Sunday, January 20, 2019

Repositioning Wagons and Fixing a Few Small Issues

This week started with us gathering at Arthur’s place on Tuesday Night, for our first get together for the year.  It was a somewhat special night.  The following Thursday was Lefty’s 70th Birthday and the Sunday (today) was Arthur’s 70th Birthday.  How special was that?!  We even had a cake and sang Happy Birthday.  Happy birthday to our two septuagenarians.

On Saturday after lunch I went to the shed and started to re-run the timetable I ran with Darren and Shelton two weeks before.  Just as I was about to run the third train of the day, I realised that the train was in the wrong order.  So I had to go back to the timetable card at the end of the previous session and add some words to re-marshall the train so it is ready to leave in the following session.  Another update to the timetable cards was for the Southbound Steel train.  I have now identified this train as overlength heading south and I will also do so heading north.  It only occurs every second session, as there are different wagons added/removed and these put one of the south/northbound pairs over length for four of the loops.  These are Kyogle, The Risk and Border Loop as well as Fairy Hill Loop.  It still fits in all the other crossing loops by just an inch or two.  I think this will add to the operational mayhem that occurs on the layout at the event I call an Operations Session.  But at least the driver of the train will know he might have issues at those crossing loops.  That just means that he has to run by on those loops while the other trains stay in the other track.  Border Loop crossing Loop is an interesting one.  It had two run-offs at each end on the Loop and a train can run into one of these run-offs and set back into the other, thus allowing for an over length train to be put away.

I did have fun doing the various shunts yesterday and today.  Of the 16 movements, I ran 13 on Saturday before I pulled up stumps and took my daughter for a driving lesson.  The last few positioning moves were finished this morning before lunch.  After lunch I then started back over positioning the four trains in their timetable position as at about 2:30pm on the fast clock so it can be resumed at an as yet unknown date in the future.  This positioning meant that I have just one train on the layout in transit and quite a few left to complete the Operations Session.

I did read somewhere on Facebook, that someone had received their NSWGR Pay-Bus from Auscision Models.  Mine has not yet turned up, so I will be hanging out for this over the next week or two.

I was planning an Operations Session next weekend, but my daughter now has something on Saturday, I have the traditional Old Boys vs 1st XI at my son's school that I go an watch on the Sunday and I thought I might just vegetate on the Monday.  But who knows?  If I had 6 to 8 willing participants I might be persuaded into holding an Operations Session on the Monday.

Just to amuse PK, following his comment last week, I was doing some work on the layout on Friday Afternoon, and yes, I gave myself another boot from the track while I laying my sweaty arm across the layout.  I guess some never learn.

While doing the various train movements yesterday and today, I was also loading and unloading my steel trains.  Previously I made some tools to speed up the process.
This is the unloading tool I made from 0.100" styrene square strip.  This fits through the two layers of Auscision wire coils and allows them to be lifted off 4 coils at a time.

The loaded Steel Train is inside the steel siding at Rocklea Sidings.  Various sidings and wagons are visible.  The next track to the Steel siding, is a narrow gauge track for new wagon delivery.  Next is are two standard gauge track, the first is the new wagon track, it has a Sleeper wagon built by Comeng and two new coal wagons.  Next is the unloading track for the limestone wagons, but also has two open wagons in for repair at the end.  Next are two narrow gauge tracks, with a couple of WHO wagons, one with wire and the other with two cars for delivery.

This is how the Coil Steel Wire unloading tool is used.  It just slides into 2 slots and through the two levels of wire coils in those slots.  My version of the unloading tool does two slots at once.

Here we are unloading 8 coils (2 slots) at a time.  Five unloading movements is all it takes to unload the wires coils.

The 8 coils are then lifted off the wagons as it is unloaded.  These are normally then stored in my Steel train load container.

As I was running everything at the same time, I then moved those coils straight to the empty wire coil wagon in Grafton Yard and the coils were re-loaded into that wagon, 8 at a time.  Magic!

The steel train is then unloaded, and eventually goes back to Acacia Ridge Yard, to be added to the empty steel train in track 2 at Acacia Ridge Yard, heading "UP to Sydney", which happens to be down from the top level to the bottom level on my layout.

This photo shows the work I did a few weeks back in Cassino Yard.  Here the Disabled Wagons Siding has a few Trailer Rail wagons (scratch built) sitting in the siding.  I just remembered that I accidentally glued the point for the two sidings shut.  I will work on that next weekend.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Whoops!!!!


I left work far later than I had hoped on Friday.  There was some planning being undertaken related to some Saturday work I was doing, Project Managing the migration of some UNIX servers from old IBM Power 6 kit to newer Power9 kit for a customer.  This included a Database upgrade as well.  I'm not a project Manager either.  Anyway, I also had my car in for a service, so caught a train from Central to Moorooka.  I noticed a guy sitting on the other side of the carriage to me.  When I got off at Moorooka, picked up my car and then went to Aurora Trains to pick up some Tillig track, that guy who was sitting opposite me on the train was there at Aurora Trains.  Small world isn’t it.

So I picked up my Tillig point, went home, and eventually spent some time in the shed, installing this point just outside Rocklea Sidings.  The point that came out, was stripped of its narrow gauge track and it was temporarily placed on Grafton Yard track 1 to allow for a small dead end siding at this location for storage of my Rail Bus, or 400 Class rail motor and another short train that may eventuate in the future.

Saturday was an early start for work at 5:30am, but by 10:30-ish I was able to get down to the shed for a short period and splice the point into Grafton Yard Track 1 and lay the new sidings, and then while I had the Dremel out, I had to cut one dual gauge piece of track on the mainline south of Rocklea Siding to connect up the new Tillig Track.

Testing ensued.  I then spent some time trying to work out the best way to ensure that the point motor on this point threw each time successfully.  After some swapping of components, it all seemed OK - or was it?

Today I got down to the shed after lunch and I then had to wire up the new siding off of track 1 in Grafton Yard.  Another 10 minutes work and voila.  That was the easy part of my tasks for today.
The short dead end track off Track 1 in Grafton Yard.  The railbus and 400 Class Railmotor will reside here initially.  I may store the second of my Track Tampers in this siding as well.

While trying to attach the point throw rod to the Tillig point, I twisted the actuation bar on the Tillig point and broke one of the point blades from connecting to the throw rod.   I very big Whoops after just spending $92 on the dual gauge point.  At that point in time, I swapped throw bars to one that came out towards where the point motor was and not on the other side of the point like when the point out of the box. 

After some thinking, I drilled a hole in the throw bar and bent up a thin piece of #32 gauge wire into an 'L' shape.  I tinned the wire and fed it through the hole in the throw bar and then tried to solder it to the curve point blade.  Well it seems to work.  What I didn't say, is that I did all this work with the track power on.  At least three times I was trying to install the wire into the point rod, and I got a few rather sever boots from the 5Amp system.  I was sweating and I was resting my hand across both rails in the siding.  Those boots caused me to jump, and I kept throwing the 'L' shaped connect in the air.  I then had to find it.  I had to make another and that one went for a fling as well.  I eventually found one, installed it and soldered it successfully.  The point motor throws the point straight and curve and standard gauge trains run in both directions over both routes on the point.  Narrow gauge trains also run in the straight route through the point in both directions.  All these are a hell of lot more smoother than occurred during my Operating Session a few weeks back.  You would not even know there was a point there now.  The Tillig point is even powered correctly via the switch atop the Peco point motor.  So it is almost like a bought one.

So despite me stuffing up the new point, it looks like it has been salvaged.  I also adjusted the first standard gauge point in Rocklea Sidings and it now throws in both directions very easily.  It was struggling in one direction. 
The troublesome Tillig point letting standard gauge traffic into Rocklea Sidings. 

A wider shot shows the narrow gauge entry as well as the standard gauge entry.

At this stage I have no idea what I will be going next weekend.  Maybe I might run another short Operations Session with the same 16 trains as the last mini session with all my problems now fixed.

Although I just remembered that one track in Rocklea Siding needs it track feeder fixed up.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Mini Operations Session with Shelton and Darren


On Saturday I went to the local hobby shop to check on the delivery of my dual gauge Tillig point and it is still not here.  I assume that the delivery has been lost in the Christmas mail somewhere.  So I went home empty handed.  Later on that day I went down to the Shed, and decided to install a small shelf under the layout near Grafton Loops, that will hold the containers for Coal Loads, Ballast Loads, Sleeper Loads and Steel Loads.  So that was completed and everything loaded onto the shelf with labelled containers.

Next up I spliced in the two cross over points between tracks 2 and 3 in Acacia Ridge Yard.  This is to allow me to run around the steel train for its shunt to Rocklea Siding and return.  Once installed, I needed to add a couple of power jumpers to the tracks and all is fine with the work performed.

So today at about 1:15pm, I shut the shed door, turned on the layout lights and the air conditioner as I had Shelton and Darren pop over for a mini Operations Session.  This was 16 trains being run today.  Well I have confirmed that I really need that Tillig point for Rocklea Sidings as most of the trains on the mainline stall and need to be helped along and this point is in an awkward position to get to, particularly if I am running my own train at the other end of the layout.  I found that while shunting the Limestone siding in Rocklea, that one of the tracks did not have power.  So a soldering iron fixed that up.  With the various new wagons added to the roster, allowing for empties to be added to a train after loaded wagons have been detached, I found out that some of these wagons needed some attention with the bogies, the coupler heights etc.  So this is the whole purpose of this mini Ops Session.  One steel slab wagon has had its bogies swapped out.  Others have had the bogies lowered or raised to standardise the coupler heights.  I also was able to be given direction from the crews about adding some more detailed text to a number of timetable cards.  We also had some fun, with many crosses being made when we were running these trains.  Additionally we had to look ahead on the train line, as we had trains come from different directions wanting to cross, but with two intermediate loops with others trains stabled from the main timetable, this caused some problems.  We had a shunt trains heading south from South Brisbane Interstate, after picking up loading from Clapham Yard, and the train got put away on the main at Glenapp Loop.  At The Risk Loop we had a ballast train in the Loop, and at Border Loop, we had an overlength Container train in the Loop with its tail up one of the run offs.  The other run off had the 620/720 set to form the Mountain Goat.  Coming the other way was a loaded steel train.  But we got over this cross. 

This was the first session where we actually unloaded the steel wagons in the Rocklea Sidings, and then loaded them again when the empty steel train got to Grafton Loops for staging.  This provided a bit of a long time to unload and reload the Auscision wire carrying wagons.  For unloading, we used a large magnet that fitted above the two wire coils in a bay and lifted then off the wagon and allows them to be placed in the steel storage box.  Loading was done with a piece of styrene two coils at a time.  Following the session, I made up 4 wire loaders out of 0.100” styrene square strip.  This now allows each bay of the wagon to be loaded separately, 4 coils at a time.  It works great and has greatly improved efficiency of loading/unloading process for the train crew.  I made four of these unloaders, as I’m sure some of my mates might want one for their layouts.  It only takes about 2 minutes to make one.

On the subject of those steel slab wagons, I think the two bogie steel slab carrying wagons were scratch built by the late Mike Boyde.  Mike gave me a number of his wagons over the last few months before he moved from Regents park to Toowoomba.  That is another reason to try and add them to the timetable.  Back about 20 years ago, his enthusiasm to build items out of styrene was un matched.  We made some great models back them striving for more and more detail on them.

Thanks to the guys that came over today and helped out.  I now have to update the timetable cards with all the notes we have now made and maybe reset the timetable back a few hours, so that the remaining number of trains can be comfortably fitted into the next Operations Session slot scheduled for sometime around Australia Day.  But I will need to buy another carton or two before then, as the fridge is almost empty.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

I Need to Learn to Count


On Monday I set about going some more work on the “To-Do List” that I set myself following the last Operations Session on the previous Saturday.  I fixed up the point at Dutton Park.  It now throws in both directions.  I then went to the point at the southern entry to Clapham Yard that I thought was giving me some issues.  I had originally identified that I could not access track three from the mainline as the point I was looking at was not throwing.  However, the point that was not throwing was for entry into track 4, and I was never pushing the button for track 4.  That is why it was not throwing.  So when I pushed that button, it threw as it should have.  Maybe I need to learn to count to 4 from my current maximum of 3.  I also fixed up a power jumper for Rocklea Sidings.

Now wanting something to do, I decided to continue my work around Cassino Yard.  There are two disabled wagon sidings branching off the headshunt at the northern end of the yard.  These have been covered by masking tape for years.  So off came the masking tape, and I cleaned up the area, and then covered them with ballast and a brown coloured tile grout to simulate dirt.  This was spread with a fine brush and then covered with diluted PVA glue and allowed to set.

So while this was drying, I was having a think about how I could link five of my trains together.  I run a steel train from Acacia Ridge in the early hours of the morning to Grafton Yard (Train no. 8), where it sits in a siding until later in the timetable and comes back in two moves.  The first move (Train no. 7) is from Grafton Yard to Cassino in the Yard for a period of time.  From there, when a northbound path is available, it moves from Cassino Yard all the way to Acacia Ridge Yard (Train no. 7A).  I also have a steel shunt train that runs from Acacia Ridge Yard that departs a couple of hours after the mainline steel train has left south at the beginning of the Operations Session.  This shunt (Train no. 65) goes from Acacia Ridge Yard to Rocklea Sidings, where it backs into the steel siding at this location.  After a couple of hours, it then comes out onto the mainline and propels the train backwards towards Acacia Ridge Yard (Train no. 66).  These two shunts are totally independent to the other mainline steel trains.

So my thinking is that when the mainline loaded steel train arrives at Acacia Ridge Yard very late in the timetable sequence, it uncouples the last 5 wagons and leaves then on track 2 within Acacia Ridge Yard.  The steel train will then travel further around the loop at Acacia Ridge Yard to the end of track 1 ready for its departure at the beginning of the next timetable session.  After this has occurred, the 48 class loco that runs the shunt from Acacia Ridge Yard to Rocklea Sidings and back again, will form Train no. 70, and push its now empty train onto the end of the steel train on track 1 in Acacia Ridge Yard, and then come back and collect to 5 wagons left by the steel train on track 2.  It will then move these wagons to track 3 in Acacia Ridge Yard for the next session.  This way, I am swapping wagon from the steel train to the shunt and back over the session, and free up track 2 for other crossing movements in the timetable.  Also the drivers of the various trains will have to unload the steel train while in Rocklea Sidings (Train no. 65) and will then load the steel train when it arrives in Grafton Yard (Train no. 8) before it heads north again with a new load of steel to repeat the process.

In order to facilitate these movements, I think I need to add two sets of points between Acacia Ridge Track 2 and Track 3 on the inward side of Acacia Ridge Yard to allow the 48 class shunt loco to easily get to the rear of the empty steel wagons that have just come from Rocklea Sidings, so they can be pushed onto the rear of the southbound empty Steel train for very early in the next timetable session.  The loco can then come back onto the just left full wagons, and move them to Track 3 ready to take them to the siding.  I just happen to have these two points needed in my pile of spares.  These might be installed next weekend following a visit to a hobby shop.

My plan for next weekend (probably Sunday now, as the boss is going out and I won't be doing much in the shed) is to also run a mini timetable with myself, and maybe one or two others (any takers for a beer or two and a run?), running 5 x railbus movements, 6 x steel train movements and 5 x other shunt trains from Grafton to South Brisbane Interstate with a shunt to and from Rocklea Sidings for Limestone traffic.  I have to fit this in between taking my daughter for a driving lesson which have now started while she has finished school for the year.  I can’t wait until later in the year when she gets some experience under her belt, and she can comfortably drive me to the train shop and back on a Saturday morning.  That will be the life.  No sooner will these lessons be finished, when I will have to start it over again but this time for my son.