Wednesday, June 29, 2016

An Army Train

Following on from Rohan's question on the army train that Peter runs on his home layout, which came about on my last blog post, I asked Arthur to take some photos.  Today he took some great shots and sent them through to me for showing off on the Blog.

Thanks to Arthur and Peter.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Detailing the Fettler's Camp Between Glenapp Loop and The Risk

This week started when we had Tuesday Nighter’s over at Peter’s place.  Just a nice comfortable group of about 8 or 9.  We had some good conversations and I think we solved many of the world’s problems.  Well you would when you have the type of people that comes to our Tuesday Nighter’s get together all in the same place.  Peter's NSW outline layout had an army train circulating all night that looked very nice indeed.

On Friday afternoon I nicked off from work early.  I went to the shed and undertook a bit of ballasting.  I ballasted the section between Glenapp Loop and The Risk Loop.  I also decided to ballast the crippled wagon siding at Glenapp and then decided to ballast the main and loop adjacent to the siding.  The sections that I ballasted came out pretty good I thought.

This is the crippled wagon siding at Glenapp Loop.  This was ballasted on Friday and the two tracks behind (Loop and Main) were also done for a short section of track only.

Friday was also a modelling night over at Brendan’s place at Woop Woop - or at least it felt like it when you get stuck behind dorks doing 80km/h in the 100km/h zones.  Brendan put on a sausage sizzle which was very nice, for our nice comfortable group of 4.  I was working on pulling apart some electronic flickering candles that I purchased the previous Sunday at Ikea.  The LED’s from these LEDs will go inside a couple of the bins I will be placing around the layout at fettlers various camps.  I tested some inside my old 44 gallon drums and they worked perfectly.  I plan to solder some extension leads onto these candles tonight so they will reach to the bins.  They might be operational next weekend for my Operation Session. 

I also did some work cutting up some pieces of scale lumber to make some fencing that was to go either side of some track access points.  Once cut up, I dipped these into my trusty stain solution and allowed them to dry.  I also cut up another bundle of sleepers and also stained them as well.  I also stained some square sheets of balsa wood to simulate a complete levels of sleepers in a neatly assembled multi-level stack at my various fettler locations.
This is the area between Glenapp Loop and The Risk Loop which was ballasted on Friday afternoon.

Today I got down to the shed in the arvo.  I glued together the fencing sections That I cut up on Friday night and allowed 4 of them to dry.  I then realised that I might actually need another four if I was to have two track crossings in the section between Glenapp Loop and The Risk Loop.  I decided I would also do some wire fencing around this area, so I drilled holes in the scenery and installed quite a few rustic old fence posts that I previously prepared.  I also installed about a dozen in another area on the layout that I will see if the crew can determine where this occurred when they visit next weekend.

I also installed some sleepers as road crossings over the track.  These were glued to the track and a couple of wagons pushed back and forth through the area, to ensure that the sleepers do not foul the track.
This is the first of the track crossings in the Glenapp to The Risk section.  The pieces of fencing either side of the gate is what I cut up on Friday night, and glued together today.

The fettler's camp between Glenapp and the Risk.  Lots more work needs to be undertaken here, like fencing along the back of the layout and quite a few more detail items like trikes and various tools.  But I think it is coming along nicely.

The second track crossing between Glenapp and the Risk.  The fencing that I've installed today is also visible.
I also decided to cut up a few more fence posts while I was working in the shed and then stained these as well.  I wish I could remember what I made the last batch of rustic fence posts out of as they looked really good, and the lot I made up to day are nowhere near as good.  Doh!  I might have to read back through my blog to see if I documented how I did it.

I then decided to try and make my own gates for the various rail crossings.  I do have a few white metal gate kits, but I found some solid core house wiring, which I had stripped the insulation from and bent these into eight gates and then bent up some bracing for these gates.  I plan to solder these up tonight.  Who knows, I might also have them installed before the Operating Session for next weekend.    At this stage I have 5 acceptances and another 6 who have not yet RSVP’ed.  I would dearly love to have about 12 in attendance.

While I was installing various 44 gallon drums around the layout I added a few more at the fettler's camp at Border Loop.  I will also install a burning drum (flashing LED inside) at this location.

I also added a bit more detail around the Border Loop Signal Box.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Where Did The Weekend Go?

Saturday morning I scootered over to Arthur’s place for a quick visit as this was the venue for the local NMRA meeting.  I think it was my first meeting.  I’ve been a member for almost two years.  I could only stay a short time as I had made other arrangements in the arvo prior to finding out when the meeting was to be held.  Because the meeting was at Arthur’s place and I thought a couple of Tuesday Nighters would probably be in attendance, and as Arthur’s place is just up the road (sort of) as well as on my way to the next location, I made an appearance.  I spoke to many railway friends while there, but the main reason was to check out the layout again.
I never get tired of watching the trains circulate on Arthur’s layout.  I always learn something each time I visit as well.  There is always something that I see for the first time, which causes a question to be asked and then Arthur just fills us with the reasons and details behind why the item in question is there. This time it was about the blow down board in the loco area in Westgate.
So the second stop for the day was over at Anthony’s place for an operating session at Anthony’s Border District layout.  The crew was pretty slim, just three others and the host.  It had been a while since I’d last attended a session and it showed.  The first train I ran I forgot to pick up the car cards and I got caught out by Anthony – Doh!  But I didn’t cause too much havoc, I ran through in set of points in Tatiara Downs Yard and also put one wheel of a bogie off the track in a storage siding, so all in all everything ran well, and I did not disgrace myself too much.  The company was pretty good as well.  I'm still learning about the car cards that Anthony uses.  This hobby is just great.
We were all amazed at some of the progress on the layout.  Anthony was the recipient of a few new building at Jameston.  These buildings were very, very nice.  Although modelled in low relief, they fit into the scene very well.  The detail on these buildings is just great.  I’m sure there will be some photos of these buildings on Anthony’s Blog very soon, if not already.  There is a short update about the session already there.  Anthony's Layout Blog
Today we did some family things all morning until early afternoon and that was followed by some time in the shed.  I was starting to work on testing the updates to the version of JMRI on the Pi.  These were put together by my JMRI Consultant Greg.  I have now confirmed that the fastclock is displayed on the engine driver throttle.  I have not yet tested the Apple – wi-throttle flavour of throttle.  But I assume if one is working all are.  However, what is being displayed is the local server time and not the time from the NCE system.  No matter how I set it and change the parameters, it is not being set correctly.  Once changed, the settings for the NCE system to overrule the local time, does not seem to get saved.  Yes I am saving it!  So when I restart JMRI, the fastclock time keeps using the local time again.  Frustrating!  I’m sure my JMRI Consultant Greg will be able to tell me what I have done wrong when he next visits.  I was also having all sorts of issues with the throttle also controlling the train.  I’d change direction, turn lights on and off and not everything was reflected in the train.  Maybe the Pi was still setting up lots of other things and was not running optimally.  Maybe if I left it for a few more minutes activity would settle down.
My wifi enginedriver enabled phone that I was testing with then ran out of juice, so I called it a day.  Besides, the shed was starting to get too wet as the rain had set in.  I had planned to do a little bit more work around Nammoona Ballast Siding, and add some detail weed clumps between the tracks at this location and also on the stock platform.  I had also planned to start work on the ballasting in another area and detailing around that zone.
I had the boss buy some cheap flickering candles when we were out this morning.  I plan to hook them up to a power supply delivered from the DCC bus and have the flickering light reflected inside some old drums and camp fires located in a couple of fettlers camps around the layout.  Another item added to the ‘to do’ list.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Nammoona Ballast Siding Progresses

Tuesday this week 6 members of the regular Tuesday night crew ventured over to my place.  Four (4) others were all overseas, one was on call, one was working and a couple of others had better things to do.  So we all met down in the shed and I showed off a number of detailing activities that I had been slowly working on since the crew was last in attendance.  The conversation turned to Nammoona Ballast Siding.  My plan is to permanently attach my vinyl backscene print that I picked up at Brisbane's May Exhibition from Wuiske.  I had plenty of offers to assist with the work required and suggestions of what to use to stick it to and how to curve the board and how to do it.  These get togethers are just great for seeking inspiration.  This area had a 1cm thick piece of polystyrene about 30cm high and 180cm long fitted many years ago as a scene separator, between Nammoona Ballast Siding and the next loop of the helix heading towards Fairy Hill Loop about 120cm higher and recessed behind Nammoona.  This sheet polystyrene sheet curves around and it glued to the next level in the helix's ply baseboard.  Since May, I had added my backscene to the front of the polystyrene sheet by just bulldog clipping at each end to the polystyrene sheet. 
So today after lunch I decided to cut a piece of white board that I was given many years ago by Peter Hamey.  This stuff is like a thin ply on one side and smooth white laminate on the other and was what I had used on all my facias.  Once the board was cut, I looked at my 1cm thick Polystyrene backscene in this area and sized it up.  I ran a knife around the glue and lifted it out in two pieces.  I then did some minor adjustments to the cut white board and shoe horned it into the location behind the loading embankment and against the ply on the next loop of the helix.  I then used three small screws to help secure the board into its new curved shape.  I then re-added the vinyl backscene print and used a few more bulldog clips to secure it back into place.  I then trimmed the vinyl backscene to size and it looks pretty good in place, if I do say so.  I then temporarily installed my cattle fence by springing the white board back and dropping the fence into the space created and then letting the board spring back out.
What next you ask, well I also purchased a few kilograms of ballast at the May Exhibition.  So I put that to work and ballasted the two tracks at Nammoona Ballast Siding.  So after the ballast was laid and wetting the water from a spray bottle, I dropped diluted white glue onto the ballast and let it set.  I then added about 50 sleepers around the area to help detail the scene.
The cattle unloading ramp, with fencing in front of the back scene.

Moving around the siding, showing some sleeper detail added after the ballasting.

Overall scene of Nammoona Ballast Siding.

Next weekend, I might get around to detailing some scenes between Glenapp and The Risk, with some fencing, detail items like two local crossings and some ballast in that area as well.
This is the area that will be detailed located between Glenapp Loop and The Risk Loop.

Some more detail added to Border Loop.  Again this will receive more detail in the future.

At the May Exhibition, while working on the Structure Building Stand, I built two sheds.  These have been located just south of Cassino, and are visible in this photo, along with some more trees at this location.  Fencing was also added along the rear of the railway boundary.  Still more to add to this side of the scene.

At Lismore, again more trees were added as well as some fencing around the railway property.  Visible is some of the excellent Jacaranda's that were made at the Brisbane Exhibition by Kerry Hayes and her crew of arborists.  These are now located in many places with price on my layout.

I still did not get around to testing the Raspberry Pi changes following some configuration changes I made to the Engine Driver Application on my phone.  That is a task for during this coming week.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Making Sleepers

Late Friday afternoon, I went down to the shed to re-arrange the trains in Grafton Yard so they were all in the correct tracks and the wagons were facing the correct way around in preparation for the next operating session coming soon.  No sooner had I started when I had a request to kick the soccer ball around for a while.  So we did that until it was dark.  Later after dinner I went back down to the shed and completed the various movements.  I also added one wagon back into the container train at Murwillumbah.  I still have one other to add, but it does look quite long.  So I will reconsider that train length over the next few weeks.
I also planted a couple of trees and then distributed about 60 sleepers around two fettlers camps at The Risk and Border Loop.  I then cut up another 200 sleepers out of balsa and stained them. 
On Saturday afternoon, I popped down to the shed for about 20 minutes to listen to some footy on the radio.  That was a bad idea.  The Broncos were getting flogged.  While there I cut up 155 more sleepers and stained them.  All the sleepers are now drying and will also be distributed around the layout.  It is amazing how many sleepers you can deploy and the layout still looks quite bare on detail.
On Friday morning at work Greg popped in and delivered a new version of JMRI on a micro SD card that I gave to him a while back.  The plan was to test it this weekend.  This version has the NCE fast clock enabled and is also running the JMRI webserver.  So operators running with smart phones can now supposedly see the time on their phones.  I also plan to eventually get around to installing two cheap tablets on the walls at either end of the shed so that the fast clock time can be displayed on them as well.  So this arvo late I did get the chance to fire up my Raspberry Pi and configure the new JMRI version.  However, a timing issue between the Pi starting up before the USB hub powering up had me scratching my head why I could not find any serial ports.  So a restart of the Pi fixed that.  I got it working, but when I tested it on my phone I also got some weird results, with run away trains and others not working.  This is just the same as what occurred last time I ran trains via JMRI on my phone, so I guess everything is working well.  I did not however get the fast clock time displaying on the phone.  So maybe I need to load a later version of the app on my phone.  But again, it could still be an issue with the version of JMRI not syncing with the serial interface of NCE, or I may have done something and the webserver has not started.  I will see what others get when they fire up their phones on Tuesday night.
During the week, I did put together a list of jobs to complete, but I can’t find it now.  I know that I have to fix a wire in tube point throw at Cassino.  This point takes trains from the Loop to the Yard.  This requires a trip under the layout.  So I will do that during daylight hours - over the next couple of weeks.  I had quite a few items on this list.  So I might have to check my desk at work, in case I took it to work during the week.
The Toowoomba Model train exhibition was on this weekend, and I could not go, given that I was supposed to have soccer on Saturday morning and a Christening to attend today.  The recent weather event cancelled the soccer and there was no chance I was going to drive 250km in that weather we had on Saturday morning, but the weather certainly cleared up in the afternoon and today.

The guys are coming over on Tuesday, so I best clean up the shed a bit.