Sunday, March 25, 2018

Train Running, Ballasting and Benchwork

Well I went down to the shed on Saturday afternoon and I decided to try and motivate myself into doing something constructive on the layout.  The first thing was turn on the layout power and grab a throttle and then I started to move a number of trains around the layout.  The fastclock time was set to about 9:00am.  So I grabbed a few timetable cards and started moving those trains to where they were supposed to be at 9:10am. Once they were all there, I moved all the trains to 9:20am, and then again to where they were supposed to be at 9:30am.  By that time a few had completed their runs, and then I pushed forward moving trains between crossing loops to where they were supposed to be at 9:45am, and then again until 10:00am.  During this timetable run – all by myself – I must have run at least 6 or 7 different trains.  My plan is to gradually get the time progressed to 11:00am for when the next Operating Session can take over and get everything back home again when the next operating session begins again.
The Mountain Goat that runs from Cassino to Border Loop has made it to Border Loop.

Two trains are crossing at Cassino.  On the main is the daily southbound container train from Murwillumbah, and in the back platform road is the Gold Coast Motorail heading to Murwillumbah.

One of the other slight changes to the timetable cards has been the requirement to ensure that the walkway across the yard is kept clear when wagons are dropped off in the yard at Lismore.

Once I had moved those trains, I did a bit of a walk around the layout looking for things to do.  I decided to get the ballast out and attack a few locations.  I decided to start with the section of track between Lismore and Old Cassino.  I did about three feet of track on the mainline outside the Oil Siding at Lismore.  I then started on the track that comes out of the tunnel under Lismore and heads back into Old Cassino - maybe another 6 or 7 feet.  I ballasted all the tracks at that end of the yard.  I then started at the other end of Old Cassino from the point into the Cassino Loco around into the southern end of Old Cassino.  I also did the Oil Siding at Old Cassino.  Maybe another 6 feet of track.
Lismore Shell Oil Siding.  The mainline track has now been ballasted up to the road overbridge in the distance.

The other side of the road overbridge.  The bottom track leads into Old Cassino.  This track up until the platform at Old Cassino has been ballasted.

Looking north, the track north of the platform has been ballasted at Old Cassino.

The start of the Construction siding at Old Cassino has been ballasted also.

At the southern end of Old Cassino, ballasting has also been started.

On the other side of the level crossing at West Street, the track towards the Old Cassino Shell Oil Siding and the mainline to Cassino has also been ballasted.

The Old Cassino Shell Oil Siding shown in this shot.

It was not until this afternoon, that I sprayed the ballast with water to wet it, and then applied white glue.  I then laid some more ballast from the road bridge just north of Grafton until it enters the tunnel around the Spiral heading towards Rocla Sleeper Siding, on the way to the Rappville crossing loop.  That ballast was also glued down.  I then started looking at Glenapp Loop.  I laid about 5 feet of ballast over the two tracks here in the crossing loop from the southern end where ballasting currently stops.  I still have about 4 feet of track to the other end of the crossing loop as the track heads towards Beaudesert Road level crossing.  This ballast still needs to be glued down.  But that will be a job for next Friday.
The track around the bottom leg of the spiral between Grafton Yard and Rappville Loop has been ballasted from the road overbridge towards the tunnel mouth.

The track in Glenapp Loop starts to get ballasted.

At this time, I started to clean up the layout top at the northern end of Lismore.  This section of baseboard was a bit of a dumping ground for a number of things.  For quite some time, there has been a line drawn on the baseboard here which is where I was going to cut the baseboard edge back by up to 6 inches.  Well I bit the bullet today, and cleaned the baseboard, got out the saw and moved the edge of the layout back.  I then re-attached the facia.  
The facia at Lismore before narrowing work was carried out.

The Lismore facia looking in the other direction, again before the baseboard was narrowed.

That will make the main walkway back into the main operating well at Cassino more accessible and slightly wider.  Maybe we can pass some of the slimmer operators at this location now.  I then started to look at the road underpass at the northern end of Lismore.  I added a bit of foam that I had layout around and that will be the start of a small amount of landscaping in this area over the next week. 

The baseboard at the northern end of Lismore after the facia was re-attached.

The start of the road underbridge at Lismore.

From next Friday, I’m on two weeks holiday with the family.  I intend to sit at home, (or down in the shed) and watch the Commonwealth Games on TV, while ticking off a few jobs around the layout.  The other thing I will do is complete the presentation I need to do for the Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention.  That date is fast approaching.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

I Just Ran Out of Time

This week has been very slow for Model Railway related activities.  Tuesday Night we went over to Peter’s place for our fortnightly get together and had a very good chat (and feed).  On Friday I thought I would see if the local hobby shop has received their NCE order and the answer was no.  So that sort of put a dampener on my weekend activities.  With Saturday afternoon occupied with my son's last game of cricket for the year, I did not get down to the shed.  Today I mowed the grass in the morning and this afternoon I was catching up with email and other computer stuff, and then I had to pick up my son from a birthday sleep over.  So I did not get down to the shed today either. 

I did spend some time today thinking about starting my presentation for the May 2018 Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention.  Yes I must start creating the presentation some time soon.  During the week I did have a couple of phone calls from Marcus in Sydney (who happens to be one of the chief organisers of this convention) about activities on days either side of the convention for the Queensland contingent travelling down to the convention.

At least Cricket season has completed now, but school soccer season starts next Saturday.  At least these games should be over by midday, so that will leave the afternoon free for shed time.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

I Will Not Be Beaten

Today I went down to the shed and installed a new NCE Snap-it that I picked up at Austral Modelcraft on Thursday night.  It was an easy job screwing it to the baseboard support underneath where the point motors that it was about to control were located.  I found my layout bus wires that were running through that area of the layout and then spread the insulation on those wires and tapped off the track feeds to power the Snap-it.  My next job was to bring the wires from the first point motor back to the Snap-it and then do the same for the second point motor.  I was going to control a crossover from a single Snap-it.  I attached the wires, and then realised that I had not put then in the correct places on the Snap-it.  So that was rectified and the Snap-it device was given an address.  I then tested it and you know, it fired in reverse.  So I reversed the wires from the Snap-it and then test fired the points again.  I had a problem!  It worked to throw the two points to the normal position – i.e. straight through on the two parallel tracks.  When I set it to reverse, one point threw and the other did not.  It did not matter what I did, the point on track 1 in Acacia Ridge Yard would not throw to the cross over to the dual gauge track.  Hmmm!  What to do next?  I decided to swap out the point motor for another one.  That too, would not throw the point in the reverse position.  So I needed a new Peco LH curve point.  I did not have a spare one.  I was thinking about heading over to the local Hobby Shop when I realised that I had a LH curve point in my Grafton Yard Loco area.  Hmmm!  Yes, I bit the dust and ripped that one out and replaced this one with the point in Acacia Ridge Yard track 1.  So I reattached the point motor and gave it a test and yes it seemed to work.  So the point for track 1 in Acacia Ridge Yard was placed back into the layout and then given a few more tests.  It was working, but now the other point in its crossover pair - on the dual gauge track, was now not working 100% of the time, when I threw it back to normal position.  However, a second push of the actuator button was ensuring that it threw back to the straight throw position and will prevent a train shunting in the Dual Gauge track from not side swiping something in Acacia Ridge track 1.  I then replaced the previously faulty LH curve point back into the Grafton Loco area.  All is now good.  I am thinking that maybe I need to add some extra capacitance to the Snap-it to ensure that it has enough oomph to throw both points in both directions - all the time.  All this testing was undertaken by using my Radio throttle.  However, when I went over to my small control panel to throw this crossover back and forth, you guessed it, it threw in the opposite direction.  So out with the soldering iron again, and I then swapped the two wires on the control panel for the two push buttons.  So it again all good.

Now my issue with not enough oomph will require another trip to Jaycar next weekend.  I did make a trip there last Thursday and picked up another half dozen 0.1uF capacitors to be created into 6 extra track snubbers that I was making.  I had the 100 ohm 0.5 watt resistors sitting around at home.  So on Thursday afternoon, I soldered these up and they are now ready to be unleashed onto layout when I work out where I want to place them.

My next major purchases that I will be saving up for will be an additional NCE Mini Panel and an extra NCE QSnap.  The QSnap is to power the two remaining points in Fisherman Islands Yard and I might as yet added another small loop to the narrow gauge at this location - watch this space.  The Mini Panel is to be used to accept the push buttons from the Fisherman Islands Northern end panel.  I had planned on running wires from this panel to two other Mini Panels but that would leave them with no spare ports on them.  I have finally made a decision that eventually when I get around to it (and it might be a few years off yet), I will add track detection to at least some of, and maybe all of my crossing loops.  When I detect a train on any track in a crossing loop, it will trigger the input on an NCE Mini Panel and this will throw an accessory address via my Mini Panels, which will be then put a command out onto the track bus.  This will then enable the North Coast Control, who will have an electronic control panel, and it will light up an LED displaying that the track is now occupied.  That way he will know that the train has arrived at the crossing loop, and ensuring that the other train from the other direction, takes the opposite track at that location for a train cross to occur.  So I need to ensure that I have some spare positions on my various Mini Panels located around the layout to facilitate this detection.

Again this is quite a few years off I expect, unless if I win Lotto. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

More Fisherman Islands Work

Today I went down to the shed after midday and thought I might get stuck into wiring up the NCE QSnap that I’ve had for quite some time.  The QSnap was purchased to control some of the points located at the farthest end of Fisherman Islands Yard.  These point motors at this location allow the controlling of the points at this end of the yard.  The entry end of the yard has been wired up and operable for some time.  So I connected the NCE device to the power bus and then soldered wires from the four Peco point motors (actually 5 – as 2 point motors are wired as a crossover) and ran the common from the point motors back to the common on each of the four outputs on the QSnap.  I then went on a trip to Jaycar as I had exhausted my wire supply.  Upon return I wired up all the other wires from the point motors back to the Qsnap and then gave it a bit of a test.  You could never have guessed it could you?  Two of the connections were wired back to front, so that was an easy unscrew from the terminals and swapping the wires over.  The two points wired together, threw in opposite directions, so I unsoldered one of the point motors (the one that threw in the wrong direction) and re-soldered this one up.  So after testing – I am mostly happy.  I am not happy with my dual gauge point at the end of the headshunt as it takes three hits of the accessory button on my controller to throw the point fully in each direction.  To say there is some sort of binding in this point motor and point, which also has a Peco changeover switch also connected, is an understatement.

I pulled out some of my layout documentation and found out that I had already allocated these 4 QSnap connect point motors addresses.  So I set the addresses and then found out that I had supposedly coded up my NCE Mini Panel that was located under Border Loop Crossing Loop, with all the commands to throw these points.  I have yet to connect up the wires from the control panel at Fisherman Islands back to the Mini Panel.  Maybe a job for next week. 

But I can throw the points by just entering an accessory command from my Procab throttle.  Just brilliant this NCE system.

It appears that I have two more push buttons to throw from the Fisherman Islands control panel than I have spare connections in the Mini Panel located underneath Border Loop.  So it looks like I will have to run three wires a further 25 feet, to connect two control panel button outputs and the common connection to the Loco Pilly Mini Panel.  I will then have to wire the common to these two switches and not to the common of the other mini panel.  Again another job for another time.

I have also made up a shopping list to go and buy the capacitors so I can make up another half dozen snubbers for the layout.  I have the resistors already, just need the other components.  I person who was more organised would have done this before going to Jaycar earlier today.  Oh Well, there is always next week.