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

DDMRC layout

HO Scale Buildings

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.