Sunday, December 30, 2012

Running Day Leadup and Update

So far this week, I have had completed the staff machine install for the Clapham Yard to South Brisbane Interstate section, and then made all the plug in points for intercom system for the new top deck. I’ve cleaned most of the track, cleaned the desk for North Coast Control, and installed a 5th Amp Meter in the control panel for the new section from Acacia Ridge to South Brisbane. I’m still down one NCE EB1 but I think we will get by for the next session. I’ve hung up the timetable diagrams, got the timetable cards ready.
Friday morning I mowed the grass and watched what was left of the cricket. Then after that finished I made my way to the shed and I installed the communication system for the top deck and found one other headset socket that was not working for talking. You could hear all right. While testing the others, I also broke one plug in point, by pushing the stereo plug too hard and it went all the way through the board. I fixed it though by adding a washer under the nut holding it together.
I also wired up the top deck power bus (section 5) through one of my NCE EB1 circuit breakers. I found it easier than wiring up sections 3 and 4. I had forgotten to wire these to the track bus. Well at least section 3 has a track bus laid, but no jumpers connected to it. That is one of the tasks to finish before the next running session.
In preparation I placed all the trains ready for the running session that now needed to start at the top deck instead of their previous start positions. I thought I had all the magnets made up for the North Coast Controller to use to help track the trains, until early on Saturday when I could not find one. I’ll fix that for next time. The fridge was full of soft drinks and on Saturday Morning the boss picked up another carton of beer - isn't she so nice, which was cooled down ready for use after lunch. The pergola was cleaned out and the BBQ prepared. While I had worked my little behind off getting everything ready, I really think I still needed another good week of work to improve everything.
That was when it all started - Organised Mayhem!. At 11:30am I fired up the BBQ and we had a crew complement of 11 come for the initial BBQ.
The last batch of snags with the first batch of onions.  Photo by Shelton.

The northsiders whom carshared arrived.  Photo by Shelton.

Darren tucking into a snag.  Photo by Shelton.

Geoff the last to arrive, but still got a snag or two.  Photo by Shelton.

A few other invitees could not make it. Boy was it crowed in the shed. It was hot, sticky, so we shut the door and the air conditioner got a workout trying to keep us cool. As we were about to start the running session, I had no power to section 1. The wires had come off my multimeter showing amperage pulled in that section. They was screwed back on and we were ready to roll. I handed out the headsets and the lanyards that allow the timetables to be clipped to and allow storage of the pen to make notations on the timetable and suggest things to improve.  The crew took timetable sheets, the fastclock was started and we were off.
Greg assumed the North Coast Control position and did a sterling job without any direction from me. I’m not sure I could do that without myself telling me what to do. As usual we had a few issues. Most were on the top deck. I ran two new trains, my Bachmann tamper, and my rail train. Both had problems. The tamper ran so slowly. I think I might have a bind in the gear train, but it did run. The rail train lost a coupler in The Risk Loop. It just snapped off. I had to take the wagon away and replace the dummy coupler with a KD and put it back into the consist. It was then able to resume to its destination at Kyogle.
The railtrain at The Risk Loop, with the missing wagon in the shop getting a replacement KD in lieu of the dummy knuckle that was there before.  Photo by Shelton.
My steel train had a slight issue at Cougal Spiral.  What speed was it doing?  Photo by Shelton.
My dual gauge points were causing problems mostly in one direction of travel. We had some trains go way past their allocated destination. I don’t know how to stop that. We still had trains taken out of order from the timetable cards. I have one train (one that runs for a couple of hours fast clock time, complete its run) when the two trains before it have not even left their source location yet. This problem causes all sorts of issues with crosses not occurring, some trains not being in locations when wagons get transferred from train to train. I had someone wanting to run a train from point B to its original source at point A even before it got to its original destination point B from point A.
We had a couple of corn field meets.  Some caused by equipment failure.  Others by a lack of understanding but that will improve with practice.  Some crews were not taking the staff before they entered a section, and then other crew members thought there was no one in the section so they took a staff and left from the other end. It was not pretty.  On the top deck we had one train go straight into the wall, as its locos had come from Loco Pilly light engine before coupling up to the train. When the train left, it went straight back into Loco Pilly before hitting the wall with a big thud because no one checked the points were set correctly. Kaboom!  Some of the issues were quite funny - but I could not show that I thought some of them were funny as this was meant to be a serious shake down run.
A points failure at Murwillumbah.  The cement train took the loop instead of running through on the main.  It ran into the branch line container waiting to depart.  Photo by Shelton.
After our first break, things settled down and operation returned to some normality. If I could remove all issues with derailments, uncouplings, and loco issues, more trains would run to time. We would then get further through the timetable. However, we had a number of firsts.
First cross of trains at Clapham Yard - the Container to Fisherman Island branch (not finished yet) crossign with the Up Paper Train heading down south.  The Container just terminated at Clapham Yard.

The first passenger train to South Brisbane.  The Locos running around.

Apart from that issues mentioned above, we had lots of good running. Many trains got to where they were supposed to go and had minimal issues. 

A standard ballast train split over the two tracks at Bonalbo Ballast Sidings.

The brains trust - Darren, PK and Geoff.  I have no idea what they were conspiring about.

Some of the crew with a train coming down off the dual gauge into Acacia Ridge Yard.

The Mountain Goat heading from Cassino to Border Loop and passing the paper train at Fairy Hill Loop coming the other way.

The view from train control out between the decks.

An overall view of the train room from train control over the top deck at South Brisbane.  Some of the crew are visible running their trains.
I look forward to finding out what the guys think I need to improve before the next session. This may be mid year-ish. I will definitely try to wire up the control panels for Clapham Yard, Loco Pilly, Dutton Park, Park Road, and South Brisbane before then. I will also progress more scenery before the next session.
Thanks to all the crew for taking the time out of their holiday period to help run trains on my layout. It is much appreciated.


  1. What NO photos of the Fat Controller! I'm flabbergasted! Possibly better off anyway ;-)
    Thanks for a great afternoon. As for timetable, possibly need to wind it back a bit while we are in shakedown mode to cater for SNAFU fix time? GB.

  2. No worries mate I got a pic of you Operations manager on my blogger !

  3. Craig, I really think all the work you've put in, building, designing the layout, then creating all the running lists of trains is truly a huge effort, my hat and some would say hair are off to you!

    It has been ages since my last running session, and each one has been different, but a great time to be had. so thank you for putting on the day, and a big thanks for all the work you've put in behind the scenes to make this day work.

    I wrote on my train forms with any issues, and really there weren't many. I was having some trouble remembering how to operate the staff machines so I'll need to brush up on this for next time. I found myself a little lost with how to address train control, however Greg did a great time, with a group that seemed at times a little distracted with bird whistles and the occasional fluff.

    The number that rolled out for the session did make manouvering about a little difficult at times, however maybe the trains were being taken out in the wrong order?

    Thanks again I had a hoot! Sorry for rushing out at the end, and Bye! to anyone I ignored on exit, I'd used up my train running time by about a half hour.

    See you next year!