Sunday, May 29, 2011

Improvements Following Running Day Suggestions

Last Tuesday night I popped around to old Mike's place as I had some HO and O Scale printouts of a few structures for him. During the visit a conversation we had reminded me that I needed to install some automatic magnets in the track at Murwillumbah for uncoupling purposes. It is too difficult to use the uncoupling tools (skewers) at this location, as the track is set back a good 2 feet from the facia and is under the top level of the baseboard and it is hard to reach. This was a suggestion from the last running day. I just happened to have about 7 magnets that I purchased at a model railway exhibition some years back.

On the Wednesday after attending the school sports carnival and helping setup, pull down and cooking hundreds of snags and hamburger patties all day I retired to spend about 45 minutes in the shed in the arvo. I found the loose wire that was causing the Rocla Signal panel to not work. That was soldered back on very quickly. I created a box of stuff that will have all the gear for a Cassino Running Session in it. I also added some bulldog clips to the top of the 3mm foam board I had cut up.  I will this as a mini clipboard for all operators to take with them when driving a train. They will fix their timetable to the front of the clipboard with the bulldog clip. Under the timetable will be some blank paper for them to right notes on and there will also be a pen on each clipboard. I can also thinking of having a plastic pouch on the rear of the clipboard when on a pickup or shunting train, so teh wagon cards can be carried around and dropped off at the particular destination.  I then set about testing the operation of the magnets for under track uncoupling. I found that if I used two of them the operation was acceptable. But I decided to try and orientate then in different planes to see if I could get away with just one. So I did and below is how I ended up installing them. I put one in the track and tested it with my cement wagons and they worked very well. So I put two more in on the adjacent tracks.

The uncoupling magnets in the cement siding, main line and Norco siding at Murwillumbah

Coming home from work slightly early on Friday, I headed over to the hobby shop and picked up a new NCE Mini Panel and two Digitrax DS64's. The DS64's are 4 point motor controllers. Yesterday I installed these onto the layout. One DS64 is located at (under) Kyogle and the other is located at Murwillumbah. It replaced the old Hornby level switches that control three Peco points at the entry of Murwillumbah. The fourth control on this DS64 will control another point motor at Kyogle where I need 5 points to be controlled.
DS64 mounted on the layout ready to control the point at Kyogle directly above

The old method of control at Murwillumbah

The new method of control at Murwillumbah

As I had the three lever switches already in use at Murwillumbah, it was easy to just mount the DS64 near to where the wires currently run to. So these were connected and the DS64 was connected to the track power. It just needs an address, as well as all 4 point controls getting their own addresses set. But that is something for next week. I tried to wire in the NCE Mini Panel, but on start up of the NCE system, it hung. That's not good. I know that it is always the last piece of kits that has been installed and piece of track worked on. So I disconnected the Mini Panel and the system started up. So I looked at the cable I used to connect the Mini Panel to the cab bus and it is an absolute shocker. The plugs are wired randomly, not pin 1 to pin 1. It is not even wired pin 1 to pin 6 in cross over fashion. I'm not sure who wired this cable up, but whomever it was their fired.  So that able is off to work tomorrow to get the guys to cut off a plug at one end and put a new RJ12 plug on that end. Lucky I have a few more RJ12s left at work.  I then installed two more uncoupling magnets at the entry to Murwillumbah station. I have two more to install at the other end of the platform next weekend.

NCE Mini Panel up under the top deck of the layout at Border Loop - Directly above Murwillumbah

Last night I installed the push buttons in three new control panels I'm making. These control panels will interface with my Mini Panel and drive the DS64s.  One panel will be installed near the Murwillumbah DS64, so a driver of an arriving train, or someone shunting in the banana siding or the yard, can set the relevant points. I then created two panels for Kyogle. These panels will be for the same section of track, but will be controlled from seperate ends of the crossing loop. The 4 points at the other end of Kyogle (the Brisbane End) are right next to the facia and are currently controlled by a push-pull wire through the facia. I see no immediate need to make these controlled by point motor.

Today after spending about 4 hours at the school working bee, I went down to Big-W and picked up 4 more headsets for my crew to use when our phone system is eventually operational. I now have access to 8 headsets. That reminds me Hey Brendan - how is the system testing going? I think that 8 headsets will be enough for any operating session that I will ever run. Even if I have more crew turn up (one North Coast Controller and 7 drivers), I don't think I will ever have more than 7 trains in operation at any time, so the headsets can be passed around between the active operators. At $8.77 each headset, they are a bargain. I did see that Aldi had 4 CB radios for $49 on special this week. That is the only other alternative to the headsets, but the battery charging process before each running session would be an absolute nightmare, or it would keep me poor.

Tonight while watching TV, I plan to solder the jumper wires onto the control panels, so all the push buttons are live.
Last week I mentioned that Mike provvded me with the great factory that I will use as the Veneer Factory at Kyogle. Here are two shots of the front and back. It is lacking the scenery around it and workers cars and a fence, but that will eventually be installed. Currently no trains stop at Kyogle and do any shunting. But that will change in later revisions of the timetable.

The front of the Veneer factory

The rear of the Veneer Factory  The track on the left is the Dairy Siding.

Next week I will post on Saturday night or early Sunday as I have to fly to Melbourne with work on Sunday evening.

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