Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tidying Up

Today I was pottering around in the shed for a few hours this afternoon.  I started running a few trains back to their start positions for the next running session.  At the same time, I made a few tweaks to the timetable.  One trains was split into two seperate runs.  One will run from Grafton to Cassino and over an hour later will continue from Cassino to Acacia Ridge as a different train number.  This stops a driver sitting in a siding for an extended time.  He can go back onto the active roster waiting for his next train.  I also programmed my Mini Panel with its commands.  I then gave it a test and when I pushed some of the buttons on the Murwillumbah panel, the wrong points threw.  So I just swapped two push buttons on the control panel and this fixed the issue.  All the routes in Murwillumbah from the panel involve the first point at the entry of Murwillumbah.  However, this was setup to throw the wrong direction for each route I set - Doh!  That is easy to fix.  Either reprogram all the normal throw to reverses and reservers to normals - or swap the two wires on the DS64 output.  I chose to swap the two wires on the DS64.  It just seemed simpler to do.

A couple of trains had a wagon or two added, or swapped for a better runner.  Some trains also had an extra loco added.  One train - the cement train on the branch - had its timetable changed to drop off two wagons at Lismore on its way to Murwillumbah and to pick up those two wagons in a run around move on the way back.  While running this train today - it reminded me that I had yet to install three magnets on the trains at Murwillumbah - Main and Loop at the Murwillumbah end of the platform and in the motorrail siding.

Yesterday I went to Jaycar and purchased all the push buttons (23) I need to make my communications panels or drivers to talk to North Coast Control.  I still have a few more stereo plugs to buy.  I just need our resident eletronics wiz (Brendan) to provide me with the schematics that someone like me can follow and what other parts I need to purchase and I will start building the system before the next running day. 

Yesterday I also revisited the 81 Class loco I was decodering for Geoff from the Club.  None of the lights were working.  I unsoldered the Blue, White and Yellow wires and attached a 9V battery and they worked.  Damn don't you hate that?  I then removed the green and brown wires and also attached the battery and Double Damn! - They worked too.  So I soldered everything back up and today I took it down to the shed.  The b@$&@*# worked.  Oh well there must have been a dry solder joint on the blue wire.  So now it has front and rear lights, and the front white markers and rear red marker lights light up on F1 and the opposite combination - rear white markers and front red markers light up on F2.  Not bad for $10 I think.

Tuesday this week we went to Bob's place.  The first time for over 12 months.  Peter from the North Coast (Caloundra) came down for a visit.  It was also the first visit for Shelton at Bob place to see his layout. 

On Friday night I won an ebay auction for a phone - $0.99. That should see me being able to complete my yard communication phone system next weekend.  This is the one between North Coast Control and the Grafton/Acacia Ridge Yards.  I will now be on the lookout for a spare phone or two in case these ones have accidents.

Next week I will be completing the moving of all trains to their starting locations.  I still have a few more things to tidy up before the next running session.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention #29

Some blog updates by other bloggers have started to hit the net about yesterday's Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention #28 and it has brought back some fond memories of this convention.

Sadly another MTRNSW Convention has come and gone and I have been able to attended. I have not been since my daughter was just about 1 month old. She is now 9. I was quite lucky many years back when for a period of about 4 or 5 years, I used to get work to fly me down to Sydney on the day before the convention and fly me back home. I used to have 3 staff in Sydney that reported to me, so I'd go down and do a mid year review on the Friday morning, flex off in the arvo and visit Bergs and Casula. On some of the times, I'd also attend a business convention for work in Sydney starting on the Sunday and running until Tuesday and having Saturday at the MTRNSW convention filled in a day. In alternate years the business convention was in Melbourne so on Sunday morning, I'd catch a plane from Sydney to Melbourne for the work convention, while I reviewed, the staff, attend a couple of train shops on the Friday, went to the MRTNSW on the Saturday and on Sunday went to the work Convention. Quite neat really and it worked out cheaper for work, I'd just have to pay my own accomodation.

On one occasion, four of us went to the convention via a road trip from Brisbane. We left on the Thursday Morning at an ungodly hour, stayed Thursday night at an ex-Club members place at Wingham, and did lots of train following, picture taking and finally making the shops in Sydney around lunch time on Friday. We'd stay at the Marco Polo motel, a short stone's throw from the Convention when it was held at Petersham, and it was great because the guys from Toowoomba (who read this Blog - Hi Bill, Hi Baz) would stay in a similar 4 bed room at the same hotel. On this particular road trip we had the pleasure of actually visiting Werris Creek on the Sunday morning and we were offered a run on the layout.  I took a large amount of photos.  On another trip I caught the XPT down and back with a mate, arriving Friday night and returning home on the Sunday afternoon overnight trip back to Brisbane - to sleep some more before returning to work on Tuesday. I particularly loved the trivia nights, the great fun that was had, the cheating and so on that occured.

Ahhh! Those were the times. I can't wait till I can get to one again. I think next year I will try and arrange a trip to this convention again with a few mates from Brisbane. I will be putting in the hard yards with the Missus to square that side away.  I think we should try and re-create our epic road trip from many a year back. I think I will raise it at this week's Tuesday Nighters to see who is interested in attending.

More Decoders and Some Running

This week I installed 6 decoders for a mate, to finish off his current order.  It started on Monday night with one install.  This was followed by two more on Tuesday night.  Thursday I thought about doing some work, but could not get motivated.  So on Friday I finished two more locos off.  A British HST and a British 0-6-0 diesel shunter.  That was the five I needed to do for David before he came over to pick them up on Saturday evening.  When he arrived he brought another loco over.  Upon checking it out, it was an easy install so I did it while he waited.  I think I'm now all decodered out for a while.  However, I did test run the loco I was doing for Geoff from the Club.  It was an 81 Class loco and none of the lights worked - Damn.  I thought I had that all down pat.  Headlights and front and rear marker lights - nothing works.  I think I will have to look at that later this week.

Saturday I picked up a couple more decoders from Austral Modelcraft for the Club Shop.  I also have a few more on order.

On Wednesday morning we had a local antenna guy move our house's TV antenna because we are getting some solar panels installed on the roof and the antenna is in the way.  So we got a new antenna installed and the old one just happened to be re-located to the shed roof.  All I need now is an LCD TV for the shed wall.  Maybe after I do my tax return, I hopefully will be able to afford one and also have permission from the financial controller to get it.  I threw my two old CRT's out in the council cleanup a couple of months back now.

Today I was able to head down the shed and have a potter around.  I was cutting up some control panels for my phone system that Brendan is fine tuning - I will need 23 of them.  It was then that my son wandered down and asked to run a train.  Why not!  So we did some shunting of the banana train and ran it from Old Cassino through to Grafton Yard.  We then took the Murwillumbah Passenger from Murwillumbah through to Cassino.  On the way I found a few things that I really need to fix up in the timetable. 

The banana train is longer than the loop at Old Cassino.  That is not an issue with it doing its shunting, but it is when something needs to pass it and it could be longer than the loop as well.  Having one overlength train is not an issue.  Having two is!  I will have to revisit the timetable to see if I can tweak it and mabe get the banana train out of the way of the passenger by a few minutes.

I was also trying to throw the points at Murwillumbah that are connected to a DS64 and a mini panel.  It seems I may not have addressed the DS64 yet.  So I did that, I gave it an address and then the 4 points off it also got their accessory addresses.  While I had worked out the coding for the Mini Panel I may not have coded that up either.  Maybe next week.  Lots of half finished jobs.  If I had a to do list - I think it would be depressingly long.

There is still a few jobs to complete on the track before I undertake the next running session.  I think there will be one in August or maybe September.  I will reset the layout back to its starting position before then, and I think, that where ever the session finishes, that is where the trains will start until the session after picks up where we left off.  I really need to have my phone system up before then, so I may need a working bee to install everything.

This week is Tuesday Nighters and Brendan hopefully will have our order for LED's and resistors available for collection.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

More Decoder Work and Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

Tuesday Nighters this week was at Warren's. place  We had a good turnout. Warren was showing off his layout changes and after we moved from the layout area to congregate around his table and cave a cuppa and very nice supper, Brendan was showing off some miniature surface mount LED's - white and red and various surface mount and miniature 1/8 watt resisters. We all decided to share in an order for some of these components that Brendan was going to order. 
Last Friday I was able to get to Jaycar just before closing and I picked up a selection of resistors to use on my 44 Class.  I finally decided on the 180 ohm resistor for both the front and rear headlights.  That was just right.  I then attacked 8028 that I purchased off from Darren, by installing a decoder in it.  I have yet to install LED's in this loco as I'm out of them.  I need to wait for Brendan's order - hopefully at the next Tuesday Nighters.  I then put the decoder in my repainted (and I use that term loosely) Bergs whitemetal 8011.  I had two LED's left over and they are installed on the front and rear headlights on this loco.  I still need to install the cablights in this loco.  The 8028 runs quite well and slightly better than my 8011.  Of course 4425 with sound also runs very well.  So I have two new locos for the roster and one emergency one for small trains in 8011.  I still need to put decals on this loco as well.  Just as I re-read this post - I think I know where I have stashed a couple of LED's  I might be able to fit those headlight and cab lights this week after all.
I have also spent time this weekend installing a decoder in a Powerline 81 Class from Geoff (PK's mate) at the Club.  The decoder to power the motor was very simple to install and runs quite well.  Upgrading the installed lights was a pain in the neck.  The wire used on the lights is solder resistant.  No matter what I do I cannot solder to these wires.  I was trying to have the front and rear headlights wired up to F0, and the front white marker lights and rear red marker lights wired to F2, while the front red marker lights and rear white lights wired to F3.  I just cannot solder the common wires at the number one end together.

Today an old mate and sometimes Tuesday Nighter only at my place, David, came over with a box of locos for me to install decoders into.  These were ebay wins.  Two of the locos turned out to have DCC decoders already installed. One was a BO-BO wheel arrangement from Bachmann (I think) and had a TCS decoder inside, and another was a Bachmann Class 47 and had a 21 pin decoder ready to run - my first glimpse at a 21 pin decoder. I tested both locos on DC and they ran very well and very smoothly.  I opened the locos up and Voila decoders.  Although at first I did not realise that the Class 47 actually had a decoder in it.  It was very small.  I thought it was a plug, but it was a 21 pin decoder.  When this loco was put back on the track, the damn thing would not move. I reset it, poked it, prodded it, did lots more and still no go. The lights worked that was all. So I pulled those darn plastic tabs off that retains the wire for the motor connections and applied jumpers direct from my DC power pack to the motor wires and the motor turned. I'll beat this pommy thing I thought to myself. I soldered those motor connections and Bob's your uncle. It ran well.  I hate that dodgy connection method.  Hard wired soldered connections is the way to go.

After this slight distraction, we tested 5 more locos (mostly Hornby) to install decoders into. That is most of the nights this week and possibly next weekend gone. 

On the home front - My daughter is having a clean out and tidy up of her room, as she wants it repainted, re carpeted and probably some new furniture. She has decided to throw her 'Dolly' out. She received Dolly soon after she was born and it has been in her life ever since. Dolly was originally longer than my daughter was tall.  Dolly used to go everywhere with her. In the car, to bed, watching TV, out into the yard, on holidays, you name it - Dolly has been there.  Dolly has even run trains in the shed.  I'm not sure how many times Dolly has been sewn back together.  Stuffing has been coming out of her head for quite some time.  She is also looking very anemic, compared to when she was much younger.  She has also been spewed on, been through the washing machine many times, and been hung out to dry.  I think she spent about 12 months just sitting at the foot of my daughters bed - still in view and getting the occasional hug before bed.  I must admit I have not seen her for quite some time now, so she had been put away.  Dolly was the second daughter we never had.  We tried to replace (or supplement) Dolly with a lookalike doll quite a few years back in pristine condition but she was just not Dolly.  This one was named Molly.  Dolly also had a cousin Polly that used to live at Grandma house.  But being 9, I don't think my daughter needs Dolly anymore.  I still think I do!  However, Dolly went to the bin today.  Fairwell Dolly!

Monday, July 11, 2011

PC or Blogger?

I have been trying to reply to some comments lately and I can't - it is driving me mad.  I'm not sure if it an issue with my PC or with Blogger itself.  It keeps asking me for my password and nothing gets displayed.

So to the latest comment writers on my blog here is my comment.

Thanks Jonathan. One of our Club members has previously purchased LED's from DCC concepts. They were very happy with their service.  I'm thinking about purchasing either 100 or 500 from an ebay shop.  Also one of the Tuesday nighters was going to get some surface mount LED's of which a few of us were going to share with him.

Iain, I had seen your snap from a yahoo group and while I have my 8040 in Bicentennial colours I can't try and replicate that number specifically. However, mine might me a slightly darker shade of Blue.



Sunday, July 10, 2011

49 Class and 80 Class Experiments and Decoders Everywhere

After last Saturday's trip to the Club and test run of my white metal 49 class, I decided that I would try and add extra pickups.  PK had some phospher bronze wire and Greg provided an article from his blog that showed how he installed extra pickups on a Lima 44 class.  My 49 had pickups on only two wheels on one side of each bogie.  Not very good.  So Monday night I installed the extra pickup wipers on the bogies.  I had 2 wheels one side and 2 other side of each bogie that I connect to the motor.  This gave pickups on 5 of the 6 wheels on each side.  I put it on the track and she ran perfectly.  Truely amazing when comparing how it ran last week.  I used hot glue to mount the phosper bronze wipers in position.  So the additional wiper experiment was a success.

On Tuesday I paid a visit to Toy World in the city and picked up a can of Freight Rail blue spray paint or near enough to have an experiment.  It wasn't until Friday afternoon that I attacked my white metal 80 class shell and removed the old decals and some of the paint. I then masked it up and hit it with my yellow etch primer for the yellow areas of the loco.  They looked good.  I was doing this before I did the Freight Rail blue spray.  I left the yellow etch to dry over night.  On Saturday morning I tried to spray the Blue.  Well it did not turn out as I had hoped.  It was very shiny.  Far too shiny.  So out came the trusty dull coat and now the loco is much more prototypical in blue colour.  It still needs another spray of dull coaat and then it will really need some heavy weathering as there are some really bad blemishes on few panels.  When it is finished I will post some photos.  I think it will end up being numbered 8011.  Knowing my luck we will find out the 8011 was never in Freight Rail blue colour scheme.

PK also dropped off my new Tsunami sound decoder at work on Tuesday (I think).  On Friday afternoon I also installed that into my Trainorama 4425 in tuscan.  It was a very easy install.  I then hooked up the existing lights to the 12V supply and they are way too bright.  But I haven't got a resister of the correct value to make them dimmer - not that I know what that is.  This are driving me crazy.  They won't light on the 1.5 volt circuit and on the 12 V supply from the decoder they are too bright.  I had decided to leave the bulbs that come with the 44 Class loco installed, as I do not have any white 3mm LED's left.  LED's are so much simpler to wire.

On the way back to the Club on Saturday, I went via Austral Modelcraft and picked up a 4 pack of NCE decoders.  Today one was installed into the mechanism for the white metal 80 Class I have been trying to paint up.  Yesterday I also received an order from one of the members to install a decoder into his Powerline dual motor loco.  Wiring the marker and ditch lights is going to be a pain but I will do that as well.  Hopefully I will pick up another 80 class loco from Darren on Tuesday night and I will also install a decoder in that loco next weekend.  While at the Club, I installed two decoders into two 44 class locos belonging to the 81 class owner.  As they were drop-ins, it took longer to remove and re-install the KD's in the 44's than it took to put in the decoders.  We also had someone else want some more decoders for their Aussie locos.  That cleaned out the Club shop of drop-in decoders.  Looks like another trip over to Austral next weekend for more than a dozen decoders for the shop.  I also showed a new prospective member at the Club yesterday how to program his two DL class locos which had NCE drop in decoders.  While at Austral on Saturday, Ray also showed me an ALCO version of a sound only decoder from MRC.  I might have to do a bit of a Google on that decoder this week as it could be an option for my next 44 Class or even an 80 class in the future.

I think I also need to order a bulk order of 3mm white LED's this week from somewhere.  See ya next week.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Go the Maroons - 6 in a row

While I might model the railways of NSW I certainly do not support them in football.  I have 100% Maroon blood pulsing through my veins.  So for those south of the border, I thought I might just rub it in.

Here the kids are celebrating the 6th series win in a row.  Kyle has his "Try Time Queensland" T-shirt on with the cane toad on the front.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Week in Review - Reveals More on the To-do List

My 44 Class loco from Tom's Ebay store turned up on Friday.  I gave it a test run on my short test track and it runs well as you would expect - very well indeed.  I now have to wait until maybe Tuesday for the sound decoder to turn up.  This coming weekend I will install that.

During the week, I also missed out on an 80 Class loco on ebay.  Some bugger pipped me by $2.50 with about 2 minutes to go in the auction while I was in the shed on Tuesday night.  It didn't worry me that much.  However, while telling the guys in the shed that I had lost, Darren mentioned that he had a couple of 80 Class locos that he wanted to sell.  They do not fit his era and he does not need as many as he has.  So we agreed on a price he wanted for them.  However, Darren continues to eye off some of my 3 letter coded OnTrack models.  The three letter coded wagons don't really fir into my era, but I always thought that one or two might have slipped through re-coding into my layout era.  It is my layout and what I say goes - remember Rule #1.  So I might hand over the cash for one of Darren's 80 class locos and do a swap for 3 wagons for the other loco if he is amicable to that fact.  I plan to pick up a 4-pack of decoders this weekend if the LHS has them in stock.  So these two 80's will receive a decoder the weekend following swap over.

I went for a drive down the coast today to pick up a phone that I had plans to use on my layout for the phone circuit.  However, on closer inspection once I got it back home, it may not be compatible.  Oh well.  While out last night I missed an auction that was ending and that phone went for $0.99.  Bugger!

On Tuesday this week, we had a cosy time in the shed.  Eleven guys turned up.  Geoff, brought along his recently tuned 49 class to show off its sound.  It was very nicely configured.  So well done, that three other guys in attendance who had a 49 class with teh same sound chip installed wanted a copy of the JMRI file Geoff used for that loco so they could import it into their systems.  Brendan brought along the current incarnation of the brains for our intercom system.  We plugged in 4 headsets and had two guys speaking.  It worked very well.  I've done some calculations, and I will have up to 22 plug in points scattered around the layout as well as North Coast Control on the system.  I hope that does not throw Brendan's design out of kilter.  However, it only has to have up to 8 headsets plugged in at any point in time.

Yesterday morning I spent a few minutes down the shed fiddling.  I decided to try and remember why an old 49 class (whitemetal version) was on its side near the work bench.  It had been in this state for well over 10 years.  I pulled it apart and the motor ran when I made power connections direct to the motor.  That was a good start.  But one set of drive wheels was not turning.  I realised that the universal was free wheeling on the motor shaft.  So I hit it with a touch of superglue and let it dry.  Gave it another test.  Well it worked.  Fancy that.  I took it over to the Club later that afternoon to give it a good run in.  It ran like cr@p.  I think it is the two wheel pick up on each bogie.  So I will look at installing additional pickups next weekend. 

While still in the testing mindset, I pulled out an old mechanism that came with a 85 class chassis many many years ago - it had to be more than 10 years ago.  It was labelled that it did not work when I purchased it and I never tested it.  It was always a future project.  I was looking at moving shell and non working mechanism on myself.  But I thought I would give the motor a test.  Well it ran when I attached probes to the motor terminals.  Fancy that!  It was an Atlas mech, and it does not have a connection from the two bogies to one side of the motor.  That is all it needs - well apart from converting it to DCC.  So I might look at that in the future.

I also have an old Lima mechanism from one of those South African diesel locos that I kitbashed to power my first Berg's 80 Class Loco.  This 80 was painted up as a Bicentennial 8010.  With the Austrains 80's available this loco was never converted to DCC and has never run on my layout.  I gave it a test on the test track and it still runs very well.  Hmmm!  While I did a pretty good job of my first masking paint job, about 10 years ago maybe more, I never wanted to modify this shell.  But I am now thinking that I might paint over this shell so I can get another 80 class loco into service with this hybrid mechanism and put another DCC chip in.  I think I will give it the Blue all over colour.

Not much time for trains this week as I'm spending time on a job application, as there are some higher paying jobs advertised at work that close this Friday.  And you know what they say - "you have to be in it to win it".  I think I will need to relax next Friday night and next weekend after the stress of completing the job application this week.