Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Watched Pot Never Boils

Well I’ve been watching it and it certainly hasn’t boiled.  I am of course referring to my Auscision XPT.  I see many people have received their models, even a mate over at Loganholme, however, mine is currently MIA.  Hopefully it will rock up tomorrow.  When it does I'm hopping on a bus and coming straight home from work to give it a test run.

In order to pass the time, I’ve spent some time in the shed on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

However, back on Thursday night, Geoff popped over to borrow my CPH/CTH railmotor and trailer so he could test the new track that he laid on his layout – Splitters Swamp Creek.  Apparently it ran well on his newly hand laid trackwork.  Hopefully we will get some photos via his blog soon.  That layout will be attending the Inverell Model Railway Show in a few weeks time.

On Friday afternoon when I came home from work, I picked up some wire from Jaycar and hinge for a control panel from Masters.  The control panel located at Fisherman Islands is to control the Dutton Park point.  This has been installed and push buttons spliced into the existing wires from a panel located on the incline above The Risk just short of Dutton Park.  The wire also allowed me to finally wire up the panel located between Park Road and Dutton Park.  So now the dual gauge point at Dutton Park can be controlled from all three forks of the junction.
This was the original panel located on the incline heading north towards Dutton Park.

This is the panel located at the Park Road Siding end controlling the Dutton Park junction.

This is the panel at Fisherman Islands to control the Dutton Park points.  Next to it is the staff machine which has yet to be added to the Clapham - South Brisbane Interstate section.

On Saturday morning I went over to Austral Modelcraft and picked up quite a few points that the Club ordered for the HO Clubroom layout.  Via a roundabout sort of way they will make their way to the Clubrooms on Wednesday this coming week thanks to PK.  After lunch on Saturday I went down to the shed and did a bit of a cleanup in Lismore.  I then laid another 18 inches of ballast heading towards Murwillumbah.  I am considering in shaving back the benchwork at the northern end of Lismore by up to 6” to facilitate easier movement through this main thoroughfare by the operators.
This is the northern end of Lismore Yard.  The ballasting goes all the way to where a future  underbridge will be located.  The bridge is currently sitting behind the track.

I am considering cutting a few inches off the baseboard at this location.  The potential new limit is marked on the baseboard.

In the arvo I decided to cut up about 60 balsa wood sleepers.  These were stained and used to make a walk way located from the Lismore Platform to the Yard.  They were left overnight to dry.
Lismore Yard all ballasted.  The 80 class is in the Norco Siding.  The platform road is empty.  A 421 Class loco on the pickup Goods is in the Loop.  Five banana wagons are in the No. 1 Storage Road.  A rail set is in the end of the No. 2 Storage Road along with three cement hoppers.

Lismore viewed from the southern end.  A few weeds, bushes and bits of clutter are starting to make an appearance in this area.

The northern end of the yard.  A give way sign has been added.

Another view of Lismore Yard before the walkway was added.

This morning I went down to the shed with the intent to lay those sleepers in the walkway.  But before I did that I spray painted the bridge that I had previously built that will go into the northern end of Lismore over the road at that location.  As that dried, I got out my trustee brown marker pen and used it to colour the rail through Lismore Yard on the various tracks that had not already been weathered.  The result is much better that unweathered rail.
The completed walkway though the yard.  A few extra sleepers have been scattered around.

So after laying quite a few sleepers for the walkway, checking that the sleepers do not foul operation of various wagons through the tracks in the Yard, I had run out.  So I cut up another approximately 100 sleepers.  These were stained and dried and used to spread around a number of locations including Bonalbo Ballast Siding, Barker Street pedestrian crossing in Cassino, and through the yard in Cassino.  I also threw some around the southern end of Lismore and at various places in the yard and at the northern end of the yard.  It was then I realised that I needed a few more.  So I cut up another approximately 150.  They do not go far when you strew then around various locations.  While doing this I came to realise that I need to lighten the existing sleepers in both the Lismore and Cassino precincts.
Some sleepers have been scattered around Barker Street pedestrian crossing.  A future project is building this walkway.

I experimented with ways of doing the lightening of sleepers this afternoon, But I was not too happy with the result.  So I decided to watch the Queensland Rugby League football final on TV and cut up another 90 of so sleepers and go through the staining and drying process one more time.
A light wash was painted over some of the sleepers on the track at Lismore to see if I could lighten the sleepers up slightly.  In hindsight this should have been done before the track was ballasted.  The last 90 or so sleepers have been placed here to dry before being distributed around the layout.

I have a running session scheduled for next weekend.  So I decided to have a look at the timetable cards as they currently stand.  I found three trains that had finished their runs early so I decided to reverse them to where they should be in the current timetable.  The timetable will start with the NCE fast clock set to about 1:30pm. There are about four trains sitting in various locations on the layout ready to be started mid run.  I'm looking forward to a great session as my acceptances come in.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up

On Saturday of the past weekend I went over to Anthony’s place along with Mark and Iain to attend the now regular 3rd Saturday of the Monthly Running Session.  The timetable for the 12 hour period being simulated consists of 26 train movements which were all completed very quickly indeed.  It was an extremely early finish.  I kept forgetting to take my car cards with me when I picked up a train from staging.  Anthony kept noticing but didn’t say much.  My job was one of the two train operators.  I ran 13 of the trains.  I was scheduled to run 11 trains, and I ran one of the jobs allocated to Train Control and one for the other train operator.  Most of the jobs were relatively simple ones, however, one was a very complex shunt at Nankiva and a few were runaround movements).  These sessions at Anthony’s are just great.  Plenty of great company, good humour, friendly banter and some refreshments provided by the host.  Anthony has updated his blog on Sunday giving the his version of events on his running session.  While at Anthony’s Running Session I also had a request for a formal running session at Cassino in the next few weeks time.  I have checked the boss's calendar so it looks like it is a goer.

Before I have my session there are still a few maintenance tasks that I need to complete.  I still have to attached the control panel located at Fisherman Islands to control the Dutton Park Junction (this saves walking) and wire up the control panel controlling the selection of points at the entry to Fisherman Islands.  I also want to install my new NCE QSnap (if it ever arrives) which will control the points at the entry of Fisherman Islands.

For the last couple of weeks, I was contemplating heading down to Sydney to attend the Liverpool Exhibition with some others.  However, as the main instigator is now not attending, neither am I so a date for my next Running Session has just opened up. 

So on Sunday I decided to head down the shed, and try and progress some more scenery as a break from the trackwork and electrical activities I had been doing of late.  So the winner was ... Ballasting Lismore.  So I got out my ballasting kit, made up some diluted white glue, moved the 20 or so wagons that were resting in Lismore Yard, cleaned the baseboard around Lismore, and got stuck into ballasting.  I thought I would try some different techniques.  On one of the storage sidings, I wanted to give the impression of a less than frequently used road.  So I have heavily ballasted that track with various colours of tile grout.  This has been blended in closer to the entry to the siding with standard ballast.  I have also used different colour ballast on the mainline compared to the loop and the other sidings.  I think what has been completed has turned out quite well.  There is still a fair bit of detail work with the ballasting to complete next weekend.  This will include plenty of weeds around the storage sidings.

After being happy to leave the ballast to dry, I also got around to replacing a point that was damaged in Cassino Yard during Friday’s Running Session.  At the same time as doing the replacement, I drilled a hole for a new point motor underneath the point.  This point was manually controlled but now it runs in tandem with one on the main line.  This point allows trains from the Cassino Yard to access the main line without travelling through the Up Yard.

I will provide photos of the point and the ballasting work next weekend.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Friday Mini Running Session or the Birth of a 12mm Layout

The main event of the week occurred on Friday with 4 guys coming over for a run.  We had Darryl, Chris, and John from the other side of town and Barry from up the road in attendance.  Unfortunately a couple of other guys could not attend - but there is always a next time.  Darryl was intent on putting some 12mm locos and wagons on the track.  Almost immediately my three 12mm wagons were out numbered.  We had 8 grain wagons on the track and two locos.  The grain wagons got swapped with a variety of louvres and we even had some 4 wheelers make an appearance.  We certainly ran into quite a few difficulties with the 12mm locos.  While my bogie wagons could make their way around the track, a QR diesel with its Co-Co bogies could not on some curves.  Bugger!  We had issues that will probably be resolved with some instances of gauge widening on my homebuilt dual gauge track.  Also while the bogie wagons could go through my dual gauge points the locos could not.  More issues to be resolved.  For most of the session, Darryl diligently worked on identifying quite a few locations where some track work needs to occur.  Thanks for that Darryl.  He also cleaned all the 12mm track. He also used a file to remove any large blobs of solder on the third rail of my home made dual gauge track.  Darryl’s track cleaning removed a couple of track feeders that were just recently soldered on, but they were soldered back on during the session.  

I knew that the standard gauge track all worked, but the third rail used by the narrow gauge trains was extremely dirty.  However, while Darryl cleaned the track, the rest of us started running trains on the standard gauge part of the layout.  The layout ran reasonably well.  There were two wagons on the same train that lost couplers.  One while wagons were being set out into the Norco siding at Old Cassino and the other while the train was coming back home and shunting in Lismore Yard.  These couplers have since been fixed.  We had at least a couple of derailments.  I lost a passenger car on the Brisbane Limited heading towards South Brisbane at one of the Running Creek Tunnels.  I know Barry lost some banana wagons in the hidden spiral between Old Cassino and Lismore.  

We also had two incidents where Barry had a head on with the banana train (which should have been going to Murwillumbah) when he hit a train on the helix heading towards Nammoona Ballast Siding.  He also had a head on in the other hidden spiral between Murwillumbah and Lismore.  I think he forgot to take or even look to see if a staff had been taken before starting out on his run.  The bridge over the Richmond River at Cassino gave us some issues with track power failing for a few trains.  A quick touch of the bridge pier returns power to the track.  I might have to look at this as the joiners slide on to enable the removal of the bridge should the need arise.  

We had a couple of breaks for drinks and nibblies and in total we ran 24 trains to completion and one was still en-route (the train that lost its couplers at Lismore) when we pulled up stumps.  We spent just under 6 hours running trains and talking.  I was quite exhausted by the end of it.

So there are a few tasks that came out of this running session.  I need to double check the spiral between Old Cassino and Lismore for a kink in the track.  I also have a list of things to do next weekend.
The first narrow gauge train at Fisherman Islands.

The train was joining the dual gauge for the run to Dutton Park.

Whoops!  At Dutton Park the third rail was out of gauge and it went into the dirt.

The train arrived at Clapham Yard.  It can't go any further as a section of rail (4") had been removed at a point at the southern end of the yard.

Darryl inspecting where the grain train had issues through the points in Clapham Yard.  Now where is that track cleaner?

Move over big boy, some real trains are coming through with the CPH in Glenapp Loop with a run of histerical society guys from South Brisbane Interstate while the 620/720 is in Cougal Spiral running the Up Mountain Goat from Border Loop Back to Cassino.

Chris controlling the 48 class loco.  It is about to couple up with the shunt to the meatworks siding.

The Up Mountain Goat has made its way into the Cassino Dock.

QR Loco in the dual gauge lead into Acacia Ridge Yard.

Then there was two narrow gauge trains in Acacia Ridge Yard.

Who is that Photographic Guy?  He's my ready made track cleaner.

Darryl making a video of his narrow gauge pride and joy.

Well two became three.  We were almost overrun by those damn QR things.  They even had sound!  I want to win the Lotto!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Preparation for Last Friday's Mini Running Session

Tuesday this week I hopped over to Hobbyone to check out their range of spray paint.  I also ventured over to Austral Modelcraft to have a look around the shop because I could.  I had spent some time the previous day looking for various photos of Cement Silos.  I tried to determine what was the best colour that I could paint the silo for the Club.  Upon return home with a pretty good cement colour I thought, I painted the Cement Silo.  I used two different spray can colours.  For the equipment on the roof, for the attached corrugated iron shed and the roller doors on the silo itself, I used a grey colour that I already had. I used the new cement colour on the silos themselves.  I used some paper masks to keep the colours separate.  After that I did some work on my layout.  I attached the control panels for Acacia Ridge which will control the standard gauge to the dual gauge cross over (this crossover is not yet installed) and the panel for the Terminal end of Fisherman Islands.  I keep realising that I have a couple of wires to solder back onto the track at this end of Fisherman Islands.

On Wednesday in the morning and early afternoon while the boss was visiting her mother, I spent some time scanning over 280 photos of Cassino that were loaned to me by Paul.  That was a big effort.  Upon completion I was exhausted.  So to recover what else would you do? I went to the shed and began working upside down under Acacia Ridge Yard.  I attached the wires from the four departure tracks to the automatic reverser.  I also wired up the narrow gauge tracks and the dual gauge track at Acacia Ridge Yard.  I then tested a HO loco on the standard gauge and it all worked well.  I could not test the narrow gauge as I do not have any of these locos yet.

Thursday was the day before a running session and I needed to just double check that the trains were in the correct places.  I had planned to begin the running session with the fast clock set to 08:00am so I had to move five trains down the track a few crossing loops.  I then realised that in track 2 at Grafton Yard, the two trains there were in the wrong order.  So some shunting occurred to remedy this.  On another train on track 4 at Grafton Yard, the wagons on that train were in the wrong order.  This train is the local shunt that drops off wagons at Cassino, Old Cassino, Lismore and Murwillumbah.  So I had some fun shunting these wagons into the correct sequent for its task the next day.  I also stocked the fridge and did a very basic tidy up.

Everything was set for the running session and the christening of the 12mm track with a loco or two or three.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tuesday Nighters this Week

On Tuesday night this week we visited Bob’s place and had the pleasure of seeing the Wacol layout one last time.  This layout is fantastic.  It is inside an old QR wagon - BLV514.  The passenger end is meticulously restored, with working toilet and a hidden fridge.  The van end contains the layout.  I was able to take a few photos while the Tuesday Nighters watched in mesmerisation at the detail portrayed on this layout and how well it runs.
The layout is simple DC Control and has lots of added features – like a “Stand Clear - Doors Closing” announcement, working boom gates, a local grass fire with smoke, flames and a wire engine putting out the fire, a flashing pantograph as a train runs under the wires, a train w..ker sorry photographer photographing the trains, a welder and an advancing thunder storm with lightning.

The detail of the overhead just has to be seen to be believed.

It will be a shame should this layout get pulled down.

An artist capturing the scenery.

Roadworks in progress.

The welder working on the equipment.

The train photographer.

The gates going down, there must be a train approaching.

The sheds.

The workers.  One has put his hat down on the ground to do something.

The gates down and a great shot of the station area.

A work compound.

The creek at the end of the Yard.

The cattle yards.

An electrical substation.

The other end of the yards.

The rail motor sidings.

An old QR loco.

The workers camp train.

The detail on the post.

A shot of the overhead and a few trees in October.

The local fireries have the grass fire under control.

Geoff videoing some trains while a ghost in the distance is captured.

Fantastic Overhead detail.

The other end of the carriage.  I dare not show the photos looking to the left through the windows as the calendar on display shows too much detail.  Miss September was a corker!

Some of the mesmerized onlookers captured.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Working on the Return Loops and in the Cement Siding

On Saturday I went to the Club and handed back 4 locos that I had installed decoders in for two members.  I picked up a new job to build another timber road bridge on the layout.  I have put an order in to our resident laser cutter "Chilli Laser Engraving”.  He will cut up a length of 1.5mm 3-ply on his laser and I will be able to use it for the bridge deck.  For all the other components of the bridge I will be using my supply of bass wood.

This morning I went to a school working bee and this arvo I went to the shed because George from the next suburb was coming over to have a look and get some inspiration.  Just before George turned up I soldered up the last few wires and make Acacia Ridge Yard return loops all good again.  I just need to screw in the four wires into the Digitrax AR1 auto reverser that I use in the return loops.  However I just wanted to check something on the manual for the AR1 but the Digitrax website has been down for hours. 

I have also installed some push buttons in a new small panel for Acacia Ridge Yard that will be used to control a new point for the standard gauge line track 1 to allow diverging to the dual gauge line.  I will need an NCE Snap-it to complete this point install.  During the week I also hope to complete the control panel at Fisherman Islands at the terminus end of the yard.

So while George was in attendance, I demonstrated a bit of shunting on the Murwillumbah Branch with the cement train. I think George was amazed at the no hands operation, with in-track magnets allowing for almost trouble free operation.  This movement takes a train of 8 cement wagons via a headshunt that allows three wagons at a time to be put into the siding.  If I could not separate a couple of wagons, I just cut the wagon consist either at the wagon before or the wagon after and moved 2 instead of 3 or 3 wagons instead of 2.  That worked!  I just have the sound equipped 44 class idling at speed step four and hit the direction button to uncouple over the magnet, changing the point as we go from the main to the siding and vice versa via the headshunt.  It works quite well.  Although I might have to hit the KD couplings with some powered graphite to ensure continued smooth operation.

Other plans for this week include heading over to a local hobby shop - HobbyOne and picking up a spray can of a cement colour to paint the cement silo for the Club Layout.  I will then do some spray painting so I can take the kit I assembled some months ago back to the Club.
I also plan to finish the scanning of hundreds of photos of the Casino area that I need to complete before handing back the photos to the owner.

I have also scheduled a mini running session this Friday morning from 9:00am and will have potentially Darryl, Chris, John, Quentin and Kev from the club in attendance.  So before then I had better put the trains back into a 8:00am slot in the timetable, clean the Controller's Desk, stack the fridge and test the headset system.  I don't think we will be running a Controller but you never know.

I also have some plans about mowing the grass, spending some time at Bunnings and Masters, putting up some shelves in the laundry and doing a few other jobs around the house to please the Boss.

I've also received a callup to Anthony's next running session next Saturday. 

If you couldn't guess - I'm on holidays this week.  Whoo Hoo!  What a week I have installed.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

More Fine Tuning of Things in FI and AR Yards

Thursday afternoon was a Father’s Day celebration at my son’s school, so it was an early finish with my son and I being home about 3:15pm.  So what does one do when they get home early?  I went to the shed of course.  I began by drilling a hole in the facia for the new panel meter to be fitted for Power District number 6 – Fisherman Islands.  The panel meter turned up during the week in the mail.  Once that was complete, I went to my separate test/programming track powered by either DC or my PowerCab and added a fourth rail to the track.  So I can now program in N scale, HO standard gauge and HOn3.5 gauge locos all on the same piece of track.  I have run various wagons up and down and there are no issues for the wagons I tested on the track.
This shot shows the control panel area of the layout, with all the meters. The lower meters show the current draw per power district.  They can be turned on/off by the top row of switches.  The bottom row of switches isolates each power district should the need arises.  The knife switch turns off power to the whole layout and is left off until the NCE gear is powered up.

The track on the right is the triple gauge programming/test track.  The tracks to the left of that are the return loops of Grafton Yard.
On Friday I had the day off.  So after doing a number of planned things in the morning and going out with the Boss to do some shopping, I surprisingly ended up in the shed in the arvo.  I have no idea how that happened?  One of the activities I did in the morning was go to Jaycar and picked up some more wire and a 6A 400V bridge rectifier.  So that arvo I wired in the bridge rectifier with the new panel meter.  I also wired the track bus up for Power district No.6 instead of jumpering it off another section.  So the meter was successfully wired in and upon testing with a loco, I found a few flaws in my logic with the dual gauge turnout.  When I ran a standard gauge loco through the dual gauge point there was a short.  So out with the Dremel Tool and I cut some insulation joints around the frog.  I will have to electrically attach the frog to a Peco switch run from the Peco point motor.  But at the moment, the 44 class glides through the point without powering the actual frog.

The dual gauge point is in the centre.

On Saturday my modelling activity was limited to visiting Austral Modelcraft in search for some code 83 rail – which he didn’t have any of.  I’m still waiting for an NCE Q-Snap to come in as well.  Maybe next week.
With today being Father’s Day, it gave me cause to spend some time in the shed.  The plan was to rewire Acacia Ridge Yard.  Acacia RidgeYard is basically 4 concentric return loops with a fifth track down the middle that forms a large yard available for shunting.  I have connected the return loops up to a Digitrax AR1 Auto Reverser.  My issue is that the dual gauge track to South Brisbane leaves Acacia Ridge track 1 midway through the return loop.  It is possible that I can have a train enter Acacia Ridge Yard from Glenapp at the same time as a train arrives from Clapham Yard.  That should not be an issue, as the Auto Reverser will set all the tracks to the same polarity.  However, if a train is leaving Acacia Ridge towards Glenapp Loop at the same time as a train is either entering or leaving Acacia Ridge track 1 going from/to Clapham Yard – you guessed it – I get a short.  

This is the location where the track from Clapham Yard left most from the top enters Acacia Ridge Yard.  The dual gauge is the beginning of the dual and narrow gauge yards at Acacia Ridge and the standard gauge track branching off of that joins up to Acacia Ridge Yard track 1.  This track continues around to form a return loop. The insulated joiners that split the tracks 1 to 4 into two sections can be seen in this shot in track 1 and track 2.

This issue has not bothered me before, but during a heavy operating session it is possible to get a short with concurrent entry and exit of the yard.  At least I know it is possible and I can just get one train to wait and it will resolve itself.  So today I split the 4 return loops in half electrically (by adding insulated joiners) at locations after a set of crossovers between the four tracks and after the location where the dual gauge to Clapham Yard enters Acacia Ridge Yard.  This meant that I could remove the Auto Reverser from its current location and power the first part of the four tracks and track 5 from the main power bus for power district no. 4.  I then ran the bus wire from this common point to the new location for the Auto Reverser so it can power the second half of the four return loop tracks but at the other side of the yard for just the exit side of these tracks.  What this means is that I have solved my problem with trains leaving and entering Acacia Ridge Yard.  But I can still get an issue if trains leave Acacia Ridge Yard towards Glenapp Loop while a train moves from the entry side of Acacia Ridge to the exit side of the Acacia Ridge Yard to the section controlled by the Auto Reverser.  However, not many trains use the reversing loops at Acacia Ridge any more as most traffic is now heading towards Clapham Yard, Park Road Siding and South Brisbane Interstate Yard and as of today – Fisherman Islands Yard.  The second half of the 4 return loops at Acacia Ridge are only used to locate some extra trains that are not used in the operating session.

This is the dual gauge track from Clapham Yard, diverging into the dual gauge and the narrow gauge tracks.  The track next to the dual gauge is on Acacia Ridge Yard track 1 and has come from Clapham Yard.  Tracks 2,3 and 4 are to the left.  The dual gauge runs out just after the Eureka Sand Hopper until I get some more rail.

A higher shot showing off Acacia Ridge Yard.  In the distance, (against the wall) can be seen the track rising to Clapham Yard and next to that are the four return loops in Acacia Ridge Yard.  A spare steel train is in the exit end of track 4.

All the wires have been run to the second half (exit end) of the return loops, but I just have a few wires to solder to the track and all will be ready to give it a test next weekend.

So this week I paid off my XPT set from Auscision.  So the countdown is on for its arrival along with a narrow gauge loco from Southern Rail Models.  I have a future plan to install another link from Acacia Ridge Yard track 1 to the future dual gauge track 1.  The points below show the approximate location where this will be installed.
The three narrow gauge tracks to the right, will become two narrow gauge tracks and one dual gauge track, with a connection from Acacia Ridge Yard track 1 to Dual Gauge track 1.