Sunday, March 18, 2018

I Just Ran Out of Time

This week has been very slow for Model Railway related activities.  Tuesday Night we went over to Peter’s place for our fortnightly get together and had a very good chat (and feed).  On Friday I thought I would see if the local hobby shop has received their NCE order and the answer was no.  So that sort of put a dampener on my weekend activities.  With Saturday afternoon occupied with my son's last game of cricket for the year, I did not get down to the shed.  Today I mowed the grass in the morning and this afternoon I was catching up with email and other computer stuff, and then I had to pick up my son from a birthday sleep over.  So I did not get down to the shed today either. 

I did spend some time today thinking about starting my presentation for the May 2018 Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention.  Yes I must start creating the presentation some time soon.  During the week I did have a couple of phone calls from Marcus in Sydney (who happens to be one of the chief organisers of this convention) about activities on days either side of the convention for the Queensland contingent travelling down to the convention.

At least Cricket season has completed now, but school soccer season starts next Saturday.  At least these games should be over by midday, so that will leave the afternoon free for shed time.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

I Will Not Be Beaten

Today I went down to the shed and installed a new NCE Snap-it that I picked up at Austral Modelcraft on Thursday night.  It was an easy job screwing it to the baseboard support underneath where the point motors that it was about to control were located.  I found my layout bus wires that were running through that area of the layout and then spread the insulation on those wires and tapped off the track feeds to power the Snap-it.  My next job was to bring the wires from the first point motor back to the Snap-it and then do the same for the second point motor.  I was going to control a crossover from a single Snap-it.  I attached the wires, and then realised that I had not put then in the correct places on the Snap-it.  So that was rectified and the Snap-it device was given an address.  I then tested it and you know, it fired in reverse.  So I reversed the wires from the Snap-it and then test fired the points again.  I had a problem!  It worked to throw the two points to the normal position – i.e. straight through on the two parallel tracks.  When I set it to reverse, one point threw and the other did not.  It did not matter what I did, the point on track 1 in Acacia Ridge Yard would not throw to the cross over to the dual gauge track.  Hmmm!  What to do next?  I decided to swap out the point motor for another one.  That too, would not throw the point in the reverse position.  So I needed a new Peco LH curve point.  I did not have a spare one.  I was thinking about heading over to the local Hobby Shop when I realised that I had a LH curve point in my Grafton Yard Loco area.  Hmmm!  Yes, I bit the dust and ripped that one out and replaced this one with the point in Acacia Ridge Yard track 1.  So I reattached the point motor and gave it a test and yes it seemed to work.  So the point for track 1 in Acacia Ridge Yard was placed back into the layout and then given a few more tests.  It was working, but now the other point in its crossover pair - on the dual gauge track, was now not working 100% of the time, when I threw it back to normal position.  However, a second push of the actuator button was ensuring that it threw back to the straight throw position and will prevent a train shunting in the Dual Gauge track from not side swiping something in Acacia Ridge track 1.  I then replaced the previously faulty LH curve point back into the Grafton Loco area.  All is now good.  I am thinking that maybe I need to add some extra capacitance to the Snap-it to ensure that it has enough oomph to throw both points in both directions - all the time.  All this testing was undertaken by using my Radio throttle.  However, when I went over to my small control panel to throw this crossover back and forth, you guessed it, it threw in the opposite direction.  So out with the soldering iron again, and I then swapped the two wires on the control panel for the two push buttons.  So it again all good.

Now my issue with not enough oomph will require another trip to Jaycar next weekend.  I did make a trip there last Thursday and picked up another half dozen 0.1uF capacitors to be created into 6 extra track snubbers that I was making.  I had the 100 ohm 0.5 watt resistors sitting around at home.  So on Thursday afternoon, I soldered these up and they are now ready to be unleashed onto layout when I work out where I want to place them.

My next major purchases that I will be saving up for will be an additional NCE Mini Panel and an extra NCE QSnap.  The QSnap is to power the two remaining points in Fisherman Islands Yard and I might as yet added another small loop to the narrow gauge at this location - watch this space.  The Mini Panel is to be used to accept the push buttons from the Fisherman Islands Northern end panel.  I had planned on running wires from this panel to two other Mini Panels but that would leave them with no spare ports on them.  I have finally made a decision that eventually when I get around to it (and it might be a few years off yet), I will add track detection to at least some of, and maybe all of my crossing loops.  When I detect a train on any track in a crossing loop, it will trigger the input on an NCE Mini Panel and this will throw an accessory address via my Mini Panels, which will be then put a command out onto the track bus.  This will then enable the North Coast Control, who will have an electronic control panel, and it will light up an LED displaying that the track is now occupied.  That way he will know that the train has arrived at the crossing loop, and ensuring that the other train from the other direction, takes the opposite track at that location for a train cross to occur.  So I need to ensure that I have some spare positions on my various Mini Panels located around the layout to facilitate this detection.

Again this is quite a few years off I expect, unless if I win Lotto. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

More Fisherman Islands Work

Today I went down to the shed after midday and thought I might get stuck into wiring up the NCE QSnap that I’ve had for quite some time.  The QSnap was purchased to control some of the points located at the farthest end of Fisherman Islands Yard.  These point motors at this location allow the controlling of the points at this end of the yard.  The entry end of the yard has been wired up and operable for some time.  So I connected the NCE device to the power bus and then soldered wires from the four Peco point motors (actually 5 – as 2 point motors are wired as a crossover) and ran the common from the point motors back to the common on each of the four outputs on the QSnap.  I then went on a trip to Jaycar as I had exhausted my wire supply.  Upon return I wired up all the other wires from the point motors back to the Qsnap and then gave it a bit of a test.  You could never have guessed it could you?  Two of the connections were wired back to front, so that was an easy unscrew from the terminals and swapping the wires over.  The two points wired together, threw in opposite directions, so I unsoldered one of the point motors (the one that threw in the wrong direction) and re-soldered this one up.  So after testing – I am mostly happy.  I am not happy with my dual gauge point at the end of the headshunt as it takes three hits of the accessory button on my controller to throw the point fully in each direction.  To say there is some sort of binding in this point motor and point, which also has a Peco changeover switch also connected, is an understatement.

I pulled out some of my layout documentation and found out that I had already allocated these 4 QSnap connect point motors addresses.  So I set the addresses and then found out that I had supposedly coded up my NCE Mini Panel that was located under Border Loop Crossing Loop, with all the commands to throw these points.  I have yet to connect up the wires from the control panel at Fisherman Islands back to the Mini Panel.  Maybe a job for next week. 

But I can throw the points by just entering an accessory command from my Procab throttle.  Just brilliant this NCE system.

It appears that I have two more push buttons to throw from the Fisherman Islands control panel than I have spare connections in the Mini Panel located underneath Border Loop.  So it looks like I will have to run three wires a further 25 feet, to connect two control panel button outputs and the common connection to the Loco Pilly Mini Panel.  I will then have to wire the common to these two switches and not to the common of the other mini panel.  Again another job for another time.

I have also made up a shopping list to go and buy the capacitors so I can make up another half dozen snubbers for the layout.  I have the resistors already, just need the other components.  I person who was more organised would have done this before going to Jaycar earlier today.  Oh Well, there is always next week.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Still Making Progress

Yesterday was an early start as I had to go to one hobby shop and return something I purchased the previous Sunday.  What was a Stationary Decoder, which was actually for Servo motors and not for Solenoids even though it was by Peco.  When I purchased it, the shop assistances didn’t know what it was for.  I took a gamble and when I googled it when I got home, I found it was the wrong item.  It was no trouble refunding it.   Then over to Austral Modelcraft on the off chance that my NCE Snap-It was in.  But no!  Still on back order.  Maybe next weekend.  After killing some time, I went over to Anthony’s place and picked up two spare left hand medium radius points that he had.  A facebook message to a few mates on the previous evening revealed he had what I wanted.

Upon returning home, I went down to the shed after lunch.  I immediately spliced in the two left hand points to form a crossover in Fisherman Islands Yard.  This was tested and all OK.  My attention then turned to section of track at the eastern end of Fisherman Islands.  I knew there was a short in this section, as I had kitbashed a dual gauge point and it had given me some trouble in the past, so I just disconnected the power to this region in the dual gauge headshunt.  So bit by bit I tested the track, and connected up track jumpers one by one.  I eventually worked out that I needed to put two cuts in the dual gauge point and have the frog power switched by a Peco change over switch on the point motor that threw this point.  After testing that too was marked off my to do list as fixed.

I then looked at my list of items from last weekend.  Ah yes, I needed to install my Snubber at the eastern end of Fisherman Islands power district.  So that was wired in and another item ticked off my to do list.  I then went to the other end of the power district, as the snubber at that end was not wired in.  So it was wired in and I noticed that the last jumper on the bus was not connected to the track at the far end of the section.  I drilled a hole in the baseboard and the jumpers from the power bus connected up and all was good.  I then squeezed myself into the access section behind Dutton Park. It was then that I realised that I had to replace three metal track joiners with three insulated track joiners at the dual gauge point at Dutton Park.  This is the start of Power district 6 from Dutton Park to Fisherman Islands ( a distance of about 35 feet) and Power District 5 continues through on the straight route, coming from just north of Acacia Ridge Yard through Clapham Yard, through Dutton Park, then Park Road Sidings and then onto South Brisbane Interstate (maybe 95 feet long).  So a test of the power district, revealed that the issue I had last week with districts 5 and 6 being linked, was fixed by adding the insulated joiners at the junction points.  At this point, I realised that I had disconnect the power bus onto South Brisbane Interstate, and this was causing the straight section from Dutton Park to South Brisbane Interstate to not power up when the point at Dutton Park was set to the Fisherman Islands branch.  So this was re-connected and further progress continues to be made making the electricals on the layout more robust.

I think I need to make up another half a dozen more snubbers and connect them to the remaining power districts on my layout.  Again a future task.  During the week, Southern Rail Models announced that for an extra $60, sound was available for the 2300 and 2400 locos if they were preordered.  Well guess what my order for 3 x locos is about to get sound added.  During the week, I also got around to order a NSWGR Paybus with sound from Auscision.  So these along with a couple of 48 class locos from Auscision that should be delivered before the middle of the year will make the layout a little bit noisier.

While at the hobbyshop on Saturday morning, I heard a story where an elderly customer, was driving his 9 month old car around and it was raining.  He kept moving his wiper switch up, and the wipers would swing once and then stop.  This was driving him mad, and with all the rain over the last few days, it was difficult for him to drive.  He even took it to the dealer to complain and get the wipers fixed.  They eventually told him, that was the single wipe switch.  Move it down and it goes to variable intermittent, and move it down again and it is on slow wipe and down again it is on fast wipe.  Two things here.  It proves that once people get to a certain age, they should not be driving on our roads.  And some people are so stupid, that they tell others how stupid they are with a smile.

While on the subject, I also saw two incidents of utter stupidity on the bus going to work last week on consecutive days.  I was that close to advising how stupid these two gentlemen were to their face and telling them to get a grip on reality or just stay at home, before they harm someone on the bus.  If their umbrellas had touched me they were about to get a verbal reality check and potentially insertion of their umbrellas where the sun does not shine and rendering them and their umbrellas useless for evermore.

Anyway back to the model railway world.  Today Darren and I ventured down to the Gold Coast for the Buy and Sell at Nerang.  There were good numbers of sellers and good numbers of buyers.  I picked up 4kg of Chuck's ballast for $20.  A great price in some good colours.  Darren picked up some as well.  I also picked up a few cars, a tractor and a large container forklift for a combined $14.  Another bargain.  I also saw some mates and if I had a bit more money I might have purchased a few more great items for the layout.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Catching Up on Things

After lunch time today I went down to the Shed for a few hours.  I started by splicing in the Dual Gauge point that I wrote about last week.  I then tested it with a narrow gauge loco running through on the Main and then a standard gauge loco running over both routes.  I had to add a jumper for the standard gauge siding to make it work.  But all is good.  So now I can store a standard gauge loco or two in Acacia Ridge Yard for when I need to do some shunting or just replace a loco or two.
This is the dual gauge point in the lead into Acacia Ridge Yard coming from Clapham Yard.  The siding to the left can house two standard gauge locos.  The diverging track to the right, heads towards Clapham Yard.  The piece of track on the right is my coupler test track.  It has a fixed magnet in the middle to test the uncoupling of my KDs.

While in the mood I took a photo of the work I did previously in the Acacia Ridge narrow gauge Yard.  This section is still missing a set of point to make it fully usable.
The shot above shows the enlarged Acacia Ridge narrow gauge yard.  The track on the right is track 5.  It is dual gauge for testing locos.  The next track is track 4 and I need some track and a set of Peco points to put it in and make it usable.  The next two are tracks 2 and 3 and they are operational.  The track to the left of those is the Dual gauge track.  A train can come off the lead in the distance from Glenapp, and take the dual gauge and head up to the standard gauge loco storage in the first picture.  

A few weeks back I extended the dual gauge lead at the southern end of Acacia Ridge Yard.  I can hold a reasonably long train in this track.

I then turned my attending to looking at the master voltmeter on the layout facia.  I started tracing the wires and found that one wire went to the voltmeter.  So I then started tracing the second wire and wouldn't you know it the wire to the bridge rectifier had some adrift.  A quick solder and voila the voltmeter is working again.  It doesn't do much, but it does provide peace of mind that the output from the NCE base station is working within its specified limits.

I then decided to carry out some extra detail work in Border Loop.  I added two wooded walkways across the two tracks.  This will allow the track maintenance crews to move their trikes from the shed to correct track.  This also brings back memories of more buildings that I need to construct for this location.  I need to make the signalman’s house at Border Loop, as well as a few other buildings that are just evident in some of the shots that I have been able to find of Border Loop.  Unfortunately, none of the photos show enough detail as to what these buildings look like and what size they are.  Then we get onto colour, and when the buildings were used for.  Many questions and probably never any answers.
This is Border Loop.  The new crossing for perway crew and their vehicles can be seen.  

The other end of Border Loop also houses a track crossing made up of sleepers.

I suppose that I should start to spend some time doing my presentation for this year’s Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention at Loftus, Sydney in May.  I have seen a post on the relevant website that seems to list some of the presentations available this year.  Some look quite interesting.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Change of Plans

On Thursday afternoon this week, I thought I’d give the local hobby shop a call to see if they had an NCE Snap-It in stock, as I was planning my Saturday afternoon trip to my son's cricket game.  Well wouldn’t you know it.  They did not have any in stock.  So I will now have to wait until they next get a shipment of NCE stuff in.  So that put a halt on to what I was going to do this weekend.  I was going to install the Snap-It into Acacia Ridge Yard.  Because of that I decided to head down to the shed on Friday Night and do some tinkering.  I was thinking of trying to make a few moulds of some traditional galvanised iron water tanks and try and make my own by pouring some plaster into the mould.  Nothing too technical for me!  Well I never got around to doing any of that. 

I was again surveying the trackage in Acacia Ridge Yard.  I thought I might be able to put a set of points into the dual gauge lead from Clapham Yard and I might be able to store a standard gauge loco or two in this short siding.  It just happened that I had a set of right hand large points with a third rail that I had previously kitbashed a third rail into the diverging track.  It just happened to fit the geometry on the lead in Acacia Ridge Yard perfectly.  I did do a bit of work on this set of points to ensure that third rail was set at the correct gauge.  I think that was the issue when I had it originally laid on my track.  That and the fact that the Peco spring had gone onto a better life.  I now will control this point by using an old fashioned throwover lever that I will connect to the point.

I also did not get around to trying to fix my layout voltmeter.  I was busy all day and night Saturday and Sunday arvo when I was home it was just too hot to head down to the shed.  maybe next week.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Tinkering in Acacia Ridge Yard

Saturday started off with a trip over to the Logan Club for their buy and sell.  Not many sellers, but some decent stuff available.  Unfortunately there were no medium radius Peco points which was my only reason for attending.  So I then went to Austral Modelcraft to pick up a length of piano wire and some more rail joiners.  I then had to rush home as the afternoon was supposed to be filled with cricket.  But with all the rain on Saturday, school cricket was eventually washed out, but not until we were half way to the ground before we received the tweet.  So after turning around, and heading home, I was able to head down to the shed yesterday and put in some time doing a few jobs.

I had planned to do some investigation (really a refresher) into what I had done for the crossover from the Standard Gauge Yard to the Dual Gauge Yard at Acacia Ridge.  Upon finding my dump of the contents of my 4 NCE Mini Panels, I worked out that I had programmed one to throw this crossover. The panel on the facia was connected to the two inputs in the Mini Panel and when I pushed the buttons on the panel, the Mini Panel light lit.  But I had not yet purchased a point accessory controller. to fire the two Peco point motors under the two points in the crossover.  So that is now on next Saturday’s shopping list.

My next task was to potter around with the track that forms the dual gauge track through the Acacia Ridge Yard and I decided to relay it a further 1m towards the Beaudesert Road level crossing (yet to be installed).  So that was done and all track tested with a combination of locos - standard and narrow gauge.  All OK.  I then made up a task list for today.

So today I went down to the shed and got distracted – as you do.  I found my two dodgy 12mm points that I had confined to the spares bucket, and fixed one and then laid them in the narrow gauge yard in Acacia Ridge.  So that has allowed me to install a left hand point from track 2 leading to another track that will house a future point for splitting into track 3 and track 4.  So some straight track was installed in this location and in the location of track 4, I placed a right hand point to head back into a siding in the yard.  I also resurrected some of my dual gauge track and used that to lay track 4, even though it is only narrow gauge.  I then wired up this extra track work and tested it with a loco.  After a few minutes the track in the narrow gauge yard stopped working.  An investigation revealed that a solder joint had failed and a wire had some loose.  So that was resoldered and everything was good again.  While doing this investigation, I found out that a wire had also some loose from the narrow gauge track on my totally separate from the layout Powercab test track in Grafton Yard.  That was resoldered and I also found that the DC wires for the test track had come away from the 12V power pack.  So these were also reconnected. So test track is now working again. 

So I then prepared and laid the wires that need to be installed for the new NCE Snap-it that I will buy next week.  The wires are to go from the snap it to the two point motors to power the crossover to the dual gauge track in Acacia Ridge Yard. 

I had also planned on working out why my layout Voltmeter was not working.  But I never got around to it.  So that will now be another task for next week.

I did also start some dreaming.  I think I will look into designing and installing some new layout lights above Fisherman Islands Yard, over the Kyogle to Fairy Hill section, over Park Road Siding and over South Brisbane Interstate.  So I guess that means that I need to buy another 4 runs of 5m LED lights.  While at it, I might buy a spare set.  So I’ll also need at least 4 power supplies.  So I’ll need quite a lot of 42 x 19 pine to build some frames and cantilever the lights out from the supports to be over the scenery in question.  So that might be a job for April as I am having some leave.