Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and received lots of great presents.  I received some early Christmas money from the inlaws and put this towards the purchase of a 44 Class Soundtraxx sound decoder.  This decoder arrived at PK's place on Monday and he delivered it to me on the Tuesday.  So on Thursday night the old NCE D18SR decoder in the 44 Class loco that was to receive the sound decoder upgrade was removed and the factory fitted circuit board was also removed.  On Friday I put the new decoder in.  However, it was not until today that I put it on the test track and verified it worked.  I kept the bulbs for the front light, also installed an LED for the rear light (Shhh I blew the rear bulb!), and installed two more LED's for Functions 5 and 6 which are the front and rear cab lights.  I did managed to fit everything back together but I think something is rubbing so I may pull it apart later this week to fix this issue.

Monday night this week is a Running night for some NSW modellers.  So just before I went down the shed and placed three sound fitted 44 Class locos in the Grafton Loco to assist with trains that need extra motive power tomorrow night during the running session, that is if the shed does not get washed away before hand.  I also positioned 6 trains in Acacia Ridge yard for departure and tested 8 or 9 trains in Grafton yard that can be run.  I think I have a couple of crossing loops occupied around the layout so I might have to free these up before the running session.  I still have to fit the last power supply for the last signal panel displays for Rappville to Grafton - I have been slack.

The fridge is stocked ready for Monday, but I do need to run the vacuum cleaner over the shed floor as I did do a bit of drilling and sawing lately.  I think I will have plenty of time to do this tomorrow as I will not be watching the cricket.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Wet Weekend

The modelling related activity this week started with a Tuesday Nighter's trip to Lefty and Son's up the road in the next suburb. We spent quite a bit of time talking and checking out some of their recent O scale purchases that were displayed on two tables in the shed. We were also checking out their shelving that they purchased from Bunnings. This is used to store '& Son's' O scale models.  Lefty (Dave) has plans to start putting up wall brackets sometime between Christmas and New Year and this will be followed by baseboards. I understand that '& Son' was to have the Wednesday off work to receive a delivery of wood for the baseboards - framing and tops. We expect that by the time the next Tuesday Nighter's meeting comes around again at their place, they will have some layout built and some track laid - but we will see.

As promised last week, I was setting myself a goal of getting the power supply for the North Fork to Old Cassino section working this weekend. This was accomplished on Friday Night. As this weekend was chock full of parties, there was not much chance of shed time, however, I did schedule 1 hour in the shed early on Saturday morning before attending a pool party for a 6 year old's birthday for lunch (one of Kyle's school mates) followed by a family get together at the Sister-in-law's place just around the corner at night for another 5 hours for a BBQ dinner. It certainly was good catching up with the wife's family, but you know it is time to go home, when you are looking at your right hand and the table in front of you trying to figure out where your stubby has gone (you had it only minutes before) when after about 20 seconds you realise it was in your left hand.

Yesterday in the one hour session before heading off to the pool, I was also able to complete the installation of the staff machines for the locations for Cassino and Rappville along with an intermediate staff location at Bonalbo Ballast Siding.

Today, with about one and a half hours available in the morning, before heading to my niece and her husband's place for their youngest's 1st birthday party, I was able to install a section of facia about 7' long in the area of Grafton Yard. I then wired up the three control panels for Grafton Yard and Rappville Loop, along with the intermediate staff location of Rocla Sleeper Siding. I called it quits when I could not find the power supply for this section and then I remembered it was on the kitchen table. So one night this week I will install that and the whole section from Grafton Yard to Acacia Ridge will be controlled by Staff machines. I still have to complete the building of the last two power supplies required for the branch line for the section Old Cassino to Lismore (with an intermediate staff location for Lismore Shell Siding) and the section from Lismore to Murwillumbah. As I have lots of junk laying all over the track at Lismore, these power supplies might get installed before trains will be running in this section. As Lismore is directly beneath Kyogle on the layout, and there will be a bit of plastering occuring at Kyogle over the next 10 days or so, this section might remained covered. I am intending to build these last two power supplies tonight at the kitchen table, so I can try and remove everything from the table for the next few weeks at least.

This morning, I also got up on the ladder and cleaned out some leaves in the guttering near the downpipe for the front of the shed. We have had quite alot of rain recently. It is really annoying. Let's hope we have a fine Christmas.

This week PK was on a spending spree of a couple of Austrains locos (from Horizon Hobbies at Warner) and then was looking for sound chips for them.  So I said to him, put me down for a soundtraxx 44 Class equivalent chip so we'd share the postage.  Hopefully these might turn up on Monday so I will have something to do next weekend on the long weekend before the Monday Night.  I have a few NSW Modellers coming over on Monday night for a running session.  The usual culripts will be there - PK, Darren, Geoff, Peter, along with a new comer - Rob who was an American HO modeller before downsizing to N scale.  This will be his first trip to see the layout.

Until next week - everyone have a Happy and Safe Christmas and spend some good quality time with the family and the layout, let's hope the white bearded one in red leaves something model railway related under the tree.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Annual Club Modelling Comp

Saturday 11th December was the date for the RMCQ annual modelling competition.  We had some very nice entries and none more so that the ones by Daniel, Greg and Jim.  Daniel won the Best Improved Kit category with a D & RGW Gondola constructed from a wagon base.  My photo of this entry didn't turn out so I can't post it here.

Greg attained the encouragement award for his model of Kensington Hill Station that will go on his layout of the same name.
Kensington Hill Station

Jim Hutchinson entered his model of Nettle Creek and scooped the Pool with the Judge's Best and Most Popular Trophies.

Nettle Creek Hotel - Gee Jim models a lot of pubs - I Wonder?

The rest of the Street in Nettle Creek

Close up of the Cafe and Post Office.  By the way don't park outside the Post Office as the Local Constabulary likes to give out tickets

 The Cafe - What is the Special?

One more view of the Hotel

Well done to all the entrants and of course thanks to the judge - John Guest from Horizon Hobbies at Warner (our local Hobby Shop), who makes time every December to come along and undertake the judging.  

This day was also the offical opening of the HO Shed Extension, the last meeting for the year, and the drawing of the Christmas Hamper, which was split into 9 prizes.  The shed still needs to be lined, the floors acid washed and then sealed with some clear finish, and teh power points wired up.  We still have a few lights to put up and isn't it so much easier now we have a sparkey in the Club.  Thanks to PK who acquired the lights.

Getting ready for the Meeting.  The Executive. in the new 12m x 12m extension.

Some of the Rabble!  This is where the new HO layout will go exactly where the chairs are.

During the afternoon it started to rain, and rain and rain.  Didn't it bucket down.  It was torrential at times.  The creek down the back was flowing quite well when we left.

The Local Creek

Back in my shed today I wired up the Staff Machines for the Fairy Hill to Cassino Section, with 8 panels in this section there was a lot of soldering.  This was followed by the Cassino to Old Cassino Section with its two panels.  I also wired up the section from Cassino North Fork to Old Cassino, but I did not install the power supply for this section.  That should take about 10 minutes next weekend.

Before I got to the shed, I finally got around to installing the black strapping around about 10 coils of steel.  They look quite good, but the strapping could have been slightly narrower.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

10 Men in the Shed

Tuesday this week, was Tuesday Nighters and it took place in my Shed. We had 10 visitors including two first timers - Clayton and Brendan, plus me. As usual when the guys come over, they spend a few minutes acquainting themsleves with what has occured since they last visited. There had been quite a lot of plastering undertaken, as mentioned in last week's update. I ran a couple of trains to show the first timers how the layout worked, and we split up into a number of groups within the shed. Barry and Shelton were near the yards talking operational processes on the Interstate Mainline about a kilometre from my place. Raymond and Geoff and a few others were near the Kitchen - chin wagging, The rest were near the door and flowing out of it. I was showing a few points off to the visitors and infrequent attendees like George. later on during the night Darren advised that he had an issue with his NCE Radio handset. The Layout-id on his handset has mysteriously changed to ID=1. We knew how to fix this, but we couldn't get the EXPN key to show the menu for us to change the value. However after a while Darren fixed this up.  THis was accomplished by holding the EXPN button for a number of seconds before the handset sprang to life and then we were able to change the layout-id back to 0.
As a result of the last running session (the previous weekend) there were a couple of issues to address. So, yesterday I pulled up the track between the Running Creek Tunnels to basically fix a kink in the track just inside a tunnel mouth. But at the same time, I wanted to install a short trestle bridge over a creek. I had planned on installing a new piece of rail but I thought I would try just removing the track pins and relaying the existing piece of rail after I installed the trestle. I had two timber piles that I had lying around, that I built quite a long time ago. I had to cut some 5mm dowel and drop it in the bottle of stain for 2 minutes, let it dry and glued two pieces on top of each other for the bridge girders between the piers. I also threw a bit of glue around under the track inside the tunnel to help it say alligned and used a clamp to hold it in position over night. I also installed some 0.8mm balsa under the outer rail around the curve between the Running Creek tunnel portals to see if a little bit of superelevation would make the section of track look better and possibly enhance the ride qualities of wagons around this area. I gave the track a test drive this morning and the trains ran quite well around this relaid section of track.  Although the trains are very close to the inside tunnel portal side.  So I may have to lay a new piece of track eventually if some of my long or wide wagons and passanger carriages hit the tunnel portal - with my luck some will.
The newly installed trestle

Is that a light at the end of the Tunnel?  The kink was just inside the tunnel.  The newly installed super elevation is also seen in this photo.

Yesterday I also decided to rip a bit of the high facia down at Kyogle and install a section of below track styrofoam before a layer of plaster will eventually installed (maybe next weekend) over the top. This will allow for an area of the scenery falling away from the track to be modelled.  I also need to put some more styrofoam in on the other side of a tunnel facia (the above photo) around Kyogle one of the sidings at this location. This just helps to blend in the scenery between various places on the layout.

The styrofoam between the facia and the track with the scenery falling away slightly.

This morning also adjusted the heights of the KD couplers on about 4 wagons by installing KD washers under the bogies.  I also adjusted the heights on two troublesome 48 Class locos, 1 x Trax and 1 x Powerline.  I did this by using the overset couplers in place of standard #5's.  So they now seem to work a lot better.  After this I had a short run of a couple of trains between a couple of cross loops.  Here is a photo of one of the runs.
In a treeless Border Loop, the 620/720 set in stowed in the siding allowing another train to pass.

This afternoon I went to visit Shelton's layout, up the road about 2 kilometres.  We spent the time discussing how he could get some additional running line within his shed and introduce a hidden staging yard or two.  That is something I will ponder for the next few weeks.  I can feel a diagram coming on.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More Plastering Complete

Last weekend I mentioned that I had completed a fair bit of plastering over that weekend.  I also did a bit more this weekend.  So here is a pictorial update as promised.  I have started installing the embankment just north of Kyogle before the flood plain across the Upper Richmond River.
Kyogle Station and Crossing Loop

A small section of plaster was also installed behind Glenapp Loop.  This area was supplemented with a huge amound of work from The Risk crossing loop around a bend, across a suspended area and into another of the Running Creek Tunnels.  From here the track eventually makes its way south to Border Loop where a small amount of work was undertaken to allow the 4 wheel drive vehicles of the signalman and various railway staff to get access to the Crossing Loop.

Overview Shot of the area from south of The Risk crossing loop looking north - Below is Cassino

Close up view of the platform at The Risk.  This platform will be extended slightly in the future.  This also shows the unpainted models of the Signal Box and the Station building in place.

As we head south we get tto another Running Creek Tunnel portal

The entry into the Running Creek Tunnel Portal viewed from another angle, shows this baseboard section spanning between the wall on the left (and The Risk Loop) and the central peninsula (where Border Loop resides) on the right.  Below is Cassino Loco and the down yard.

Eventually we make our way into Border Loop.  This is the southern portal of Border Tunnel.  This extra plasterwork is to allow the 4 wheel drives to get out of the area.

On the southern end of Kyogle a small amount of work was also undertaken.  This has allowed the area between the Fairy Hill Loop, Kyogle, Border Loop, The Risk and the area that has all the Running Creek Tunnels to be joined scenically.

Southern end of Kyogle, in the distance is Border Loop, the bottom left is the northern entry to Border Tunnel.  At this point, just on the top deck, the track has three separate levels of track crossing over one another.

A scene from Fairy Hill Loop showing the farm.  The fencing contractors are starting to earn their keep.  You will notice no film canisters on this layout.  We go upmarket and use speciman jars.

Today we had a small running session.  There were a few issues.  The mechanisms in the old powerline 48's and 81's are shocking.  My Austrain, Trainorama, Eureka rollingstock runs very well.  We had a few more couple height issues, and the perennial favourite a track pin too high!  The radio system was starting to play up, it was missing some key strokes, so maybe I need to change the command station battery.  It appears that I cannot use cab number 4 as it appears to be locked for some reason.  I will keep a close eye of these issues.

Yesterday I purchased the components to allow completion the remaining power supplies and LED's for the staff machines for the rest of the layout.  I also started making up a list of tasks to be done before my Christmas Running Session on Monday night 27th December.  We have a Tuesday Nighters' Meeting this Tuesday at my place and there might be a shed and half full in attendance.  I also hope to eventually get around to posting my last Dorrigo post sometime this week.  So happy blogging.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Special Treat

As mentioned on Sunday's post, Shelton D'Cruz visited in the afternoon and took some video of the layout.

Here is the link to the Youtube video.

It shows a trio of 44's on a ballast taking the Loop at Fairy Hill before exiting down the other side towards Nammoona, followed by a 620/720 on the Mountain Goat run running through Border Loop and then coming back the other way.  After that there is a short train of louvres descending the Cougal Spiral before entering Kyogle Station.

I hope you enjoyed it and thanks to Shelton.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Locos and self propelled vehicles at Dorrigo

Below is a selection of photos take at Dorrigo a couple of weeks back.

Candy 7007





4420 slightly faded

4420 - the other end





Sunday, November 21, 2010

44's, Damb Decoders, Terra Forming, Plastering and a Video Session

Wednesday this week was when my two new 44 Class locos tried to be delivered.  Unfortunately SHMBO was out, so I (read the boss) then could not pick them up until after 9:00am the next morning.  That measnt I had to wait until Thursday Night.  So on Thursday night, it was time to make one loco useable.  I used an old NCE D18SRP decoder that I had laying around (well it had sat there in a box unused since June 2007 - over 3 years).  It plugged straight in, and Voila the loco ran in reverse.  Hmmmm! My eyesight is starting to go, and I could not see any distinguishing markings on the decoder advising what was pin one.  So I flipped the bit in the decoder to make it run the correct direction.  Later on I downloaded the manual for the decoder from the Internet to discover I had installed it the wrong way - as I had expected.  So a flip of the decoder, a reset to clear the direction bit and again Voila a new loco for the fleet.  It ran very well.  This will be a short term install as I do intent to put an alco soundtraxx decoder in this loco when I buy one.

After this I decided to pull the next 44 class loco apart and remove all the wiring and the circuit board.  This loco was getting a DSD100LC decoder (a GM generic sound I think but don't tell anyone).  This went in easily and the speaker was wired up.  A quick test of everything (with the lights not connected yet) confirmed that the sound came on but I could not get it to move.  I'll look into this a bit later.  On Friday night I wired up the 3V bulbs straight to the 12V outputs of the decoder.  Put it on the test track and I thought 'Gee the lights are bright!'  Doh!!! You nut case - you forgot the resister!  I could not find any resisters besides my standard 1000 Ohm ones I use for all my LED installs.   Well I thought I would try these.  Now the bulbs would not light.  First not enough resistance, not too much!  I had to replace the rear bulb as I blew that one.

My brain was starting to hurt.  I could not find any other resisters at home.  So I decided to swap the Bulbs for LED's.  As most know, you should not use LED's with this model decoder.  As they are prone to flashing on/off by themselves randomly.  I had somewhere in my posession about 5 of those little circuits that are supposed to fix this problems - but I could not find them.  Anyway, when I do I will install them on a few of my 44 class that have this problem.

Now the DSD100LC has a preculiar facet.  Remember that I could not get the loco to move.  So I reset the decoder.  The sound worked and it moved.  After a reset of the decoder, on next powerup of the decoder both lights (front and rear headlights) flash for 30 seconds when power is restored to the decoder.  Well I put mine on the track and when I applied power to the loco - it started flashing.  On some other decoders, this is an error condition.  I was stumped.  Of course at this time, I did not know that the flash was supposed to occur.  Was it over voltage to the decoder? I'd assume not as everything else runs.  Was there an issue with my wiring?  Was it about to self destruct?  Another reset would stop the flashing.  After the reset the sound would start and it would move off at speed step 1.  But next time I stopped power and reapplied it, it would flash again! I would issue another reset to the decoder and the bloody thing would flash again.  So I found the manual for the decoder online - Doh!  There was nothing wrong with it.  RTFM before you do these things!

On Saturday arvo I got stuck into shed and completed the plastering of the area between The Risk and Border Loop.  I then moved down to the area between Glenapp Loop and The Risk Loop and started terra forming here.  This is the last major area on the top deck except for the Upper Richmond River Bridge area north of Kyogle.  The Richmond river area will be attached during my December holidays and it will be a big job.  I then gave about a quarter of the newly terra formed area around Glennapp loop a layer of plaster.  This coming weekend I will complete the plastering here.  Next weekend I post some shots of all the new plaster work. 

Early on Sunday morning I had to remove the paper towels that I had been protecting the rails with, and the newspapers on the bottom level of the layout to stop dripping water onto and plaster flowing to damage the lower level of the baseboard. I also had to test the track before today as I had a mini running session with Shelton D'Cruz (  It turned out that I was following Shelton's blog and I assumed he was located in Victoria somewhere.  He then posted a few videos of trains at Acacia Ridge.  That got me thinking about where he was located.  Then last Saturday while I took Kyle to a 6th birthday party, I spoke to one of the other mothers there.  She mentioned Shelton's name and that he had a shed filled with trains.  I said I think he models Victorian outline, and he has a blog that I follow.  He lives in the next suburb, next thing we are in touch and he comes over for a run.  Shelton kindly brought his video camera around (it looks a ripper!).  Hopefully some of the footage that was shot this afternoon, will be worth showing you guys - the Blog readers.  We will see.

The next Tuesday Nighters meeting will be at my place in two weeks.  I intend to have the plastering complete on the top level by then except for Kyogle.  I have also found three sections of track that needs to be improved - no PK and Darryl - there were no protuding nails found.  I think there might me a slight rip up and relay occuring next weekend to fix two of these issues.  I will get around to the last lot of pictures from Dorrigo this week as well.  See Ya.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dorrigo - Guards Vans

The Second group of photos deals with Guards vans at Dorrigo.

A guard dog!?

Some Dorrigo Pictures - Tank Wagons

On our way back from Armidale last week we stopped in at Dorrigo and took a few pictures:-

Overview of the Site
Below are a selection of tank wagons.
Boral Gas


A three dome tank

Look no wheels!


A 4 wheeler


Last one

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back On the Layout Front

While away with the boys last weekend, in Armidale, talk on one occasion turned to communication from the signal box to the Controller/dispatcher. I already have communication via my staff machines betwen adjacent signal boxes, but not back to the Main Control. This position will not always be filled during an operating session but when it is, this person will have the responsibility of ensuring that trains run smoothly and the flow of trains occurs. One of the options available to me for this communication was small hand held CB radio's but that will actually broadcast to the real world outside the shed. Another option was also a real phone system, but being able to install a phone at each crossing loop will certainly take up some real estate in the already narrow aisles. I must admit that I was not looking forward to pulling some old phones apart and make the required alterations to get them working in my home layout phone system.  The Logan District Model Railway Club had one of these setups in their clubrooms for their HO operating layout. They had phones at each crossing loop and a party line setup back to the Controller in a seperate room. It was fun operating on this (many years ago) when I had the opportunity to do so.

As a further simplication to the above phone method, I then thought that either the train operators could take their phones with them in the form of a cheap headset and they plug in via an RCA plug at each loop in order to talk to the Controller, or there could be a small speaker and microphone adjacent to each staff machine. The drivers just pushes a button to talk to the controller.

I will think about these options over the next few weeks. But it would really be good to finish one project before the next starts - just for once. That is not what normally occurs at my place. I am just half way through installing the staff machines, so maybe I will finish this first and then start thinking about the communication situation.

Well the envisaged running night for last night was cancelled as the daughter was off at her dance concert with the boss and I had to remain in the house while the son was pushing out z's. The girls did not get home until late so it was a smart move to cancel. Anyway, we have pushed the running session back one week, but already I have had an apology as Geoff has something else on. Damn! Geoff - Tell the wife you are sick and can't go out and after she goes out - come over. Just be back before she gets back - sounds good in theory!

So yesterday morning and this afternoon I spent some time in the shed. Some more plaster was being slapped on between Border Loop and the Risk. I plan to finish the next 'hard to get at' location next Saturday morning/afternoon so next Saturday night the running session guys will see the top deck almost completely plastered. So my planned deadline for December 2010 for the whole top deck being sceniced at a basic level may well be achieved yet. Although I am out of plaster again so I might have to nick down to Bunnings one night this week for my next 20kg bag of plaster.

On Thursday this week, PK gave me an old DSD100LC soundtraxx decoder. I already have one of these installed in a 44 Class loco. I will pay him on Monday for this, as I won some money on Lotto on Saturday. This will go into one of my new 44 Class Locos that I ordered on Saturday morning from Tom's and hopefully should turn up on Tuesday to show the Tuesday Nighters. The second loco will eventually receive an ALCO Tsunami decoder later this month when I save up some more money. I could not resist buying 2 more 44 class locos as some are on special at the moment for $150 each. I decided to cancel my intended order for about 20 Auscision Coil Steel wagons, so this made room in the budget. I think I will now only end up with 4 coil steel wagons, unless I have another win in Lotto.

This week I will try and post a few photos from our Dorrigo trip.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Shops and the Models

The Shops that took time out to attend the Armidale Convention were AR Kits, Peter Boorman’s Workshop, Gwydir Valley Models and Kieran Ryan Models. To assist these guys we had displays from a number of guys who sat through most of the convention demonstrating their techniques and sharing their knowledge.  This included Rhett Herbert, Len Durkin, Jim Pullen, Dean Bradley, John Brown, Gerry Hopkins and Laurie McLean.  I hope I got everbody.

Another thing that made the convention inspiring was the show of models. When we first got there on the Friday night, there was a couple of trains set out on the display table, and after I saw them, I thought I’m not going to bother to display my stuff. It just lacks in all facets compared to the great models on display by Ian Phemister. However, on Saturday morning, I had decided to actually put my stuff on the display table.

The Models on display were from N, HO and O scales. There was NSW, QR, Victorian and South Australian models on display.  There was buildings, bridges, locos and rollingstock.
A number of models - including some by Geoff from Splitters Swamp Creek

A 19 Class from Brendan Canning

Also who can forget the fantastic model of a film container on the table above stategically placed behind the 19 Class.  The provider of said modelling detail item will remain anonymous.

A very nice bridge

Some work by Ian Phemister

Peter Leslie's strategy for making grass trees