Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week Ending with a Running Session

A few different things occured this week on the modelling front.  On Australia Day I spent some time in the shed in the afternoon. Although I'm way off laying track in this area, I was deciding how to make the point up for sending the standard gauge traffic into Loco Pilly, but have the dual gauge traffic head around the other fork on the main line. I was looking at a medium radius Peco point and working out if I could add an extra rail just next to the frog to make it dual gauge. I’m not sure I can scratch build one of these. I will continue to look at this and we will see if I can build one when track work eventually gets up to this area.

I set up a really old PC in the shed, that was previously used by the kids for their access to educational games for the last few years, before it was replaced by a newer one. This PC must be at least 10 years old. But from the shed I can install the wireless USB dongle in the PC and it can talk to the wireless Internet in the house. So eventually I will install a previously downloaded JMRI version and connect it to my Power Pro 5 Amp System which is right next to the PC. This PC is old enough to have a serial port on board. I was looking for a Serial cable to connect the PC to the NCE command station. But I could not find one. I thought I would have to use my Serial to USB cable that I use on my netbook to connect to the NCE Command station. However, during the week I checked ebay and found one for $3.99 posted from Hong Kong. How good was that!

I had Friday off this week to make it a really long weekend. So about 3:30pm in the arvo I decided to go to the shed. I had previously been down to Bunnings to pick up two brackets to hang the next piece of baseboard from the wall. This is where Clapham Yard will be installed. I just happened to have a piece of pine that is 240mm x 19mm x 2.4m. So I now have decided I will have 4 tracks in this yard. This will give me somewhere to store another train or two, one narrow gauge train and one or two standard gauge trains. I think I will use it to just keep my rail train off the layout proper and also move a train that I’ve had sitting in Cassino yard for about the last 6 months and not moving anytime soon. This next baseboard section was installed on Friday afternoon and joined up on the left hand side to the incline out of Acacia Ridge Yard. It will take a few months for me to install the track in this area, but I may add more baseboard between now and then, as the frame extends further north. I think I will use the technique as documented in the latest AMRM that covers photo scenery and backscene photographs. This technique will work very well along this whole line.

Saturday this week was a scheduled running day.  The weather leading up tthe day was shocking and it certainly rained quite a lot while we were running trains.  I had 8 guys turn up to run with Lefty and Son to have a gander.  The timetable started 5 hours or so into the normal timetable.  As usual trains started running late after a few hiccups.  I was North Coast Control and Brendan was the Yard Master.  On the whole trains ran prettry smoothly, except that NL1 lost a bogie heading into the helix, three wagons were playing up on the Banana Train on its way to Murwillumbah, we had a dodgie coupler on a 48 class loco (I thought I fixed that last time) and the odd derailment of a wagon or two.  We certainly got into a predicament at Lismore where we had some crosses of trains and they didn't fit into the loops.  The text on the individual timetable cards said that the cross was to be at Lismore, while the timetable graph had the cross occuring at Old Cassino.  I will need to fix that.  We also had one of our shunt trains not shunting on its progression north and when it got to Murwillumbah it was not in the correct siding when two other trains were due to arrive.  Argh!!!!!!! Some major shunting manoeuvres were undertaken to fix this us.

We had two first time timetable operators and basically the rest were normal crew.  I think we all had fun, but I get stressed when the timetable does not work as planned.  I will be making changes to the timetable this week to fix the issues identified.  The new crew handled the staff machines and the headsets pretty well. I thought I would show you some photos from the session (I went AWOL a few times from my post to get these photos).
This is the first time a train has run through to Nammoona Ballast Siding to load sheep and cattle, hence this is the first official cross at this location.

At Fairy Hill Loop, adjacent to Fairy Hill Farm, a cross occurs with the Morning Mountain Goat service over taking a down container service to Acacia Ridge.  This time the goat is a 620/720 set.

Farther north at Kyogle NL2 is awaiting the same northbound container to clear the section before proceeding towards Cassino.

A view of the landscape north of Fairy Hill Loop.  The local farm has a few cattle.  The farmer has rigged a tyre in the tree for his son to use as a swing.  Occasionally when I'm not looking, a few cattle take the jeep for a spin and smash it into the tree.  A lot of fencing needs to be complete here.

Looking over peninsulars, we can see the local empty fruit train heading north towards Acacia Ridge.  It is seen running through the Running Creek Tunnels.  It has just emerged from Border Tunnel on the right in the distance.

Some of the crew (What, who me?) - Darryl, Brendan, Darren and Paul.

What the crew were actually looking at above.  We set up a Cathode Ray Oscilloscope in the section to check the DCC signal.  It didn't look that bad - well at least to me.  Others more knowledgable may like to comment.

See ya next week!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Dual Gauge Takes Shape

Having advised the guys attending next weekend's Running Session that there will have been some progress since their last visit, I thought I better make some progress.

On Saturday I went to the LHS (Ray's) and ran into Lefty and Son.  Both were opening their wallets, or more correctly exercising their plastic.  I picked up 11 lengths of Code 83 Rail.  On the way home, I went via Bunnings and purchased 4 lengths of 66mm x 18mm x 2.4m pine for the incline from Acacia Ridge towards Clapham Yard.  When I got home I butt jointed 2 lengths of this pine and added a splice plate underneath.  I then used one of my already existing 90mm x 18mm lengths of pine and cut it into 6 length of about 8 inches each.  These pieces had a slight 10-15 degree angle off square for the end cut.  So when I butt joined these and added an underneath splice plate, I got something like a 45 degree curve out of three of them.  I assembled two lots of three pieces.  I then added a long length of straightbetween each of thenow approximately 45 degree curved pieces.  I am now ready to add the section along the end wall of the shed, when I buy some more wall brackets and work out how wide I will make the Yard in this location.  This will be Clapham Yard.  Besides, I need to make another about 6 or 8 lengths of dual gauge track.  I also need the expensive parts - the dual gauge points for the yard.  If you think I'm going to scratch build these you have another thing coming!  However if PK wants to try and build some for me - he is most welcome.

After the temporary laying of the wooden baseboard (it isn't fixed down yet) in the shed, attention then turned to the dual gauge track that I needed to manufacture.  I pulled out 10 lengths of GT flex track that I had lying around, as I had previously purchased this second hand.  The stuff was basically unused!  So I cut out a sleeper between each pair of nail holes in the track.
A few sleepers cut out

I then cut up lengths of double sided PC board sleepers into short lengths.  I then used some wood packing under the track where I had cut out the sleepers and placed the PC board onto of the wood.

The packing under the PC board ready for soldering

I then soldered the PC board to the outer rail.  Moving along the rail four solder joins at a time.

Outer rail soldered to the PC board, with the inner narrow gauge rail temporarily installed.  My inexpensive 12mm gauges and a 12mm bogie above the track.

I then added the third rail for dual gauge.  I made up some crude track gauges from a pine offcut and used a 12mm bogie to check the gauge.  I then soldered the third rail to the PC board.

The rail ready for soldering

I now have an extra 8m of track laid along the wall nearest Acacia Ridge Yard and across the corner to the side wall.  I test ran a 44 Class locos and two wagons up and down the incline and it ran fine.  I don't have any 12mm locos so I could not test the track via anything powered.  However, I installed three 12mm wagons (my whole fleet) and let then run down the 2% incline under their own steam. 
The far end of Acacia Ridge Yard.  Provision for the dual gauge has always been made outside of track 1.

At the opposite end of Acacia Ridge Yard, the track on the next level takes a right hand curve along a straight to cut off the corner of the shed.

The incline of the dual gauge is seen here.  It is a fixed 2%.  It needs additional bracing between the existing braces to prevent droop.

At this point the dual gauge is taking another bend and to the right of this area will be Clapham Yard.  This will be the first and only crossing loop north of Acacia Ridge.  I'm not sure what else will be at Clapham Yard at this stage.

I have a couple of days off this week, so I will tidy up the shed before the visitors come.  It is also Tuesday Nighters this week at Geoff's, so a good fix of Model Railways this week.

P.S.  I think I've laid more track this weekend, than Lefty and Son have in 12 months.  Hint Hint Guys!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Planning for the Future

This week I didn't get up to much productive model railway activity.  The week started with a trip to Mike's place for our Tuesday Nighter's Meeting.  There were 11 in attendance.  It was a really great night, with everyone sitting around a table talking across the table all at the same time.  There were about 5 or 6 conversations occuring at the same time.  Just brilliant.

I managed to nick off from work early on Friday and installed some decoders into three steam locos that my mate David had left at my place quite some time ago for me to make them usable.

Saturday this week was Club day.  So off over there and quite a lot of conversations were had about the new HO clubroom layout.  Progress continues to be slow, but there is progress.  We keep getting people bringing up suggestions and thoughts that have voted down in the past by the majority of members.  I guess they will not learn and some just cannot visualise some basic concepts.  It is there way or the highway.  These are the trials and tribulations of belonging to a Club I guess.

Eventually today I finally made my way down to the shed and started to install 4 new point motors in the yard area of Cassino.  These points are at the extremities of a person's reach from the Cassino base board.  While I can reach them, I am concerned as I add more scenery, the leaning over may damage the scenery and structures and while I can reach these points to operate them, some guys attending a running session may not be as nimble as me.  SoI decided that I'd buy a digitrax DS64, and utilise some unused inputs in one of my NCE mini panels, and add a small mimic panel (yet to build) to control these points from, and motorise these hard to reach points.

All the point motor holes were cut, the point motors installed under the points and wires solders to the point motors.  These wires are currently just left hanging down below the layout.  They will be connected up to the DS64 when I eventually get one and get some more wire.

David come over this afternoon to pick up his locos and I was discussing some plans for the future.  At the moment I have a very small section of dual gauge track in Acacia Ridge Yard - very small!  I will extend this north invoking modeller's license.  While the standard gauge track did head north of Acacia Ridge, it was only very recently that it was dual gauged.  The track was separated, with the Uniform Gauge separate from the narrow gauge.  My track will be dual gauged all the way until at least Dutton Park.  The track will head north from Acacia Ridge, travel through Clapham Yard, which will be at least a crossing loop, and maybe a couple of sidings, but the sidings are not in the picture as yet.  I could have a small loco depot for Loco Pilly (Yerongpilly), and then have the tracks diverging at Dutton Park.  One branch will head towards Brisbane Marine Terminal (BMT) or Fisherman's Island.  This will have up to 3 tracks with run around facilities.  It might have seperate narrow gauge and standard gauge run arounds.  The other track from Dutton Park, will head to Park Road Sidings.  This is where the paper train of my modelling period terminates and used to provide Qld Newspapers with its newsprint.  From here the track will also head into South Brisbane Interstate Station, which will also have a run around loop and could also have a siding or two.  I still remember sitting on Gloucester Street Station and Vulture Street Station, and also on a train between there and Yerrongpilly Station of an afternoon, and watching or paralleling a standard gauge train while coming home from school just after 3:00pm in the afternoon.

One thing I'm certain of is that I don't think I have any room for most of this future plan.  The future extension will be on baseboards maybe 6 to 9 inches wide, just a few inches above the current top deck.  There will definitly be minimal scenery.  I can but plan and dream.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Name’s Craig, What’s Your Handicap?

Monday this week, I decided that I did not like my platform base I was going to use for my case store. I decided to build a new one in Styrene. I built it during the day and I just had to installing an operating sliding door in the sealed section of the building. As I was doing this, my son was totally absorbed into how I was doing this. He kept yelling out – Mum – come look at this, the door works. Anyway he was playing with his soccer ball and I advised him, don’t use that around here, don’t throw it up in the air, don’t bounce it, put it back in the play room. I then adjourned to take down the external Christmas Lights and those around the Christmas Tree and around the lounge. When I came back in before dinner, I looked at the model on the kitchen table and I was puzzled, as to how the post holding up the main support beam, had a very severe bend in it. I put two and two together and asked the likely culprit. "Kyle, Were you playing with the Soccer ball near my model" – "Why?" he says. "Answer the question" was my response, "Maybe!" he responded. I then said "Did the soccer ball sort of land on the model by any chance?", The response was a sheepish "Yes". So the main support beam now has a huge bend in it Bill Clinton would be proud of. One of the external roof support beams has a marked bend in it as well. It is nothing that cannot be fixed though. Maybe I should have moved the model from the table before I attended to the lights. Oh Well! We live and learn.

Now to the reason for the title of this weeks Post. After completing the Case Store last Monday during the day to its current phase, mid week on possibly Tuesday I decided to look at installing lighting in the shed. I drilled holes in the model with a pin vice to run some enamelled wire through. This will run through the building, and under the layout and via some plugs so the building can be removed from the layout. I will use some sort of stationary decoder to control this item and the lights on all the items on the layout. I ran the wire through the micro holes and then decided I’d test some surface mount LED’s – the 0603’s and some 0804’s that previously I acquired from Brendan. I used two AA batteries in a battery holder and with about 2.7V available, I tested the first LED and it was a red light. Not wanting to have the wrong sort of people being attracted by this shed, I then started looking for a warm White LED. I grabbed another surface mount component and applied, voltage to it, in both directions and the B..... would not light. I thought it could be faulty. So on Friday night we just happened to have a modelling night at Geoff’s. There was Geoff, Darren, Peter and Brendan in attendance. I showed off my model, told then the story about the surface mount component not emitting light. I gave it to our resident electronics expert – Brendan, and asked what voltage should cause this component to light. I thought it might need more than 2.7V. Brendan responded about 240V, I was stunned, and then re continued – It’s a Surface Mount Resister you Dork! At that point, our two pot screamer host who had consumed 4 soups by that stage almost fell off his chair. Geoff, who has a history of slurring his speech (and writing) after consuming a few scotches (just ask the Northern River Boys after our last Exhibition last August) commented – that was the best thing he will hear in 2012. He was happy to move straight on to 2013. I’m blaming my deteriorating eye-sight. I then found a White LED in my collection and tested it successfully. Guys – just don’t tell PK or I will never hear the end of this story. Mind you if we do – we might have to relive some of the stories from that night in the shed – Hint Hint!

After this, I talked Brendan into giving us an impromptu session of how to solder these surface mount components onto a piece of double sided circuit board sleeper strip. A test after this and the white light works. Whoo Hoo!

I then stained the two platforms that I built last weekend, and spent some time watching the others. Geoff was doing some great scratchbuilding of a Goods Shed for Splitters Swamp Creek, Darren assembling a kit, Peter was assembling some white metal truck kits and Brendan was cleaning up a SJM kit before assembly. It was a great night.

During the week at work, PK complained that he needed 5 sets of hands when running on the layout. These were to hold his PROCAB-R, his timetable board and to plug his headsets into the headset plug-in-points. If he needed to also do some shunting and uncouple some wagons, you needed another set of hands. So on Saturday I attached lanyards to about 12 timetable boards. These can now be hung around your neck while trying to plug in your headset.

PK also complained about some of the plug-in-points moving when you plugged in. So you needed another hand to hold it steady while you plugged in. So on two of the boards that are definitely wobbly, I braced behind them with some wood.

Saturday I did a bit of tidying up. I decided to try and fix the level crossing near running creek that the naturalists visit. So I sprinkled some ballast around and installed some sleepers to assist the four-wheel drive cars to get across the tracks. The ballast was dampened with wet water and then glued down with diluted PVA from a dropper.
Running Creek Crossing.  A few sleepers are seen laying around and in the distance out of focus are a few naturalists.

Close up showing the N scale ballast  I added.

I then attached the white LED light to the wiring in the case shed and installed the LED circuit board between two rafters.

Saturday night I cut up some Slater's brick sheet for the brick bund around the upright petrol tanks for Old Cassino.  On Sunday I installed the bunds around a base.  I then decided to make two more buildings for the Oil Siding.  I needed a gate house for when trucks arrived at the premises and I needed some sort of office/ammenities room for the workers.  So I knocked then up around lunch time today.  I then decided to make the Case Store larger and added the roof.  I still have not added the installed the stumps and the bund around this building.
Old Cassino Oil Siding.  The case store on the left, a platform at the rear and the two vertical tanks on the right.  At the front is the card holder for the wagon cards when the oil tanks are shunted in. 

Sorry for this poor photo, (not enough light in this area and I didn't have the flash turned on), but it shows off the gatehouse and Office.  I still need to install the window glass in these two buildings.

This afternoon before I went for a bike ride with the kids, I ran a further two-hours of the timetable.  Three trains completed their runs, and there are now four trains still running on the layout.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Few Jobs

On Thursday this week I set about doing a few small jobs that arose out of the Running Session on Tuesday. These jobs started with fixing the point on the entry to Cassino – the Main to Back Platform Road Point. I then fixed the bogie on the RUB coach and put the wagon back in the Brisbane Limited set. I then checked the plug in point for headsets at Old Cassino. This panel is a junction of lots of wires and one wire was just hanging on. This was fixed and it now seems to be working a lot better. One of the guys who was using a plug-in handset (a Procab-R is so much better) on Tuesday said that he could not find a plug in point at Cassino. Mind you, I couldn’t find the plug in point as it was hidden by my wagon card holder. So I moved the wagon card holder and voila, I can now see another plug in point.

Work on Friday then turned to some simple scenery improvements. I have at a couple of places where roads either cross the railway or back onto the railway. All these roads are made out of thin balsa that I stain to get the grey/black colour. So at Barker Street on the north of Cassino there is a walkway across the railway. I painted the road with my stain. 
The photo is one I took of Barker Street crossing may years ago.  I will install this walkway eventually - as well as some scenery on the other side of the tracks.

This was followed by a very small section of road near the Loco depot at Cassino – called Kyogle Street.

I did say Kyogle Street is pretty small.  The relocated wagon card holder is also in this photo.

Then round to the branch line to Old Cassino, at West Street, the main road into Cassino from the north via the Summerland Way. This road actually got camber as well.
West Street Level crossing.  To the left is a private road into the Old Cassino Shell Oil Terminal.

I then went further out along the branch to Lismore just south of the station.  I can't remember the street name.
This street is between the point to the Lismore loco siding on the left and point to the Loop at Cassino on the right.  On the left of the photo are the two level crossing signs that will also be installed at this location.

After this I then reset all the trains on the layout back again to their starting points. I then attended to 4519 that was reported as having a low coupler at the #2 end. The coupler just dropped when it was under load. That was easy to fix. That night I was doing some desk checking of the timetable again. I then realised that two trains in one of the tracks were in the wrong order. So I swapped them over. I also ran through the train timetable cards for a few shunt trains as I had a feeling that they were due to return back to Grafton Yard  during the session to the wrong track number. I was correct and fixed these up for next time.

My attention then turned to one of my consists that had 4416 + 4816 + 44240 (I use the last 4 digits in this case). The consist had been dropped. No matter what I did when I tried to recreate the consist 44240 would not join the consist. So I took 44240 to the programming track and it could not be reset. I then tried Option #7 the NCE Recovery Programming and that would not work either. I then tried to see if the decoder had been locked, by choosing Option #8 from the NCE menu, and this seemed to do that trick. I could then reset the decoder, and then put it back into a consist. This was a tricky situation.

Saturday afternoon I went down to the shed and successfully installed four new sidings in Grafton Loco. These will be used to store up to 9 locos.
The four tracks on the left were the new loco storage sidings

After this I decided to see if I could run through the timetable myself over the next few weeks, providing another level of checking.  So far I have gone through 2 hours and 15 minutes and this is where it gets complicated.  As there are three trains in progress and another 3 or 4 getting ready to start moving in the next 30 minutes and this is where the first crosses will occur.

I still have to fix the point at the Northern end of Rappville Loop.  I was going to replace the Peco point motor actuator, but I may be able to super glue the original back together.  I plan to get back to this job maybe tomorrow.

Today I went to the shed and started by taking the photos above.  I decided that I would do a small amount of scenery around the Old Cassino Shell Oil Siding.  In the two photos of Kyogle Street and West Street above, you will see that there is a small amount of base scenery put down.  This was done this morning.  It is Tile Grout that I sprinkle on to a wet baseboard and it sets hard.  I use a tea strainer to sprinkle the grout on and ensure that only small particles come through.  I then spray water on top as well.

I decided to also stick a few pieces of paper together to form a template of the actual Oil Siding and the terminal buildings. I could then work out what structures will be needed at this location and where they will actually go.  So after lunch today I decided to cut out some paper shapes and see how they went together for the vertical tanks, the horizontal tanks, and the case store.  Happy with that I decided to knock up the base for my Oil Case Store, and a platform that I will also install next to the siding.  I may in the end bring in open wagons (besides just oil tankers) for loads to and from this location so I will need to build a platform as well.
The mock up.  I still need to add some more legs to the platform.

I will then have to assemble my Oil Terminal from the Gwydir Valley Kit that I have.  I will then install a barbed wire fence around the facility.  The hardest part will be to add all the piping required.  I think I also need to add some sort of staff emenities building.  I'm not sure, but I'd bet that the staff had somewhere to have lunch, sign on and stow their kit, etc., and allow management to do whatever they do from.

I may do a bit more on this job tomorrow.  Then I'm back to work - Yuk!