Sunday, February 22, 2015

Locos and Layouts

On Tuesday I took my Auscision 45 and Austrains 81 class locos to Lefty’s place for our Tuesday Nighters get together to show them off.  There were a couple of inspections undertaken.  I also had an issue with the front red marker lights on the 45 after fitting my NCE DA-SR decoder.  The red lights were not aligning up with the holes in the shell.  So I pulled it apart, checked it and put it back to together and it all worked much better.  So while checking out the 81 class, the questions turned to what was wrong with the shell.  My loco was the blue version - 8155.  The loco has two doors in the middle of the side under the 8155 number.  However, it is rather hard to see unless you really look for it.  We almost did not see this problem as you really needed to look very hard.  I understand that the issue is more obvious on the candy loco.
Saturday afternoon, Geoff, Shelton and myself travelled to Anthony’s place where Ian and Mark were already there for a running session on the Border Region Layout.  Again I volunteered as the Train Control and had it pretty cruisy compared to the others when I was watching then shunt the various locations.  Crickey it was taking a very long time to set out and pick up the various locations on the layout.  I'm sure Anthony must have a sadistic streak.
Anthony's layout ran very well as usual.  The session was delayed by some issues with some of his European branded decoders and issues with consisting and deleting consists, but these were overcome.  There was one 4 wheel cattle wagon that derailed on a set of points at Nankiva during shunting.  I think one axel was under gauge.  This will be easily fixed and this wagon has been assigned to be checked out.  There were two derailments on the main line by passenger trains.  The Overland was one and an Auscision Walker’s Railcar was the other, at almost the same place.  I think the weather had something to do with that.  It was very muggy with ex-tropical cyclone Marcia over us at the time.  There was one other wagon that came off twice and a couple of wagons were spotted with non-concentric wheels causing the wagon to go up and down as it travelled around the layout.  This was a very low number of issues compared to the number of wagons involved with the session and the 19 trains that we ran.  Again we completed the session diagram.  I'm pretty sure everyone had a good time - I know I did.
A few locos on Anthony's layout do have sound, and it was good to be able to hear the locos revving up and down as they did their shunting in the other operating aisle. The wheel squeal was also great as the driver applied the brakes before changing direction.
I think the toughest job was undertaken by out host – Anthony being the Yard Master at Tatiara Downs.  He was shunting wagons and moving wagons around all session.  He was also called upon to fix issues as they arose, answer questions from the ill-informed (non Victorian and South Australian crews - aka me).
Today I was progressing my Austrains 81 class wiring project.  I have not really run the loco as yet, besides up and back on the test track.  But it does sound quiet and runs very smoothly.  I had the front and rear headlights working from the decoder but I could not get the number box lights to work.  I could get them to work when connecting the power straight to the 3 pin plug from a 3V power supply.  So I had an idea about not using the 3 pin plug on the loco's control board , but when changing over to hard wiring I lost operation of the headlight altogether.  I may have wired then back to front - with the common wire to the control wire and vice-versa.  I will test that tomorrow night or whatever night I can get some time to undertaken this re-wiring. 
Anyway, my focus today turned to getting the white marker lights, red marker lights and the white ditch lights to work.  Testing determined that I could not get the white marker lights and white ditch lights to work independently, so they were connected together, but the red marker lights can be and are controlled by another function.
So the wiring plan the locos is to have the following:-
F0F - Front headlight
F0R - Rear headlight
F1 - Front number boxes
F2 - Rear number boxes
F3 - Front white marker lights and white ditch lights
F4 - Rear white marker lights and white ditch lights
F5 - Front red marker lights
F6 - Rear red marker lights
So the front end is now working with the white markers, white ditch and red markers.  The rear end has the white lights working, but the red marker light is always on.  I must have accidently powered it to the track instead of the function output.  I will have to go back and check if I have solder spanning the function output.
So what P155es me off about modern locos?  When you design a loco and have all these lights great lighting affects in it, damn well wire the lights so they can be easily be connected to a decoder, as almost all of your purchasers will be doing that!  A wiring diagram would be good to have it included with the loco.  So I’m not sure if I will be able to get the number box lights working off a separate connection. More work for this week.
I don't think I will be buying any more 81 class locos from the other manufacturer unless I win lotto - I just cannot afford it, but it seems that the recently announced 81 class from SDS models might come with the working lighting effects straight from the factory.  That would be a change!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Two New Locos Join the Roster

This has been another quiet week.  My 81 Class from John turned up on Thursday.  Just tonight I gave it a quick trip up and down the test track on DC power and it ran smoothly.  I just happened to have an NCE D18SR laying about at home.  I've had that decoder for about 5 years I think.  I was planning to wire up some Powerline 81 class with separately controlled headlights, red and white marker lights and cab lights at each end of the loco.  I completed one loco and gave the second loco as a bad joke.  Anyway back to my Austrains 81 class.  So I installed my 8 pin D18SR decoder into the 8 pin slot in the Austrains 81 class loco and have it a test.  It runs back and forth on DCC and all the lights works off the headlight function at this point in time.  The NCE D18SR is a 8 function decoder.  I have read somewhere that it is possible to have the various lights on the 81 class loco controlled separately.  So I will investigate this by utilising the 8 functions available on the D18SR.  Without checking out how separate the various lights are, I think I will have the  headlight, number board lights, white ditch lights and red marker lights controlled at each end.  I will track some wires on the 81 class light board and do some testing over the next week.
Earlier today I pulled my Auscision 45 (actually it was a 35) class loco apart (it came apart like a bought one) and I ripped out the existing control board which the 21 pin decoder would plug into.  I had reports from a guy at the Club yesterday that he had trouble removing the couplers at each end.  Mine were a breeze.  So I used an NCE DA-SR decoder, which has 5 functions, as my replacement to the installed control board and had to solder up all the connections.  I just referred to Marcus Ammann's great notes.  So far I have the headlights at each end wired up as standard on the decoder and the white marker lights at the same end are also wired to the same functions.  I have also wired the red marker lights to two other functions.  So I can turn these on separately.  I may install an LED into the cab of the 45 class so the cab light can be turned on and off independently from the other lights.
Yesterday I went to the Club to just double check the dimensions needed for my NSW wooden road over rail bridge for the Club HO layout.  I think I have everything and will stain up the various dimensions wood pieces over the next two weeks.  One of the guys at the has recently (about 12 months ago) started a laser etching/engraving business.  He also makes various wooden kits for assembly.  They look very good.  I asked if he could create a sheet of 320mm x 100mm of 1.5mm ply with 9" planks laser scribed into the deck.  He said it was easy.  That will be my decking for the Club layout bridge.
Today I also received an invite to a running session for next Saturday so I am looking forward to attending that.   I Just need to seek permission from the boss.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Postie was Busy

On Tuesday I received my 45 Class loco from Auscision.  My wife missed the delivery on Monday so she had to go to the local post office to pick up on Tuesday.  It does look good!  It runs very smoothly on DC.  Also on Tuesday we went to Arthur's place for our Tuesday Nighter's Meeting.  While there Darren delivered a 4 pack of Eureka RSH wagons.  While there I split the pack with peter - 2 each.  Also on display there on Arthur's layout, we had his two Auscision 45 class locos, a Trainorama 48 class and also two Wuiske 1550 class 12mm locos. 
On Friday I went to the loco hobby shop to pick up an order for Peco points for the Club HO layout.  The points were there waiting but the 7 decoders that the Club has been waiting for 3 weeks still have not come in from Sydney as yet.  I also tried to pick up a 21 pin decoder for my 45 Class loco, but Ray was out of them as well.
So last night following reading Ray Pilgrim’s Blog and Marcus Ammann’s article about fitting a decoder to the Auscsion 45 Class locos, I am thinking about hardwiring an NCE decoder to my loco.  I may pick one up next Saturday and fit in next Sunday.
Apart from the above, this week has been a very quiet week for shed related activities.  However, today I went down to the shed and was trying to decide what I would do next.  I eventually decided to lay about 2m of ballast across three locations.  I will see if my running crew, whom will turn up on Tuesday week, can work out where I have done this work.  I then thought that I might run two trains in the timetable to their completion points.  I ran the cement train that was currently located at Lismore, through to Grafton with a cross with the Branch Line Container which was on its way to Murwillumbah.  The cross occurred at Old Cassino and wouldn’t you know it - there were issues.  Both timetable cards said for the two trains to both take the Loop at Old Cassino.  The Cement train has recently been lengthened and does not fit in the Loop.  So that will now transit the Yard, while the container will travel through on the Main.  So late this arvo I updated the timetable with these changes to the timetable cards.
The Postie will also get a workout this week as John has promised to post my 81 class loco on Monday.  I should get it by Wednesday.  That will be another decoder I need to buy.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mixed Bag of Activities - Including One for Mixedbag

This week, I had the week off to assist my kids with their first ventures out in the real world of bus travels on the way too and from school.  My son went on Tuesday and my daughter went on Wednesday.  That went very well.  I met them at the bus in the afternoon, and had my first trip to pick my son up from cricket training on the third day of school.  In between times, I fortunately was able to spend some time in the shed.
On Monday I was driving a few trains around and looking into the issues list from the previous Saturday’s Running Session.  I number of wagons have had their coupler heights adjusted between 0.010” to 0.030”.  I adjusted the coupler on one second hand loco and I feel it is now playing more nicely with its friends than previously.  I also adjusted how the lights about the southern end of Glenapp Loop were located.
On Thursday I bent up some wire assist with hanging of the LED lights above The Risk Loop.  On Friday I went to Bunnings and picked up the hardware to allow the installation of the lights above the layout shelf.
On Saturday after returning from my son's cricket trial, I attached the light brackets to the layout and they developed a very sad case of the droops.  Whoops!  The wire supporting them was not stiff enough.  After thinking, I decided to add two direct vertical supports at each end.  That certainly raised the light and alleviated the droop. 
Following some thinking I thought I would investigate a more solid arrangement and built a new light support out of wood.  Only finding one piece of hardware to make the brackets, I visited Bunnings again and just got home before all hell broke loose.  I was stuck in the shed getting pounded by hail of about 12-15mm, although I think I saw the very odd piece close to 25mm.  We lost power for close to 10 hours.  I went out the front of our house, and we lost a few trees in the front garden - snapped off.  Two and a half hours later and I had chopped these up and there is big gap in the garden where these trees used to be.  But that is nothing compared to the local park about 50m away.  There is a huge gum there about 30m tall - or I should say used to be.  There were about 4 other trees uprooted and many others with branches snapped off.  About 4km away at our local state school, where polling was taking place, at least two big gums, about 25m tall were uprooted - I bet the people handing out 'how to vote' cards, might have wanted to use the cards for some other purpose during the storm.
This photo shows the light support made from aluminium supported by four 'L' shaped brackets off the Loco Pilly to Dutton Park incline.  It sagged so much that I had to add some direct vertical brackets at each end to 'un-droop' it.

This photo shows that light string illuminated.  It actually does makes a difference.

Here are four as yet to be installed replacement brackets that will also attach to the Loco Pilly to Dutton Park incline to support the light bracket at the top of the photo, replacing my originals.

Anyway back to model trains.  On Tuesday night I started out killing time by the building of a fuel tanker inspection gantry similar to what Southern Rail Models are selling in a kit for $275 (I already have made models of the other items in the kits over the previous few years).  Upon reflection the model I was building was probably built at twice the scale it needed to be.  So I have since offered it to my local O scale modellers - Lefty and Son.  So given the error of my way (O scale modelling) I restarted building a more appropriately scaled version on Wednesday night.  I continued this on Thursday and again some more on Friday.
A view of my HO version.  I need to add a few replacement steps to the stairs I found in my bits and pieces draw.

I'm happy with the version.  Once painted it will look good in one of my Fuel Sidings.
Following an email conversation with PK, I have volunteered to build a road over rail bridge for the Club HO scale clubroom layout.  I have cut the timbers for the two piers already.  I stained them today and just need to put them together.  I am short a few lengths of 3.5mm x 3.5mm basswood which I need to support the roadway.  I have used all my current supply up.  I may have to wait until I see Gwydir Valley Models, or maybe I may put in a mail order.
There were three reported issues at the last running session with a set of points on the main line with the divergent track going into Loco Pilly.  Well I put on my thinking cap and determined that I was getting a short on occasions on this kitbashed dual gauge point.  I was also getting no power on occasions on the exit of the points.  So I studied the issue and decided that I would feed the frog from the position of the point via a switch attached to the point motor.  I went looking through my collection of bits and found a Peco switch to install on the Peco point motor.  So I soldered all the wires up, followed by using the dremel tool to cut one of the closure rails to stop power routing.  Once that completed, a test was undertaken and it worked just like a bought one.  I might have to do the same at a few other my dual gauge kitbashed points.
This photo shows how the light bracket that spans the southern end of Glenapp Loop is supported on threaded rod.  Next to that is (was) the most troublesome point on the layout.  It allows entry to Loco Pilly (straight) or entry to the beginning of the northern end of Clapham Yard (curved).  The point motor now has a Peco switch on top that throws the polarity of the frog.