Sunday, September 30, 2018

Still Working on the Narrow Gauge

On Friday evening I went down to the shed and did some thinking.  Well actually I ran a train.  I progressed one train (the Brisbane Limited) two staff sections and it is now sitting in Acacia Ridge Yard.  I then checked the next 3 timetable cards to take, and they all started at 8:55am or 9:00am.  The three trains on the layout were all at their 9:00 or 9:05 location, so the timetable is ready to be restarted at 9:00am.

Then I returned to this thinking thing.  I was considering how I could incorporate a 12mm loco siding into Acacia Ridge Yard.  After a few minutes I thought I would extend the baseboard by a small piece of wood about 100mm x 350mm to fill in a section.  By doing this I could put a siding in.  I thought some more and then I came to the conclusion, if I put a double slip in where a set of points already exists, I’d have more flexibility and two tracks will have direct access to this new loco siding.  I then worked out that if I replaced another set of points at the dead end section of the yard at Acacia Ridge, with another set of Double slip points, then I could continue the trackage from the first double slip to this new one.  This also has the advantage that I can replace a rather dodgy 12mm set of points - unknown brand.  This points have no inbuilt spring like the Peco points.

So on Saturday I hit the loco hobby shops.  I picked up a set of double slip points from Ray's Austral Modelcraft and installed it when I got home.  I also cut the extra bit of baseboard for Acacia Ridge Yard.  I then cut off two strip of 100mm baseboard that were joined length wise and this has been added onto the back of Fisherman Islands Yard.  This will allow two small loops to be added at this location, increasing the number of 12mm tracks.  

So I think I now have my list of 12mm track that I need to procure to complete my track laying process on Cassino.  It is still about four hundred dollars worth but next year around the May exhibition in Brisbane will be when I buy the final purchase of the track.  The Monday of that weekend will be a long weekend, and as such that will be the day that it will all be laid.  I just need to save up.

During the week, I had a bit of success.  It turned out that PK was willing to part with 4 QR coal wagons, so this transaction will be the start of my narrow gauge coal train.  I just need another 4 wagons and this train will be complete.  I then need about 6-8 grain wagons for my grain train and then at least another 3 WHO wagons for open wagons.  Then I think my whole 12mm rollingstock collection will be complete except for two more 1720 locos that I want to buy and, yes, the soon to be delivered 2300/2400 locos.

Monday this week was a day off for me, as my layout was open for visiting as part of the 2018 NMRA convention on the Gold Coast.  I had about 10 people come through.  I was ably helped by Lefty on the day.  This same day I added three extra QLink Tautliners to my layout as I bought them off John.  So I think I have a nice number of wagons now.  Who knows what else will come onto the market that will mean that I need to buy some more, but I’m happy at the moment.

Today I hot the shed while I had the TV on for the Women's Grant Final and the InTrust Interstate match.  I decided to run two trains that were not run during the open days last weekend.  This was numbers 19 and 19A, a local train from Grafton Yard to Acacia Ridge Yard and then Clapham Yard and then onto South Brisbane Interstate Yard.  I then worked out that while the timetable had two shunt trains in it, my timetable cards were missing two shunt trains from Clapham Yard to Rocklea Siding.  I will fix that this week.  But while thinking about working this train Number 68 and Number 69, I worked out that I needed another set of points from my dual gauge track in Clapham Yard to the standard gauge track 3.  So I found two left hand small radius points and installed then.   One was bit-bashed into a dual gauge point, with the narrow gauge going straight through only.  I still have to make one more Dremel cut in one rail and then wire these up tracks back up, as I'm sure I have disruptive the various power circuits with the various insulated joiners I have installed.  I will get stuck into this tomorrow, as well as test powered locos through these newly modified sections of track.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

NMRA Gold Coast Convention

Friday 21st September was the first day of Layout tours associated with the NMRA Convention being staged at Helensvale on the Gold Coast on the 22nd and 23rd September.  I had arranged for four mates from my model railway Club and regular members of my operations roster to come over and help me operate the layout.  As well as being an open layout, I was also operating a timetable operations session from 10:00am until 1:00pm.  Basically the guys started rolling up from 9:00am.  I think by about 10:30am everyone was in attendance.  I had PK, Darryl, Darren and Greg.  Darryl assisted by bringing over quite a few of his 12mm locos, and about 3 dozen pieces of 12mm rollingstock.  His collection dwarfs mine.  So along with my meagre menagerie this made up the 12mm roster for the day.  Darryl set about inspecting the track and following a test run on the 12mm found quite a few blobs of solder that when attacked with a file, not only removed the blob, but also the wires providing power.  So out with the soldering iron and about 3 or 4 wires were replaced.  The 12mm gave us some trouble, with low cow catchers on some of the longer wheelbase 90 tonne QR locos seeming to hit every piece of track that transitioned from code 100 to code 75.  Hmmm.  I really need to taper these track joins.

Anyway the Operating Session eventually got under way and things settled down, after quite a few early hiccups.  However, if there was not an issue, the crew would feel strange as I think they need to be able to stir me about some fact or 20.  We did get one of our nominated visitors for the Ops Session arrive and it turned out that he had run into PK and Darryl at our Club on Wednesday and he remembered them from when our Club exhibits at his Club’s exhibition in Bundaberg in March each year.  So he was shown a throttle and helped complete the shunting of the Cement Train at Murwillumbah, and he then took the Brisbane Limited and ran it from Grafton Yard to Kyogle.  Apparently he had not used NCE before and was using it after about 10 seconds.

While this was happening, four more people turned up having previously been at Arthur’s place inspecting over there.  Arthur had rung to see if I could fit another four in the shed and of course the answer was always going to be yes.

So bit by bit issues were fixed up with the layout and trains continued to run the rails and next time we looked it was way after 1:00pm and it was time for me to temporarily shut down the layout so I could feed my crew.  Two of the visitors stayed and had their lunch at the same time my crew had their BBQ snags on a piece of bread.  Of course we also had cheese and onion and a variety of sauces to complement the snags.  We may have also had a beer or two or in my case four.  

So I did notice that we had a few runaways of wagons in sidings.  So on Saturday morning I added quite a few more tooth brush bristles to the Nammoona Ballast Siding and to Clapham Yard in the dual gauge and in one of the narrow gauge tracks, and two narrow gauge sidings.  So upon testing these tracks in the afternoon, I think I have now fixed the current issues, but I will lay quite a few more tooth brush bristles in other areas in the coming weeks.

On Saturday afternoon, I resumed my task of completing the second diorama module for the upcoming Modelling the Railways of QLD Convention in Beenleigh in 3 weeks time.  So I completed one small road bridge and substantially completed a second bridge built from scratch and also erected quite a few fences.  Today I completed the bridge laid some transoms and then laid the track and added a few trees, etc..  There is still some detail items yet to be added.   That just leaves me with next week to complete my notes for my session.  I have started that, but it still has a fair way to go.

Also on Saturday afternoon, I decided to revisit a dual gauge point that is in the dual gauge lead into Acacia Ridge Yard.  This allows a HO scale (16.5mm) shunt engine to be located here.  However, all the trains were stalling going throw this set of points.  So I identified that it was all the result of the point blade not making sufficient contact with the stock rail.  So that was fix and I have now successfully run a 12mm loco through this point in two directions very slowly and it no longer stalls.  I have also run the 16.5mm shunt loco through and it also no longer stalls.  I did also use my razor saw to smooth the narrow gauge wheel path where it crosses over the diverging point rail from the standard gauge.  So I must admit, that while all the rollingstock does rock and roll through the points, nothing derails.  So this work can be described as very successful.

Today I went down and reprogrammed my NCE Mini Panel located at Loco Pilly and added the throwing of a standard gauge set of points fitted with a relay to ensure that when my narrow gauge track 2 is set, the relay ensures that the frog has the correct polarity.  That has been tested and works well.  While I had the NCE Mini Panel accessible, I decided to connect up the 9 wires and a common wire that will eventually be connected to the new Rocklea Control Panel which has been built, but not wired up and installed as yet.  Maybe next weekend's task.

On Monday there is another open layout tour, which I am taking part in.  I have arranged my retired mate, Lefty, from up the road (next suburb) to come over, drink beer and run train while another at least four Convention attendees (and a few other mates) to pop over for a visit.

I also had a bit of a win on Saturday while at the local train shop.  I picked up a set of 3 Wuiske louvre vans as a birthday present and on Monday I should also be getting another three tautliner wagons off a mate.  So from those two transactions, my number of 12mm wagons had almost increased by 50%. Seven wagons will become 13 wagons.  By Christmas next year, I might have most of my roster completed, that is if I can get the various 12mm wagons that I'm after from the shops.  Maybe a rerun of the various coal and grain wagons may be needed.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Narrow Gauge Timetable Undergoes Fine Tuning

I spent quite a considerable amount of time this week working on the narrow gauge part of my  operating timetable.  So far there are 12 trains in this section of the timetable.  But with a very small amount of rolling stock on hand, 2 locos and 7 wagons, it is difficult planning what runs where and what gets picked up and returned by the various trains.  I have another loco on order (due soon) and 3 more wagons soon to be acquired when I catch up with a mate selling three curtain sided wagons.  But that is still not enough rollingstock.

I do have plans for another 2 locos and then two unit trains of 6 to 8 wagon consists of coal and grain wagons.  Luckily when I do run the narrow gauge section of the timetable, I usually have a mate who has plenty of narrow gauge wagons come along and populate the various sidings with more locos and trains.

As part of this mini solo ops session on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, I have found about 4 power jumper wires that needed to be soldered back up, and I also improved the running of trains through the Dutton Park dual gauge point.  There were two sections of dual gauge track where the third rail had come adrift and was under gauge, thus causing problems.  So I also soldered these back up and everything seems to be running better.  I also found a dual gauge set of splitter points where the standard gauge goes in one direction and the narrow gauge goes in the other direction, that I was powering the frog from a set of points, and when I threw a set of narrow gauge points, I did not throw another set of points that would have protected the narrow gauge movement, from a standard gauge train and also powered the frog of the splitter points for the narrow gauge movement.  I was wondering why a train was not moving across the points and just creating a short.  That was easily identified and I now have the solution, I just need to get access to the NCE mini panel located in Loco Pilly and plug my Procab controller into it to make a change to one input by adding another point to throw.  So the switch for the power routing will then work for the narrow gauge.

Another outcome of the two mini operations sessions I had with myself, is that I think I still need to make a couple more minor changes to the track plans for Fisherman Islands, Clapham Yard and also Acacia Ridge Yard.  Who knows it might be another 12 months, but I think the track laying will finally be complete.

So I have made quite a few changes to make for all of the narrow gauge timetable cards for the next operating session.  I will update them all tonight and print them out during the week, and put them into train sequence order.

This Friday and the following Monday my layout is available for attendees of the 2018 NMRA Convention to stop by for a layout visit.  I think there is about 17 or so layouts available for the attendees to check out and take a few photos or videos of.  I have a crew of regulars some retired and some not, coming over on the Friday to assist with the running of the layout.  We are also having an operating sessions on Monday and Friday, so it will be interesting as I will not have a full crew, so there will be many out of sequence trains in operation, and given the smallness of the crew, I will probably not run with North Coast Control.  I will perform that role while roaming around the shed, talking to operators, showing other visitors around and running my own trains.

So if you are attending the NMRA Convention, just give us a call and pop in.  You are all most welcome.  I will have tea and coffee available all day and also a cold drink in the fridge.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Updating the Timetable

All this week, I’ve been doing work on my Operating Session timetable.  I have added 4 railbus movements in preparation on receiving one of these models from Auscision.  I have also added 1 extra freight coming from Grafton to Cassino, and then another from Cassino to South Brisbane Interstate. Then of course this traffic needs to go back south, so that makes a total of 3 extra freights.  I have added shunt train from Acacia Ridge Yard to Rocklea Siding and then of course its return working.  This will be a steal shunt just like happens in early morning Brisbane now.  I then have a shunt train from Clapham Yard back to Rocklea Sidings and return.  This is for taking the Limestone wagons from the new freight.  I have also added an extra shunt on the narrow gauge from Clapham Yard to Rocklea Sidings and return to Clapham.  There is also an extra shunt train from Fisherman Islands Yard to Acacia Ridge Yard and return.  So last night, the timetable cards were finally created for all these extra movements.  I now just need to update the sequence numbers on all the timetable cards so they can be easily assembled into correct order before the session.  There are now over 100 possible movements in the timetable.  The next task is then to print a new timetable graph for the next Operations Session.  As I normally call my operations Sessions “Organised Chaos”, I’m sure the first time this timetable is operated, it will be just that.  I may have to split the timetable over 3 days now to ensure that I can get it completed.  I may even have to slightly slow down the fast clock especially if I do not get enough crew showing.  I would hate to think how many trains are now running at the busiest point in the timetable.  It used to be 13, I’m sure now it could be 15 or even 16.  North Coast Control really needs to ensure that crosses are going to occur at the correct locations, as there are now a number of three way crosses.  These can only occur at locations where there are three tracks, like Cassino, Fairy Hill and of course the main traffic generating points on the layout - Acacia Ridge Yard, Clapham Yard and Fisherman Islands Yard.

This weekend started with a trip over to the Clubrooms for our AGM.  Turn out was pretty good with quite a lot of members present.  Basically the same committee was re-elected.  At the end of June this year, our Treasurer of the last about 20 years retired due to personal circumstances, and the temporary Treasurer who filled in, was re-elected to continue in his job.  The main go forward theme this year is fiscal management, as we have many new layouts under construction and an ever reducing amount of money to spend on them.

Today I got stuck into building the two dioramas I require for the Modelling the Railways of Queensland Convention.  Basically the first one has been completed.  I just need to do a bit of ballasting and a bit more scenicing.  However, the second diorama requires a lot more details to be added.  This week will be spend building quite a lot of items required for this diorama.

We also have Tuesday Nighters at David place, so it will be good to see what he has done since last weekend.  He may even have one or two of his power district sections wired up and have trains able to run back and forth in those areas.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Layout All Reset for Operations Session.

Model railway activity this included a visit to Cliff’s place for our fortnightly meeting and we checked out his layout in his garage.  I was quite impressed with a few of Cliff's wagons.  I am also inspired by his layout plans that are hanging above his shunting layout.  Those future plans will make a very nice layout when he finally moves back home after finishing working in Brisbane.  We then adjourned to his lounge for a very nice supper and a great talk about all things trains.

On Saturday I resumed my train running activities on the layout.  I ended up running 16 trains to complete the reset of the timetable to put it back to the start for the next Operations Session to kick back off.  That night I changed a few of the timetable cards with more information that had been annotated from the last Operations Session, so an updated version will be available for the next session.  I am also looking at how I can add a few more trains into the mix.  I am about to embark on possibly adding a couple more narrow gauge trains as the first step.  Perhaps one from Clapham Yard into Rocklea Siding for some added shunting.  

I have some NSW paybus runs that I also want to add to the timetable, as the timetable is always set on a pay day.  While I had a paybus, I am waiting for the model from Auscision.  I also need an extra train from Grafton to South Brisbane Interstate, with car carriers, limestone wagons and oil/bitumen tankers, with its complementary return working also being added.  This working will allow another shunt working from Clapham Yard back into Rocklea Siding for the standard gauge, as well as a return to Clapham Yard.  I am also considering another shunt from Acacia Ridge Yard to Rocklea Siding with a few steel wagons.  Having both in that yard would be interesting for the two drivers, as they would have to fight to get over the dual gauge section as well as the mixed gauge crossover where narrow gauge crosses over standard gauge.  I am also looking at adding a water train from Cassino up the North Coast line to Glenapp or maybe The Risk to allow the topping up all the water tanks for the various fettler settlements alongside the railway line.  I am not sure I can add all these into the timetable.  It currently seems busier than Central Station in peak hour.  Additionally, it means that I need more operators to run more trains simultaneously.

Today I started off by picking up my mate David and we headed over to a local buy and sell.  I picked up the two things I was most after.  A Peco 3 way point to replace the one I moved out of Acacia Ridge Yard, and a couple of Peco point motors.  This arvo, I installed the point motor on a set of points in Rocklea Sidings.  I then transferred the crossover points from my Snap-It with my previously purchased NCE QSnap.  The QSnap was screwed to the fascia, and I wired up the last two points in Rocklea Yard to it.  These point outputs all work except for one standard gauge point that exhibits tendencies of sticking when being thrown.  I will eventually get around to looking at this.  I then noticed that one of the points of the crossover that I moved from the Snap-It to the QSnap was not working.  The point was getting power, but not enough to overcome the friction as it was not moving.  Again a job for another day.

I then did some more electrical work.  I also added some power jumpers to the relatively new tracks 14 and 15 in Grafton Yard and also a power jumper to one rail of the dual gauge track in Rocklea Sidings.  I also ran my narrow gauge trains through the dual gauge trackage and that all works well.  I have not yet run the standard gauge trains through dual gauge.  A job for another time.  I found a couple of power jumpers that have come adrift from the track and these were re-soldered as well.

So in the next few weeks, I will tidy up the shed a bit, before the Open Day for the Gold Coast NMRA Convention.  My layout is one of the open layouts on the Friday and Monday either side of the Convention.  So far I have no RSVPs from the exhibition attendees, but that will probably change over the next 3 weeks.

I have also come to the reality that I now need to get stuck into the preparing for my Presentation at the Modelling the Railways of Queensland Convention which I need to have completed by the end of the month.  I also have to complete two diorama modules by the end of the month as well.  No rest for the wicked.