Sunday, April 28, 2019

Long Weekend

On Thursday I went down to the Shed after the ANZAC Day March on TV had completed and tried to replace some wheels in my Trainorama 44 Class Locos.  I worked out how to pull apart the first two 44 Class locos and replaced 6 wheels across both of these locos.  In the end this was quite a quick process using a small set of plyers and a flat bladed screw driver.  These two upgraded 44 class locos now sound like a normal loco without the thump-thump-thump as they make their way around the track.  Before I tested them, I turned on the track power, and you guessed it, another short but this time in Power district number 5.  That is Clapham Yard until South Brisbane Interstate.  A quick inspection of the three yards in that section, Clapham, South Brisbane Interstate and then Park Road Siding, revealed that the locos on the paper train were on the set of points in the siding and the layout start up point threw the points to track 2 and this caused a short.  A manual change of that point, and everything is back to normal.  These track shorts are just doing my head in.  I also moved the locos of the paper train back off the sets of points to prevent further issues on the next start up.

I also found a bad power connector in track 10 in Grafton Yard and fixed that pretty quick as well.

On Friday I started getting my items together for next weekend’s Brisbane Model Railway Exhibition – Saturday and Sunday only.  I did a bit more of this yesterday afternoon.  Today I went down to the shed and did even more scratching around.  My tools are basically packed and I will have a few of my excess wagons for sale behind my stand.  I will also have a few samples of wagon loads for sale as well as a few small detail items.  Over next weekend I will be putting together a few small detail items to be made out of styrene.  These will also be available to exhibition attendees if they ask.

While in the shed today, I thought I would try and test my theory about extending the length of three narrow gauge sidings in Acacia Ridge Yard.  Well upon first thoughts, it may well be possible.  I will just need about three lengths of flex track and three sets of 12mm points, a Left Hand set and two Right Hand sets.  First of all I need to do some baseboard changes.  That will require a visit to Bunnings but that could be Monday week on the long weekend up here.   I finally got around to running the last train in last weekend’s timetable.  It was here that I figured one of my Jumbos headlights were not operating properly.  I put it on the programming track and read back the settings of CV21 and CV22.  They were correct, but the loco was definitely not responding to the commands I had configured by these CV’s.  So I re-wrote them and tested again and the loco was not setting these correctly.  Very interesting.  

I have made up my shopping list for next weekend and I am also considering ordering a DEB set from Auscision.  I am not aware of one being in service on the North Coast, but I believe there was at least on that ran an ARHS tour at one time.  So maybe.  I could then alternate my ARHS CPH Tour with a DEB set.  I could also run the DEB set on my mountain goat service.  Just when I think I am nearing the end of my track purchases, I find reasons to buy more.  However, I do need more locations to store more wagons – particularly narrow gauge ones.  These extra points will also allow me to run around some of the trains in the narrow gauge yards.

If you are attending the Brisbane Model Railway Exhibition next weekend, stop by the Structure Building Stand and say hello.  This year my partner in crime is Arthur Hayes MMR and he will have some absolutely brilliant narrow gauge wagons on display with scratch built loads – much, much better than my unique loads.  You will be in absolute awe.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Operating Session Wrap-Up

So I got down to the shed today and did a bit of work late this morning and some more mid-afternoon.  These visits were after a trip to the park with my son to shoot the soccer ball (morning) and before a driving lesson with my daughter (afternoon).  So the first thing I did down there was fix up the control panel wiring in Acacia Ridge Yard.  There were actually a few of wires off – actually 3.  The reason is that when people push the buttons, they push the back of the panel into the wood framing behind, so I think this causes the wires to rub against the framing and eventually come loose.  I will have to put some form of buffer in there next weekend to spare the wires in the longer term.  While on the subject of Acacia Ridge Yard, I added about 4 sets of tooth brush bristles to some of the narrow gauge sidings to stop any run away of wagons when there is no loco on the train.

I also cut up some lead flashing to be used as added weights in 9 of my QR narrow gauge louvre wagons.  I had a comment from one of the crew on Saturday that the narrow gauge wagons jump when they go over the existing tooth brush bristles.  He said they were too light.  So this added weight should hopefully solve this problem.  I did test run the wagons by pushing them at speed through some of the sidings and no issues were identified.  Although, there is one set of toothbrush bristles in track 4 of Clapham Yard (the dual gauge track) that needs to be trimmed a bit, as all my wagons jump when going over this obstacle.  While doing the weighting, I also added some weight to the first two wagons on my steel train.  I have two wagons, with two scratch built butter boxes as a load.  Made from styrene these are very light.  The first wagon, is a kitbashed lima 4 wheel wagon, that has been turned into a 45 foot bogie wagon with Gloucester bogies fitted.  The second wagon is an Auscision container flat.  So when the super glue holding the this new added weight dries, I will test these wagons out again – most likely Thursday now.

So in between the two sessions in the shed, I visited Bunnings with my your apprentice and picked up a set of cheap circlip plyers so assist with upcoming maintenance on my Trainorama 44 Class locos.  I also picked up another litre of white glue and a blow mould table for modelling that will be used at the upcoming Brisbane Miniature Train Show on the May long weekend.  I then went to Jaycar for some electrical tape.  I have a plan to enhance my many small control panels that are scattered around the layout.  I intend to use the electrical tape as pin striping on the panels.

I think Anzac day will be when I run the last train from the timetable, and fix up where my narrow gauge rollingstock is currently located, as the wagons are currently scattered in slightly unusual places.  They are in the correct yards, just not the correct sidings.

On the layout fascia at some of the crossing loops, is a sign that says what is the name of the next crossing loop in each direction.  I have now relocated a few of these, so they are directly above or below the staff machine for that loop.  The signs were previously offset somewhere on the fascia underneath the crossing loop – there was no logic.  Hopefully this slight move will assist with loco crew getting to know their way around the layout better.

Tomorrow I will make a change to a couple of the timetable cards following the session.  There were some issues with instruction identified.  I am also making an instruction sheet for me, to remind me when I start a session to do a number of tasks.  Like some of the ones that I forgot to do before this session last Saturday.  Must have been old age.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Under Pressure

Yesterday was the latest Operating Session on Cassino.  Prior to the session, the tea and coffee had been set out, the milk put in the fridge, and the coffee cups, sugar and tea spoons put on the bench.  The crew headsets were put out, as well as the timetable lanyards.  At about 11:00am, the Raspberry Pi was fired up, and the fast clock set to 14:30  so it could roll forward until about 15:00 which was when the first train was ready to move in the timetable.  The fastclock was then paused in readiness for the session starting.  I turned on all the overhead LED lights as a trial via my remote control handset and everything seemed ready.  I then put in four new batteries into my radio powercab throttle.  I grabbed a couple of beers and fired up the BBQ at about 11:30am.  The boss had sliced up some onions and got the grated cheese out along with a couple of loaves of bread, the sauce and the napkins.  Everything was ready by midday and soon after the crew started rolling up.  At just before 1:00pm, we went down to the shed, I fired up the layout power, and an almighty screech was heard.  By turning off the power districts separately, we narrowed it down to being emitted from power district 1.  This is the Grafton Yard to Cassino section.  Oh no!  I had trains running earlier in the morning.  Nothing seemed to be shorting out, although a couple of trains were crawling out of Grafton Yard.  No doubt someone had touched their throttles while they were waiting.  

The sound seemed to be coming from the NCE Powerpro command station.  But only when power district No. 1 was turned on.  But I’d look under the layout, and the power to the power district circuit breaker had not tripped.  It then occurred to me that somehow the old CRT monitor connected to the Raspberry Pi was causing some sort of interference with the DCC command station.  So I powered off the monitor and the power could then be turned on in Power district No. 1 without an ear piercing screech.  By this time the fast clock had run through to 15:30.  Some of the trains were running, but nothing was running in power district no. 1.  So I put the fast clock back to 14:50 and the session got off to a very bad start.  I forgot the address of my new railbus.  Did you know it was hard to move when you don’t know the address of a loco.  However, it was written on the timetable card - but who looks at that?  Later on the Ballast Tamper also had issues moving.  I have since worked out that the wire had come off a pushbutton in Acacia Ridge control panel and the points to exit track 4 could not be thrown.  That will be fixed tomorrow.

Eventually things settled down, but we had the general issues of a few derailments the same wagons multiple times.  We had some uncouplings.  I also found a high coupler on a narrow gauge loco.  We had a point motor fail.  This was the point motor for Dutton Park that directs trains to either Fisherman Islands or South Brisbane Interstate.  However, the point motor came back into life later in the session.  So by my own thoughts, the layout did not run well today.  We had some locos basically stalling on some of the grades inside the helix and on the hidden spiral between Old Cassino and Lismore.  One loco was declared a failure at Murwillumbah and its replacement was also swapped out for a spare 45 class that was 0-5-0’ed in to take its place.  Again the layout wifi on the raspberry Pi was very slow and non-responsive from time to time.  Again – a reason why I prefer NCE radio throttles – however one must watch the batteries that they put in the back of these!

During the session, the back of my radio Powercab throttle was wet.  At first someone thought that they might have had wet hands.  But later we found out, that a battery (a brand new battery) was leaking.  That is the second time that this throttle has had batteries in it that leaked.  I suppose not bad for over 10 years of use.  I have had quite a few batteries in it during that time.  So the battery compartment was cleaned out and the throttle consigned to a throttle holder for the rest of the session.

So today we had Shelton on North Coast Control.  I think by all reports he did a good job.  This meant that the normal North Coast Control - Arthur, was gathering some route knowledge on the layout.  he also did a good job.  We actually had two first time Operating Session attendees, and someone for their second appearance.  Another person had not been to many, and the other crew members have been to quite a few – old hands you might say.

So today I started fixing things up.  My stuffed 44100 that had to be 0-5-0'ed will get new wheels tomorrow on the workbench.  I ran the ballast tamper from Acacia Ridge Yard to Old Cassino construction siding.  I also rearranged a couple of trains in Grafton Loops so they were in the correct tracks facing the correct way.  One cement wagon lost a bogie yesterday,  We found the screw and two KD washers in the headshunt at Murwillumbah, but the wagon did not derail until it got to Lismore I think.  So today I replaced the screws on both bogies and this should be good for a few more years.

Some of the issues from the session were caused by me not removing about 4 timetable cards from the card holder.  I had both NL4 and NL4A in the sequence.  The difference is that NL4A also has a fast goods KLY attached for the trip to and from Murwillumbah.  I also had cards 38A and 38B in the sequence.  The ballast train can go in either of two directions in the timetable, the A route, or the B route.  I should have removed the A route card.  I also forgot to remove two Cassino Meatworks shunt cards.  This train has not run for years.  Maybe I need to delete the cards.  Another issue was that in between Operating Sessions, I had been working the Steel train.  The only issue was that it was sitting at Acacia Ridge Yard when it should have been in Grafton Loops.  The Steel Shunt at Acacia Ridge Yard, had not been to Rocklea Sidings to unload and then return to Acacia Ridge Yard.  So a few issues, but nothing life threatening.

Looks like George Chapman took a truck load of photos and placed them on his Aurora Trains Facebook page.  Check them out if you are interested.  Also he has some bargains on there from time to time as well.

Today just happens to be the 600 post on this blog.  

Some of the photos that I took late in the session.
The Cement train at Murwillumbah.  The loco is running around in the loop.

The loco is now attached.  The goods shed in the background was one that I cut in half and placed one half at Murwillumbah for the banana growers federation shed, and the other half is the goods shed at Old Cassino.

The cement train has reached Lismore and three more wagons from the storage siding are added to the end of the train by the train loco.

Getting closer.  Ease Up!
Now almost back at Grafton, as the train is crossing the Richmond River at Cassino.
The Shunt train is assembling its train at Clapham Yard.  Some of these wagons have come from South Brisbane Interstate, others from Rocklea Sidings and some just sit here in Clapham Yard before returning south.

Clapham Yard can get busy with containers heading north from the train to Fisherman Islands being dropped off so they can go to Park Road Siding and South Brisbane Interstate (on track 1) while on track 3 the 80 Class has three containers that have come from Park Road Siding and South Brisbane Interstate and will be added to the south bound container from Fisherman Islands in a few minutes time.  There are also narrow gauge wagons on track 7.

The northbound Steelie heading across the Upper Richmond River at Kyogle.

The steelie now in Queensland exiting the Border Tunnel heading north.

The Steelie going through one of the various Running Creek crossings.

A stock train from Kyogle Stock siding heading south.

Mark, like a startled deer in the car headlights caught out with two cans of beer on the layout.  he is running the Container train just leaving Lismore heading to Murwillumbah.

Duncan, the other track No. 1.

Someone mentioned beer at the end of the session, and they pulled up stumps early (particularly North Coast Control - the one on the left) with one train left to run.  Sometimes it is hard to get good help.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Preparation for Saturday's Operations Session

I went down to the shed this afternoon to turn everything on and run the track cleaning train all the way around the layout and to visit most sidings as well.  I fired up the track power and you guessed it.  I was getting a short.  It was in power District number 4.  That is the section of track from Cougal Spiral just north of Kyogle through to Acacia Ridge Yard until just short of Rocklea Sidings.  Well that was a disappointment!  So I isolated that section and ran my track cleaning train all the way up to Kyogle and them jumped into problem solving mode.  I quick glance at all the track work revealed nothing.  The last time I was in the shed, I had that section of track operational as I was testing my narrow gauge 2300 class loco.  So I knew the problem had to be relatively simple.  I then started looking under the layout at all the wire from the power district track bus ensuring that the two wires in the bus, had not come together at any of the points which had track power jumpers up to the track soldered to them.  Nothing was evident.  My next thought was to get out my multimeter and measure the resistance at various points along the track to determine if I could find the point of least resistance.  But as I got to the farthest end of Acacia Ridge Yard on my visual inspection of track, I started checking out my parked Steel train that was in siding no.2 of the reversing loop.  Well I looked at one wagon, it had a set of wheels directly on the joiner that separates the section that is the beginning of the auto reversing section on the return loop at that point.  Well I moved the wagon about 3mm so it was no longer on that section of track spanning the auto reverser and turned track power on.  My layout ammeter was no longer spiking up to 3 and half Amps.  That short had now gone.  

I guess there may not be many power feeds in that section and the track is getting the power feed along through the joiners in the track.  I single wheel on that join at track power up time was not enough to trigger the auto reverser.  I can drive trains through that section and the auto reverser operates every time.  Maybe this one wheel was not suitable to act as a trigger.  Well, eventually I completed the track cleaning activities all the way from Grafton Yard to Cassino and then out along the Murwillumbah branch.  I then backed up to Cassino and proceeded to Dutton Park and took the Fisherman Islands Branch, before again back tracking to Dutton Park, and then travelling through to South Brisbane Interstate Station and Yard.  The track cleaning train then ran back along the main line until it made it to its siding in Grafton Loco.

The fridge has been stacked with some more soft drinks and ales.  The outdoor setting and pergola were cleaned.  The timetable cards are ready and the updated train graph has been installed with the latest trains included.  So tomorrow the only things to do is to get the tea/coffee, milk, suger and coffee cups out, turn on the layout lights and fire up the Raspberry Pi for wifi access for the poor people who cannot afford an NCE radio throttle – which is my preferred way to operate the layout.  The BBQ will be cleaned and then fired up for tomorrow’s snags for lunch.

I have about 9 coming over, but 2 will be late starters.  We have about 36 or so trains to run and I may pull a couple from the timetable.  The Fastclock will start at just before 15:00, so we have about 10 hours to get through.  

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Tidying up Loose Ends

This week started when we all gathered outside Shelton’s place for the appointed hour to arrive before invading him.  Guess what?  He has changed his layout AGAIN!  However, the changes looks quite good.  The scenery continues to evolve, the trees multiply and the lit signals look very nice.  He has done a very good job of a dry creek bed.  A few suggestions were offered and maybe some might be accepted.  The operation of the signals which includes two setup for automatic operation, with these going from red to green and back to red as the train passes, looks very nice.

Just before I went to Shelton’s place, I visited my shed, and installed my ESU sound decoder back into my 2300 loco that I received back from Rocket in the post earlier that day.  I gave it a bit of a run and it seemed to work, although it was stuttering rather severely.  Maybe a combination of dirty track and dirty wheels.  So both were cleaned and the pickups on the Loco oiled in the same manner that I did to the Railbus, which fixed its running issues.

I was sick on Wednesday so went down to the shed in the afternoon.  I installed a snubber under the Acacia Ridge Yard feeders and another at the far end of South Brisbane Interstate Yard.  I will see how this works with the layout.  Sometimes we get some slow response in those areas.  I also did some minor work on a dual gauge point that I scratch built in the lead into Acacia Ridge Dual gauge yard.  This point, allows me to hide a standard gauge loco in this location when I need to do some shunting in the yard.  Basically I used a cutting disk to open up the flangeways.

I have also doing some work on the narrow gauge timetable.  I was desk checking the various trains and what they were dropping off where and who was picking those wagons up to ensure that everything got back to its original position on the layout.  It was then, that I realised that one of my 1720 class narrow gauge locos was in the wrong place.  So I had to add a local light engine movement from Clapham Yard to Acacia Ridge Yard.  I am thinking of moving a couple of trains starting locations.  So these timetable cards were updated.  The timetable has these trains entering and leaving from dead end tracks.  So towards the end of the timetable, I will add two movements inside Acacia Ridge Yard to allow the reversing of the loco on the coal and grains trains.  The length of these trains starting locations will limit these trains to 8 wagons maximum unless I do some more work in Acacia Ridge Yard.  That might allow me to take then to 10 or even 12 wagons.  I might look at this in the future.  Lengthening these trains will take quite a bit of saving of my hobby budget to accomplish.  The financial controller is starting to tighten her grip on my finances.  

Thursday I had a scheduled day off work, and in the afternoon I cut out the centre section of more than three dozen give way signs.  I broke about a third of them in the process.  So I had to glue then back together.  I then painted the resultant triangles red ready to affix to the various sign posts.  I will then package them up for a couple of mates and then have a couple for the May Show to sell off.  I also returned about 4 locos to the layout that had been in a travel box which I took to the Club last month.  Now I just need to remember where I took the locos from.

On Friday I updated the timetable spreadsheet and printed out two new copies for next weekend.  One for the North Coast Controller and one for the operators to take from.  I was very lucky that some weeks back now, Darren provided me some new reams sheets of A4 4 part paper that I use for the timetable cards.  So Friday night these were torn along the perforations and assembled into train sequence order.

Saturday was Club meeting day.  So I went to the other side of town and we had the smallest ever assembly of members that I have ever seen in the current Clubrooms.  However, I got to have a good talk to PK and Greg, as well as a few others.  Today I got down to the shed in the arvo.  My first task was to reset the decoder in the 2300 loco.  Well that did not fix its whoas.  Basically, with the sound off it runs reasonable well.  However, Function 6 – the brake does not work at all.  And some sounds continue to appear from the loco even with the sound off.  With sound on, it is a very stuttered runner.  The sound ship is getting very hot.  I think the one I got back from Rocket is an absolute dud.  I think I will drop him a line next week, and see if it can be fixed up at the May show in Brisbane.  I will be working with Arthur on the Structure Building Stand.

By the way, I just clicked over 400,000 hits yesterday.  I am also about 2 posts short of 600 posts.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Very Little Progress

The weekend started with a night down at my local hobby shop.  Simon Says Hobbies and Games hosts a modelling night on the first Friday of the month.  Geoff, Darren and Brendan were also there along with many others.  Various activities were undertaken by those present and the numbers attending were very good.  I was working on cutting out the "Give Way" triangles for some railway crossing signs that I am making.  I did a bit of gluing of the last eight of so of my crossbuck ‘Railway Crossing’ signs to code 40 rail posts and then cut out about 36 or so "Give Way" triangles.  I still need to cut the centre out of these triangles and paint them red.  They can then be glued to my couple of dozen posts, for my layout and few mate’s layouts.  I might have a few spares available at this year's May Show for a dollar or two.

On Saturday I attended a morning working bee for my son's soccer club, so following that the only thing in the afternoon I did was assemble a drop saw I picked up at Aldi the previous Thursday.  I intend to use it to cut a few lengths of timber when the need arises.  Not bad for $59.  Although it did take some time to screw it all together and I think it gave me a sore back.

Today I jumped in the car and went to the All Gauge Club’s Buy and Sell at the Carina PCYC building.  This looked suitably well attended by both sellers and purchasers.  After doing the rounds for a couple of times, and having a quick chat with lots of people, I finally found something to purchase.  I picked up a set of Tichy Train Group’s fettler’s handcar and trailer set which contained 6 pairs of the vehicles for $12.  That will make a very good addition to the layout, spread around all my fettler sheds.