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.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cassino Turntable Moves – Sort of

This week I have not had much time to work on the layout.  I spent about an hour or so down the shed on Friday afternoon/evening and again this morning I spend about 90 minutes down there before heading off to a Soccer Breakup Party and I finally headed back down to the shed for another 90 minutes later this arvo following the party and before dinner.
On Friday work included installing the location holes in the turntable wall to make the turntable stop at those track locations. I installed the 6 tracks on the bottom side of the photo leading to the turntable – see below.  When manually rotating the turntable, there is a small locator arrangement that locks the turntable into that track location unless the push button on the control panel is pressed.  This disabled the locator mechanism until the push button is released.  Thus far the tracks line up quite well when manually aligned.
The 75' turntable located at Cassino.  So far 14 tracks have locator positions verified.  I have 9 more to go, 8 into the loco shed and one next to it.  I think I might add just a couple of tracks to the bottom right as well, most will be small run off tracks, like the three at the bottom of the turntable but some will be quite long.  I understand that there was a railmotor shed to the bottom right of the turntable.  I might have to build one!
This morning I bit the bullet and connected up an AC power supply to the turntable to see how it worked.  I was also considering using a DCC decoder to control the speed and direction of the turntable movement.  I attached the small control box and hit the start button and the turntable actually moved after some slight persuasion.  However, its movements are fairly inconsistent.  It seems if it is not getting a good connection somewhere.  Maybe the connections into the control box that comes off the turntable mechanism need to be cleaned.  Checking a sticker on the turntable, I think I purchased it about 6 years ago.  I think if I can sort out the rather inconsistent movement, it will be a great addition to the layout.
This afternoon I spent time installing more tracks on the opposite (far) side of the turntable.  I added tracks to the three tracks opposite the three drive on tracks on the bottom side of the turntable.  I then added the two tracks that head up towards the Hotham Street level crossing and behind the coal stage.  I then added three of the tracks opposite the tracks on the bottom side.  Subsequently I added two small run off tracks opposite the tracks leading to Hotham Street.  I have also located the next run off track opposite road 9 – the outside road of the loco shed.  I have 8 tracks inside the loco shed to add as part of the loco shed project.
While I have not yet installed power to the turntable rails and run a loco on and off the table, I had run a number of wagons and a loco using digital power (I pushed them on and off) and they seem to align up very well and I may not have many problems when I operate the layout in the future.  I will try and add power to all the tracks over the next few weekends.  Next weekend is out as it is the NMRA convention on the Gold Coast.
Over the next few months I will undertake some planning on how I will remove the existing partly build loco shed from the layout and work out how I will reconstruct it so it is more removable from the layout.  I will install quite a number of pits into the floor of the building.  The building will also have internal lighting and the wood beam will all be stained.  I also plan to add detail inside the loco shed, but it will be difficult to see given the turntable’s location on the layout.  I hope to add the standard arc welding scene as well.  I think that this rebuilding project will run for at least 9 to 12 months.  It will certainly keep me out of trouble for a while or until the money runs out.  There is certainly going to be a sheet or two of corrugated iron required in this project.
Given that I have now installed the 75’ turntable at Cassino and it is sort of operational (when it wants to operate), I might be on the lookout for a 60 foot turntable for Murwillumbah.  Hopefully some WD40 or similar product might provide a better electrical connection and cause the turntable to run more consistently.  Well it has sat there unused on the layout for about 5 years.
I did not get around to doing any plaster work around the Cassino loco area this week, so that will be delayed for a couple of weeks as well.
I have tomorrow off from work, so who knows what I might talk myself into doing tomorrow for a few hours before I have to go to school.  We also have Tuesday Nighters at Shelton’s place this week and then the NRMA convention next weekend.  It will be good to see what Shelton has done over the last few months since out last visit.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy Father’s Day

Tuesday this week was our scheduled Tuesday Night get together and we went over to Peter’s place and had a great time.  We had a very big turn out as well.  I spent quite some time mesmerised by Peter’s detail in quite a few areas on his layout.  His latest area of scenicing had some sheep and sheep dogs with a shearer plying his trade in the shed, along with a recently shorn fleece spread over the sorting table.  It was just fantastic.  So that is the inspiration for the week, so now to my layout.
On Saturday morning I went over to the local hobby shop to pick up some more NCE DCC decoders for the Club and ran into Lefty and Son there.  They were stocking up on new NCE DCC Switch-8 point controllers and NCE button boards (also new) and various scenery items for rock walls.  I think next weekend we might get another blog update from Lefty about his recent scenery work.
On Saturday afternoon, I went to the shed and completed all the wiring of track jumpers around my points in Acacia Ridge Yard. 
The latest point added were in the left most two tracks.
Once I had completed Acacia Ridge Yard, I then installed 4 track jumpers around points in the four newly relaid tracks in Grafton Yard from last weekend.
Today before lunch I went to the shed and finished installing track jumpers to the last 4 tracks in Grafton Yard.  Upon running a test of the new wiring in Acacia Ridge Yard, I realised that I did not insulate the track joint boundary between Power District No. 4 and Power District No. 5 when I relaid the track the other weekend.  It was not picked up until I ran a train around Acacia Ridge Yard’s return loops and tried to exit the yard.  This caused a short.  This situation was quickly analysed and the insulated joiners installed.  All works well now.
The current occupants of Grafton Yard.  Track 1 is the outer return loop and there are seven return loops.  Track 12 is where the Bicentennial 80 class is located.  The new XPT track is the right most dead end track on the left hand side of the yard.

What is in Grafton Yard I hear you ask, well I'll tell you:-
Track 1 - 42104 Mainline Container Train
Track 2 - 8047 + 4848 Steel Train
Track 4 - 4468 Branchline Container Train
Track 7 - 4416 + 44240 Paper Train
Track 8 - 48165 Sleeper Train
Track 9 - 8005 Ballast Train
Track 10 - 4483 Oil Train
Track 12 - Stock Train

I also ran a train of wagons from South Brisbane Interstate Yard back to Acacia Ridge Yard for something to do.  These wagons have now been placed permanently in the yard in Exit Track No. 4.  This has freed up some space at South Brisbane, so I can actually shunt some trains there now  I then ran the loco back to South Brisbane.

After lunch I contemplated how I would install the first of a few tracks into the turntable at Cassino Loco.  I had a set of points just off the branch and that provided two tracks onto the turntable and these would have inspection pits installed in the roads.  I decided that I would replace that set of points with a three way point (which I stole from Grafton Loco – this point continually gets stolen for use somewhere else).
A photo of the entry to Grafton Yard.  On the left in Grafton Loco you can see the location missing a three-way point.  The extended headshunt laid the other week is in the foreground. 
I have now created three input tracks onto the turntable from the Branch Line.  There is also a track onto the turntable off the Mainline, so really the turntable has four entry/exit tracks.  After these tracks were laid, and the baseboard finally screwed to the supports underneath, some foam was then cut to shape to allow the scenery to basically form the contours required for around the loco area.  I still have to some work between the Mainline and the sidings near the Coal Stage.
A overall shot of the Cassino Loco.  Work is progressing on the turntable roads and the basic scenery contours.
Next weekend I will be gluing this foam down and I should be hitting this with the first coats of plaster.  Who knows, I might even be able to install the output tracks up to the back of the loco towards the Hotham Street level crossing, followed by the numerous tracks to the right of the turntable opposite the loco shed.
Today was Father's Day.  I had a great time and received some nice presents from the kids, obtained from their school's Father's Day stall.  I hope all the Dad's out there also had a great time and squeezed in some modelling time.