Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Running Session 27th December

Tuesday this week was a running day on Cassino.  Some of the usual team turned up, and this included, Greg, PK, Barry and Brendan. We then had four guys who shared a ride down the range from Toowoomba, let's call them the 'B' Team. This includes Brent (Smithy to his mates), Bill, Bazz and Ben. We started with a sausage sizzle and a cold beer or softdrink. I then gave the 'B' Team a quick tour and familiarisation run through, after they read their rules and signed off their indemnity form – however, I don’t think anyone actually signed one. As we are were about to get underway, we had Shelton from our normal crew also show up. For the first session, we had Greg assume North Coast Control and Ben took on the Yard Master role. Smithy and Bazz were not game to run a train for quite some time into the session. They were quite content to take a few snaps of the proceedings.  I better get a copy of those photos guys!

After about 9 hours of fast clock time we stopped the timetable for a quick break. We then resumed, but we had Shelton in the North Coast Control seat and Smithy was the Yard Master.

Shelton at North Coast Control studying the timetable graph.  On his left is the plug-in point for the headset with the black push-to-talk button for his headset, with the party line phone to Grafton and Acacia Ridge Yards.  On the wall is a temporary diagram of the layout.  Shelton has his throttle plugged in so he knows what the fast clock time is.

In this photo we have (L-R) Smithy, Bill, Barry and Greg.  Acacia Ridge Yard on the Top left, and Lismore where Barry is shunting.

Here we have (L-R) Bazza, PK, Ben and Brendan.  Bazza around at Cougal Spiral, and PK and Ben with their trains in Border Loop (top left).  Brendan is probably running something through Cassino (bottom right).  The Risk is top right with a track cleaning train in a short fettler's siding.

Generally, we were running late as usual, and we had a few issues. One passenger coach on the Brisbane Limited Express, lost its bogie. We had a few wagons derail, in particular the sheep and cattle wagons were not so good, as were the life like fuel tankers. Bring on the new models due to arrive in the next few months. I think I need a few locos retired as well, my old Bergs 49 gave a bit of stick. I had two points go bung during the session. These were, 1) the point on the northern end of Rappville Loop – the actuator broke off from the point motor- That will be replaced during this week, and the point 'main to back platform road' at Cassino jammed - it would not respond to its actuator. I’ll also fix that up this week as well. Besides this, one head-set plug-in-point (Old Cassino location) was playing up. You could hear, but they could not hear you talking. Again, this should be simple to check and then fix. The day before the session, I ran a test train and I realised that the Voltmeter on the panel was not working. So I had to get under the layout and work out why. A dry solder joint. Once I fixed this, I saw that the ammeter at the same location was now not working. So back under and I realised that I had also pulled a wire while fixin gthe first, so this was fixed and all was then OK.

We had a few trains, run past their timetabled destination. One Ballast went way past Cassino Yard and ended up on the Murwillumbah branch - part way to Lismore. We had a rail moto,r that was running the Mountain Goat service, went past Border Loop and was seen on the Beaudesert Road level crossing. It backed up and resumed its place before it was due to be taken back to Cassino by the next driver. We had congestion in Old Cassino with either too many trains or trains out of order. I’m not sure hat occurred, but you could not scratch yourself at that location. I know I made it tight, but this was simply stupid. I’ll have to re-look at this in the timetable.

So I will back track things a bit and re-start the timetable at about midday on our next session. This will allow us to perhaps complete the session at next attempt.  We did get all but about 10 trains complete so that was about 33 trains to their destinations, and at least one still in transit.

At  the beginning of the session, when we went to fire up the layout, there must have been a sticking button on my cab, as the horn on one loco - 4416, kept sounding and would not shut off. I turned the horn button on again and this time it turned off. But it took my over a minute to track down the cause of the issue.  It was me as this was the loco dispoaying on my handset.

I think Ben left a screwdriver at my place, So I will have to give it to one of the Toowoomba boys at the next exhibition that I see them at. It seems that Ben has also picked up a second hand NCE radio system for a steal on the net. These tested very well on my layout. We even swapped out my RB02 base system for Ben’s and it worked just as good. He’s got a bargain there!

I think we run into issues, when people put a completed timetable back into the slot that they have just taken a timetable from.  I'll work on that.  Also I need to hand out the wagon cards with each train that needs them.  Maybe once every train has the cards, this will work better - next session I will try and have that working.

I think everyone had a good time.  I certainly did and I was mentally exhausted by the end of the day after I cleaned up. We were also giving Shelton some stick about the cricket score.  Lots of light hearted banter was also occuring throughout the session.  Thanks for everyone for attending and expecially the 'B' Team for travelling over 200km's on the day.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Prep for the Running Day this Week

Thursday this week was pay day, as a couple of guys who owed me for goods or services got their payments to me.  Friday was come home early from work day.  During the arvo the kids and I wrapped presents for the Boss and put them under the tree.  Friday evening I cut up all the signs that I had printed out for the various locations on the layout.  Over time, some of the old signs have fallen off.  I also cut up some signal diagrams that I will also place on the facia at each crossing loop, so when someone is supposed to shunt to the Dairy Siding, the diagram will identify which one that is.  At the moment we are lacking a building or ten.  I then realised that I had not cut up the Timetable for Tuesday.  This has 46 movements and this is then sorted into train sequence order so the drivers can take then in that order from the collection box.

Saturday morning I decided to start some modelling.  I stained the four bearers of my water tank stand that I assembled a few weeks ago when I was down the coast.  I then cut four more bearers for the second stand and glued them on.  I then thought about the joists.  My Datasheet showed that these were 12" x 12" except for the Mole Creek installation on the Dorrigo Line, which had 12" x 6".  The kits that I'm building these from has included 12" x 6" joists.  I thought the 12" x 6" size looked better.  So I was about to head out to the local hobby shop to see if they had some scale timber, when I thought, I might as well check my collection in the Shed first.  Yep!  I had a packet of 8 x 1M lengths of 12" x 6".  It cost $7.99.  I knew it would eventually become useful.  I cut these up for the two structures and installed them.

That afternoon I stained the new timbers and found a 40,000 gallan water tank in the shed.  So that was stained as well using the same ink and metho solution.  That evening I cut up the wagon cards that I had printed and then it dawned on me that I did not complete the cards for the through trains - Whoops!  I have 5 trains complete, but not the second Stock train and none of the through trains.  Maybe I'll have that complete by the January Session.

Today, in a modelling sense, I did nothing except take everything down to the shed and paint two slabs of steel for one of my steel wagons.  I used the same ink and metho stain I had been using on the wooden water tank structures.  I have used this on the water tanks themselves and my tunnel portals made from plaster which I cast myself.  Tomorrow I might use it on a couple of platform faces on the layout that I made from styrene as well.

I hope all my readers received what they were after from the big guy in the red suit.  We had a great fun day opening presents this morning.  My youngest was up at 5:30am wanting to open the presents.  I've had a big breakfast, a huge lunch and our traditional toasted sandwiches at the mother-in-law's with most of the wife's family.  I'm about to explode!  A good night's sleep and then it's the Cricket!

Merry Christmas to everyone.

P.S.  Do any of you know how to remove reindeer pooh from yard.  The buggers didn't take too well to the food we left out for them to eat last night!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

T'was the week before Christmas....

Tuesday this week, the Tuesday Nighters visited Lefty and Son’s up the road in the next suburb. There was 10 men in the shed. Darren and I got to work and added a small piece of baseboard to Lefty’s layout and laid track over it, extending a siding, before the night was out.  Someone has to make progress on Dave's layout!  Discussion during the evening was interesting, company was first rate and we had a great time. PK had some samples to show off, which we split up before leaving.

I’m arranging a large bulk order of cattle and sheep wagons from Eureka (at the early bird price) with some of the Tuesday Nighter guys and some other guys from the Club. There will also be a much smaller order of oil tanker wagons from SDS. I wish someone would bring out a 3 or 4 pack of just Shell wagons! All my oil sidings will be labelled Shell, so I need Shell wagons to operate them.

Thursday afternoon, I had some skin cancers cut out so I came home early (Any Excuse!). So I went to the shed. I started verifying the wagons cards for my shunting trains. I had wagons all over the place. Some wagons that were supposed to be at Lismore, were at Murwillumbah. Others that were at Old Cassino should have been at Murwillumbah. I manually swapped wagons around and added more identifying info to the wagons cards. This included things like - wagon colour, or some sort of distinguishing feature – like the colour of one bogie. There is absolutely no way to read the wagon numbers on the side of some of the wagons as it is too small.  Besides some don't have codes, let along a number.  I also recorded the wagons in my block trains. I will try and get around to eventually creating wagon cards for all these block trains that just run from yard to yard.  But that may not be done before the next Running Session. That night I decided to install the decoder into a HO Thomas steam engine for David. I just need to wait for three more small N scale decoders with 8 pin plugs to show up for David’s other three locos.

Friday afternoon I got down to the shed after I mowed the grass.  I had to move Kyle's bike into the shed, so I can put it together tomorrow night.  It is his Birthday on Tuesday.  This is his first bike, as it will have training wheels.  Hopefully he will like it, along with his new model helicopter.

Saturday arvo I decided I’d start getting the trains back into position for the next running session. As I ran some trains, they gave me some issues. Some point blades were not set (thrown) correctly and a few trains hit the dirt. One point blade needs to be glued back together.

Yersterday morning I started arranging the crew for the next session. I will try and get some new blood in the form of the Range Team – some NSW modellers from Toowoomba.  Some of the regular crew will not be available so I'm trying to sign up some reserves.

I also picked up another set of headphones, but this time they are a different brand. I think I will use these for the North Coast Control. The headphones don't seem to be as good, but the microphone seems to be compatible with the setup we have.

I made quite a few notes on improvements as I ran some trains yesterday. I fixed a coupler on a 48 class (2nd unit on a long train) as the couplers had lots of up and down play so the locos kept uncoupling. That was fixed Saturday night. I also fixed the couplers on 5 oil tankers that I lowered some time back as they hit the top of a tunnel. The lowering of the bogies stuffed up the coupler height. As I was operating this train, it was annoying for the couplings to be so low. Well that was also fixed on Saturday night. I also shimmed a few track joints on one side of the join.

Today I got down to the Shed again late this arvo.  We went to a 2 year old's birthday party down The Spit, at Southport for most of the day.  I added anotehr uncoupling magnet at Murwillumbah - one more to add this week.  I also added some toothbrush bristles to Murwillumbah (the main platform, the loop line, the cement siding and the main line next to the cement siding.  I also added two more to Cassino Meatworks siding.  I did some testing of the uncoupling magnet.  If a run my train at speed step 4 (in 28 speed step mode) and hit reverse direction, the wagons uncouple about 75% of the time.  If it doesn't work, just back up and try again. Quite nifty if I do say so myself.

I drove another 5 trains from Cassino and Old Cassino all the way back to Grafton Yard for stabling.  I have two more trains that I have moved as far as Cassino, to get back to Grafton Yard before the next session.  I also need to send one train to Murwillumbah - not sure where that one is located at the moment - probably Grafton yard somewhere.  I also think I have one train I need to move to Acacia Ridge as well.  I think that I have too many wagons on one of my shunting trains, as it does not fit into the siding at Old Cassino.  I will have to think about that over the next week, and try to solve this situation.

This week I will need to print the timetable, and any other supporting info for the session next Tuesday.

I wonder what next Sunday will bring as the big fella in the red gear will be visiting. I’ll let you all know next week. Hope all your wishes come true – Merry Christmas for next Sunday.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Week's Relaxation

I've just spent a week relaxing down the Coast.  The weather was not that bad.  We got to the beach on every day and also to the Pool.  I thought I might spend some time doing some modelling.  But between games, on Uno, Monopoly, going to the pool and the beach, and heading out to look at the local shops, there was not much time.

It was Thursday afternoon, the worst weather day that I finally got the modelling gear out.  I had taken some telegraph poles down the coast so I could cut up some 1mm styrene rod for insulators and install these on the poles.  I went to do this and no knife.  That wasn't clever!  I had everything but the kitchen sink and a modelling knife.  So I started job number 2.  This was to cut up some 3.5mm square timber for a frame under a NSW water tank.  I had previously purchased a kit some time back, and started to build it .  The kits was to go under a water tank.  With a layout the size of mine, I think I would need more than one water tank.  I thought - maybe I could make up 2 or three others using the same parts as supplied in the kit.  Luckily I had a small saw with me, which I could use to cut the timber legs to the correct length.

Later that afternoon, just before the shops closed, I made a dash to the local $2 shop and picked up a cheap craft knife for $2.  I had previously picked up a roll of magnetic strip for $2 from the same shop.  I am planning to cut this up and use this for each train that North Coast Control has running.  The train number will be glued to the top of the magnetic.  He can move these train symbols along the schematic that we will eventually have installed.

This is the paper diagram pinned to the wall of the end schematic that Darren has done up for me.  The magnetic stip will eventually be used to stick to the whiteboard that this schematic will be copied onto using pin-striping.

So after getting a knife, I continued on with the wooden tank stand frames.  I cut up enough for another stand.  I also had the correct timber with me for the cross bracing.  On Friday I started gluing these together - 2 legs and two cross braces.  I used aquadhere.  Once the eight frames pairs were dry, I stained then with ink diluted in metho.  Again once this was dry, I then tried to glue these frames together in pairs and then added the next lot of cross bracing.  The new cross bracings were then stained as well.  I finished these off by cutting and installing the cross member above the pairs frames.

The various sub-assemblies of 4 posts glued together with the cross bracing.  The four pairs on the right (out of picture) have the top cross member installed, but yet to be stained.

Saturday was come home from the Coast day.  This was followed by travel to the Club for the Club Christmas party.  This is also the Annual Modelling competition day.  Next year I might have a water tank on s stand to show off.  Unfortunately, there were only a handful of entries this year.  Very disappointing!  However, some were of excellent quality.  This day is also the day for our Club Christmas Hamper.  I was lucky enough to pick up 4th prize.  It was a BNSF calendar.  However, our Club President had his eyes on that calendar and did a swap with me for his calendar of Model Railroader's great layouts.  Knowing my luck it was probably last year's calendar donated by PK - I should check that!

It was coming over very stormy at the Club, so everyone scarpered off home.  I made my way home, and decided to spend some time on saturday night installing decoders into some locos that a new Club member had left his locos for me at the Club during the week.  He had a Candy 80 class and a Tuscan Jumbo, both to receive TCS decoders and a Tuscan 44 that was to receive a Tsunami sound decoder.  I had been previously advised that the Jumbo did not run.  So I tested all the locos on my DC test track.  It was true that the Jumbo did not run.  However, after stripping the circuit board out of it and applying power to the motor leads, it ran, so on with the installation.  I also removed the front and rear bulb headlights and installed new LED's with 1K ohm resistors into the Jumbo and 80 Class for both front and rear headlights.  These tested OK on the Powercab test track.

Today I decided to bite the bullet and install the Tsunami into the 44 Class.  It was a fairly easy job to accomplish.  In between sessions of working on this decoder install today, I put the Christmas lights up in the lounge room, on the Christmas tree and along the front of the house.  I left the bulbs in the 44 class, with a 180 Ohm resistor added for the front headlight and a 220 ohm resistor for the rear headlight.  This also tested OK on the test track.

I think I now need a holiday after the activities of the last two days.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Quiet Week after Tuesday Night

Tuesday night this week was a Tuesday Nighter's meeting at my place.  Ten guys turned up for a visit.  PK had some samples of various bit and pieces he had purchased and also a couple of hand made code 55 N scale points.  The points looked very nice indeed.  Darren brought along a large sheet of paper on which there was a large diagram of my layout crossing loop schematic.  This measured 600mm x 1200mm.  I pinned that up on the wall above my North Coast Controller's Desk and it looks very good.  Once I give this schematic the all clear, this will be copied onto a large white board that Darren has.  With a bit of luck, this schematic in its final work on a magnetic whiteboard could be available for the December 27th scheduled running session.  I just need to make up the magnets for each of the trains.

Brendan brought along his 49 Class, in which he had recently installed a Tsunami decoder.  This loco did a few runs round the layout, ran well and sounded quite nice.  It had working marker lights.  It was being controlled by two different procabs, so it was having some initial hickups but when that was realised that was overcome, and Brendan breathed sigh of relief.

I was down the coast today having a swim in a Resort Pool with the family where we were staying.  We were their with my niece, her husband and their three kids when this stocky gentleman with a receeding hariline came over to me in the pool and started ranting.  Low and behold it was Geoff with his family.  You travel 100km from home and still meet up with a fellow Railway Modeller and a Tuesday Nighter at that.  What were the chances of that occuring?

I'm off work this week for a mental rest, but I'm sure I will end up being called by work and having to log on and do a few things.  My plan is to do a bit of modelling.  The Cricket finished early!  We'll see how successful I am when I report next weekend.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Additional Storage for Trays

Thursday afternoon this week I headed out to Bunnings to pick up three lengths of 2.4m Aluminium angle ($1.70 each) used in plastering. Saturday I cut these up into 40cm lengths with a pair of tin snips and cleaned the edges up with a file. I then punched two holes through one of the sides of the angle about 1/2 an inch from the end in the middle of the side. This allows me to screw through the hole to fit the aluminium angle to my table frame and use the angle as shelf runners. I installed 9 shelves into my little cabinet, which is the extension of my dispatchers panel desk. I did this to get some of my storage trays out of the way and off various desks, chairs and kitchen bench top space in the shed.

The storage facility with 8 of the tray locations in use.  the bottom one is empty.  Number 7 and 8 are further apart for storing larger items

I liked how well this small table top and shelf storage area worked, that I’m thinking about installing another cabinet or two under the layout in various locations. On Saturday afternoon, I got my tray making jig out again and started putting together the first 2 of my next lot of 6 trays that have been sitting on my shed floor, again getting tripped over from time to time.  These kits which our Club sells for $2 have been sitting around for what must have been 12 months. I will see if I can get motivated to finish these off this week at night.

I had David come over to collect his first lot of decoder fitted locos. There were four wire in ones and three different plug in ones. There were three locos that I looked at, scratched my head, and gave up as a bad joke. I won’t touch them. Either there is no space available to fit a decoder, or the wheels are wired to the frame and it looks like the frame connects to one of the sides of the motor. I’ll say it again. Damn Hornby Steam locos – I hate them!  I must admit that some of then do look reasonable.

On Friday night we had a Christmas Event at School. On arrival home, the first part of the Saturday paper was already thrown in. I checked in the Weekend Shopper section as I always do. I thought, Sh!t the photo on page 1 looks familiar – Oh It’s Baker Farm’s. Apparently there was a story on Page 3. So I turned the page and there were two more photos one of the track laying crew at the southern end of Fairy Hill Loop, and the other as Lefty called it, “There was this bearded countenance leering at me over the top of a model railway” and “He almost choked on his weeties”. Mind you I had you look “counterance” up in the dictionary. I assume you know these things if you are learned like Lefty – it means ‘Face’. “How Rude!” I’d describe it as a good looking bloke showing off his radio NCE DCC with a couple of trains passing at the Northern end of Fairy Hill Loop with some details of Fairy Hill Farm also in the photo.

Today I started dabling in the shed.  I realised that I can store three more trays in an existing storage cupboard that I've had for years.  But I need another length of Plaster's angle from Bunnings.

My old storage facility where I will store three trays on runners.  I know there are four here, but one I put space between the shelves, it will only fit three.

I then started making another tray storage facility that will fit under the layout.  I will have to pull this apart and remake it as there is not enough room for the trays to slide on the runners.  Again I will need another half a dozen lengths of Plaster's angle for the runners.  I will finish this storage facility in the Christmas - New Year break.
 
The next item I'm making
 
I have a weeks holiday coming up with truck loads to do at work before I go.  I hope I can finish all the tasks I need to do.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Friday was Bring a Model Train to Work Day

This week on Wednesday afternoon, I had the exam that I had been cramming for for the last 2 weeks.  It was an absolute nightmare.  I thought I got a reasonable mark in the first part, but I was worried about part 2.   Luckily I passed with a score of 80% averaged for both parts 1 and 2. That was a big relief as I was worried about not passing part 2. So that meant that things are about to get back to normal at work, except for the couple of tenders that I'm working on at work at the moment.  Three actually. Two I am writing and about to release and one I’m responding to. My issue is the other bozos aren't doing much of the work, particularly on the one I'm responding to. With a bit of luck we will still get over the line.

Well last Thursday I took my Powercab, a circle of track and a tsunami equipped 44 Class to work to set up for Friday – which was Bring a Model Train to Work Day. So on Thursday and Friday I ran a few trains at work and showed off the Powercab and my 44 Class.  Most were impressed and lots asked questions.  Quite a few wanted to know how fast would it go.

The 44 Class with headlight on, pulling 2 ballast wagons on the desk at work

The circle of track, the train and the powercab sitting on a spare desk.  I needed to support a section of the track so it could do the full circle.

Today I got down to the shed and pottered around. I fixed the issue with the track levels north of the Cassino Meatworks and into the tunnel in that area, as it transitions to the hidden helix. I packed the track and now there is a smooth vertical transition into the helix.  I ran my container train with the 80' wagons from Grafton yard to that point and went back and forth a few times at various speeds to give it a good test.  I then reversed that train set all the way back to Grafton Yard and the train set ran very well. I then ran the paper train from Grafton Yard to Acacia Ridge Yard and return. That ran well until a bogie came off running through Cassino. As I adjust the wagon heights with KD washers on some of my older wagons, the bite left on the screws holding the bogies in place is getting less and less. So eventually they work their way out and Bang, Scrape, Grind!  The trains gets put into emergency and the fast response crew has to make teh train usable again.  The mobile fitter gets called out, the derailed wagon in question gets jacked up (0-5-0'ed) and the bogie and bogie screw replaced.  The train can then resume its travels.  I added another 3 wagons small lourve vans to the end of this train.  This makes this train quite tight in most crossing loops and probably over length for Kyogle.  I may have to move the points at Kyogle eventually about 4"-6" if this trains ever does any crossings at this location.  As this train ran through Fairy Hill Loop, I saw that the train that was sitting in that loop - the down empty fruit express to Acacia Ridge - left over from the last running session, could also take another two wagons.  So these were also added.  I just hope that when all these trains get back to their starting location, they all fit into their originating sidings.

After the run, I also started building a small table to sit to the right of the North Coast Control desk. This is basically an extension to the desk top.  Under this small table, I intend to fit about 8 (maybe more) of my storage trays on metal runners so I can put a few things that I’m working on, out of harms way when we have a running session. the trays are the ones our Club sells for $2 to members.  The last time we cut up some we did about 120.  But they have now all gone I think.  I have stacks of them at home and still another 5 of these kits to put together.  I will pick up some aluminium angle during the week from the local Bunnings Warehouse.  I use this as draw runners.  It works very well.

Next Saturday I've opened my house to the Club so they can see how I've built my layout - the decks, the helix, the blobs, the peninsula, etc. before they launch into building the HO layout at the Club.  Hopefully a few will turn up and it will give them an idea of one way of doing this.  I expect they will go to at least one other member's home to check out how he does the work as well.
 
I think I will try and fit a few decoders to a few of Dave's locos during the week.  See ya next week.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Southern Spirit, Decoders and Upgraded Points

Quite a mixed weekend for me this weekend.  Saturday morning started with a trip to a local park with my young apprentice to photograph the Southern Spirit.  The train was supposed to get to Acacia Ridge from Roma Street at 10:00am.  We got to the park with about 10 minutes to spare.  When I fired up the camera, there was no SD card in it!  The boss had taken it and and as usual had not returned it. Curse!

Well 10:30am had rolled around, and the apprentice was bored.  My offsider took some photos with his cheap camera and I took some photos of a few trees (using the built in camera memory) while waiting. 

The apprentice getting ready to capture the train

Where we hoped the Southern Spirit might appear

A few trees to try and replicate on the layout

So after being fed up with the constant whinging about going home, we went home with no fish.  After dropping him off at home, I then heading out to the local hobby shop to stock up on decoders for the Club, I went via boundary road overbridge for a peek into Acacia Ridge Yard.  Sure enough the Southern Spirit was still sitting on the main line there at 11:00am.

So later that day, I installed some KD's on a mate from the Club's 81 Class loco, and I also installed a drop in decoder into one of David's pommy trains.  Today, in between sessions of study, I installed three more decoders (hard wired) into some more of david's pommy locos.  After lunch and another session of study, I went down to the shed for a relaxing session of replacing the two medium radius points at the Southern end of Border Loop, with two large radius points.  This involved a bit of track modification as the points are different dimensions - funny that!

I then ran my test train No. 1 container from Grafton Yard through to Acacia Ridge (while traversing both tracks at Border Loop) and then around the return loop at Acacia Ridge and then back again.  That solved the issues at Border Loop.  I discovered another track anomoly in one of the roads in Acacia Ridge Yard tracks and that was fixed with some packing.  I have also spotted another issue at the exit of Cassino Meatworks siding and the entry into the tunnel at the start of the helix there.  That will be fixed next weekend, when I might actually have some more time on my hands as I will have completed the exam I'm studying for this week. 

Now back to the books and a few trial exams for the rest of the evening.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Posting, Chipping and Today's Buy and Sell

This weekend there has not been much train shed related activity. I have to spend the next 10 days or so studying for a test I need to undertake next Wednesday week for work. So yesterday I moved a few things down to the shed from the house and brought a few up that I was trying to sell at our Club’s Buy and Sell today. I also nicked out to the Post Office to post some items that I sold on e-bay and also pick up a roundhouse kit from Anton’s that the postie tried must have tried to deliver on Friday while the Boss was out.  This roundhouse kit looks real nice.

Yesterday Dave came over with a tub full of locos he wanted to get decoders installed into. I think 7 are just drop-in’s but I need to work out what ones will fit. There are at least another 5 or 6 locos that need to have a hardwired decoder put in. The decoder cost alone would tip Greece over the edge to bankruptcy, let along my huge installation fee. 

So back to the Anton’s kit for the roundhouse. A couple of years ago I started my own model of the Casino Roundhouse for my Cassino layout. This has sat on the layout untouched for quite some time. I need to make a sub base for the inspection pits and install the tracks leading to the roundhouse. While I was scratchbuilding this, I decided that I might get a kick along by using a kit to assist. I intend to spend some time over the Christmas – New Year period working on this item. I might even get the track in the Cassino Loco area laid properly and operational. That would allow me to store some locos and some service wagons in that area.

So today at the Buy and Sell I managed to sell a couple of items, and I have managed to acquire my two required large radius left hand points to replace two medium radius points at Border Loop.  There was quite a good selection of items for sale and a good number of purchasers.  The BBQ was doing a roaring trade as was the cold drink stand.  I must admit a few people asked if was I Craig from Craig's Shed or introduced themselves as a follower.  I have to comment on a number of very well painted and weathered NSW models on sale.  There were the fantasticly weathered 44100 and 8041 locos, that if I didn't already have those numbered locos, and if I had the dollars in my pocket I would have purchased them without a second thought.  They were first class!  They were with 10 brilliantly weathered petrol tankers that were well priced and another dozen or so standard NSW wagons - louvres, opens, etc.  They would look great on any NSW layout and would fetch top dollar on ebay.  These items are of the quality that Dean from the Rails in Scale blog and Sparksey from the Sparksey4869modeltrains blog do.

I also had a good talk to two of our Toowoomba friends, Bill and Smithy.  I invited these guys down on 27th December with the rest of their Toowoomba NSW mates, to a running day with my normal crew.

Also PK just sent me a link for a Youtube video from the Ipswich Exhibition last weekend.  There is a good looking bloke just after the 45 second mark.  PK is also visible as well - but was out of focus.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRO-bPLiCg8

Next week in between studying, I intend to replace the two points at Border Loop.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Running Session Wrap-up

Today I went down to the shed mid afternoon and started addressing the issues listed from last weeks running day. I was reading through the completed timetable sheets where the operator writes their notes/hints/comments on the back or front of the sheet.  The completed timetable sheets are placed in the front of the new ones in a seperate slot in the baseboard.  Of the comments, I only received 4. I also have a piece of paper up on the side of the layout where general comments can also be left.  There was an other comment left here. 

One timetable comment concerned a cattle wagon on Train No. 39 - the Down Morning Meatworks Shunt - it runs from Cassino to Cassino Meatworks.  This train had never been run before in the timetable.  Apparently it kept derailing.  A quick loosen of the offending vehicles bogie and after a test run it was now all OK.

Two other comments concerned train No. 1 and its continuation No. 1A.  This is the Down Container from Grafton Yard to Cassino and then a few hours later Cassino to Acacia Ridge Yard.  The issues were the loco and first wagon kept on uncoupling.  I adjusted Trainorama 42104's coupling that kept rising when under load. I then ran that train around the layout from Grafton Yard to Acacia Ridge and back again. I found three spots where the sharp changes in track elevation caused some coupling issues. So I fixed these trackwork issues, and this no doubt will help some other trains as well. I also found one wagon from this train had a bogie that was too tight. I also added 4 extra wagons to this train.  I'm sure that this train used to have more wagons on it and someone no doubt has removed them due to operational issues over time.  This train now has a few more slots to make more revenue for the railway. 

Upon inspection of this train when at eye level at Border Loop, I found an Auscision undecorated NQIW (I think that was the code) that had a wheel that was out of round. The wagon was going up and down faster than ... (I better not say that as this is a family blog).  I have also decided to replace two left hand medium radius points at the southern end of Border Loop with two large radius points.  I will have to move the point actuators for these points when I replace the points.  Maybe a job for the next few weeks.

I still have job of investigating the issues listed for train No. 14 another Container train.  Again a job for the next few weeks.
 
I also have a few suggestions about helping the crew locate the particular sidings at each shunting location.  I think I will place a schematic on the facia so the crew can quickly identify the particular sidings that they have to drop wagons off at, or what track to lay over at.
 
How do other operating layouts help visiting crew identify sidings at the various locations?

A Day Spent Modelling

This weekend was the Queensland Model Railway Exhibition at the Workshops Railway Museum at Ipswich west of Brisbane. I was on the Structure Building Stand No. 14 on the Saturday while my partner in crime, Jim Hutchinson worked the Sunday shift. I spent the time trying to affix plenty of insulators to my 2 and 3 cross arm telegraph poles. I started working on these (I think) well over 12 months ago. I still have a lot more insulators to fix to the cross arms. After I did about a dozen poles, I changed jobs. I also took along my whole Border Loop scene, which included the signal box, the signallers platform, and the passenger/goods platform, with an intent finishing these off.

I need to add the side windows to the signal box – sliding of course, then I stained the passenger/goods platform and glued that to the base. I also added the Crossing Loop name board sign to the structure.
The Scene from Border Loop sitting on the photo that I am reproducing

Quite a few people came past and were talking to me about my models – particularly the Border Loop items. It was amazing at how many people say that they've been there. One person said there was one nice signaller there and one grump guy who did not like train enthusiasts hanging around. Another guy said he goes bush walking around that area now. Another reminisced about a train trip – maybe on the Bicentennial Train when the train unloaded its occupants for a run by photo shot, when there were some people skinny dipping in the nearby creek. Another said he attended a party there. One of my ex Club mates mentioned that he probably had some photos of the area atken many years earlier.  He mentioed that he had walked through the tunnel there. I advised I would dearly appreciate a copy of those photos if possible. He said he will see what he can do.

After this I did some more work on the items from The Risk. I added three windows from Casula to my scratchbuilt Pc3 station building. I then had to do some remedial work on the signal box. While laying some ground colour and ground cover before the last running session, the glue must have splashed onto the sliding windows and they become stuck windows. So I freed then up and they are now working again.

Windows Installed with some window sills

Here are a few photos of the event.
A reasonably new layout – Riverbrook

Riverbrook - some very nice buildings

Modratec demonstration layout

Jim Hutchinson’s fantastic Queenslander models - Just brilliant!

The Tent huts by Jim Hutchinson

Shops by Jim Hutchinson

The Darling Downs Model Railway Club’s Dual Train layout that will be shown for the last time at this exhibition. Just love this trackwork.

A small layout indeed with the train running around - somehow?

The Carnival scene by Bob Clayton from DDMRC – I’m sure one of those people moved.

Percy’s layout next to me – had some very nice scenes highlighted by the great artistry

A very nice Jacaranda dropping its leaves

I still need to add the door to the Border Loop Signal cabin.  Later in the day I resume insulator installation activity on another half dozen telegraph poles.

On Sunday night, PK sent around some links of his handy work during the day.  He was working on the tall Timber Tramway exhibit. Below is some links of his video camera work.

Tall Timber Tramway
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVn4jvdAkBo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmpzmQ2fjCo

DDMRC layout
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUe-5Cj_Y4Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFUl76D36K0

HO Scale Buildings
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jl0xN4oS1A

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Running Session 23rd October

Yes today was a running session on Cassino.  To prove that some people actually turned up I have two panoramic photos below.  I expect some other bloggers to comment and post photos on their own blogs as there were lots of photos taken and plenty of laughing occuring. 
From my workbench area (aka North Coast Control) you can see a couple of the guys on the left and a few more to the very far right.  In the centre of the photo is one of the sceniced aresa of the layout and is where the naturalists go to have a swim - No water in the creek yet.  PK's yellow van is to the left. He's hiding behind a tree with his binoculars.  Pervert!  He is unattached so he can do that.

A bit to the right of the previous photo shows Fairy Hill Farm house with the red roof on the far right, with above that in the background - The Risk against the wall, and Border Loop on the central peninsula.

The guys turned up from about 12 noon today.  The BBQ was already in full swing and they enjoyed some BBQ sausages on a piece of bread with some onions, cheese and sauce.  They had something to wash the snags down and we went to the shed.  As usual the trains in the session ran late.  With I think even the first scheduled train of the session getting away late.  I cannot understand how this always occurs, and it gets worse the longer our session runs.  For this session, we had the usuals in attendance - PK, Brendan, Darren, Greg, Shelton and Peter, and we had Darryl - one of our fly-in - fly-out workers turn up for his first true running session.  Darryl has been to some shake down sessions quite some time ago, but this is the first real timetable session he has attended.  Darren was the first North Coast Controller while Shelton worked the yards.  I took over from Darren and Brendan took over from Shelton for the second half of the session. 

Some of the glitches were two wires comming off the headset circuit and that caused a number of headsets plug-in-points to either be able to hear from, but not talk from or vice-versa.  These were fixed at the first break.  We also has a staff machine to go off line also because of a loose wire.  That too was fixed.

We are still plagued by the occasional derailment, and uncoupling.  More effort will be spent addressing these issues before the next session in December.  We actually ran quite a few trains that we have not run before, so for that reason he had some successes.  However, I forgot to print out my wagon cards, so all the stopping trains didn't have any of these.  Doh!  I think we were down possibly two operators for the session and it showed.  

I will complete more scenicing before the next session and also clean up some of the junk I have laying around on the layout, as I have been advised that this is quite distracting to some people.  I have some training issues to address as well and these include:- 
- How to read the timetable
- How to check if an operator is on time, ahead of time or behind time
- What tracks are what at each location (particularly the yards)
- Where the crossing loop are
- Staff instrument working protocol - we still forget to take a staff, and to return them.

While this was the first session with the headsets, they worked very well.  Well done Brendan.  The issue we had is that a number of attendees forgot their Procabs and some don't have radio Procabs.  The unlucky ones have to plug in all the time.  With all the late running we had to make crosses at different locations to the timetable graph and it can cause lots of issues at Cassino and Old Cassino in particular, as we don't have enough tracks, or trains are not in the appropriate tracks.

He all hope for that perfect running session - maybe next time.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More Basic Scenicing and More Panels

Saturday this week I jumped into doing some more scenicing on the layout until the crack of thunder drew me back upstairs. We had a huge storm on Thursday arvo and it looked like Saturday’s was going to be just as bad – but Saturday’s just glanced us. On Thursday we got about 63mm in less than half an hour, just after school pick up time. We didn’t get any trouble ourselves on Thursday, but another part of our suburb about 1km away was devastated. They had at least 6 inches of hail in their yards. I had a work mate that lives in that area and he had roof issues and water all throughout his house. Trees being down was an understatement.

Back to the layout. The scenicing I did was around The Risk and I also did some work around Glenapp Loop. I also did a bit of clean up of some bench space in the kitchenette for next week’s running session. I also moved some junk off the chairs.
The area behind The Risk loop.  I am copying this scene from an old Railway Digest.  The area in front is still just bare plaster.

The rest of the loop at The Risk.  The platform with signal box and platform building are at the far end.

Further south from The Risk a base ground colour is taking shape.

Back up north at Glenapp, the white plaster behind the loop has turned green after all the rain we have had.

Looking south at Glenapp from the North

I also spent some time sticky-taping together a layout schematic for Darren to use as a model for the North Coast Control’s layout schematic on a sheet of metal.

This morning I went down to the shed in the morning and continued the clean up work. I cleared off the desk around where the North Coast Control will sit. While cleaning up, I came across a piece of paper that I had previously drawn a simplified line schematic on. I quite liked this so I will draw another one and bring it along on Tuesday to show Darren along with my previously stuck together version. Tuesday is Tuesday Nighters. This time at Peter’s place. It will be good to see what progress he has done since our last visit.

While doing the cleanup this morning, I came across a box with a few half finished projects in it. I decided that I will complete a few of the models in this box on Saturday week at the Ipswich Model Railway Exhibition at the Ipswich Workshops Museum. I will be there on the Saturday and Jim will be there on the Sunday. We are doing structure building. On the Sunday of that weekend the boss is out with the girls and I have to take my daughter to a dance rehearsal. It looks like it will be a busy weekend.

This afternoon, I decided to install the two remaining wires on the second Kyogle Panel, and then the second panel for Murwillumbah while watching the Kangaroos eat the Kiwis.  Pity the Wallabies didn't do the same tonight.
The second Kyogle panel - with the push buttons wired to the other panel.

The second Murwillumbah panel. 

I also spent some time trying to get an NCE SNAP-IT that controls the disable wagon siding in Rappville Loop to work.  For the life of me, I could not get the point to move.  I successfully programmed the Mini Panel.  That seemed to be working.  But I could not get the Snap-it to move at all, either by directly addressing it or via the Mini Panel.  I might have to try and reset it and try again one night this week.

Next Saturday, in preparation for the following day's running session, I will have to do a vacuum of the shed and a quick clean of the track, followed by a test run out and back before the actual running session. I will be putting on a sausage sizzle before the start, and of course the fridge will be open. I am getting acceptances and nominations for the various specialist jobs for the day.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Day with the Boys up the Coast

I was off work this week except Wednesday were I had a presentation to attend. Besides this supposed free time, I spent very little time down the shed. I did however, manage to eventually wire up the last two wires for the NCE mini panel to the control panel at Kyogle. I also mounted the second (duplicate) control panel for Kyogle at the other end of the yard. This has not been fully wired up yet. I had some issues wiring up the buttons on the first Kyogle Panel. When I pushed one button, the wrong set of points changed - Bugger. So it was undo that wire and swap it with another. Eventually I ironed it all out. I am getting some echoing or some phenomenon occurring where after some point throw, the point tries to throw multiple times, before eventually thowing and then moving onto the next point. Everything throws eventually, but I don’t know what is happening.  Anyone else get the phenoninum?

Yesterday I went with a car load of Tuesday Nighters to the Sunshine Coast and the Caloundra Buy and Sell. The trip up was certainly a wet one with a storm unleashing about 70mm of rain on us when we left my place at about 8:15am in the morning. While up at the Buy and Sell I caught up with a few modelling acquaintances and our travelling group ended up at a BBQ lunch at Peter’s place. Peter was one of the Tuesday Nighters who defected to Caloundra to live. Peter’s layout has certainly progressed since our last trip up there. The scenery was absolutely fantastic.  A real credit to his workmanship.

At the Buy and Sell I picked up two QR coal wagon kits from Wuiske Models, so after I eventually put these together, my total of 12mm wagons will expand to the grand total of 5. Pity I don’t have a loco as yet. There was a couple of item things acquired, but nothing worth talking about.

On the way back home home, we stopped off at the RMCQ Club Rooms. Barry had never been there and Mike had not been there for a couple of years. After resuming our trip south, we dropped Barry off home, and the guys came around to the shed for a relaxing beer and try out of my headphone system.

On Friday afternoon this week, I went my wife and Kyle to see the Queensland Fire and Rescue Helicopters used for fighting fires in the South East during the fire season.  This was curtasy of Kyle's classmate, whose father is one of the fireman on board the helicopter.  I got there last as I had to pick the car up from a service.  Afterwards my son went to his mates place for a further play, while I went home.  Later when Kyle came home, we had a bit of a tour of the shed for Kyle's mate, his younger brother and their mother.

Today while watching Bathurst on the shed TV, I started doing some of the jobs I had scheduled for the last week off but never got around to.  I was splashing a bit of plaster around behind the platform at The Risk, and then covered the plaster from where it end at one end of The Risk to the other end with a base coat of brown dirt.  The area towards the tunnel heading south to Border Loop was also browned up.  I also covered the small area of plaster I installed at Border Loop for 4-wheel drive access quite some time ago.  I then started on the southern side of Kyogle exactly near where the points were installed the previous week.
Next week, or even  maybe one night during the week I might get around to greening this area up with various shades of greens and yellows and light browns.

Attention now turns to trying to plan a running session in the near future.  I will work with Darren in producing an improved train diagram board for the North Coast Controller to use during a running session.  Darren says he has a 1200 x 700 sheet of steel on which we will line the track plan from Grafton Yard to Acacia Ridge yard along with the Murwillumbah Branch and any future dual gauge link north of Acacia Ridge if this gets built.  I would dearly love to install another passing loop for Clapham Yard, followed by the Park Road Sidings and South Brisbane Interstate, and a few sidings depicting Brisbane Marine Terminal (Fisherman Island) - not that this area existed when South Brisbane was still there - but don't tell anyone and they won't know.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Railset Train Details

In response to Wagonfreak's comment about my railset train, Yes I have scratch built my own 8 car railset train.  A while back now, I heard the railset train was delivering rail somewhere up the Far North Coast and PK and myself went to try and capture it.  Just before it returned to Casino for staging we caught up with it.  It was somewhere south of Glenapp that we saw it.  It was about 50m from the road and we screached to a halt and headed across the paddock, and after asking them, we went through the fence in our hi-vis jackets and spoke to the guys unloading the rail.  They let us take some photos and even climb on top for more photos.

So I built the 8 car set from styrene and AR Kits bogies.  It has dummy knuckly couplers between the 8 wagons.  I even made some long lengths of rail to go on top.  The rail even negotiates the curves on the layout.

The 8 car railset train in the siding at Fairy Hill Loop with rail on board

The perway crew are ready to help with the unloading activity.  You can see Fairy Hill farm in the distance

The railset train ready to depart Fairy Hill Loop after the light engine 44 reaches Kyogle.  It is getting the staff at the Fairy Hill signal box

There she goes heading heading out of the siding, and heading off to Kyogle.  Fairy Hill Farm is to the left of the loop.

My train has developed a bow in the first wagon.  I will eventually get around to making a replacement wagon.  I can remember a version of this train at Kyogle many, many years ago when I visited that location.  So that is where my set stays on the layout.  It is not currently part of any timetable, but may be in the future.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

All Systems Go

I had a day off work last Thursday and with Lefty as my chaufer, we visited the local Lawrence and Hanson outlet and I purchased the needed 4-core alarm cable to finish off some wiring.  When we returned back to my place, I started to discuss with Lefty over coffee what was he going to use to control his single line train running and communication from the various crossing loops back to his dispatcher.  Being a narrow gauge system, Lefty was going to use train orders, but I suggested that he build a system similar to mine as it seems to be working.

I demo-ed my system to Lefty.  The plug-in-points and headsets were all working except for the ones I had yet to wire in.  I also showed him my calling system from North Coast Control to/from Grafton/Acacia Ridge yards.  However, NCC could not call the yards, but the yards could call NCC.  Must be a loose wire!  So after Lefty went home, I got down to wiring up the last few plug-in-point panels.  As I was laying out the cable and stripping the ends, my young apprentice came down to the shed and wanted to run some trains.  I said I had to finish this wiring first.  So he helped me by holding the panels steady while I soldered the 4-core cable to each panel.  So after helping me with 3 panels, he was bored and he found something else to do.  But it certainly allowed me to progress faster than if I did not have his help.

So after wiring all the cables in, my apprentice came back to the Shed.  So he helped me test each of the new panels.  So as a reward, I let him run my CPH rail motor up and down a siding, blowing a its horn.  I also let him run one of Tsunami equipped 44 class which I had turned momentum on in, and showed him how to use the brake function.

Today I got back down to the shed and did some work just before lunch time.  I found the loose wire that prevented NCC from calling the yards and that now works.  I had the boss come down at the same time and she helped me test the phone system from NCC to Grafton/Acacia Ridge yards.  I then showed her the headset system working.  I then re-tested every plug-in-point.  I found one that would not call, but you could hear other points from it.  Sure enough there was a loose wire in the panel and easily fixed.  There was another plug-in-point that I had previously broken the stereo plug on.  I had drilled the rebate on teh back of teh panel to far through and teh first time I pushed my green headset wire into the panel, the plug went straight through the back of the panel - whoops!  So I cut up another panel (and further 3 just in case) and drilled out the holes for the two stereo plugs and one push button.  I installed this new panel in place of the broken one and that is it -  All the communications systems are now go.

Future attention now turns to the display board for North Coast Control.  I will have a talk to the team on Tuesday night this week as to how I will construct this, since I have moved NCC out of the hole within my Helix, to over near my workbench.  I'd like the new panel in place for my next running session which could be later this month, if I can get Executive approval.  I have next Saturday up at Caloundra for their buy and sell, Lunch at Peter's place and then back to show the car load of travellers the Club before heading home to the south side of Brisbane.  I also have the Ipswich Model Rail Exhibition on the last weekend of this month and I will be working there on one day, so I'm stretching the friendship this month and will have to draw down on my brownie points.  This Tuesday is Tuesday Nighters and we will be having our second visit to Shelton's place.  This should be a good night.

Last Thursday my PC smoked itself.  It was starting to play up more than normal and finally did a recursive shift left of all its bits and Phhhhtttt.  No more workies.  It is probably the motherboard.  I did a backup on Wednesday night, so I just need to remove the two hard drives in it (one is a backup of the other) and with PK's help and with a piece of hardware he has, suck the data off the drives into my new laptop.  Until then I have no access to old email, old email addresses, all my photos, and my documents.
This afternoon, while the Rugby League Grand final was on, I decided to install the five point motors on the southern entry into Kyogle. 
The location before work began

I marked out where the point motors were to go, lifted the track and cut out the holes in the baseboard and installed the wired peco point motors one by one under the points and wired these back up to the Digitrax DS64 point controller. 
Photo showing two of the point motors installed

The next two point motors and the last one just out of picture to the right

I tested four of the point motors and they work perfectly.  The fifth point motor, needs its wires run to a different digitrax DS64 and I have not run these wires as yet.  That is tomorrow's job.

The photo of the trackage with the point motors all installed.

This week I'm on holidays so I plan to install the three remaining control panels to operate all the points at Kyogle and Murwillumbah - electromagically.  However, I will need a quick trip to jaycar for 4 more push buttons and if I remember I will check out their magnets as a method of uncoupling wagons.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Headset Progress - Almost Complete

Last week after Brendan came over and fixed my wiring problem of a loose wire causing a short circuit in my system, besides my test set, I had 4 plug-in-points working and I had run my distribution bus to another two plug-in-points but it was not soldered to the panels on the facia.  Saturday this week I got stuck into wiring up more plug-in-points for the headset system.  I wired up the first two plugs that were ready and did a test. They were good.  So I decided to press on.
 
My bus between each plug-in-point consists of 5 wires.  This is a 4-wire alarm cable that I had previously purchased for my staff system and a separate single wire. Well on Saturday I started running the wire bus from the end of where I was up to, to the panel quite some distance away at Cassino Station. From here the bus started to branch out in various directions.  This point then linked to the run over to Old Cassino, as well as continuing around the bottom level to Bonalbo Ballast siding, Grafton yard, Rappville Loop, Rocla Siding and then Acacia Ridge yard.  This of course is not in crossing loop order, but the order in which to connect the plug-in-points up using the least amount of wire. 
 
The connect from Old Cassino also splits up into two directions.  The first link from Old Cassino goes from one side of the peninsula to the other in this case to Kyogle. From Kyogle the bus runs to Lismore, then to Kyogle Stock Siding and then to Lismore Oil Siding. While I had enough 4-core alarm cable for this section, I ran out of the single core wire for the 5th wire in the bus.
 
The second link from Old Cassino goes up to the top deck to Border Loop.  This will be linked around the top deck to The Risk.  But I actually started wiring from the far end of this run from Glenapp back to The Risk, It was then that I also ran our of 4-core alarm cable to go from The Risk around to Border Loop.  So this means that I am about 6 or 7 metres of cable short.  So after a quick trip to Jaycar with my little apprentice who was very interested in the remote control helicopters on display.  I picked up two new rolls of 25m cable for the 5th wire in the bus and I resumed soldering up this single cable upon return home.  This wire started from Glenapp to the Risk and ran back to Border Loop.
 
I then switched back to the other side of the peninsula and laid the single wire from Old Cassino, across to Kyogle, Lismore, Kyogle Stock Siding, and then to Lismore Oil Siding.  Upon completion of all this wiring for the day, I tested this bus run and they all worked perfectly.  I then moved around to Border Loop, Old Cassino, and Cassino and they all worked as well.
 
I did have two small sections of 4-core alarm cable left and that enabled me to go from Acacia Ridge to Rocla Sleeper Siding, and from Rappville Loop to Grafton Yard.  Today I wired these in as well as ran the single wire of the bus all the way from Acacia Ridge to Rocla Sleeper Siding, to Rappville Loop, onto Grafton Yard, to Bonalbo Ballast Siding and around to Cassino. 
 
I think I need about 17m of 4-core alarm cable for this run back around to Cassino.  With my other missing link, I will need around 24m this wire, 25m maximum incase I miscalculated. It does come in a 100m role. I'm sure someone else will want some in the future, or I will be able to use it for some other hair brained use in the shed.  So now I need to track some down.  The last roll I picked up was from Lawrence and Hanson.  Their website is abysmal and I can't tell if they have any or not.  I will ring them up tomorrow and then work out how I can pick some up, or possibly, send the boss on an errand.  I did see that there is some at an e-bay store that allows pickup, so if L&H don't have any, the e-bay store could be an option. 

Today I took the kids to see Johnny English. That was quite good.  We all got a few good laughs.  On return I went to Shelton's place after lunch to check out his new layout design.  It is quite impressive.  I did one of his shunts.  It will be even better when he received his order for more NCE UTP's so he can then end up walking around his layout.  We discussed some scenery options so it will be great at the next Tuesday Nighters when everyone wants to try out his shunts.
 
I was thinking about quite a few tasks I have to complete before the next running session - whick looks like being 23th of October in the arvo.  I need to install 6 point motors at Kyogle, and then wire up two control panels for Kyogle and a second control panel for Murwillumbah.  The shed then will need a vacuum as well.  Work, work, work!  It never ends.  I must also get around to installing a decoder from a guy in the Club.  Maybe later this week or even next weekend.  Still plenty to keep me entertained.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

National Take a Train to Work Day is Nov. 18th

A while back a young lady at work whose father is into model trains had advised that the 18th of September (tomorrow) was "National Take a Train to Work Day", however, upon doing a Google search, it turns out that Classic Toy Trains magazine has earmarked Nov. 18th 2011 as that day.  I had planned on taking a circle of track (18" radius) to work along with my NCE Powercab and a Tsunami equipped 44 Trainorama Class and setting it up on a round table in my cell block at work, just big enough to suit 18" radius curves.  I was then going to turn up the horn and annoy the proverbial out of everyone within earshot.  I was told the right day, just the wrong month.

Now after packing my bag for tomorrow, it looks like I'm 2 months too early.  So let's all pencil 18th November into our collective diaries.  That's good as I will be flat strap at work tomorrow and for the rest of the week so I really will not have time to show off my hobby tomorrow at work.

Friday 18th November.

1....Tick 2.... Tick 3.... ???

I didn't get into the shed on Saturday this week until after lunchtime, and time was short as we had to go to a 3 year old's Birthday Party at 3:00pm.  When I got there I found the DCC system left on from last weekend.  Oops!  The first job was to look at the Cassino to Fairy Hill Loop staff machine circuit.  I tested the power supply for this staff machine and it was putting out 12V.  I tested another power supply circuit where the LED's were working and it was putting out 2V.  I thought I would make a new one up and connected it up and it too was producing 12V.  Hmmm!  I decided to put an LED across this power supply and the bi-colour LED lit.  I turned the bi-colour LED around and it lit the other colour.  Double Hmmm!  So I now decided to start at one end of the section and individually check each panel's wiring.  There were eight panels.  On the third I discovered a loose wire.  I attached it and then applied power to the layout and luckily these panels now all successfully lit.  So an open circuit was producing the 12V reading.  When under load, it produces 2V.  Job 1 Complete. Tick.

After returning from the first birthday party of the day, we had a few minutes while the kids had a shower before we went off to the wife's oldest sister's Surprise 50th Birthday Party.  So I glued down the track across the Upper Richmond River Bridge just north of Kyogle and let it set overnight.  I did this while I was supposed to be getting ice out of fridge in the shed, for the esky so we could take all the yummy sweets the missus had made for the party.  Job 2 Complete. Tick.

Sunday just before midday Brendan came over to hopefully rescue me from my incompetence.  He also came armed with 2 x 38's and 6 x FS, BS and BSR coaches for a test run.  After chewing his ear off for a while about layout stuff, we set about to attack Job number 3.  Measuring, Testing, Thinking, Thinking, Testing, Measuring, Testing and more Thinking.  We discussed a suggestion that another electronics mate from the Gosford Club who visited our Club Exhibition a few weeks back had made and this was discounted due to some sound logic from Brendan.  This suggestion was to install the resistor before the push-to-make button on the microphone circuit instead of after it.

After not much progress at debugging me predicament, Brendan started at one end of my plug-in-point panels and checked them out.  They all looked good.  However, my panels were wired in two radiating runs.  When Brendan attached him Ohmmeter to the circuit, when we plugged into the panels and pushed the push-to-talk button on one run as opposed to the other run, we got different results.  But with what looked like the same wiring on both runs, and different result, we were scratching our collective heads.  Brendan decided to check my tag strip where I joined my two run together.  You guessed it!  He had hit the nail, or in this case the loose wire on the head.  One of my wires had come loose on one of the runs and was shorting the microphone circuit.  Brendan soldered that up and and we gave it another test.

JUST LIKE A BOUGHT ONE!  WHOO!  WHOO!

Later on we did another test with the DCC system on and there was a slight hum in the background.  We will keep an eye on that as I add additional plug-in-points.  I now have a task for next weekend.  Wire up the next 18 or so plug in points and test every one as we go.  Job 3 COMPLETE!!!!!  Yeah! A great big Tick.

So with the jobs finished for the weekend we set about having a bit of a run with Brendan's 38's and coaches and my CPH and a couple of 44's.  I stowed the CPH and its trailer in a siding at Kyogle.  I then ran one of the 38's past it and as it did, a strange thing happened.  The CPH tooted its horn!  I ran back the other way and the CPH said "MAX. MAX".  I ran back again and it tooted again.  Back again and it repeated its words.  Now that was strange.  Later on we ended up with two 38's hauling the coaches past the CPH and when it did, Brendan recorded the event on his phone.  I expect him to put this footage up on YouTube possibly tonight and you can see it yourself.  One 38 made the CPH toot while the other made it talk.  They did the opposite in the other direction.  We assume that it had something to do with the magnetic fields generated by the 38's motors on the reed switch ciruit on the CPH.

Tuesday night this week is at Mike's place so it will be good relaxation event.  And the next runnign session is now getting closer.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another 44 Class joins the Stable

Tuesday this week was our Tuesday Nighters get together and we ventured over to Gentlemen Jim's place. Brendan drove from woop woop to my place and then I gave him a lift and we then picked up Barry and Shelton. This was Brendan and Shelton's first trip to Jim's place. I picked up a new second hand 44 Class from Darren that he picked up at our Exhibition a few weeks back. It was the CFCLA version. On Wednesday at work I received my latest Tsunami D251 V12 decoder from my local importer. Thursday night I removed the shell and circuit board ready for installing the decoder. On Friday I came home at 4:00pm and went down to the shed and found an old 44 Class shell that I had on a dummy 44 class that I picked up many years ago. This one was reverse 4423. I also have a red terror shell that I could have used. I also found my tweezers and heat shring required for the instalaltion operation.  Later that night after I had done my nightly tooth cleaning and reading activity with Kyle I installed the new Tsunami.

Saturday morning I did a quick test on DC on the test track down in the shed and the sound came on but the loco didn't move. Maybe I didn't give it enough time to start moving.  So I switched to DCC and could read the decoder settings, so it looked like it was wired correctly. I then checked the headlights in both forward and reverse and they operated OK and the sound came on. I then hit the throttle and she moved off brilliantly. Good! In a couple of hours I was over at the Club for our Monthly Meeting day (actually the AGM). I put 4423 on the test track attached via a SPROG programmer to the PC in the Committee Room. My plan was to tune the setting on one of my other 44's - 4425 and suck the configuration down onto 4423. I was experimenting with CV20 and CV21. Previously in all my locos I have never set these CV's, so they were 0. These are for what Functions can activate while in consists. But as I have started to use the brake function on the Tsunami 44's, I needed to make some function work when in a consist, for example, if I had one of these locos as a non lead unit in a consist. So by turning these functions on in a consist, I get all locos braking, not just the lead loco.

So after setting up 4425, I then copied this configuration to 4423. I then took both to the layout and they worked together just like a bought one. So I returned to the SPROG track and then made the same changes to my other Tsunami loco. I'd be interested in hearing what other bloggers or lurkers are using on their Tsunami for their CV20 and CV21?

Today I spent the whole day at the School fete, so no Shed activity today. I'm absolutely stuffed.

This week and next I will be installing a decoder for a Club member into a powerline 81 class. This locos was from a wooden Powerline collectors train box set that our Club gave out as first prize in our raffle at our first Club Exhibition 10 years ago. A Club member has just purchased it from a friend I believe, and the box was still in its plastic shrink wrapping along with the first prize sticker. I will put a D13SRJ decoder in this locos and replace the headlights with LED's. If this goes to plan, I will potentially replace the red marker lights with LED's as well. We will see if this will work. This loco has a psuedo 8 pin plug on a circuit board that the bogies are attached to. This is really different to other 81's (5) I have decodered up.