Sunday, July 29, 2018

Ballasting Underway

On Friday this week, I came home early and eventually went down to the shed after 4:00pm.  I spent some time, laying ballast from the northern end of Fairy Hill Loop to the southern entry into Kyogle Loop.  Saturday I got down there after lunch and glued the ballast down that I laid of Friday.  I then turned my attention to the main line from Hotham Street level crossing at the northern end of Cassino and started laying ballast into Cassino Down Yard.  This ended up being about 2m of ballast that was laid.

Today I went down to the Shed before lunch and ballasted the two sidings in the Cassino Down Yard and the headshunt for the two disabled wagon sidings just off the Up Yard.  All up this was about 4metres.  After lunch I continued the ballasting of the mainline up Cassino Signal Box for about another 1.5 metres.  I also extended the ballast in the Down sidings on by about a metre on each track.  I also spread a bit of ballast to tidy up the Cassino Up Yard to the point where all the tracks converge before they diverge again into the Down Yard.  I still need to ballast the track from the diverging point to where the sidings near the disabled wagons sidings are and the disabled wagons sidings themselves.  This small amount of ballasting will be done in an afternoon if I can get a short day at work this week.  That will exhaust my ballast supply for Cassino.  I also need to ballast the Down Siding in Cassino outside the Loco, and the whole Cassino loco area.  I do not have any ballast left for the Up Siding and the Loco area.  

I also have to ballast the southern end of Kyogle.  That is from a point half way down the crossing loop and I need to do the Main, the Loop, the Yard Siding, and the two private sidings.  I have a feeling that I will just have enough ballast to complete this area.

Hopefully I will pick up some much wanted 12mm track and some second hand HO points at our Club’s Model Train Exhibition next weekend.  I might be able to pick up another kilogram or two of ballast to allow completion of the Cassino loco area.  That will leave me with only the area through Rappville Loop to do, apart from a couple of sidings here and there.

At our Club's Model Train Exhibition, I will be doing some modelling at a table on the Saturday.  I will also have a few NSW and VR wagons and a couple of Lima and Powerline locos for sale.  Some even have chips.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Fixing a Few Issues

Last Tuesday was the visit by the Tuesday Night crew.  I had a few locos running up and down Acacia Ridge yard, but when I ran out onto the dual gauge towards Clapham, the locos stopped.  I knew that I did not connect two power connectors near where I put the narrow gauge point into Rocklea yard last week, but I didn’t think that was the reason.  

Anyway on Saturday I was intent on fixing all the issues in Acacia Ridge Yard and the track to Clapham Yard.  I turned the power on and there was an instantaneous short in the Acacia Ridge Yard power district.  I had just connected 4 or 5 droppers before hand in the narrow gauge yard.  So I disconnected them and still could not work out what the cause was.  I then decided to humour myself, and walked around to the section of track in track 3 of the concentric loops in Acacia Ridge Yard and looked at the two car carriers sitting in that location and looked at the wheels on one set of bogies.  It was sitting across the isolation joint of the reversing loop.  Hmmmm!  Now I had no idea why it was not switching the reversing loop instead of just causing a short on the NCE EB1.  So I moved the wagon 1cm, so the wheels were no longer on the join.  I turned the power back on and this time, the power district fired up.  So I re-connected the droppers that I just disconnected.  I then set about trying to track back why the mainline had no power.  I reconnected the two droppers that I lazily did not re-connect last week.  I also ran a dropper to the narrow gauge siding in Rocklea Sidings, as I found out that a section of track was fed by the track and there was a bad joint, so I now bypassed that section with a connection to the track bus.  I then touched a solder joint where the track bus starts at the southern end of Clapham Yard and everything came alive.  So I had a jumper that was just about to come adrift.  So after that, the layout was all back to working.  I didn't realise that when I laid the track last weekend, I never cleaned the new track I laid for standard gauge trains, so trains run rather badly through the new trackage on the mainline just outside Rocklea Sidings.  I then did a bit of testing for the far end of the dual gauge headshunt at the southern end of Acacia Ridge.  It revealed that I was missing a track jumper there, after a set of point, so the head shunt was dead.  So that was added and that section is now all good as well.

I then attached the new NCE QSnap to the layout fascia.  This was then attached to the track bus and it will be used to control the points in Rocklea Sidings.  I ran wires to the point motor controlling the points into the narrow gauge siding.  A quick test and everything is working fine.  I need to get my hands on a Tillig LH set of points for the standard gauge sidings to be started and a HO - HOm crossing so I can really get stuck into the real track work of the Rocklea Sidings.  I’m hoping to have this all complete before mid September, as my layout is one of the open layouts for the NMRA Convention on the Gold Coast this year.
The NCE QSnap on the left next to an NCE Snap-It.  At the top of the picture on the right is the narrow gauge point into Rocklea Sidings already connected and working
The entry into Rocklea Sidings.  On the right is the narrow gauge.  On the left of that is where the standard gauge will branch off.

The layout of Rocklea above.

I have also started to look at what else I need to do before September.  There is some ballasting of Old Cassino station and yard required and a small section of the mainline south of Cassino just short of the Bruxner Highway.  So these were done today.
The few feet either side of The Bruxner Highway were ballasted today.

The eastern end of Old Cassino how ballasted.

The Cassino or western end of Old Cassino.

I have also had some brain waves to do some small detail accessories for a couple of places for the layout.  I am going to install some safety bollards around a work site.  I made about 16 of these last night and painted then a very nice safety orange colour today.  I will also make up some safety tape to go between the bollards.  Now that will be interesting.

I will also try and make a couple of drones that will be flying over the layout in some places.  
The train above is the Cement Limestone train that will use Rocklea Sidings.  It is sitting on the dual gauge headshunt in Clapham Yard.  It is propelled back to the sidings.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Mainline Track Changes for Rocklea Started

Yesterday I picked up most of the narrow gauge items that I need to start the install of Rocklea Siding.  I am still waiting for some dual gauge Tillig track to come into the local hobby shop.  

After visiting the hobby shops yesterday I went over to the Club for our monthly meeting day and did what I have not done for some time - run some trains on the layout.  This time, I took a couple of 12mm locos and half a dozen carriages (my whole collection) and did a few laps on the layout.  Since I had last run on the layout, the wifi system had changed at the Club, so I had to set up my phone again.  I really need to operate wirelessly, I cannot handle plugging in via my hand held throttle.  After a couple of laps on wifi I asked about what happened to the Club's radio base station.  Apparently that was a loaner from a member.  Luckily big Dazza had his NCE RB02 tucked away in his train box, so I plugged it in and then went radio via my ProCab-R.  I find this so much better to control a train on the layout than a phone via wifi.  I can set up my Procab to have 6 different locos and can scroll through them.  So much easier.

Today I ripped up about a meter of track between the southern entry to Clapham Yard around a bit of a curve to where the tracks to Rocklea Sidings are going to diverge.  I had to remove my transition track which takes the third rail from the left to right side and then end for end an existing length of Tillig dual gauge flex track as the third rail was now on the other side.  I then installed a narrow gauge left hand curve point and then ran a single rail of code 100 around the outside of the 12mm point, in the location of the outside standard gauge rail.  I then re-installed the transition track into the main line and then joined up to existing track work heading towards Acacia Ridge Yard.  The reason for the transition track is that Tillig only makes left hand standard gauge diverging track with the dual gauge going straight through with third rail on the left hand side in the direction of travel.  This diverging piece of Tillig track will allow the standard gauge to get access to Rocklea Sidings.  You know what they say, good things come to those that wait.  I just have to wait for a track delivery to the local hobby shop.

While the track work in Rocklea sidings in basically finalised, I am tossing up adding a small section of dual gauge track that used to go across a bridge over a creek inside the industrial complex that was Rocklea Sidings.  I have the various scratch built splitter tracks that I had made previously for various locations around the layout, ready for use in merging and diverging the length of dual gauge track.  I’m just thinking of doing it because I can.  But it means that I might need another point motor and a point accessory controller.  More Money!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

I Like the Sound of That

On Monday the postman tried to deliver my Auscision 48 Class locos.  Wouldn’t you know it, the wife was out with the kids at the shops.  Bummer!  That meant that I had to wait another day until I could get my hands on the locos and wife picked up my delivery from the Post Office.  I came home from work early on Tuesday and sitting on the bed was my package.  I went down to the shed and put them on the track.  I read the accompanying notes and the locos were off and running up and down the tracks of Acacia Ridge Yard.  I used 'program on the main' on my NCE DCC system to change the addresses one by one to match their individual loco number.  

The first thing I realised was that the sound coming from the locos was awfully loud.  Don't get me wrong, it sounded very good, but loud.  That night I went to our fortnightly Tuesday Nighters meeting and took a loco with me.  Everyone agreed that the sound was loud.  The loco did a few trips up and down a siding on Lefty and Son's On30 layout, driven by some of the attendees.  They were trying out all the sound functions.

So the next day I scanned the net and found a quick start manual for ESU decoders and CV63 was the master volume control.  This was changed to 50 in one loco and 60 in the other from the default value of 192 – which was full volume.  Apart from that, the locos run well, and sound very nice.  I just now need to work out what roster that will take in my timetable.  I think one will replace 4894 from Trainorama on a stock train from Grafton to Kyogle Stock Siding and return.  I think that 4894 will then end up double heading the other stock train with an 80 Class loco.  The other Auscision 48 Class loco will maybe end up replacing an 80 class on a ballast train.  I'm just trying to get the best value for money for the sound that these locos have.

On another matter, I have been thinking about my implementation of Rocklea Sidings.  You know that is a dangerous thing - me thinking.  Initially I was going to put in a dual gauge point and run a standard gauge siding into Rocklea and there would be two tracks here to allow the drop off and collecting of Limestone and Cement wagons.  The train will push the wagons from Clapham Yard into the siding and then return either light engine, or with the empties to Clapham Yard.  

Now we all know that Rocklea also had some narrow gauge tracks into it as well.  Well you guessed it.  Planning is underway and there might be a narrow gauge point to the same complex.  The trackwork may look very much like the actual trackwork at this location, with one narrow gauge track crossing over the standard gauge track at a location inside the complex just because I can.

I did spend some time on Friday afternoon trying to scratchbuild a set of dual gauge points for the entry into Rocklea Sidings.  They did not end up being too good an effort.  I did this in order to expedite the creation of the sidings while I await the delivery of a Tillig dual gauge Left hand point.

On Saturday afternoon I went to Bunnings and picked up a sheet of plywood for the baseboard for Rocklea.  So later this was cut up.  The method of holding the baseboard in place above Acacia Ridge Yard was perfected and it was all systems go.  Access to the loops at Acacia Ridge Yard will still be maintained.  I then laid out the track for the standard gauge sidings at Rocklea.  I found a left hand curve point that will be used to split the two standard gauge sidings at this location.  I then planned the track for the narrow gauge track at Rocklea.  My first problem is that the third rail was on the wrong side of the track to allow me to just insert a narrow gauge point to form the take off for the narrow gauge sidings.  While looking for some stuff on the Friday afternoon, I found a Tilling track to swap the third rail from one side to the other.  Hmmm.  I can use this.  Just 700mm up the road outside Clapham Yard, I had scratch built one of these tracks.  If I remove this track here, and run the third rail on the opposite side until the location of the narrow gauge point and then swap it back to the other side with the Tillig track or my scratch built version, all will fit together nicely.  I just need one length of dual gauge flex from Tillig, a left hand narrow gauge set of points and a couple of lengths of 12mm flex and the narrow gauge sidings can be started also.  I am waiting for a left hand Tillig dual gauge point to arrive and then I can actually install the whole siding complex.  I picked up a new NCE QSnap four output point controller yesterday and I have four spare Peco point motors to control the various points.  So everything is coming together.

Today I added the final pieces of the Rocklea baseboard and confirmed all the track purchases I need to finish this section off.  There will not be any photos posted of this for 2 weeks as that is just after the Tuesday Nighters are at my place.  I want to show them in person first.  I also tinkered with the troublesome dual gauge point in Fisherman Islands Yard and I now have it working reasonably well.  It still takes two pushes of the button on some occasions to fully throw the point, but I think it will get easier to activate through continued use.

The next major job is to run the wires from my control panel which will control Rocklea Sidings.  The panel is located against the Acacia Ridge baseboard and the wires need to go about 30 feet to the NCE Mini Panel at Loco Pilly.  But now with the few extra sets of points in this location, I need to run a few more wires from the control panel than originally planned.  I'm certain that I need to pick up another 25m roll of wire from Jaycar first.  Maybe a job for next weekend.

While still on the subject of thinking, while working on the baseboard at Rocklea, I kept looking down at Grafton Yard.  It appeared to me that I install a Peco 3-way point where I have a left hand set of point, and deploy that removed set of points, I will be able to add two more short sidings in Grafton Yard.  So I will keep my eyes out for a second hand set of Peco 3-way points.  One of the tracks will allow me to store my Railbus when it arrives.  I'm also thinking of storing a water train for all my fettler camps in one of those tracks as well.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Bit by Bit Solving the Issues

Yesterday I went down to the shed and tried to see what I could do get the points on a crossover in Fisherman Islands Yard working.  Both points would throw straight, but neither would throw to the crossover position.  So the first thing I did was work on this pair of points.  These points were fired of a single address in an NCE QSnap set to accessory address 1522.  This is the third address output from the QSnap.

I started by replacing one point and tested with a new set of points in place.  Still not working in the crossover position.  I replaced the point motor on the set of points I just replaced and tested again.  Still not working in the crossover position.  I removed the second point from the picture and tested again.  Still not working in the crossover position.  I then connected the first point I removed to the original point motor that I also removed from the picture while testing and then connected them to a new output from my second NCE QSnap located at Fisherman Islands.  I tested in both directions and they operated successfully.  

I then wired the second point from the crossover pair at the old accessory address of 1522, to another address output on the second NCE QSnap.  I tested that accessory address in both directions and that worked.  Can anyone see anything pattern forming here?  It seems that the output from the third accessory address (given address 1522) on the first NCE QSnap does not want to play the game.  So that address is now left free.  

I then had to go into the programming of my NCE Mini Panel and change the commands that previously referenced 1522 to now reference accessory addresses 1533 and 1534.  As I moved the points from operating on the same address to separate new accessory decoder addresses, I had to make these changes.  So the control panel works well except for one more output.

The point motor at accessory address 1523 (this is the fourth output from the same NCE QSnap above that has the third output address 1522 not working) which is also not working correctly.  This has been left for another day.  So at another time I will go back and remove this one and look at fixing this as well.  But if I need another working NCE QSnap accessory address I might be in luck.  I am thinking of removing a Snap-it from Acacia Ridge Yard and replace it with a new NCE QSnap at that location.  This will give me three more addresses at this location for use.

Today I was contemplating what I will do with my new siding at a new location Rocklea, between Acacia Ridge Yard and Clapham Yard.  I built a small push button control panel and installed the push buttons.  I still need to wire everything up and run the 4 wires back to the Mini Panel located at Loco Pilly.  That is the second closest Mini Panel but the only one with spare ports to connect up push buttons.  That will be wired up next weekend.  If I purchase a new NCE QSnap above, I can use two of the spare output for the two new point motors I need to operate Rocklea Sidings remotely.

I also was able to pull out some wiring today that I had previously positioned for the Fisherman Islands panel that was to go back to the Border Loop Mini Panel.  As I purchased a new Mini Panel last week and wired that up, all the pre-positioned wiring is now superfluous.  I will try and use this wiring for connecting the Loco Pilly Mini Panel up to the new control panel I started today that will go on the facia new the Rocklea Sidings.