Sunday, February 26, 2012

Benchwork to Fisherman's Island Complete

Another slow week this week. It started with Tuesday's meeting of the Tuesday Nighters. This meeting was anything but slow. There were 12 in attendance at Peter's Place. It was organised mayhem. There were about 4 or 5 conversations going on concurrently all night. A few samples of what people were working on were on display along with a few magazines available for perusal. Later on in the night, some went to check out Peter's layout and watch a some trains do a few laps. PK snapped off a few photos. Peter has done some track work changes and some new scenery near the loco depot. Absolutely brilliant. A really great night to inspire some enthusiasm for the rest of the week.

It was not until Saturday that I even thought about trains again. I set the drill on charge and then went to Bunnings and purchased some more 2.4m lengths of 42 x 18 pine. Some of this was installed under the incline from Clapham Yard to where the track ended at just about Dutton Park. This is above Glenapp and The Risk. This was to create an 'L Girder' to prevent sagging of this benchwork. The missing link from Dutton Park to Fisherman's Island was spliced together and the pine screwed underneath as a strengthening beam again just like an 'L Girder'. This missing link was spliced in at the Fisherman's Island end, and then at the Dutton Park end. I then added two braces attached back to the lower baseboard to help support the rather large spans on this benchwork. These braces are positioned behind mountains and hills on what was the previous top deck, located at the northern end of Fairy Hill Loop and at the southern end of The Risk.

Today I mounted my recently acquired DS64 point controller under the baseboard at Cassino. I then attached two wires to the track so it can receive its commands and extended the wires I had previously soldered onto the 4 points at Cassino so they can connect up to the DS64. I then tested them one by one from my radio Procab throttle - and they worked - pretty amazing that. Although they are currently coded up as point motors 1 to 4. I will have to consult my spreadsheet tomorrow to allocate the true accessory numbers. Each loop in my layout has a code. Each piece of electronics, being it a DS64, a mini panel, a Snap-it, etc., in each loop also has another unique code, and then the point accessories are numbered from that. Pretty simple really.

I also built a small schematic panel and soldered the 6 push buttons in, so that a local train driver can throw the points when required. I just need to mount the panel on the facia and then I will have to install 7 wires from the panel back to the nearest NCE Mini panel and then the operation of the points for loco crews will be able to be automated via the push buttons. There is then no need to remember the point motor accessory addresses.

This afternoon between innings in the cricket I nicked down to the shed to run a train. No sooner had I started and Kyle came down wanting to kick the football out the front. However, when he saw I was driving a train he said Can I drive the train and he then proceeded to take the train off me. At least the layout still runs after all the rain we've had over the last few weeks.

Maybe I will have the control panel wired up next weekend.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Is there a Point to this Post?

This week I received my pack of 3 VLNX from On Track Models. They arrived safe and sound early this week. Apart from opening that delivery there has been no model train activity this week until yesterday morning when I took my three VLNX wagons down to the shed and loaded them onto the loop at Fairy Hill. They started to roll off! Boy did they roll well. I did bend the coupler pin up ever so slightly as I don’t like how low some of these are. This activity was followed by a trip to Austral Modelcraft at Mt Gravatt to pick up some liquid flux. Upon return I started to install a decoder into a loco for Barry. I can’t get the loco to run. So I might try a different decoder this week or next weekend to see if that fixes the issue. As it could be a DOA decoder. The loco runs when you apply power to the motor terminals, but not via the wheels. I get sparks on the connection.

After being frustrated by the loco that would not run I decided to try and make my first dual gauge point. Nothing like starting at the hard end of the spectrum. I cut out my PC board strips for the rails, and gapped them all according to the template. I laid them onto a fast track template for 10.5mm gauge for the third rail, while I need 12mm for my HOn3 and 1/2. I held the sleepers down with colours thumb tacks and then applied a bit of flux, and soldered the straight stock rail to the sleepers. Good enough! I then started soldering the curved stock rail to the sleepers. I added a few rails at the end of the point and have test run both a 12mm and 16.5mm bogie through the 3 inches of track I have successfully laid. By that stage I had lost all motivation and could not be bothered to go to the shed and bring up a few files to start making all the angled connections through all the frogs. So that was about it.

We took the kids to the school disco last night so there was no more modelling time that afternoon or evening. Today I went to a school working bee and built a 10m or so lock block wall. It was so hot!  I was absolutely stuffed when I arrived home after 5 hours of toiling. So I just sat in front of the TV and watched the cricket.

Tuesday this week we have a meeting at Peter’s place. I can’t wait to see what he has done since we were last there.

Next week I will maybe get back down to the shed, and build the next 3m of baseboard on the top deck and then get the gradient confirmed for the run up the rear wall above The Risk Loop. I will also try and make some more progress on the dual gauge point.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Looking at Point Building

This week has been quite busy at work. I did have Tuesday Night with the crew at Bob’s Place. I had PK come to my place, and then we picked up Barry and Lefty, and went to Bobs. We were also supposed to pick up Shelton, but he piked as he wanted to take a video of MB4 the next morning with its new PN 91 class locos being tested. As it turned out that train ran pretty late, so Shelton could have got both his beauty sleep and the video if he had come to Tuesday Nighters.
On Tuesday night, I was asking the guys what the best way to scratch build points?  I wanted to know what to use as a base. I know Old Mike has built quite a few and they look and work reasonably well. Mike uses a geometry much like Peco medium radius and uses code 100. Geoff has scratch built NSWGR points from plans in the Greg Edwards' Track Work Manual and these are also built to finer tolerances and also look immaculate. These are made in code 80. Now we have PK scratch building in N scale. He uses code 55 track and I saw a few of these on the N scale exhibition layout for our Club on Saturday and they also look perfect. One of our other Club members who has attended a few Running Sessions on Cassino - Rob - scratch builds his N scale point in Code 40.  These have to be seen to be believed.  I will use plain old code 100 track. But mine will be dual gauge. The gurus suggested that I use a cork base to push my drawing pins into to hold the track and PC board etc. I have put two 6mm floor tiles together as my base. I think I might use a styrene jig to position the PC board sleepers, until I solder the two stock rails to them as it all begins to come together into a solid base.
So I am gathering my bits and pieces on the Dining Room table and over the next few weeks I will do some preparation bit by bit towards the milestone of the first point being constructed. I have some doubts as to how good they will turn out, but I will give it a try.  I have some Parent-Teacher sessions this week, and I will be evaluating a tender at work for the next 2 weeks at least, so I don’t think I will get much done at night over this period.
Yesterday we went to the Club for the normal meeting day. The main reason was to decide on some design points for the new HO clubroom layout. Everyone agreed to the proposals put forward so the mid-week workers will probably get stuck into doing some frame work L-Girder construction.  While at the Club, I picked up 7 kits for storage trays for a mate, and a number of decoders to be fitted to a few locos that I either have ready to install decoders into at home or ones that I'm about to get this week.
Today I got down into the shed and lowered the new top deck above Kyogle by about 5cm. Now the decks are reasonably close and it is quite dark around Kyogle now.  What I do need is some form of lighting under this deck - LED maybe?  That should make this deck visible again as it looks like it is after sunset at the moment. 
I did not get to Bunnings to buy my additional Pine requirements this weekend, but everything is still on track for completion of theis level of baseboard in a few weeks. My activities today were somewhat hampered by having to mow the jungle, do the edges and pull some weeds out of the side garden.  Then of course there was the cricket on TV.
See ya next week.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Charity Work

Last week I read Lefty and Son’s blog and Lefty was thinking of getting a load of 12mm ply delivered. So I sent him an email advising “If he was getting some ply, I’d chip in for an extra sheet and share the delivery costs”. I’d then head over to Lefty’s on the weekend after it was delivered and cut my sheet up and bring it home for later use. So I spent some time early this week measuring where I was to put my next extension on the layout and worked out what size base boards I needed to cut the 2400mm x 1200mm sheet of ply into. So on yesterday afternoon, I went to Lefty’s and did the deed. Lefty provided two saw horses and I brought my trusty jigsaw, a 900mm paper template, a straight edge and a pencil. I used my paper template for my curve sections and measured and marked off the various straight cuts I was about to undertake. Easy as! In about 30 minutes I had reduced the 2400 x 1200 sheet into a number of shapes that would easily fit inside my trusty car, and a mess of sawdust on Lefty's garage floor.   So I had one 300mm width up the 2400mm long side of the sheet with a taper down to 150mm width (for the end headshunt) starting back 600mm down one of the ends. This was followed by 3 x 90 degree 900mm radius curves and the rest of the sheet was cut into various 300mm wide strips or 150mm wide strips. I think Lefty and Son were a bit dumbfounded at what had just occurred.  I was ably assisted in my efforts by Lefty and Son whom helped steady the boards as I did the ripping.
We then started to attack Lefty’s first sheet of ply. He wanted a 3’ radius. So I just added approximately 15mm (Old Mike will say it needs to be 16.2mm) to the centre line and my 90 degree, 900mm radius curve quickly become Lefty’s 3’ radius. I cut a second curved section as well. I then told Lefty to take it to the shed and see how he can install it. I also advised that he had to cut various straight lengths of ply to use along his station areas or passing loops. I expect to see an update from Lefty on his blog about what he accomplished today.

Today I went to the shed and charged my drill.  I really need to get a new one, as this one only lasts about 20 minutes and needs a good 60 minute charge again.  It has never been any good since it was purchased - A real dud.  I also went to Bunnings for a couple more packets of screws and another two lengths of 42 x 19 pine.

So I added short section to Clapham Yard - about 500mm long.  This was splice on to the end.  I then measured the corner section that I cut yesterday and trimmed about 60mm off the end and it fitted very well into the corner of the shed.  I have this just sitting on piece of wood to ensure it continues the uphill grade from Clapham Yard towards Dutton Park.  The section from here north is just a piece of 66mm wide pine.  I spliced two lengths together and this has been temporarily supported above The Risk.  It will eventually be braced with an L-Girder underneath and screwed to the wall.  My attention then turned to the end of the first branch I will install.  This is Fishermans Island.  I spliced two sections of 300mm wide ply together - end to end.  I then added a piece of 42mm x 19mm pine underneath to make a sort of L-Girder to stop sagging.  I did have a couple of shelf brackets left over from previous work.  I thought that I could install these on two of the posts that support the Kyogle side of the Cougal Spiral trackwork.  I estimated a height for teh now third level (1720mm) and installed them.  I then added the Fishermans Island benchwork and screwed this temporarily to the brackets.  At the other end I propped them up.  I then added the 90 degree, 900mm radius curved section of baseboard at the other end of Kyogle also at 1720mm height.  I also installed two more shelf brackets on the posts that support the track from Lismore to Murwillumbah on the bottom level and from The Risk to Border Loop on the top level - not that it's the top level any more.  I think that the 1720mm height is just a bit too high.  I think it will be reduced by at least 20mm maybe a bit more.  I will await comment by the Tuesday Nighters when they next visit.  I can already hear Mike commenting what third level - I can't see it.

The baseboard that will span between this piece of baseboard above Kyogle on the central peninsular and the narrow 66mm pine above The Risk, will probably be installed next weekend or the week after.  The track on the mainline north of Dutton Park to Park Road Siding and South Brisbane Interstate will be quite complex to install and will be quite some time away.  I also think this will be laid at 1700mm height or maybe slightly lower.

See yas next week!