Sunday, July 31, 2016

Construction at Full Throttle

Last Sunday night I started work on some fettler’s trolleys for the layout.  So far I have completed two bases but not yet put the wheels on them.  I am using N scale plastic wheels which I obtained from PK.  I cut the axle in half and then lengthen the axle so they can sit on HO track with some 1mm styrene added between the wheels.  Unfortunately, when I cut the first axle, one of the wheels went flying off into the distance never to be found, so now I only have three wheels for the first trolley.  I think that is called doing a John Josephson!  I think I will need about a 8 or 9 of the unpowered trollies to be scattered around the layout.  Then I will start work on some powered trolleys (well they won't have motors in them but they will look like powered trolleys).

On Friday night and Saturday I had a fetish for building some more gates for the layout.  I built 12 of the 12 foot high gates of varying widths.  Four of these gates are destined for the Murwillumbah Cement Silo scene.  Two more were destined for the Rocla Sleeper Siding which I installed on Saturday.  I also made 4 of the 12’ wide farm gates of varying designs.  All the gates have been painted and are ready for installation at various locations around the layout.

I decided to install the second half (the far side) of the railway crossing gates in the section between Glenapp Crossing Loop and The Risk Crossing Loop.  So the four sections of fencing where drilled into the scenery and a bit of ballast spread around to allow the cars and tractors access across the railway line.  While working at this location, I got the urge to install some telegraph posts in this same section.  I had about 5 telegraph poles already made up.  These poles had two cross arms each and 6 insulators on each arm.  That was nowhere near enough.  So I cut up two lengths of 3mm dowel (1m length) that I had in my wood pile.  These were cut to about 70mm length.  I then cut up 2 cross arms for each of the posts from 6” x 4” basswood.  These were glued to the posts and allowed to dry.  I then got out the 1mm styrene rod.  This was cut into about 1.5mm lengths 6 per arm or 12 insulators per telegraph pole.  There were 18 telegraph poles completed.  I also cut some more insulators for 2 posts with three arms and again 6 insulators per post.  again these poles had been made up some time ago and were just awaiting installation of the insulators.  I still have another 10 telegraph poles with two arms on them to which I still need to add the insulators.  I think that is a job for this week during the night.

Today I spent some time redoing some scenery near a small section of facia about 5" wide near Cassino platform to allow car access to the motorail siding, and I re-adjusted the facia and ripped out some base scenery where the Murwillumbah Cement Silo goes.  I realised last week that the wooden base where this assembly sits is too high.  So I had to rip out about 1.5cm of scenery height at this location. 

I have also added the cement base and a dirt base outside the cemented area to the removable base of the Murwillumbah Cement Silo.  Next week I will reinstall the fence posts and gates at this location and then add some greenery, and a bit of a shed.  Maybe an office will be added as well.  Following this I will then add the top, bottom and middle rails for the fencing and I may even get to adding the chain wire made from some tulle that I have already painted grey/silver.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Working to a Plan

The first thing that I did on Saturday was to check out how the ballast heaps had dried on my 11 ballast inserts for my ballast wagons.  It was pretty solid, but in some areas you could see through to the white styrene underneath.  So I painted around the edges of the inserts with some dark paint and let it seep in under the ballast.  Once dry these came up pretty good.  So these have been allocated to a small tray near the Bonalbo Ballast Siding for use in the next operations session.  I might have to try this shunt out myself before then to see how long it will take to do the shunt now and place the ballast inserts into the 10 ballast wagons.  I will then make an alteration to the timetable to allow for this extra time for the operator to complete this task.  The inserts just drop or snap in, but a couple have issues getting back out of the wagons again.  Sometimes I need to get something underneath and prise then out.  The styrene bases are just a fraction of a millimetre too wide.

While I had my dark paint out, I then went round the layout touching up a number of places where white plaster had recently been installed.  So I painted over the white plaster with the darker colour paint and made everything look a whole lot better.

My next major project that I will be working on has been decided.  So lets start something new, while I still have about 20 projects partly completed around the layout!  The new project is to work on the Murwillumbah Cement Silo surrounds - so I guess it is really completing something that I had previously started.  This model will be entered into my club’s December Modelling competition.  So to get things rolling, I added an extension to the base that the cement silo sits on.  I then cut up 24, 12’ high fence posts that will be used for a security surround for the silo complex.  I then built another 6 sets of gates out of styrene.  The posts and 4 of the gates then got painted from my can of grey primer spray paint.

Today I painted the last two gates and drilled out the post holes in the base of the Murwillumbah Cement Siding silo complex.  I installed all the posts that I made, found three other posts in a box I take to exhibitions and then found another 5 of these posts that were left over from being installed at the Rocla Sleeper Siding - sitting at this location.  I needed all of these to complete the Cement Siding complex.  I then cut out and painted the concrete apron for this area.  While I was in a painting mood, I decided to hit the 40' x 20' shed that sits near the road overbridge at Cassino with a coat of paint.  So it looks a lot better than the basic white styrene that it was previously in.

Next weekend I will make another two gates for the cement silo complex and then install the scenic surrounds for this location and then complete the fence.  I have again run out of styrene otherwise I would have made the two gates today.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bits and Pieces

For something completely different I went along to an NMRA meeting down at the Logan District Model Railway Clubrooms on Saturday morning.  I met up with a few mates and had a good chat.  With nothing much happening, I wondered home after lunch, and I visited the shed and set to work adding ballast heaps to my styrene inserts I made last Sunday night for the Auscision ballast wagons.  These inserts are removable.  Today I added some steel washers underneath, and with the help of a magnet, I will be able to lift these easily out of the ballast wagons.  So the operations of my ballast train in the Operations Session will eventually include adding these inserts to the ballast wagons in the various ballast sidings (either Bonalbo or Nammoona) located on the layout.  Additionally, the trains which are due to spend some time within the various sections of the layout on their way back to Grafton Yard, are to have the loads removed bit by bit as the trains moves  between crossing loops.

I then set about adding some ballast covering over my polystyrene heaps within Nammoona Ballast Siding.  They turned out OK.

On Friday night, I made up a 12mm transition piece of track about 100mm long.  This piece of track transitions the 3rd rail, from the right hand side of the 16.5mm track to the left hand side of the track.  Amazingly it seems to work pretty well when I run a 12mm bogie through the track.

Today I tried to make a few more gates, but this time out of 1.2mm styrene that I bent up.  I also added the re-enforcing in the gate out of styrene.  I also added 2 x 12 foot gates to the southern end of the Lismore Shell oil siding.  I also finished adding the gates to the northern end of the Rocla Sleeper Siding.  I have still a few more gates to make up and paint.

During the week I received a message asking what the model was of my Australia Post Van on the layout.  I checked it out and it is a Rietz model made in Germany.  I have never heard of them before.  The van is actually a Ford Transit Van.

Apart from this I could not get motivated to do much on the layout this weekend.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Firing On All Cylinders

I had Friday off work.  What better place to spend the time but in the shed?  I started off by making 12 on/off signs on the label maker so I can put these on my various control panels.  Each Control panel has a master on/off switch to isolate the panel from the various NCE Mini Panels that they are connected to.  It became apparent at my last Operating Session that someone was turning them off.  Hopefully this will allow self-diagnosis by the operator to occur, instead of these points don’t work.  I had a realisation that someone had turned 4 of the panels off at various time during the session.  This had never happened at previous Operations Sessions that I could remember.

I then installed two more uncoupling magnets on the layout.  These were in the Cassino Meatworks siding at the northern end and also in the Lismore Shell oil Siding also in the northern end.  Positioning these magnets here allow uncoupling of the loco to occur.  The loco can then run around the train left in the siding, and couple back up to the other end of the train while the train in loaded/unloaded before its next turn in the operating timetable.

I then got my plaster out.  I added a small amount of plaster to the end of the Cassino Platform.  Originally I had a flat end to the platform.  Reviewing a few photos that have been appearing on Facebook recently, revealed that the platform had a slopped end.  So I made up some formwork, mixed up a thick batch of plaster and poured it at the end of the platform.  The formwork was removed after the plaster had set enough.  The same photo also revealed that there was a set of steps also at the end of the dock platform.  So I made a set of these out of pieces of 2mm styrene.

With the plaster I had left over I spread a bit over a section of Kyogle, where I had not added a small 3 inch section over some Styrofoam.  I then made up a very running mixture and added some around my road overbridge on the Murwillumbah branch north of Lismore.

I then decided to realign the good shed siding at Old Cassino.  I had previously placed half a building up against the back drop here, but the siding was a good couple of inches away.  So I ripped up the track and the cork underneath and relayed the siding.

I then went wondering the layout looking at the trains.  I adjusted two wagons on the paper train by the addition of a KD washer.  I added a missing KD spring to one wagon that kept coming adrift on the same train.  Funny that I thought there might be a spring missing on this wagon.  I was right.  I then found two trains in South Brisbane Interstate station in the wrong tracks.  The Brisbane Limited express was in track 3, and not in track 4.  Also the locos were at the terminal end of the train instead of Sydney end.  Someone did not read the timetable card well.  Upon further contemplation, I will now create a shunt list for this train, as there are additional movements that are required for this train, as I had added a louvre van to the front of the train heading north and south.  So this van will need to be moved from the front, to the yard and the later before departure to the front of the now reversed train.  Similarly for the motorail wagon.  It will need to go from the front of the train on arrival to the yard, and then back to the front of the train for departure.  The second train was number 53 Shunt – from Clapham Yard to Park Road Siding.  Apparently this train ran straight through Park Road Siding after dropping off a single container wagon there and ran into South Brisbane Interstate yard.  This is number 55 Shunt’s job from Park Road to South Brisbane Yard and it has to do some movement of wagons.  Someone did not read the card for #53 shunt, and because they did not the card for #55 shunt, it ended up in the wrong track too.

There were some reports on my current motorail wagons.  So I changed out some wheels for smaller diameter ones to lower the couplers.  Only Slightly but we will see how that effects the train.

My Bachmann tamper wagon was running very slowly.  So I gave it a test.  It was running slowly.  It needs some more wait above the power bogie.  I have two tampers, and both do the same.  This has been left for future fine tuning.

Finally for Friday, I was trying to re-create a reported issue with the Ballast train parked in the Bonalbo Ballast Siding.  Apparently it had issues with a low coupler hitting some sleepers between the rails.  I ran the train in the reported section back and forth and I could not find any issues, so the train was locked away back into the siding.  I also investigated an issue with the set of points at the northern end of The Risk Loop.  So a small amount of filing and everything is now working well.  So I think all crossed off all the track issues reported except for some at Clapham Yard and Loco Pilly, but I will get around to them maybe next week.

On Friday night, I decided to build some 12’ high barbed wire gates that will be located on the various private sidings on the layout.  I made these out of styrene – 1.6mm rod, which I bent, cut and glued.  I completed 6 gates on Friday night and had another two almost complete that were just missing their cross bracing.

Today I resumed a visit to the shed after lunch.  I finished the last two almost complete gates, and the made another 4 complete gates.  I think I need a few more yet for the various sidings on the layout.  These were all painted grey primer and ended up looking quite good.  I had previously made some plans to pull out about 20 fence posts around the Rocla Siding that were made from piano wire.  There are about 30 other posts at this location made from 2mm styrene rod.  I made up another 21 posts from 2mm styrene and painted these today.  These new posts were installed at the Rocla Siding.  I then installed two gates on the road entry to Rocla Siding and so far one gate on the northern entry to the siding at this location.  The second gate was still drying.

I then moved about 5 fence posts at the northern end of the Lismore Shell oil siding.  I built up the ground underneath the fencing so the gates cleared the track when they swing.  So that called for another small batch of fairly thick plaster to cover the cork I laid underneath to help build up the land.  The two gates were installed here and work quite well – opening and closing. 

I then went over to the Old Cassino Shell Oil Siding.  I installed the fence posts that I had removed from Rocla Siding at this location.  I now have a boom gate on the road entry to the industry and one opening gate on the track entry.  The other gate was already super glued open.  I will have to work on trying to unglue this gate so both are working.  I fixed up a short length of fencing that I had previously recycled from another section of layout many years ago.  That section was added to the rear of the oil siding and now this location is at lock up stage – except that there is no wire on any of the new fencing as yet – at all locations.

So I think my tulle will be getting cut up into strips next weekend and then spray painted grey.  It will then be super glued to the various fences around the layout.

To complete the days efforts, I cut up some mound shapes that were white glued into the area on the northern end of Nammoona Ballast Siding.  Eventually these will be shaped better and then covered in ballast to resemble ballast piles for loading onto ballast trains should a train be routed to this location.

I still have some work to do following the Operating Session as well as some changes to the timetable for the extra shunting movements for the Brisbane Limited.  No rest for the wicked!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Sunday Operating Session Update

So to continue on from yesterday’s post, we had 8 guys in attendance.  There were a few issues, but nothing terminal.  I have already gone through the various timetables cards and picked out the ones that the crew reported issues on.  These issues, could be that a coupler tang was hanging low when the train ran across a new section of sceniced track that had sleepers installed for a road crossing.  Or for some reason two wagons that had worked quite well over the last few running sessions kept uncoupling.  Maybe a spring has come adrift from a coupler?  So the offending wagons were identified, and I bet they were those troublesome Victorian wagons.  It would never happen to a NSW wagon.  I also have a dry joint to fix on the layout in the wiring so the section from Dutton Park to South Brisbane Interstate is now trouble free.

I made a slight change to one timetable card today allowing for two extra words of information as to what track to drop the wagons off on.  When there are two storage roads at Lismore, and the timetable card say "drop off 5 wagons on Storage Road", the timetable card actually needs more information on it like "drop of 5 wagons on No. 1 Storage Road".  So the timetable card has now been enhanced.  I've also identified the locations where some more in track magnets will be installed into the roadbed to assist handless uncoupling.

I’ve also made up a list of signs that need to be added to the various point control panels around the fascias, and a couple of signs for the layout.  So that will be actioned over the next week or so.

Luckily Mark was able to take a couple of photos during the session.  So they are included here for everyone’s enjoyment.

A view from the Bruxner Highway through to the Bonalbo Ballast Siding.  Here we see 8005 about to make up its train and head towards Old Cassino.

The north bound Brisbane Limited Express travels across the Cougal Spiral on its way towards South Brisbane Interstate Station.

A container train from Murwillumbah is about to cross the Richmond River just south of Cassino Station.  From this shot you can tell what time of the year it is with the Jacaranda trees in full bloom.

Having just left Border Loop heading south, the No. 6 Fruit Express is about to make its way across dry creek at the bottom of the Cougal Spiral.

A second picture of No. 6 Fruit express as it made its way southbound over the bottom dry bridge at Cougal Spiral.

What really goes on at the Operating Sessions.

Thanks to Mark for sharing these photos.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Productive Weekend

As usual, I nicked off early from work on Friday afternoon and went down to the shed.  I had to pack up my things for Friday night's outing.  I also had a couple of special tasks to attend to.  PK had ordered two monkey’s from overseas for me.  They turned up and he dropped them off to me at work on Friday morning.  I named the monkeys Rod and Peter after two lycra wearing monkey’s I work with.  I placed these miniature scale monkeys on the layout.  Rod is driving the tractor at Fairy Hill Farm and Peter is hanging from a branch on a jacaranda tree on the same farm.

Rod on the tractor

Peter is more at home up a tree

One of most important jobs I needed to do was replace a plastic wheel on my BBQ that dis-integrated a long time ago under the wait of the BBQ and gas bottle in the hot sun.  So call me Fred Flintstone, but I made a replacement wheel out of some offcuts of 5-ply.  So I drilled the axle hole and fixed it and I have now invented the wheel.  It actual rotates as you wheel the BBQ along.  I'm quite impressed with myself.  From the sawdust created from the from the jig-sawing that I performed on the wheel, I collected this to make another item for the layout.

Friday night I ventured over to my local hobby shop (Simon Says at Browns Plains) who run a modelling night on the first Friday of the month.  I was there with Geoff, Ken and the owner – Simon.  I was doing a couple of things – firstly cutting up the shunt lists for about a dozen to 15 trains for my Operating Session on Sunday.  Next task was cutting up, staining and assembling a number of (maybe a dozen) fence strainers to go either side of a  few railway crossings.  I also tried to dip some fence gates into my stain to see if they would take the colour.  They sort of did.  I then tidied up the flash on 8 water tanks that a mate cast for me which PK picked up the previous weekend and dropped them off to me on Tuesday morning.  I also cleaned up three platforms seats from Uneek (I think) and glued them together.  Just before  leaving for the evening, I dug out the sawdust for earlier in the day and poured a lump of white glue onto my cutting mat and mixed the sawdust and glue.  I then formed the sawdust into the shape of some large eagle’s nests.  I made up three.

On Saturday I went down to the shed and spray painted the water tanks with an etch primer and also sprayed about 6 gates that I soldered up last Sunday night out of copper wire.  The gates look quite OK.  I also got around to cleaning some of the mainline track on the layout by running my track cleaning train.  I also ran the Brisbane Limited from Grafton Yard to Cassino and back.  I placed a couple of incinerators made from styrene tube covered in copper paint onto the layout at two fettler’s camps and drilled a whole through the baseboard to allow the LED to poke through.  I  tested these and they look quite OK.

The fettler's camp at Border Loop.  The drum with the LED inside can be scene glowing in this view.

The fettler's camp at The Risk.  This shot also shows the red hot incinerator glowing.  It also shows off the new locals in the foreground.

I also glued the three birds nests to various structures on the layout prior to the running day.  I also placed some cows in a new paddock near The Risk and also placed an old caravan into the next paddock at the same location.

Last night when there was nothing on TV (besides the election coverage), I made up a frame for a 44-gallon drum and a kids swing set.  Both these items are clearly visible in a photo I have found of Border Loop signal box.  So I needed to make my own versions.  I still have more to do at this location but that will take some time.
More detail being added to Border Loop Signal Cabin.  The original photo I'm working off is just out of shot to the right.

Today was an Operation session for the layout.  It did not start off well, as two crew called in sick in the morning with cold and flu symptoms.  However, we still had 7 crew turn up and we ran about 28 trains.  We had first timer Bill Dunn from the north coast and second timer Paul also from up that way.  Arthur jumped into North Coast Control's seat and trains headed off slightly early.  We had a few incidents:- low couplers hitting new scenery detail items between the track, breakaways, derailments, trains on wrong tracks at passing loops, people proceeding without approval from North Coast Control - and Shelton was not even in attendance, etc., but all in all, quite a good session.   We also had a loose wire in the Dutton Park to South Brisbane section that took out the staff machines and we had no power to run trains.  I traced it to a cold solder joint that I will action this week.  I have about another 14 tasks to perform post the session before we can resume operations in a couple of months time.

Luckily, Mark had his trusty phone and captured a few photos.  I will post these during the week.  But at the close of the session, we had spent about 11 hours (fast clock duration) of operating we were slightly behind time, with the timetable showing sometime before 10am.  I might have to move a few trains in a small mini session with a few mates over a few beers sometime in August.  Remember the slogan - Don't Drink and Drive - but you can operate on Cassino - as there is a 'no alcohol limit'. policy in place.

None of the operators found the new swing, the birds nests, nor the monkey's.  None mentioned about the flaming incinerators either.  But I told some before the session started.
A shot of Lismore Yard which is quite full after three separate trains dropped off wagons into the yard.  These were the cement train - the banana train for loading and the down shunt with some containers and louvre wagons for the Norco siding.

Kyogle has the ARHS CPH railmotor stabled in the Loop, keeping the Main line free as there will soon be a train coming through before the railmotors can head back to South Brisbane with their paying customers.  In the Yard is the rail train that was first train south on the line from Clapham Yard for the day just after midnight.