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

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Amidale Layout Tour

On the afternoon of the Saturday at the Convention, we jumped in Peter’s trusty car and made our way to the three layouts of locals from the New England Club that were made available to display to Convention attendees on for the afternoon. The layouts were called Great Northern Railway, Warm Corner, and Garibaldi Central.

Our first visit was to Great Northern Railway. This is located in a room maybe 8m x 6.5m. It is based on a main station of Armidale and a consists of a number of local crossing loops. There is also a staging area along one wall where a good number of trains are hidden as well as having hidden trackage that runs behind the main Armidale station to access one of the peninsulas. The layout is still only at the track laid stage apart from a few places where the scenery has started.

The Armidale Good Shed

Photo of Armidale

The Model Creation of the photo above

The scenery and the bridge we photographed the day before

The second was layout was Warm Corner. On this layout it appeared that all locos had sound installed. Trains ran very well. This layout was DCC and powered by the radio variant of the NCE system. The first room had a very nice city scene, and the layout disappeared into the next room. As you walked into the next room, the floor went up a few steps and the head height stayed constant. You had to be a little person in order to stand upright. Large amounts of foam were placed around each beam so you did not hit your head. A lot of very nice scenery and completed buildings were on display. The layout was double track and there were a number of passing loops to store a few trains. It is basically 100% finished. One thing that did tickle my fancy was spotting a model of my Toilet Block from many years ago that was published in the AMRM magazine.
The main layout room

The Toilet Block

Low headroom area with control panels hidden away

Lots of yard space

The third house we went to actually had two layouts. There was a circle of track outside in large scale around a few trees and the vegetable garden. Here a Budd car was trundling around.

Budd Car rounds the bend

Under the house was a very nice layout called Garibaldi Central that was double track. This layout had some absolutely brilliant scenery and scratch built buildings. It was powered by the CDA DC controllers. Some of the scenes on this layout were absolutely brilliant. This layout was also sporting a model of my Toilet Block – at least some people must get some benefit out of these small articles in the AMRM magazine.

A Nice Oil Depot

Suburbia with the goods shed in the background

Absolutely Brilliant Houses.  The one on the right is the owners current house.