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.

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