Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fueling Progress Towards Next Operations Session

After making changes to the timetable following last weekend's trial operations, I decided to continue to fuel my progress - so to speak.  So yesterday I spend time with No. 49 the Down Fuel train from Grafton to Old Cassino and Lismore.  The train after leaving Grafton Staging, and heading though Rappville Loop, it takes the back platform road at Cassino and then runs into the yard at Old Cassino.  From here it backs into the Shell Oil Siding.  I have rearranged the wagons on this train.  I also added an open wagon, which will contain a load of oil and other petroleum based product drums.  This wagon will be the last vehicle on the train and will be positioned alongside the case store in my Shell Oil Siding.  There will also be a visiting Ampol NTAF, along with a short wheelbase Shell tanker and a Shell NTAF.  These four wagons will be cut off and the train will proceed to the next town – Lismore to so some similar shunting.  It must be remembered when shunting the Oil Sidings on my layout, that the loco cannot travel past the gates. The track is poorly maintained and cannot handle the weight of a loco.

At Lismore, the train which still has two Shell Oil Tankers and two other tankers on the train destined for the Shell Oil Siding in this town will travel into the platform road at Lismore, and then shunt back into the Shell Oil Siding after first making sure that the gates have been opened.  The train still has a Speed-e-Gas tanker on the front, and this enables the wagons being dropped off to be positioned inside the gates of this private siding.  I am still at least one oil tanker short for this train, and if possible, I might swap out my two non-descript (other) oil tankers when the Eureka ones hit the market.  Once the oil wagons have been dropped off, the train now only hauling the gas tanker, heads through the platform again and into the yard.  As the train was leaving the siding, the shunter ensures that the gates are closed and locked before heading to the platform.  Once through the platform the train then reverses back into the gas unloading frame located in one of the sidings in the yard at Lismore with the loco stabling in the siding until it needs to haul the train back south.

A number of hours later the loco of now no. 50, the Up Fuel Train hauls the now empty gas tanker into the yard and runs around the tanker via the main line.  The train then heads back through the platform and travels to the far end of the Shell Oil Siding at Lismore.  The train, then shunts back onto the now empty oil tankers.  Again a check is made to ensure that the siding gates are opened before heading in.  Once coupled up, the train is pulled clear of the gates and then the train is left there, while the gas tanker is pulled forward and then pushed back and left on the main line clear of this set of points.  The loco then sets forward again, and then pushes back onto the oil rake again.  Ones coupled, it pulls forward and then when clear of the points, sets back onto the gas tanker.  This positioned the gas tanker in the correct position for the next timetable run.  The shunter then closes and locks the gates to the Oil siding, and the train heads south to Old Cassino.

At Old Cassino, the train heads to the platform road.  The loco uncouples and then runs around the train via the yard track.  It then couples up to the northern end of the train and then the train is propelled back into the Oil Siding.  It collects the three empty oil tankers and the open wagon, now loaded with returning empty drums of oil and petroleum products.  Once coupled, up the train heads back to the Old Cassino platform road, and the loco then uncouples and then runs around the train again, and then sets back onto the open wagon at the now front end of the train.  The train then resumes its journey south through Cassino, and Rappville Loop, past the Rocla Sleeper Siding and into a free track in the Grafton Staging Yard.  The loco then uncouples and runs around the loop and comes back and couples onto the other end of the train.  The train then pulls forward out back onto the mainline and once clear of the point to the dead end sidings, shunts back into its designated siding, all ready to begin the trip during the next exercising of the timetable in late August.

So that is the testing of the Fuel Train.  The two timetable cards, for No. 49 and No. 50 have been adjusted with the current activities to be performed and the shunt list has been adjusted to include the additional open wagon in the consist.

This planning and trialling was not without its headaches.  With the additional wagon in its load, the Fuel Train now does not fit in its designated siding.  So a number of changes have been made to the trains located in the dead end sidings at Grafton Yard.  The Ballast train that was the source of last week’s testing, has moved from track 9 to track 8.  The Fuel train which was in track 10 has now moved to track 9.  The Sleeper train which was in track 8 has now moved to track 10.  All the timetable cards for these trains have also been adjusted.

With plenty of work to do, but no motivation to do any, I do a couple of small tasks as well yesterday.  I did add about 75mm of track length to the Oil Siding at Old Cassino, so it can now comfortably take the 4 wagons it needs instead of the three it previously held.  While working on the run-around movement for the gas tanker at Lismore, I decided to bite the bullet and install a small through girder bridge over a road underpass on the northern side of Lismore.  I cut the track out, spliced in a length of bridge track that I had left over from when I installed the kitbashed bridge at Cassino over the Richmond River.  The styrene structure of the over bridge also ended up being thicker than the cork roadbed under the adjacent track at Lismore, and you guessed it, I had already ballast the track down in Lismore.  Bugger!  Anyway, there is now a slight rise over the last 5 centimetres before the bridge.  On the other side I have had to pack under the track as the first train through there uncoupled between the loco and first wagon.  As part of the testing of the bridge, I ran the container train that was sitting at Murwillumbah back and forth through the bridge and I ran the motorail from Grafton back and forth through the bridge.  The reasons that I did this, is that the bridge is on a slight curve in the track geometry and the styrene bridge base that I scratch built ended up being rather narrow given the curve was involved.  Whoops, I wish I had my time back again.  I would have made the bridge another 5mm wider.

Anyway, everything ran through smoothly.  Future activities in the lead up to the forthcoming Operating Session will involve cleaning the track and printing out the timetable cards and the new timetable graphs.  Oh that's right, I still have a short that appears intermittently somewhere between Dutton Park and South Brisbane Interstate when I throw the points at Dutton Park to Fisherman Islands.

Next weekend will be spent at my Club’s Model Railway Exhibition at Strathpine north of Brisbane.  I will be spending most of my time on the door, so say g’day if you come along for a visit.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Timetable Checks

This week I received a phone call on Monday that my long awaited 12mm points were in at the hobby shop.  So I checked my diary for the afternoon and I had nothing scheduled, so I left early and made my way to the hobby shop before they closed.  I picked up my points and when home I placed them at Clapham Yard on top of the layout for splicing in on Saturday.  The next night, we ventured over to Arthur’s on Tuesday to watch a variety of trains circulate on his great layout.  We also had a great supper and as usual some fantastic interaction.

On Saturday I went down to the shed late in the morning, and inserted the two new 12mm points into Clapham Yard.  I also installed some actuating rods back out to the fascia, as these are all manually operated at this location.  I also tested out the soldering iron and installed jumpers around the insulated joiners on the points.  So they are now operational.  I ran a few wagons through the tracks and everything went well.
The new points bottom right.  I did some more thinking and I still need some more to complete the narrow gauge yard.

Clapham Yard now has seven tracks.  Three standard gauge, one dual gauge and three narrow gauge.

A close up of the southern end of the yard.

A close up of the northern end of the yard.

I then thought about what I could do next.  I spent a small amount of time thinking about Fisherman Islands and what types of points I need to buy for there to install some mid yard crossovers.  I will try and pick up a couple of RH medium radius Peco point at our Club Exhibiiton in a few weeks. 

Next I decided to check the trains for the upcoming Operating Session.  My NL1 – Brisbane Limited Express, had the sleeper carriages at the wrong end of the train.  So I ran it around the return loop at Grafton and it is now ready for the session.  NL3 – The Gold Coast Motorail was facing the correct way however.  I then had to run the Branchline (Murwillumbah) Pick Up Goods around the return loop as it was also facing the wrong way as well.

I then had to re-position my ballast train that was currently sitting at Old Cassino back to Grafton Yard in preparation for the Ops Session.  However, before I did this, I decided to check the timetable cards that pertained to the ballast train.  I made notations on the timetable cards as the train will now be located between runs in a different siding at Old Cassino.  The loco from this train doesn't fit in the siding so it will also be staged in the Good Shed Siding.  Also before it makes its way back to Grafton, the loco will have to start earlier than originally timetabled and runaround the train before head back to staging.

I also decided to do a trial run of the ballast train on its alternate route from the Cassino Yard siding to the Nammoona Ballast Siding.  In fact every operating session so far over the years has had this train propelling back from Cassino Yard to Bonalbo Ballast Siding and then after loading, makes its way around to Old Cassino for stabling before coming back to Grafton Yard at the end of the ops session.  This is the A route in the timetable.  There is also a B route.  This alternate route, has the train heading north from Cassino Yard to Nammoona Ballast Siding.  From there, after loading, the train makes its way to Fairy Hill Loop before going to Kyogle, Border Loop and eventually terminating at The Risk and then making its way back to Grafton.

I took some photos of this outing of the B route.  The train was about to enter Nammoona Ballast Siding. 
The train is about to take the Loop.

Further around the loop, the track gang has to stop work to enable the train to run through.

The next shot shows the loco securely in the Loop, but alas, there was a problem.
Loco is in the loop.  I use a dab of yellow paint on the rail to show the clearance points on the track.

But, alas, Houston we have a problem!  The train does not fit in the siding.  Now that is a problem.

Whoops!  So when the back of the train is in the siding, the front is foul by a considerable margin.  Bugger!
The rear is now clear, but ...

But the front is left hanging out.  Not good on a single track mainline.

We needed to break the train here and send the rest off somewhere else.

So the train timetable card was changed to allow the bits of the train that don’t fit to be sent ahead to stable at Fairy Hill. Loop in the Cattle Loading Siding  Then before the train is due to head north, the extra wagons are propelled backwards from Fairy Hill Loop to Nammoona Ballast Siding, via a new timetable card.  At Nammoona the wagon that just arrived is then loaded (10 minutes is allowed for this task in the timetable) and then the train resumes its journey north again as was previously timetabled.

I think it was lucky that I did a trial run of that portion of the timetable before it got run at the next session.  As that would cause immense stress during the session, and the North Coast Control would not know what to do.  Another issue that arose was that when the ballast train went over some newly ballast track just outside Fairy Hill Loop, just south of the Fairy Lane Level crossing, the loco kept derailing.  Damn!  It turned out that the 80 class loco did not like the unevenness of the track at this point.  So I ripped out some ballast and then lifted one side of the track and eventually the loco ran through there smoothly.

The train making its way past Ron and Marg's B&B, just south of Fairy Hill Loop.

The troublesome piece of track.  The track was lifted on the outside of the curve and the train then ran through here quite well.

Next stop for the ballast was at Cougal Spiral where more trackwork is underway.

The same train from another angle.
The train then arriving at The Risk.  A mud hole can be seen on the Loop at this location just in front of the loco.

Further along the loop at The Risk and another mud hole is quite evident.

Today before heading down to the shed, I jumped onto the computer and updated the timetable cards for the following train numbers - 33A, 34A, 33B, 34B and 35B.  I also adjusted the timetable graphs for 34A, 33B, 34B and 35B.  I then made my way to the shed and the ballast was worked back to Grafton and later on I took the opportunity to cut up some pictures of Caution boards that I have made, and then installed 10 of these onto the layout, where all the track work locations are or will be.  I will make another 10 signs during the week.  I also put together two 3 level point frames from an old Uneek white metal kit.  These were painted up and will need to be installed around the layout.  My only issue is that I think I will need about another 20 of these for the various siding locations on the layout, that need manual point operation.

I still have plenty to do before the Operating Session in August.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Bit of a Layout Tour

Friday this week four of us headed over to Brendan’s to do a couple of things.  First off there was a BBQ put on by Brendan.  Our traditional modelling fare of snorkers on a piece of bread with onions, cheese and a selection of sauces was on the menu.  Off course we all brought along our own versions of poison to drink.  We then adjourned into his lounge and dining room, where Brendan has set up his under construction layout.  While in its early stages, this layout has module frames all built, a track plan almost finalised, and ideas for how to operate the points, control the trains and provide power to the lighting system as well as the track.  We spent the next almost two hours standing around, asking questions, offering alternate solutions to problems and just having a really great time discussing this nicely progressing layout.  We had planned on spending time during the night doing some modelling.  We all took some projects along, but we did not even get our stuff out.  We were having too much fun discussing the planning of this layout.  This layout is going to be a great little effort.  It is going to be different to many out on the circuit.  Although I know of a few with some similar features, this is going to be unique.  Apparently Brendan is targeting next June for its unveiling.

On Saturday three of us from the previous night (Darren, Brendan and myself), headed over to Anthony’s place for his regular operating session.  We were joined by Iain, Mark and of course the host Anthony.  Our session took the form of five operators – three Victorian and two South Australian, with the host being Train Control, Station Master at Tatiara Downs as well as head shunter at Tatiara Downs.  As usual it was a very good session.  I had four grains trains (2 out and 2 back) to various locations.  As you guessed it, they included lots of shunting.  The train timetable must have been prepared by a sadist.  When shunting Tatiara Downs grain siding.  I could only take 10 units up the siding.  Guess how long my train was?  Answer - 12 units.  When shunting Nankiva, you could only fit 4 bogie wagons under the loader.  Of course my train was 8 bogie wagons plus a van, but there were already two wagons already loaded sitting under the loader.  The run around track between road 2 and 3 at Nankiva, can only support about 8 wagons - another brain teaser.  On the weekend I enjoy relaxing doing some model railway related activities.  But these sadistic timetable guys, ensure that I have no time to relax, but I have to crank up the old grey matter to ensure that I can get the task done.  So there is absolutely no rest for the wicked.  Each four wheel wagon, has to spend 7 fast clock minutes (we were running at 4:1) under the loader at Tariara Downs, the bogie wagons have to spend 14 minutes.  I really appreciated the extra money the grain board spent at Nankiva, installing a faster loader, as you only need to wait 12 fast clock minutes there for loading each bogie wagon at this location.  So the loading process means that we must position each wagon in turn under the loader.  Some of the down time, between wagon moves) is spent thinking about what I could do to move some of the already loaded wagons out of the siding, to allow the next lot of wagons to fit into the siding, or that we have enough wagons in the run around track so the loco can push back onto the train and still fit between the cross overs.  At the end, it can push back up into the headshunt at Nankiva, to collect the first two loaded wagons and van before heading back to Portland.

I was amazed that when I completed each of my first 6 runs for the day, the time that I picked up my next timetable card, was almost exactly the time that my next train was due to run on the timetable graph.  So I guess I must have been able to handle the mental arithmetic without too many problems.

Today I went down to the shed after midday and was trying to think about what work I was going to do.  I decided to increase the length of my Gold Coast Motorail and I gave it a run from Grafton to Murwillumbah and return.  I added the Auscision motorail wagon after the loco.  I also added an Auscision Brisbane Limited Sleeper.  I have other cars to add, but they are still in various states of semi-assembly.  I had issues with a section of track between Cassino and Old Cassino.  So that received some packing to reduce a rather severe height adjustment in the track.  This track does drop down grade from Cassino to Old Cassino just like the prototype, but the current gradient was too severe just after a set of points.  That was causing some of these new additional wagons to uncouple.  I added two KD washers under the Auscision Sleeper car, and now its coupler seems to be more accurately aligned to my height gauge.  When I got to Murwillumbah, I could not get the motorail wagon to uncouple.  So I changed over the couplers on that wagon to KD #5s, and now it uncouples every time on my under track magnets.  I also had to change the coupler on my PHS power car, as a previous owner had cut off the coupler tang and thus it does not uncouple over an uncoupler magnet.  So with the new coupler fitted, all is now good.  I also cleaned the track that I ballasted last week around the Old Cassino goods shed siding.  I also took the opportunity to remove quite a number of tacks that were previously holding the track in place from my recently ballast sections of track.

Next week, I plan on ensuring all trains are in their starting places for an Operating Session in late August, and I will print out a new set of timetable cards with all my minor changes since the last session earlier this year.  I hope to also complete the 6’ x 4’ trailers that I am constructing.  A lot of these are going to end up as loads on some 40' open container flats.  I also hope to pick up my long awaited 12mm points from a hobby shop, so I can install then in Clapham Yard.  I might also get around to putting some more weight into my Wuiske 1720 loco, somehow in each end of the hood.  I have already put some weight in the fuel tank.  I also can't wait for the next issue of the AMRM magazine to arrive in the latter box.  I might know one of the authors with an article in the next issue.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Bit of Modelling

Tuesday night last week we all gathered at Peter’s place for our scheduled fortnightly meeting.  We had a good number turn out and enjoyed seeing Peter’s army trains circulate through this very nice scenery on the layout.  However, there was an incident when a chain holding a vehicle on one of the flat wagons came loose and jammed in a set of points, bringing the train to a sudden stop and bringing every wagon off the track.  However, normal services soon resumed.

I had a busy early part of the week at work,  due to a tender response due on Tuesday.  because of this, I was able to take some time off on Friday.  After taking my son to see Despicable Me 3 at the cinema in the morning, I was able to venture to the shed in the afternoon.  I completed the gluing down of the ballast at The Risk, and decided to then lay some ballast through the Kyogle Stock Siding. 

That night, was the scheduled modelling night at Simon Says Hobbies and Games.  Darren and Geoff also attended along with one other model railway modeller.  He was assembling some card buildings.  Of course there were the usual guys there doing other types of plastic models etc.  I decided that I was to try scratch build some box trailers.  My first one was about 7’ 6” x 4’ 6” in size.  My next attempt was a more standard size of 6’ x 4’.  My inspiration for these was watching Peter’s army train on Tuesday night.  He had at least two box trailers behind some army vehicles on the back of some flat wagons being towed around the layout.  They certainly looked very nice.

Yesterday was our monthly Club day.  So on the way over I stopped off at a local hobby shop, to see if my 12mm points had arrived.  You guessed it - NO!  Bugger!  Another wait for a couple of weeks more.  This morning I travelled over to the All Gauge Club at Carina for their Buy and Sell.  I had a look around, and didn’t see anything of interest apart from lots of 12mm wagon kits.  They looked pretty expensive, but they did look good.  There were some very well assembled and priced card buildings in HO and O scale, but I did not need any of these either.

So this arvo I went down to the shed again and pottered around completing a few tasks.  I was finally able to replace the KD couplers on my two Auscision motorail car carriers.  I don't care about my other car carrier wagons, but these ones on my passenger wagons get shunted around during an operating session.  Due to this, I needed good operation of the KDs.  The old ones did not move when over the uncoupling magnets.  So these have now been tested and I’m happy with the operations of these new couplers.  I also took some photos for an upcoming article for AMRM.  James asked for a couple of shots, that I will check out later tonight and send the best few down to him.  I also decided to ballast the old goods shed road at Old Cassino.  Maybe this was where a couple of the shots might have been taken.
The Kyogle Stock Siding is not very long, but can load a 5 or 6 wagon rake of stock wagons.  It is located between the Upper Richmond River at Kyogle and Cougal Spiral.

An view of The Risk crossing loop. 

I then went up stairs and resumed my construction line assembly process for another seventeen (17) of the 6’ x 4’ box trailers that I built on Friday night.  These will take some time to complete.  I hope to have the box part of the trailer completed tonight.  I'm pretty certain that they will make a good load for some of my container flats.  Some will also be towed behind cars on the layout and others left in back yards or in junk piles around some farms.  I think onw will be positioned at a house out the back of Cassino station with a load of gravel in it, as the home owner will be mixing up some concrete for his new drive way.  If they turn out well, I might have a few to sell at an up coming Buy and Sell.  Who knows, there might even be another small AMRM article in it as well.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

“The Risk”y Business of Ballasting

Yesterday I spent two hours down the shed and all I did was spread ballast around the The Risk crossing loop.  I started at the point at the Glenapp Loop end and spread ballast down until after the platform at the Risk.  This is about 3m of ballast on each of the two tracks and a small perway siding.  I still have about 300mm of track to go to get to the point at the other end of The Risk crossing loop and a further 1m before the track disappears into the first of the Running Creek tunnels before the track ends up at Border Loop.  The track is already ballasted through the Running Creek Tunnel sections.
An overview of the whole crossing loop - at The Risk.

A close up shot of the northern end of the The Risk Crossing Loop.

The middle section of the crossing loop, showing the small perway siding.

The business end of the crossing loop.  The signal box and the platform building.

Today I had the pleasure of being picked up by Shelton (Mexican modeller) and heading down to Darren’s Wattle Flat layout for an operating session.  We also had two other Mexican modellers Anthony and Jeff and special guest Ian Millard of Liverpool Range fame turn up.  We had a very good ops session.  All the trains ran well, we had great company and we could stir Shelton.  What more could a block want.  And yes we did have some coldies put on by Darren.  Us NSW Modellers were almost outnumbered by the Victorian/South Australian guys.  I was paired with Jeff at first and we ran train number 109 from staging near Gollan to North Gulgong. Here it did a huge shunt and we then took train number 110 back to staging via Gollan.

After this we had BBQ snags on bread – traditional Operating Session food in this corner of the world.  After lunch I ran the XPT from Wattle Flat to North Gulgong and return.  After that I had a passenger from North Gulgong to Wattle Flat and return.  The passage of the passenger was delayed a few times, with a ballast train shunting at Gollan and a wheatie at Wattle Flat blocking the Loop, so I needed another loco to help me run around the train after the passengers had disembarked, before the train could return to North Gulgong.

After than we had a very civilised break with some cake and then we all headed off home.  It was a great little day.

Upon return home, I went down to the shed and was able to apply glue to about half the track in The Risk.  I will hopefully get down there later this week and complete the gluing of the ballast.  I will then turn my attention to ballasting the Kyogle Stock Siding, and Glenapp Loop.  I am toying with an Operating Session in late August.  We will see how much more work I get done before then.

Just before I came up from the shed, I cut in a few small pieces of balsa roadway around Old Cassino.  This was completing something started a few week back.  I did test run a guards van through the track and everything seems to work well.
The roadway to access the rear of Old Cassino platform.

A while back, I advised that I re-routed the construction siding at Old Cassino.  Well here is a phot of how it now runs.

The Construction Siding at Old Cassino is long enough to store my complete ballast train.  However, the loco does not fit.

I have plenty of small tasks to complete, with wiring checking still to do at Clapham Yard and also if my 12mm points have arrived, these also need to be installed in Clapham.  My goods shed at Old Cassino is also stagnant.  This might be my modelling competition entry for my Club’s Christmas competition.