Yesterday was a planned running day of the layout in the Shed. The last running session was back on the Australia Day weekend in January. A dozen guys were in attendance yesterday including me. The day started with the snags and onions cooked and the bread, cheese and sauce on the table. The guys know the drill of getting a drink from the fridge in the shed and chowing down on a snag. We had two first timers in attendance yesterday - one whom is a Tuesday Nighter who has seen the layout many times but never run on it (Arthur), and the other was a complete first timer, although I had issued a number of previous invites to this person. He was former shunter and driver Dave. Dave is also a NSW and QR modeller. At one stage when I was showing Dave around the layout, he reminisced about a story that many years ago, the guards off a Northbound train used to de-train from the guard’s van near the tunnel when travelling around the bottom leg of the Cougal Spiral and run along a track and get to Border Loop where he would be able to throw the points so the drivers took the train into the correct track to save time. I guess that was possible, and it is also possible on my layout.
So we inducted Dave while the rest of the crew finished off the sausages and the last few members of the crew arrived, and then they all turned up at the shed door. Darren handed out lanyards, and issued headphones. Darren took on North Coast Control for the first one hour session and everything was about to get under way. But I forgot to turn on the wifi for the phone crews, and I forgot to turn on the NCE fast clock at 00:40 am. I also had not yet turned on the layout lighting. I also forgot to turn on the headphone system. You would think I'd have some sort of checklist wouldn't you? So with two plug-ins into power points and three elapsed minutes, the Raspberry Pi booted up, another 4 button presses of my remote lighting system and the layout was lit, and the few presses on my PROCAB-R and the fast clock time was set. Then I forgot to turn on the headsets. Doh! So I turned on the headsets and the battery seemed to be flat. So up to the house and a new battery was installed and then we were finally off.
Some of the crew getting down to work.
During the session we only ran 14 trains to completion, and there are still two trains still sitting on the layout half way through their timetables. The two in progress are the Down NL1 Brisbane Limited and the Up Paper Train. These two trains are currently undertaking a cross at Kyogle, with the paper train overlength for the loop and the passenger in the imaginary platform. According to the timetable, there are a few more trains that should have been underway by now, but it seems that some drivers pulled up stumps early and were happy just sitting around not running. That does play havoc with the timetable. We also had a few guys spending the whole session walking around taking photos – I better get copies of the shots.
This shot shows the northbound NL1 Passenger (The Brisbane Limited) on the main with its headlight on passing the over length Paper Train in the loop. The rail set train is stowed in the siding.
After the first hour we changed over North Coast Control from Darren to Arthur for the second hour. Arthur took to the job like a duck to water. He did such a good job, that I walked away from helping him and let him carry on along, while a attended to a couple of jobs on the layout while the session was underway. On the whole most trains ran well. The Oil Train, had issues with shunting back into the Shell Siding at Old Cassino, due to the points not throwing properly. There must have been some rubbish in the flange. I checked it after the session and it was working properly and the wagons went in and out without any trouble.
Peering through the levels on the layout, we see North Coast Controller - Arthur - diligently moving magnets on the magnetic board in response to communication from the various drivers around the layout sitting in the staff huts.
The Steel Train lost two wagons in the helix that went undetected until another train ran into them and caused it to become wedged inside the helix. That was easily fixed, by removing the two steel wagons and adding them back to the Steel Train. There was also an issue with the last wagon on another train (the Container) was discovered having been left at Glenapp Loop when that train was waiting in Acacia Ridge to cross The Paper Train coming back from Park Road Siding. We lost the trailing coupler on the front loco of the Paper Train, as it was entering Acacia Ridge Yard from the north. I held up activities, as I tried to add the coupler back on. It took some time, and I could not fix it. So we just cancelled the consist, reversed the front loco and created the consist again. The train was then back underway, but then there was a mysterious short in section #5 as the train was about another 6 feet further on, no doubt caused by the Paper Train somehow. I will need to check that out next weekend.
Anthony's favourite train - not - sitting in Acacia Ridge Yard track 1, the Container Train awaiting to cross the Paper Train.
About six feet to the left, we see the now reversed lead loco on the paper train coming off the dual gauge and heading into into track 1 at Acacia Ridge Yard.
The Paper Train has crossed from track 1 to track 2 and is now passing the Container Train.
Sitting in Lismore Yard is three cement hoppers ready to be unloaded. The rest of the train is already at Murwillumbah undergoing the same fate.
The absolute worst runner on my layout – the Container train lived up to its reputation. It broke apart a number of times and derailed a bogie on a number of wagons a number of times at different locations. The coupler issue on this train was discovered to be a missing KD spring which I replaced while the container train sat in Clapham Yard at the end of its timetable run. I found some dodgy rail joints in Border Loop following ballasting. I had run trains the previous weekend but they were not discovered then. But I have since soldered these joiners after the session and it is now all good. At Acacia Ridge a set of points was set from track 4 to track 5. What that did was isolate the rest of track 4 from those points to the throat of the Acacia Ridge Yard entry. I just found that track 4, which is where the Ballast Tamper train No.51 terminates, was dead as I entered it. I thought I had a bad joiner. But following the session, I investigated and found the point changed. Doh! I have now drilled holes for a jumper cable to go around this insulfrog Peco cross over point. It will be fixed next weekend.
This shot shows the container wagon with the missing KD spring on the right hand coupler. This is just one location where the wagons parted company and was causing the driver (Anthony) to pull his hair out.
So while these issues sound major, it is just that Container train which caused most of the issues in the session. Well apart from the intermittent working of the headsets. One issue was my LED lights touching the headphone circuit. Thanks to Bazza, one of my session photographers, for identifying that issue and fixing it. After just more than 2 hours, we adjourned for a cupper or another cold drink in the pergola. As it turned out we did not resume, as we started talking about a whole multitude of topics.
So overall a pretty good session I thought except for the Container Train. Still plenty more to do. I think there will be some more ballasting before the next session. Maybe a few buildings completed and maybe a level crossing with flashers installed. Thanks to everyone whom attended.