Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Cassino December Running Session Wrap-up

I was a bit premature last update when I thought that was the last blog update for the year.  I was one week out.  I forgot that there was still one weekend left in the year and boy, it was a good’en!
The last running session for 2014 at Cassino was held yesterday.  We had 9 drivers attend along with myself. 
Some of the crew during crib break.

Some more of the crew.  Santa on the far right relaxing after delivering presents two days before.
We had 24 trains operate, 21 to completion and three are still in transit.  We had 2 people sharing North Coast Control duties – Greg and Anthony.  Greg is very capable and has done this a few times.  Also this was Anthony’s first attempt and he handled himself very capably. 
The two North Coast Control volunteers.  Greg standing up on the single step ladder looking over South Brisbane Interstate Station, and Anthony taking time out and actually handing the stress pretty well.
Things in the session started off pretty poorly - well it was bedlam actually.  The BBQ ran out of gas 5 minutes before the crew arrived (where was PK when you needed him).  So I had to cook the snags in a frypan in the kitchen until drivers started arriving when the boss took over.  I did not install the new battery in the phone system.  I didn’t test the phone system and it didn’t work when it was turned on as a wire had come off the master switch.  The layout was not turned on when the fast clock was started.  However after about 5 minutes Greg found the loose wire in the phone system, and while trains were being worked manually through the loops on a first come first serve basis I soldered that wire back on.  But eventually things came good.  We had a few laughs during the pre-session BBQ.  We had a pretty good running session while it rained outside.  We had the Boxing Day Test Cricket on the Shed TV.  The aircon was on, as was the Raspberry Pi.  Surprisingly quite a few chose to use the wifi as their preferred method of control.  Radio Procab is still my preferred mode.  That way you still can get the fast clock time while you operate.  There will be some further work with getting the Raspberry Pi to run a webserver and a few strategically placed cheap phones or tablets around the layout accessing the webserver and showing the current fast clock time.  We paused at just after 3:00pm for just over 30 minutes for crib before we resumed running again.
A view through showing Cassino with a trip train from cassino to Cassino Meatworks behind the signal box.  The loading had previously been dropped off by the branchline's pickup goods train.

A view through to Old cassino on the right with two trains visible, The Gold Coast Motorrail in the platform and a stock train in the loop.  On the far left is Murwillumbah.  You can see the Banana Train on the left and at the centre top in the far distance is the Cement Train in the siding.

Some of the Crew like future road kill in the headlights - PK, Darren, Geoff and Mark.

The container train crossing Fairy Lane.  There is an accident at the level crossing with police and ambulance in attendance.

We had a few issues during the session.  One wagon got removed from a container train.  One container had recently came off and the wagon developed a slight bow in the heat in the shed, thus making the coupler the wrong height and causing uncoupling.  We had two locos have heart attacks while going over points.  They were in a consist and stopped working.  So we just cancelled the consist and I swapped them for spare locos and resumed.  My branch line passenger trains had issues while PK was running it.  I will investigate this train during the week.  My mainline passenger train had issues with the power wagon on one curve.  Last night after everyone went home I removed a water tank and re-glued it about 3 mm away – thus increasing bogie swing.  It seems to run better now.  I did see someone holding a steel wagon, because it came off in the helix I think I heard, but nothing was documented – so it must not have occurred.  I can’t fix non-existent problems.
Some other issues were that drivers could not find locations – one went the wrong direction, drivers could not find control panels for various yards and they pointed out improvements to various timetable cards which included more information to be included.  I have one point motor that will not throw from the control panels.  I suspect a wire has come off as it throws in one direction but not the other.  I will install at least one location marker on the layout for a passenger train to stop at, instead of leaving it up to the driver's imagination.  Some location diagrams will also be enhanced with location of uncoupling magnets.
The troublesome container wagon was fixed last night, by heating up the wagon over the jug, and gluing on a container.  Today the wagon was put back in the train and the train has gone for a run with no issues.
So today I moved a few trains around so the fastclock can be reset to 10:00am for the next timetable session.  Three trains were backed up ready for the next session.  That maybe on the weekend of Australia Day in January 2015.  The session starts with about 7 trains moving at that time and the next starting at 10:10am.  Slightly busy for North Coast Control.
Today I received a couple of emails from the crew with improvement suggestions.  I will read Mark's email tonight and I also had an email suggestion from Anthony for a few things that I will follow up during the week – one about a loco, and one an “Operating Session Initiation Procedure Protcol” that I will implement.  I might just have to call it the OSIPP, as opposed to the Protocol In Session Usual Practice – I’ll leave that for yourselves to think about – although the latter may also continue to occur.
The day was quite busy with trains eventually flowing quite well.  I did not get a chance to have a drink until crib break!  Anyway - See you next time.  Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Year in Review

Well by some standards, some will think not much has happened on Cassino.  By others, quite a lot has occurred.  I went back and reviewed the posts from January and February 2014 and went through the year.  I started by adding some fascias to the tracks between Acacia Ridge Yard and Clapham Yard and Glenapp Loop and Acacia Ridge Yard. 
I will see about painting the rear of the fascias to see if I can add some depth to these narrow scenes.
I added the scenery between Bruxner Highway all the way across to Cassino. 
Bruxner Highway Level Crossing - complete with two flashers.  The locals complain to the police about these flashers though.
Bonalbo Ballast Siding

The Richmond River Bridge.  I will experiment with the water this year.

The entry into Cassino Station.
I have sceniced Kyogle Stock Siding.  I did some basic work at Lismore and then started some major work on the area between Lismore and Murwillumbah. 
The Kyogle Stock Siding.  Some of my drivers cannot find this location.

Lismore has been equipped with some standing room for various semi-trailers to offload in the yard.

Travelling north of Lismore under the road overbridge.
Then into Murwillumbah.
I also planted lots of trees on the layout.  I relayed some track through Acacia Ridge Yard as well as Grafton Yard.  I also got the Cassino Turntable sort of working.   The tracks have been laid to it as well as a number of sidings off it. 
Cassino Loco
Running Creek.  Another location where some water needs to be added.
I have added four lengths of lights under the fascias to light the deck from Grafton Yard to Cassino.  I’ve added wifi to the shed via my Raspberry Pi setup so those mobile phone train controlling people can get mobile with their train.  I’ve had a few new faces visit Cassino this year and hopefully they will return in the future and see even more progress.
So this year, I hope to work on the Murwillumbah Cement Silo, and add some basic scenery around that location.  I will complete the Cassino turntable area and get it fully operational.  I will do a number of other locations with basic scenery.  There are still lots of just started and half finished scenery areas which will also be progressed.  These include the section from Lismore to Murwillumbah, the cemetery near Fairy Hill Loop. 
The Fairy Hill Cemetery.
I should also put in a few kilometres of fences alongside the railway property.  I will try adding water to the few creeks, rivers and stagnant water holes that are on the layout.  I might try and paint a few backdrops.  I hope to get some of my working gates operational.  I want my bushfire scene operational as well.  I hope to add some snubbers to my power districts.  If time exists I will revisit rebuilding the Cassino Roundhouse.
Hopefully a few additional locos will be delivered by manufacturers during next year - 48s, 45's, a candy 81 that is correct in detail and a QR 2300 narrow gauge loco.  Who knows, maybe even a second ready to run narrow gauge loco.  Some more rollingstock will also be delivered, both passenger (XPT set, Brisbane Limited set) and a small amount of goods wagons (more tank wagons and some rutile wagons).  I would love some milk tanks that ran on the far north coast as well.  I hope to purchase about another 10 lengths of 5m strands of LED lights to light the bottom deck and some areas of the second deck.
There will also be continual tweaks to the existing locos, rollingstock, the tracks work and the timetable.  I hope to get both my 73 class operational.  There will continue to be a clean out of rollingstock to make way for the new wagons.
Most of all this hobby involves camaraderie and friendship.  I hope to have laughs, good times and lots of great moments in the shed with my mates.
I’d like to wish all the bloggers and lurkers who follow this blog a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  I hope your wishes come true and you give and receive joy through this great hobby of ours – Model Railways.  Spend some good quality time with your families over this Christmas period, and watch the Aussies make curry with the Indians in the cricket, and work on those small modelling projects while on time off to increase your enthusiasm in the hobby.
Merry Christmas.  See you all next year! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

2014 Christmas Party and Time in the Shed

Yesterday was the Annual Club Modelling Competition.  I did not get any prizes, but we had a good time as usual.  There was some very good models presented.  I thought that a couple of dioramas presented were very good.  Apart from the Modelling Competition, we also have a Christmas Hamper, or in our case about 10 of them.  Unfortunately I did not win any of the prizes.  A couple of people won multiple times.  I have shown a couple of items that I thought were very good.

A small diorama by the President.  This had nice water scenes on it.

A close up of one of the water scenes on the above diorama with a bear foraging for some food.
A couple of the building kits.  The one on the left won best structure (I think).

Our junior entrant (9 years old!) took away two trophies for this effort.  Well Done!

My NSW Road over Rail bridge on a small display diorama.  This bridge has now been placed back on the layout.

A complete N scale layout was also entered.

Yes some NSW rollingstock.  You just gotta luv that stuff!
Today I got to the shed about mid afternoon and ran a few trains around.  But first I used some builders adhesive to glue my strings of LED lights up under the layout.  The sticky backing on the strings of LED lights does not stick too well to raw wood.  So I have used some builders adhesive.  I will advise how this turns out at a later date following this test.
So for my running activity, I ran the CPH that was sitting in Glenapp Loop, around to Kyogle Loop and then ran it back to South Brisbane Interstate Station, and then to staging for the next running session in Loco Pilly.  It ran well, but when it is not moving, the horn will not sound.  However, when it is moving at any speed step, the horn does sound.  I think it will need a reset the chip in the unit and then I will check it out again. 
While running the CPH I found a V/Line VLCX hiding in the Cougal Spiral Tunnel.  It is amazing what you find around my layout!  I assume it came from the Paper Train.  I have no idea when it was positioned there, but it is on the train now.
I next decided to run my Brisbane Limited passenger train from Grafton Loops to South Brisbane Interstate.  I then ran the locos around the train, added the buffet wagon that was removed in the last running session for poor performance, and ran the train back to Grafton Loops again.  This all occurred without any issues.  I did glue the weights in the Buffet car down and adjust one of the bogies before it was put back on the train.  However, when this train was running through Grafton Yard, a mysterious short occurred when the locos got to a certain point – so to speak.  I have some large radius Peco insulfrog points in a cross over from track 3 to track 2 in Acacia Ridge Yard.  As the train was running wrong road in Acacia Ridge, it was going over the point on track 2 and it caused a short, that could not be resolved until the power was turned off and turned back on.  I took the nail polish to the two points and once it has dried I will try this again during the week.
I’m back at work tomorrow so I will have a few hundred emails to catch up on and no doubt a few things to fix up.  So much for my holidays.  At least I have another almost 2 weeks off in about 10 days.  Imaging the modelling I will be doing in that period as well.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I'm on Holidays!

This week was my kids last week of school at their current primary school.  They both move to new schools next year, with my daughter graduating on Monday night. So I had the week off to spend time at a number of school activities during the week.  It is a sad time as a lot of blood sweat and tears have been put in at the school at various working bees, BBQ’s and P&F Meetings.
In the down time between school activities, I did actually get to the shed as you would expect.  On Wednesday I spent quite a bit of time running trains.  I was also pottering around on the layout.  I soldered some jumper wires that had come adrift.  I have also found a section of track between two points in Clapham Yard that does not have a jumper installed, so I will remedy that next weekend.  I ripped up and relayed two sections of track - Cassino - Old Cassino and about a metre of Main Line track in Border Loop, as these were causing grief during running sessions.  Also as I was running trains, I had one wagon lose its bogie pin, with the train ending in grief.  So I've replaced the bogie pins on that wagon as well as two other wagons.  I had some screws available that I replaced the old AR kits bogie pin with.  I've adjusted bogies on about another 8 wagons.  This included loosening the screws and allowing further swing of the bogies against the coupler box and the wagon centre sill.  I also glued containers onto 5 container wagons that had been just placed on the wagons, but the rock and roll of the wagon movement around the layout means that the containers can move about and potentially come adrift.  That has now been fixed.
I replaced the wheels on one wagon – a Lima car carrier, as they were too large.  The wheels in the bogie were scraping on the wagon floor.  So the smaller diameter wheels allowed the lowering of the KD coupler height ever so slightly and made this wagon now compliant with the passenger train it was running in – The North Coast MotorRail.  During the train running I was doing, I was moving complete trains between the various staging sidings at Grafton Yard so they were located in the correct siding.  These trains ended up on the wrong tracks after the last few running session, so I had to put them right before the next session.  I did this by doing quite a bit of shunting.  I was having trouble with some wagons derailing when being pushed back through a set of points.  So upon further investigation I’ve put styrene shims on two points in Grafton Yard and that has stopped the derailments. 
I was also having trouble with my rail train set getting access to the siding at Kyogle.  I fixed this by just adding a spacer wagon to the train before the 8 car rail train.  I may as yet rip up the track and relay it, but that is something for a time in the future.  But now this train has no issues entering the siding.
On Thursday I also scored a new kitchen storage container about 600 mm square with 6 pull out wire cages.  This was excess to a friend's needs and they were going to throw it out.  It is now in the shed and sitting next to my original version with 4 double depth pull out trays.  This is for visitors to use to store their Procabs, car keys, wallets and any other things they bring, etc., when they visit for a running session.
On Friday night, I went around to Geoff’s place for a modelling night with a few of the Tuesday Nighters.  There was quite a lot of activity going on, except for me.  My next activity will be planning the building of the Murwillumbah Cement Silo so I was just drawing rough plan and putting dimensions on it.  I have a couple of photos and I tried to see if I could find some more on the Internet.  Well, would you believe it, one that came up - came from Geoff’s Blog site.  So Geoff and Darren have promised to send me a few photos that they have of the location, taken a few years ago, while they were attending one of the exhibitions put on at the Murwillumbah High School. 
This internet is a good thing!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Running Session Wrap Up

So this week in the lead up until the next running session in four weeks, I will be fine tuning lots of things on the layout and the trains.  So the week started with me updating all the timetable cards with additional information, like the track to take (Main or Loop) at each crossing loop as the trains progresses around the layout, and additional shunting information if that is required by a train.  Now this information will only be of benefit if everyone runs to the timetable.  if trains run later, then it could cause some issues.  But we will see.  I have also created a card about how to read and understand the timetable cards.  These will be distributed before the session.  Hopefully it will do away with people going the wrong way and stopping at the wrong locations.
Today I did a small amount of track work.  I glued down some cork that was under the rails in a couple of locations and then added some additional nails to the track.  The reason for this was two fold, one to keep the track in the correct level plain as it was lifting with bows in the cork in a couple of locations, as well as to remove some slight kinks that were identified in a couple of locations.  So these hopefully should now have been fixed.  I know there is still a location within the helix where the track dips that I have not fixed up yet and also the track at Running Creek needs to be soldered where two rails join to remove a slight kink in one rail and the gauge narrowing that occurs to the track.
I also soldered two wire jumpers to the track that had come away, one in Glenapp Loop on the main line and the other in Grafton Yard.  I also added tooth brush bristles to the track in a number of locations – 4 to track 2 in Clapham Yard, one to the Norco Siding at Old Cassino, and one to the Shell Oil Siding at Old Cassino.  I then added two more bristles, one to each track in Bonalbo Ballast Siding.  I also added a set of bristles to the Cement siding at Murwillumbah.  These bristles are located between the rails and when trimmed, just touch the axles of the bogie.  They stop the wagons from running away down a grade.
Upon completion of these tasks, I decided to have a bit of fun by adding a length of code 83 rail as a third rail into the narrow gauge sidings at Acacia Ridge Yard.  This now lets a standard gauge train enter further into the siding.  This was prompted by a Tuesday Nighter at the last running session.
Being on holidays this week, I will spend some time in the shed, moving trains to their expected end positions at the end of the running session.  There are a number of trains out of position.  I then plan to document what I need to do put trains into the starting position for the next session.  Since I added new sidings a few months ago, trains are in different locations to what the timetable says and the trains in the dead end sidings need to be reversed out, run around the return loops and reversed back into their siding.  I also plan on trying to run each train out and back before the next running session and do as much fine tuning as I can to further improve running qualities in the next session.
Let's see how far I get this week.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Another Full Weekend of Trains

I must be blessed.  I have spent another full weekend doing model railway things this weekend.  It started off on Friday night when I went down to Darren place for a running session on his layout with a few mates.  It was great!  I think I got the easiest train to run.  I did not have a two man crew like the other two trains that ran.  I could have finished the job much quicker than I did, but was waiting to get the staff for the section ahead for quite some time in order to run around my train.  However, I decided to use the other end of the loop and the previous staff section to complete my activities and shunt the grain/stock feed siding.  I had a great time and good company after a very nice sausage sizzle dinner.  Thanks Darren!
Saturday kicked off with an early trip to the shed to clean the track before I was due to get some visitors.  But at just about the appoint hour for arrival – approximately 9:00am, I got a message that the visitors were not coming due to illness.  No issues.  At least I cleaned the track before today’s running session.  Saturday's visit was for Ian Phemister to catch a glimpse of the layout before he and Darren had to drive to Toowoomba for an operating session at Bill’s layout.  Unfortunately I could not attend as I had to pick up the mother-in-law yesterday and bring her over to attend my daughter’s Dance concert.  I did get a few minutes in the shed in the arvo to do a bit of scenicing next to a new piece of roadway I installed at Lismore a few weeks ago, just to blend it in properly with the scenery.
So today dawned with 4 guys turning up out of the 19 invitations I sent out.  I know that there were other activities already on the calendar.  I hear that Bazz even gave the excuse that he was out the country - he could have been more imaginative!  No sooner had the session started with the 5 of us when Ian and Trudy Phemister popped their heads in after not making it the day previously.  So I gave Ian a quick tour of the layout and we resumed running.  It was great in the shed with the air conditioning on, plenty of drinks flowing and trains running.  We had no North Coast Control in operation, with everyone working themselves through the crossing loops after pulling the next train timetable card from the deck.  As usual we had intermittent derailments, at least one uncoupling, two broken couplings and a few trains stopping at the wrong locations.  I know two wagons were bad ordered (removed from trains) during the day, so I will investigate these over the next few weeks.  I will be doing a short description on how to read the timetable to give to the guys as a refresher before the next session.  I will also be adding a few more toothbrush bristles in a couple of sidings to prevent wagons from rolling away when they are uncoupled from the locos.  This will occur particularly in Clapham Yard as this is on a slight rise with a fall away at each end.
This session was the first to use my Raspberry Pi as a wifi access point for the layout allowing operators running the Engine Driver or Wi Throttle apps to run a train.  I know Greg used it, but PK mentioned that he had an issue at one point when trying to call up a train which was a consist.  After the session ended, I actually used my tablet to successfully shutdown the Pi, and it worked a treat.  I also used my layout lighting for the first time during a running session.  I think the consensus was that the three working strings certainly enhanced the look and feel of the layout.  My Christmas present from the boss hopefully will be a few more strings of these LED lights.
Tonight while watching the cricket on TV, I have gone through all my timetable cards and added additional annotations to them advising what track to take at each crossing loop.  This does of course assume that everything is running to plan and timetable, and we all know that this does not occur. 
Today I have noticed that a few of my locos are not speed matched particularly well, so I think over the Christmas holidays I will be using JMRI and going through this activity on a number of locos.  At one point, during today’s session, one loco decided to run in reverse.  I think there must have been a spike caused by some sort of short and this just caused havoc with this single loco.  So that was fixed on the programming track and everything returned to normal.  I just must get around to installing the 'snubbers' on each end of my track busses.  I have had the component for some time now.
So there is plenty to do before the next running session in December.  More scenery, more tuning of wagons and more fine tuning of track – maybe some super-elevation and more subtle gradient changes and also restaging the trains all in readiness before the next session on the 27th.  Thanks to everyone for attending and making the day a great one.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What Happens on Tour Stays on Tour

Well on Friday morning this week Darren, Peter and myself travelled to Armidale to attend the New England Convention.  Down there we met up with our Tuesday Nighters mates, Geoff and later Brendan.  From 5:00pm on the Friday we went to the Convention for the first get together and as we were walking into the Bowls Club where the convention was being held, we saw Dave, Kerry and Dale.  That was the first time we suffered some friendly banter on the weekend.  We got inside and met up with the Toowoomba Trio of Bazz, Bill and Doug - some more banter.  We also met up with the NSW mid North Coast guys and fellow bloggers – Ian, Ian and Andrew.  We also saw fellow Tuesday Nighter Arthur and his lovely wife Kerri.  Of course Kieran was there with his bed mate – in the next room to us.  The next room again at the motel had Stephen and Peter from the Logan Model Railway Club.  We also saw many familiar faces from the New England Model Railway Club and of course some guys from Sydney and met a few new mates from around Kyogle (Steve, Paul and Phil and the other Phil) and of course some other Brisbanites - Peter B, Peter, Ian and George.  We also got to catch up with Rohan from Glen Innis. Who could leave out Al from AR Kits, and it was nice to finally meet two other bloggers Ray P and Peter H.  I did also spoke to quite a few other guys, but can't list them all.
Friday was not that late a night, but Saturday was slightly different.  We eventually had a few guys back to our room until quarter to 2 on Sunday.  Tonight we are going to the White Bull for a meal and a few drinks.
The whole convention was a great event.  I have not laughed so much as we did with (in particular my room mates) the guys mentioned above and the after dinner speaker from Saturday night at the Convention Dinner.  I certainly learned some new techniques, and certainly some new ideas to try to implement back at home on the layout.  The Convention speakers certainly caused us to think about a few things in our modelling life and the layouts present were certainly inspirational.  The Clinic presenters had some good techniques to learn.
I picked up a few items from the shops present.  Thanks everyone for attending as you all contributed towards a very good convention.  I certainly want to try and organise my attendance for the next Convention in another 2 years time.
One of the great layouts present - Bullenbung Creek.

Nice carriages, wagons and scenery.

The water spout on the water tank lowers when the steam loco pulls up next to the tank.  very nicely done.

The other great layout.

A nice Australianised scene with the cockatoo's and a koala up the tree.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Few Small Jobs

Thursday night this week, I broke out the basswood strips while sitting at the kitchen table and installed the roadway posts and railings on my NSW 18’2” Timber Overbridge Roadway built as per the DataSheet Plans. 
The following night (Friday) after the glue had dried, I stained the posts and all the rails with my ink and metho solution.  I think it looks pretty good and I just need to install it in my small display diorama for our Club modelling competition held at our December Meeting.  While I was working with wood, I decided to grab a few balsa wood sleepers that I had previously cut and throw them in my ink and metho mixture.  I had a plan for them to be used near the rail crossing I installed near Cougal Spiral last weekend.
Also on Friday Night my mate David was due to come over.  While awaiting him in the shed and watching the cricket on TV, I decided to do a small amount of plaster painting in readiness for adding some dirt and ground cover scatter in the coming weeks.  I was working around Old Cassino and Murwillumbah.  I also installed the balsa wood sleepers at the track crossing near the access gate around the Cougal Spiral area.  When David arrived he came with two locos to decoder up and a signal module from Traintronics (in the UK) for me to work out how to incorporate with some of his signals.  I created a little test board for the signal model this afternoon.  I'm not having much success!
On Saturday night while the boss and the kids were at the school disco I installed the decoders into David's two locos.  I tested them this morning on DC before unleashing DCC on them.  The first one is an average runner and the second seems to have a seized motor setup.  At least the decoders are working.
Saturday at midday at the Club, I presented the second of my modelling skills sessions and had three or four guys working on their own modules and then about 3 or 4 other guys who were going to go home and replicate the techniques on their module at home.  We do have some good facilities at our Clubrooms.  We just take out three or four fold up tables and put them on the back veranda of our Shed and we can present away.  We sometimes have club meetings on the back veranda when it is really hot and we can all just fit in.  This area always gets a very good breeze.  This month’s presentation was plastering over the base polystyrene scenery that we had carved up the month before.  The modules are starting to look pretty good.  There will be no modelling skills presentation next month, but we will resume again in January.  At that meeting we will be painting the base scenery and installing ground cover and adding some rock work.
This afternoon, besides working on David's signalling model, I decided to try and fit my scratch built bridge into its display diorama.  I will need to cast two more concrete bases to sit the piles on during the week.  On the layout, I also installed a small bitumen roadway leading into Lismore Yard.  This was done by using balsa sheet as the road base and staining it with my ink and metho stain solution.  That area is also starting to look good.  If I get time this week, I will try and blend the existing scenery around Lismore Yard in with this new bitumen road.
This week we have Tuesday Nighters at Geoff's and then on Friday, a few of us head down to Armidale to the New England Convention.  It will be good to catch up with some mates down there.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Club Buy and Sell

Today two of the Tuesday Nighters, Darren and Grover came over and together we headed over to the other side of town in my car to my Club’s Buy and Sell.  When we got there about 5 minutes before scheduled check in time, the place was packed with sellers already setup and club members getting things ready and running trains of the two main layouts.  Luckily I was able to grab a table and so did Darren and Grover.  Right between us was fellow Tuesday Nighter - Barry.
There was absolutely stacks of NSW gear for sale.  There were at least 6 sellers there.  Pricing was really, really good - way less than what it is listed for on e-bay.  I did not sell one bit of my NSW gear, but one old SAR kit, and some generic stuff, a bridge, a signal and an American wagon.  So not a profitable day but at least I made some money.  I think the number of sellers was either the same or up slightly, but the number of buyers seemed to be down.  But given the day - very hot, I'm sure many were at the beaches.
On return home, Darren and Grover came down to the shed for a cold drink and checked out my newly installed LED lights on the layout and the last few bits of work I have done since they last were here. 
Yesterday, I added a small shelf under the layout so I can locate my Raspberry Pi and its powered USB hub to.  After this I decided to do a small about of scenicing.  I set about to add an access gate to the Cougal Spiral section just like one that is in one of the photos that I have of that area just before entry into the first tunnel in the spiral heading north.  So I also added about 50 cm of ballast to the track in that area to try and complete that section.  I have also added ballast either side of the track to form a bit of an access road from the gate across the tracks.  I still need to add about a half dozen old sleepers so the vehicles requiring access across the tracks can driver over the rails.  That is a task for another day, but I do have quite a few stained sleepers already prepared for this task.
Over the next two weeks, I need to try and complete the model that I was to take to the Armidale Convention on the 15/16th of November.  This is also my entry into our Club’s Modelling Competition held at our December Meeting.  I have been thinking about doing some work on this model since the Gold Coast NMRA Convention.  I picked up some scale lumber that I needed from Gwydir Valley Models and nothing has occurred since.  I’ve been pretty busy at work for the last few weeks, working some very long and tiring days.  But I think I need to have a day off work in the next 2 weeks to recharge my batteries and complete the model.  I only have next weekend available before we head off to Armidale the following weekend.
The weekend after Armidale is also looking like it will be very busy, with a train related activity on the Friday Night at Darren's, some of the Tuesday Nighters heading to Toowoomba for a Running Session on the Saturday and potentially another Running Session on the Saturday or the Sunday in the Border District and if that does not occur, potentially a Running Session at my place on the Sunday as a backup.
Plenty of modelling and prep work to occur.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Let There be Light!

I think someone great first said that line many, many years ago!
During the week I received a long awaited delivery of 4 strings of 5m of cool bright LED lights for the layout - 5 weeks.  I gave them a test and all seemed to work and all power supplied also seemed to work.  On Friday afternoon, I went down to the shed and started to install three strings of lights under the top deck of the layout starting near the entry door.  The first string starts around Grafton Loco, runs past Rocla Sleeper Siding and heads past Baker’s Farm and ends just at the beginning of the Rappville Loop area.  The second string starts at this point and runs the whole length of Rappville Loop.  The third string starts at the end of Rappville Loop, and enlightens the level crossing at the Bruxner Highway and runs past the Bonalbo Ballast Siding, across the Richmond River and ends at the location of the rail pedestrian crossing at Barker Street. 
I turned the first string on and it looks tremendous.  I then turned the third string on and it looks pretty good if I say so myself.  My issues are now two fold.  One of the power bricks popped within two minutes of turning it on.  Not what I wanted to occur considering that it took about 5 weeks to arrive from OS.  The second issue is not a really bad one to have.  How do I power all these bricks?  I was thinking of purchasing a set of those remote power switches so I can turn the strings of LEDs on one by one by remote control.  I will investigate those types of power switches.  I did see a set from Kambrook on ebay that seems to be expandable in the number of sets that can be remotely controlled.  I will keep a lookout and see if anyone has them on special.
On Saturday I went back down to the shed and installed the fourth string of LED lights, even though I cannot power them.  These run from the Barker Street crossing through Cassino Station and end near the Signal box.  I then used some wiring clips to allow me to feed the power brick lead around under the layout and keep them out of harms way and feed them down under the layout.
I then got an old string of "warm" lights out and used them to measure what will be needed to complete the lighting from Cassino to Murwillumbah.  The 5th string will go from just short of the signal box, around the Cassino Loco area and to the West Street level crossing at old Cassino.  The 6th set will go from the level crossing to the start of the Lismore Oil Siding.  The 7th set will go from the Oil Siding until just near the road underbridge just north of Lismore.  The 8th set will go from road underbridge to just short of the entry into Murwillumbah yard.  The 9th set set will go until the end of the platform at Murwillumbah and I will need a half set to go all the way to the end of the headshunt at Murwillumbah.
After that point in order to complete the mainline north, I will need at least two more strings to go from Cassino north towards Brisbane until the track enters the Helix just after the Cassino Meat Works Siding.  So that would complete the requirements for the bottom deck.  That will leave the top deck to be planned.  However after firing the 4th set up today to take some photos I can see that the light throw from the fouuth set through Cassino Station needs to be supplemented.  The reason for this is that the baseboard at Cassino extends significantly out past the width of the deck above it and the throw of light does not reach the full extent of the Cassino station baseboard.  I think I might have to run another set along here at the front of the top deck and angle this string outwards so it illuminates the full station area.  I will experiment with this when I get another set of lights.
I was luck the boss was going to the shop yesterday arvo, so I sent her on a mission to purchase some electrical extension cords to I can plug the LED transformers in to some of the numerous power points within the shed.  I plan to have at least two strings of LEDs wired to start from the same point and run off in different directions.  That way they can share the same electrical plug in points. 
Following that LED installation task, I turned my attention to painting a few sections of baseboard at Lismore and on the northern side of Old Cassino.  These areas are now ready for the installation of dirt and grass.  So today I finished off by planting some dirt and grass around Lismore Station.

The first string showing Grafton Yard bottom right and the track leading around the outside of the blob and reappearing on the top right.  This location is Rocla Sleeper Siding.
On the other side of the above blob.  The track goes under a wooden bridge and enters a tunnel.  It reappears on the top right at the end of Rocla Sleeper siding and goes past Baker's Farm before continuing into Rappville Loop.
At the far end of Rappville Loop is the Bruxner Highway that runs from Cassino to Tenterfield.

Further to the right is Bonalbo Ballast Siding.

Still further north we go past the entry to the ballast siding and travel across the Richmond River Bridge.
At Cassino we can see the shadow being cast by the lights under the deck above.
Still a further shot of the Cassino Station and still more shadow at the furthermost reach of the station.

The area in front of Lismore Station has been greenified.

On Friday afternoon I decided to do a bit of work on one of my dual gauge points that will be located at the northern most end of Fisherman Islands when I finally get around to laying some dual gauge track for that location.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Queensland Model Railway Show

This weekend was the occurrence of the Queensland Model Railway Show held at the Workshops Railway Museum at Ipswich. I headed out early on Saturday morning to give the guys a hand on the Club layout.  There was a good number of layouts and shops in attendance.  While there I purchased some nice track cleaning blocks from J&J hobbies for $8.50 each for the Club HO and N scale layouts.  Apparently the guys eat them at the Club as the ones in the Club Shop keep getting used.  Hopefully these ones will last a very long time due to there huge size.  They are about 4 times the volume as a Peco track rubber for roughly the same price.
In preparation for the show, I gathered together a few boxes of rollingstock and about a half a dozen locos and a few other items.  I had planned to find some table space somewhere at the show and do some work on my Fleischmann Tacho wagon and fit some KD couplers to it.  But Aurora Trains had some KD #20’s NEM couplings that fitted in just perfectly.  The wagon then went for a spin on the HO layout behind one of Bruce’s oil trains.  The HO layout is 1.8km (scale) around the outer track.  While looking in the shops I also purchased a RH curve point so I could complete a cross over on the layout in Acacia Ridge Yard.  When I got home from the Show on Saturday afternoon I spliced that point in along with its partner in the next track and gave it a quick test.  It works very well.  I still need to wire jumpers around the insulfrog points.  Another future project.
Also at the Show was Jim Hutchinson my modelling mate when we do Structure Building work at various Exhibitions.  This time, Jim came out for a run.  Jim bought two trains to run on the HO Exhibition layout in DC mode – a CPH railmotor and a NSW Garratt with a string of 14 CH and LCH coal hoppers and 2 x CHG (I think) guards vans.  Both of these trains had sound.  So I advised Jim that due to them having sound, they were equipped with DCC decoders.  I advised him, he could just place them on the layout in one of the rear staging tracks and run them back and forwards so he could get used to controlling a train via our NCE Power Pro 5A system with a Procab controller.  Jim caught on very quickly and he then ventured out onto the Mainline and to the platform road at the front of the layout.  He was running shuttles from the platform into the yard and back with the CPH.  Later he took the Garratt out to the platform track and ran it up and down the platform track into the yard and return.  I think we have another convertee to DCC!  Welcome aboard Jim!.
This weekend was the first outing of the Club HO Exhibition layout with its Raspberry Pi based Wifi setup.  Apparently it did not run to well on Saturday.  I wonder if they worked out what went wrong by the end of the exhibition?
Also on the topic of the layout, there were a few unexplained shorts occurring on the HO Exhibition layout yesterday morning for some unknown reason.  I wonder why that happened?  At least PK and a few N Scalers were getting a great laugh out of it.  All I can say is beware people holding a coke can on the tracks, especially when the public ask - "Hey Mr., can you make those pretty lights come on again?"  They were our short circuit indicator lights on the top of the layout.
Being a Club we have members who model a whole lot of different prototypes.  When we exhibit we let them run their own things as we are inclusive Club.  However, some members rollingstock just runs like cr@p.  For some unknown reason, one member has taken some nice Australian rollingstock and replaced the wheels on it with America wheels and the wheels are the wrong axle length for the bogies and the bogies have been screwed so tight that they do not swivel any more.  It does not matter what we do, this guy just does not understand when we tell him not to do this?  You just get a blank stare back.  Oh well, I only had to put up with this for about 4 hours.  So you can guess that his train ran like rubbish.
Today I went down to the shed before lunch and spread some dirt around Cassino loco.  I had been planning on doing this for a few weeks now.  After lunch I went back down and planted various grasses in this area.  I then walked around to Lismore and decided to tidy up a section of baseboard there.  I then cut down the facia on a small section about 30cm long to the correct baseboard contour and then mixed up a batch of plaster and blended the scenery in to the new facia at this area.  I get the feeling that this area might get the a paint, some dirt and a grass application next weekend.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Weekend Off

This week I did not get around to do much in the shed.  With Monday being a Public Holiday the only day I did venture down was that day and played a bit with the Raspberry Pi.  I undid the changes I was trying to make for what I thought made the Pi simpler to use, and then did a test run with it.  It auto booted with the Wifi connection being visible to my son’s IPod and the Pi successfully allowed me to drive a train from the iPod connected via the serial connection to the PowerPro 5 Amp System.  Today I went to Office Works and picked up a second 8GB micro SD card for $7.97, which I will have available with an alternate configuration so I can connect the Raspberry Pi to my Powercab system (after I purchase an NCE USB connection).
Yesterday was Club Meeting day and I made my way to the Club for the monthly meeting.  I took along my Fleischman Tacho car and had it pushed around the layout.  Well It turns out that the layout is 7.03 scale Km around the inner loop.  That equates to about 80.8m of track.  Quite a lot of track.  I think that distance surprised some people.
I spent most of the in front of the TV watching Ford reign supreme over Bathurst!
Next weekend is the Queensland Model Railway Show at The Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich.  I hope to get there.  Our Club will have two layouts in attendance - HO and N.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

We’ve got Pi! - Raspberry Pi.

Well during the week one of my mates – PK – put an order in for some Raspberry Pi’s and associated kit.  Well the gear turned up on Wednesday arvo and on Friday he brought mine to work.  He gave me a quick overview on how it gets connected at work on Friday morning and a hint on some commands that were described on his blog on how he had set up his Pi.  The Pi runs the JMRI freeware software and allows train drivers to use the Wi Throttle application and the Android version of that app to run trains via their smart phone or a tablet over wifi on a layout. 
On Saturday morning I went to the Shed and the Pi was connected up to my layout, and to my USB keyboard, USB mouse and VGA CRT connected monitor.  PK had already installed a base config along with root password, a wifi network name and a few other things in it and it auto started in Faceless mode, but it was set to default to a USB connection to an NCE layout.  My connection is via a serial cable to my NCE Powerpro 5 Amp system.  So after breaking into the system and creating a new profile in JMRI, I had it manually starting up via the serial cable and I was able to run a throttle from the Pi and control a train on my layout.  I then commandeered my son’s iPod and downloaded the Wi Throttle lite application from the App Store and soon I was controlling that same train via wifi in the shed.  Later on my son was also firing up the Wi Throttle application and running a train on the layout.
So I know the Pi now works as an alternate method of communication for visitors to control a train in the shed during a running session.  It gives them an option instead of just using a Procab or a radio Procab (which is my preferred method of access).  I have had a hell of a time trying to get my new configuration via the Serial cable to auto start in faceless mode.  I wanted to keep the original USB connection as a valid connection option in case I decide to connect the Pi up to my NCE Powercab connected test track. 
It has been about 17 years since I have been logging on to a Unix computer and doing Unix System Administration.  It may have been even longer!  But I still remember some of those commands and I now remember why I hated it.  I have been able to fix a few issues with the base configuration that have been annoying me with the help of Mr Google.  I will eventually overcome the issues I have and get it running automatically in faceless mode via the serial cable connection.
This giant step forward has been because of the great work that Greg and PK have been doing pioneering the use of the Pi at the Club as a method of access on our Club Exhibition layouts and our Clubroom Layouts, and on other member’s (and their own) home layouts.  Thanks Guys.
A new era is about to unleash on Cassino as soon as I work out what to do to get my serial based faceless profile to work automagically.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

How Big is the Layout?

Earlier in the week I received an email from All Aboard Modellbahn giving me some great information.  The week before at the NMRA Convention on the Gold Coast, I picked up a Fleischmann Tacho wagon second hand and on the off chance that the Australian Agent would be able to get me a copy of the relevant instructions for the wagon, I sent them an email.  Well they did.  What great service!  Thank you Vic! I reset the wagon according to the information and now know how to move from display to display so I can work out how far distances are on the layout and how far the wagon has travelled.
So one night early in the week after getting the information I commandeered a 44 Class loco and positioned it at Grafton Yard at Milepost 0.0 and sent it on its way to the end of the line at Murwillumbah.  Well it works out that it is 60 metres in distance.  I then ran the loco from Grafton Yard to South Brisbane Interstate Buffer Stops.  At the location where the trains used to turn around at Acacia Ridge Yard, the distance is 109 metres.  At South Brisbane, the odometer stops at 136 metres.  I have not converted the coupling on the tacho wagon yet to KDs, so I am not sure if the different couplers played any part in the distances derived as I was pushing the wagon around the layout and if the different heights of the loco and the tacho wagon couplers caused any lock-ups or skidded wheels or the wheels to be lifted of the tracks.  I will get around to replacing at least one coupling with KDs over the next few weeks, so I can then haul the wagon around the layout instead of pushing it.  I'm not game to push it down the helix, as it might come off as it runs away from the loco.  I will then be able to add the tacho wagon to any train during a running session so that the drivers will understand what speed they are actually running at and hopefully they can then keep up with the timetable.
This is the Tacho wagon sitting (actually it is rolling) in a siding at Lismore.  The speedo shows it is doing 20km/hour.  Just before this I did some calibration tests over a section of straight track of 5m in length.  The wagon was pushed twice over that length and that gave 10m distance in total.  In HO scale that is 870m.  The wagon showed 0.880 km.  So that was good enough for my test to ensure that the wagon seems to be measuring correctly for the distance display.
On Saturday arvo I got around to plastering around Cassino Loco.  I covered the tracks, filled the holes in the baseboard and plastered away.  Once I had completed that area, I decided to throw a bit more plaster around the wooden bridge I was installing on the Murwillumbah Branch between Lismore and Murwillumbah.  I still have lots more to do in this area, but at least the polystyrene has been stuck down underneath the road.  I still have to raise the height of the road up to the bridge height yet.
The Cassino Station side of the Loco area.

The Old Cassino end of the Loco area. 
The Northern side of the road overbridge.

The southern side of the road overbridge.
On Saturday evening I went down to the shed and ran a 44 Class into the loco area t test it out.  I can run the loco from the main line via the tracks to the coal stage that branch to between the future Loco Shed and the water tank and then onto the turntable.  For all the other tracks I need to add track jumpers to them all and connect them to the DCC power bus, so I can get locos on and off the turntable and of course power the turntable itself.  I will need to put an auto reversing DCC contraption onto the turntable input. Again another future project.
This afternoon I went back down to the shed and mixed up three bottles of diluted Burnt Sienna paint and painted the area around Cassino Loco and then worked my way towards Cassino Station and around to Old Cassino.  So over time I will spread some basic dirt on the ground here and then hit it with some green grass.  That will do until I get around to ballasting the loco area.
This morning I went to a local MERG group get together on the other side of town for about 3 hours. These sessions are most interesting and informative.  This was followed by a trip over to the Club Rooms to drop off about 8 sets of points and some track joiners both metal and insulated.  They were ordered last Wednesday I think and they were delivered for the work session the following Wednesday.  While at the Club, I ran into 5 members over at the Club running trains on the HO layout.  Four were N scalers.  We might have to disinfect the HO layout if they keep this up – hey PK!
PK is doing a bulk order tonight of various Raspberry Pi related kit and upon delivery, I hope to have a working Pi wifi setup for my shed.  That will allow drivers at an operating session to choose between a plug in Procab, a radio Procab's or a Withrottle or an Android version to drive a train.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

2014 NMRA Convention on the Gold Coast

This week I made three return trips to Helensvale on the Gold Coast to attend the NMRA Convention – Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Friday was registration night and it allowed me to check out the Buy and Sell,  peruse Gwydir Valley Hobbies Shop, and Wuiske Models, and see what was on hand at AR Kits, Southern Rail Models, Black Diamond and PGC.  I also got to talk to the operators of the layouts in attendance – Coorparoo, Esk and the NMRA Queensland group Point to Point Layout. 
Very nice Fuel depot on the NMRA modular layout.

I loved the gates at the front of the Fuel depot.
On the way down to the Coast on Friday afternoon, I stopped in at one of the layouts that was open for inspection.  The layout was based on Great Northern / Spokane, Portland & Seattle Model Railroad.  This ran well and had some good scenery.
A very nice excavation being undertaken in the city.

Nice trackwork.

A nice Branch or is it actually two?
Upon registration all received a goodies bag containing various items and a USB key with notes on it, as well as the printed convention handbook.  Saturday’s sessions were interested, with Arthur Hayes session a standout best of show with his ‘Moving Goods/freight on your layout’ session.  I also enjoyed Gerry Hopkins’ Air Brushing Basics session.  Gerry was using that Aldi brand cheap compression that I recently purchased.  I had not turned mine on yet, as I am just overloaded with various reading at the moment.  When Gerry turned his compressor on you could not hear it.  It was perfectly silent.  That is a great advantage.  I also enjoyed the session on the modular layout, Railway Operations through Track Warrants and Railway Communication within the train room.  I also enjoyed looking at Laurie McLean’s Animation Display and Bob Claydon’s 3D Printing Demo.
Laurie's Conductor working and two kids waving to passers by.

The local Saloon with ladies of ill repute in attendance.  Is that PK at the bar?

The blacksmith and the farrier working and a drunk with his dog.

The barber at work and a guy reading the newspaper awaiting his turn.
I picked up a few items from the Buy and Sell both for myself and others.  One item was a Fleischmann Tacho wagon that I hope to get working so I know how big my layout is.  I also picked up a few items from Gwydir again for both me and for a mate.  In particular I obtained a selection of scale lumber that I need to finish a bridge.
Saturday Night we retired to the Helensvale Golf Club for a dinner and speeches.  I had a great time talking to Graeme Prideaux and Laurie McLean.  The meal wasn't too shabby either.
Sunday’s sessions were also very informative especially Martyn Jenkins’ session on JMRI Scripting.  The second session has certainly peeked my interest in controlling the lighting on my layout via a computer.  I think I will be investigating this further.  Following the end of the day, I went home and then entertained both Laurie McLean and Stephen Ottway at Cassino.  I think they both think I’m crazy and I think they are right!
So I certainly picked up some tips over the weekend, and also gained an enthusiasm to try some things that I have been scared at jumping into doing.  Thanks to the organisers for a great weekend.
I just need to find some modelling time now.