco Siding, before resuming it way towards Murwillumbah.  After shunting the four wagons into the Norco siding the train will need to wait until Darren's train the Murwillumbah container comes down the branch towards Casino.  Shelton has just driver the Banana to Murwillumbah and stowed its four wagons in the Banana siding after dropping off at Old Cassino good shed and Lismore Siding.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

First of all, I’d very much like to thank those readers out there in Internet land for following and reading my blog.  I’d hope that the man in the big red outfit provided you with lots of model railway goodies under the tree this morning.  I also hope that you have a great time with your family today.

This week I was still putting the finishing touches on the preparations for this Tuesday’s Operating Session.  All the trains are now at their locations.  I still have a number of light engine movements and spare locos to put in their end locations ready for the session.  Yesterday, I spent some time in the shed and completed the rails on the fencing at the Lismore Shell Oil Siding.  It dawned on me during the week that the Old Cassino Shell Oil siding was also lacking some rails for some of its fencing.  That was also installed yesterday.  On Friday I received a gift in the mail.  My new SDS Models Speed-e-gas wagons arrived.  I split a pack with PK.  So I added mine to the front of the Oil Train.  During the week, I had updated the timetable card and shunt lists for this train and its return train equivalent to take into account of this extra wagon and the movement to a new siding in Lismore Yard.  The location map on the front facia at Lismore was updated to identify the Gas Siding.  Now that just means that I need to build a new industry at this location.  However, I do not have any photos of the location where the gas was unloaded at Lismore.  Anyone out there have a photo?

Last night I cut up and ordered the various timetable cards that I printed out during the week.  These cards were put into time sequence order and all the shunt lists were also put into sequence order.  I also attached some signs below all the points for Murwillumbah below where the wire-in-tube connection comes through the fascia.  This is designed to make the job easier when shunting at Murwillumbah.  I also added a sign to The Risk to help control one of the distance points at the far end of the loop. The signs say what track a push or a pull of the manual levers will take them to.  The is particularly to help the driver control access to the two three way points at Murwillumbah.  There is one at the northern end of the platform and a second at the far end of the Cement Siding and Norca Siding divergings from the main line.

Today I was still putting the finishing pieces on the layout.  I painted some yellow clearance points on a couple of sidings that did not have that already done.  I attached a wire dropper that had some off at The Risk.  I noticed that two push buttons on the Loco Pilly control panel, for sidings 5 and 6 were throwing the points for each other’s sidings.  Now that was a bit of an oversight.  The wires were swapped and retested.  All OK now.  I have also made plans to install some extra sets of points into Clapham Yard to provide run around facilities for some standard gauge shunt trains without the loco having to go all the way out onto the mainline and requesting a staff from North Coast Control.  But will be for the next session in possibly January.

I’ve also had a really good cooked roast meal with family and am now happy to just fall asleep.

I hope to get a number of photos from Tuesday’s Operating Session and post them here on Wednesday.  Enjoy the rest of the Christmas Holiday break.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

That Was the Wrong Decision or I Shouldn’t Have Done That!

This weekend, with my Operating Session fast approaching, I decided to start relocating my trains back to their start positions for the start of the timetable session.  Everything was going smoothly, when upon relocating my NL1 – Brisbane Limited, I made the decision to start swapping out a number of Lima sleepers for the much better looking Auscsion Brisbane Limited sleeper coaches.  After all - that is why I purchased the Brisbane Limited add on pack.  I had my trusty train consist list and decided to start with just a single LAN and a DAN coach from my recent purchases.  My train had left South Brisbane Interstate platform and had made its way to Park Road, when I decided to swap out the two sleepers.  The train made its way successfully down the long incline from Dutton Park, past Loco Pilly, through Clapham Yard and then through Acacia Ridge Yard.  It was all OK until I got to Glenapp Loop.  I had my first derailment.  I thought the bogies may have been too tight.  Upon further investigation, the wheels were all out of gauge.  That was fixed and the train made it through Glenapp, and then at The Risk, it derailed again on the southern point.  The train then made it to Running Creek and then it just kept derailing again.  I got it past there and then it made it to Cougal Spiral and then derailed again in about 4 places.  After traversing through Cougal Spiral, it derailed on the Upper Richmond Creek Bridge at Kyogle.  It then had issues just past Fairy Hill Loop outside Ron and Marg’s B&B.  At that point I decided to swap the two Auscision coaches out and put the old Lima ones back in.  The Lima ones never had issues.

Upon further investigation, it seems that the bogies do not have any torsional movement.  The coaches have huge pins from the body, through the bogies and this prevents the torsional movement of the bogie as the train traverses the track.  For the record, my track has no flat sections in it.  Everywhere there is a grade of 0.5% or up to 2%.  I have lots of curves, hopefully none less than 900mm radius on the mainline.  Where possible there is slight super-elevation.  So where ever there is change in cant and gradient on the track, the new sleepers derail. 

So now the Brisbane Limited is back with old Lima coaches while I do some work to the new Auscision coaches. Apart from that serious issue, I ran all the other trains except from 4 trains back to their start positions and no other issues were uncovered.  The track ran well after a long time of no running.  I will run the last 4 trains early this week if I shout myself an early mark.  I have decided to make a number of wording changes to some of my timetable cards as some of the rollingstock is replaced and upgraded with newer wagons.  I have lengthened one small train by another wagon.  I have activated another siding on the layout.  I suppose it was stupid to have it if I didn't use it.

So a huge number of hours was lost this weekend just trying to work out what the issues were with the passenger train.  Were they track related, gauge related, were there kinks in the track, were there sharp changes in gradient etc.?  There was one certain area that was the result of a less than steady change in gradient.  This will be improved over the next week before the next Operating Session.  But all my other wagons in all the other trains were able to get through these sections of track.  So I think this all comes back to a bad design of bogie pin in the Auscision coaches.  Hopefully the RUB cars will not be the same design.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I think I Peaked Too Early

Two weeks ago I admitted to an epic fail in my modelling for the week.  Well that was nothing compared to this week just completed.  I had plans to do about half a dozen jobs small jobs.  I spent the last week down the coast with the family and while I did take a selection of things to work on for the week, I did not do a thing except draw up some plans for some models that I will soon be making.  I also watched the cricket on TV for three day/nights, and went to beach, the pool, played cricket in the backyard of the unit and on the beach, went for some walks on the beach and played Frisbee on the beach.  I also went to the various shopping centres around the coast that we always visit.  There was no time left for modelling.

Well yesterday was our Club’s annual Christmas Party and we had our annual modelling competition.  There was only three entries in the competition, usually there are close to twenty.  That was very poor form!  Alas even with those great odds, I did not win either the best model or the most popular but there is always next year.  I did have a bit of feedback that there was two votes in it, but I’m not sure what category that was for.

On the way back from the coast yesterday morning, after unpacking the car, I popped into the local hobby shop on my way to the Club.  I picked up the wanted styrene for my fencing continuation.  Today I got down to the shed, cracked out the styrene and gave it a paint.  Wouldn’t you know it!  I have now run out of grey etch primer.  Well I think that will be a trip to the local auto shop next weekend for a few tins of spray paint.  After the fencing rails that I did paint before the paint ran out had dried, I added them to the Rocla Sleeper Siding and now this area is complete apart from the wire mesh to be added to the fence.  I then used up all my remaining styrene to complete the Lismore Shell Oil Siding.  I have about 7 or 8 lengths of fencing rails left to add to the posts to complete the fencing.  However, I only have 6 lengths of styrene rails ready to paint but no paint.  So I might need to try and source another packet of styrene before I can complete that task.  Yes I still have the wire mesh to add to this area as well.  Yes I need some paint to paint the various lengths of tulle that I use for my fencing, so everything is conspiring against my desire to complete these modelling tasks.  Certainly that will be completed over the Christmas Holidays. 

I’m also just started to plan for the Operating Sessions over the Christmas New Year break.  So some work to complete tonight and next weekend for that.