Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ready for the Running Session

Yesterday and today I spent time in the shed getting the last few items ready for the running session next weekend.  Just as I write this I realised that I forgot to do one thing.  Yesterday and today I wired up the point motor for the Peco point located at Dutton Park back to the NCE Snap-It.  I also wired up the southern control panel for the Dutton Park point.  This was connected to the same Mini Panel that I have controlling various out of reach points at the locations of Cassino, Murwillumbah and Kyogle.  I wired the small control panel at the southern end of Dutton Park back to the Mini Panel, but forgot to code it up with the Normal or Reverse setting for point number 2001 – the point located at Dutton Park.  I will have to do that one night this week, and then test the control panel.
I also did some work on the point work at Clapham Yard at each end.  The dual gauge points were fine tuned and a couple of trains run through them – both forward and reverse at various speeds. They seem to be working quite well, certainly better than they were behaving at the last running session.  I also laid the track for the third standard gauge track through Clapham Yard and I can run standard gauge trains through all three tracks so far connected.  This is only temporary as I will be relaying this area after the running session when I get another couple of points. 
A few locos laying over in Loco Pilly.  The two coupled 80's are off the Brisbane Limited Express, as they ran back light engine from South Brisbane Interstate on the last running session.

This is the throat of where Loco Pilly diverges from the main line and starts the northern end of Clapham Yard.

I also spent some time recoding up the accessory addresses of the points at Park Road on the DS64 to different accessory numbers and then recoding the Mini Panel with their new addresses.  I did reverse the order of throw for the two points at the southern end of Park Road that I said I would do two weeks ago and it has overcome my issue of the second not throwing due to it being slightly sticky.  I think it gets a bigger zap when it is thrown first instead of being thrown second.  So that issue is all resolved.
Heading further north, we come to the northern panel for Dutton Park (not yet connected) on the left and on the right the southern panel for Park Road Sidings.  No expense spared with my panels!

Here is the panel for the northern end of Park Road Sidings.  Below Park Road we can see Fairy Lane with road work underway.  An ambulance is stopped at the level crossing checking for any rail traffic.

Yesterday I decided to test the track since it has not be run for quite some time.  The process of testing it actually gives it a bit of a clean as well.  I took the paper train, lead by a 44 class and a Jumbo (442 class), from Grafton Yard express all the way through Cassino, up the helix, through Fairy Hill, through Kyogle, through Border Loop and into Acacia Ridge Yard and then through Clapham Yard.  That is where I had some issues with two wagons going through the dual gauge points.  These wagons were found to have wheels that were under gauge.  So I every so slightly widened the gauge and voila.  Just perfect.  It was at this point that I also realised that I was missing the last wagon on my train.  I searched and searched and could not find it.  I traced the trains route and could not find it.  It just vanished.  I eventually found it near the Cougal Spiral.  After adding the wagon back to the train I run up the grade through Dutton Park and into Park Road Sidings.  The loco was run around and the train was run back the other way until it got to Cassino Meatworks Siding.  The train was left there overnight as I got called up to the house as we went out last night.  Today I took it back to Grafton Loops ready for the running session.
Today I did some testing in South Brisbane Interstate Yard by running some wagons back and forth through the curved point throat.  There were issues with a number of wagons.  So I shimmed the check rail with a piece of 0.066'” x 0.011” styrene and all is now working very well.  Simple solution.
This photo shows the throat into South Brisbane Interstate.  4499 is sitting in the loco siding, NL1 in the platform and a few other wagons and another loco (candy 8018) scattered around the yard.

This is the panel for South Brisbane Interstate with another view of 4499 in the loco siding.

This afternoon I noticed that the staff machine for the section Clapham to South Brisbane was not working correctly.  Sure enough a wire had come off one of the switches.  That was quickly fixed and that is now all good for next weekend. 
So far I only have three confirmed attendees for next week - a long way short of the crew required for the session.  I will prompt the guys during the week and see if we can get closer to the 10 or so bodies required.
As a surprise I have some average video to show of the run of the paper trains through some of the section runs from yesterday.  It is hard to control a train and video camera at the same time.  The first one is the paper train exiting Running Creek Tunnel and passing the local naturalists and entering Border Tunnel. 

The second video is showing the paper train passing through Kyogle and making its way towards Fairy Hill Loop.  On the left of the paper train is a 44 class in the siding at Kyogle.  The 44 is hauling the rail set train.  The crew of this train is waiting for lots of other traffic to pass before they run around their train and head back north dropping rail on the way back to Acacia Ridge.

The third video takes the paper train out of Fairy Hill Loop via the main, overtaking another train which remains in the loop, passing over Fairy Lane, past Ron and Marg's B&B on the left (where PK has hired a room for the night - wait is that someone peaking in his bedroom window?) and then through the first level of the helix as it makes it's way towards Nammoona Ballast Siding.

The next video shows the paper train coming round the first level of the helix through Nammoona Ballast Siding where a 620/720 set is sitting in the loop.  This rail motor is on the down morning Mountain Goat run from Cassino to Border Loop.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

South Brisbane Interstate Panel Completed

On Friday I came home from work slightly early so I could cut up a piece of board for the control panel I was going to use for South Brisbane Interstate Panel.  I then transcribed the track layout for the South Brisbane Interstate Platform, Sidings and Yard and identified the location of the various route selecting push buttons.  I drilled the button locations out fitted the push buttons and on Friday night I soldered up the common power for each of the push buttons.
On Saturday I fixed the panel to the layout and installed the first of 4 Peco point motors to the mainline tracks on the main points that fan out into the platform and loop line at South Brisbane Interstate.  I then wired these point motors back to the first DS64 point controller.  After given it an address and each point motor an address, I coded them up and test fired the points from my Procab issuing ‘Accessory’ commands.  They all worked.  I then drilled a number of holes through the various frame members so I could run wires from the control panel to the Mini Panel.  I then the fed wires from the control panel back to my NCE Mini Panel for the first 6 track routes. 
Today I installed the next 4 Peco point motors in South Brisbane and wired them back to the second DS64 point controller for this location.  These were again given addresses and test fired from my Procab.  All worked as you would expect.  I then installed two more Peco point motors to the points in the yard at South Brisbane Interstate but I don’t have a DS64 for these as yet.  I also need to install one more Peco point motor on the point for the loco run around at the end of the main platform at South Brisbane.  This will also be connected back to the DS64 when I get one.
I then connected the remaining route selecting buttons from the South Brisbane Interstate control panel back to the Mini Panel.  I then proceeded to plug my Procab into the Mini Panel and code up the accessory commands for the 14 input buttons and the two extra inputs as two of the routes need to throw five points, so I needed to link to another location in the Min Panel so I can put in five accessory commands.
Yesterday I also picked up an NCE Snap-it for the control of the solitary point at Dutton Park.  I am in the process of installing this along with a two separate local panel, one on either side of the location on the layout facia.  When I eventually install the track into Fisherman Islands, I might need a third version of this panel at that location as well.  As the location is a glorified ‘Y’, I really think I will need a panel on each of the three tracks that lead into the ‘Y’. 
Also yesterday morning I visited Austral Modelcraft and Ray had resupplied his shop with N14SR and D14SR decoders from the inporter.  Well he did until I bought 5 of each of them for the Club Shop.  I needed one N14SR decoder myself to complete my second 73 Class.  I will get around to installing this decoder once my running session is complete in two weeks. 
So I have one weekend left to ready everything for the next Running Session.  All the trains are sitting where they were left off when we ran the last Running Session.  I will clean the track, clean the desk for North Coast Control, and test the point work at Clapham Yard and Loco Pilly as this needs the installation of check rails on the kit bashed dual gauge points to ensure smoother running when taking various routes through the points.  At this stage I have failed by plan to have the control panels ready for Clapham Yard at either end and I will not have the points operating electrically at these locations.  They will be manual thrown points.  I also will not have completed my Pratt Truss bridge over the Richmond River at Cassino, as well as the lead up spans.  The plan now is to have this available for the next running session if that is in December.  I’m not sure about an August Running Day.  It will depend upon how well the next one goes.  I just remembered one more thing to do before the next running day - restock the fridge with beer and soft drink.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Working Back on Park Road Sidings

Saturday this week I decided to install two control panels that will control either end of Park Road Sidings.  I drew the track plan for each end of the yard with pencil onto the panel and cut the holes for three push buttons and one toggle switch on each panel.  The toggle switch (SPDT) allows the panel to be isolated from the NCE Mini Panel which it has its three push buttons connected to.  So I ran four wires from one panel to the mini panel and three wires from the other panel to the mini panel.  I laid the fourth wire today as I had to go to Jaycar to pick up some more wire - again.  I checked out the new Jaycar at Browns Plains.  It is quite large and has lots of good stuff there.  It is closer than the Underwood store that I used to visit.
Today, work continued on this setup.  I thought it would be wise to finally give my Mini Panel a proper address.  So I gave it 61 instead of the default number 2.  Having address 2 causes issues with guests that come and install their procab without changing its address as it conflicts with the Mini panel and thus their procab will not work.  It will be all OK now.  I then connected a Digitrax DS64 up to the track bus.  I then gave it an address of 163 and then set the four point addresses to 1631, 1632, 1633 and 1634.  There is some logic in my ways - can you guess it?
Once this was complete I then laid five wires from the DS64 to the northern end of Park Road for the two point motors there.  I then soldered the wires up and connected these to the DS64.  I then worked on the other end, with another 5 wires to the two point motors.  These are connected to the DS64 but yet to be connected to the point motors.  All four Peco point motors have been connected to the Peco points. 
I then connected the wires from the two control panels to the Mini panel.  I then coded up the first three inputs of the mini panel to control the northern end of the Park Road Sidings.  Input one sets the first point for the Main Line.  Input two set the first point for the sidings and the second point for the first siding.  Input three sets the first point for the sidings and the second point for the second siding.  This is easy as!  I then tested them from the mini panel and then I tested them from the control panel.  I had to swap two wires on the control panel and all was good.
This stuff is so easy, it just takes time to lay all the wires and check that they run to the correct places.  Then you need to do a bit of soldering here or there and occasionally screwing a wire into a term here or there.  If I get motivated I will solder the wires to the southern panel one afternoon during the week.  Then next weekend I might code inputs 4 through 6 on the mini panel up and then attention can then turn to some more panels.  I will also code up the inputs from a large panel that will control South Brisbane Interstate.  This won't take much wire as the control panel will be very near the mini panel and the two DS64 to control the points will be very near to all but one Peco point motor.  These DS64's will be set to addresses 161 and 162.  Thus the eight sets of points will be numbers 1611, 1612, 1613, 1614, 1621, 1622, 1623 and 1624.
Before my next running day I want to get three (maybe 4) more panels installed.  This will include the South Brisbane Interstate panel (described above), another panel needs to go to each end of Clapham Yard, while another is destined for Dutton Park (although I can at least leave the point at this location set to the South Brisbane route instead of Fisherman Islands at this location).   

The other thing I need to do before the next running day is to install the bridge across the Richmond River.  I have basically completed both girder truss sides of the bridge and I am now joining the two truss sides together at the top of the bridge.  However, I need to construct some more of the various components that join the sides at right angles.  These are labelled "cross braces" in the model's plans. I built two additional ones of these last Monday and took them along to our Tuesday Nighters meeting to show them off.  Feedback from the guys was very positive.  Once painted and put on the model, using my three foot rule, visitors will not be able to distinguish what ones of the cross braces are bought ones and what ones I have scratch built.  I also have four more "laced top-braces" to build, but I have not been motivated to work on these at all this last week or this weekend.  Let's see what this week brings.
As I mentioned above, this week's Tuesday Nighters was at Bob’s place.  It was a good meeting as usual and positive for Bob as I assisted him solve an issue with a short occurring at one of his sets of Peco large radius points.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Happy Birthday RMCQ

Yesterday at our Club on our scheduled meeting day, we celebrated RMCQ’s 40th birthday.  We had a pretty big bash.  We invited as many past members that we could find contact details for, as well as representatives from other Model Railway Club’s around Brisbane and South East Queensland and some of the local establishments that we support in our local area.  Not everyone turned up but we did have a good showing.  We also had two local councillors come along and hand out a few plaques to a few key members that we wanted to thank for their efforts over the last 10 years since our grand opening of the Clubrooms in 2003.  We also awarded the first Life Membership of the Club yesterday as well. 
I’ve received some feedback from those attending that they enjoyed themselves immensely.  We had some drinks, a sausage sizzle, a large birthday cake and some champagne to wash it all down.
Anyway back on the home front, I have been progressing on the Pratt Truss Bridge for the Richmond River at Cassino.  This week I have a few photos of the bridge to show it off.  On Friday night I got out the spray can and gave one end a quick spray to see how it would come up.  That was before I added the flanges from 1.5mm styrene angle which I did today.
I intend to try and finish the second girder frame tomorrow, with the aim of giving everything a bit of a spray paint tomorrow as well.  Otherwise I will get to that next weekend.  Once sprayed I will then attach some wooden sleepers and some code 70 rail and I will see how it goes spanning the Richmond River opening.  
The base showing the first three sections of 22' 6".  I added the strengthening flanges after I did a test spray paint.

An overview of the whole bridge at the kitchen table.  You can see what I scratch built and what I used from the kit.  The black items are from the kit.

This is what the bridge will look like when the girders are added to both sides.  Only one is complete, the second only has the base assembled so far.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bridging the Gap

When I first built my layout I constructed a large area at a reduced height that allows for the eventual installation of the Richmond River at Cassino.  The opening was spanned by a specifically cut length of 42mm x 18mm pine which had track laid across it.  This section can just be lifted out and replaced with a bridge and a few girder sections either side, as the scenery in this area develops.  I have currently completed the basic scenery either side of the opening.

At the Tuesday Nighters this week I asked the guys if anyone had a copy of the Data Sheet for the NSW Pratt Truss bridge.  I was pretty sure I had one, but could not find my copy.  No one had a copy.  I thought I used my copy to assist with building my Pratt Truss bridge over the Upper Richmond River at Kyogle a couple of years earlier.  Anyway, Arthur, one of the newest attendees advised that Arthur Robinson would surely know about that bridge and might be able to assist.  The next day I received a forward of an email that contained a document about the design of the Bridges on the North Coast.  Sure enough the details of the bridge over the Richmond River at Cassino was included.  This bridge was a 180' version with 8 sections of 22' 6".  The document also covered many other valuable dimensions.  So 180' works out to be 63cm wide, quite a span.  It needs to carry the weight of 3 locos - no mean feat when made from just styrene.

I was planning to scratch build the bridge completely in styrene.  But on Thursday afternoon, I made my way to Austral Modelcraft and purchased a Central Valley kit of the 150' Pratt Truss bridge and a couple of extra kits of additional bridge girders.  This kit models a bridge of 6 sections of 25', where as I need 8 sections of 22' 6".  So I have decided to use some components from the kit and scratch build additional components from styrene. 

So far I have made the base of the bridge (mostly from scratch built styrene components) and have started the front bridge girder work.  I am grateful that I was able to attend last years Armidale Convention and take a few photos of the various Pratt Truss bridges on display there.  I will post some photos of my progress next weekend.

Yesterday Greg came over with his Raspberry Pi, and a few other bits and pieces, including keyboard, screen, powered USB hub, wifi dongle, a few cables, and tried to connect it to my NCE Power Pro 5-Amp system.  I provided my USB to Serial converter and you would not believe it.  He basically plugged it in, configured a few items, and then restarted it and Voila! He had control of a train from his keyboard via an onscreen throttle.  Next out came the I-phone and he had that working too.  Damn Amazing!

I might have to invest in one myself and have it available for future operating sessions, so operators can use their smart phone instead of a plug-in throttle.  On that topic, it looks like I might have to arrange the next running session for Saturday 6th of July.  I wonder if I can bridge that gap before then?