Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Post for 2012

Today I went down the shed to fix up a few things that went wrong on Saturday.  I had to solder one track wire in South Brisbane, two wires to a control panel at Murwillumbah and fix a few screws that needed tightening around Old Cassino.

Shelton came over to seek some assistance on his Y class which had seized.  Unfortunately I could not assist.  So we turned our attention to ironing out a few more rollingstock issues.

Anyway we ran a few trains trying to iron out a few bugs.  We ran the steel train from one end of the layout to the other and back again.  We ran a container train from one end to the other and back again.  We fixed a few coupler height issues.  We fixed a few bogies being too tight.  We packed the track in about 3 places to remove some dips etc..  We re-aligned the track in a couple of places, ever so slightly to remove a few ever so light kinks. 

Later this afternoon I went back down the shed and fixed the coupler height issue on my candy 4848.  I then ran the North Coast Motorrail train from Murwillumbah to Grafton and return.  I fixed a few issues with the motor rail wagon couplings.  A also returned another first class sitting wagon to traffic on the motorrail.  I think I will have to add about two more before the next session as well.  Tonight just after dinner I ran the paper train back and forth and again found a bogie too tight and not allowing enough swinging.  I swapped off the last wagon for another Trainorama wagons but a later one without cookie cutter wheels.  I also added an Auscision NLKY to the consist for something different and it still fits into the various loops.

There was a very sad occurance this afternoon in the shed.  44224 hauling the North Coast Motorrail while travelling from Lismore to Murwillumbah took a dive onto the floor.  It was only the Loco that took the unscheduled trip.  All coaches stayed on the track.  It made a bit smash as I was up the other end of the shed waiting for it to come into Murwillumbah.  The wife said she heard me saying something - I couldn't imaging what (?) from her position back inside the house.  The loco was in all sorts of pieces.  Both bogies came off.  The shell came off the chassis in one full piece - I was expecting it to be in about a dozen pieces.  The universals came off and the small bearings that fit the universals into the bogies were also recovered.   The clips that hold the drive train to the bogies also came off and were recovered.  The buffing plates were also broken off.  The two staff exchanger detail items came off.  Only one was recovered and was re-attached successfully.  I took all the items to the workbench and performed life saving surgery.  The KD's were good.  The front of the chassis was bent.  No wonder, it took the full brunt of the fall.  I attempted to unbend it - it seemed to work.  I re-attached the bogies.  I reglued the buffing plates back on.  All LEDs still worked.  It would not run.  I observed that one wire came off the motor.  This was soldered back on.  I tested it again and it ran.  I oiled it up, put it back on the track and it still runs just as good as it did before.  No one will ever know!

So all in all, a very productive day.  Maybe I might run another 3 or 4 trains tomorrow from one end to the other and back again.  I will eventually reset the trains to where they should be for a 12 noon restart for the next running session.

Happy New Year to all my followers and especially my Operating Crew and the Tuesday Nighters.  Let's hope I win $1,000 in lotto soon, so I can finish all the outstanding track work ready for the next running session.  But then I need to buy 2 x XPT sets, pay for my 2 x 73 class locos, pay the balance of my 81 class loco on order, then buy a few 48 class locos to replace my powerline and trax locos.  Maybe I need $5,000.  We can but dream!

May your 2013 be productive and prosperous.  May everyone have good health and humour for the following year.

My aim is to hit 100,000 hits on my blog by May 2013.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Running Day Leadup and Update

So far this week, I have had completed the staff machine install for the Clapham Yard to South Brisbane Interstate section, and then made all the plug in points for intercom system for the new top deck. I’ve cleaned most of the track, cleaned the desk for North Coast Control, and installed a 5th Amp Meter in the control panel for the new section from Acacia Ridge to South Brisbane. I’m still down one NCE EB1 but I think we will get by for the next session. I’ve hung up the timetable diagrams, got the timetable cards ready.
Friday morning I mowed the grass and watched what was left of the cricket. Then after that finished I made my way to the shed and I installed the communication system for the top deck and found one other headset socket that was not working for talking. You could hear all right. While testing the others, I also broke one plug in point, by pushing the stereo plug too hard and it went all the way through the board. I fixed it though by adding a washer under the nut holding it together.
I also wired up the top deck power bus (section 5) through one of my NCE EB1 circuit breakers. I found it easier than wiring up sections 3 and 4. I had forgotten to wire these to the track bus. Well at least section 3 has a track bus laid, but no jumpers connected to it. That is one of the tasks to finish before the next running session.
In preparation I placed all the trains ready for the running session that now needed to start at the top deck instead of their previous start positions. I thought I had all the magnets made up for the North Coast Controller to use to help track the trains, until early on Saturday when I could not find one. I’ll fix that for next time. The fridge was full of soft drinks and on Saturday Morning the boss picked up another carton of beer - isn't she so nice, which was cooled down ready for use after lunch. The pergola was cleaned out and the BBQ prepared. While I had worked my little behind off getting everything ready, I really think I still needed another good week of work to improve everything.
That was when it all started - Organised Mayhem!. At 11:30am I fired up the BBQ and we had a crew complement of 11 come for the initial BBQ.
The last batch of snags with the first batch of onions.  Photo by Shelton.

The northsiders whom carshared arrived.  Photo by Shelton.

Darren tucking into a snag.  Photo by Shelton.

Geoff the last to arrive, but still got a snag or two.  Photo by Shelton.

A few other invitees could not make it. Boy was it crowed in the shed. It was hot, sticky, so we shut the door and the air conditioner got a workout trying to keep us cool. As we were about to start the running session, I had no power to section 1. The wires had come off my multimeter showing amperage pulled in that section. They was screwed back on and we were ready to roll. I handed out the headsets and the lanyards that allow the timetables to be clipped to and allow storage of the pen to make notations on the timetable and suggest things to improve.  The crew took timetable sheets, the fastclock was started and we were off.
Greg assumed the North Coast Control position and did a sterling job without any direction from me. I’m not sure I could do that without myself telling me what to do. As usual we had a few issues. Most were on the top deck. I ran two new trains, my Bachmann tamper, and my rail train. Both had problems. The tamper ran so slowly. I think I might have a bind in the gear train, but it did run. The rail train lost a coupler in The Risk Loop. It just snapped off. I had to take the wagon away and replace the dummy coupler with a KD and put it back into the consist. It was then able to resume to its destination at Kyogle.
The railtrain at The Risk Loop, with the missing wagon in the shop getting a replacement KD in lieu of the dummy knuckle that was there before.  Photo by Shelton.
My steel train had a slight issue at Cougal Spiral.  What speed was it doing?  Photo by Shelton.
My dual gauge points were causing problems mostly in one direction of travel. We had some trains go way past their allocated destination. I don’t know how to stop that. We still had trains taken out of order from the timetable cards. I have one train (one that runs for a couple of hours fast clock time, complete its run) when the two trains before it have not even left their source location yet. This problem causes all sorts of issues with crosses not occurring, some trains not being in locations when wagons get transferred from train to train. I had someone wanting to run a train from point B to its original source at point A even before it got to its original destination point B from point A.
We had a couple of corn field meets.  Some caused by equipment failure.  Others by a lack of understanding but that will improve with practice.  Some crews were not taking the staff before they entered a section, and then other crew members thought there was no one in the section so they took a staff and left from the other end. It was not pretty.  On the top deck we had one train go straight into the wall, as its locos had come from Loco Pilly light engine before coupling up to the train. When the train left, it went straight back into Loco Pilly before hitting the wall with a big thud because no one checked the points were set correctly. Kaboom!  Some of the issues were quite funny - but I could not show that I thought some of them were funny as this was meant to be a serious shake down run.
A points failure at Murwillumbah.  The cement train took the loop instead of running through on the main.  It ran into the branch line container waiting to depart.  Photo by Shelton.
After our first break, things settled down and operation returned to some normality. If I could remove all issues with derailments, uncouplings, and loco issues, more trains would run to time. We would then get further through the timetable. However, we had a number of firsts.
First cross of trains at Clapham Yard - the Container to Fisherman Island branch (not finished yet) crossign with the Up Paper Train heading down south.  The Container just terminated at Clapham Yard.

The first passenger train to South Brisbane.  The Locos running around.

Apart from that issues mentioned above, we had lots of good running. Many trains got to where they were supposed to go and had minimal issues. 

A standard ballast train split over the two tracks at Bonalbo Ballast Sidings.

The brains trust - Darren, PK and Geoff.  I have no idea what they were conspiring about.

Some of the crew with a train coming down off the dual gauge into Acacia Ridge Yard.

The Mountain Goat heading from Cassino to Border Loop and passing the paper train at Fairy Hill Loop coming the other way.

The view from train control out between the decks.

An overall view of the train room from train control over the top deck at South Brisbane.  Some of the crew are visible running their trains.
I look forward to finding out what the guys think I need to improve before the next session. This may be mid year-ish. I will definitely try to wire up the control panels for Clapham Yard, Loco Pilly, Dutton Park, Park Road, and South Brisbane before then. I will also progress more scenery before the next session.
Thanks to all the crew for taking the time out of their holiday period to help run trains on my layout. It is much appreciated.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Day at the Club Cutting Wood

On Thursday morning I made my way across town to the Club. Our President on the previous Wednesday had picked up an order of 12 sheets of 2400 x 1200 x 4mm MDF from our local supplier – Janden Wood Products. We use these to make up storage trays that we fit foam inlays into – from Hanovale. We get Janden to make the four laser cuts along the 2400mm side at 43.5cm across each sheet. That makes it easier for us when we get the wood back to the Club rooms.  We don't have to man handle 2400 x 1200 sheets of MDF in the Triton workbenches.
So at 9:00am I arrived at the Club to find two other members waiting for me. Soon after Darryl and his father-in-law Don arrived. Then there was a good stream of about 8 other Club Members turning up for our tray making working bee. We had 2 and a half Triton saw benches turn up. Don’t ask how a half a Triton turned up – for that you will have to ask our Vice President – Greg. As we had quite enough guys working on the Tritons, Greg took to mowing the grass on our Club’s Ride-on mower. PK and a few others were filling up the Club trailer with various junk that we found from a clean up of the Clubrooms.
So, in about 1 hour, we cut up 152 tray bases - 43.5cm x 32cm. We cut up about 301 long sides for the trays and about 270 short sides for the trays. Don’t worry about the odd numbers as we had a few extra sides (both long and short) left over in the Club Shop from our last production run. We even still have a few we made for the OO guys left over (which we make about 1cm higher). We sell the trays in kit form of 1 base, 2 long sides and 2 short sides for $2.00. Members just need to put the trays together - glue and small tacks. These trays are just great, as well as storing rollingstock, and locomotives in the foam inlays from Hanovale which we get in HO and N scale, with the rebates running both longways and crossways, we can put tools in them, plans, books, electrical items, finished models, paints, and the list of uses is literally endless. I must have over 40 of these trays scattered around my shed with various items in them. Selling the trays provides a source of income for the Club.
I did take my camera over to the Club to record the happenings, but things moved so fast that I did not take any photos.
I would like to thank all those members who turned up on the day ready for work and helped out with teh various tasks.
On my way home, I popped into Jaycar at Aspley to pick up a few items I needed to finish off the Intercom system for the top deck of the layout. No sooner had I started rummaging through the resistor trays, when I heard “Hi Craig, how are you? You’re a long way from home”. It was a fellow railway modeller – Tyler,working at what I assume is his day job. The people you see in all sorts of strange places and what is even stranger is that they know me!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!  Let's hope the big fella in the red suit brought lots of modelling presents.

This morning just before lunch I was able to get down to the shed for about one and half hours.  I fixed the staff machine for the Glenapp to Acacia Ridge section, and successfully installed the staff machine for the Acacia Ridge to Clapham Yard section.  I have commenced the install for the next staff section from Clapham Yard and am about to install the intermediate staff machine for Loco Pilly.  Tomorrow I will continue with the intermediate staff machine for Park Road and then the staff machine for South Brisbane Interstate.

I'm gradually getting things ticked off my To-Do list for next Saturday.

Monday, December 24, 2012

More Progress – But Really – More of Who’s a Dork!

On Friday afternoon I nicked off early for the start of my Christmas break. That afternoon I made my way over to Austral Modelcraft to pick up another left hand curve point. This was installed on Saturday morning and thus ended the project of making Clapham Yard usable in its most basic form. Following completion of laying the track, I started soldering up the main track bus wire from the southern end of Clapham Yard, through the yard, up the northern end, into the tracks in Loco Pilly and up to Dutton Park. I could not resist and ran an 80 class through all the tracks in Clapham Yard and up to Dutton Park. The first stage of wiring was working well.
I went out shopping on Saturday afternoon. I acquired some more bus wire and stereo plugs from Jaycar, I also visited Bunnings for some more wood screws, pine and some plasterers angle. I also went to Aldi for the boss and saw a very nice modeller’s knife set for $14.99. That would make a nice Christmas Gift to a modelling husband or father. On Saturday night I spent some time fixing up a few issues with my timetable for next Saturday and printing out the changed pages. The pages were then cut up into 74 individual time cards ready for next weekend and arranging them in sequence number order. Actually there are two copies of the timetable - one for the drivers and one for North Coast Control to monitor progress.
On Sunday I went down to the shed for a couple of hours late morning. I continued wiring up the track bus – heading north. After joining up the section before Dutton Park to that after Dutton Park, I turned on the power in the hope of running the test train from Loco Pilly where it stabled yesterday all the way into South Brisbane. I turned on the power and wouldn’t you know it "Dead Short". That had me scratching my head for a while. Where was the problem? And how to track it down?  It came back to the old divide and conquer method. I narrowed the problem down to being in Park Road Sidings. Upon closer examination, it turned out that there were two points at the northern end of the sidings, that were electrofrog points and they did not have insulated joiners on the two middle rails. Only a Dork would do this. In my defence, the rails on these points were fairly dirty and I could not tell they were eleftrofrog points. So I put the insulated joiners in, tested it again and voila. Park Road Sidings were now working.
So I then joined Park Road Sidings back up with the main to South Brisbane, and ran another test. Another Dead Short! So out with my stool to be able to view the fan out of tracks into South Brisbane, and wouldn’t you know it, there were three more electrofrog points in here as well. Three! That is unbelievable. I’ve laid over 200 sets of points on the layout and this is the worst occurrence of this issue ever. I am now a dead set certainty for the Dork of the Year Award. Again these three points where very dirty, and it was not until I cleaned the points that I discovered that they were electrofrogs. So after adding the insulated joiners, I cleaned the track around South Brisbane and retested and everything was fine apart from a few nail heads sticking up too high. But they were also easily fixed. So I now have run a loco all the way into the stop blocks at Platform one at South Brisbane Interstate.
However, in doing my testing, I removed the dual gauge point at Dutton Park to test it electrically, as my first thought was that this was the cause of the short. It tested out fine.  It was not until this afternoon that I re-installed it, and ran an 80 class and two track cleaning wagons through it about 10 times.
The next task following that was to lay all the sidings in Loco Pilly. That took about half an hour. I still need to add some bracing underneath the baseboard to Loco Pilly. So that should be completed later this week. I will then start on the staff machines from Acacia Ridge north. I also need to fix the staff machine from Glenapp to Acacia Ridge as I caused some damage to it as I was removing the switch from the panel.  All easily fixed.
That still leaves the need to install the intercom system for the locations north of Acacia Ridge to South Brisbane, build the extension to the signal panel for new area, and then stable the trains ready for the session. Each of these tasks could conceivably take a good day’s work. Time is running out for before next Saturday’s Running Day.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Change of Pace

On Monday this week at work, the latest copy of Model Railroader was sent around for reading. I saw a photo of a nice scene and noticed in one of the warehouses what appeared to be some of those metal shelving systems, most commonly used in everyone’s garage or workshop or shed. So I thought that I might make one or two. Guess what I have in my garage? A set of shelves. A quick look at mine, while turning on the Christmas lights for the night and they were about 5 foot high, about 4 foot wide and just over 12 inches deep. They had 5 shelves. So some quick calculations 5 x 3.5, 4 x 3.5 and I went down to the shed a rummaged through my styrene collection of channel and strip.
This is what transpired.
Two sets of shelves.  One is 4 shelves high at about 5 foot, while the other is 3 shelves high at just over 3 foot.
I used some 0.020" x 0.020" for the uprights and two different types of channel.  Pretty simple!  Saturday morning I hit them with the grey undercoat.  I couldn't find any silver paint to give it the galvanised look.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Who's a Dork?

Answer this ....

The track leading to Clapham Yard
The point at the start of the fan out for Clapham Yard


Who’s a dork?

Well this Thursday I created two new dual gauge points for my Clapham Yard. I glued this together and cut the wheel flangeways with the dremel on Friday night. Saturday morning I was all enthusiastic about laying the track through the southern end of Clapham Yard.  Just as I jumped up upon my chair to get access to the work area, to work out where I’d splice the point in, that is when it hit me.  If you didn't guess, the third rail was on the wrong side. Doh! What a let down. I had almost completed the point at the northern end of Clapham Yard as well.
The point for the northern end of Clapham Yard

So I had to wait for the boss to come home from shopping before I could nick out to the local hobby shop, in this case Austral Modelcraft to buy two more sets of points - ones to replace the two I had stuffed up. While I was waiting, I cut and shaped the various lengths of code 83 rail to get spliced into the new dual gauge sets of points I was about to create. So straight after she arrived home, I made my way out and came back straight away. I then sat at my modelling desk (the kitchen table) and glued the new third rails in. Last night I took out the dremel and cut the flangeways in. They seem to work quite well. I also added the third rail to two more lengths of flexy track.
Today I started to cut the points in at the southern end of Clapham Yard. I will be able to run into the yard once the wiring is complete.
How the southern end of Clapham Yard worked out!
I have laid the first three tracks through Clapham Yard.  The first two will be standard gauge and the third will be dual gauge.  I also spliced the point in coming from the north for the entry to Loco Pilly.
The point that will lead into Loco Pilly.
I think I will need a left hand medium point and a 3 way point inside the Loco facilities. That should allow me to stage at least five lots of double headers. I may be able to even put a triple header in one of the roads. So I may be able to have this complete by the end of December. I then put in the small amount of track from the Loco Pilly points to the northern end of Clapham Yard followed by the point at that end of Clapham Yard.
The Northern end of Clapham yard.  Loco Pilly is on the left in this picture.  On the level below (on the right of the picture) is the southern end of Glenapp Loop.

I’m still tossing up if I will replace the left hand point I have here for the the standard gauge tracks 1 and 2 with a left hand curve point. I think it will improve the track geometry just that little bit.
So little by little the track is being completed. I actually ran a loco up to the first point at the southern end of Clapham Yard today. I have started installing droppers for the track bus at the southern end of Clapham yard. I will continue installing track droppers for the northern end of Clapham yard and installing the track bus this week atnight and into next weekend.
I still have to install the signal panels at the southern and northern end of Clapham Yard, the panel for Loco Pilly, the panel for Dutton Park, Park Road’s Panel and the main panel for South Brisbane Interstate. This needs to be followed by the staff machines for the two staff sections from Acacia Ridge to Clapham Yard and Clapham Yard to South Brisbane, as well as the most important part – to get trains running into South Brisbane.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

For the first time in I don’t know how long I actually went down to the shed during the week at night - last Tuesday. I cut up the boards for my 6 plug in panels for the headsets to be plugged into on the top deck extension. I still need to buy the stereo plugs to complete teh plug in points, which will probably be a job for next weekend. While in the shed, I found another set of peco points and started to construct another dual gauge point from these. Well it is only dual gauge on one direction, while it is standard on both. I had previously realised that the Tillig point I had allocated for Dutton Park, to split the dual gauge to Fisherman Islands with the standard gauge for South Brisbane, had the third rail on the wrong side of the track compared to the track running up the other side of the shed towards Dutton Park and it actually was the wrong type. Whoops! It was a left hand point, and I would have preferred a right hand point for better geometry in this location. So I put one together except for super gluing the rails in place where they cut over the standard gauge rail. I eventually did that while at the Club on Saturday afternoon before our meeting and subsequent Christmas BBQ and modelling competition.
When I came up from the shed on Tuesday I sat down and desk checked my timetable graph for the next operating session to determine how many trains were to cross in Clapham Yard in the timetable. To my amazement, there are none. However, there is one train that sits in the yard for a lot of the day, and some other wagons which will also be shunted around between trains eventually will also be based there. So really I only need to lay Clapham Yard with two tracks to get things operable for December. I then started to check out how big I needed to make Loco Pilly. I think I might have underestimated how much space I need here. I need storage space for locos for 6 trains. Actually one will be a CPH with a trailer, the others will be a mixture of single, double and triple headers. I might have to trim down some of my light engine movements from Destination to Loco and back to the train again.
Saturday morning started off with a trip to Ray’s Shop and I picked up 14 lengths of track and 4 lengths of code 83 rail for my scratch building points effort over Christmas. I showed off my kitbashed dual gauge points to a few guys at the Club and got some good feedback. At least it seems to work. One of our Club members asked me if I wanted to buy his 442 class that I had previously offered to buy from him. I said yep. So we worked out a price and paid him. It was the price he paid for it about 12 months ago when he bought it second hand from a local shop. I was very happy with the price, so was he. Have you seen how much they are going for on Ebay? So I’m now the proud owner of a new second hand candy 44238. Today I put it on my test track and turned on DC. Nothing! I thought I might have been sold a dud. I took it apart and realised that it had an NCE D14SR decoder in it. So I turned on my Powercab and checked out what address it was configured as. Well it had 4238 as its long address. So I entered that and it still did not run. So I zeroed out CV19, the consist address and away she went. What a bargain!
Candy 44238 sitting in the Loco Road at South Brisbane 
When I returned from the Club – The family was out at a dance concert for Paige, so I took out 8 lengths of track and cut away 9 sleepers on one side of the point. This was in preparation for today when I stripped the rails off three lengths of track and cut up some PC board and soldered the rails onto 6 of the lengthsas the third rail that I had prepared the night before. Five of the lengths have been soldered straight, while the sixth has been left floating as this needed to join up with the dual gauge point that I finished yesterday at the Club. It takes me about 15 minutes to add the third rail to each length. I then went down to the shed and joined the 5 straight lengths together on the baseboard shelf along the wall and then added the floating end piece. I then joined the dual gauge point up to the lead from Park Road, and added the floating length. This will be soldered up at a later date – no rush yet.
The track up the narrow shelf to the Dutton Park point
Testing a train through the point
 I then went down to the other end of the track coming up from Acacia Ridge yard and temporarily installed a point here to form the start of Clapham Yard. I then laid the track through the first road in the yard to the other end and that is when I ran out of steam. I have positioned the track and points at the far end and for the second road through the yard to where it forms the curve from the end of the Yard to where the point for Loco Pilly will be installed maybe one night this week. 
This track at the Northern End of Clapham yard is temporary.
Where Loco Pilly will branch off.
I have realised that I need to control the point at Dutton Park as I can’t reach it. I will have to secure the track at this point to the basebaord and the point motor as well.  I will then run some wires from a panel (which I made this afternoon) with two push buttons on it, to a nearby Mini Panel. This will then send commands to one of my new DS64 point controllers and operate the point motor. Simple stuff really, but it takes a while to wire all this up. Again maybe a job for either this week or next weekend. 
The paper train was pushed back and forward through the point and it ran well.

This photo shows that there are no flat areas on my layout.  There is a grade (ever so slight) everywhere.

So work it progressing and I think I’m still on track for my running day. I might even have some track runable next weekend.
While running the paper train back and forth on top top deck. I realised that I needed some sort of indicator for being clear of a set of points. I already have a method of indicating where the uncouplers are located.  Maybe a different colour on the side of the track - yellow maybe?
This photo shows how I indicate where an uncoupling magnet is located in the track.  These are located at Murwillumbah underneath the top deck and difficult to get to for those with back problems.

A photo looking across Fairy Hill Farm from upon the hill on the far side of the track.  A great train spotter's location.  I expect to see Shelton there one day!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Firing on all Cylinders

This last week, it has been nose to the grindstone at work. It seems I was the only one in my team flat out. Some were just cruising while I was working on quite a number of high profile and high value contracts, bids and re-signings. They say life is not fair and that is so true.
Once I got home from work this week, there was no time to do anything except spend Tuesday night at Barry’s place with the rest of the crew for our fortnightly get together. Basically, the conversation centered around the recent New England Convention. As usual a great night. Just before we left, Barry donated a number of lengths and part lengths of peco track. These will certainly come in hand in one of my yards – potentially Fisherman Islands. Train related activities did not resurface until Friday. I came home from work mid afternoon and spent one hour in the shed working on my “Dual Gauge point” and packing my Procab-R and a few tools into a box to take to Darren’s place. At about 6:30pm Shelton and myself hopped in my car and we went down the highway to Darren’s place for a BBQ dinner and a running session on his layout. We were met by Geoff, Peter, Brendan and Paul. A great turn out. We certainly gave the layout a good shake down. I don’t think there has ever been a branch line is history that ran so many trains. Every track in every loop, siding and main line had something on it.  The BBQ was just great as was the beer.  A great idea Darren - Thanks!
Later that night while at Darren’s place, as everyone else was running trains, I decided to sit at Darren’s work bench and try it out.  Comfy chair, nice height, plenty of light.  So I took out my “dual gauge point” and did a bit of filing, a bit of super gluing, and added three check rails. I can now place a narrow gauge bogie on the point tilt the point and see the narrow gauge bogie run through the point without derailing just under its own momentum. It even runs back the other way when you tilt it back the other way. I’m quite impressed. It is certainly not perfect but I think it will work quite well. I will add a bit of 12mm track to each end and push some 12mm wagons through the point, one way and then the other and see how well they work.
The point in question.  The top left track will lead into Loco Pilly.  The right leads towards Dutton Park and the branch to either South Brisbane Interstate or Fisherman Islands.  The track to the bottom left leads to Clapham Yard.
On Saturday I was on fire! I started off by mowing the yard. Trimming some trees out the front and out the back. Then hung the washing out as well as doing the washing up as the Boss went out shopping with Paige. Then after sitting down for 5 minutes, I started cutting out the holes for all the switches and bi-colour LED’s in my staff panels. This was quickly done and all switches were installed into the panels. I had a look through my electrical box and found that I had all the bi-colour LED’s that I need to make these all work. That will save a trip to Jaycar. I then started attacking the narrow gauge yard at Acacia Ridge. I installed three sets of points, and most of the track that I was given down at the New England Convention. As this was going on I found a few lengths of HO track that I will use to lay between Dutton Park and Loco Pilly in the new few weeks. I then decided to make the power supplies that I need for the two staff sections Acacia Ridge to Clapham and Clapham to South Brisbane (including Dutton Park to Fisherman Islands). Searching through my box of electrical bits and pieces I found I already had two power supplies made up. So I put together a third from existing components as I always try and have a working spare available to swap in if one goes pear shaped during a running session. I then drilled holes in all the staff instruments to enable me to attach them to the layout. I then turned my attention to the schematic diagram for the section north of Acacia Ridge. I went fossicking for and found a sheet of tin that I will use for the Schematic extension. I then cut this up with tin snips so it will fit in the space I have available. This will be abov ethe existing panel.  I then went into the house and started drawing the track layouts for the top deck locations - Acacia Ridge Narrow Gauge Yard, Clapham Yard, Loco Pilly, Dutton Park, Fisherman Islands, Park Road and South Brisbane Interstate. I think I have these pretty well drawn out, I just need to try and get some more of the magic tape that Darren used in making my main schematic diagram. I think I will do the dual gauge track in a different colour to the existing trackage and also the narrow gauge track in a different colour again. I then did a few doodles for how Clapham Yard and Fisherman Islands could be laid out in alternate arrangements. My first option is to have four tracks at these locations and have all the tracks as dual gauge. What this means is I need to build a lot of dual gauge sets of points. Following that I watched a bit of cricket and then put up all the outside Christmas lights and gave them a test.
Not bad for an easy Saturday.
I think over the next two weekends I will try and lay the dual gauge track from Dutton Park to Loco Pilly. That means I need to solder on a third rail to a number of lengths of flex track. I have enough lengths, but I might go and buy another ten lengths of track from the local hobby shop so it is laid in nice new track. That will leave me the following couple of weekends to lay a temporary Clapham Yard before my next running day. That goes without saying I still have to get the staff machines working and the intercom plug in points for the top deck working before the running session as well. I still need to connect the bus to the top deck and lay some more bus wire from where it currently ends back to Acacia Ridge Yard.  So more importantly I need to get the track working on the top deck.  Now that reminds me of more work I need to do in wiring up two other sections of track bus to the existing NCE EB1's.  No rest for the wicked!
I will cut up the panels for the headset plug in points during this coming week.  I will then drill out the holes for the push buttons (which I already have) and then fit the stereo sockets (which I don't have).  I will purchase the stereo sockets next week, along with more wire on the way to the Club Rooms for our Annual Christmas Party and modelling competition.
Plenty of time to get all the work done before the Running Session .... Not!
The completed view of South Brisbane Interstate.  The three tracks on the far right are the ones I added last weekend.

The paper train is shunting north out onto the Main Line from Park Road Sidings.

Underneath South Brisbane are the two Digitrax DS64 which are already connected to the power bus.

Between South BRisbane Interstate and Park Road is where the new Mini Panel was located.  It is connected into the cab bus.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Inspiration has Returned

On Monday this week, I was still in Armidale after the New England Model Railway Convention. We checked out at about 8:30am and started our trip north, back to Brisbane. 
The Convoy with Geoff hauling Splitters in front and us in the rear
We got to Guyra and pulled over and took a few photos of the Station Precinct. Just as we were going, Bob from my Club and his wife pulled up with the same idea as us and went into the Station Precinct, as we left it.
The Goods Shed

Our next stop was about 3km up the road at the Guyra Stock Yards. These are located about 20 feet from the road on a slight embankment. We took a few photos and resumed our way north. While there the Toowoomba boys pulled up, again with the same idea as us.

The lower loading race

The upper loading race.  How fortunate, someone was on the access race next to where the sheep load.

The Toowoomba Guys arrive en mass.

Our next stop was at Rohan’s Bolivia layout in Glen Innes. It just looks brilliant. He has started on another similar layout next to Bolivia, which I think can either be joined up to Bolivia or separated from it. Some of the major scenic items have already been built and sections of track are laid. This will look every bit as good as Bolivia.  My travelling buddies and I must thank Rohan’s wife, for a fantastic morning tea of sandwiches, cake, tea and coffee. It was absolutely scrumptious, was much appreciated and delivered with true country hospitality.
The cattle/sheep loading races on Bolivia.

The new section.  Ssshhh!  Don't tell anyone you've seen it!

A fantastic hay shed.

This is how the layout is operated.

Again just as we were leaving Rohan’s place the next group of Queensland Modellers turned up. Upon leaving Glen Innes, we headed up the road back towards Brisbane and I took numerous snaps out the window of the car for modelling purposes.
This week my brain has been working overtime, planning what I need to accomplish before I can have my next running session. First of all on Wednesday night, I did a desk check of the latest version of the timetable, and I found out that I need to have 10 drivers at numerous times throughout the timetable to run it satisfactorily. Now that assumes that we don’t have a train or two running late, while the other trains are starting out or mid journey. This is of course on top of the North Coast Control position and the Yard Master for the two yards at Grafton and Acacia Ridge. I also like to have one person running round doing odd jobs in case something fails, like the headphone system, a staff machine in a section, or a set of points is giving some difficulty. This allows the session to continue while these issues are investigated and hopefully resolved.
On Thursday I picked up a few DS64 point controllers from a mate, and on Saturday I installed them under the layout at South Brisbane and Park Road. On Friday I installed two of the new points I picked up in Armidale into South Brisbane Yard. Saturday I also picked up my third NCE Mini Panel and installed it at South Brisbane. I also connected that to the cab bus to the new Mini Panel and the track bus to two of the DS64’s. I still need to connect the track bus to the third DS64. I also made a trip to Jaycar and picked up another two rolls of wire to allow me to connect up the two control panels at Park Road and South Brisbane, as well as some heavy bus wire to allow me to complete the wiring from South Brisbane to Dutton Park. 
I have also planned ahead and am starting work on the Staff machine panels for all the new loops from Acacia Ridge north. I am also looking at buying a few more 5mm bicolour LED’s and some additional Stereo plugs for the headsets for crews to plug into at each crossing loop or staff location. I will also have to buy the components for another two power supplies to power the staff machines. The plan was to start building the panel for the staff machines while watching the TV on Saturday night but that did not eventuate.
I am slowly gathering courage in building a couple (read two) Dual gauge points. However,I started off by doing something for the point into Loco Pilly first.  So last night I took an old standard Peco point and looked at how I can add a third rail to it for the entry into Loco Pilly.  I got some way into the task.  I will show progress next week. 
Hopefully I will post some photos of the New England Convention during the week.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2012 New England Convention

This weekend has seen a very successful 2012 New England Convention held at the Armidale Bowls Club and arranged by the New England Model Railway Club.
My week of modelling content started with a Tuesday night get together at Left and Son’s shed and 10 others. Six of those in attendance were heading south for the convention. I think there were a few others there who wished that they were going to the convention this weekend. My long weekend of modelling railroading started with Peter arriving early on Friday morning to pick me up. We left at 7:20am and arrived in Armidale at about 2:10pm after one pit stop for a coffee. We checked in at our hotel that backs onto the Armidale Bowls Club where the convention was being held. Talk about convenient. My room mates had arrived down about an hour earlier and they were setting up Geoff’s Splitters Swamp Creek layout at the convention. Registration was at 5:00pm, so we had a beer or two waiting and then caught up with many friends and acquaintances some whom we have not seen for 2 years, others even longer. After dinner we checked out the shops present at the convention and went shopping.
Upon retiring to our room, Peter visited and had a cup of tea, while we had mixtures of coffee, Bourbon or Rum. No sooner had he left, when what we thought were a few loonies started knowing on our door. It was only Ian and Andrew, and their mate Tom. This ended up being a great late night full of laughter and frivolity. The only loony ended up being at the pub across the road, who kept us entertained for some time.
Saturday morning dawned and we made our way next door for our five presentations for day one of the convention. I enjoyed four of the sessions and only found one to be not up to the standard expected. Following the day’s activities we went on a layout tour. Five layouts were listed and we attended four of them while there was a bit of a storm occurring. We then went back to the Bowls Club for our Convention Dinner. We hooked up with the Toowoomba guys (well those that were not allergic to pies), two guys from the New England Club on a table for dinner and a few ales. We spent all night in absolute fits of laughter, thanks to those at our table. We had a really great night. The meal was very tasty and we also had a good after dinner speaker in the form of Ray Love talking about the Great Northern Railway. Following the Dinner, we did lots of talking with various attendees and that was again a very late night.
Sunday was also a good day consisting of 5 pretty good presentations. Some sessions during the convention were heavily attended and the rooms were pretty cramped. There was also quite a few partners attending. At the end of the day, after helping Geoff (sort of) pack up his layout, we retired to the bar for a few drinks, before we made our way to a local pub for dinner. We has arranged to meet the Toowoomba guys there, as well as a few other Brisbaneites. The Toowoomba guys turned up late as they took too long to apply their makeup. There were also another 5 attendees from the Convention also there. Again a great meal, a few more drinks and a few more laughs. I’m sure the pub was pretty impressed as 19 people just blew in and ordered meals and drinks.
So after this weekend, I think I’m all refreshed and have a renewed interest in modelling and will be jumping back into the shed to do some work over the next few weeks in the lead up to the next Running Day over Christmas.
Tomorrow we are trying to visit Rohan and his Bolivia layout, on our way back home. I will try and post some photos of the Convention during the week. Thanks for the Convention Warren and crew.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Who's Going to Armidale?

Next weekend (the 17th and 18th November) is the 2012 New England Convention to be held at the Armidale Bowling Club.  By all indications attenances for this Convention will be great.  I attended this same convention two years ago and had a great time with my travelling companions and the other attendees there. I have been given a weekend pass by the Boss so I'm heading back there.  I just wanted to know who out there in blog land will also be attending this convention. I think that Warren needs to include Blog Name on the name badges so we can put names to faces as well as faces to Blogs.
This week as well as this weekend has been very slow. I don't recall doing anything Model train related all week, except catch up on reading a few Railway Digests as well as whatever UK and US magazines came around at work to read. 
Yesterday I took Kyle over to our Club for our normal meeting day as the Boss and Paige went to a fashion show to raise money for a family with some sick children. The fashion show was certainly not up Kyle’s alley. While at the Clubrooms, Kyle ran one of my trains around the Club HO layout for a while. I had a candy 80 Class running intermittently. When I tried to clean the wheels, the drive shaft came dislodged, so I had to pull it apart and put that back into allignment. By doing this, I dislodged one of the bogie power pickups. I resoldered that wire today while watching the cricket on TV. It seems to run a bit better now.
While at the Club, I reset one 44 class loco for a very special member and got it running again after it had given up the ghost. I have no idea why it would not move, it was not in a consist and we were addressing the loco with the correct address. However, the decoder reset did the business.  That is a good trick to know if you have trouble with a decoder.
Today I installed a decoder into a Life Like Us outline loco for another Club Member. I also set up the front headlight and added couplers.
This Tuesday we have our fortnightly meeting and it is being held at Lefty & Son’s place. I am looking forward to see if there has been any progress.  I'd bet there hasn't.
As mentioned earlier, I will be heading off to Armidale early on Friday morning, maybe between 7:00 and 8:00 am. I’m going with Peter, while another car has Geoff, Darren, Paul and Splitters tagging along behind. Brendan will probably do by himself.  Another Club member Bob is also attending.  It will be great to see the reprobates from DDMRC also on Friday night and catch up with other acquaintances while having a coloured lemonade, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.  I'm sure Baz will give me some stick about my blog.
While I will still be away next weekend, don’t worry, I still plan to post a blog about the convention next Sunday Night. Let’s hope we see you all at the Convention. Safe Journey to everyone attending.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Great Week in Review

This week was Tuesday Nighters at Geoff’s which I was looking forward to attending. But alas I could not attend, as the week started off with an early Tuesday morning plane trip down to Newcastle with my sister to attend the funeral of my father’s youngest brother. This was not unexpected and there was no chance I or my sister were going to miss this day. We hired a car and stayed over night at a local B&B in Raymond Terrace, which was handy as well as being very nice. So on Tuesday we went over the railway line near Maitland (actually Tarro), but do you think we saw any coal trains on the way to or from the cemetery and memorial gardens at Palmdale. No – just one railcar scooting towards Newcastle. It was absolutely great to catch up with my three remaining Aunts and a handful of cousins and their families who made the trip up from Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Taree. We had not seen any of them for over 10 years – since before my daughter was born. I think I had to answer the same question about half a dozen times. Do you still have a train set? Do I have a train set? No way – I now have a Train Empire – queue evil laugh! It is amazing what people (family) remember about you. They always remembered my train set under my parents house from well over 25 years ago.
Friday this week while at work, I received an SOS from Old Mike saying that two of his locos had stopped running and couple I render some assistance. So I made arrangements to head over to his place on Friday evening. The first loco apparently had lost its address and I just told Mike, that it was not running on long address 916, but short address 3. So I changed it back to 916 for him and it ran up and down the track OK. One down and one to go. We put the second loco on the track and it roared off in one direction. It did not matter what the throttle was saying in terms of speed or direction. It just ran in forward. Hmmmm! I checked the decoder, which was a D13SR from NCE. It looked like someone (Read Mike) had done some resoldering of the red wire from the track pickup to the decoder, where it had fallen off. His solder had breached over to where the Diode was on the decoder causing the decoder to always get power applied to the drive circuit. I scrapped this solder back with a knife so it was not bridging the gap. I tried it on the track again and it worked on address 3. I changed this to number 9, as this was what the loco number was. Mike was as happy as a pig in sh.... As I have said before – “I love it when a plan comes together”. I’m sure someone before me had said that.
Quite a productive night for Mike. Two locos which had two decoders in them which he thought were stuffed were now working OK. And to make matters even better, Mike was after a sheet of Evergreen Styrene Clapboard for a future project, which I just happened to have. So we traded on that and he was happy again.
Today was a very good day for me. It was a Buy and Sell day at our Club – which we have twice a year - May and November. We had quite a few sellers turn up (one even from Sydney with truck loads of 12mm equipment) and again quite a steady stream of buyers. I took a whole lot of unneeded stuff from my place as well as some items from one of our former Tuesday Nighters (Gentleman Jim) whom has just downsized into a Retirement Unit from his two story house. I was able to sell a good quantity of Jim’s rollingstock, but not one magazine. I had almost two hundred AMRM’s from issue about 70 to near current for sale at exceptional prices all bound in the AMRM binders. I also had a rather large collection of Model Railroaders as well. Not one magazine sold. I don’t think anyone as much as looked at any of the binders or storage boxes.
I was also able to offload about $200 of rollingstock for myself, but I also dipped into my gains to purchase a left hand point that I needed in a yard which I scavenged for use in South Brisbane Interstate’s number one platform run around road, along with four 12mm Peco and Bemo points for Acacia Ridge Yard, as well as a NSW Water Tank kit. As I was sitting at my sale table, I forgot that someone was selling a large bundle of 12mm track for $30. It was not until I saw someone walking past with it, that I knew the horse had bolted – Buggar! I could have laid the complete 12mm sidings at Acacia Ridge narrow gauge Yard with that bundle, but I was too slow. I’ll have to buy new track instead.
Next week is our Club Meeting day at the Club.  So another trip over to the other side of town.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ipswich Model Train Show 2012

On the Saturday of this weekend I made my way up the Highway to The Workshops Rail Museum, at Ipswich, as this was the weekend for their annual model railway exhibition. Our Club was in attendance with their HO layout - Brendale and I decided to lend a hand on the Saturday with the running. I took along my paper train from my layout, along with a few locos and gave them a run, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. We had a good turn out of members to assist on Saturday, with US, UK and Australian trains running throughout the day.
The layout with a US loco sitting in a siding.
At one time we had three trains on on the inner loop chasing their tails. Isn’t DCC great for this with three separate drivers, just slowly following the train in front at a safe distance.
One of the Tuesday Nighters – Lefty was caught watching a NSWGR train in operation on Brendale. He denies it, but I have the photo as evidence. You can just see the loco coming into view above his hand.
In attendance at the show, were a number of local manufacturers, like Peter Boorman’s Workshop (who had his HO scale Gantry Crane on display),
I just love the model with all the detail.  My scratchbuilt version runs a poor second to this.
Also there was Harold from Modratec with his signal frames.
These can be interlocked.  Just brilliant.
Adam and Jade from Wuiske Models with their new QR wagons. I saw seven packets of then on the Logan layout <948>.
Quite a nice investment in this photo on the 12mm gauge.
Also there was Dean Bradley who was at the last Armidale Convention and hopefully at the next one in 3 weeks time, the owner of the showing off his weathering prowess. He had some very nice wagon and locos on display.
I love this open wagon with its dents and rust.

I also would like a few of these banana wagons.

Can't you just smell these sheep?

This is how it is all donw with his range of pigments.
I was also quite impressed with the Oil Siding on the Logan Club’s layout.
A nice little scene here.  I'll take two for Cassino!
A mild storm came through at about 4:00pm an hour before closing time and scared off all the visitors. It was still raining as we made our way back to the car in the car park with all our gear. 
While at the show, I was putting out some feelers for some friends who scratch build their own points. I just wanted to know if they were eager to take on a challenge of scratch building some dual gauge points for me – again for my top deck. I need two so I can finish the running all the way from Acacia Ridge to South Brisbane. I think this task is beyond me at this point in time. I might be able to copy someone else’s point down the track, but I don’t think I can create one from scratch. I will eventually need 14 dual gauge points for Clapham Yard and Fisherman Island’s Yard.
I have a recollection that on Tuesday this week I was talking to a mate David in my shed, advising him on how to install point control on his layout in his shed. So planning is underway for the installation of an NCE Mini Panel, a number of local control panels and quite a number of Digitrax DS64’s to throw the points. That mimics what I also need to complete the top deck of my layout.
I am also trying to determine what I will enter into our Club's Christmas modelling competition.  I have a couple of half complete projects, but I'm not sure if I can get any thing ready by then.
Next Sunday, we are holding a Club Open Day with a Buy and Sell from 11:00am. I will be selling some gear from one of our members.  maybe I will see some of you there.