Sunday, April 23, 2017

All on a Tilt!


I shouted myself a long weekend so I had Friday off and went down to Jaycar to pick up some wire.  On Friday night, a few of us ventured over to Geoff’s place for a sausage sizzle followed by a modelling night with a few poisons of our own taste.  I started off the night, fixing an old CPH railmotor trailer that fell off the layout the previous weekend and had a smashed end.  That end was glued back on, so it is almost as good as new.  I then cut up another 4 tarpaulins.  However, the big activity for the night was making a shed for the backyard of one the houses on my layout.  But this was going to be no ordinary shed.  This one has an operating door.  I have recently been motivated by some of the photos other modellers have been posting on the many Facebook modelling groups.  Some have put together their own sheds.  One was a shed used by something like a rural fire brigade and it has a tilt-a-door installed in the open position and it looked pretty damn good. 

Now I just had to go one better.  My shed, has a tilt-a-door installed but, it can be closed, or it can be moved into the open position.  I am pretty proud that I can do this.  I drew a quick little sketch on Thursday night about how I thought it might work, and on Friday I put this into practice.  The operating mechanism went through two revisions, and the second is much better.

On Saturday afternoon after attending a midday soccer trial for my son, I went to the shed upon return.  I made up about 9 of my power supplies with my newly purchased wire and three have been co-opted into service to power three of my fettler camp incinerators.  They go wonderfully from track power supply.  Following this, I resumed shed construction.  I cut up two concrete bases and painted then grey.  I then cut up more parts for a second tilt-a-door shed and sprayed these as well as the original shed.

I just need to construct a roof for the sheds and they will be ready to place on the layout and I assume they will be a one in a million item with an opening tilt-a-door.

This afternoon after attending a school working bee until early afternoon, I went back down the shed and did a few more simple tasks.  Some of the wires around Fairy Hill Loop from the top level baseboard were hanging down too low and they spoil the scene.  So I drilled a few holes in various beams and the upper baseboard and a few zip ties have been used to pull them out of the way.  Much better.

A while back I purchased some illuminated traffic arrows and a police car blue flashing light bar from Brendan.  Well like most things in my shed, they just sat around for quite some time.  So out they came and they have been tested and I now have a position for them on the layout.  The arrows will go on a work truck at a work site.  The blue lights will go on a white car that I purchased quite some time ago and also has headlights and taillights that illuminate.  So all these will be wired up, off one of my power supplies and can be turned on by visitors from a switch in the facia.  However that is a task for tomorrow.
The shed with the door closed.  The current handle is just temporary so I can open and close it.

Voila, the same shed with the door slid back.

The view from above, with the door open.

The view from above with the door closed.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Nice Relaxing Easter Break


On Tuesday this week, we had our second consecutive meeting at Geoff’s place.  It was a great meeting.  We just had enough there and we had a good show and share.

On Friday this week, Greg came over from the other side of town for a few hours in the arvo.  He did some more work on my Raspberry Pi reconfiguring it so certain panels started with various defaults and he was trying to make the JMRI fastclock the master of the NCE clock.  There are some issues that sometimes, the NCE fastclock does not restart, while those using smart phones are getting the time updated.  But I’m sure we will work out the correct process to fix this.  Previously Ray Pilgrim had sent me his fastclock procedures so I will have another look at them as well.

While Greg was working on the Pi, I was running my Brisbane Limited around the layout, until it derailed.  The water tank fell off one of the Auscision sleeper wagons and caused some havoc as the train was coming into Clapham Yard.  A bit of glue and everything seemed as good as new.  I did find a section of track without power just before Clapham Yard, curtesy of my moving some points around and removing some precious power connections.  So a temporary connection was made and everything was OK again.  However, I then found that about 7m of track did not have any power connections to it.  Power was being made through the rail joiners for that whole distance.  So I will need to purchase some suitable wire for the DCC bus tomorrow from Jaycar and wire that up along with a few track jumpers.  At the same time, I will also buy a roll of standard wire (as I am completely out of wire) so I can connect all my power supplies to the track bus to make various LED lights work around the layout.

On Friday and Saturday I also made up about twenty tarpaulins.  These will be used as scenery detail around yards and in wagons.  I think I gave a few to Greg to take home as well.  On Friday I also started looking at painting the water in my Richmond River opening just south of Cassino.  I have painted the river a base colour that I was not too happy about.  This morning I mixed up some more accurate muddy brown paint and recoated the Richmond River and this looked a whole lot more accurate.  That was before the paint dried.  I will see how it looks in the morning.  My plan is to paint a good clear finish over the top of the water colour and give it a nice reflective finish.  I have a few detail items to add to the river as well.

My only other modelling activity today has been looking at Assembling a laser cut station building kit that someone from the Club gave me.  So far I am completely amazed at how easy this kit is to put together.  I intend to take lots of photos and this construction will be a separate blog post in the future.  I also intend to try and paint this kit as I am building it.  I received a few photos from Arthur Hayes and some instructions as to what he uses for his station buildings.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Calm Before the Storm


This week I have been relaxing with not much on the modelling front.  Friday night I did venture down to Simon Says Hobbies and Game and got stuck into building 6 x 20 foot container bases for my gen sets.  My mate Darren was also in attendance with a very comfortable small turn out.  There was plenty of room to model.  This is a nice relaxed modelling event and there is always tips being exchanged from those building planes or cars and those painting or weathering models.

On Saturday morning, I was ordered over to Austral Modelcraft by PK, who woke me from my slumbers in the early am, to pick up a box of track  for the Club from Ray.  But before I left I painted up the 6 gen sets and the 6 container bases and two other containers that I put together the previous week.  These were a single 20 foot container with solid ends and a 40 foot container base with solid ends.  They all turned out quite well.

I also spray painted 6 tea bags that I had unfolded, cleaned out and allowed to dry.  These were painted the yellow oxide paint colour that you get from Supercheap Auto when they have 4 cans for $10 on special.  These tea bags can be cut up and produce two scale 24’ x 16’ tarpaulins.  These can get rolled or folded up and then a piece of cotton is tied around them and these become loads in my wagons, to be left around yards or on container flats.

After heading over to the Club with the box of track in tow, and sitting through a very fast meeting, I ended up chatting to many of the members and solved plenty of the world’s problems.  See there is nothing that a lump of 4 x 2 with nails in the end cannot solve.  One member ventured up to the Caloundra Buy and Sell earlier in the morning and came back with 4 x white NSW Freightcorp cement hoppers for $100.  I'm very dirty about that purchase.  When I offered him $10 for one hopper, he would not be in it.  If he did that, he would have still picked up 3 for $90 - still a bargain in anyone's mind.  I just could not understand why he didn't take me up on that offer?

Today I have not done anything hobby related.  I am preparing myself for a big week ahead.  Our Tuesday Night group will be heading to Shelton’s on Tuesday this week and I hope to ask plenty of questions of Arthur.  As this will allow me to do plenty of modelling next weekend over the long weekend break.  I have been given a kit by one of the members of the Club and asked to put it together and write up a review.

So hopefully, there will be plenty of photos and progress over the next week or two.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Generator Set Builds


Earlier this week we had a bit of rain and wind up here.  But that was nothing compared to those up north and in the Gold Coast Hinterland.  We got sent home from work on Thursday morning as the city basically got evacuated and the kids ended up starting school holidays two days early after all schools were closed.  So we survived with no issues.  My thoughts go out to those affected by TC Debbie and its remnant weather system.

Yesterday I went to the Austral Modelcraft and picked up some more styrene and some 1mm steel wire.  Once home the steel wire was used to allow actuation of 6 manual points in Clapham Yard.  I am still undecided on a similar actuation method for my narrow gauge cross over points in the middle of the narrow gauge yard within Clapham Yard, but I will think about that after I get around to picking up  and installing a number of 12mm points and installing them.  These points will allow for a number of narrow gauge dead end sidings to be installed in the yard, although one or two could be converted to a couple of small run around tracks.

As mentioned last week, I also created labels for the 6 manual point throws and installed them on the facia.  This allows the operator to know which way to move the point to ensure everything is set correctly in the yard.

There was also a Buy and Sell on today over at the All Gauge Model Railway Club, so I went for an early morning visit, as well as a chat with a few mates and then came home empty handed.  There were not many sellers there this time and the number of buyers also looked down.  Maybe this relates to the still flooded areas down south of Brisbane.

Once home, I continued my work on my 20’ container gen sets or Polar Packs as one of my mates who is an ex shunter described them.  I have built another 6 gen sets, but I need to build the container flats and add the exhaust stack to these before hitting them with the spray can and these will be ready for sale or distribution.  Maybe some will be ready for next week's Club meeting.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Clapham and Building


I went to a local Buy and Sell this week on Tuesday evening.  The main aim was to pick up a large radius Peco Y point for Clapham Yard.  Unfortunately there was none there and the person who thought he had one and was going to bring one, could not find his stash.  Well that was a bit of a bummer. 

So when Saturday rocked around, I had no point to install on the layout.  But I decided to do some work on the modelling desk (aka kitchen table).  I had previously made up 8 x 40 foot long container flats.  So I got stuck into 5 of them and added cage ends to the container flats.  I then painted 6 of these with my trusty grey primer.  So they are now in the box of container flats to be sold to mates.

I also made up another base for another 40 foot long container flat, but this time with a thicker base.  This new flat is currently lacking a deck, but it does have a frame.  This one will have folding ends when I get around to making them.

So in the lead up to earth hour last night, I decided to make two models of a 20’ container flat will have a generator set on it to power a string of refrigerated containers.  The container flats were easy to make, and then I needed to make a structure that looked sort of similar to a gen set.  It is so difficult to make a rectangular prism to form the base of the gen set.  After cutting all the pieces, I assembled it and let the glue dry.  Mine was out of square.  Hopefully no one will know.

So this arvo, I filed the now dry rectangular box so that the various styrene joins were not too visible.  I then added lots of little bumps and protrusions to make it look like it is not exactly square and also that those bumps were supposed to be there, as either access hatches or some form of intake.  I then decided to make another 20’ container flat that had a checker plate floor.  I then added an exhaust stack to the gen sets and then gave them a spray of yellow oxide paint.  The idea of these 20’ gen sets came about from something I have seen on one of the facebook groups by another Australian outline modeller that had built three very nice models.  His effort was fantastic and it certainly urged me into building a couple as well.  So I thought I can do that as well.  So I have.

This morning I popped over to my mate Dave’s place and picked up one of his Y points.  I actually picked up a Left hand point and a Y just in case the left hand fitted better, but, my first impression was correct, and the Y point was better to fit the geometry in Clapham Yard.  So just before lunch time today, I cut the track and spliced in the Y point and gave a test run of a couple of carriages over the various track work around the point and everything ran well.  So I can now move on.  However, I did not get around into getting back to testing my Brisbane Limited set again.  Maybe next week.

Ideally all I need to acquire to complete Clapham Yard is about 4 x 12 mm points and some 1mm steel piano wire.  The wire will be used to thread through the baseboard and actuate all the manual points that I have now installed in Clapham Yard.  I will also make some labels above the push-pull actuators on the facia and that yard will then be totally finished.  Then I think that will conclude all trackwork activity on Cassino.  That is about 11 years in the making.
The newly installed 'Y' point in Clapham Yard is the one on the left.  This allows run around movement especially for the Rail Set train that is just visible in the second track from the left.

The two gen set 20 foot container flats after being painted.  The checker plate 20 foot container flat is in front.  A bit of weathering with some powders will create some colour variations and the gen sets will be ready to join a train.

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!