Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Visit to See Mike

Yesterday five of the Tuesday Nighters met at Geoff’s place, where Darren was going to drive all of us along with his trailer to visit Mike.  Darren had a trailer full of Mike’s model railway equipment that I think he has been having withdrawal symptoms about.  Mike has recently relocated to Toowoomba to be closer to his daughter’s place.  So after a 90 minute or so drive we arrived at Mike’s very nice retirement village unit.  Soon after we got there, Mike’s Son-in-law arrived and then we were met with fellow past-Tuesday Nighter, Tess, who relocated to Toowoomba about 4-5 years earlier.  What a great time we had.  We unpacking the trailer, carrying everything into the garage and setting up his two shunting layouts, soring out the stuff, putting some of it away, moving thing here, relocating them to there so we made the most efficient use of his single car garage, which also had his workbench already installed as well as a very nicely laid out set of storage shelves.  Once everything was in its place, we even got one of Mike's layouts running by installing his NCE Power Cab and installed a toggle switch so the layout can be switched to DC operation for Mike’s older locos.  I think Mike was quite happy by us all turning up and also doing the work that we did.
Mike decided that he did not need his coloured sands and dirts and was generous enough to donate this to a very deserving cause – me.  I had previously used quite a lot of Mike’s sands and dirts scenicing the various locations on Cassino and I was certainly getting down in a number of the colours.  Well now I have an six ice-cream buckets full.  Brilliant!  I think that might see me through for the rest of the areas that I need to install the base colour over.
Following the approximate four hours of work (well we did have a cuppa and cake before we started)we adjourned to the local Golf Club for a very late lunch.  Boy was that a very nice establishment. 
Today I decided to spend some time on my side fence which was starting to fall over.  I started clearing the earth around one post and sure enough, it had rotted away just below ground level - it was just suspended in mid air.  So I spent the morning digging out the concrete around the base of what previous was joined to the post, so I have hole to put the new post into.  I think next weekend I will remove the existing magic floating fence post that is currently sitting in mid air, and put in my new fence post (luckily I have three in the garage) and throw a bag of postcrete into the hole and then attach the fence rails to the new post.  I then will have two more posts to investigate over the coming weekends but I believe the same has happened to them.  The fence is about 21 years old.  It is in good condition, just three posts look like they have rotted below ground.  I won't work too fast on this project as it will take time away from my shed.
After my morning labouring efforts, I was not in a mood to go to the shed until well after four this arvo.  So I caught up on some recorded TV from during the week.  When I did get to the shed, I did mix up two small batches of plaster and plastered around the concrete path on the north-eastern side of the Bruxner Highway.  I also spread some plaster near my gutter.  I will have to spread another two plaster mixes for that north-east corner, before I work on the other three sides of the road/rail interchange.
See ya next week.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Day with MERG

Today was a get together day with a number of interested people to gather for the first MERG meeting in Brisbane.  I was invited by a workmate and fellow club member and MERG member Greg, whom also attended.  There were two other members from our Club in attendance as well. I also new about a half dozen others that were there as well.

The day was at the Banyo Library meeting room and started with arrivals from 9:00am for a 9:30am start.  We were very lucky to have a presentation by Davy Dick who was out here from Scotland on a one month holiday.   Davy is the technical person behind a lot of Pocket Money Projects that the MERG organisation publish in their quarterly journal. 

The presentation was on forms of detection, in both DC and DCC.  It covered quite a few from the very simple to the very complex, i.e. RFID and barcodes.  My layout is quite complex now with truck loads of wire and it certainly doesn't need RFID or barcode detectors installed.  However, I do need to incorporate some forms of detection in the near future for a number of level crossings.  There will be about three (3) that I think will be operated by some form of track detection.

Davy's presentation was a very informative meeting with plenty of input from the approximately 30 people present.  There were also plenty of humorous outbursts during the presentation.  Following the presentation we had what could be called the inaugural meeting of the South East Queensland Chapter of MERG.  A few people were elected to various positions and a basic outline of when meetings will occur was agreed at a high level.  There was also agreement that there will be a few basic training sessions for attendees initially followed by other types of presentations.

I think I will be logging onto the MERG website and joining the organisation in the next few weeks when I get around to it.

Later in the afternoon, I thought about heading to the shed but it was just too hot to get motivated.  maybe next week.  Tuesday night happens to be meeting night at my place.  I hope it is not going to be too hot.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Paving the Road Ahead

On Tuesday this week we had Tuesday Nighters.  It was a held at Lefty and Raymond’s which luckily is just down the road.  Boy was it a full house!  We got to check out the work that Lefty and Raymond had done on the central peninsula.  Next meeting will be at my place.  Now that will create a new definition of squeezy!
Yesterday was the monthly Club day.  But on Tuesday night, Darren advised that he was having a modelling day at his place on Tuesday afternoon into the early evening.  Damn!  Well I went to the Club via my mate David's house where I identified some wires that I had left for him to connect up to his Digitrax DS64 the previous weekend.  David got confused with my instructions, so hopefully we are all clear now.  I made it to the Club for the appointed time when the HO'ers get together and discuss the new Clubroom layout.  Kevin (the HO layout Co-ordinator) and his team had created the first control panel and had taped a sample track diagram to it.  It is coming along just nice.  The layout crew is busily wiring the various droppers to the track bus that they are laying.  It won't be long until we can run a train.
Soon after the official meeting, I hit the road.  This was a quick almost 50km drive back home and then back on the road again for another 33km to Darren's place.  I got there late and only spent a couple of hours talking, but there was great company.  I noticed that Darren had implemented his form of "Staff Working" for his single line branch.  It used a miniature light switch and a volt meter that has had its face modified and it shows either Line Free or Track on Track.  It does this my him having a battery power supply that gets tuned on by the switch producing the movement in the meter - I mean staff machine.  Pretty damn good!  Darren has also finished his track laying from his last station and into the hidden staging that represents the rest of NSW.
Today just after lunch I went over to Lefty and Raymond's and took my RB02 over for a test.  Their RB02 is the original version.  Mine has been upgraded to version 2.1.  I wanted to see if it made their CAB06, when in radio mode, respond quicker as it is supposed to.  Basically we could not determine much difference.  However, I think the key presses were better and you did not have to do slow deliberate presses like the older version.  I know I certainly can see the difference with the RB02 version 2.1 on my layout.
Upon return home I then went down to the shed and did some work on the Bruxner Highway level crossing.  I have installed the bitumen roads.  I have installed (glued down) half of the line markings on the road.  I just have to glue the rest down when I am happy with their locations.  I have installed the gutter to the right hand side of the road from the side street around to the end of the road.  I have installed the concrete path from the far side of the roadway that wonders off to the right.  I have also positioned some styrene channel (representing a drain) that will be located between the concrete pathway and the roadway that is going off on the right hand side in an arc between the channel/drain and the existing bitumen road.  This roadway will become a dirt road from where the bitumen stops.  I will also put some angle parking car parks on the road outside a caravan park.
Next week I have activities on the Saturday (at the kid's School for the welcome BBQ for the new Prep students) and Sunday (for a potential MERG presentation from one of the UK's high ranking officials).  So I don't think I will get to the shed.  It may be a few weeks before I do any more work like plaster the ground contours and the subsequent colouring of the ground.
See ya next week!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Roadways and Scenery

Last Monday I got stuck into some work in the shed.  I decided to join the baseboard of the extreme top track baseboard that spans from above the top deck of Acacia Ridge to Clapham Yard, to the lower baseboard almost directly below which is the second level of the baseboards that spans from Acacia Ridge to Glenapp Loop.  Previously the extreme top deck was resting on the lower baseboard propped up by blocks of wood.  So now it has been permanently screwed to risers.  I then added a backboard to the top baseboard from Acacia Ridge Yard to Clapham Yard.  This will stop a train falling off the back of the baseboard.  I then installed a backboard for the track from Acacia Ridge to Glenapp Loop. 
A view of the two levels of track.  The top one heads into Clapham Yard.  The one below is the link from Acacia Ridge Yard to Glenapp Loop.  I can gain access to the area behind the track at this location.

Looking towards Clapham yard and Glenapp Loop.  This shows the height separation of these two levels of the layout.

The other end of this area.  Acacia Ridge Yard in the foreground, and the track that climbs toward Clapham Yard in the background.

On the main deck directly below this location, in the locality just past Rappville Loop we have the Bruxner Highway level crossing and around the back of the Bonalbo Ballast Siding, I also installed a backboard around this section.
This view shows the backboard from Rappville Loop to behind Bonalbo Ballast Siding on the right.
Construction then turned to the 'blob' that allows the train to travel from Lismore around a spiral and into Murwillumbah.  I added two backboards on two sides of the this 'blob'.  I then added a facia to the layout front on the rear of that blob.  I then got stuck into the plastering. 
The new facia is in the foreground.  The background shows the two sides of the backboard that was also installed.  An overview of some of the plaster work undertaken is also visible.
I mixed a few batches of plaster and then added a few layers of plaster over some styrofoam that I was using to build up the embankments of a dam that will be located in the scenery here.  I also tried to blend in some styrene here with plaster over the top.  I also mixed up a couple of alfoil rock walls with plaster and added then to some foam uprights to make them loop mountainy near some tunnel portals.
A closer up view.  Here you can see the dam starting to take shape.  The backboards have certainly made this area dark.  I will need those LED lighting strips in this area for sure.

On the front side of the blob, the entry into one of the tunnels is starting to take shape.

This shows the inner circuit of the track in the blob from Lismore to Murwillumbah.  An overbridge will eventually be built here with some rock walls on the left hand side of this cutting.

Wednesday this week was the first day back at school and I ended up heading off early as my daughter also resumed here dancing class.  As this was going to necessitate that my wife was going to be away for close to two hours, I went home early to look after my son and prevent him being inflicted with two hours of dancing.  Late in the afternoon, I went down to the shed and mixed up another plaster mix and applied it to the area that I’m working on.
I then thought I would do some planning of the area around the Bruxner Highway crossing on the southern side of Cassino and the Richmond River.  I have a number of photos that I took over 10 years ago.  I know this as the photos show my car in some of photos that I took of the level crossing and that car has not been in the family for well over 10 years.  With these photos, and the help of Google Maps and driving over the level crossing in the Street View, you can look left and right.  It is a great help if you want to capture the scene correctly.  The only issue is I cannot get a 1985-1991 view of the level crossing through Google Street View.
On Wednesday night I started drawing up the scale drawing of the level crossing.  I then sourced the balsa that I was going to install at this Highway level crossing to simulate the roadway.
Looking west along the Bruxner Highway - some years back.

I even caught the southbound XPT.

The view looking east along the Bruxner Highway.

Later on Saturday afternoon before my mandatory game of cricket out the front, I cut the balsa I was to use for the roadway across the Bruxner Highway.  This was followed by staining the balsa. 
Today I fixed the balsa to the baseboard and will over the next few weeks work on the surrounding scenery.  I also mixed up another batch of plaster and went over some of the areas already plastered above.  I also put together what might end up being a bridge through truss bridge for just north of Lismore.
This shows the roadway in place.  I use thin styrene to represent the road lines.  This scene will develop over the next few weeks as more detail is added.
Yesterday I spend a few hours over my mate David’s place in the morning and early afternoon.  I powered up his layout (5 Amp NCE system) and noticed a short circuit in his recently re-wired yard.  That was not good.  As that was not my main reason to be there, I isolated this section of his yard and got on with work.   We connected up his Mini Panel into the cab bus and assigned address 63.  I then entered the code into the Mini Panel to control his main station from his yet to be built N-X panel (Entry-Exit Panel - You push two buttons in sequence and then the logic sets the valid route between those two points).  We identified what point motor cables from the 21 points in the station design had to go to what location in the four x DS64 devices that will power the points.  Some of these were connected up, with David to do the rest over the next few weeks.  David still has to connect all the DS64’s to the track bus and set the various addresses of the point motors and then we can test the point motors.  We still have to create 23 macros in the NCE command station to throw the various routes that are in the logic in the Mini Panel.  I am really looking forward to test this, and then demonstrate this concept to a few people.