Sunday, July 28, 2013

Deliveries and Putting Them to Use

This week I received a delivery of three Digitrax DS64’s courtesy of my importer PK.  Yesterday, I installed the first of the DS64's at South Brisbane where I needed to wire up the last three point motors in that area.  The first two point motors are to control access to the three outer yard tracks at South Brisbane and the third point motor is to control the run around on the platform road.  This will allow the locos to be released after delivering the Brisbane Limited into South Brisbane platform.  I immediately connected the DS64 to the track bus and then connected the first two point motors and their common connections to the DS64.  I then tried to issue commands from my NCE Procab to the default accessory addresses 1 and 2.  The point motors would not throw.  That had me stumped.  I could set the address for the DS64.  I could set the addresses for the four accessory outputs.  I could toggle the DS64 from solenoid type to slow motion type and back.  But I could not get the points to throw.  To cut a long story short, I swapped this DS64 for another one and wired up the points to this one and luckily they worked.  So I have now relegated the first DS64 to my test bench with a test point motor connected.  Today I tried doing some testing of the DS64 but I could still not get it working.  It seems like this one was DOA.  I will now have to contact Digitrax via email and see what they want me to do for a warranty claim.  They may be able to provide me with some other tests to resurrect it, but I am not hopeful.  I had a look inside and it looks pristine.  They are no signs of anything being blown or damaged.
While connecting up the platform run around point motor today, I discovered that I had two input connections in my Mini Panel reversed so when I pushed the buttons on my panel, what I expected didn’t occur.  Instead of swapping the wires into the mini panel or reprogramming the steps in the Mini Panel for those two swapped outputs, I thought it was easier to just swap the two wires from my control panel.  Easily done and once completed, everything now works as designed.
Today I also did some work on a number of small control panels.  I had previously also received a few more eBay deliveries of SPDT switches and red and black push buttons.  So I replaced a couple of other push buttons on the South Brisbane panel, installed one push button on the Park Road south panel and built the Clapham Yard south panel.  I them installed three of the SPDT switches, which will allow me to isolate the power to the panel if required.  This was done to the South Brisbane panel, the Park Road south panel and the Clapham Yard south panel.  I also installed the last Peco point motor for Clapham south and wired up the common connections to all of these motors. 
Next week I will wire the 8 connections from the DS64 to the four Peco point motors at Clapham South.  However, at this end of the yard there are five sets of points, so I will eventually connect up an NCE Snap-It for the last point - once I buy one.
Apart from this work, nothing else has been done to my 73's the Pratt Truss bridge that I'm building or the layout.  I still need to find why a few of my head set plug in points don’t work on one peninsular.  I’d bet that it is just one broken solder connection.  So I still have lots of work to keep me occupied.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The First 73 is Almost Ready for the Roster

This week I can’t admit to doing too much productive modelling work.  During the week Geoff answered an SOS and dropped over a couple of surface mount White LED’s.  When I saw them, I thought that they looked familiar.  So I went to my stash of surface mount LED’s and checked them.  Sure enough there were two different types in my bag labeled ‘Red’.  I separated the two types, tested the smaller ones probably 0603’s and they definitely were red.  (I understand that the 0603 refers to the size of the LED in hundred’s of an inch – thus it is .06” x .03” or 0.060” x 0.030” in thousandths of an inch which is the same as we measure styrene and brass dimensions in.  I checked the larger ones in my possession, probably 0804’s and they were indeed white.  I already had 40 of them after asking Geoff to go to all the trouble of dropping off a few in my letter box the during the week.  Sorry Mate.  I’m just a dork.  I have now separated my LED’s into two packets and have labelled them – white and red.  I had previously gone to the bag labelled red and tested a few and they were all red.  I guess I was just unlucky.
On Friday after coming home from work early, I went down to the shed with the aim of trying to replace the white LED that went twange last week from my 73 class light board with one of the newly found white ones.  However, upon closer inspection the ones on the Auscision 73 class light board must be something like 0402’s.  Bugger.  Anyway I tried, but the new ones were so large I could not get them to fit on the circuit board and attached to the two solder pads.  So what to do? The next task was to head down to the other end of the shed (Clapham Yard) and solder up a small section of narrow gauge track that I need to feed into a section of dual gauge track.  I used PC board sleepers to keep the two lengths of track in gauge.  Anyway I did that and am happy with the result.  I still have to solder the third rail to almost two complete sidings in Clapham Yard, but that is a task for another time.
Yesterday I went to Jaycar and shouted myself a new soldering iron.  One with a very fine point.  With the fine point I will be better armed to solder (or unsolder) those troublesome surface mount LED's from the 73 class light boards.  This soldering iron also had a variable temperature control. Well I did get around to the 73 class light boards in the afternoon.  I decided that I would look at two of my spare light boards and on the B board turn around the white LED’s and the white headlight around, and on the A board, just turn around the red LED’s around.  So I successfully did it to two other light boards.  So I then installed the light board into the front of the 73 class.  Took it to the test track and gave it a run.  I had the headlight on F0F, the number boards of F1 and the white marker lights on F2 and the red marker lights on F3.
Today I went down to the shed and removed my FL4 function only decoder for the #2 end of the 73 Class and took it to the test track.  I used alligator clips to attach it to the programming track on my Powercab.  I then coded it up to my loco number 7314, and set the first function to F0R, the second function for the rear marker lights to be F4, the rear white marker lights to F5 and the read red marker lights to F6.  I then soldered the FL4 back to the N14SR decoder I had in the 73 class and soldered the various function leads to the lights board.  I took it back to the test track and fired it up and everything worked.  I think it Amazing!  All 8 functions worked.
Now my only problem is to fit the shell back on.  I have done it but it is sitting a bit high with all the wires.  I will have a think about what I can do to get it lowered.  However I did give the loco a run around South Brisbane Interstate.  I ran it into the Loco Siding and around the yard.  I think it and its sister 7315 will work fin in the yard as the resident shunters.
Following that work on the 73 class loco, I then spent a bit of time working on a set of dual gauge points, back up at Clapham Yard.  I had issues last running day with some old Lima wagons running through the points.  I ended up replacing the cookie cutter Lima wheels with some K&M ones I had sitting around.  They even fitted straight into the bogie, the wagon seemed to be sitting at couplet height when I measured it and then I gave the wagon a few pushes at speed through the troublesome dual gauge points. So now the Motor Rail wagon runs very well.
Who knows what next week will bring?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Banana Wagons and Tinkering with Diesels

Tuesday this week we were off to Geoff’s for our fortnightly get together.  He had Splitter’s Swamp set up and powered up.  I must say that the front of the layout is looking particularly good, especially when the model lights are all turned on.  Geoff has a light inside and outside the station shed, inside the goods shed as well as on a pole in the yard.  They are very nice indeed when lit.
On Wednesday I received my packets of On Track Banana wagons in the mail.  Today I took them down to the shed and I replace a few older AR kits wagons in my banana train with the On Track models version.  I then took some of those replaced wagons that I took from the banana train and swapped one of those with a wagon from the fruit train and another in the pick up goods.  The excess wagons are now sitting in Park Road Siding ready to be disposed of or swapped with some 4 letter code wagons.  All the ones I replaced today are 3 letter code wagons.
During the week I also updated the timetable for the next running session and moved that troublesome ballast train out of the way of the pickup goods.  I adjusted the timetable graph, updated the two trains in question Nos. 36B and 38B and then adjusted the sequence numbers on a lot of other trains between when this ballast train is now run and when it did run.  The sequence number is provided to allow me to sort the individual timetable cards in order from first train to last train very quickly.
On Friday a few of us set off down to Darren’s for a run.  We got to see the finished product of the main station area and yard on Darren’s layout and then what will be a staging area to hold his trains.  Everything ran well and looked good.  While Darren’s layout looks like it is built to the flat earth policy, it definitely is not.  There are just very subtle changes in scenery contours and it look very much like the outback NSW countryside with its basically flat terrain but there are slight hills there.  Everyone grabbed a throttle and jumped on the layout running trains.  We even had Arthur (our latest invitee to the Tuesday Nighters Team) running trains in DCC.  His home layout is dual gauge DC.  Darren’s layout will be certainly very interesting to operate once he is to that stage.  He is very close now, he just needs to name all the locations and sidings and create some trains.
Yesterday was Club Meeting day so I went to the Train Club.  While there I installed a decoder for one of the members in a pommy diesel.  It had a really weird springy pickups which were not conducting too well.   However it was running, but it only had two wheel pickup so beggars can’t be choosers.  I also brought another pommy diesel home and installed a decoder in it today.  It was pretty difficult and I had to do some magic to isolate the wheels from the motor at one end.  I also had to check out someone’s DL class where the front headlight and associated marker lights (white front and red rear) were not working.  When running in reverse the loco is fine – except the headlight bulb lights up but nothing is shown out the headlight in the loco.  Anyone got a wiring diagram for the Austrains DL class loco?
So after spending some time on the DL and moving a few banana wagons around today, I started looking at my 73 Class again.  This was the first one I wired up, but I somehow stuffed the front light board.  So I took it apart and decided to try and wired it as per the description in the June AMRM and the Youtube video post that was on one of my blog comments a few weeks back.  Bad move!  Those damn surface mount LED’s are so small.  My soldering iron is not that small.  I might have to buy a special one during the week, so I can work with the surface mount components.  As I was trying to turn around the front white marker lights on the light board, I unsoldered the red ones.  I actually ended up losing both red LED’s when they went ‘Ping’ out of my tweezers while I was trying to put them back on the light board.  Luckily I have a few spare red surface mounts LED’s in my collection.  So I replaced them.  I successfully turned around the first white LED, and unfortunately, the second white one wanted to visit its red brothers and also went ‘Ping’.  I eventually found one red surface mount LED, but I am now down one white LED.  I don’t have any spare white surface mount LED's.
I will put the call out to my modelling mates to see if they have any spare ones.  I might get this finished next weekend if I'm lucky.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Running Day Roundup

Monday evening I spent some time building a lattice web for the top of my Richmond River bridge.  Friday night this week a few guys headed to Geoff’s for a modelling night.  I took along my Pratt Truss bridge to show off and also to build a second lattice web, which I did complete.  That was all I did as we did quite a bit of chatting.  Geoff showed off his photos from his recent trip through NSW and spoke about his trip to the Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention last weekend.  Brendan showed off his hew version of the ARHS Signalling DVD.  I have the old CD version which no longer runs on Windows 7 in 64 bit mode – which is a bit of a bugger as I used to use it quite a bit.
On the right are the two lattice web girders that I built this week.  The two on the left are others that I made a few weeks back.  I needed to build copies of the black ones on the top as my prototype bridge has two extra box sections as well as being another 30 feet longer that the kit bridge I am building.

This is where the Pratt Truss bridge is going.  I have four sections of girder on the left (behind the current bridge, and a single section of through truss girder on the right.  I built the bridge piers out of plaster many, many moons ago.

On Tuesday this week I decided I needed a large ‘Y’ point for the southern end of Clapham Yard.  It just happened that Lefty & Son had one on their for sale list and when I visited ‘& Son’ at work on Wednesday, he had the point there ready for me to collect.  On Thursday I started to cut up some code 83 rail so I could lay a third rail through the point, as this point will give access to the second loop for narrow gauge trains in Clapham Yard.  On Friday afternoon I ripped up the track through Clapham and installed a curve point and the new Y point and a narrow gauge point on track 4.  So apart from some cleaning up and fine tuning for narrow gauge trains this area looks pretty much complete and runs standard gauge train quite well.
The southern end of Clapham Yard.  Showing the newly installed point work.  The Yard now has four standard gauge tracks, of which two are dual gauge.
Saturday dawned and I had a few jobs to complete before the crew arrived.  I had to clean the BBQ (I had cleaned out the pergola and washed the chairs on Friday afternoon), I had to code up the address for the Dutton Park point motor in the NCE Mini Panel and soldered three jumper wires to the track at Clapham Yard that I laid on Friday afternoon.  I also cleaned the track in Cassino Yard and at Lismore As I had been doing some scenicing around those areas since I last ran trains through there.
I then had to wait for the crew to arrive.  Today I was going to have two first timers who were ex-North Coast Locomotive Drivers in attendance.  We had Jacko who was an ex-SRA and ex-National Rail driver and Keith who was an Interail driver.  We also had Anthony, whom was a first timer (and VR modeller – no one is perfect – well perhaps us NSW North Coast Modellers are!).  We had our regular crew – PK, Darren, Greg, Peter, Paul and Brendan.  We also had two late withdrawals by Geoff and Darryl.
Darren ran North Coast Control for the entire session.  The session went to pot when a bogie came off one of my 80 foot container wagons when it was traversing the Cougal Spiral.  It took a bit of a limbo dance for Greg to retrieve his train.  The new top deck ran a lot better than last time.  Except for the old Powerline guards van and Lima sleeping cars on my Brisbane Limited Train heading back towards Sydney, which, with their cookie cutter wheels had problems with the dual gauge points – note to self – replace these wheels for next session.
Another incident occurred when the branchline pickup goods, could not pickup its loading in Old Cassino.  Some bugger had parked a ballast train in the yard and blocked off access to the Norco Siding.  Oh that was me!
The northern end of Old Cassino showing the Ballast train in the Yard.  The pickup trains four wagons are in the Norco Siding.  No expense has been spared with the scratch build buildings (aka boxes).
We also had one whole section of headphone sockets not working.  Damn!  That is a job for next weekend to trace that back to a broken wire no doubt.
Before the session and also during the session we had a few laughs as Greg recounted a few stories.  I wanted to ask Greg how South Brisbane was shunted, and he informed me that it was exactly how I was doing it.  The goods train would pull into a track and cut off the locos.  The shunt engine, normally a 73 class would then pull the wagons clear and put them in the other roads so the trapped train locos could either make their way back to Loco Pilly or sit in the platform road until their next train to take back to Park Road and or Clapham etc. was ready.  The stories also advised that Greg drove the last Brisbane Limited south from South Brisbane Interstate station before the track here was severed and railed through to Roma Street.  Greg also ran the last Brisbane Limited south from Roma Street before the XPT took over the traffic.  Greg also had another first on an NR class at Acacia Ridge, but that is all I’ll say about that one.  Greg also talked about a time when he drove two NR class locos and an 81 class from Grafton up north and had it maxing out at about half a kilometre per hour up a grade.  At one loop they stopped and checked the 81 Class loco and found it was actually offline instead of helping.  Once that was fixed, they made good progress and had an uneventful trip for the rest of the way home.  Not bad for hauling over 4000 tonne.  Greg can now relive all those events on my layout.
A photo showing the southern end of the shed.  Here we can see the three levels of track on the left and the top level on the right which has two levels of track of the Cougal Spiral.  Below this location is the track between Old Cassino and Lismore and the Lismore Shell Oil Siding.
The day ended quite early as the guys had to head off home for different reasons.  My wife was heading out with her 3 sisters, a niece-in-law and a sister-in-law to a hen’s night for another niece in town, so I could then concentrate on getting dinner for the kids and then watching some football – I wished I didn’t.  So last night I fixed the bogie on the 80 foot container wagon, and checked out two 45’ container wagons that were removed from trains.  Today I re-added the 80 foot container wagon and a well wagon to a container train and fixed the coupler height on the wagon the well wagon was connected to by removing one 15 thousand of an inch washer.  For the two more 45’ container wagons, I had no idea what train they came from to replace them.  No one recorded that on their timetable cards. I also received so much abuse yesterday about having a 45 class loco lead a 48 class.  That was not allowed in my period.  So today I tested a few 48 class locos out, and added another to the front of that train and made it a 48+45+48 consist for next session.  I had to back up the Stock train that Brendan parked in the Veneer Siding at Kyogle and then drive it to its intended destination of Kyogle Stock Siding, on the other side of the Upper Richmond River.  We will have to publically embarrass him over that incident – Doh! I think I just did.  I also backed up two trains – the oil train and re-ran it from Old Cassino back to Grafton as I saw it giving Greg some trouble through the Cassino back Platform.  It worked fine for me today.  If only someone would bring out a three pack of Shell bogie tankers and I could get rid of my el-cheapo versions.  I then backed up the Banana train to Old Cassino and added the 4 wagons that were left behind there, and drove it back to Grafton Yard.  I will have to check the timetable card for that train as the description of what to do may not be that clear.  But in order to pick up the wagons at that location, while that damn ballast train is in the yard, some special manoeuvring needs to be done.  I also did a bit more pottering about and will spend some time this week, updating the timetable to move the Ballast train out of the way of the pickup goods.  There is plenty of room to do this in the timetable.  But that causes my sequence number to be out of sync, so that involves changing the timetable cards for about 15 trains.
Overall another enjoyable day.  I will be setting some construction goals to have completed before the next Running Session which I expect to be scheduled sometime between Christmas and New Year, either Boxing Day Friday 27th or Saturday 28th.