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.