Sunday, August 25, 2013

Services Suspended! - No trains this weekend

It was the kid’s school fete this weekend.  Saturday morning started with the Kyle's soccer semi final, which he won 1-0 in the last minute of play when his team was awarded a penalty after one of their players was brought down inside the penalty box. The shot was converted and we are now through to the Elimination Final next weekend.  Saturday afternoon was a 3 hour working bee (that certainly ran longer than that) to help set up the school fete.
Well the school fete was on today.  It was supposed to go from 10:00 until 3:00pm, but I got there before 8:00am and must have got home after 6:00pm tonight.  Well we had to clean up the beer tent or the beer would go off!  Or that's what they said, so I stayed to help.
However I did get about 1 hour down the shed on Friday afternoon.  I had Friday off to do to some school related activity for my daughter in the morning.  But in the arvo after school pickup, I was able to go down to the shed.  I soldered in the third rail to the fourth road within Clapham Yard.  I do this by soldering a piece of PC board sleeper between the outside standard gauge rail and the inner narrow gauge rail.  The PC board holds the narrow gauge rail at its 12mm position in relation to the common rail.  I tested the various narrow and standard gauge wagons through this area and it seems to work adequately. 
Having done that task, I ripped up the track in the third road in Clapham Yard.  I need to cut out some sleepers out of one side of the lengths of track so I can install my PC board sleepers to attach the narrow gauge rail.  I have about 7 feet of third rail to install next weekend, and once this if finished I will have to start installing point motors at the northern end of Clapham Yard.
I think my "fixed under warranty" Digitrax 64 has started its way back across the Pacific Ocean and should be here next weekend so it can be also installed next weekend.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bridging the Gap

With a public holiday in Brisbane on Wednesday this week, I spent some time working on my Pratt Truss Bridge to go over the Richmond River at Cassino.  I needed to make a few extra truss girders for the top of the bridge, as my bridge has 8 box sections instead of the 6 in the standard kit.  So I scratch built these using the ones in the Central valley kit as a template.  Mine are near enough, and you will not be able to pick them out when the bridge is painted and viewed from 3 feet away.  
Once these were installed, I took the bridge down to the shed and rested it on two pieces of pine and inserted a piece of flex track through the bridge.  I then proceeded to move some locos through the bridge.  The bridge base deflected by about 1cm as the three locos were pushed through it.  That was not good!  My bridge has the top section total removable from the base to allow access to the track for cleaning.  I think I will have to somehow connect the top truss structure to the base via a couple of screws from underneath.  That way I think I will be able to further reduce the deflection of the bridge when it is fully laden.
Today I went further in adding a length of flex track either side of the bridge and jumpering that to my DCC system.  I then ran my triple headed consists across the bridge – back and forth.  The deflection this time seems to be about 5mm.  I have taken a couple of videos of the travel and they are below.  Everyone hold on to your hats – my wife was driving the train while I videoed.  Will miracles never cease!
Three locos crossing the bridge in a real stress test.
Another crossing.

And another from a slightly different angle.
You can see in the video – particularly the first one, where I have manufactured additional components for the truss structure and the base.  This is necessary because my bridge has more box sections when compared with the Central Valley kit that the bridge is kitbashed from.
I think I will look at installing two small screws up through the bottom of the bridge into the trusses and see if I can get the deflection down to zero.  At that point I will add the cross girders to the truss structure and then let a tender to the painting crew to start at one end and go to the other, painting the bridge a base grey colour.  Then I can work on the transoms and lay what I think will be hand laid code 70 rail across the bridge.

Off to the Border District

Yesterday I travelled with Shelton and Darren over to the border district of Victoria and South Australia.  We had the opportunity to run about 10 trains in on operating session hosted by Anthony on his layout Border District.  It was very nice indeed.  I forgot to take the camera, but I know Shelton took some shots, so hopefully we will see some on his blog later  There are certainly some interesting features on Anthony's layout. 

The height of the layout is higher than what I would call normal.  Anthony is certainly well over 6 foot tall so that might explain the height he has chosen, as well as the fact he has chosen two duck-unders at each end of the layout to allow movement between the two operating wells.

The control panels are very simple and look very professional.  They replicate the signalling aspects via repeating LED's.  very good as you can't always see the signal from where you are driving from.  The layout while NCE is not yet configured for wireless control.  I think there are only about three pairs of points set up to be remotely controlled via either Peco or slow motion point controls.
The rest of the points are controlled either by wire in tube concept - actually dowels.  These work very nicely indeed.  In the staging yard, there are many small point throws to align the tracks in the 10 track staging yard. 
The signals installed are just pieces of art.  They are manually controlled and working.  There is some degree of interlocking, so if two signals in a row are clear, you will get a green on the first and then yellow on the second.  
We used car cards to advise what loading is to be picked up and what is to be dropped off.  The shunting involved certainly extended the time taken to go from point A to point B.  Additionally as we are modelling an interchange point between two distinct systems - Victorian and South Australian, we had to swap motive power for the trains running through the main station.  It was very busy in the location of Tatiara Downs.

As quite a lot of shunting occurs, there are various methods used to uncouple the wagons.  There are permanent magnets below track.  There are hinged magnets below track where you pull a lever and the magnet is swung up to uncouple the wagons and also the good old fashioned kebab skewer that we all use.

As I mentioned earlier, Anthony is a convert to NCE.  He is using the latest Powercab with a V1.65 chip installed.  So he should be able to run three additional throttles, at addresses 3, 4 and 5.  However, we could not get address 5 to work.  We are investigating this following some feedback from the NCE DCC yahoo group.  So the layout is wired with two plug in point on each side of the aisleways in each of the two aisles or operating wells.  More than enough for this small area, but I would suggest wireless is the way to go for the future.  Wireless certainly prevents the tangling of cables are people lean over to undertaken their work.

Most of the mainline track is code 83 track, with some code 70 in some sidings and code 100 in staging yard.  The track plan is quite ingenious and gets the most run in the space provided.  It tricked me up more than one, expecting a train to go to one location and it went around to another and I almost ran a red signal.  I had some of my loco past the stick, but not all.  From my point of view, it wasn't a SPAD and that is my opinion and I'm entitled to it. The trackwork is very nicely done and the trains run very smoothly.  Although I did leave some of my train behind once as I ran over a permanent uncoupling magnet.

It was a great afternoon.  To top it off, we even had a South Australian Beer at the end of the running session.  A nice cold Coopers.  A great day. Thanks Anthony for the invite and thanks Shelton and Darren for the company on the day.  Although the Train Controller on occasions (was a bit of a cow) would not let us do what we liked.  He made us follow the rule book.  I have no idea why?  We were definitely out in the middle of nowhere near the Border Region.

I wouldn't be dead for quids while I've got model railway mates!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Time for a Break

With the full weekend of model railwaying now over, I feel I need a break from model railroading to recharge the enthusiasm levels.  I'm just plain tuckered out.  On Thursday I installed decoders in 5 locos, 2 x 80, 2 x 421 and 1 x 442.  I also spent some time re-looking at an Austrains DL class whose front headlight and that combination marker lights (white front and red rear) will not work.  If it was my loco I'd replace the internal board with a hard wired decoder and fix the issue.  I think the decoder's front headlight function has blown and is not putting out enough power.

I have just spent the best part of two days on the door at our Club's - Pine Rivers Model Train and Hobby Exhibition with my welcoming team.  Attendance numbers were down this year by quite a few when compared to the last few years, but given that the weather was hot and sunny, I'm sure many potential attendees went to the coasts and many more went to the Bronco's game today.

We had quite a few very good layouts in attendance.  I did gather a few photos so I hope to post some photos over the next few days when I regain some motivation.  Well Wednesday is a Public Holiday in Brisbane, so I might get back into the shed.  Maybe I will be recharged enough by then.

This Saturday I have an invite along with two other bloggers (Darren and Shelton) to attend another blogger's layout (Anthony).  We're off to the Border District - somewhere between Melbourne and Adelaide.  But more on that next weekend after the visit.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Sat/Sun August 10th & Sun 11th
Opening hours:  Sat: 9:00am - 5:00pm, Sun: 9:00am - 4:00pm
Strathpine Community Centre
199 Gympie Road, Strathpine
(Enter off Mecklem St.)
Adults ............................ $6.00
Family (2A + 3C) ......... $15.00
Senior/Concession ........ $5.00
Children ......................... $2.00
Come say hi to a number of bloggers - 6 I know of at the Exhibition.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tidying up Some Loose Ends

During the week, Ian from “Musswellbrook and Merriwa Railway” Blog fame advised of some NSW locos and rollingstock available for sale so I took the opportunity to snap up another Austrains 442 loco (this one is in candy livery) for the layout at a very good price.  There were two Jumbos available for sale.  There was no need to be greedy, I didn’t need both, I thought I‘d let someone else share the elation in getting a Jumbo for a good bargain price.  I now hear that Darren picked up the other one.  I’m just waiting for my package to be delivered now.  There is nothing better than a jumbo to run on the North Coast.  I think I will now be able to double head Jumbos on the Brisbane Limited.  I currently run a 442 + 80 combination.  I picked up a decoder for the loco on Saturday while at the Club.
I had Friday off this week as my daughter was running in the District sports carnival in the 800m event.  It is really handy when the carnival is held across the road from school.  She came 6th in her heat out of 14 competitors, so she missed the final.  Her heat was the closest one contested.  Once her race was complete, I made my way to the Post Office to ship off my DOA Digitrax DS64 back to the US for a warranty replacement.  That is not cheap!  I hope they return a working one to me.  I’ll probably have to wait about a month before I hear anything.
One of our Club members had a DL class loco where the headlight and the associated front and rear marker lights were not working.  I decided to have another look at this beast.  Apparently the decoder was putting out only 1.5V on the front headlight circuit.  I now assume that this is not enough to light the various LED’s.  I think it needs more oomph.  I think the decoder has blown the circuit.  The rear light and its associated marker lights all work well.  It has just occurred to me as I am writing this update that I might be able to take the function 1 output and rewire it to where the forward headlight is going.  I will see if I can do this during this week.
On Saturday morning I went to the local hobby shop – Austral Modelcraft and picked up our order for about 60 sets of points for the new Club HO Layout.  We did get a pretty good deal from Ray.  But we are no where near finished purchasing points.  This 60 points, plus what we already had down the Club will still not be enough to complete the bottom deck, as new ideas are incorporated into the design.
When I got to the Club, I followed up a brain storm I had during the previous night about incorporating two return loops near the bottom level helix.  These can be being incorporated pretty easily into the existing benchwork with only minimal changes.  I showed my suggestion to a few members and there was some good enthusiasm about incorporating them.  The bottom deck is arranged as two concentric circles, but as the track snakes its way around the baseboards, it looks like there are 4 tracks in some areas.  I have labelled the tracks The 'inner' and 'outer'.  The two reversing loops will allow trains to move from the inner line to the outer line, and the other allows movement from the outer line to the inner line.  Later in the day, after our usual meeting, monthly raffle and afternoon tea, we were laying the staging yard with its curved throat at one end.  Once I had completed laying the yard, I was also hypothesising about if I could also include a reversing loop around this area. I also believe that we can do this and it will add to operation.  This return loop means that a train on the outer line must cross over to the inner and diverge from the inner and can head around the backboard along the staging yard side of the peninsula and then joins up to the inner track.  This can allow a train on the outer track to cross to the inner and then make its way to the port facility that we have on the inner and unload coal, grain and containers.  In theory it sounds a good idea, but I expect to get lots of push back from those that don't like having points installed or even running through points.
While at the club I was given a number of locos to decoder up for one member.  That was 2 x 80 class and 2 x 421 class locos.  I also was given an 80 class by another member, that keeps derailing.  Today I ran that troublesome loco on my layout and all I have done is oil the drive train up and it seems to be running much better and having a lot less derailments.  So maybe it was having some sort of a slight bind in the drive train and it was lifting a bogie off the track when it ran over points and any undulations in the track.  So there is no better place to test a loco than through some of my trackwork.  Yep, initially it kept coming off the track!  After lubrication, I think I have now stopped it coming off the track.  Time will tell.
Today while in the shed, I realigned some track around the Acacia Ridge storage loops to improve access to the dual gauge track heading to Clapham Yard.  There were a couple of sharp kinks in the track that have been taken out.  I also wired up four of the five point motors at the southern end of Clapham Yard to the Digitrax DS64 point motor controller.  I then installed the Control Panel at this location and then ran 6 wires back to the NCE Mini Panel located about 8 feet away.  I then coded up the accessory commands into the Mini Panel and then gave the control panel a trial run.  It worked just like a bought one!  All I need now is a single point motor controller maybe an NCE Snap-It for the vary first point in the yard ladder and everything at this location is now complete.
I then moved to the northern end of Clapham Yard.  My plan is to replicate at the northern end exactly what I have done at the southern end.  I have a track arrangement that allows Standard Gauge trains to access all four tracks.  The narrow gauge trains can only access the innermost two tracks.  I spliced two points into the trackwork at this location and drilled the holes for the point motors.  I still need to purchase a right hand narrow gauge point and splice it into the track on the innermost track and then the fun begins.  I will have to install one more set of points into the Loco Pilly area and then install about 9 or 10 point motors and hook these up to some DS64 point motor controllers.  I will have to go back and attach some more droppers to the track work as there are a few electrofrog points and insulated joiners so I need to have the tracks powered.  I have another NCE Mini Panel located on this side of the layout, so to get to this from the control panel, will require about 25 feet of wiring for each button on the control panel.  This will keep me poor in wiring. 
Next week 10th and 11th August 2013 is the RMCQ Model Railway Exhibition at Strathpine Community Centre in Strathpine, entry is via Mecklam Street.  Opening times are 9:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday and 9:00am – 4:00pm on Sunday.  I will spend most of my time helping out on the from door, so any bloggers, drop by and say hi.  There will be about 26 or 27 exhibits attending.  It is good value at $6 for Adults, $5 for Concession and $2 for Children.  A Family pass is $15.  We are also raffling a few train sets, so make sure you purchase a ticket upon entry.