Sunday, August 31, 2014

Yard Work

During the week I decided to register for the NMRA Convention to be held down on the Gold Coast on the weekend of the 20th and 21st of September.  Friday night this week was spent over at Geoff’s with a few blokes doing some modelling.  I assembled two HO scale Sheep races made from styrene.  On Saturday afternoon, I sprayed them with Grey etch primer and I have placed them on the layout at Nammoona Ballast Siding and Fairy Hill Loop.
Once that was out of the way I got around to unpacking my birthday presents from the previous weekend.  I received a new Aldi dremel tool, the Aldi 3” grinding stone with a dremel attachment, a small Aldi compressor with two spray guns and a small took set with tweezers, nippers and a magnifying glass.  I have put aside all the manuals and I will be reading them through the week and who knows, I might plug them in and give them a burl next weekend. 
Last weekend at our Model Train Exhibition I picked up a few extra sets of points.  On Saturday I installed two crossovers within Acacia Ridge Yard from Track 4 to track 3 and then about 40cm further up the line its complimentary crossover from track 3 back to track 4.  The first crossover allows trains to enter the yard in track 4 and still make their way through all the sets of crossovers on the other tracks and get to the dual gauge heading to South Brisbane Interstate.  These crossovers also help to stage one train in these tracks and still get through running trains around it. 
Once this work was complete on the top deck, my attention turned to the bottom deck.  I then started looking at replacing a few dodgy points in Grafton Yard.  Then I got stuck in and re-designed a few sidings.  I re-routed a number of single ended tracks (Grafton Yard tracks 8-10 and the XPT siding) to come off exit side of the return loops instead of the entry side.  I have added 3 new siding (Grafton Yard tracks 11 – 13) and lengthened about 2 others.  Today I completed this work by added a small amount of extra baseboard on the inside of the return loops, making the access hole in the middle of the loops about 6 inches narrower.  So all these tracks have now been laid and I have relocated a number of trains out of existing return loops and tracks 8-10 and relocated them to these new tracks that are of the appropriate length.  My running timetable used to have a number of trains stacked up behind each other in some of the return loops, but if a train was not to run it caused issues with trains staged behind it.  Now every train has its own originating track.  All I need to do now is update the running timetable’s timetable cards with the new starting and ending tracks.  I will also have to update the Motive Power Assignments sheet that says what track trains are supported to go to at each starting or terminating location.  I will also have to add a few steps to be used when the timetable wraps around from last train to first train for a new cycle, to turn some of these trains in the single ended tracks so they can leave again.  I also need to remarshall a couple of other trains so they are in the correct order for heading back out in the next session.
With all these points now installed, I still can’t run trains through these new sections of track as I still need to add lots of droppers around the various insulfrog and electrofrog points.  Again a job for the next few weeks.
I also lengthened the headshunt at Grafton Yard by about 60cm.  Not that it ever gets used, but it might in the future.
I’ve also cleared the baseboard around the turntable at Cassino.  My next major activity will be to install some pits into the baseboard on two entry tracks off the Murwillumbah Branch and then look at wiring up the turntable motor here.  I can then bring this area into operation.  I’m still not sure if I want to have it controlled by the little controller that came with the turntable, or I fit a decoder at a suitable DCC address and then have it able to be controlled forward or reverse by the NCE throttle.
I had to answer an SOS call to Lefty on Saturday afternoon to help him with his blog.  He was having some issues with IE V11 on his desktop.  He could not upload a photo.  I advised him to try Chrome which was installed on his laptop and see if that worked.  I’m not sure of the outcome, but I see he now has the photo on his blog.
Today after the boss came home from shopping I went over to my mate David’s place and did some work on his control panels.  Well really it was three mini panels.  I continued coding up the commands on the northern end of his main yard where I left off last time.  I then added the 12 wires from one of his new control panels (Upper Hammersmith) to another NCE mini panel and coded this one up.  I then went to another new control panel and added 24 wires to another NCE mini panel and coded the first few commands.  Now thinking about it, I may have coded the commands on the 8 buttons I entered into the wrong locations in the mini panel.  I will check that and fix that up next time I’m over there.  I’ve also got two more locos to decoder up.
See ya next week!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Week Without Family

This week I have been away from home almost all of it.  On Monday after heading to work, I had to catch the train with a work mate to the airport and head down to Melbourne for a conference from Tuesday morning until Friday lunchtime.  Apparently there were almost 500 attendees.  I had a great time at the conference and it has just caused me a stack of work with some thinking about the way forward for our organisation on a number of fronts.  I now have absolutely weeks of work ahead.  After the conference finished on Wednesday night, I was able to get across to Metro Hobbies for 30 minutes before they shut at 6:00pm and on the last day of the conference I got across to Hearns Hobbies for 30 minutes on Friday after the conference ended.  We then headed back to the airport with my work companion and after battering our eyelids, we were able to get on a flight two hours earlier than originally planned.  As we boarded the plane we met up with two business acquaintances (one in the row in front of me on the plane).  It is just a very small world.

When we landed it was another train trip to my local station where the boss and the kids picked me up in the rain.  It was then back home for a birthday celebration.

While I was flying back from Melbourne the wife and flu ridden daughter were making this great cake.

Apparently it was a milestone birthday for someone!

I don't think Kyle looks a day of 9 and three quarters myself.

After the first good night's sleep for the week, I was up early again on Saturday morning to head across town for the RMCQ's Pine Rivers Model Train and Hobby Exhibition, at the Strathpine Community Centre.  After getting home on Saturday, the Mrs went out with some mothers from school.  This morning I made the trip back across town again.

On the subject of the Exhibition, there were some very nice layouts in attendance as well as model boats, planes and cars, as well as the obligatory hobby shops and second hand books and models.  It was a pretty good weekend with good numbers through the door and the traders I spoke to apparently were happy with their investment for the weekend.

I just couldn't resist a photo of the canteen ladies whom did a tremendous job at feeding the hungry hoards on Friday night setup, and all day Saturday and Sunday.  Here we see PK, B1 and Big Darryl preparing the morning teas for the exhibitors at around 8:30am this morning.  No rest for the extremely wicked!

How is this for a model made by one of our younger teenage exhibitors.  It is a G scale DD17 - Blue Baby of Queensland Rail.  A fantastic effort.

This model is just fabulous!

So now I'm still not with the family as I'm updating my blog before retiring to watch some TV for the night.

I think I will be happy to go back to work on Monday for a rest.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Relaying Acacia Ridge Yard

Today I went down to the shed with the aim of relaying the series of crossovers that exist in Acacia Ridge Yard that allows trains to either continue onto South Brisbane or take the return loops and head back to Grafton Yard.

Below are two photos of what the area looked like before I ripped up all the return loops and crossovers.

The northern end of the point works.  Middle left is where the loops join onto the dual gauge to go to South Brisbane Interstate.

The southern end of the points.  The narrow gauge is at the bottom.

After a couple of hours of work this is the better result.  I still have to put the jumper to the tracks around the crossovers.  But that is a task for 2 weeks time.

The northern view, with the point from the loops to the South Brisbane dual gauge brought back considerably to give a better more gentler curve.

The southern view, again with all the point pushed back further south to give a better geometry for the trains taking the crossovers.

The original track layout had a rather sharp curve in play when trains went from the Acacia Ridge outer track - track #1 onto the dual gauge towards South Brisbane Interstate.  My 80' container wagons used to lift off the track as they went around the curve.  The mounted back down onto the track but you cannot have that occurring!  Hopefully this has now stopped that from occurring.

With a public holiday in Brisbane on Wednesday I spent some time in the shed.  I worked on replacing the bogies of some of the RUB carriages on the Brisbane Limited and gave it a run from Grafton Yard to South Brisbane Interstate and back with very few issues.  I had to loosen a few of the bogie screws and make some adjustments under the wagon when the train would not take some of the curves. I even added another carriage, a Diner so the passengers could get a feed - I thought it was appropriate.  I also painted the roofs of a few more RUB cars.  Over the next few weeks I might try and paint the wagons themselves when I unwrap my new spray gun for my birthday.

Also on Wednesday, I also bit the bullet and replaced the front bogie on one of my 45 class locos.  I obtained a replacement set of bogies off of Al Cutmore at the Toowoomba Exhibition.  My front bogie had broken and the retaining clip was not retaining, but was held on by wire that I had wrapped around the bogie and twisted it so it would not come off.  The only issue was that the wire was not insulated wire and caused shorts when the loco ran over points.  So the loco was pulled off the layout and sat derelict in a siding.  It is now back on the "available for traffic" list and I also gave it a bit of an oil while I had it apart. 

Yesterday I moved around 4 trains and set then up ready for the next running session.  When the clock stopped at the last session, some trains completed their journeys while and some not yet even started due to the low number of operators, so the timetable was slightly our of kilter.  So I have now set the clock back to just before 4:00pm.  I had to run some of the trains backwards to put them all in the correct place for the new kick off time. I have the Up (southbound) Brisbane Limited sitting in The Risk.  I have a northbound (Down) container train sitting in Kyogle Loop.  The Down afternoon Mountain Goat is sitting in Nammoona Ballast Siding heading back to Cassino.  I have moved the Banana Train back to Murwillumbah so it can run all the way back to Grafton again, picking up bananas at Lismore and Old Cassino.  I think there are about 25 trains ready to run at the next session, and then the session will start back over again.  The first 25 trains are already in place, or will be when the current session ends.  Hopefully I will have more than 4 drivers turn up for the next session.  The ideal number of 10 to 12.  That allows me to have a North Coast Control position and I can run around fixing any issues that occur as well as concurrently running the odd short distance train.

I'm heading off to Melbourne on Monday for the week to attend a conference and hope to do the rounds of the hobby shops in Melbourne CBD on Friday afternoon before I fly back home later in the arvo.  Who knows I might be able to pick up a few things I can't get in Brisbane?

A photo of rotten row in Acacia Ridge Yard.  A 43, a 48, the repaired 45 and a 49 await their next turn.  These locos are currently not used in the timetable.  Although the 48 and the 45 could be used very easily.

Next Weekend I will not get to the shed at all, as our Model Railway Club will be holding its Annual Model Railway Exhibition at the Strathpine Community Centre Hall on Saturday (9-5) and Sunday (9-4).  I will be working on the door for most of both days, so pop in and say hello.  Some other Bloggers (Darren and Grover) will be just inside the door and, PK and Greg will also be around over the weekend.  We can all have a blogger re-union!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Uncoupler Magnets

On Monday this week, my last day of holidays, I decided to install a number of uncoupling magnets within the confines of South Brisbane Interstate yard.  I put 7 of these devices at the end of each of the sidings about 2 loco lengths from the end of the buffer stops - or should I say wall.  For these I used some cheap magnets I purchased on ebay a few months back.  I mounted them on their side and they seem to work very well after testing with a variety of wagons.  I then also installed one at Lismore in No. 2 Storage Siding.  Attention then turned to fitting some more to Murwillumbah's loop line and loco and motorrail siding.  I found a piece of paper lying around near Old Cassino that when I looked at it, revealed the locations of two more uncoupling magnets for Murwillumbah on it.  I must have spent some time a while back, when I last ran out of uncoupling magnets and used my motivation at that time to think about the locations where the next few magnets would be located when I finally got around to installing them.  
To install my uncoupling magnets I just cut the three sleepers out between the rails to enable me to drill some holes in the baseboard.  I used a drill bit that was the same thickness as the magnets I was installing.  I then remove all the baseboard between the holes I drilled and then push the magnet in to the hole that I made and ensure it is below the rail height.  This is a real tight fit I did not get around to installing the magnets for Murwillumbah but at least I did cut out the sleepers next to where the magnets will be installed on the layout.  I am also still toying with the idea to potentially install a three way point into Murwillumbah at the northern end of the platform which will allow me to potentially store a shunt loco at that location to help with the removal of the motorrail wagon at Murwillumbah from NL3.I just need t locate one at a good price and then I can see if it will fit into the track geometry.
Tuesday night we had the opportunity to head around to Arthur’s place for our regular Tuesday Nighter’s meeting.  We had a good time watching Arthur run a mixture of NSW and Qld trains.  We also all checked out Arthur's modelling desk and there was some absolutely great stuff being worked on - at the desk.  Some of that equipment is being put together to help illustrate a future presentation at the NMRA convention in September.
I went to the train club meeting yesterday and advised the guys I was planning on running a series of presentations starting in October that will attempt to demonstrate to our members how to build a small diorama with ballasted track, ground scenery, a road, a bridge, a tree and some rocks.  I will work with a few experts and cover a number of techniques so the guys, who have been crying out for this type of activity will get to get some hands on work going.
I have not been in the shed since Monday, as other activities have taken precedence this week. One of those activities was to take the kids into the Brisbane RNA show today.  We went by trains and also saw the BB18 1/4 doing a few laps around the Exhibition Loop anti-clockwise with a water gin and the silver set in tow.  Maybe next week I will get back down to the shed and continue with the next few uncoupling magnet installs and a few other tasks.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August Running Session Summary

After being slack with getting the invitations out for Saturday's Running Session, during the week I finally sent out the invitations out.  Quite a lot of the normal running session crew had other activities planned.  So I tried to get a few other takers as the 'Nos' came rolling in.  Eventually our session had four drivers and me.  Quite a lot down on previous sessions as I can accommodate 12 drivers concurrently in the timetable.  Because of this low number, we ran with no North Coast Control position.  The drivers just worked their own way through the passing loops - taking and depositing their staffs as they progressed between crossing loops as they made their way around the layout.  But that was fraught with peril as you will soon find out.
How did the session go?  Well not bad except for two trains that were absolute shockers of performers.  These two bad performers were NL2 - the Southbound Brisbane Limited from South Brisbane to Grafton and a northbound (Down) container train from Grafton to Clapham Yard.  During the week, I ran NL2 from South Brisbane to Grafton and back and did not have many issues.  But during the session it derailed maybe a dozen times, it lost a motorrail wagon, lost a bogie off a first class sitter.  It was also involved in a level crossing accident in which at least one person was killed by a carriage coming off and landing on its side - on top of a pedestrian.  Now we can't blame all of these incidents on the train.  There has to be some driver responsibility here.  The driver ran through at least two sets of points causing catastrophic derailments.  He also entered a passing loop at Fairy Hill at the exactly same time as a train from the other end was also entering and had a head on collision.  He was OK though, as he had the staff.  Why bother watching what the train is doing, or reading the train card about what track to take etc.?  Also why turn the locos off when they derail?  When they are put back on the track again - they take off - even though they area not being watched.
Can Auscision please hurry up so I can replace these old NL2 RUB coaches with the XPT and also their Brisbane Limited set.  In the mean time, I think I need to replace all the bogies on these RUB cars.  The Down container train that ran from Grafton to Clapham Yard also lost wagons, tipped over, and uncoupled about 20 times. 
The drivers of these two trains showed plenty of patience in persisting with these trains and running them through to their destinations.  In the lead up to the session during the week I ran the other Down container train but not this actual train. 
So today I run both of these troublesome trains both ways on the layout and did a bit of tinkering with the bogies, and replaced some couplings.  They ran almost faultlessly.  I think we can look forward to a better performance next session.
Before the Running Session I added two HLX wagons to my works sleeper train after spotting a photo I had on the layout.  However, this made the train too long for the Rocla Sleeper siding - its destination, as I did not check before the session.  So I had to remove one wagon when it got to the Sleeper Siding otherwise other trains could not pass this location. 
On a positive side I can now absolve Geoff from being called the train stealer, as Paul has inheritted that name now as he stole the wrong wagons from Lismore Yard for his pickup freight.  He took the wagons from the wrong siding.  While at Old Cassino when I pointed that out to him, he decided to back up around my hidden spiral from Lismore to Old Cassino, the train derailed in the hidden section.  This occurred at the same time that Shelton had problems with the Brisbane Limited Express and Anatol had issues with a derailed Down container in the helix.  It is things like this that can drive a man to drink – oh I was at the time.  I lost my beer in the shed a few times that day as I was fixing up issues here and there and put it down so I could use my hands.
One of the things I did not do before the running session was not clean the various sidings that trains were to enter and that caused some problems with jerky and inconsistent running.
I had a point motor at the very throat of South Brisbane loose a wire off the point motor.  Another point motor was not working at the cross over at the run around point midway through the South Brisbane Platform road.  Also the end run around point at the far end of the platform was damaged with one point rail popping out of the throw bar.  So today all of these issues have now been fixed.
So in summary, we ran about 17 trains during the running session in just over 3 hours.  I did enjoy the company of the guys on Saturday and I thank them for coming over and attending.  So the plan is to do some more scenery before the next running session and also do a few more tweaks here and there with various pieces of rollingstock and the track work. Who knows we may eventually get an uneventful running session next time.
This photos shows South Brisbane Interstate with the local South Brisbane shunter 8018 in its own loco siding with two 80's on the Up fruit train in track number 6.  Another loco a 442 (I think) is visible in track number 4.

A view from up above South Brisbane Interstate showing the large number of wagons in the yard.  In the top of the picture is Park Road Siding with a few excess wagons siting in storage and veering off at the top of the photo next to the power pole is the track heading towards Loco Pilly and destinations further south.
This view shows Clapham Yard with the troublesome Down container train in track number 2.  Various other wagons are in track 3 and 4 along with a spare loco 4499.  In this view you can also see the level below - Glenapp Loop and below that again the Richmond River Bridge - just south of Cassino.

The northern end of Clapham Yard.  Some of the sidings in Loco Pilly can be seen to the far right.

Here we see the troublesome Down Container train now travelling in an Up direction on its shakedown run following attention late today.  It is about to enter into Acacia Ridge Yard in this photo.

The train is still coming down the gradient from Clapham to Acacia Ridge.  What the train driver doesn't know is that someone has opened up the container on this wagon and stolen its contents of electrical goods.
On Friday night I went to Geoff’s for a modelling night along with Shelton and Brendon.  I added a few pieces of strip wood to the wooden bridge that I was working on the previous week.  I need to purchase some 3x2, 6x2 and 4x3 strips of scale lumber for the handrails and bracing, so I can continue on with this model.  The local hobby shop did not have any of these on Saturday morning so I may have to wait until a future Train Exhibition and check out some other hobby shops.  Luckily there is one on the 23rd and 24th of August at Strathpine in Brisbane.
The wooden bridge I'm currently working on located between Lismore and Murwillumbah with its timber deck now installed and awaiting its hand rails.  More work on the scenery on the left of the layout needs to be carried out.