Sunday, July 13, 2014

Damn Hobos!

Today I went down to the shed determined to give a train or two a run.  I tested a few locos that I had recently removed from consists and did a few changes to their CV’s to ensure they started off at speed step 2.  After tweaking five locos, I put them back on their trains and got ready for a run.  Yesterday I purchased an Auscision WAGR louvre van off a mate, so I added that to my fruit express consist and swapped out a NSW louvre van.  There have been a few other cases of this swapping out occurring over the last few months as I’ve picked up the odd wagon here and there from mates who have bought a complete set and wanted to offload one wagon, or I have picked up a set of wagons and offloaded one from the set myself.  The replaced wagons from my various train consists have been relegated to South Brisbane Interstate Yard or to the ‘For Sale’ track – the #1 siding at Park Road Sidings.  The paper train uses #2 siding at this location so I need to keep that free.  I also removed about a dozen wagons from a dead-end siding at Grafton Yard and these went to either South Brisbane Interstate Yard or Clapham Yard for safe keeping.  I also took a few wagons out of one of the back roads at Lismore.  These wagons also went to the ‘For Sale’ Track.  I also took some ballast wagons out of one of the dead end tracks at Acacia Ridge Yard and these went to the ‘For Sale’ track as well. 
So after all this shuffling I only ran one train – the fruit express train with double 80 class locos and 16 wagons that was in Grafton Yard and it went all the way to South Brisbane.  This train is over length for all the crossing loops, except Cassino and Border Loop (if it uses the run off tracks), and Acacia Ridge Yard.  Along the way I fixed a number of issues and I now think this train is running better.  I spent some time fixing some issues with some of the newer wagons going through Peco points.  On about 9 or 10 sets of points around the layout, I installed styrene shims against the check rail.  Once these were fitted, the train ran extremely well.  It didn’t matter if it was pushed or pulled through the points it just ran well.  I also made a few minor alignment fixes in the new track work in Acacia Ridge Yard and fixed up some jumpers.  I also had to clean the track through the various scenic areas that I had been planting trees in and spraying a bit of glue about.  There were also some issues with the KD look alike couplers on the fruit train.  So I just replaced them all with real KD's, about 10 wagons in total.  When I turned the wagons over to remove the KD’s I found about four tiny spiders underneath various wagons.  I also found a baby Daddy Long Legs spider on one of my locos hitching a ride.  I have been inundated with hobos, getting free rides on my trains.  When the fruit train finally arrived at South Brisbane Interstate the local shunting loco hauled the train out of the dead end number 3 road to allow for the release of the train locos.  The shunter then pushed the train back into road 6.  The shunting loco returned to its dedicated siding and the train locos then coupled up for a trip back to Grafton Yard. 
So for something completely different I ran a timed trip back the other way.  At 16:05pm I whistled out of South Brisbane Interstate #6 road with the 2 x 80 class and 16 wagons full of fruit.  I made my way all the way to Grafton and arrived in the staging yard at 16:25.  That was a full (just over) 20 minutes real time for the run.  At a 6:1 fast clock, that is just over four hours to travel time for that distance – reasonable close to the real time for that run.  There were no crosses that occurred and all staff exchanges were done with the auto changer on the fly to save time.  This timetable move entails travelling through 9 crossing loops and four intermediate sidings.  I’ve just done a quick estimation and it may be about 160m of track distance from South Brisbane Interstate to the entry to Grafton Yard Loops.  It is another 7 or 8 metres to go around track #1 and come out the end of the return loop  ready for the departure in the next session.  In that length of layout we drop down maybe 1000mm in height between the initial starting location - South Brisbane and the finishing location at Grafton.  At one location on the top deck of the layout the track passes over itself three times at different heights while travelling through one of the Running Creek Tunnel, Border Tunnel and Kyogle.  This example just shows how much track is available on the layout and why we can get up to 12 drivers gainfully employed along the main line, on the branch or in the various yards and sidings.
Following the successful run, and knowing that the track still works after not being used for a few months, I decided to solder the main trunk and main branches of 20 trees.  These are now awaiting a treatment of ‘No More Gaps’ and then a paint, followed by adding some leaves.  Who knows, this might get done before the next running session.  I think I will try and schedule one for a few weeks time on a Saturday.   Email invitations will probably go out on Tuesday or Wednesday night this week.
Yesterday morning I dropped into Austral Modelcraft and picked up another two packets of Heki mat that I use for foliage on my various trees which already exist.  I also picked up a packet of ground foam to be used on my weeping willows.
Yesterday afternoon I met Darren and Paul at Shelton’s place and we travel together to Anthony’s place for a running session.  We met up with other VR and SAR modellers Keith and Mark.  This was a running session that went for a good couple of hours and was followed by a debrief around his dining room table having a few corn chips, peanuts and a beer or two.  This session was full on.  I was working with Shelton at Tatiara Down as Head Shunter and Yard Master.  Being the shunter I forgot to change the points on a few occasions and Shelton careered down the wrong track.  He also put a wagon in the dirt about 4 times - but I'm not a dobber.  On another occasion I used selective compression – a standard modelling term and technique, that enabled us to fit the train we were shunting into the headshunt track that was actually too short for our train.  It was absolutely mind blowing trying to make up two trains at the same time, and then getting more trains arriving which we have to tell the driver where to drop off a few wagons for on-forwarding to another destination.  On others when they terminated here and we had to break up their train up as well.  It was truly demanding work.  I certainly needed a beer by the end of the session.  I just could not concentrate on making up two trains at the same time – it was so confusing.  Which track was what train?  My brain hurts!  Anthony has certainly made some progress since the last session with a track change at Tatiara Downs which included another track in the yard.  He also added some very nice maps for some of the locations so we could find the various sidings.  For an update of that session click here
Tuesday night we went to one of our newer Tuesday Nighter’s place and visited his layout Wacol.  This layout was featured in the February 2003 issue of AMRM.  It is located in an old restored QR wagon in his yard.  It was brilliant and has been modernised so much since that issue of the magazine.  It is all been electrified.  No steamers any more.  All diesels on the freight trains and one electric loco on a 7 car silver set and lots of different 6 car electrics.  There are plenty more small detail scenes installed as well.  Did I say it was brilliant?
My place in two weeks.  I must get it ready.

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