Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Operating Session - 27th December 2016

My traditional end of year Operating Session for the 27th December has come and gone.  I only had 7 visitors but we ran quite a few trains.  The day started with a BBQ and introductions, with one new attendee (a NSW modeller) and one whom hasn’t been here for a while.  As is usual now, Arthur just jumped into North Coast Control’s shoes.  I find it amazing, that this man can just come in and gets the feel of the process and has trains running on time for about 2 and a bit hours before we started to have a few trains fall behind the table.  Arthur had no clock in front of him, but he had trains running to timetable - it was just amazing.  Of course one of the reasons for falling behind the timetable, is that there are up to 10 trains running concurrently in the timetable at this point in time, but if we only have 7 drivers we are going to be pushing some running stuff up hill with a rake.

As you would expect, there were some issues.  One wagon lost its bogie.  So it was plucked from its train and the train continued.  I never did find the screw.  Another loco lost its coupler twice.  Hopefully now I have fixed it a little more permanently.  We had another loco in a double head, lose its bogie locating clip, and thus lost its drive shaft.  That loco was declared a failure.  About three trains going south through The Risk has issues with the point at the end of the loop.  The traffic office then decreed that all trains were to use the Loop and good running then resumed.  However, this caused issues for North Coast Control having a loop out of action.  I had one operator derail his train as it went through a turnout that had recently been ballasted.   Over the few days before the session, I ran four trains through that same point in the opposite direction and one in the same direction as the troublesome train.  But the operator found ballast in the frog.  After he cleaned it out, his train ran through.  Sometimes I just can’t take a trick with my testing.  The rail train was having some issues exiting Clapham Yard, as I had added some toothbrush bristles to the track to stop runaways.  But I had not trimmed them off and they were too high and it was causing the rail train to uncouple.  I must get around and fix that.

Of course there were also the usual operator errors.  As expected one person appeared at the top of the list.  I know that he ran the Mountain Goat which runs north from Cassino to Border Loop, but this operator ran it in the wrong direction.  He reversed out of the Dock platform and headed south.  Hmmmm!  We had a lost train at one point.  The ARHS special that runs south from South Brisbane Interstate and heads to Kyogle, got lost.  The driver said it was somewhere in the Running Creek area in one of the tunnels, but after a couple of minutes looking it was found in the Cougal Spiral. I'm going to have to fit GPS tracking to my trains!

Another of the drivers, has a tendency to have his train arrive at its destination and assume that he has completed his shift, when there are usually a number of shunting movements to occur.  We think he will read the timetable cards better next time.  Mind you, the timetable cards have fairly small writing on them, and if you are of the older age group and usually need glasses, then you will struggle to read the cards, so we can’t totally blame him.

So since the session has ended, I have replaced two KD look-a-like couplers with KDs.  I have fixed the wagon with the lost bogie.  The locos have been returned to service.  I also fixed up a couple of scenic areas (actually fencing) that I damaged.  To attend to the comments of one operator about the weight of a few AR Kits Banana wagons, I added some lead weight underneath the wagon on two wagons.  I also added weight to another AR Kits louvre van and a single AR Kits open wagon.  All wagons have been returned to service. 

Today I went down to the shed and decided to wind the fast clock back from its end time of 12:05pm to 11:30am for the next session that is approaching on Saturday.  I then positioned one train – the ARHS special back a crossing loop and the Mountain Goat forward a crossing loop and did some shunting at Park Road Siding.  I also expedited the steel train from Grafton Loops to Rappville Loop as its starting position for the next session.  I have a feeling that I need to look at the Brisbane Limited and its various shunt positioning moves – the fast louvre van that gets attached and the motorail wagon and that train's light engines to ensure that they are in the correct spots for the new timetable start.  My next session will be on New Year’s Eve at 12:45pm with running for 3 and a half hour session at a 4:1 fast clock, I should be able to get to the end of the timetable session before people break for afternoon tea at about 4:15 – 4:30pm.

From Tuesday’s session the following photos have been provided by Shelton – who may or may not have been the driver who drove the Mountain Goat in the wrong direction.  You know what they say “Whatever happens in the session stays in the session”, unless I can make some good reading out of it.
The ARHS Railmotor Tour from South Brisbane Interstate departing on its way to Kyogle.

This shot captures Barry running the Container train travelling from Dutton Park to Clapham Yard.  Our photographer (or TW as known by the crews) was in charge of the Rail train seen in the Main at The Risk.

First timer Dave is running the Steel train through Border Loop.

The rail train has made its way to Broder Loop and doesn't have much further to run as it only goes to Kyogle and stables.

The following photos were taken by me during the session.
The steel train making its way through Nammoona Loop at speed.

A cross is occurring at Kyogle.  in the siding is the rail train.  On the Main is my train the container to Fisherman Islands (located directly above Kyogle).  On the Loop is the fruit train.  This cross stresses the loop at Kyogle to its maximum, as both trains just fit into their respective tracks.

This shot shows that the container has started leaving north while the fruit train is heading south towards Fairy Hill Loop.

The container train has now made its way to Cougal Spiral heading away from the camera.  In a minute to two it will appear again on the top section of track heading towards Border Loop.

Two trouble makers - Darren and Shelton sitting in the naughty corner plotting some despicable act.  I'm driving the train heading around the loop from Cassino to Old Cassino taking the yard.  The loco will run around and then push 4 wagons into the Norco Siding, before resuming it way towards Murwillumbah.  After shunting the four wagons into the Norco siding the train will need to wait until Darren's train the Murwillumbah container comes down the branch towards Casino.  Shelton has just driver the Banana to Murwillumbah and stowed its four wagons in the Banana siding after dropping off at Old Cassino good shed and Lismore Siding.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

First of all, I’d very much like to thank those readers out there in Internet land for following and reading my blog.  I’d hope that the man in the big red outfit provided you with lots of model railway goodies under the tree this morning.  I also hope that you have a great time with your family today.

This week I was still putting the finishing touches on the preparations for this Tuesday’s Operating Session.  All the trains are now at their locations.  I still have a number of light engine movements and spare locos to put in their end locations ready for the session.  Yesterday, I spent some time in the shed and completed the rails on the fencing at the Lismore Shell Oil Siding.  It dawned on me during the week that the Old Cassino Shell Oil siding was also lacking some rails for some of its fencing.  That was also installed yesterday.  On Friday I received a gift in the mail.  My new SDS Models Speed-e-gas wagons arrived.  I split a pack with PK.  So I added mine to the front of the Oil Train.  During the week, I had updated the timetable card and shunt lists for this train and its return train equivalent to take into account of this extra wagon and the movement to a new siding in Lismore Yard.  The location map on the front facia at Lismore was updated to identify the Gas Siding.  Now that just means that I need to build a new industry at this location.  However, I do not have any photos of the location where the gas was unloaded at Lismore.  Anyone out there have a photo?

Last night I cut up and ordered the various timetable cards that I printed out during the week.  These cards were put into time sequence order and all the shunt lists were also put into sequence order.  I also attached some signs below all the points for Murwillumbah below where the wire-in-tube connection comes through the fascia.  This is designed to make the job easier when shunting at Murwillumbah.  I also added a sign to The Risk to help control one of the distance points at the far end of the loop. The signs say what track a push or a pull of the manual levers will take them to.  The is particularly to help the driver control access to the two three way points at Murwillumbah.  There is one at the northern end of the platform and a second at the far end of the Cement Siding and Norca Siding divergings from the main line.

Today I was still putting the finishing pieces on the layout.  I painted some yellow clearance points on a couple of sidings that did not have that already done.  I attached a wire dropper that had some off at The Risk.  I noticed that two push buttons on the Loco Pilly control panel, for sidings 5 and 6 were throwing the points for each other’s sidings.  Now that was a bit of an oversight.  The wires were swapped and retested.  All OK now.  I have also made plans to install some extra sets of points into Clapham Yard to provide run around facilities for some standard gauge shunt trains without the loco having to go all the way out onto the mainline and requesting a staff from North Coast Control.  But will be for the next session in possibly January.

I’ve also had a really good cooked roast meal with family and am now happy to just fall asleep.

I hope to get a number of photos from Tuesday’s Operating Session and post them here on Wednesday.  Enjoy the rest of the Christmas Holiday break.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

That Was the Wrong Decision or I Shouldn’t Have Done That!

This weekend, with my Operating Session fast approaching, I decided to start relocating my trains back to their start positions for the start of the timetable session.  Everything was going smoothly, when upon relocating my NL1 – Brisbane Limited, I made the decision to start swapping out a number of Lima sleepers for the much better looking Auscsion Brisbane Limited sleeper coaches.  After all - that is why I purchased the Brisbane Limited add on pack.  I had my trusty train consist list and decided to start with just a single LAN and a DAN coach from my recent purchases.  My train had left South Brisbane Interstate platform and had made its way to Park Road, when I decided to swap out the two sleepers.  The train made its way successfully down the long incline from Dutton Park, past Loco Pilly, through Clapham Yard and then through Acacia Ridge Yard.  It was all OK until I got to Glenapp Loop.  I had my first derailment.  I thought the bogies may have been too tight.  Upon further investigation, the wheels were all out of gauge.  That was fixed and the train made it through Glenapp, and then at The Risk, it derailed again on the southern point.  The train then made it to Running Creek and then it just kept derailing again.  I got it past there and then it made it to Cougal Spiral and then derailed again in about 4 places.  After traversing through Cougal Spiral, it derailed on the Upper Richmond Creek Bridge at Kyogle.  It then had issues just past Fairy Hill Loop outside Ron and Marg’s B&B.  At that point I decided to swap the two Auscision coaches out and put the old Lima ones back in.  The Lima ones never had issues.

Upon further investigation, it seems that the bogies do not have any torsional movement.  The coaches have huge pins from the body, through the bogies and this prevents the torsional movement of the bogie as the train traverses the track.  For the record, my track has no flat sections in it.  Everywhere there is a grade of 0.5% or up to 2%.  I have lots of curves, hopefully none less than 900mm radius on the mainline.  Where possible there is slight super-elevation.  So where ever there is change in cant and gradient on the track, the new sleepers derail. 

So now the Brisbane Limited is back with old Lima coaches while I do some work to the new Auscision coaches. Apart from that serious issue, I ran all the other trains except from 4 trains back to their start positions and no other issues were uncovered.  The track ran well after a long time of no running.  I will run the last 4 trains early this week if I shout myself an early mark.  I have decided to make a number of wording changes to some of my timetable cards as some of the rollingstock is replaced and upgraded with newer wagons.  I have lengthened one small train by another wagon.  I have activated another siding on the layout.  I suppose it was stupid to have it if I didn't use it.

So a huge number of hours was lost this weekend just trying to work out what the issues were with the passenger train.  Were they track related, gauge related, were there kinks in the track, were there sharp changes in gradient etc.?  There was one certain area that was the result of a less than steady change in gradient.  This will be improved over the next week before the next Operating Session.  But all my other wagons in all the other trains were able to get through these sections of track.  So I think this all comes back to a bad design of bogie pin in the Auscision coaches.  Hopefully the RUB cars will not be the same design.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I think I Peaked Too Early

Two weeks ago I admitted to an epic fail in my modelling for the week.  Well that was nothing compared to this week just completed.  I had plans to do about half a dozen jobs small jobs.  I spent the last week down the coast with the family and while I did take a selection of things to work on for the week, I did not do a thing except draw up some plans for some models that I will soon be making.  I also watched the cricket on TV for three day/nights, and went to beach, the pool, played cricket in the backyard of the unit and on the beach, went for some walks on the beach and played Frisbee on the beach.  I also went to the various shopping centres around the coast that we always visit.  There was no time left for modelling.

Well yesterday was our Club’s annual Christmas Party and we had our annual modelling competition.  There was only three entries in the competition, usually there are close to twenty.  That was very poor form!  Alas even with those great odds, I did not win either the best model or the most popular but there is always next year.  I did have a bit of feedback that there was two votes in it, but I’m not sure what category that was for.

On the way back from the coast yesterday morning, after unpacking the car, I popped into the local hobby shop on my way to the Club.  I picked up the wanted styrene for my fencing continuation.  Today I got down to the shed, cracked out the styrene and gave it a paint.  Wouldn’t you know it!  I have now run out of grey etch primer.  Well I think that will be a trip to the local auto shop next weekend for a few tins of spray paint.  After the fencing rails that I did paint before the paint ran out had dried, I added them to the Rocla Sleeper Siding and now this area is complete apart from the wire mesh to be added to the fence.  I then used up all my remaining styrene to complete the Lismore Shell Oil Siding.  I have about 7 or 8 lengths of fencing rails left to add to the posts to complete the fencing.  However, I only have 6 lengths of styrene rails ready to paint but no paint.  So I might need to try and source another packet of styrene before I can complete that task.  Yes I still have the wire mesh to add to this area as well.  Yes I need some paint to paint the various lengths of tulle that I use for my fencing, so everything is conspiring against my desire to complete these modelling tasks.  Certainly that will be completed over the Christmas Holidays. 

I’m also just started to plan for the Operating Sessions over the Christmas New Year break.  So some work to complete tonight and next weekend for that.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fencing Contractors Return

I started a few days of holiday on Friday and was able to spend some time in the shed on Friday afternoon.  As the headline of this post says, the fencing contractors have returned.  For quite some time, I have had some 0.025” lengths of styrene rod painted grey to be used as rails on the various industrial fences around the layout.  I thought I had quite a few painted up ready.  However, once I started putting three per length of fencing, the top rail, the middle rail and the bottom rail, they were quickly used up.  Luckily I had another packet of Evergreen styrene so I quickly gave them a coat of grey primer and allowed them to dry as I was fitting the previously prepared grey rails.

I use my trusty Revell Contacta Professional styrene glue, which I apply to about 3 or 4 posts at a time where the rail will be positioned.  I then push the rail to the posts where the glue is and allow the rails to set.  I then apply more glue to the next two posts and then fix the rail, and then continue along the posts until I run out of rail length to work with.  I then try to butt joint the next piece of rail to the just ended piece.  Again I apply glue to the next 3 or 4 posts and join this rail to these posts.  I then apply glue to the next 2 posts and push the rail onto these posts to fix it in place.  Again I repeat this procedure over until I run out of rail length.  Then the process continues for the next rail length.

My downside is that I again ran out of 0.025” styrene rod.  I think I will need another 1.5 packets to complete the Rocla Siding and then I will need another 3 packets (at least) for the Lismore Shell Oil Siding.  That will be the next project on the layout.  I will have to try and pick up a few more packets at my local hobby shop next weekend, on my way over to the Club for our annual Christmas Party and modelling competition.  My entry in the modelling competition this year is my Murwillumbah Cement Silo.  After this showing I will affix the silo permanently to the layout. 
The front gates to the Rocla Sleeper Siding.  The road is not very distinguishable from the surrounding ground.

The track entry to the Rocla Sleeper Siding

Another shot of this location. 

Looking further into the Rocla Sleeper complex.  Quite a bit of work is required to build various items inside this industry.

Looking back the other way into Rocla Sleeper Siding Complex.

The fencing continues most of the way towards the rear gates

The rear of the complex.  More fencing to be completed here once I get some more styrene.

On Friday night I went to the Simon Says Hobbies and Games and their monthly modelling night.  I was joined by a few regulars, one being fellow Tuesday Nighter Geoff.  My main tasks for this evening was to check out an old Weissman kit for animated pecking hens.  I purchased this kit about 18 months ago and it has just sat on the layout.  I thought I better get it out of its packet and determine how I make it work.  This will be installed into the Baker’s Farm scene on the left hand side as you enter the shed and it will also need a hen house to be built.  I will try and do that this week during the night sometime.

This brings back a funny story from last Sunday when as I went to pick up the morning paper out the front of our place, my front garden was being decimated by three rogue chooks.  They had my bark everywhere, and had spent the night on my bench seat out the front on my verandah.  Eventually we worked out where they came from and they were returned.  They did not leave any eggs though.

The next task for Friday night was glue the roof on of my Glenapp Waiting Shed.  This has sat half-finished on the layout for a few years.  I also have plans to try and build its accompanying waiting shed over the next week as well.  I also added the ridge capping by adding a length of 0.040” styrene to the high point of the roof and a length either side of 0.040” x 0.010” styrene strip to either side of the rod.

This task was followed by an experiment of staining up a large number of sleepers in a bright new wood colour.  I had a small container of paint pigment that I added to a small pill cup.  I then squirted in some Isocol and mixed it together.  The balsawood sleepers were then submerged into the mixture for a few seconds and then removed and left to dry.  The resulting colour looked quite good.  These will be added to various locations around the layout to supplement the many black and grey sleepers that I have already deployed lineside on the layout.  I also plan to paint some of the sleepers under the track this same stain colour to give the impression that the sleeper has already been replaced by the local fettlers.  I also think I will also deploy a few stacks of sleepers to the various fettler sites around the layout. 

All these little detail items help add character to the layout and don’t cost much money and don’t take much time to create.