Sunday, January 25, 2015

January Running Day

We had a formal running day yesterday.  I only had three acceptances out of 21 invites.  I couple where maybes depending upon the wife etc. Must have been a bad time to schedule it - note to self - not on a long weekend again - except my Christmas session which will be on either the 27th or 28th of December this year.  Anyway before we started the session Greg tried to make some changes to my Raspberry Pi (JMRI) setup to activate the fast clock and the Pi was not communicating with the NCE.  That was not good!  Anyway Greg gave up and at least the Pi started talking to the NCE Powerhouse Pro and that made Greg happy as he used his smartphone to drive his train.  Drivers using the NCE Procab throttles have the clock time broadcast on their screens.  Thus they can see how they are going compared to the timetable.  Thus this is my preferred throttle.  Drivers using their smart phone do not get this.  However, in JMRI I need to turn on the fastclock feature and have the NCE system set as the master and apparently if this occurs, drivers can get the time on their phone.  So thus the reason for us to experiment with this feature.  We can't have the phone drivers without a clock and causing timetable running issues.
So to summarize yesterday's session, the four drivers between us, ran 29 trains to completion.  Two trains were not run (skipped) and we had three more trains stop mid route when we stopped for crib at about 3:45pm.  After crib we did not restart the session as everyone bailed at about 4:30pm.  Since the official end of the session, I completed one more train through to staging, and I moved the other two half finished runs to a point in the timetable where they will restart from next time.  I also started another train and ran it through to the same time in the timetable.  Subsequently today, I ran one of those trains through to completion.  Having looked at where we are in the timetable, and with the time at 8:10pm, there is not much left to run in the timetable - about 12 trains.  I think over the next few weeks I will just run these remaining trains in the timetable to completion, either by myself, or with whomever pops in for a visit.
I have collected all the notes from the session that were written on the timetable cards.  This must have been the best amount of feedback that I have ever received.  I have about 15 sets of jobs to do.  Some of the jobs are track that needs to be cleaned and some sections investigated as to check point blade fed power as there was some intermittent power in some tracks (especially in some of my dead end sidings in Grafton Yard).  I have a few trains that caused issues as you would expect.  It seemed that Greg was the driver on most occasions – the poor buggar.  Anthony had a couple as well, as a coupler fell off a wagon and caused an issue.  Of course he cleared the section and after lashing his chains to the wagon he took it to the next crossing loop, and did some magic shunting and put the troublesome wagon on the rear of the train to allow completion of his run.
During the session, I could hear Darren yelling out as if he was happy as a pig in "Sh!t", saying “I have not run this trains before”, or “This is a shunt - I like to shunt”.  So we know he was having fun.  I got to run quite a few trains as well.  My trains ran quite well.  With just four drivers, we got through about 10 hours of the timetable clock, while the fast clock was a couple of hours ahead of us.  If we had 6 or 7 drivers I think we would have been running very close to on time.  Each running there are different things to tweak and I think there are less and less real issues.  This was also the first showing of all my currently installed LED lights.  I had plenty of positive comments about them from the crew.  I currently have 13 strings up with another 2 more to install.  I will need to purchase at least another 4 strings over the next 12 months.
After lunch today for a couple of hours I went to the shed to attack some of the list of jobs.  I added a small section of baseboard to the end of the dead end sidings at Grafton Yard.  I installed a screw to the end of each of 5 tracks (tracks 8 - 12) to stop the train from careering off the end of flat world into the great abyss.  I fixed a loose wire on the Murwillumbah Control Panel.  I also fixed a wire to track 8 in Grafton Yard that I accidently caused to come adrift when I was cleaning track yesterday.  I adjusted the point at the southern end of Rappville Loop.  I packed the track on the lead into the point, tacked the track down with more nails and shimmed the diverging route's check rail with styrene.  I also added a few more track pins to the track in the Loop at Cassino, as it was not stable and caused issues with the stock train I ran today.  I also adjusted the wheels on one of those wagons today as well.  I also adjusted the couplers on an MBC wagon on the pickup freight I was running.  We will see if that fixes its issues from yesterday.  I also adjusted the bogies on a LIMA VMPY car carrier which had K&M brass wheels.  It derailed 7 times when last vehicle on Darren's run from South Brisbane to Grafton Yard.  I then reversed 6 trains - four of which were in the dead end Grafton sidings, so they are ready for the start of the next session.  The timetable cards for these trains will be adjusted to include this reversing as part of their return into Grafton Yard, i.e. travel around an empty Grafton Yard loop and then back into their dedicated siding.  I also did the same to the two passenger trains as the motorrail wagon has to be at the front when heading north.  Their timetable cards will also get similar treatment.
I still have a number of trains to do some maintenance on - mostly coupler height issues - including a couple of locos and a few wagons.  I will take these trains for a run out and back and see how they go before releasing them back into traffic.  A couple of wagons had been swapped in and out of consists between the last session and this one.
So tomorrow will be some more time in the shed working on these trains.  Hopefully an Auscision 45 Class may turn up during the week to be followed soon after by a set of Eureka RSH wagons ordered by a mate.  Who knows, maybe even Austrains whose clients are mostly aliens may ship an 81 class that I have asked for many years ago - just 2 months short of 6 years.  I emailed him last week and phoned twice last year and was told "I will ring you back when I'm in the office" and the simple use of technology seems to elude some people's ability.
I'm on holidays this week as I have to escort my kids to their new schools via the bus on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Luckily they start on different days.  My son already looks like having cricket training on Thursday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday.  Quite possibly shed time will diminish while cricket season is on.  Happy Australia Day for the 26th! 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Still Playing with Lights

Monday evening I went down to the shed and continued my lighting crusade.  I attached the LED light strings from under the South Brisbane Interstate that starts at Nammoona Ballast Siding and runs north around to Fairy Lane.  I then laid the next run from Fairy Lane to over Fairy Hill Loop.  I then laid the string from to Cassino Meat Works at the entry into the helix south towards Cassino.  Next was did some work on the area under Clapham Yard.  This lights the Glenapp Loop area.  This string was cut short and made into two strings.  The second string is now mounted on two poles that support a home made pelmet of aluminium internal plasterers angle which contains the other half string and lights the southern end of Glenapp Loop.  I am thinking of creating some sort of supported pelmet to light the area from Glenapp Loop to the end of The Risk Loop.  I will also fit a high level pelmet above the layout above the area from Cassino to Old Cassino.  I will do the same south of Kyogle with two pelmet sections from Kyogle to Fairy Hill Loop.
Today I purchased some power boards that allow me to plug a number of the LED light power supplies into a single power board and then turn on a single switch and get 4 or 6 sets of layout LED lights to illuminate.  So still a bit more work to do with the lights and some areas certainly need another string of lights set parallel with the first to produce more light.  I will be playing with some of the pelmet designs during the week as I have Thursday off to take my son to a cricket trial.
This view shows Glenapp Loop on the left being lit.  On the top right of the picture you can see the pelmet I made shining light over the southern end of Glenapp Loop.
This is the southern end of Glenapp Loop with the disabled wagon siding in the foreground.
Looking into the Cassino/Old Cassino Aisle.  The lights have been turned on here.  I need additional light on between Cassino and Old Cassino via a high pelmet - aluminium angle shown laying across the layout.  I will also add more lights to Old Cassino and Murwillumbah on the right.

On the opposite side of the right peninsular in the previous photo above, we have Kyogle on the middle level and Lismore on the bottom.  The top will be Fishermans Island when it is eventually laid.

The shot shows my new road over rail bridge in the area between Lismore and Murwillumbah.

The top of the helix is where Ron and Marg's Bed and Breakfast is located and it is now well illuminated.

Moving further to the right, we see Nammoona Ballast Siding also being illuminated.

On the bottom deck on the entry to the helix is Cassino Meatworks.  It now has a set of lights above it.

Further north we get to Hotham Street and the southern entry to Cassino.

Directly above Cassino Meatworks is Fairy Hill Loop on the exit of the helix.  This is directly below South Brisbane Interstate on the level above.

Looking north from Fairy Hill Loop we see the extend of the lights.  I will eventually add a second string of LED lights to this level.

Looking south from the previous position we see the rest of Fairy Hill Loop as the track heads off towards Ron and Marg's Bed and Breakfast and the then descent down the helix via Nammoona Ballast Siding and then to Cassino Meatworks below.

I had a very good running day yesterday at Anthony’s Border District layout with a few mates.  I was Control and I think most things ran quite well.  We completed the total 12 hour diagram of 21 trains.  We had two sets of two man crews – a Victorian crew and a South Australian crew (each running trains with that state's motive power), with the host being the Tatiara Downs Yard Master who does most of the shunting at that location assisted by the two road crews, and then myself.  I did get to run a couple of trains, but it was great setting the points and signals for the various trains in operation.  Not wanting to be mean, but I was quite pleased to see that the first two trains that ran in the session, had issues with two wagons in the dirt (low coupler and some issue with a four wheeler).  I think they were the only issues that occurred all session except for a few uncouplings over a permanent kadee magnet in the staging yard.  It was a great session and I will enjoy going back and doing that job or a driver's job again.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

More Lights

On Friday afternoon a delivery man turned up at the door after 4:00pm and delivered my package of 10 strings of 5m LEDs from China.  So when I got home from work I tested each of the strings with a single power supply that I unpacked.  Nine of the 10 strings worked, but one only lit half the string.  That should be easily fixed, with a loose connection somewhere in the reel of LEDs.  The only issue I had was that they did not send my replacement power supply with the package for my previous order – as arranged.  So I was a little ticked off.  I very politely (not) reminded them of this fact.
Today I finished testing all the power supplies that came with the LED lights and they all seem to work.  I temporarily rigged two of the strings up in the pergola area, as I was happy enough to fit them permanently to provide additional light when we are in the pergola.  I showed these to the boss tonight and she was nonplussed.  So it looks like they will end up in the shed.
So after a bike ride this arvo, I went down to the shed and used one of new power supplies to power up the Cassino string of LEDs so logically replacing the bad power supply from the previous order.  I then laid the next string of LEDs from the Cassino Signal Box down to the coal stage, across over the turntable and then up to Old Cassino Station.  I gave these a test and I was happy.  I then laid the next run of LEDs from Old Cassino platform around the blob that adds distance between Old Cassino and Lismore stations with the LED string running out at the Lismore Oil Siding.  I turned these on and again they looked pretty good.  I then rolled out the LED run from the Lismore Oil Siding through Lismore platform and that string ended up near the river at the far end of Lismore.  I then laid the next run from the river around the blob that forms the time waster between Lismore and Murwillumbah and they run past the new Road over Bridge that I installed in December and the LED string runs out just short of Murwillumbah.  So I tested these two LED runs and they also work very well.
I had a 5m string of warm white LEDs hanging around for some time.  I had previously laid these out on top of the Fishermans Islands baseboard above Kyogle to gauge how far they will run if I was to attached them to the underside of that baseboard to light Kyogle.  So I got around to doing just that.  I affixed this LED string to under the Fishermans Islands baseboard and it runs from the beginning of Cougal Spiral across the Upper Richmond River Bridge at Kyogle, through Kyogle Station and they run out at the far end of Kyogle.  I tested these with one of the power supplies I just received and they seem to do a pretty good job as well.  I may replace this string with the brighter ones but I will leave it here for a while as a trial.
I have also stretched out a string of LED lights from the beginning of the Nammoona Ballast Siding and it will eventually runs around under the blob that carried the track from South Brisbane Interstate into Park Road Sidings.  The string just finishes short of Fairy Lane level crossing.  The next string will run from there following the Fairy Hill Crossing Loop and end just short of Kyogle.  So I will end up with a section of track from where the warm white lights at Kyogle end to where these lights end and they will probably be about half a run of LED lights.  I think I will have to start laying the lights from Kyogle backwards towards Nammoona, and end up with the left over run of lights at that position.  That might allow me to run a few lights down Fairy Lane to show that area off.
I will try and finish the laying of the next three strings of LED lights before the Australia Day long weekend, so I can show it to the running crew who turn up on that weekend.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Holidays are Over

Well it is time to head back to work tomorrow.  However, I feel that I have accomplished quite a bit in the shed over the Christmas New Year break.
So since the last running session, I spent lots of time improving the look of the layout.  The first thing I did was screw the section from Loco Pilly to Dutton Park into the wall.  This section has been sitting on lots of triangular pieces of wood to support it at the correct location for a couple of years.  It is now permanently attached to the wall with the supports removed.  The next task that I undertook, was using lots of wire clamps to afix the numerous wires under the layout to the baseboard instead of letting them droop down.  I still have lots more to do, but lots of areas have been tidied up.  But I did some work under Clapham Yard, under the Loco Pilly to Dutton Park incline and under South Brisbane Interstate. 
I then got around to installing fascias to lots of areas on the layout.  This included the South Brisbane Interstate area.  The top of the blob from South Brisbane to Park Road Siding, Park Road Sidings themselves and the Loco Pilly to Dutton Park incline.  I also added a fascia to Clapham Yard and then to some more of Acacia Ridge Yard.  I then added some to various places on the helix as well as to Fairy Hill Loop (both sides) and to Nammoona Ballast Siding.
South Brisbane Interstate on the top deck, Fairy Hill Loop below that with Nammoona Ballast Siding in the bottom foreground.

The blob at the top with Park Road Siding on the top left. Below that was Fairy Hill Loop, with some new fascia also visible around the helix to the left of my "I Love Trains" sticker.
The Loco Pilly to Dutton Park incline - with fascia as well as free standing attached to the wall.

Clapham Yard also got the new fascia.

More added to Acacia Ridge Yard as well.
I then thought I would eventually get around to cutting the wood for the various station platforms not already cut – South Brisbane Interstate, Old Cassino and Murwillumbah.  I then attached a dead section of track in Clapham Yard and soldered two jumpers on there.  I also connected the push buttons on a small control to control the point for Dutton Park. 

South Brisbane Interstate Platform in two pieces of wood.
Old Cassino Platform now cut to shape and in place.
I also got around to adding some additional text to the top of some of control panels to make it more obvious what they apply to.  Hopefully removing some confusion in the next and future operating sessions. 
I had a look at the branch line passenger from last session and checked the bogies on one wagon.  I also adjusted the coupler heights on one wagon with KD washers under the bogie.  I ran the passenger train from Murwillumbah to Cassino and back and it ran fine.  So hopefully now it is problem solved.
Speaking of Murwillumbah, I started planning and building the Murwillumbah Cement Silo.  I started yesterday, after picking up some styrene on Wednesday afternoon at a local hobby store.  Today I bought some 50mm pipe for the top of the structure and a can of greenish paint for the basic colour of the structure.  I painted the roller door this morning and experimented with a weathered finish as per the photos I have collected for this structure.
The Murwillumbah Cement Silo structure so far.
I also did some work on the dual gauge track into Acacia Ridge Yard very early in the week.
The dual gauge track in the foreground.
I still need to investigate a point that would not throw that I forgot to check into.  I will leave that for next week.  I still need to install the locations marker at Kyogle for the railmotor as well.
Late this arvo I did have a very quick run as a demonstration for a friend of my son, whom we were looking after this afternoon.  I turned off the lights in the shed and turned on the layout lights and ran a train out of Grafton Yard and you would not believe it - As the train was exiting the Yard it caused a short.  My reversing unit kept cycling.  I could not believe what was occurring.  After about a minute and two attempts to cycle the power to the whole layout, the young kid looked at the track next to a set of points and said “What is this screw doing here?”  He went to touch it and it was red hot.  I think we found the issue.  The train as it was leaving the yard moved the screw into the V between the diverging tracks on the point and it just touched the electrofrog point. Amazing!