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.