Sunday, June 24, 2012

More Timetable Tampering

Following last week's sojourn on the Railmotor Society's 621/721 set down the rails to Kyogle, back to Fisherman Islands and finally back to Roma Street, I was back to thinking about my timetable and what if any changes I could make.

I was wondering if it was possible to include my own heritage train from Acacia Ridge down to Kyogle and return.  Given my era, and that I have a 620 running a normal passenger run from Cassino to Border Loop and return twice during the day,  I thought I could give my Eureka CPH a run in the timetable.  I was then thinking if it was possible to also include the train that I have sitting in the Siding at Kyogle into the timetable.  This is my 8 car rail train set with a sound equipped 44 on the lead, that doesn't get much of a run.  So I thought, that while the beginning and the end of the timetable day are light on compared with the middle of teh timetable day, I thought I might run the rail train out of Acacia Ridge to Kyogle in the early morning, where it can sit all day, and then travel back to Acacia Ridge at night.

I then thought about the Bachmann tamper wagon I have sitting in the Construction Siding at Old Cassino.  This could leave Old Cassino in the morning and travel to Cassino, reverse and then travel to Acacia Ridge for storing during the day and then at night, it could do the return trip back to Cassino and then up the branch to Old Cassino.

I also thought about the Container train (#14) that I have sitting in the loop at Murwillumbah for quite a few hours.  I thought that maybe the loco from this train (also a sound equipped 44 Class) could be a light engine movement from Cassino Loco in the morning with a light engine return to Cassino Loco in the arvo.

So with that in mind, I decided to put pen to paper and see if I could slot these movements into the timetable.  Well on first look, it seems pretty easy.  With just a few small bits of juggling, and a few trains leaving a few minutes earlier and a few more a few minutes later, it looks like that it is quite easy to put the CPH rail tour, the rail train and the tamper movement into the timetable.  It took me a few iterations, as some trains crossed mid section instead at the loops - which is pretty hard to accomplish.  So these were fixed up and I now think it looks pretty good.

Below is the end result of my updated timetable graph.  Not sure it will turn out when viewed online though.

The latest iteration of the Cassino timetable for the next running session at a date and time to be determined.

Friday night this week, I went to the local hobby shop where I met Darren, Geoff and Old Mike.  They had been let of their combined leashes for the night by their better halves.  They (and myself) were buying out Ray's Shop.  We had intended to go to the local Buy and Sell, but word from 4 guys who came into the shop before we left to attend the Buy & Sell said it was not worth it.  So taking that into consideration, the guys came back to my place for a coffee.  Also it has been a while since Mike has been over so he had a tour of the layout to see the changes that have occured over the last few months.

I showed off my Powerline 48 that I had decodered with an NCE DA-SR decoder.  I showed off the F2 function which now turns on the rather high speed cooling fan and the F1 that controls the cablight, instead of it being always lit.

On Saturday afternoon, I ran my CPH from Acacia Ridge Yard to Kyogle and return.  I was testing out the shunting manoevre at Kyogle that will be required to clear the platform road before the Brisbane Limited northbound comes through during the timetable session.  I then also test ran the Rail Train from Kyogle to Acacia Ridge and now have it in place for the start of a future timetable operating session.

I then set about looking at my Trainorama 4425, which has a Tsunami Alco decoder installed, which has stopped making noise.  I had previously reset the decoder to see if that would make any difference, but it had not.  The next test was to replace the speaker.  I did this and placed the loco back on the track and low and behold - there was sound.  It must have been a speaker that has gone to its maker.

I am currently waiting for an ebay delivery (probably over the next month) for six 0-5 Amp panel meters for about $5 each.  These will be installed in the circuits following my newly purchased NCE EB1's that I bought on Friday night.  I purchased four, as my layout was always designed to be split into 4 power districts, but had been wired with jumpers between each district, so in effect it is currently just one big district at the moment.  I will be designing the wiring where the EB1's and the bridge rectifiers, and their bypass swicthes will be installed under the layout facia.  I will keep my master Voltmeter and master Ammeter in place on the panel, and then install the various section ammeters below them in the facia panel.  I am planning on setting each power district to 2.5 Amps.  During normal operation, the whole layout only puts out just over 1 Amp during a running session.  So that is one of the jobs that I have to undertake ove rteh next few weeks.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rail Motor Society Trip to Kyogle and Fisherman Islands

Today's adventure started with the 6:01am bus from my local stop to the city. A change of buses at the Cultural Centre stop and about 30 seconds later I was on my connecting bus to Roma Street Bus Station. I made my way to Platform Two and I was there at about 6:45am with plenty of time to spare. Actually 1 hour to spare, so I took a few photos of the XPT.
6 car XPT waiting to head south from Roma Street Station this morning

While the XPT was idling away in the platform and being cleaned before loading and heading south, the object of today's trip, the 620/720, sat in the headshunt at the other end of the platform.  It was being filled with water while it was waiting.  No sooner had I taken a photo of the railmotor and walked around a bit and turned around, and there was Darryl, Janelle and Chris.  Darryl and Chris are both NSW modellers and have been to my place a few times to run on Cassino.  About 30 seconds later Jim Hutchinson and his lovely wife Nettie, had also joined us.  Darryl and his clan were in 721, while Jim and his wife were in the same row as myself but on the other side of the aisle in car 621.
620/720 on the headshunt where it stabled overnight

As soon as the XPT departed, the 621/721 made its way into the platform. The QR 2000 Class Railmotor also came in on Platform 3.  The occupants of the 620/720 who travelled north yesterday, were going by QR 2000 Class Railmotor to Palmwoods, up around the Sunshine Coast.

The two railmotors at Roma Street

We were off on time at 7:45am on the dot. We had a pilot all the way to Acacia Ridge.  After dropping the pilot off we made our way south.  Apparently someone (v6hilux) captured us on video as we went south.  Here is the link.
We ran past Lefty's place at 8:10am and there was no sign of him either on his back deck or at Sheepstation Gully a few hundred metres down the line.  We ran at a fast pace to Greenbank Loop and after we were a few kilometres past it, the train slowed. Apparently some hoons piled a whole lot of stuff (sleepers, fishplates, metal, etc.) on the rails on Saturday at this point and the railmotor hit it. There is a huge scratch on 721 on the right hand side from a piece of metal that came up from the impact. The crew took some more rubbish from the track today and then proceeded south. We were making good time.

I took a photo of the water tank at Glenapp
The Water Tank at Glenapp.  I will have to make a model of this.

We stopped twice on the Cougal Spiral. First at the top to look down, and then again at the bottom to look up at the top.
The track at the bottom and the creek that runs through the area.

As we were running ahead of schedule, we were able (apparently) to run the extra 5 minutes from Kyogle Loop into Kyogle platform and detrain. That enabled me to get some video footage of the Summerland Way going under the track, the Upper Richmond River and some detail scenery shots around Kyogle. There is a God! And he models NSW – not that large scale narrow gauge rubbish.

The Norco Building at Kyogle.  You can see where the Milk wagons used to load.

Looking north from Kyogle platform towards the bridge over the Upper Richmond River.

We proceeded north again and made a stop at Glenapp Loop.

Looking south from Glenapp Loop.  The disabled wagon siding is on the right in the distance.

Again we stopped short of Greenbank, at the point where Saturday’s incident occurred. Apparently our northbound stop was captured on video by v6hilux. I understand he is a Pac Nat driver based at Acacia Ridge.  Again here is the link.
While on the topic of links, here is another video taken by v6hilux on Saturday afternoon of the 620/720 arriving at Acacia Ridge Yard.  Apparently it took on some fuel.
We then proceeded to Fisherman Islands, after a brief stop at Acacia Ridge to pick up our pilot again, and again at Signal DP15 at Dutton Park before attacking the viaduct. We then made our way to the end of track at Fisherman Islands at about 1:30pm and were allowed to detrain if we wished.  While there a double headed 2300 came past around the balloon loop to enter the coal roads to drop its black gold for export.  I was surprised by the number of coal trains at the terminal.
The 621/721 set resting on the main at Fisherman Islands.

At 1:45pm we back tracked to Dutton Park and signal DP15, and then reversed there at 2:23pm. We made our way to South Bank where we waited a few minutes and after an airport bound Gold Coast train went by, we headed into Roma Street and arrived at 2:42pm. Our 2000 Class Railmotor cousin was already in the opposite platform.
The 2000 Class was accelorating away back home.

Seconds after this photo above was taken, my bus to the Cultural Centre arrived about 15 feet to my left.  Yes the bus platform backs onto the rail platform - rather unique.  As my bus pulled out at the Cultural Centre, my connecting bus pulled in behind it and boy, didn't this driver have a lead foot.  I was back home at 3:40pm.  Now to try and download some of the video I took during the day.  However, I cannot find the manual.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June's Running Session

Today was a scheduled running session on Cassino.  We had three regulars in attendance - Darren, Brendan and Shelton, as well as a newcomer Paul.  We had quite a few bail out for various reasons, they are forgiven but there will be other sessions in the future for them to attend.

So at the appointed hour, we had everyone turn up for the BBQ.  After polishing off about 20 sausages, we adjourned to the Shed.  As we did not have many crew, so we decided to forgo the Yard Master position and North Coast Control.  While we have a nice little area complete with scematic panel of the whole layout, a phone from North Coast Control to Grafton Yard and Acacia Ridge Yard, and a headset setup from each signal box back to North Coast Control, you don't really have to run with it.  By having detail on most of the timetable cards, advising the train number you are supposed to cross, and what track you are supposed to enter (Main, Loop, Yard, Siding etc.) at the various crossing loops, you can work the trains through the network without having North Coast Control.

Sure there were a few shouts of "Is anyone running Number 14?"  To which you would hear 'Yes' occasionally, as we stripped quite a few Conditional trains from the timetable.  If you knew a train was running, sometimes there was another question "Where are you now?" This could allow you on some occcasions to sneak a further section or two.  However, the timetable is quite tight and there are quite a few three way crosses that occur, so trains really need to be where they are supposed to be or you could get some real issues eventuate.

So generally, the layout ran reasonably well, but we did have some issues, with a few derailments, uncouplings, a loco stutter or two.  We had one push button switch on one of the Murwillumbah panels fail - the 'Main' route actually, but the switch worked when worked from the other panel, so we just used that.  This was caused by a wire coming off the switch.  We also had a staff machine hiccup at Glenapp for the staff section back to Acacia Ridge keep flashing on and off.  I think there is a bad solder joint I need to fix.  I did notice that the push button on one of the Kyogle panels was not working for at least one route.  I will fix that up tomorrow as well.  The major issue of teh session was a ballast train at Old Cassino blocking access to the Up Pick up's access to the Diary Siding and the four wagons in there it needed to collect. 

We had a few beers, a few softdrinks and a few coffees.  We also had a packet of Chips and a few biscuits as well at half time.  But the real issue was when there was a short at one point not long after the session started and the power supply fuse blew.  Oh no!  It could have been an early afternoon for the crew.  But it turned out to be the longest session we have had with stumps being drawn at about 5:30pm I think.  However, Brendan grabbed my multimeter and verified that there was no power coming from the power supply.  Luckily I had a spare fuse that came with the power supply.  This was installed and voila we were up and running again.  I will be heading over to Jaycar tomorrow (if it is open) and picking up a handful of these little beauties so I don't jeopardise any future running sessions.

So the timetable started at 5:00am on the Clock, with 4 trains out on the track already at various locations.  It actually ran to completion at 1:00am the next morning.  We started off running at 8:1.  I adjusted it to 7:1, and then finally back to 6:1 at the end.  Poor Darren got some really bad derailments.  He killed a few passengers on NL2 going through Border Tunnel.  I think the inquest is on Tuesday Night.  He also got most of the shunting movements which he loves, these being the Empty Cement from Murwillumbah and one of the Banana trains - I'm not sure if he got the Up or Down movement.  Brendan also got a shunting train to contract being the Down Pickup Goods. 

We are still adding more descriptive words to the timetable table cards to help the driver as people get confused occasionally.  Sometimes it is the terminology as not everyone has come from a railway background as sometimes railway jargon is used.  This is an evolving process.  One disappointing aspect of the session were two Eureka BCW's were falling into the track at one point near Rockla Sleeper Siding.  It was because they were really under gauge by about 1mm.  This will be fixed up tomorrow, so it's not a show stopper.

Below are a few photos of the session.

Shelton was controlling a rather short stock train hauled by a 49 class into Kyogle towards its intended destination of Kyogle Stock Siding.  However, Shelton left it on the main at Kyogle and caused a back up of trains, in particular Darren's NL2 back down south.  This was the start of a bad run for NL2.  Shelton has to front up on Tuesday and answer deriliction of duty charges.

Paul is bringing NR4 back into the dock at Cassino from its Mountain Goat run to and from Border Loop.

Here we see an Up Contatiner train run by Shelton about to take the Loop at Kyogle as Brendan's Down Paper Train was sitting on the main.  This is just like many crosses that occured during the session.

Paul was bringing the NR4 into Fairy Hill Loop with two other trains.  This was the first three way cross at this location that I can remember.  Photo take by Shelton.

The other trains involved with the three way cross at Fairy Hill Loop.  The 49 Class driven by Shelton was in the siding, while the Container driven by me was coming up the grade from the helix.  Shhh - we won't tell anyone that the Container had broken away behind the first wagon and the rest of the train had started to run back down the grade.  Fortunately it pulled up about 4 feet back, due to the friction of the wheels on the curve.  I thought it might go back down the entire helix.  Photo by Shelton.

The last in the sequence of photos by Shelton.  The railmotor has stopped near the end of the Main after returning its staff at the signal box.  The driver is about to recieve teh staff from the driver of teh 45 Class as the Container enters the Loop.  The Stock train with only three sheep vans was in the siding.  Darren keep commenting that in 1986 45 class locos were not to lead.

Thanks for coming over guys!  It was a great day.

Next weekend I hope to be on the Railmotor Society's 621/721 on the trip from Brisbane to Kyogle and return with a short side trip to Fisherman's Island in the afternoon.  So it is quite appropriate that we show some photos of the railmotors from today's running session.

New Loco for the Stable

Saturday this week was our normal Club Meeting day.  So at about 10:30am yesterday I shot off over to the Club but first I had to call in at Horizon Hobbies at Warner.  As I turned off South Pine Road towards John's shop, I noticed that the road was closed.  Damn!  I then had to do a quick 'U' turn and head further down the road and take the next right and hope that my GPS could find John's shop via some back streets.  As it turned out the route to the shop was straight past one of the Wife's Girlfriend's house that we had previously visited, so I sort of knew where I was being taken.  Thank God for GPS's.

So I made it to Horizon Hobbies and asked if John had a Powerline Mark III 48 Class.  John produced 4894, which ran very smoothly on the test track. So it was then added to my stable of locos for a reasonable price.

I then drove over to the Club, had a few conversations, had a Club meat pie from the freezer, talked about the new HO clubroom layout (and I think we resolved a few questions), sat through a good Club meeting, had a good arvo tea and then it was time to travel home.  While at the Club I had picked up an NCE DA-SR decoder from the Club shop to install into the new 48 class. 

We really have a great setup at the Club.  Hot water urn runs all day for free tea and coffee.  The fridge is always stocked with cold softdrinks, and the freezer is stocked with various pies, sausage rolls and sometimes - iceblocks.  The Club Shop has a range of decoders, KD's, and foam inlays for our carry trays for rollingstock.

So later that night I sat down at the kitchen table and started cursing while I attempted to take the Powerline 48 Class loco apart.  Bits of step and other detail parts flew everywhere.  The Damn loco would not come apart.  However it soon did.  I took the loco down to the shed and switched the loco over to DCC mode.  I thought it was about to lift off the track like a helicopter from the rear fan assembly which is connected directly to track power.  The loco was very noisy.  It definitely was not a 'Silent Drive' decoder that was fitted.  However the loco did run very well in DCC mode.  So I made the descision then and there to remove the factory installed decoder and replace it with the NCE DA-SR decoder.  The decoders almost looked identical or so I thought. 

So I took each wire off the factory installed decoder and then soldered it directly to the NCE decoder in the identical place.  I had everything installed except the cab light and the fan as I was going to do some extra work on these.  I took it to the test track and hit forward and it ran in reverse.  I hit the headlight and nothing worked.  I changed direction and the rear headlight also did not work.  I had a theory.  So I decided to look at the factory decoder I just removed.  The motor tabs were reversed when compared to the NCE decoder.  So I switched them over.  I looked at the two tabs for the front headlights.  They were also reversed when compared to the NCE decoder.  I switched these wires over and I did the same for the rear light tabs as they were also reversed when compared to the NCE decoder.  Well the decoder was not a good copy of the NCE version.  So back to the test track.  It now ran correctly, and the front headlight worked in forward and the rear headlight and front marker lights also worked in reverse.  The rear marker lights did not work.  A closer inspection showed that I severed the wire to the rear marker lights when I pushed the decoder onto the mounts in the locos.  This was soldered back together and head shrinked.  Voila!  Just like a bought one and it did not make any noise.

A closer inspection of the cab light and the fan motor, showed that these ran from a small bridge rectifier board in the rear of the loco.  This allowed the cab light to always get DC current, as the motor for the fan to also get DC power.  But there was a couple of resistors, one about 100 Ohms and another at 300 Ohms, something else that I could not measure (it might have been another resistor - I will check again later) with a transistor attached there as well.  I measured the fan motor amp draw on my NCE Powercab system (this system is just great) and it was showing between 0.01 Amps or Zero Amps.  So I knew that this motor could be controlled direct from a decoder output.

Being not too much an electronics Guru, (we leave that to Brendan)  I just connected the cab light up to function 1 in the decoder and ran it via a 1000 Ohm resistor.  Works like a charm.  I connected the fan motor wires up to function 2 and also via a 1000 Ohm resistor.  When this was switched on, the fan did not spin.  It wanted to, but would not move.  You could touch it and it would move off and keep spinning.  So I replaced the 1000 Ohm resistor with a 680 Ohm resistor.  Still the same result.  I was wondering what the transitor is used for, when this afternoon following our running session on Cassino when Brendan mentioned that he was thinking about a transitor circuit to control the fan motor.  No doubt some smart Chinese factory engineer has done just than for Powerline. 

I think I will leave the loco for a while, while I think about how to kick the fan motor off and hopefully let it run at a slower speed.  I may re-install the small circuit board that came with the loco and have its input come via the function 2 output and use all the kit on the board provided by teh smart Chinese engineer.  If anyone has any other ideas or has already done this, please drop me a line via the blog or via email.

I can't wait until this locos joins the roster.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trip up the Range

Today I picked up Lefty at his house and we travelled from Brisbane's southside up the range to Toowoomba.  This was the weekend of  the Darling Downs Model Railway Club's yearly exhibition.  The weather for the trip was a mixture of rain, drizzle and bits of blue sky.  As we got closer to Toowoomba, the sun came out and the day turned out to be quite good. 

Upon arrival Lefty and I split up and made our own way around the exhibition.  This was my first trip up to Toowoomba for quite a few years.  The exhibition had quite a range of layouts from O Scale down to N scale.  It also had some not model railway exhibits.  But my eye was on the look out for some NSW HO layouts.  Of course there was my Club's layout Brendale running a mixture of trains with quite a few NSW ones interspersed between US and UK outline.  There was also the Logan and District Model Railway Club's HO layout that runs both 16.5mm and 12mm trains.  There was of course Cooparoo by Phil Hadley doing the same, and Riverbrook with some NSW trains (among others) on it, and the relative newcomer of the show circuit - Splitters Swamp Creek by Tuesday Nighter Geoff, assisted by Darren and Brendan. 

On the QR side we also have Freestone by John and Johnno Love, Bob's Dagabar, Ron Everingham's Beauraba Sidings and some Timber industry and sugar mill layouts also on display.  I think there might have been other outline layouts there but I'm biased.  We also had Al Cutmore from AR Kits and Adam from Wuiske Models showing off their goods along with PGC Scale Models, Black Diamond Models and Southern Rail Models.

Apparently our mate Geoff, took out the NMRA Modeller's layout for the show.  Well done Geoff!

One of reasons I go to a model railway shows is to obtain some nice scenery ideas, detail ideas and catch up with the many modelling mates that also attend.  Well with a show put on the DDMRC you were sure to see Smithy, Bill and Bazz among others.  I had a special request from Bazz about the blog again, to include some photos as I think he struggles to read.  He is a very good modeller NSW though, good artist and average joke teller.

Below are just a few photos of the show.  I expect Lefty will also post some and so will PK.  Apparently there was a rather large derailment on the Brendale layout that was caught on film.

A scene from Coorparoo with the lights red set and the crossing gates down.

A few seconds later the trains has gone through and the gates have gone up and the lights now allow the traffic to flow through the intersection.

A scene from Brendale that I think comes up quite well.  The local Church of the Reverend Paul Cummings.  Out the back the grave diggers were busily filling in the plot for one of the new arrivals - or is that a departure?  I like this scene as I did the carpark, the fencing and planted the headstones.

Across the track from the church is the Austeel Shed's compound.  I also built the sheds and the wire fencing and most of the detail items.

I think the above two scenes stack up quite well with other scenes on other layouts on display at various exhibitions.

I certainly liked this scene with the shearing shed and the cattle and sheep loading races.  I plan to build the combined sheep and cattle loading races at three locations on Cassino.

I was amazed at the sheer numbers of members from our Club in attendance manning layouts at this show.  Apparently there were 20 in attendance at the pub last night for a nice dinner (and that was not all of them). 

Well I was going to end this post with a photo and a paragraph about Lefty changing scales from On30 to HO NSW.  Apparently he took many photos of Splitters Swamp Creek in order to get ideas for the next extension of his layout in his shed which will now be NSW outline.  The three photos that I took of Lefty ogling the layout and recording his detail shots to copy off for his layout extension did not come out.  You will just have to believe me.

On Monday this week I received my bulk order for BCW wagons from Werris.  Monday night I took mine straight down the shed and gave them a run.  I thought they were just brilliant.  I took PK's to Tuesday Nighters and showed the crew and they all though they were great.  There were just in different modelling eras to a lot of the guys.  On Wednesday I took Greg's to work and today I took Darryl's up to Toowoomba to give to him.  To our dismay two of Darryl's six weathered BCW's were almost in kit form.  The room came off very easily and the sides were separated from the ends.  I think the assembler must have had a liquid lunch and when they came back to work forgot to apply the glue on those two wagons.

During the week I made a few alterations to the timetable and printed out the changed timetable sheets for each train.  So hopefully the upcoming running session will run a bit more smoothly and won't have three train in the one location for a cross at a two track crossing loop.

Yesterday I spent about an hour down the shed and applied two bucket loads of plaster around the track area heading into Murwillumbah.  I also had to remove the masking tape from the track in a couple of locations after the plaster set so I can clean the track during the coming week and run a train in preparation for the running session on the 10th.  I've already had three appologies for next weekend, but I think we will have a full crew in attendance.