Sunday, November 30, 2014

Running Session Wrap Up

So this week in the lead up until the next running session in four weeks, I will be fine tuning lots of things on the layout and the trains.  So the week started with me updating all the timetable cards with additional information, like the track to take (Main or Loop) at each crossing loop as the trains progresses around the layout, and additional shunting information if that is required by a train.  Now this information will only be of benefit if everyone runs to the timetable.  if trains run later, then it could cause some issues.  But we will see.  I have also created a card about how to read and understand the timetable cards.  These will be distributed before the session.  Hopefully it will do away with people going the wrong way and stopping at the wrong locations.
Today I did a small amount of track work.  I glued down some cork that was under the rails in a couple of locations and then added some additional nails to the track.  The reason for this was two fold, one to keep the track in the correct level plain as it was lifting with bows in the cork in a couple of locations, as well as to remove some slight kinks that were identified in a couple of locations.  So these hopefully should now have been fixed.  I know there is still a location within the helix where the track dips that I have not fixed up yet and also the track at Running Creek needs to be soldered where two rails join to remove a slight kink in one rail and the gauge narrowing that occurs to the track.
I also soldered two wire jumpers to the track that had come away, one in Glenapp Loop on the main line and the other in Grafton Yard.  I also added tooth brush bristles to the track in a number of locations – 4 to track 2 in Clapham Yard, one to the Norco Siding at Old Cassino, and one to the Shell Oil Siding at Old Cassino.  I then added two more bristles, one to each track in Bonalbo Ballast Siding.  I also added a set of bristles to the Cement siding at Murwillumbah.  These bristles are located between the rails and when trimmed, just touch the axles of the bogie.  They stop the wagons from running away down a grade.
Upon completion of these tasks, I decided to have a bit of fun by adding a length of code 83 rail as a third rail into the narrow gauge sidings at Acacia Ridge Yard.  This now lets a standard gauge train enter further into the siding.  This was prompted by a Tuesday Nighter at the last running session.
Being on holidays this week, I will spend some time in the shed, moving trains to their expected end positions at the end of the running session.  There are a number of trains out of position.  I then plan to document what I need to do put trains into the starting position for the next session.  Since I added new sidings a few months ago, trains are in different locations to what the timetable says and the trains in the dead end sidings need to be reversed out, run around the return loops and reversed back into their siding.  I also plan on trying to run each train out and back before the next running session and do as much fine tuning as I can to further improve running qualities in the next session.
Let's see how far I get this week.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Another Full Weekend of Trains

I must be blessed.  I have spent another full weekend doing model railway things this weekend.  It started off on Friday night when I went down to Darren place for a running session on his layout with a few mates.  It was great!  I think I got the easiest train to run.  I did not have a two man crew like the other two trains that ran.  I could have finished the job much quicker than I did, but was waiting to get the staff for the section ahead for quite some time in order to run around my train.  However, I decided to use the other end of the loop and the previous staff section to complete my activities and shunt the grain/stock feed siding.  I had a great time and good company after a very nice sausage sizzle dinner.  Thanks Darren!
Saturday kicked off with an early trip to the shed to clean the track before I was due to get some visitors.  But at just about the appoint hour for arrival – approximately 9:00am, I got a message that the visitors were not coming due to illness.  No issues.  At least I cleaned the track before today’s running session.  Saturday's visit was for Ian Phemister to catch a glimpse of the layout before he and Darren had to drive to Toowoomba for an operating session at Bill’s layout.  Unfortunately I could not attend as I had to pick up the mother-in-law yesterday and bring her over to attend my daughter’s Dance concert.  I did get a few minutes in the shed in the arvo to do a bit of scenicing next to a new piece of roadway I installed at Lismore a few weeks ago, just to blend it in properly with the scenery.
So today dawned with 4 guys turning up out of the 19 invitations I sent out.  I know that there were other activities already on the calendar.  I hear that Bazz even gave the excuse that he was out the country - he could have been more imaginative!  No sooner had the session started with the 5 of us when Ian and Trudy Phemister popped their heads in after not making it the day previously.  So I gave Ian a quick tour of the layout and we resumed running.  It was great in the shed with the air conditioning on, plenty of drinks flowing and trains running.  We had no North Coast Control in operation, with everyone working themselves through the crossing loops after pulling the next train timetable card from the deck.  As usual we had intermittent derailments, at least one uncoupling, two broken couplings and a few trains stopping at the wrong locations.  I know two wagons were bad ordered (removed from trains) during the day, so I will investigate these over the next few weeks.  I will be doing a short description on how to read the timetable to give to the guys as a refresher before the next session.  I will also be adding a few more toothbrush bristles in a couple of sidings to prevent wagons from rolling away when they are uncoupled from the locos.  This will occur particularly in Clapham Yard as this is on a slight rise with a fall away at each end.
This session was the first to use my Raspberry Pi as a wifi access point for the layout allowing operators running the Engine Driver or Wi Throttle apps to run a train.  I know Greg used it, but PK mentioned that he had an issue at one point when trying to call up a train which was a consist.  After the session ended, I actually used my tablet to successfully shutdown the Pi, and it worked a treat.  I also used my layout lighting for the first time during a running session.  I think the consensus was that the three working strings certainly enhanced the look and feel of the layout.  My Christmas present from the boss hopefully will be a few more strings of these LED lights.
Tonight while watching the cricket on TV, I have gone through all my timetable cards and added additional annotations to them advising what track to take at each crossing loop.  This does of course assume that everything is running to plan and timetable, and we all know that this does not occur. 
Today I have noticed that a few of my locos are not speed matched particularly well, so I think over the Christmas holidays I will be using JMRI and going through this activity on a number of locos.  At one point, during today’s session, one loco decided to run in reverse.  I think there must have been a spike caused by some sort of short and this just caused havoc with this single loco.  So that was fixed on the programming track and everything returned to normal.  I just must get around to installing the 'snubbers' on each end of my track busses.  I have had the component for some time now.
So there is plenty to do before the next running session in December.  More scenery, more tuning of wagons and more fine tuning of track – maybe some super-elevation and more subtle gradient changes and also restaging the trains all in readiness before the next session on the 27th.  Thanks to everyone for attending and making the day a great one.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What Happens on Tour Stays on Tour

Well on Friday morning this week Darren, Peter and myself travelled to Armidale to attend the New England Convention.  Down there we met up with our Tuesday Nighters mates, Geoff and later Brendan.  From 5:00pm on the Friday we went to the Convention for the first get together and as we were walking into the Bowls Club where the convention was being held, we saw Dave, Kerry and Dale.  That was the first time we suffered some friendly banter on the weekend.  We got inside and met up with the Toowoomba Trio of Bazz, Bill and Doug - some more banter.  We also met up with the NSW mid North Coast guys and fellow bloggers – Ian, Ian and Andrew.  We also saw fellow Tuesday Nighter Arthur and his lovely wife Kerri.  Of course Kieran was there with his bed mate – in the next room to us.  The next room again at the motel had Stephen and Peter from the Logan Model Railway Club.  We also saw many familiar faces from the New England Model Railway Club and of course some guys from Sydney and met a few new mates from around Kyogle (Steve, Paul and Phil and the other Phil) and of course some other Brisbanites - Peter B, Peter, Ian and George.  We also got to catch up with Rohan from Glen Innis. Who could leave out Al from AR Kits, and it was nice to finally meet two other bloggers Ray P and Peter H.  I did also spoke to quite a few other guys, but can't list them all.
Friday was not that late a night, but Saturday was slightly different.  We eventually had a few guys back to our room until quarter to 2 on Sunday.  Tonight we are going to the White Bull for a meal and a few drinks.
The whole convention was a great event.  I have not laughed so much as we did with (in particular my room mates) the guys mentioned above and the after dinner speaker from Saturday night at the Convention Dinner.  I certainly learned some new techniques, and certainly some new ideas to try to implement back at home on the layout.  The Convention speakers certainly caused us to think about a few things in our modelling life and the layouts present were certainly inspirational.  The Clinic presenters had some good techniques to learn.
I picked up a few items from the shops present.  Thanks everyone for attending as you all contributed towards a very good convention.  I certainly want to try and organise my attendance for the next Convention in another 2 years time.
One of the great layouts present - Bullenbung Creek.

Nice carriages, wagons and scenery.

The water spout on the water tank lowers when the steam loco pulls up next to the tank.  very nicely done.

The other great layout.

A nice Australianised scene with the cockatoo's and a koala up the tree.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Few Small Jobs

Thursday night this week, I broke out the basswood strips while sitting at the kitchen table and installed the roadway posts and railings on my NSW 18’2” Timber Overbridge Roadway built as per the DataSheet Plans. 
The following night (Friday) after the glue had dried, I stained the posts and all the rails with my ink and metho solution.  I think it looks pretty good and I just need to install it in my small display diorama for our Club modelling competition held at our December Meeting.  While I was working with wood, I decided to grab a few balsa wood sleepers that I had previously cut and throw them in my ink and metho mixture.  I had a plan for them to be used near the rail crossing I installed near Cougal Spiral last weekend.
Also on Friday Night my mate David was due to come over.  While awaiting him in the shed and watching the cricket on TV, I decided to do a small amount of plaster painting in readiness for adding some dirt and ground cover scatter in the coming weeks.  I was working around Old Cassino and Murwillumbah.  I also installed the balsa wood sleepers at the track crossing near the access gate around the Cougal Spiral area.  When David arrived he came with two locos to decoder up and a signal module from Traintronics (in the UK) for me to work out how to incorporate with some of his signals.  I created a little test board for the signal model this afternoon.  I'm not having much success!
On Saturday night while the boss and the kids were at the school disco I installed the decoders into David's two locos.  I tested them this morning on DC before unleashing DCC on them.  The first one is an average runner and the second seems to have a seized motor setup.  At least the decoders are working.
Saturday at midday at the Club, I presented the second of my modelling skills sessions and had three or four guys working on their own modules and then about 3 or 4 other guys who were going to go home and replicate the techniques on their module at home.  We do have some good facilities at our Clubrooms.  We just take out three or four fold up tables and put them on the back veranda of our Shed and we can present away.  We sometimes have club meetings on the back veranda when it is really hot and we can all just fit in.  This area always gets a very good breeze.  This month’s presentation was plastering over the base polystyrene scenery that we had carved up the month before.  The modules are starting to look pretty good.  There will be no modelling skills presentation next month, but we will resume again in January.  At that meeting we will be painting the base scenery and installing ground cover and adding some rock work.
This afternoon, besides working on David's signalling model, I decided to try and fit my scratch built bridge into its display diorama.  I will need to cast two more concrete bases to sit the piles on during the week.  On the layout, I also installed a small bitumen roadway leading into Lismore Yard.  This was done by using balsa sheet as the road base and staining it with my ink and metho stain solution.  That area is also starting to look good.  If I get time this week, I will try and blend the existing scenery around Lismore Yard in with this new bitumen road.
This week we have Tuesday Nighters at Geoff's and then on Friday, a few of us head down to Armidale to the New England Convention.  It will be good to catch up with some mates down there.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Club Buy and Sell

Today two of the Tuesday Nighters, Darren and Grover came over and together we headed over to the other side of town in my car to my Club’s Buy and Sell.  When we got there about 5 minutes before scheduled check in time, the place was packed with sellers already setup and club members getting things ready and running trains of the two main layouts.  Luckily I was able to grab a table and so did Darren and Grover.  Right between us was fellow Tuesday Nighter - Barry.
There was absolutely stacks of NSW gear for sale.  There were at least 6 sellers there.  Pricing was really, really good - way less than what it is listed for on e-bay.  I did not sell one bit of my NSW gear, but one old SAR kit, and some generic stuff, a bridge, a signal and an American wagon.  So not a profitable day but at least I made some money.  I think the number of sellers was either the same or up slightly, but the number of buyers seemed to be down.  But given the day - very hot, I'm sure many were at the beaches.
On return home, Darren and Grover came down to the shed for a cold drink and checked out my newly installed LED lights on the layout and the last few bits of work I have done since they last were here. 
Yesterday, I added a small shelf under the layout so I can locate my Raspberry Pi and its powered USB hub to.  After this I decided to do a small about of scenicing.  I set about to add an access gate to the Cougal Spiral section just like one that is in one of the photos that I have of that area just before entry into the first tunnel in the spiral heading north.  So I also added about 50 cm of ballast to the track in that area to try and complete that section.  I have also added ballast either side of the track to form a bit of an access road from the gate across the tracks.  I still need to add about a half dozen old sleepers so the vehicles requiring access across the tracks can driver over the rails.  That is a task for another day, but I do have quite a few stained sleepers already prepared for this task.
Over the next two weeks, I need to try and complete the model that I was to take to the Armidale Convention on the 15/16th of November.  This is also my entry into our Club’s Modelling Competition held at our December Meeting.  I have been thinking about doing some work on this model since the Gold Coast NMRA Convention.  I picked up some scale lumber that I needed from Gwydir Valley Models and nothing has occurred since.  I’ve been pretty busy at work for the last few weeks, working some very long and tiring days.  But I think I need to have a day off work in the next 2 weeks to recharge my batteries and complete the model.  I only have next weekend available before we head off to Armidale the following weekend.
The weekend after Armidale is also looking like it will be very busy, with a train related activity on the Friday Night at Darren's, some of the Tuesday Nighters heading to Toowoomba for a Running Session on the Saturday and potentially another Running Session on the Saturday or the Sunday in the Border District and if that does not occur, potentially a Running Session at my place on the Sunday as a backup.
Plenty of modelling and prep work to occur.