Monday, January 1, 2018

Update From Last Operating Session of the Year on 30th December 2017

On Friday night 29th December, the night before the last Operating Session of the 2017 year, I did some work to cut up and stained about 20 more legs for my goods loading platform for South Brisbane Interstate station.  On Saturday morning, before the session I glued these legs onto the platform.  I also cut up and painted some tie down straps along the end of the wooden platforms, as per a photo I have of the real platform at South Brisbane Interstate Station.
The unloading platform in place at South Brisbane Interstate Station between the platform road and track 3.  The locos off the Brisbane Limited have run forward to run around their train before heading back to Loco Pilly for refuelling.

Saturday dawned and we had another crew gathering turn up for a 1:00pm start.  This time we had two more Victorian modellers.  We had David Head from Melbourne put in an appearance.  It has been a few years since he has been in attendance at one of my Operations Sessions.  PK piked as he said he had to shampoo his beard or some other type of lame excuse.  I think he couldn’t be in the same room as a group of modelling gurus.  Or maybe he was digging the hole for his clothes line?  Maybe we will never know.
Some of the crew - David, Shelton and Greg

We delayed the start of the session by a few minutes as my JMRI bitch was working overtime to get JMRI working properly.  Now I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Greg for persevering with my Pi problems.  Greg loaded a whole new version of JMRI onto the micro-SD card and low and behold, once connected we never had any of our previous issues that we had on the last few versions of JMRI running on my Raspberry Pi connected system.  Greg started with a particular base that someone advertised as being a complete version.  No doubt there was some driver issue or some sort of incompatibility that had crept its way into the previous version that Greg had been maintaining for Raspberry Pi that seemed to work when he connected his Raspberry Pi to his Powercab system, but materialised when connected to my serially connected 5 Amp NCE setup.  Woo Hoo!

The only little inconvenience with this version is that the fast clock with the JMRI set as the master, gets slightly out of sync between the Android engine driver throttles and the NCE procabs.  Now we just need to try and work out if wi-throttles have the ability to show the fast clock time (no one who attends my sessions is rich enough to has an iPhone) and everyone can determine if they are on time or late, running early according to the timetable cards that we run the layout by.  So during the session the two fast clocks drifted slightly apart with the NCE base station loosing time compared to JMRI’s master clock time.  I would have thought that if you made the JMRI system the master, it would have kept the NCE system in sync – that is why you make it the master.  Oh well there is always next time for some more tweaks, and more experimentation.

Saturday’s session was our first timetable Operation to officially include some narrow gauge trains.  I gave the honour to Darryl to run the first narrow gauge timetabled train.  Well considering he brought over all his 12mm rollingstock that honour should have gone to him.  Anyway maybe Darryl should have done some more rigorous testing of some of his wagons a bit before coming over.  Some Southern Rail Models locos had very low cow catchers.  They were almost dragging along the rails.  They kept hitting joins in the track, particularly when there was change in gradient in the layout and that occurs regularly on my layout.  So the cow catchers would get stuck on the join.  Some couplers of wagons had low hanging tangs, and coupler heights did not match the locos.  Lots of issues.  I’d bet that many of the 12mm wagons also had wheels that were out of gauge.  Now not all issues were related to Darryl.  The long section of dual gauge straight track between Acacia Ridge Yard and Clapham Yard has some slight wobbles in it. These wobbles, cause many derailments of the 12mm rollingstock.  So bit by bit, I will attempt to address these and try things out before next time.
The first narrow gauge Wheat Train from Acacia Ridge to Fisherman Islands departs towards Clapham Yard.

Later on in the session, an oil and general goods narrow gauge train is heading towards Fisherman Islands as well.

Well the session was almost over for some before it even started.  It was like an Emergency ward at my place.  Geoff hit his head getting into the car to come over, he had drawn blood from a scratch on his head, complained that he almost saw stars and had a very bad headache.  I know some people will do anything to avoid an Operations Session (like PK was perming his beard today), and then Dave had a hypo (low blood sugar) attack.  We were lucky that Dr Peter was in attendance and those people can expect a bill during the coming week.  Maybe another sound equipped Loco there for you Dr Peter?
This shot shows one of the standard gauge trains heading through the Running Creek tunnels early in the morning.

After Geoff went home with a headache, we had someone take (maybe steal) the mantle that has belonged to him for many a year.  Let me describe Geoff’s previous title.  He was the train stealer.  When he was given the timetable card for the cement train to Murwillumbah, he took the Gold Coast Motorail.  I’m sure blind Freddy could have spotted the difference.  So we kept reminding him of that event.  We now have a new train stealer.  It is our much loved, layout changing, Victorian Modelling mate - Shelton.  You do need thick skin to attend an Operations Session at my place.  Maybe that is why PK bailed?  When Shelton’s timetable card says that his train is a stock train and that the loco number was 8010 on the front, why would someone find another stock train on another track and cross out the 8010 loco number on his timetable card and re-write the timetable card with 4894, then proceed to take 4894 which was meant to go to Kyogle Stock Siding later in the session, but instead Shelton took it to Old Cassino.  Sometimes it is hard to get good drivers.  I know QR currently has a driver shortage – Shelton – Do not apply for any vacancy.  If you do, don’t put me down as your referee – or you will get my standard ‘You would be lucky to have him working for you’ response.

Anyway, the session ran reasonably well except for the 12mm side of things.  I saw three timetable cards with notes, but I can disregard one as someone could not find 8010 on a stock train – did I mention that?  However, that card did note that a wagon had an issue going over a roadway with a low coupler.  So this was addressed and has been double checked.  We had at least two issues, with people entering the same passing loop from different ends at the same time.  That causes a problem or two.  Someone has to back up and re-enter the Loop.  It is also difficult to take the Loop, if you are 2 foot along the Main before you get there to throw the point for the Loop!  I found one rather new timetable card, that the driver could not understand what to do, so I will adjust the card tomorrow to clarify things.  There was the occasional break away of a train.  But I really think these occur when the layout gets bumped at a particular time, as I cannot replicate these issues when I try to reproduce them.  I noticed some issues with drivers being a bit too enthusiastic in removing their headsets from the plug in points and the plug in point almost bending at 45 degrees.  I might have to brace some plug in point a bit more.  That was the cause when some of the plug in points ceased operating, as wires came off the back.  I think I really need a PABX installed, but that will reduce walkway space, and I don’t have a few hundred dollars to replace my headsets that are probably almost nearing end of life anyway. 
Now that is 8010 on a stock train.

Gee I must have an understanding and fabulous wife!  She doesn’t see me for a few days over this holiday period as I’m down the shed working on things, but she prepares afternoon tea for our two Operations Sessions crews over the last week and also the previous Tuesday Nighters.  I think she is a keeper.

There has been some suggestions made about the 12mm tracks at Acacia Ridge, and I have already actioned some work on that on Sunday (new year's eve) afternoon.  I have almost fixed up the ballast train timetable card mis-read from yesterday’s session.  The biggest repair that needs to be made following Saturday’s session is that a point at the southern end of Border Loop is stuffed and needs to be replaced.  That is a bit of a bugger, as the point is ballasted in.  So I will need to visit Ray’s shop next weekend and see if he has a replacement point.  So in the meantime, Border Loop has been booked out of use as a crossing loop, so the layout is still operable.  The point has been clipped for the Main Line.  Superglue was used to try and stabilise the point and seems to be working.
The one ballast wagon left at Nammoona Ballast Siding during the session.

The rest of the train was positioned at Fairy Hill Loop.

What should have happened, the ballast train should have loaded at Nammoona Ballast Siding.

The single ballast wagon that does not fit into the Nammoona Ballast siding, has to bide its time at Fairy Hill Loop, until the rest of the train is loaded, then it heads back and gets loaded in a short period of free time between other trains.  It then progresses around the layout dumping ballast at various locations.

The troublesome point on the southern entry to Border Loop.  It has been clipped to lie for the Main.

I also addressed an issue at Clapham Yard where a narrow gauge train of grain wagons was hitting a steel piano wire actuator that was sticking up about an inch above the peco actuator connected to the point motor which was set off to the side of the track.  So the steel actuation wire was trimmed off today.  Also a few of the narrow gauge points in Clapham Yard that are manually actuated via a steel piano wire from the facia also had their actuating wire up thought the middle of the point trimmed off lower, as the Southern Rail Models locos kept hitting the steel wire.  My narrow gauge locos do not have that problem.

There were some clean up activities undertaken following the session.  The errant stock train at Old Cassino was returned to Grafton Loops and replaced by the correct stock train (located in the next staging track powered by 8010).  No one will ever know about this event!  While conducting this move, it became apparent that the Oil train which was to leave 3 oil pots and an open wagon at the Old Cassino Shell Oil Siding only had 3 oil wagons there, and the Lismore Shell Oil Siding had an extra open wagon in residence.  So I did a bit of a shunt to move the open wagon (loaded with oil drums and cases back to Old Cassino siding which had a case store.  Also one of the Shell tankers that was due to be placed in at Old Cassino was at Lismore.  So I 0-5-0’ed that wagon back to its proper location.  Again no one will ever know about this mix-up.  Also the Loco 44100 from the Cement train to Murwillumbah was also parked in the Norco Siding instead of the headshunt, so this was amended as well.
The fixed up Oil train in Lismore's Shell Oil Siding.

The correct contents of the Old Cassino Shell Oil Siding.