Sunday, June 28, 2015

June Running Session

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.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

All Ready for Next Running Session

This weekend was spent putting the finishing touches on the layout and shed before the next running session scheduled for next weekend.  I had Friday off so I could go to lunch with the boss as Saturday was our Wedding Anniversary.  After lunch I put the last triangle up in the shed.
This shot shows the triangle adhered to roof bracing.
In the afternoon, we picked up my son and one of his mates from the primary school cross country carnival just down the road and of course had to show off the layout.  Soon after my son's mate's mother, brother and another friend of my son came over and also came down to the shed for a tour.  I think they were suitably impressed with the sheer size of the layout.

With that out of the way, I wired up the Murwillumbah loco siding to the power district bus.  I then test ran the last train to setup #18 container from the helix where it has been resting for the last week or so to Clapham Yard.  I then ran the locos around the train and then ran #17 container from Clapham Yard to Grafton Yard.

That night I cut up all the timetable cards for next weekend.  I still need to remove the B timetable option cards for the ballast train, and some various light engine moves and a few shunts from the timetable.

Yesterday I spent some time soldering the third rail onto three lengths of Peco flex to make dual gauge flex for the layout.  Some is going to Fisherman Islands and some if for Clapham Yard.  Today I completed another two lengths.  I then cut these lengths of the rail and installed them into the third road at Clapham Yard. 
A piece of flex track with a third rail added.
This is Clapham Yard with track one against the wall.  My rail train is in track two.  I'm working on laying track three, with four already complete.
After discussing with the boss what swatch colour sample best matched the shed ceiling colour, I went to Bunnings and purchased a sample pot of that colour.  I then painted the white triangles in the shed ceiling and the colour matches quite nicely.  But what would I know, my eyesight is failing and it is only a shed.
The first painted triangle.
A view back down the shed showing three ceiling mounted triangles - all painted.
This view shows Acacia Ridge Yard with some of my excess wagons sitting in the dead end yard.  At the back can be seen the dual gauge track rising up the grade as it heads towards Clapham Yard.  Just underneath that is my steel train sitting in track one.

The front end of track one shows the 80 + 48 combination on the steel train, and the track continuing to rise as it heads towards Clapham Yard.  In the foreground are a number of locos that do not get a run as they are not needed for the running session.  They are located on track 4.
Directly below the above photo is Grafton Yard with all the trains sitting there ready for the running session. However, upon closer inspection, I see NL1 has the sleepers at the wrong end of the train.

There is also a train sitting at South Brisbane Interstate Yard on the right above, two locos in the locos siding and in the distance the paper train can be seen sitting at Park Road Siding.

Everything is ready for the running session.  Beer and soft drink in the fridge, full gas bottle on the BBQ, trains all set, tea towels washed.  I just need the attendees to show up.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Roof Bracings Coming Along

As usual, I managed to get away slightly early on Friday and arrived home at the same time as the kids.  We all got off consecutive buses and worked home together.  I was soon in the shed for an hour or so and got stuck right into running my triple header mainline container train.  This train was parked at The Risk and made its way to Grafton Yard.  At that point I ran the locos around the train and sent it back off towards Clapham Yard so it could then come all the way back again to Grafton Yard.  However, on its way north from Grafton Yard, the train only made its way successfully to Cassino and was then making its way into the Helix when the locos parted from the first wagon.  Upon closer inspection the coupler on the rear loco had a huge amount of play in it and as soon as the full weight of the train, beginning its climb up the helix, was on the coupler - the coupler lifted and disengaged with the first wagon’s coupler.  I undertook an initial inspection was about to replace the coupler on the 48 Class loco with a new KD, when I realised that the coupler box had split.  So I just glued it back together and when the glue dried, a test revealed that the coupler play had been now been removed.  However, that is where the train was left and it still resides.  While the glue was drying, I packed up some wagons, locos and one of my controllers to take to the train club.  I then pulled up stumps and went to have dinner.
Saturday was our Club Meeting Day.  So after watching my son’s soccer team win their early morning (8:20am game) and watching the full game before and a bit of the game after, I decided to make my way to the Club.  The Boss took the kids home leaving me able to head to the train Club, as I was on early shift having to get my son to the soccer grounds for his Team photo at 7:20am.  I got to the Train Club really early.  As I walked in a few members mentioned that I was early as well.  I got my train out and proceeded to run a train on the Clubroom layout for the first time in quite some time.  My train ran well unlike one of the trains I was following.  That train ended up in the dirt on at least three occasions.  That made we feel good about my train.  I ran the train with a single loco and then with a double header.  When I tried the other two locos I brought along, one sounded like a chaff cutter and the other was playing up.  When I would set the speed step to zero on this last loco, it would keep going down the track.  Later on in the day I took the loco to the test track with an aim to reset it but it ran perfectly on the test track.  Me thinks that one of the locos on the Club Layout with me was distorting the DCC signal on the track at that time.  There were a couple of dodgy loco consists running so that could be the reason.
While at the Club, they were having discussions about the 12mm track that will be laid next on the top deck.  They had a selection of items on display so the members could see what it was like.  I was able to picked up a piece of Tillig track from Bob who had no further reason for it.  It is a splitter track with the narrow gauge and standard gauge tracks going in different directions.  I could use that at Fisherman Islands.
Today I went to Bunnings to pick up two tubes builders adhesive and a small sheet of 600 x 900 x 3mm MDF.  I cut that sheet of MDF up to get the last two triangles to enclose the shed roof bracings, and gave them two coats of white paint just like the other 8 triangles from last week.  After lunch I started to install the two triangles left over from last week and one of the ones I just painted.  They went up with ease.  I also spent a bit of time re-organising the track into Fisherman Islands to accommodate the new track piece I picked up yesterday.  That means I need to buy one less set of expensive narrow gauge points.
Next Friday or Saturday I will install the 10th and last triangle.  I then need to match the paint colour for the roof when I paint them.  I forgot to get a selection of paint swatches today - Doh!  So I will do that one day this week after work.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lots of Different Things

On Friday I did what I try to do every Friday and gave myself an early mark from work.  I went down to the Shed at about 3:30pm before the kids came home from school.  I pottered around did a few things.  I need to find some yellow so I can mark where the clearance points are for a number of sidings or passing loops are.  I thought I had marked most of those previously.  Obviously I did not find them all.  I also need to find some white paint so I can mark the rails where the KD uncoupling magnets are hidden in the track.  Since the last running session I have installed three uncoupling magnets at Murwillumbah, so I need to tidy this up.
Basically I ran the three trains that were bottlenecked from last week.  My rail train got past the container and terminated at Clapham Yard and the locos ran around their train. The paper train also made its way to Park Road and its locos uncoupled.  I swapped over some non KD's with KD's on my container train.  This train has finally not made it all the way to Grafton Yard, but will very soon.  It will then do a run all the way back to Clapham Yard and back to Grafton Yard.  Then we will see how this train run at the running session. 
Saturday morning following Soccer I popped into Shelton’s and dropped off some DVD’s to get some VHS video’s taken by Darren copied.  I also did a swap of a code 75 point for a code 100 point.  We then had some good discussions about the last couple of changes that Shelton has done to the layout since last weekend, and the next few changes planned to be made to Shelton’s layout.  They include swapping one point for another to change the geometry of the track, splice in a point here for the dock and so on.  It was a very constructive discussion but there were no scone this week.  I feel if Shelton completes those changes, the layout will be all the better for it.
I did some more pottering around in the shed but cannot remember what I did, so it must have been very constructive.  Later in the arvo I also stopped off at Austral Modelcraft with the tribe in tow on the way to a family party in the next suburb and picked up a 12mm point and a bundle of track.
Today I visited Lefty’s place so we could do a point swap - Left hand for a right hand – I guess that is why we call him Lefty!  Thanks Lefty!   I then dropped into Barry’s place to assist with the connection of JMRI on his computer and connecting it via serial cable to his 5 AMP NCE DCC system.  When I got home I spliced the point from Lefty into the trackwork at Fisherman Islands.  The track that I picked up yesterday at Austral was positioned where it will be finally be laid when I pick up another two 12 mm points.  That will be when I save up some more money.  Crickey these 12mm points are getting expensive.
Those damn geckos that live in the shed are finally getting to me.  They live up in my shed roof, where I have bracing holding up my roof A frames.  The bracing is open and that is where they sit and another word that rhymes with sit.  So I have decided to enclose the bracing with a sheet of 3mm MDF either side of the bracing forming a triangle in the roof.  This is similar to what Lefty did in his shed.  Last weekend I cut four of these triangles to fit either side of the brace, today I purchased another shed of MDF and cut another 4 triangles.  I then painted these triangles white.  I need to try and find the tin of paint that I painted my shed roof with and see if it is still usable.  I will then give the triangles a coat of that colour and put then up.  They will be liquid nailed and screwed to the brace, and then no more gapped around the A frame and roof.  I think that is a job for tomorrow, along with the washing of the outdoor setting and giving the shed a quick clean.  Tuesday is the fortnightly meeting of our group and it is at my place.
Who knows I might be able to do some more jobs as well.