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!