Monday, December 17, 2018

December Update

Merry Christmas to all my followers.

This month activities included blue box kits, ops paperwork, lighting the loco workshop, my operating session and attending another before we had our Christmas breakup.

Ops Session Monday 3rd

Well after 12 months of trailing Session 1 I am pleased to report that the changes at Hornertown coupled with the new paperwork actually worked very well to the point where I can say "I have a system that works" and we can move on the planning session 2 of proposed total of 8 required to incorporate all staged trains.

During the session Don and Peter S ran Hornertown and Barry, Rosslyn, Peter J and Wayne ran all the other train movements and I worked the main panel.  A total of 55 movements were undertaken. There was a couple of operational incidents - a run away set of freight cars down the helix when a "hi-lo coupler set" let go - bad orders issued!  and some troublesome carriages on a new passenger train that derailed - some investigation is required.

I did learn that the crossing loop section as shown on my bottom level concept plan was erroneous on one connection to Lewiston loop - it only showed up after scheduling a train over a new route!  Changes have been made!



Blue Box Builds

Now the operations plan is coming together there are times when I run low on Cabooses so I built a couple of Athearn Blue Box kits I bought nearly 30 years ago with a few extras.  Windows added, Kadee couplers, additional weight and Proto 2000 trucks used instead of the originals.

Wow I paid $AUS 6.20 for it!

All that is left is to make the car cards.

Loco Workshop

For quite some time the boys have been saying I needed to remove a roof section and fit lighting to the loco workshop.  I finally got the knife out and sliced one end open so I could pry the roof from the glue on the structure walls. I fitted some left over LED strip to the underside of the roof along with a RF dimmer so I could adjust the light level.

No Lights

With Lights

I wanted to add some animation by way of two welding bays.  When I did my fitting and turning apprenticeship back in the late 60's all the welding bays had six foot high screens around then so workers were spared from the dreaded "welding flash" eye burns.  I made some screens from 0.040" styrene and pained then a dark canvas colour to resemble my memories...

Using Dr Geoff Bunza's code I modified it significantly to introduce a second welder and make the total cycle more random.  I mounted the arduino nano on a project board and added a LM7805 to reduce the 12V supply for the LED's to 5V for the nano.

Here is a video I shot however it is not my best work but you get the idea...

Ops Planning - Session 2

The planning has commenced and I expect that apart from running mainline trains, Hornertown Yard Local Passenger and Flintston will have similar movements to session 1.  The Huntington Local, Loaded Ore (Iron Hill to Huntington), Empty Ore (Stirling East to Iron Hill),  Oily (Stirling Vale-Jimtown-Stanvac-Hornertown-Stirling  Vale), Express Goods West and Passenger (Hornertown-Stirling North).

I need to schedule all the movements (timetable and train graphs) ensuring appropriate distribution of operators around the layout, car movement switch lists (as I have not introduced my waybills yet) and the job cards. 

Op Session at Wayne's

Well the last Ops session for the year was held on Wednesday 12th. I joined Alan, Des, Don, John, Murray, Ross & Wayne.  We had a good running session with few issues.

L-R Des, John, Alan & Ross

L-R Wayne, Don & Murray

L-R Des & Alan
Thanks Wayne for hosting all the running sessions this year.  I have enjoyed attending and running a number of different trains and I think I got to every designated location on the layout this year!

Christmas Breakup

Our Christmas breakup dinner was held at the Crown Inn Old Reynella.  We invite past, present group members & operators and 20 of us enjoyed an evening together.

Our first round robin get together will be on 4th February 2019.

So in summary I have had a year of fun and some frustration but all in all positive.  It was great to finally get agreement that session 1 be initially set in stone so we can move forward albeit it took a lot longer than I first imagined.  I look forward to next year, the preliminary schedule for next year gives me time to design and produce paperwork for additional ops sessions.

Thanks for all the encouragement and support offered throughout the year!

I hope you enjoy the festive season.

Till the end of January.....


Friday, November 30, 2018

November Update

This month activities included maintenance, Hornertown changes, ops paperwork changes, decoder install,  Granddaughters' first loco drive, 0402 pre-wired LEDs and I attended two operating sessions.


During the last Ops session on a few occasions Don was sure "something was off the rails" due to some wheel noise.  His caring hands went to fix the problem but there was NO problem.  Turns out there were a few places where the ballast was a bit high causing the noise but no derailments.

Don & I had a session to eliminate the problem so the yard was cleared and careful assessment of every track was undertaken and offending ballast removed.

I noticed the closure rails of the turnout off the main into Flintston was not closing properly so Wayne and Des gave me a hand to do the adjustments. Me under the layout doing the work and Wayne above checking operation and Des operating the main control panel.  All is now good!

Changes at Hornertown

The op sessions held this year have highlighted that with proper use of the classification tracks there is insufficient storage - I estimate the yard was getting up to 85% of its capacity.

My initial thought was to reduce the coach storage from 3 tracks to 2 and use the third track for storage.  After some thought I realised looking back at all the sessions I have run over the last 3 years that we had never changed a passenger consist during a session.  The operations strategy includes staging at Stirling (6 tracks), Fleets Loop (3 tracks) and Upper Level (3 Tracks) and Local Goods to Jimtown, Flintston & Huntington.  The consist interchanges occur with Express Goods entering or leaving Stirling and Fleets Loop coupled with consists for Local Goods.

3 tracks and three locations so I have allocated one track each Stirling, Fleets and Locals.  Hornertown has two operators assigned for each ops session, Yardmaster and Assistant (shunter). Train #815 Hornertown Classification will service these tracks and will be in two parts the Yardmaster sorts the classification tracks and the shunter transfers cars from classification to storage and vice versa.

The Iron Hill Car Card Box was re positioned and labelled for the storage tracks, the existing Iron Hill layover box was re labelled for layover and direct load car cards.

Ops Paperwork Changes

Following additional operator feedback I have updated the paperwork which should be easier to understand and use.

On the Hornertown Summary Sheet the only shunt moves are clearing and loading the arrival departure tracks and all other movements are treated a stand alone shunt movements with their own switch lists/instructions.



The most complicated switch list Train #815



Lets hope my operators find them easier to use.  I guess I will find out on December 3 my next operating session.

Decoder Change

This was one of my very first DCC Locos I purchased it is a Life Like Proto 2000 GP9e.  It came with a QSI decoder and it kept loosing its settings to the point it was removed from the layout.  Earlier this year I purchased a run out sale Tsumani AT-1000 Diesel 567 non turbo decoder.  This month I finally got around to fitting it.

I removed the factory QSI board and cut a piece of 0.020" styrene to match the size of the QSI board and placed that between the new decoder and the metal weight.  The decoder was mounted using poster tape on the styrene. Kapton tape was applied to ensure no shorting.

The lighting package is not prototypical for the loco number but it is for other numbers so I may renumber it later.  I fitted golden LED's which are held in place using some Krystal Clear.

After reassembly it was placed on the rollers for speed matching. The maximum speed was set using the trim settings first.  Results of the first and subsequent attempts are shown below.

 Result of straight line (default) settings
  First adjustment
 Result of first adjustment
 Second adjustment

That's close enough to enable good consisting performance.  The acceleration and deceleration was then set by running on the layout against existing locos tweaking with Ops mode programming using JMRI.  My roster files are stored on Dropbox and shared between my workshop room and the layout room so all changes are available in both locations - I only use one of the JMRI installations at a time to avoid any conflicts.

Granddaughters' first Loco Drive

Well after many sessions of watching by my granddaughters "I bit the bullet" and decided to let them drive a loco on the layout.  I choose to run the shunt engines from Hornertown Yard as they are speed limited to 25 mph.

The video shows part of the fun we had.

0402 Pre-wired LEDs

I have enough trouble soldering 0603 LEDs but sometimes they are a bit big so I had been looking for some 0402 pre-wired 3V 20ma LEDs.  I purchased 100 from FunTrying Art & Craft for $36.72 so I was happy to get them for $0.37 ($US0.25) each.

Ops Sessions at Wayne's

Two ops sessions were scheduled at Wayne's this month however mother nature intervened with a storm that left Wayne without power and unable to host the second session.

Wednesday 14th

Alan, Don, Murray, John, Ross & I took part and we had a nice slower pace session as we had 6 operators for the four person base session so we all had a bit less work to do.

L to R: Ross, Wayne, Don & Murray

L to R: John, Wayne, Alan & Ross

Don & Murray

L to R: John at Lowood Crossing & Ross at Stokers Siding

Alan at Dunkleigh Towers

Don at Forrest Gully

Wayne at Loco Depot & Alan at Industries in Dunkleigh Towers

Murray behind Valley Junction Loco Depot

Thursday 22nd

Was cancelled due to no power so an impromptu Trainmasters TV session was held at my place in lieu.

Ops Session at Adelachian Lines

We had a familiarisation session at Don's this month and Barry, Chris, Des, Rosslyn, Wayne & I attended.   This was the second time I have run a train "through the system".

Chris & Rosslyn at Swanport

Wayne at Moorvale Plains

Des at Horton

Don running the main control panel

L to R: Barry, Des, Chris, Rosslyn & Don

So quite a busy month all in all.  Next Month I will host an operating session, I hope to have a arduino project working and I hope to get some LED lighting working in the loco workshop.

Till the end of December.....


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

October Update

This month it was great to have Peter R stay, ops paperwork changes continue, maintenance, Model Rail Radio,  uncoupling picks, switch list clipboards, I ran two ops sessions and I attended three other operating sessions this month.

Peter comes to visit

Peter came to stay with us arriving on Friday 12th and leaving on 28th.

Peter and I have three major things in common - model railways, great food and excellent red wine.

So there were familiarisation sessions on my layout, just him and me, 3 formal ops sessions and a 3 day excursion to a great wine district for supplies to "put down" and along the way we had quite a few evenings enjoying some nice drops - eat your heart out Richard Murphy!

The last time Peter took part in a formal ops session here was a long time back so we had a few familiarisation sessions in order for him to work independently during the formal session.

Peter during familiarisation reading the paperwork and trying to put it all together.


During the familiarisation sessions we discovered a low coupler glad hand, a grade crossing plank adjacent to the rail at Adamsville fouling a particular style of bogie frame causing minor derailments and I fixed a wiring issue at Jimtown where some control panel indicators were not working.

Model Rail Radio

I managed to "quick" call in on the show being recorded on 28th.  All the best to Ron Klaiss with his Mine Mount Models company.  Keep up the good work Tom!

My Ops Sessions

I held two Ops sessions this month Monday 8th October and Saturday 27th October.

The goal still remains to get the right amount of work and the associated paperwork in the main yard. Following on from earlier sessions the first one had improved paperwork but the amount of work was still too high to be comfortable for the operators.

Further changes were undertaken between the two sessions this month but issues still remain.

I am thinking that some or all of passenger coach storage roads need to be converted to freight car storage to enable more efficient storage of cars to be used in the next session - this will relieve the pressure on the "classification hold" road which seemed to forever full.

I ran the main control panels for both sessions and managed to get most things right - I miss having Derek around who had learnt the panels - maybe time to think about some training for someone else?

Monday 8th

Barry, Rosslyn, Don, Wayne, Alan, John & Peter S took part and once again the amount of work in Hornertown Yard was too much and needs further revision.  The yard became too congested and it was decided that at least one train needs to be removed from the session.

Below is a listing of the movements for all operators - operator 5 (represents two people) is Hornertown Yard.

Below is the Hornertown Yard movement and shunt listings.

Each Shunt movement has its own switch list as I am still to implement my waybills.

Saturday 27th

Barry, Rosslyn, Don, Spacky, Jock & Peter R took part and once again the amount of work in Hornertown Yard was too much in the second half of the session and the yard was too congested so further revision is required.  There were a few issues including: one Loco fail to start causing some delays, the control system went AWOL causing a power down and restart but the session was "formally paused" only once.

Below is a listing of the movements for all operators - operator 5 (represents two people) is Hornertown Yard.

Below is the revised Hornertown Yard movement and shunt listings.

Uncoupling Picks

Thanks to John for making me some uncoupling picks that were much better than the ones I made some years back.  I was a nice surprise when he walked in for the ops session and handed them to me.   I added some green heat shrink tube to make the shank easier to see.  He has promised me a few more... six would be great....

Switch list clipboards

Don requested a small clipboard for the job list at Hornertown to make it easier to "tick off" completed movements.  Officeworks have a six pack of A5 clipboards for $12.57 so all yards have one now!  I noticed during the session that everyone seemed to be using them.

Ops Sessions at Wayne's

I attended three ops sessions at Wayne's this month and Peter accompanied me to two.

Wednesday 10th October

Alan, Des, Don, Murray, John, Ross & I took part and we had a nice session.

L to R - Ross, Wayne, Des, Don, Alan, Murray & John
Murray watches on whilst John works Dunkleigh Towers

Don working Lowood Crossing

Wayne watches on whilst Des and Alan work Forest Gully

 Discussions at afternoon tea after completion

Don & Alan

John & Ross
Des & Me

Monday Night 22nd October

Barry, Chris, Peter R & I ran the session to swap session pairs of 1 &3 and 2 & 4 between Wayne's two operating groups. It was the "least busy session" we had an easy to accomplish and fun night.

Peter and Wayne

Barry at Dunkleigh Towers

Chris and Wayne at Lowood Crossing

Container Train leaving Dunkleigh Towers

Thursday 25th October

We did it all again the following Thursday Barry, Chris, Des, Don, Peter J, Peter R, Rosslyn & I took part and we had a much busier but nice session.

Barry at Dunkleigh Towers

Wayne and Peter R

Peter J, Chris and Barry at Dunkleigh Towers

Don shunting Lowood Crossing while Rosslyn shunts Forest Gully

So it was a busy month for me!

Whenever Jock and Spacky visit there is always a few social events that take place - this time we had a BBQ and went to a Pasta Night.  Next year it is proposed the come down for two whole weeks and four weekends so at least six social events.  People need to think about getting leave passes!!!

Till the end of November.....