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.

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