Sunday, December 30, 2018

Lead up to and at the Operations Session

Wednesday dawned with me going to the shed and running the complete narrow gauge timetable.  This is 12 trains that ply the rails from Acacia Ridge Yard through Clapham Yard and sometimes reach Fisherman Islands Yard.  So my fleet of 4 locos and 17 wagons is not enough to run the timetable.  I actually need another loco and at least 4 grain wagons and then the first phase of my narrow gauge loco and rollingstock fleet will be complete.  The second phase of rollingstock expansion will include adding more coal and grain wagons, maybe 4 or 8 more of each along with a few different wagons.

I had an issue with the new dual gauge/standard gauge point for entry into Rocklea Sidings.  While all the standard gauge trains were working, the narrow gauge trains were not travelling through the point on the mainline.  I needed to add some isolation joiners around the point, and then feed the frog from a Peco switch connected to the point motor working this point.  I found a Peco switch lying around on the layout and soldered it up.  I jerry-rigged the dual gauge point, so that the narrow gauge track and the standard gauge frog all worked from this switch.  Testing revealed that the standard gauge track in both directions was again working, as was the narrow gauge traffic on the main line.  However, but putting the switch atop the point motor, the point no longer throws to the curve position (to access the sidings) each time I push the button.  However, it does restore to the mainline correctly.  

I think in the longer term, I need to acquire two auto DCC switching frog juicers (or a similar brand) piece of kit.  One will be deployed to the point at Rocklea Sidings, and another at the Fisherman Islands dual gauge point at the farthest end of the Yard.

So while running the narrow gauge rollingstock, I adjusted the coupling heights on a number of narrow gauge wagons to more correctly match the height gauge I have.  These adjustments made the trains run better, as it stopped some uncoupling events from occurring.  At the end of t\he day I still had another 4 trains to run to complete the timetable, which is what I did on Thursday.

On Friday night, I ran my track cleaning train from Grafton all the way to Murwillumbah.  On the way to Murwillumbah, I took the mainline, and on the way back to Cassino I took the loops where I could (when there were no trains in the way).  When back at Cassino, I then went north up the mainline all the way to South Brisbane Interstate, again taking the mainline all the way.  While at South Brisbane, I ran through the first 6 tracks at that location .  The other tracks have wagons stabled in them.  The track cleaning train then ran all the way back to Dutton Park, before taking a small detour back down the branch to Fisherman Islands.  From there the train returned all the way to Grafton.  While on the way, back, I ran through all the Loops.  It was this movement that caused me to noticed the track at Cassino Meatworks had a dead section, as did the northern end of Cassino Yard.  Another issue that developed, is that the point at Dutton Park, which directs trains to either Fisherman Islands branch or South Brisbane Interstate decided to not throw towards Fisherman Islands.  At least I could climb up the back of the layout and manually change that set of points if I needed to.  The set of points on the southern entry into Clapham Yard standard gauge track 3 would also not throw, so that was added to the "to be fixed" list for after the session.  So I could feel a big whoops occurring on Saturday!

Then on Saturday morning, I had previously forgotten to move 4 of the narrow gauge trains back into place to align the narrow gauge trains with the timetable start time.  So I went down and did this.  However, I was having issues.  I could not get trains to travel over my dual gauge point at Rocklea Sidings.  My Operations Session was not going to go well.

Saturday started off with the standard BBQ snags on a piece of bread, with onions, sauce and cheese.  Total crew was 11 attendees including me.  Of course drinks were available of various persuasions to keep the attendees cool.  I had a few new runners this time.  These guys got a quick overview before the crew took their places.  The aircon was turned on.  Everyone was handed a lanyard to attach their timetable cards to, and to provide a solid backing if they needed to write any notes onto the timetable card, so I can go through and correlate the issues and fix these following the session.  Greg started the Raspberry Pi for me and set the fast clock.  But I told him the incorrect time – Oh silly me!  He soon fixed this, and then Arthur assumed the position of North Coast Control.  The headsets were handed out and initially what seemed like dis-organised chaos, soon turned into a generally organised bedlam before settling down to a more sedate operating session.  We were able to get around all the issues of dead track.  Another dead track section popped up and this is over the Richmond River bridge just south of Cassino.  This regularly occurs.

There were a number of wagon issues.  One coupler jaw snapped on a stock train.  That wagon was placed in the back platform road at Cassino.  A low coupler was identified on a shunt train from Grafton to Murwillumbah and return.  A couple of trains were positioned wrongly at the start of the session and this caused some issues with trains not being able to exit staging due to something in front of them.  But we can move trains around to fix this and we did.

During the session, we had a few cases where shorts were detected.  We all knew who was causing them.  Don’t we?  Shelton could not remember that the last 4 digits of a loco was its address.  So while trying to address 44238, accidentally sent 4423 and its ballast train that was sitting in Fisherman Islands Yard careering into Loco Pilly.  I think he was trying to replicate the BHP run away in the Pilbara region from a couple of months ago.  A couple of other issues occurred, and we all thought they were caused by Shelton.  Upon further investigations, sure enough most were.  No one was killed, although an oil train ran into a car at a level crossing just outside the Rocla Sleeper Siding.  This has happened before.  The car sits on the road overbridge and the layout must have been bumped and the car ran to the railway track.  This shot featured on a couple of Facebook posts by session attendees.  Those running the layout via the JMRI wifi connection through my Raspberry Pi mostly ran out of power in their phones before the session was due to end.  So there was less and less trains running as we headed towards afternoon tea.  That is why I prefer to use the NCE Procab-R throttles, as the power lasts for about 12 months of use.  That includes all the times I fire up the layout and test it each weekend.

I think everyone had fun.  I wore the brunt of most of the jokes, as did Shelton.  But all was in jest.  I think close to 40 trains were run.  The timetable still has another 30 trains to complete its cycle.

After the Operations Session, I think I found 5 cans of drink that PK squirrelled away around the layout, and today I got stuck into the "to do list".  I fixed the three sections of dead track, Cassino Meatworks, Cassino Yard and the bridge over the Richmond River south of Cassino.  I fixed the stock wagon with broken couplers,  I adjusted the low coupler height on the MRC wagon.  I decided to attend to an issue I have had at Cassino Yard for quite some time.  The powered points at this location, were addressed as 1, 2, something unknown and 4.  They should have been 1, 2, 3, and 4 initially and then set to 424, 423, 422 and 421 respectively.  Well this has now been fixed.  I did discover that there is another set of point somewhere on the layout set to 4.  I'm not sure where, as it was at the other end of the layout that I could hear it throwing when I was working on Cassino Yard.  I will check this out tomorrow.  I ran one train twice yesterday.  So I had to "unrun" it today.  So I ran it in reverse to put it back.  I moved another two trains that were in the wrong locations at Grafton Yard to their correct locations.  More issues will be ticked off the to do list tomorrow.

Have a happy New Year everyone.

Some of the crew getting directions.

The Brisbane Limited at Acacia Ridge.  On the right of this is the dual gauge, then two narrow gauge loops.

Yours truly up doing something at Rocklea Sidings.

Darryl going to do something to Chris maybe.  Or was it Shelton?

Glenapp Loop.  The troublesome 44238 or was that 4423 or maybe 4238?

The car ran off the bridge into the oil train.

The boys in blue out to protect the public.

Roadworks here with an ambulance coming through.

All these photos have been provided by Shelton.  Thanks Mate.

Monday, December 24, 2018

I Couldn't be Happier, and Merry Christmas

So this morning I wired up the push buttons from the Fisherman Islands East Panel to the NCE Mini Panel.  The panel was then coded up with the various point control commands for each of the tracks and upon testing all worked well.  I also adjusted the Peco point motor connected on the narrow gauge track in Fisherman Islands branching from the main track into the new loop sidings at this location at the east end of the yard, and eventually got it working very well.  So that was the first lot of tasks marked off my To Do List.

Attention then turned to standard gauge point into Rocklea Sidings.  I manufactured a piano wire throw rod and connect it to a Peco point motor a few centres away out past the narrow gauge track.  I was having some trouble with the stand gauge point throwing to the main line.  I was trying everything but nothing worked in resolving the issue.  It threw to the curve position very well to allow trains into the Sidings, but would not restore to the main line.  Then it dawned on me that the Peco point motor adaptor base that my Peco point motor was sitting on has a spring in it, as did the point itself.  I usually just use a Peco point motor mounting plate for my point motors that are not mounted below the points.  These have no spring in them and I use my own styrene throw rod made out of 2mm styrene.  So I removed the adaptor base and replaced it with a standard Peco mounting plate with my own throw rod, and no second spring and the point now threw fantastically in both directions.  I was going to use the adaptor base, as the point I had planned on putting in that location was going to be a Tillig dual gauge point which does not have a spring like the Peco brand.  This I needed the spring in the adaptor base.  Now I have Success!  I even ran a standard gauge loco 7305 back and forth over the point in both directions and over both routes and everything was smooth as.  

A bit later I went for a trip down to Jaycar for some more wire (this time 3m of quad core alarm cable) and laid it between the NCE Mini Panel and the new control panel at the entry to Fisherman Islands for all the new narrow gauge loops.  The four cores are to carry the power and the signal from the three push buttons on the new pane.  That wire has not yet been soldered up as yet, but I think that will be done early tomorrow morning when I need to get out of the wife’s hair while she is cooking a great Christmas Roast in the kitchen.

So that brings me to the real reason of this blog update.  I would like to take the time to wish all my friends and all my blog readers a very Happy, Safe and Holy Christmas.  Spend some time with the family enjoying their company and lets hope that Santa has some room in his sack for some model railway related paraphernalia.  It seems he might for me.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Sunday, December 23, 2018

More Work on the 400 Class Railmotor

This week I installed a D13SRJ decoder into the 400 Class Railmotor.  I also added pickups to the power bogie, by supergluing KD bronze centring spings to each end of power bogie and folding the side arms to rub on the wheels.  Pickup wires were then soldered to the springs and these were joined to the pickups from the other non power bogie for additional pick ups,  When I did a test by applying power to the wheels the motor ran.  So the railmotor was put on the track and given some DCC power and it started to run.  Or more correctly, the motor turned the wheels and the railmotor sort of just sat there.  I think it needs some additional weight over the bogie to help it keep its feet on the ground.  I might have to spend some time checking that the bogie is sitting squarely on all 4 wheels.  I have a feeling that it is not, and this is contributing to the wheel spin.

On Friday I visited Aurora Trains and picked up some 12mm points and track.  On Saturday I visited Austral Modelcraft and picked up some rail joiners and couple of other things.  Upon returning home, I installed the points and track at the eastern end of Fisherman Islands.  It wasn’t until today that I spliced in the points for the other end of Fisherman Islands so that trains can enter the two new run around sidings.  Sometime next year, I will add some intermediate crossovers into the narrow gauge tracks, maybe 1 or even 2 pairs of points.  These will be controlled by push pull piano wire.

I also wired up tracks jumpers to both ends of the new sidings.  This was followed by powering up the NCE QSnap which will control the 4 sets of Peco points (I only have three point motors at this point in time).  The three point motors were wired back the QSnap and the layout powered up and the point motors tested.  However upon testing, the throwing of the points from my handheld throttle, two of the points work very well, but the third, will not throw the point.  So tomorrow I will rip that point up and give it a clean in case some dirt or sawdust got into it when I was drilling holes for wires today.  I will then retest it.  I still have some more work in adding the wiring from the updated control panels for Fisherman Islands back to the NCE Mini panel, and then coding up the correct commands in the Mini Panel.

Tomorrow I will install the point motor ready to control the standard gauge track into Rocklea Sidings ready for my Operations Session next weekend.  On Christmas Day, as my present to myself, I will run trains on the layout in the morning, and I will commence various road trials of the layout.  All track will be run over by my track cleaning train.  Later in the week I will then check the headsets for communication back to North Coast Control, and the Raspberry Pi fired up and checked.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Stephen Johnson Models 400 Class Railmotor

This last week I have been enjoying some time with the family down the Gold Coast with a beautiful view of the beach at Coolangatta and Greenmount.  The weather was very good, except for Thursday when the wind got up.  With Test cricket on the TV for many of the days and daily trips to the beach and the pool, I did not have much time to do much modelling.  We even had some visitors on a few days.  However, I did take some kits down to the unit to work on.  I decided to get my Stephen Johnson Models 400 Class railmotor out and have a good look at it.  It did not require much clean up.  This seems like a very good quality kit.  The four sides were glued together and the roof trial fitted.  The roof is made up of two end pieces and the main roof section.  These too were also glued together.  I will have to work out how I will secure the roof onto the model - maybe a screw up through the floor into the roof section.  So after this initial construction, I then put the thinking cap on as to how to power the railmotor.  I thought I might have had some sort of 4 wheel power bogie somewhere at home.

It was not until I came back from the coast that I searched the shed today and found out that one of the power bogies from an old loco was tried.  The locomotive, one of three provided to me by my father-in-law many years ago.  I could never sell them, so they have sat on the same siding in Grafton Yard for close to 10 years.  So one loco was disassembled, and the motor was tried out with a power supply.  It actually worked.  However, the power mechanism, had plastic wheels with traction tyres.  No that was never going to work.  So I pulled the bogie apart and remove the axel and took off the plastic wheels.  I then had to search the shed for suitable replacements.  Well I found some old Powerline 81 class drive wheels (I think) and the wheel were the same diameter as the Tyco ones.  You never know you luck in the big city, and the drive gear on the axel meshed with the trial train on the Tyco power bogie.  I applied power and everything turns.  So that is a big start.  

So this arvo, I built a styrene chassis out of some 0.080" styrene with some stiffeners to fit inside the 400 Class railmotor and the power bogie fits in and seems to have enough turn to seem confident that when I finally wire it up, it should be a viable mechanism for the railmotor.  The brass etch for the cow catchers were glued on and the model is starting to look pretty good. I also drilled a hole in the chassis for the power pickup bogie.  This was trial fitted this afternoon and maybe later tonight, or one night this week, I will solder the relevant wires to a spare NCE decoder I have sitting around in the shed and see if it works. 

It will then get a test run around the layout.  Next weekend I will look at how I can get this unit painted, then decaled.  I will then try and fit some headlights and maybe internal cab lighting.  It might just be my own Christmas present to myself.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

RMCQ Christmas Modelling Competition

So the week started with a delivery of my Southern Model Railways 2300 Class loco arriving in the mail on Monday.  On the same day I also received an order of ten push buttons from an Ebay seller.  Later during the week I also received another package from the postman for an NCE QSnap that I ordered from Sydney at a very good price.  

On Tuesday night we all went to Lefty’s place for our Tuesday Nighter's meeting and I showed off my 2300.  I had to take my own length of 12mm track (actually it was a Tillig dual gauge piece of track) and two alligator clips so I could power my narrow gauge track from his HO track.  Arthur had also received two 2300’s on Monday and he had posted a couple of photos on his blog on Monday.

I am particularly impressed with the horn on the 2300s.  I think it must be the best horn I have ever heard on a model.

Saturday was the date for our annual modelling competition at the Club.  There was a couple of very nice models in attendance.  There was a fantastic large scale wagon entered that had drop down sides.  The sides even had a locking pin that could be put through the catch.  Absolutely amazing.  There was also a very nice O scale train with advertising on the side.  I believe that the winning entry was the narrow gauge shay on the back of standard gauge wagon.  One member who had quite a few entries in the competition, could not turn up at the last minute.  But all up there was plenty of entries.

Below are a few shots of the entries.
The Innisfail Tramway Guards Van

Narrow gauge Shay

Small Diorama

Weathered NSW ballast wagon with a removable load.

Weathered NSW Paper Van.

Two QR narrow gauge graffitied and weathered coal wagons with removable load.

Weathered Narrow Gauge WHO with a load of wire bar.

Weathered NSW Banana wagon.

Weathered QR tautliner wagon.

Old O Scale Brisbane Tram

N Scale dump track.

58 Class Loco

Diorama with lots of Arduino controlled flashing lights.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

I'm in Trouble

Last Friday I received an email from Australia Post advising that my 2300 class loco from Southern Rail Models is due to arrive on Tuesday this week.  I also was advised that something which was ordered from another shop in Sydney was being posted out.  I ordered that item last Saturday and it was on the way on Friday.  So I can expect the postman to be busy next week at my place.  No official word as yet as to when my RUB set will appear, or my Railbus for that matter.

On Saturday I also attended the Beenleigh Model Railway Exhibition, and while there had a very productive time.  I ran into Simon from my local hobby shop, Simon Says Hobbies and Games.  He had a demo layout brought along to talk about accessory decoder control on the layout.  It created a lot of interest and I know of a few guys who did not know about his shop, will be heading over that way over the next few weeks for a look see.  George from Aurora Trains was also there with his shop.  He advised that the set of Tillig Dual gauge points on back order were on the water coming from overseas and should be here is a couple of weeks.  Hmmm.  Decision time, do I rip out what I had already installed, and relay everything with the Tillig track work.  I might investigate that next weekend when I’m on holidays.

There was also Col with his second hand shop doing what seemed like a roaring trade.  There was also Don from the northside, and Jim from J&J.  However, the main reason I went there was to pick up another 1720 loco and decoder from Adam at Wuiske Models for my 12mm track.  Shhh!  Don’t tell the wife.  I’ll be in the dog house – again.  I thought that I’d been pretty good lately and thought I deserved do give myself a present.  Once home, I took off the shell and installed the decoder.  All in well under 5 minutes.  Gave it a new DCC address and let it do a few runs up and down the track.  While I was in the mood, I took my other 1720 apart and rotated the decoder about in it.  Low and behold, the lights now work.  Some dork, namely me, installed the 8 pin decoder backwards.  At least both 1720 now work with lights and movement.  I just need to save up for next year’s May exhibition and pick up another 1720 class loco from Adam.

Last night I went down to the shed as there was nothing on TV and decided that today I would relay the entry into Rocklea Sidings.  This area was not giving me any confidence that it would continue to operate without issues.  So this morning, I went to the shed, put the Women’s T20 cricket on the TV, turned the fan on and went to work.  The baseboard was extended about 15 inches towards Clapham yard.  The track taken up, and the narrow gauge point into Rocklea Sidings was moved about 500mm towards Clapham Yard.  A Tillig third rail changing track, was installed in lieu of my home built one.  The track was then joined back up and the standard gauge trains tested from Clapham Yard to Rocklea Yard and also through on the mainline and in both directions.  I then tested a narrow gauge train from Clapham Yard to and from the Rocklea Sidings and on the mainline.  Again I just got a feeling that everything was running much better.  Now the point motor controlling entry into the narrow gauge sidings was moved and the wires controlling and powering it were extended.  All seem good with this change. The question still is, do I replace my doctored standard gauge point into Rocklea Siding or use the Tillig one that is on order.  Some more contemplation is required here. 
This shows the entry to Rocklea Sidings.  The left most point is the dual gauge track with a standard gauge entry to the yard.  The point on the right, is the narrow gauge entry to the yard.  Standard gauge and narrow gauge rollingstock is seen in the sidings.

The after shot,  The narrow gauge siding entry was moved about 500mm towards Clapham Yard.  Everything seems to run better through this area now.

After Lunch, I started working on a few tidy up tasks. I added weight to two of the calcium tankers in the standard gauge sidings in Rocklea Sidings.  One also had the traditional AR Kits bogie plug replaced with a screw.  I then found my half finished WOAX open wagon and added some decals to it.  I then added some weight to centre sill of two AR Kits NOCY wagons.  

Next Saturday is the Club’s modelling competition, and I have everything ready to take over to the shed.  I also have a plan to start getting some models to work on ready for my holidays later in December.  I think I’m going to work on the Cassino Station building, but also some Milk containers that I’ve had a couple of years wagons and not done anything with them.  So I need to get stuck into building these milk containers.  I also have a 400 Class railmotor kit, that I need to put together.  This might also get a start.  I intend that I will complete the two NOCY kits over the Christmas Holidays.  So these will be put together and painted and readied for maybe disposal at a Buy and Sell next year, if they can’t fit into my roster somewhere.