Sunday, January 31, 2010

Little bits here and there and more Terra-Forming

This week we had the Tuesday Nighters drop around on funnily enough Tuesday Night. While not much has happened lately on teh layout, since they were last over there was some greenery laid around the top of the helix and Fairy Lane road crossing had been finished. It even had a couple of 'el cheapo' plastic cars stragetically placed at the crossing. When the guys come over they normally scout around to see what has progressed since they were last in attendance. I also showed off my little growing diorama at Border Loop.  I have a bit of painting to do, and 647 trees to make to complete my scene and a lot more detail also needs to be added.  I really do want to build that kids swing before the next Tuesday Nighters visit.

My Border Loop Scene

The original scene I am trying to model
I had spent the earlier part of this week trying to wire up the two digitrax DS64 point controllers, the 8 connected Peco points and the small mimic panel at Acacia Ridge Yard as shown in last weekends update and photo. It was not until later in the week that I realised that I needed to create a LocoNet connection between the two DS64's so they will operate routes correctly. I have asked a question on the NCE-DCC Yahoo group to see if someone can advise the simplist way to do this.  Hopefully I will get an answer that is not too complex or expensive to implement.

So today I decided to do some of the work I was hoping to get around to over the Christmas New Year period. I completed the terra-forming around the Cougal Spiral and the area south of that towards Kyogle.  This included the area across the Upper Richmond River just north of Kyogle platform.  I still need to contour the Upper Richmond River area to create the road on both sides of the river and the river itself needs to be carved out.  Again the temporary river crossing has been removed and the track just suspends from one side to the other.  So what this has done is made the track between Kyogle and Border Loop now unusable until I can scratchbuild the dry bridge around the top level of the spiral at Cougal and the Upper Richmond River bridge at Kyogle.  I have absolutely no idea how I will build the approximately 12 bridge piers required.

Cougal Spiral last week before terra-forming around Dry Bridge

The area now after terra-forming and some roadbed removed to make way for the bridge

Since this photo has been taken, I have started plastering a great deal of this area.  The masking tape is there to cover up holes between the pieces of styrene, so the plaster does not drip through to the lower level.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Monday this week my two Soundtraxx decoders arrived.  So the first two nights this week while watching TV, I installed the decoder into 4468.  To do this I removed the circuit board from the loco and replaced the bulbs with LEDs.  I hard-wired the decoder.  I also made a speaker enclosure out of 1mm styrene.  The loco ran and sounded quite nice.  The next two nights I installed the decoder into 44100.  This time, I kept the bulbs, but still removed the circuit board, hard wired the decoder and also build anoterh speaker enclosure.

For weeks I have again been contemplating how to install my point motor control panel for Acacia Ridge Yard.  Saturday I finally mounted my two Digitrax DS-64 points controllers on the layout.  Today I drew up the track diagram on a piece of board and mounted the 9 push buttons for each of the 9 routes.  I have yet to permanently mount the control panel on the layout and connect the DS-64's to the track bus.  Another job for later this week.  This is the easy bit, as I will then have to work out how to program these DS-64's so they can be controlled from the Pro-Cab handsets as well as directly from the control panel.

The facia at Acacia Ridge Yard on the top level showing the control panel and the points controllers

In between all this I installed the next lot of KD's on my Lima IP cars, so now I have about 12 cars able to be run.  Late this afternoon, I touched up two NOCY's I had scratchbuilt with brown and black spray paint.  The brown wagon also received a pair of bogies I had lying around - not 2CM, but they will do for the time being.

Today I also fitted extra pickups to two Lima XPT power cars.  They need fine tuning of their CV's as they start at different speed settings and aren't good slow runners.  I will leave this to either tomorrow or Wednesday this week as I have these days off work.  Wednesday is my son's first day at school, so I will take the opportunity to also attend.  The first week is only half days, but we also have an appointment on the Wednesday afternoon to see the teacher, so its best to get this all out of the way early.

Little by little jobs get done and the layout gets more usable.  Still about 10 years to go!

Tuesday is Tuesday Nighters at my place.  So hopefully we will get about 8 or maybe more turn up.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Arrivals and Because I Could

This week I decided to take advantage of the Tom's Sale and shouted myself 2 x 44 Class Locos.  I then decided that I would put 2 Soundtraxx DSD-101LC ALCO decoders in them.  While The 44's Class locos turned up the DSD's have not yet.  So that meant that I would not be installing the decoders this weekend and taking the locos for a blast.  I do have the guys coming over Tuesday week so I need to show them something new.  Hopefully the two decoder will be here during the week and by next weekend we will have some more noise. 

Two new 44's sitting at The Ridge - awaiting decoders

On Friday Afternoon I mentioned to Greg at work that I might make a couple of containers this weekend considering I couldn't do any decodering.  I had planned to scratchbuild some containers for quite sometime but just never got around to it.  So I gave it a go.  I made two 20' containers and one 40' container and gave then a base coat of white.  I then hit them with a grey from long way away just to take the pristine white off them.  Don't ask me what patterns or markings I will put on them or even how I will do it - as I have not figured it out yet.  Does anyone out there make fairly modern container decals?

Two scratchbuilt 20' Footers on an Auscision Container Flat at The Ridge

A Single scratchbuilt 40' Footer on another Auscision Container Flat at The Ridge

Today I fixed up a couple of small things from the last running night. One 48 had a low coupler, so I replaced it with an underset shanked KD.  One 80 Class coupler was too high to I replaced the underset KD with a standard KD - the old swapsy.  One 421 Class was also too high so I packed the coupler down 1mm.  I also fixed up one AR Kits ballast wagon coupler that was too high, and fitted a screw to an AR Kit bogie on an HLX wagon instead of the standard push home plug.  The plug had previously given way and caused a massive derailment.  So this wagon had been sitting around for a couple of months awaiting attention.  This wagon was also sprayed grey.  I had previously picked up a 5 pack of well wagons (US outline - but who would know) at a Brisbane Buy and Sell for $15 - an absolute bargain.  But they had sat unused in Lismore Yard for at least 6 months maybe longer.  At the last running session, PK was allocated a job these wagons to be fetched and returned to Acacia Ridge.  However, when travelling under the wooden overbridge outside Baker's Farm, the wagons hit the concrete piers of the bridge and mayhem broke loose.  Well today the track gang got involved and slewed the track over about 7-8 mm at this point.  To achieve this, a 2cm section of track was inserted into main line to allow a slightly larger radius to be achived.  I test ran those troublesome yankee wells and all is now good.  A number of other wagons had gone close, even by 80' containers, the NR class and the Garratt, but these were the only others that hit.  All ready for the next running session in 2 weeks - maybe.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Touch more Scenery

This week has seen very little change.  It started off early in the week when I hit my two 20' container skeletons for carrying 17 tonne roles of steel coils with the yellow oxide paint I got from supercheap the week before.  Just magic!  This was done afr coming home from work in the last 15 minutes of sunshine before dinner.  Over three other nights this week, I also finished off the next 5 of the steel cradles for holding the steel coils on the steel wagons.  These have yet to be painted.

Saturday as Club Meeting day so I went over to the Club at Brendale to do some work on the Club Exhibition layout.  This will be displayed at the Brisbane May Show on the first weekend in May at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds.  I don't run trains at Exhbitions anymore, I just sit on my backside and do structure building with Jim Hutchinson and someone else (maybe Geoff).  I just make stuff out of styrene and try and convince people it is easy to do and hope they start doing it themselves.  Not that we get that much work done, we just talk and chat to the crowds.

I also delivered my weighbridge (built on New Years Eve for Darryl Dilger to Paint after Wednesday this week when he comes back from the mines.

I also installed another 12 posts (1.6mm styrene) for the chain wire fence around the Austeel Sheds display yard.  In December when I started the fencing I did not make enough posts - Doh!  After the new posts were installed, the whole area around this end of the module was hit with various brown and white sands and dirts for the base colour.  Next visit to the Club I will take some grey tile grout to simulate crusher dust paths around the area and then also some yellow and various green scatters for the grass around the compound.  I also installed about 1 metre of tule for chain wire around the new posts.  Superglue was dribbled down the posts and the tule held against until it set.  Looked quite good.  In February I will need to get some photos of the completed scene to show off here.

During the week at the Club, the Wednesday Crew scrapped the previous HO scale Exhibition layout and recovered some track, buildings, controllers and control panels.  I scavanged a few more bits and pieces on Saturday. Some things I had previously built for the layout were returned for refurbishment and possible re-use in the future somewhere else.

Today I spend some time in my shed scenicing the area south of Fairy Hill Loop and completing Fairy Lane.  I have decided on the name of the first house - it will be Ron and Marg's Bed and Breakfast.  It will be a little retreat for the railway enthusiest as it will back straight onto the railway line and will have a good viewing window for those trains rattling by at all hours. 

Ron and Marg's B&B

Ron and Marg's B&B Guest parking up the top of the hill

Close up of the Path down to the House

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fairy Lane & Other Progress

I had some rather productive time modelling over the Christmas to New Year Break. I did some terra forming around the helix south of Fairy Hill Loop. This was then plastered over with tissues dipped in plaster and them a final cover of just plaster poured over the top to smooth out the lumps. Running right through this area is Fairy Lane.  In real life Fairy Hill Road is here but modeller's license will be enacted, thus teh name change. At the top of the lane will be a local church come community hall complete with his and hers dunnies out the back. Down the road further will be a rather large mansion with a double titan shed for the car, boat, caravan etc. I think we will eventually put one maybe two further buildings around the top of the helix. What has been demonstrated now that the basic senery is in, is that I will need lots of fences and lots of very large trees to make this area look just right and country-ify it.

Looking up Fairy Lane with the Community Church on the left

I also got stuck into some styrene modelling. I built the signal box for The Risk. I even made it so the three sets of double windows even slide! After success here I decided to retrofit some windows to the Border Loop Signal Box. So the front window was put in, and it also slides. I also made up four screen doors. One for Fairy Hill Signal Box, one for The Risk and two more that are just sitting against the 4-wheel drive at Border Loop.

The Risk with the Signal Box next to the Station building

Border Loop Signal Box with the replacement screen doors

All the above was achieved before the Tuesday after Christmas. There was a running night at my place attended by PK, Darren, Geoff and Peter. A quite night with trains running quite well. However, I keep finding incidence of low and high couplers. We have also spotted a few mud holes in the track caused by all the rail that has been occuring and these have caused some dips in the track. These are being packed and hopefully before the next running session, more issues will be attended to. I also plan to run each complete train from one end of the layout to the other to see if it has any issues and if so at what location. This is no mean feat as it takes 20 minutes to run from one Acacia Ridge to Grafton, so I can only run one train at a time.

PK has given me some incentive to get my signalling panel up and running for the Area Controller to use. I have some tin sheet that I will attach magnets to to help track a trains direction and location. The other night we had a few trains also ready sitting in some sidings and someone ran past his allotted loop - Hey Geoff! So he had to back up to let someone else come through as he couple not back up as he was having trouble with his couplings.

After visiting the Club on Wednesday, I advised that I would make the weighbridge cabin that Darryl wanted on the HO Quarry Module. I left some of my tools at the Club, just all my hand drills that I just happen to need to drill holes in a few wagons to fit bogies that I purchased at Horizon Hobbies. So on Thursday afternoon I did my best to fit the new bogies to a few wagons. On New Years Eve I built a Weighbridge from the Club HO Exhibition Layout from Jim Hutchinson's AMRM article from a few years back.

Weighbridge Structure for Club HO Exhibition Layout

On New Years Day, I have also built the Toilet for Border Loop. I also built the Platform for Border Loop out of wood and styrene. I also built 2 x 20' Containers frames to fit large coil steel roles on. On New Years Night I also built one standard coil steel frame for fitting on flat wagons. But I have now run out of 0.040" x 0.040" styrene.

Border Loop Toilet and Platform

Container Cradles for Coils

Coil cradle for steel wagons

During the day I also painted up about 14 plastic steel coils in two sizes, and painted the 7 steel coils I had previously built from rolled up manilla folderers. I also hit about 6 pieces of dowel wrapped in corrugated paper to simulate water tanks. It seems that every house in the country has water tanks.
While I did do some of things I planned to do over this period, there are lots I didn't do.  There was also lots I did do that I did not plan to do.  Overall a very productive period.
Happy New Year everyone!