Friday, September 28, 2018

September Update

The first week of this month saw me away from home then a few days feeling off colour on two separate occasions coupled with the continuation of family matters has consumed most of the month.  However as usual a few things were achieved.  Metal polish, maintenance, Huntington shunting lessons, refining ops paperwork and Ops at Wayne's.

Metal Polish

After watching Ralph DeBlasi's video on polishing Athearn sintered wheels on his Ralph DeBlasi's Lehigh Valley - Wyoming Division Facebook Group, I ordered some metal polish from Super Cheap Auto. When it arrived in the mail there was an odour clearly emanating from the package which when opened had the contents in the jar inside - the lid was off and the container broken due to very poor packaging - A replacement is being sought.


There were two major issues that needed attention one causing the layout to be non-operational.

No Power to tracks

Last month I reported that we were about three quarters of the way through the session when some power issues emerged and everything died.....  Investigations as to what had failed were undertaken as the fault would not go away until each and every booster was disconnected from the command station.  I removed the command station and replaced it with my one and only spare and all functioned correctly as I added back each of the four boosters.

At first whilst the problem went away the Radio throttles were not working - then I remembered they need to be re-registered on the system - doh!  After the registration process all back to a working state.

The manufacturer of the command stations have discontinued them and there are NO replacement products that work with the expensive WiFi Throttles.  I am hoping that it is not a hardware component failure in the old command station. I will reload the firmware in the problem goes away.  I guess time will tell.

WiFi Fast Clock Master Power

Powering the clock from the same circuit as the Command Station & Boosters was not a good idea.  If a system reset is required for some reason the idea was that the clock could be paused while this happens.

A significant amount of time was lost when the time had to be reset a few times due to the power issues!

The clock is now powered from a different circuit to eliminate the problem.

Shunting Huntington

Some of my paperwork has been streamlined which caused some confusion for a few so I invited a couple of the team to come and have a session to work through how I put the new paperwork together with a view to improvements where required.

The pick-up list

The Set-out list

Both Barry and Chris could easily follow the separate lists but when combined it seemed to make sense apart from one car "SP 401849" as it appears twice.  The car has to be relocated from the Silos to the Siding instead of being placed in the outgoing consist.

I think we had a few "light bulb" moments when discussing "shunting strategy".  Obviously the objectives of minimising movements through combining Set-outs and Pick-ups wherever possible and only "running around" when really necessary as these have a big outcome in the time taken to shunt.  One has to accept that different people will develop the moves differently using those principles.

Barry and Chris practising.

Refining Ops Paperwork

Don and I have been working towards some standard paperwork for my main yard which is controlled by a Yardmaster supported by and industrial shunter.   We have been working on paperwork for session 1 of 8 and it includes mainline train movements into & out of the arrival departure tracks, classification and shunting tasks.

The classification tracks have been labelled In, Out & Hold to streamline movements.

In - is for consists being moved from arrival/departure to classification for onward movements.

Out - is for outgoing movements.

Hold - is for trucks still to be forwarded or consists for future movements.

In Out Hold Labels added to control panel

In Out Hold Labels added to car card boxes

The original information sheet.

The revised paperwork is below.

Each shunting movement is detailed in separate switch lists.

Ops Session at Wayne's

I attended an ops sessions at Wayne's this month with Barry, Chris, Des, Don, Peter J and we enjoyed the session - here are a few pics.

Peter J and Des at Upsen Downe

Barry Wayne and Peter J at Waverly

Chris at Dunkleigh Towers

Barry at Lowood Crossing

Peter J and Des at Mulga Ridge

Chris at Dunkleigh Towers

Wayne - our host

Don at Stokers Siding

Till the end of October.....


Monday, September 10, 2018

A few days Trainspotting...

Well some time back the 12" to the foot guys from Pt Augusta invited us up for a weekend doing train stuff and merriment.

So on Thursday 30th August Don, Rosslyn and I accompanied by the Big Fella, his wife and the dog met at 10:00 near home, 4WD's with caravan's attached and we departed in convoy towards Port Augusta.  I travelled with Rosslyn who was hosting me in his caravan.  Well it was a wet and windy day and the usual fuel efficiency was way down (Don went from the usual 11l/100km to 16.2l/100km a whopping 47% increase in fuel consumption!).

After the obligatory stop at Dublin for toasted egg and bacon sandwiches we moved on to Snowtown (yes, it is the bodies in the barrels town) for our first sighting and video taking which was done while sheltering from the rain.

From there we  travelled on to Port Augusta found the caravan park and proceeded to setup in the wind and drizzle.

On Friday needed to get bigger pegs as the wind was too strong for what we had. When all done we checked out Yorkeys Crossing and caught two trains on video.

Friday night Don cooked us pizza which was washed down with some nice red wine.

Next morning we met the local boys Spacky & Jock at Port Augusta Station for breakfast where we watched a freight roll by before taking a ride on the Afghan Express to Quorn where we had lunch and then returned to Port Augusta late in the afternoon. We were invited to Jock's for a BBQ tea and we had an great night with an awesome spread put on by the local boys.

On board the Afghan Express

Sunday was a serious train spotting day where we took video of six train movements.  After a full day we all gathered for tea at a local hotel and were filled up with the rather large serves.....

Monday was a slower day for me as I caught two trains before being dropped to have lunch with Spacky and spend the afternoon looking at his trains and watching SP train videos.

Tuesday morning we packed up camp and started heading home.  Rosslyn and The Big Fella were returning home via Port Pirie so I hitched a ride with Don and it wasn't long before he found trains to take more video of!  We took video of four trains on the way home.

Thanks guys for a great adventure and a fun time.  The rumbles have already started about the next visit!


Friday, September 7, 2018

August Update

This post is later than usual as I went away with the boys to Port Augusta to do some train spotting and ride the Afghan Express and ran out of time.  During August it has again seen a very significant proportion of my time being taken up with family matters but some hobby time was found and I managed to work on: Control Panels, Maintenance, Ops Sessions, WiFi Fast Clock and Stronger Magnets Under Loads.

Control Panels

The new local panels for Jimtown and Adamsville have been installed with help from Don and Rosslyn.



Centennial Mills had to be removed to provide working room

Maintenance Sessions

Following the ops session on 6th we had a debrief over afternoon tea and a number of issues were identified for improvement so I asked a few over for a few hours to help implement them.

Flintston Warehouse

The MDF used for the platforms at the warehouse had swelled slightly over winter and at the last ops session a number of the older blue box 50 foot boxcars were scraping the sides....  Rosslyn to the rescue using a rasp, file and vacuum cleaner and hey presto all good!

Uncoupling ramp for Coaling Tower

Instead of a big reach with an uncoupling device of some type it was suggested that an uncoupling ramp be installed to make life easier.  Don had the longest arms so he was tasked to remove some ballast and fit the ramp.

Uncoupling Ramp Removal

Some issues had been identified while shunting at Jimtown when the consist was on the grade on the main - occasionally wagons uncoupled themselves and started rolling away.  This was due to the uncoupling ramp so Rosslyn removed it for me and reinstated the ballast.

Putting Scenery Back

For the last couple of months there has been dialogue about the troublesome track that ended up being ripped out along with the surrounding scenery.  Following the successful use of the new track in the ops session on the 6th it was time to start the reinstatement.  Chris took the lead as he has been doing a great job on his layout.

Cold days here so heater deployed to assist drying


Rosslyn continued with ballasting the double track main at Fleets Loop up to and including Helix Junction.

Inkjet Printing Failure

I should have know better than to get wet water and glue anywhere near inkjet printed rock wall - forgot about the massive fail a few years back....

Just another thing to be attended to...

Ops Session Monday 6th

Despite loosing two operators at the last minute 8 of us had a good session with only a few glitches along the way.  Barry, Chris, Des, Don, John, Rosslyn, Wayne and I ran a total of 43 movements during the three hour session.   The session proved we need two operators in the main yard and one operator was "maxed out" and it showed.

Movements by Operator

Movements by Time

Here is a link to the train graph with 43 movements if you are interested.

Ops Session Monday 20th

In preparation for this session I was asked to rearrange the way some things were done in the Jimtown Turn job and the individual town shunts were not identified separately and this has been addressed too.  I had forgotten a couple of shunting movements in Hornertown main yard and we have reintroduced the second pass through the Hornertown Industrial area.  This has increased the number of movements to 57.

Movements by Operator

Movements by Time

Here is a link to the train graph with 57 movements if you are interested.

Well after a couple of last minute operator losses Alex, Barry, Chris, Don, Peter J, Rosslyn, Wayne and I had some fun however some gremlins were at work and after some power issues everything died.....  We were about three quarters of the way through the session.  Investigations as to what has failed will have to wait for a while as there is quite a few family things going on up to the end of the month.

It would appear the amount of work in Hornertown is beyond most operators so more though and feedback will be sought on how to address this.

A short video based on Alex's photographic work...

WiFi Fast Clock Master

I have finally gotten around to the final assembly and installation of all the modules.

Testing the Master at the table

Testing the Slaves (I could only power three at a time)

Row 8 of 32 died on one display

Huntington Slave

Master Near Jimtown

Above Hornertown Sunset - Shasta Slave

Above Flintston - Iron Hill - Stanvac Slave

Between Jimtown - Onka Valley Slave
All but the last one was installed for the ops session on 6th and all for the 20th.  At the run on the 20th I found powering the clock from the Controller mains power source is not a good Idea if a reset is required for some reason.  This will need to change.

Stronger Magnets Under Loads

The existing magnets have always been a bit weak so I decided I needed to add stronger ones to make load remove easier. I found some on Ebay which were 9 mm x 3 mm  N50 Disc Round Neodymium.

Positioning alongside the existing magnets was a challenge until I realised I could put one on top of the load against the existing magnet then add the new one and position it then add supper glue.

I am hoping the new stronger magnets will be more reliable during operating session 39 cars have them to date.

Ops Session at Wayne's

I attended two ops sessions at Wayne's this month and enjoyed both of them.  The second one was in Wayne's words "The slackest session...."  Well the slower pace was appreciated by all that attended.  The general consensus was a"A great session"....

In conclusion

Lots of good but some bad this month.

I am hoping the family issues come to a conclusion at the end of this month and a new leaf appears. I will work on the issues that caused the last op session to end early .

On a high note some of our group weent to the "Cross Roads of Australia - Pt Augusta" to do some train spotting and ride the Afghan Express from Pt Augusta to Quorn and return.  Were away for 6 days - 5 nights and we were in the territory of the 12" to the foot guys who work in the Pt Augusta Loco Workshops.

I will try post the train spotting stuff soon.

Till the end of September.....