Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wiring Again

This weekend I spend a lot of Saturday installing a TCS decoder into an N scale Big Boy for a friend. I quick google of the loco revealed that the TCS website has a page on installing a decoder into this loco. The loco's owner already had purchased that particular decoder in preparation. While the instructions were fairly easy to follow, there is not much room in those locos for a decoder. The loco was huge. I removed the tender so I could handle it more easily. The Loco came apart easily. Well, some of the items referred to in the instructions were hard to find. But I eventually got found what I needed to install the headlight and the decoder. Would it run? No way. The front drive train would work and the back drive train wouldn’t, then I’d fix up the back drive train and that would work and the front drive train would stop working. N scale is not my friend. With my eyesight deteriorating, it was hard to see that small N scale stuff. The whole series of drive train issues related to the fact that the insulation that you need to put under motor to isolate the motor from the metal frame, which is connected to one side of the wheel pickup, gets put out of alignment due to the thickness of the insulation tape. On Saturday morning I had to cut out a section of the metal frame to make room for the decoder. That took a while, but worked. After I spent a number of hours yesterday morning on the decoder installation, I then went to a party, and when I came back I spent a few more hours on the installation at night. Finally I spent another 2 hours this morning. However, with the help of some styrene and super glue, I got it working. I had to sacrifice the lead weight on top of the motor. It ran quite well on DC on my hand laid 4 rail test track. The track is two sections of HO track with a third rail added to cater for N scale and a fourth rail added to cater for 12mm 3’6” locos. I then bit the bullet and tried it on DCC. The front headlight went on and off when controlled, and it ran forward and backwards, but the loco was quite noisy in DCC mode. It may need a good run in.
This afternoon I went down the shed and spent some time working on the electrical wiring to South Brisbane and Park Road Siding. I have started installing the main bus from South Brisbane Working back and ran out of wire. I had planned on picking up another 10 meters of wire this weekend, but didn't get out to Jarcar to get any.
The guys are coming over on Tuesday Night so I had planned to spend some time vacuuming the shed a bit following all the construction work associated with the top deck around Park Road Sidings and South Brisbane Interstate. Well at the end of the day, I decided to pack up and go and play cricket with the kids out the front instead of vacuuming. Did I mention that I hate vacuuming? I can at least do it on Monday night or on Tuesday afternoon. I also need to clean the benches, the coffee cups and put out a new tea towel as well. No rest for the wicked!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Changing Scale

Tuesday this week we had our Tuesday Nighters Meeting at Geoff's place.  This is my first visit to Geoff's since he has done his garage up.  It looks very nice and it was not that cold out there. 

We had some very good conversations and some great information was swapped between those in attendance.  I had some of Jim's AMRM Magazines with me, that he wanted to give to a good home.  Some of the Tuesday nighters availed themselves to some magazines.  I still have about 200 sitting in the book of my car, along with about 100 Model Railroader magazines, some from as far back as 1977.  These magazines will go on sale at our Club's Buy and Sell on the first Sunday in November at our Clubrooms unless someone makes me an offer before hand.

Now back to the topic of this weeks post.  Pride of place within Geoff's garage is Splitters Swap Creek.  Geoff had his recent building projects on display on one side of the layout and this was drawing alot of encouraging comments about the quality and detail level of the work on display.  While on the other side we understand that Geoff is seriously considering changing scales and hence his modelling focus for his next exhibition layout. As most followers would already know, Splitters is currently based on a NSW country branchline aka Splitter Swamp Creek.  Geoff is toying with the idea of modelling a standard gauge mainline mining operation. Geoff has already purchased his first Caterpillar Dump Truck that will ferry the coal or iron-ore raw materials to his dumper to fill up his coal or iron ore wagons.  We were all advising Geoff to "Don’t do it Geoff!" and "Your current layout is so nice!"

Below is photo captured by Shelton of Geoff toying with his change of scale.

Geoff's Caterpillar Dump Truck on the rear of Splitters Swamp Creek

Geoff was around the other side of the layout when I encouraged Shelton to take this shot.  It certainly drew a few laughs.  Geoff is expecting this to be posted this weekend.

Last week I had a guy ask me to install some decoders in some N scale locos.  I normally steer away from dodgy old British Hornby kit from pre WWII and N scale. Well, this time I said I'd have a go, so I finally put them on the table this arvo, after a week of not being able to scratch myself all week and yesterday.  Today I just can't scratch myself, as I went to a Buck's Night for one of my Nephew's yesterday and I'm feeling the worse for wear for it.  Not as you guys are thinking, it had nothing to do with alcohol, as I only had three beers.  It was the game of Indoor Cricket that I had.  I had not played Indoor Cricket for what must be something like twenty years.  I took wickets, took catches, stopped some balls, (i'll omit the ones I missed) ran people out, ran into people at full tilt, bounced off the net, smacked a few fours, hit a few other runs, got run out, and pull a hammy with three balls to go in my batting stint.  Luckily I fielded first.  We doubled the opponents score.  It was absolutely great fun.  Today is no fun, but yesterday was.

Anyway, the first two N scale diesels I checked over had a split frame that powers the mechanism and has no space for a decoder.  I hate these types of mechanisms in HO.  In N scale with no space for a decoder was not a good start - none from 2.  The next one I looked at was an RDC Budd Car.  The decoder that was supplied with it was a special one to replace the components within the RDC and while after reading the instructions with the decoder and seeming like it looked pretty simple, it turned out being a bit of work, it was a lot harder than first thought.  Trying to get the various components off the chassis was interesting and in doing so caused some of the locking lugs to be no more.  The way that this decoder is installed is quite engenious.  It goes between the pickups from the track and the motor - as it does.  It just goes between where these items touch.  Brilliant design!  The only issue is that the touch was not a good contact.  I derived a way to solder the decoder to the underneath of the chassis pickups.  I then had to raise the motor terminals a bit and then had to use some electrical tape to try and pull everything together to maintain contact.  Prior to the tape, I had to use my finder to push down to make contact.  The tape method seemed to work.  When it was finally tested, some three hours later, I'd had enough doing installs for the day. Except I spent two minutes re-installing a decoder into one of my mate David's pommy locos.  This was his loco that went for trip off the side of the layout a few weeks back.  It's trip damaged the previous decoder, but the new one works well.

After today's episode, the thought of changing scales will never enter my mind.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

South Brisbane Interstate Coming Along

This week started with a trip over to Gentlemen Jim’s place on Thursday. Jim has decided to sell his collection and I met former fellow Tuesday Nighter Peter at midday at Jim’s place. We had a look through the collection. We decided that the best way to dispose of the collection is on ebay, however, with a couple of Buy and Sell events coming up – one in Caloundra in October and another at our Club in November, these avenues will be tried first. Peter took most of the American outline equipment in a suitcase to try and see if members of his North Coast Branch of the Tuesday Nighters (actually they meet during the day – as I don’t think they are allowed to play after dark) were interested.  What remains will go to the Buy and Sells. I have some of Jim's NSW equipment that I will ask the Tuesday Nighters if they are interested, otherwise it will go to the Buy and Sells.
I also have what I think is an entire collection of AMRM magazines from issue 1 through to the current issue from Jim. These will be provided to the Tuesday Nighters for dissemination and distribution. I can already see their eyes lighting up just thinking about this coming Tuesday. I also have a large collection of Model Railroaders from 1977 onwards to help get rid of. Given that there are now DVD’s available for both these great magazines, the value of the old paper issues has certainly diminished.
It looks like we were able to sell Jim’s 9’ x 5’ US outline layout. That is very good news as it will not even have to be moved. We will know more about this in the next two weeks.
Friday Night I had Paul come over to visit and get a tutorial on installing DCC decoders. Paul had an 80 class, which took a bit longer than normal, as it would not run after the decoder was installed. It looked like the wire to the bottom of the motor was not properly connected, as after I disassembled the loco and hit that wire with the soldering iron, it then worked. It was a good learning experience.  We then installed LED's for the front and rear headlights. We also checked out a Powerline 48 class loco (old version) and a couple of AR Kits 45 Class locos as candidates for decoders.
Yesterday I had about an hour and a half to spare in the later morning before heading off to an Engagement Party in the afternoon and having a skin full of free beer. So I installed four sets of points that I purchased the previous week at our Club Exhibition. I cut holes in the baseboard for Peco point motors and temporarily laid all the track for the first five tracks. Today I also spent some time down the shed again before lunch time. I added another point in the platform Road at South Brisbane Interstate along with its baseboard hole for the point motor. This allows the run around of locos hauling passenger trains into this location between the platform and the release road.  I then completed the track laying in the next three sidings at South Brisbane. I also relocated three trains into here. The Park Road paper train was pushed around and is in Number 1 siding. I have relocated my second steel train, that has sat in Cassino for the last 18 months and not turned a wheel, into Number 2 siding. I then gathered up 4 coal wagons and 4 wheat wagons that also have been sitting in various locations on the layout that I think I will now sell.  I then put these into Number 3 siding. The track work for the next three sidings had been just placed on the baseboard and after I acquire the last two points right hand curve points for these tracks they will also be laid.
The various lengths of flex track that I have left have been temporarily laid along the incline track from Clapham Yard to Dutton Park. I think I’m about six lengths of track short of completing this section, along with at least three dual gauge points for Clapham Yard and Loco Pilly, and of course the third rail from Clapham Yard to Dutton Park. If I can eventually get these items laid, I can then have trains running all the way into South Brisbane Interstate.
I think if I set myself a deadline of having trains operate into South Brisbane of Christmas 2012, I think I will be able to have my next operating session some time around that time. In the mean time, I need to complete the re-wiring of the 3rd and 4th power districts on the main layout and I will also have to consider if I make a fifth power district for the track work beyond Acacia Ridge Yard. I also have to install the phone system connections on the new top deck and the Staff System in 6 locations on the top deck. There are not really that many free weekends between now and then, with Club Meetings, other Club activities and Family Weddings to attend. But I will give it a try.
Tuesday this week is at Geoff’s and the next meeting after that is at my place. That will be the first real showing of the top deck extension. There is still two weekends to do some more work before then.