Sunday, August 26, 2012

2012 Pine Rivers Model Train & Hobby Exhibition

This weekend we held the 2012 Pine Rivers Model Train & Hobby Exhibition at the Strathpine Community Centre.  I questimate we had over 1100 people through the doors during the 2 days enjoying the 30 exhibits that included a few shops for the visitors to get their various stocks from.

Some of the layouts had some very nice scenes on display.  Dagabar had the operating (pecking)chooks that I saw on display in one o fthe shops at the 2012 May Show in Brisbane.  They looked so great.  I plan to install one of these sets in at least one my farms in the future - either Baker's Farm or Fairy Hill Farm.  Below are a few scenes from the Exhibition.

The chooks are on the right and a nice garden is on the left in the photo above.

Some new scooters with working front and rear lights coming down the road.  A nice little park and a Police car racing to an incident with its lights on while a car with its headlights on is coming the other way.

The Logan District Model Railway Club had their dual gauge layout in attendance.  There is a nice little creek scene up one end of the layout.  I would like to have a scene like this on Cassino.  I just love the creek.

Our Tuesday night mates, Geoff and Darren were also there doing some very nice modelling.  Unfortunately I forgot to get a photo or two or three of there efforts.  Geoff had his goods shed that will be placed on Splitter's Swamp Creek on display, while Darren was spending most of his time building a NSW G3 Goods platform and shed.  Very nice work indeed.  I might have to put an order in for some buildings for Cassino.

Things I didn’t mention in last weeks Blog, were that I received a package of Eureka BSV’s the previous Monday arvo. I brought a few packets to work on following Tuesday for PK and Greg. The package for Geoff, was delivered on Tuesday this week, and Darryl’s delivery was finally made yesterday at our Exhibition. I had trouble with mine running across the Upper Richmond River bridge – a section of track that I hand laid. The previous Wednesday was a Public Holiday in Brisbane and I test ran the wagons across the bridge. I even re-laid the track (actually re glued it). I thought I had fixed it. When ever I check the wheels on the Eureka Models wagons, I find that they are very tight compared to my standards gauge. So I widened the gauge on the wheels and all is now great. I also made a trip over to Jaycar and purchased some more wire. Last weekend I drilled holes for droppers from the track down to the track bus in the area around South Brisbane Interstate and Park Road Sidings. The droppers were all installed through the holes in the baseboard, but have not been soldered to either the track or to the track bus.
Last Sunday I climbed up a ladder and installed the holes for 4 point motors for the throat into South Brisbane Interstate. Not that I have the point motors yet, but I cut the holes required to mount them under the baseboard.  Yesterday at our Exhibition, I picked up some bargain points and about 30 lengths of track so over the next few weekends I think I will be able to complete the track work in South Brisbane Interstate.
Thanks to everyone that attended the 2012 show, the exhibitors and the members of the public. I certainly had a great time and hope you all did as well.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Let There Be Light!

I understand someone great once said that!  I have always planned to install some lights under the top deck to light the bottom deck of the layout in various locations around the layout.  As soon as you build a second or more decks on your layout, this structure stops the room lighting from having a effect on many places on the deck below.  Our Club had recently installed two lengths of 5m white LED strips on our Club HO exhibition layout.  These LED lights seemed to work quite well, and were tested a few weeks back when this layout was displayed at the Gold Coast Model Train Exhibition.  Since I have installed the new top deck to support around Park Road Sidings and South Brisbane Interstate, the old top deck around Fairy Hill Loop has become very dark, as the top deck in this area is basically a large sheet of ply.  Light does not penetrate this stuff believe me.

So a few weeks back while on holidays, I purchased a 5m reel of LED's on ebay from some of the birthday money from my Mother-in-law provided. The LED's were delivered on Friday.  For the measerly sum of $10.99 I now have a means to test lighting various locations around the layout.  Today I went down to the shed and with a few strips of masking tape, I temporarily located the string of LED's above Fairy Hill Loop.  I tested one strip and then I doubled teh strip back up the other side of the basebaord providing two strips of LED's in the test area.  I then moved the LED's to above the Kyogle Stock Siding, which has the baseboard for Fisherman Islands above it.  Again this location is also quite dark since the flat deck of Fisherman Islands was installed.  Again, I tested a single strip and then doubled the strip up and tested it again.

For a power supply, I used an old cheap 12V DC trainset transformer that I test all my DCC decoder installs with.  This apparently delivers about 0.36 Amps at 12V's.  However, by adjusting the voltage I was able to see the affects of the voltage on the strings of LED's.

Overall I'm quite happy with the results.  I think I will need to purchase about about another 24 rolls of the stuff to go anywhere near providing enough light intensity to light the various decks and peninsulars on the layout .  At this stage my plan is that I will need at least 2 and sometimes three strips of LED's in parallel for some baseboard scenes and then I can adjust the intensity with a variable resistor.  I think my next test will be with a set of RGB LED's so I can try alternate colours of LED's.  Apparently these LED's you can adjust the colour to simulate either dusk, dawn or even midday with tinges of yellow, orange, red, and blue in the colour output.  But until I get my hands on a set, I can't say for sure if they will work.

In an ideal world, all this lighting technology could be computer controlled to vary the intensity of the light to match the timetable clock.  Who knows what pieces of DCC compatible kit will be available in the future?  We can but wait!  In the meantime, I am glad I have successfully completed the first test of layout lighting.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Park Road Siding is Done

This week I was able to sneak out to the shed on most days around mid afternoon.  I completed the baseboard and added the underneath bracing in most places.  I was quite happy with the result.  The two sidings at Park Road will hold my current paper train and although I haven't checked yet, should hold two locos clear of another train working in the other siding as well.  Although I do have vivid memories of three locos being on a train that was doing shunts at this location as I was going to school on at least one occasion - many, many years ago now.

A view of Park Road Sidings with the paper train in one of the sidings.

On Tuesday Night this week a rather large contingent headed over to Lefty's place and we had a great time.  No progress was observed on his layout, but we expect to see some by our next get together at Lefty's.  Lefty was having a sale of a few surplus sets of peco points.  So I took four curved points off his hands.  You can see one of David's points put to use above as the nearest point in this photo.  The other three were put into the South Brisbane throat.

The throat into South Brisbane Interstate.  The left track is the platform road. The short loco siding is in the right foreground second from the right.  I have not tested if my current Brisbane Limited fits into the platform road yet.

I still need a rather large amount of flex track to complete the whole station area and about seven sets of points.  Some of the ones that are currently positioned in the distance will be replaced, as they are in various degrees of unuseability - no spring, bits broken off, previously butchered etc., But it gives me an idea about how the station will look when it is finally complete.  I have been pushing the paper train up and down the track from south of Park Road, through the various tracks at this location, around the horseshoe curve and into the various tracks at South Brisbane Interstate.  I have yet to connect any jumpers to the track to get a loco running in this area.  Maybe on Wednesday this week as it is a public holiday in Brisbane for the Ekka.  I think I will make a trip to Jaycar to get some more wire.

One thing I am puzzled about as I lay track in South Brisbane is how were the South Brisbane Goods sidings shunted. There is only a run around loop in the platform. So how did the locos get removed from the front of the various goods trains that entered into South Brisbane? Did they go into the platform road or the loop line or one of the dead end tracks? Did the shunt loco then move out to the mainline and back onto the wagons and pull the wagons clear of the locos that brought the wagons into South Brisbane? If any body knows how this occured, I'd be very much appreciative of this information being shared via email or via comments on this blog.

I have spent the whole week getting up and down the ladder to lay the track on the top deck of the layout as it is quite high off the ground. Today I built two small steps that will allow me to get up above the top deck to do any uncoupling of wagons etc., during any runnings session.

The first step.

The second step.

This week the boss and I went over to the DFO at Jindalee while the kids were at school and I was able to pick up some letters for $1 each from a clearance shop that I was able to arrange these into a name board.  I just need to attach them to the shed wall now.

My new name board.

I'm still waiting for my order of GSV's to arrive in the mail - well mine and 4 other peoples as we did a bulk order. I had hoped that they might have been delivered last week when I was still on holidays and I could have given mine a run, but I just knew that with my luck they will arrive this week.  I also ordered a string of white LED lights from ebay during the week that I will try and install and experiment with layout lighting under my new top deck and at various other places on the layout.  I may be able to show then in use next weekend if I have time to install them.  I just need to find a power supply for them in the mean time.

Saturday this week was Club meeting day, so I went over to the Club via the new toll tunnel so I could check it out.  It certainly cut about 10 minutes off my trip time in each direction, so I might have to use it for the next few trips over to the north side.  At our pre Club meeting HO discussion meeting we discussed the layout of the station precint for the new Clubroom HO layout.  One of our members had drawn some very nice alternatives for a major station layout with two island platforms and one island platform and 2 side platforms, along with options for dock platforms.  So we  threw some track onto a table top, along with a few pieces of timber to represent the platforms and discussed the alternatives.  I think we made some good progress and have decided where the station is going to go and we just need to agree the track layout for the transition from the two tracks to the large number of tracks in the station.  We may be able to also install some sidings (goods or carriage doesn't really matter).  I think this will be a pretty good area when complete.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Top Deck Takes Shape

This week I spent some time over at my mate David’s place trying to get his track running. On Tuesday afternoon, after some troubleshooting we discovered that he had mixed up his track bus for track 1 and track 2 at one point in the layout.  We still coule not get the track running properly.  We simply could not track down the cause of a short. Bit by bit we were disconnecting the track bus on track 1 and test running a loco. We would connect in the next section of track and we would get a short, so we would disconnect both the track and track bus farther along the layout. This allowed us to rule out that section of track as the cause.  This morning I went over again as no progress in tracking down the short on track one had been made. So we eventually narrowed it down to a connector block that joined the track bus for one section to the next. Wouldn't you know it it was the second last section to check.  maybe we should have started working in the other direction. This connector block was screwed to the layout with a screw right through the middle. However, it was over tightened and the screw had caused the plastic insulation to break and the screw was breaching the metal components that the wires were screwed into. Damn annoying! However, we replaced this connector and the loco run perfectly. Following getting the first track running on David’s Layout, he donated three large radius points to me. These were very much appreciated.  I'm sure that is a rather large weight off David's shoulders.  He can now concentrate on his track 2.

Now to the Big Boy's Layout otherwise known as Cassino at my place. Early in the week I went to Bunnings and picked up 5 lengths of 2.4m 42 x 19 pine. I then managed to put my collection of pine to good use and made up as much of the top deck frame as I could, until all the pine was gone. I had to call on the boss to hold a piece of wood at one end, while I drilled and screwed the frame at the other. I must be getting lazy. I normally find a way to do it all by myself. This construction phase has basically allowed me to put the South Brisbane Interstate station baseboard up onto the frame. Completing this area means that I now have a duck under at about 5’ 8” high, in order to get behind the layout. It is probably only myself that goes down there and it is really only a ‘nod under’ instead of a ‘duck under’ due to its height so ’Them’s the Breaks!'

I then added the baseboard for Park Road Sidings and realised that I would have to splice in a 600mm section in the middle as the piece I had cut was too small - well it needed to be longer than 2.4m. I attached the track that leads from Dutton Park (the junction of the line down to Fisherman Islands) and where the track enters Park Road Siding. I attached this to the level below at three places and it seems to be very solid.
In the distance you can see where the new top deck branches on the far left.  The track that comes around to the front left is the Fisherman Islands Branch, while the track to the rear to the right is the main line just about to enter Park Road Sidings.  The under baseboard strengthener has not been added to the new mainline yet.

Yesterday I made another trip to Bunnings and collected another 4 lengths of 2.4m 42 x 19 pine. This will enable me to complete the frame to support the trackwork between Park Road Sidings and South Brisbane Interstate Station. While it took some thought, I managed to design how I would support the track above the helix, and I completed this task yesterday arvo. It seems to look pretty good and my two large curved baseboard sections fit on the frame perfectly – just like a bought one!

The newly constructed frame that will hold the horseshoe curve that goes from Park Road Sidings to South Brisbane Interstate.  I can still stand in the middle of the helix with the frame around me.  The curved baseboard sections are just sitting on the frame with a splice plate also sitting above them.  The previous top deck at the location of Ron and Margaret's B&B is visible through the frame.

Today after returning from David’s place and having some lunch, I went down to the shed and cut out and fitted the missing pieces of baseboard – the middle of Park Road Sidings (about 600mm long) and the section where the large horseshoe curve ended and needed to be joined up with South Brisbane baseboard. Not too hard of a job at all. I then decided to throw a few lengths of track that I had on hand onto the newly constructed top deck of the layout and see how it all would look. Well I was quite amazed.
This shot shows the track laid in for Park Road Sidings in the foreground on the top deck, while in the distance is the flat baseboard for South Brisbane Interstate. The two lower levels are also visible in this shot.

Almost the same shot as above, but it shows some of the frame work supporting the top deck.

Photo taken from the other end looking back in the opposite direction towards the horseshoe curve.

I have installed two sets of points at the southern end of Park Road Sidings and the track is laid to the northern end of this location. I even put my paper train onto the sidings to ensure it will fit. It does just fit. This week I will continue to screw the baseboard to the frame, and install the under baseboard stiffeners that are just sitting on the top of the horseshoe curve at the moment.  These are visible in the above photos.  I might have enough track to have the one track laid all the way into South Brisbane Interstate by the weekend.  I might then have to wire up the track to the track bus on the level below and I might be able to shunt a train in Park Road Sidings!  Woo Hoo!  The top deck is taking shape.