Sunday, August 30, 2015

No Time in the Shed This Weekend

Yesterday my son had a school cricket training session in the middle of the day and today my kids former school had its school fete.  As my daughter was dancing there early on with her dance school, and it was a great way to catch up with lots of friends, both ours and our kids, we spent the whole day there.  When I finally got home and down to the shed at about 4:00pm.  For almost 2 hours, I worked at splicing a point into the dual gauge track in Fisherman Islands Yard.  This point will split narrow and standard gauge tracks on the dual gauge track in the yard.  It has now been installed and I had test run (read pushed) both narrow and standard gauge wagons over the point and all seem to work.  I am thinking of adding two check rails as extra insurance to help the various wagons remain on the track as they run through the point, but at slow speed the wagons being pushed already successfully navigate the point.

I think I will be able to work on and complete the narrow gauge tracks in Acacia Ridge Yard next Sunday.  I've got more cricket next Saturday so I think that rules that day out.  I need a left hand narrow gauge point to replace a broken point already in use.  I will hopefully pick up a few lengths of code 83 rail next Saturday at Austral Modelcraft on my way to Saturday's cricket session.  I might be able to dual gauge one of the tracks in the Acacia Ridge narrow gauge yard and even splice it in to the standard gauge return loop track 1.  I've just checked out my Acacia Ridge Mini Panel config and luckily there area two spare push buttons that will allow the point I will splice into Acacia Ridge track 1 to go to the dual gauge track to be controlled.  I just love it when a plan comes together.  But I will have to create a small control panel with two push buttons on it next to my existing Acacia Ridge Control Panel.  This point will be at a location that will not be easily reached thus it will have to be controlled by the mini panel.  However, I will need to acquire an NCE Snap-it to control the point.

We have Tuesday Nighters this week and I think we are heading to Shelton’s place.  It will be interesting to check out what changes he has made to his layout since our last visit and the last few posts on his blog.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Good Weekend Turned into a Great Weekend

Friday afternoon I came home from work and went down the shed and worked out what was causing the short in the Acacia Ridge to South Brisbane Interstate section.  I have a dual gauge point (electrofrog) that needs to have a switch fitted to power the now combined frog.  So when I power up my layout, I have some Digitrax DS64’s Quad output point controllers that randomly throw some points.  I’m sure there is some logic as to what gets thrown, but the last time I successfully powered up the layout, a point in Clapham Yard was triggered and caused it to throw and cause a track short, As the live throw rails were touching the third rail and causing a short between different polarity rails.  For the time being I have thrown the point back but I will eventually install a switch on the Peco point motor to change the polarity of the frog and isolate the frog from the point rails with my trusty dremel.  Simple to do.  I also picked up a couple of Peco switches to do this yesterday.
This weekend was our Club’s Model Railway Exhibition at the Strathpine Community Centre.  There were about 30 exhibits in attendance.  Attendance on both days was about middle of the road in terms of attendee numbers when comparing to all the other exhibitions we have run.  At times people were streaming in, at others there were not many coming through the doors.  I had a great time on the door.  A few people asked if I was this Blog’s Author so I had to confess I was.  Some scenes from today at the Exhibition.  It was a good weekend.
As usual we had some great exhibits on display and some very talented modellers. 
This is the LDMRC (Logan District Model Railway Club) layout.  It runs both 12mm (HO narrow gauge and HO standard gauge.  I particularly like this piece of track.

This is Bakestondale.  I ust love looking at the scenery that the British Modellers produce.  I also like the canals.

Another British outline layout - Two Up Two Down.  Again a canal shot.

Should have known.  All three of these guys (Grover, Brendan and Geoff) are asleep (eyes closed - must have been a big night back at the Clubrooms) instead of modelling!

These next shots prove that your layout does not have to be large to get attention and maintain interest at an exhibition.  These three guys, past members of the Club produce great layouts.

Barry Turner's Midwest Pacific is a very compact layout in N scale. 

Ron Everingham's Yandilla Sidings is even smaller but is OO in scale.  It is a shunting puzzle and looks more complicated with the optical illusion of an extra row of wagons in a siding behind the yard with no connection to the sidings.

Ralph Simpson's Dan-Brae is also very compact and is very nice.

The next scene to the right in Dan-Brae - a Wye.

Well it now looks like these three guys were actually working after all - see their cheeky smiles.
Yesterday was my birthday, and luckily my wife and family allowed me to spend the day away from them at the Club’s Exhibition.  Last night we all attended a work mate’s 50th birthday party back over the other side of town, so I did cover some Km’s yesterday.  It was nice of my workmate Rod to throw a party for me.  Quite a few of my workmates were there and we had a very nice night.  Good weather, good laughs, great food and a great time.  I would hate to see what some of the attendees looked like this morning as after my wife, kids and myself left, the 20 year old Jim Beam gallon bottle was cracked (from Rod’s 30th) and apparently after that, a 10 year old oak cask of Bourbon (from Rod’s 40th) was also brought out.  I also would have liked to see Rod in his lycra (well maybe not), ride his bike this morning after Fitzy from work, took to it and added girls handlebar streamers, a nice large pink honker of a horn and a pretty girls flower basket on the handle bars.  It looked so nice and caused a great eruption of laughter as it was brought out during Rod’s speech and cutting of his birthday cake.

Now back to today at the exhibition, I think possibly my bestest birthday present was being able to view (and eventually being able to scan) some 300 photos of Casino station and surrounds taken by someone I have had a few email conversations with, whom turned up at the exhibition to have a look around.  Paul allowed me to look through his photo album while to toured the show.  It contained photos taken in the early to late 80’s.  Oh my God!  There are photos that I would kill for!  These photos are brilliant.  While I have almost exactly the same photos of some, some others are unique and hence priceless.  There are photos of the loco area, sidings, overhead station building, scenery, trains etc.  I have been entrusted with this album temporarily so I will get to work and scan the photos.  Thanks Paul.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I Hate Technology (When it Does Not Work Properly)!

With Wednesday being a public holiday in Brisbane, I got to attend my son’s sports carnival at Runcorn.  He had a ball of a time, and with a thunderstorm approaching in the arvo, we were let off early with two rotations of events left to run.  Anyway, that gave me the opportunity to get down to the shed.  I added some more jumpers to the power bus for the Fisherman Islands district to complete that task.  I then added a few screws into the end of the tracks in Fisherman Islands to prevent trains running off the end.  I would like to add some clear Perspex sides to the baseboard to prevent things falling off that level.

Activity then turned to removing some slide switches from the first area of my layout that I laid - the Rocla Siding and Rappville Loop.  These switches were installed and allowed me to turn of track power in those sections.  I have never used them. I then had to re-wire the two tracks at Rocla Sleeper Siding (main and loop) and the three tracks at Rappville Loop (Main, Loop and Siding).  These tracks are now wired to the power bus but not via separate on-off isolation switches. I needed some slide switches to allow me to isolate the new power district #6 and also power district #6's ammeter.  So two of those switches have now been wired into the main panel. 

I then screwed my DS64 for the entry to Fisherman Islands onto the baseboard. 

On Thursday two packages of push buttons to be used on my two Fisherman Islands control panels showed up.  So on Friday afternoon I installed 14 buttons on my two control panels and soldered them up to the wires running back to my NCE mini panels.  I still have not connected the wires at the NCE mini panels end and I am still yet to code up the new commands in the mini panels.  That is a job for later.

Saturday Morning I went down to the shed in the morning for an hour.  I drilled a few holes and threaded all the wires from my DS64 to the cab bus and from the DS64 to the four point motors it will control in the entry to Fisherman Islands Yard.

That afternoon, I headed over to Anthony’s place for his monthly running session.  On the way over, I stopped in at Austral Modelcraft and picked up a packet of rail joiners.  I would love to work out how many I’ve used on my layout.  The running session at Anthony’s, was attended by Iain, Mark and Keith, as well as of course, myself and the host Anthony.  It was a great session.  I actually got to run trains, we had three single man crews, a shunter and the yard master for Tatiara Downs.  I quite enjoyed running about 8 or 9 trains out of the session.  A couple of times, I forgot to take my train cards with me for the run from staging to Tatiara Downs.  I was severely chastised on both occasions.  It is always good to see other layouts have issues not that these were in way severe.  One S class loco lost its coupler in the middle of the track and we had two sand wagons derail on their exit out of Nankiva heading towards staging.  I think everyone looked at me as I had just set the points and signals, but it was the coupler box working its way down a bit and a low hanging coupler tang which was the cause.  But apart from that the layout ran extremely well and we had great company.  Our post layout running session discussion turned to a photo in the 29th issue of Model Railways in Australia.  There is photo of a train on the Broadford layout (originally built by Keith) but now owned by a Club in Melbourne with a 422 class loco hauling a set of VR E cars on the broad gauge tracks.  Interesting as no 422’s were ever broad gauged.  Oh well I suppose it is either modeller’s license or someone just having no idea what they were doing.

Today I spent over 4 hours at my daughter’s school’s working bee this morning shifting 5 cubic metres of soil and then a few meters of bark.  Upon arriving home, I thought I would just tidy up a few jobs down the shed.  I thought I would solder up the wires from the DS64 at Fisherman Islands to the four point motors.  I then turned the DS64 on and gave it an address of 151 and gave it four point motor addresses - 1511, 1512, 1513 and 1514.  So I then tried to fire off the points at those addresses via my radio Procab-R.  Well none of them threw.  I could see that the DS64 was issuing commands as the light was illuminating as I know it must have accepted the 4 addresses.

This DS64 was one that had previous sent back to the US quite some time ago for fixing as it was getting hot and not working.  I purchased another DS64 to replace that one and when the repaired DS64 turned back up on my doorstep apparently fixed, it was put into a draw until needed.  Well it was needed and now when I try it, it does not work as the DS64 is getting very hot again.  It seems that the b@stards in the US never fixed it, after spending sh!t loads of money to send it back there.  Well that is the last straw!  I will never use one of those pieces of cr@p again.
Later tonight I will check out the relatively new NCE equivalent that did not exist when I started using DS64’s.  I might try and pick one up next weekend from Austral Modelcraft.  I think I’ll pen a nice email back to Digitrax about their rotten DS64.

By the way, I seem to have inherited a nice short in power district number 5 - somewhere between Acacia Ridge and South Brisbane Interstate.  I'm not looking forward to working out where this has occurred.

Next weekend is the RMCQ Model Railway Exhibition at the Strathpine Community Centre Hall on Saturday and Sunday.  I will be sitting on the door with a few other guys for most of the weekend, so please say high when you pop in!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Layout Lighting and Trains Temporarily Running at Fisherman Islands

During the week I spend some time thinking about where the next few strings of LED lighting would be installed on the layout.  I wanted another string above Fairy Hill and another stretching around towards Kyogle from Fairy Hill.  I also wanted to install a run of LED above Border Loop (hanging from the roof of the shed) and also investigate installing a set above the Cougal Spiral.  That one will be interesting as it needs to be on a continuous curve.  I'm not sure what I will connect that to.

Darren delivered some wood to me on Wednesday that I will use to hang the Border Loop LED set.  As usual there is still quite a bit of other bits and pieces I need to install these next sets.  But with a bit of luck, I might get around to doing something this week.

While I had a couple of strings about, I decided to take two to the Club on Saturday as it was the Monthly Club meeting.  I ventured over to the Club with Barry as a passenger and on the way to the Club stopped off at Austral Modelcraft and picked up an NCE EB1 for installation in my Power District no.6 at Fisherman Islands on the layout.  Once at the club, I had some lunch and pottered around for most of the day.  At midday I started off with a quick presentation – more a group discussion on building model roads as part of our modelling series that we have been running since late last year.  I covered my techniques for road building and we talked about some things to make the roads look more realistic - like butters, drains and man hole covers.  There were about 4 or so members in attendance and I think we all learnt something.  After that I rolled out two lengths of my LED strings and put them up under the top deck on one of the peninsulars on the layout.  They were installed on the wharf section and looked pretty good once turned on.  They were meant to stimulate the members and give them an understanding as to what we want to eventually install around the whole lower deck of the layout.  I think it worked.

Today I ventured down to the shed after midday and spent some time thinking about what I would do.  First job was to install the EB1, that I purchased yesterday) under the layout and wire it into the power bus.  I still need a few slide switches and a panel metre to fully install this so I can monitor the current in this new section of track.  I have identified where there are two slide switches that I can use, and tonight I ordered a panel meter to go onto the layout facia. 

I then decided to drill the track power dropper holes in the Fisherman Islands baseboard and then soldered 15 pairs of droppers to the rails and then soldered them onto the power bus underneath.  I then decided to quickly add a temporary jumper from the Fisherman Islands power bus to another track bus and when I connected it, I had a short.  Damn!  Upon further investigation I found that one of my narrow gauge points in Fisherman Islands did not have the two insulated joiners installed.  This point had feeders installed on the tracks so it was the culprit.  So that was quickly rectified and Voila, no short!  So I grabbed a loco, put it on the track, gave the track a quick clean, and away we went with a 44 Class running all over the three standard gauge tracks, and the one dual gauge track at Fisherman Islands.  It was towing my ballast set.  I really must put some stop blocks on the ends of the tracks otherwise I might regret running trains in this yard, as it is long way to the ground.

I still have the track from Dutton Park to the entry of the Fisherman Islands Yard to have droppers installed on.  I also have to work out how to wire up my dual gauge point at the far end of Fisherman Islands Yard so that power gets thrown correctly.  I also found a section of track just next to the dual gauge point that was isolated from the track bus.  So I have already drilled dropper holes and installed droppers, but just need to solder the droppers to the track and power bus next week.  Possibly Wednesday as it is a public Holiday in Brisbane.

While I had the soldering iron out I soldered one jumper that I noticed had come adrift in the Grafton to Rocla Sleeper Siding section and, and a jumper in Acacia Ridge Yard that I identified the need for in the last running session.

I also spent some time fine tuning the dual gauge track in the Acacia Ridge Narrow Gauge Yard.  I ran a Eureka Model RSH wagon around the dual gauge track and it ran well, so I was pretty happy as this is the wagon with the smallest wheels.

Hopefully plenty more progress next week.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Running Session and Tidying Up

Yesterday a few of us ventured down to Darren’s place for a Running Session on Wattle Flat.  The call was sent out for a 12:30 pm arrival for crib with a 1:00 pm whistle out.  It was more like 1:30ish pm when we actually did whistle out.  We had three crews allocated to the various tasks.  I was teamed up with Shelton.  I was driver, he was chief photographer.  My first train was a shunt to the second crossing loop on the line – Gollan.  It involved a complicated shunt of the Milling Bros Mill  Siding.  I had to pick up 8 wagons from three sidings, and drop off another 8 wagons to those same three sidings.  But given that the wagons in the siding, three UL’s and three bogie wheaties were in the wrong order compared to the shunting list required for the return trip, I had to re-order the three UL’s and the three bogie wheaties.  I think the traffic controller was a psycho ordering them like that.  We then ran back to the Meatworks and swapped over two empties for two loaded wagons.  We then ran back to Goolma and dropped off the Petrol bomb and a louvre van at the goods shed and pick two of the same wagons from those sidings up.  We ran back to south of North Gulgong and into staging.

We then had to wait for the blind crew to complete their shunt, it was Geoff and Stephen Ottaway.  Following that crew completing their task, we all stopped for some more crib and then resumed.  I was then paired up with Geoff.  We were given the perway special, which had 6 ballast wagons and 4 sleeper wagons, a rail wagon and a ballast plough.  The trains came off the Werris Creek branch and had to reverse at North Gulgong.  That means moving the van from one end to the other, then we could leave North Gulgong and travel to Goolma.  We had to swap the guards van to the other end again and then replace three sleeper wagons and the rail wagon with what was in the perway siding - three sleeper wagons and wagon of rail.  No sooner had we done this and a passenger came through heading towards Wattle Flat.  Straight after we had another train go through, and that was followed by another train heading towards the branch and a steam special come back the other way.  After the steam special had cleared the line, we had permission to travel to the ballast siding at Mebal and swap 6 loaded wagons or 6 empties.  I left the train on the main and did my business there.  Upon return to North Gulgong, we again had to 'end for end' the guards van and then take the branch back towards Werris Creek.

These shunts are not as simple as you think, as the loco cannot enter the sidings at Milling Bros Mill and the Ballast Siding, so you need to take extra wagons to allow the loco to reach the train in the siding.  It was a real brain teaser.  It was a real great day, with lots of friendly banter and great company.  Thanks for the invite Darren.

Today I had a plan for attacking a few jobs in the shed.  The list included tacking up a huge number of wires up under the layout out of sight.  This only has a visual affect and doesn’t make anything run better.   I did this to the wires underneath Clapham Yard (above Glenapp).  I also did this to some wires underneath Border Loop.  A number of power cords for the various LED strings that light the layout where also tacked up out of sight.  It has started to make the layout look a lot more tidier.   

Following this task I did a lot of work back around the Fisherman Islands area.  I ran a 15m run of 4 core alarm core cable from the control panel at entry to Fisherman Islands Yard around to the NCE Mini Panel located at Loco Pilly.  I also drilled the holes in the control panel at this location.  I then identified where the control panel for the other end of Fisherman Islands was to go.  I cut a hole in the facial for it to be located, and drilled the holes in the panel for the push buttons.  I then ran two more runs of 4 core alarm cable from this panel to the NCE Mini Panel located underneath the southern end of Border Loop.  I then ran another run of 4 core cable from the first control panel back the NCE Mini Panel underneath Border Loop.  I have run the ground wire between the two Fisherman Islands control  panels, but I still need to run the ground wire back to the Border Loop Mini Panel.

I then ran the power bus for the Fisherman Islands power district.  I still need to attach the various droppers from the track to the bus and then run the bus back to a new NCE EB1 that is required to power this section of track.  I am thinking of starting to run the first accessory bus for this part of the layout.  At the moment the accessories just get their signal from the power bus - the same as the track.  I know that it is not optimal but have a separate bus actually causes me to run a huge amount of additional wire.  I also did some work between Dutton Park and Park Road tacking the various wires up under the baseboard at this locations as well.

There is still lots of work to get the Fisherman Islands section completely operational.  But maybe it will be ready for running later this month.