Friday, October 29, 2010

Debugging, Staging, Scenery, Structures and Wiring


PM42 Issues
Well since the last post I have not been able to solve the problem despite advice given through the Model Railroad Hobbyist Discussion Forum in fact is has gotten worse! I can now replicate the problem in another power section not only with Athearn loco but with BLI locos.

They will just have to go and PSX's will replace them. Perhaps I can sell them on ebay!

Point Motor Accessory Switches
At Stanvac junction on of the cross over points was proving less that reliable. It turns out that when the switch was Super glued to the frame the alignment was not quite centered causing it to bind. A previous attempt to improve operation of the switch has spelled the accessory switches death! A new one has been affixed and everything now appears to be working properly.

Following listening to a number of previous issues of The Model Railcast Show I have decided to increase the number of staging tracks to hold an additional six trains. This will provide more operating flexibility and enable my yards to be less cluttered to allow for more prototypical operations.

This has meant that some base board and some track work has had to be remodeled at Lewiston Loop just past Picard Junction.

BJ has continued to work steadily away on details for many areas and some final decisions on Daveyston have been made.

The rural area adjacent to Jimtown has progressed well following the earlier decision to not proceed with a township scene. The area now has grass, cows and a milking shed. Trees have been planted and the whole area including a paddock with horses towards the back drop is substantially complete.

The retaining walls for the road bridge have been installed.

Plans for a small cattle loading ramp to be added to the siding to complement the freight station and silos now exist.

The buildings that were proposed for the Jimtown "town scene" have been relocated as the available space at Adamsville allows for a much improved scene that will look more realistic. Some additional structures are being built by BJ for the town scene.

The siding will have a freight station and two grain silos.

Much time has been spent deciding on getting the best location of land-form and backdrop to blend into the lower level tracks at Picard Junction/Fleets Loop and the new Staging approach main.

The township initially proposed to be above the passenger station will now be at the same level and with the realignment of Fleets Loop to incorporate the Staging approach the township area can be extended slightly.

The new design has the advantage that the LeMaistre Loco arrival and departure tracks will be more visible during operations.


Conveyor for Iron Hill

Barry continued making the conveyor sections and six of the required nine sections have been completed.

Northern Light & Power
You may remember a workmate of mine 'Ross' (as opposed to Ross or Rossco from the Monday night crew) previously built some kits for me - well he has been at it again! This time he has built another Cornerstone Kit - Northern Light and Power.

He was not happy with the bare insides so he added some scratch built "Gensets".

This structure is destined for Flintston.

Hornertown City Structures
Ross has finished cutting the 12mm MDF standoff's (One was only 4mm wide) to provide depth to the facade and allow BJ to paint scenes to be seen through the building windows. It is proposed that I install some SMT LED's to highlight the room contents.

Points behind Flinston on approach to Hornertown
Bob and Chris finished terminating the wires from the control panel completing the wiring of the mainline points on the bottom section in Section B.

Power District B - Bottom Level Power Distribution
Bill2 started connecting up the block wires after installing the panel.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Well since the first run debugging has commenced.

Three issues have emerged to date and each requires rectification.

1. Jimtown Cutting
2. Grade behind Adamsville
3. Power section problem

Jimtown Cutting
There was a clearance problem in the cutting! Somehow the plaster ended up a lot closer than what was desired. Whilst the diesels and Cab Forward clearance was fine the handrails on the cab of the Big Boy were just touching the rock face in a couple of places on the curve.

BJ took drastic action trimming parts of the rock face back with a tenon saw!

It was re-plastered and re-coloured. It is hard to tell what happened by looking at the photos. I guess the quote "with scenery if it does work out - you can do it again!" Look below...




Grade behind Adamsville

I always had a concern that the transition of grade "wasn't quite right" and Murphy was at work! The couplers were moving vertically too much ( a high & Low would disconnect) meaning that everything that was not exactly to the NMRA gauge was at risk of disconnecting. Some steam engine Pilots whilst not hitting the rails were getting too close depleting any tolerance should anything "move" over the coming years.

The solution was to remove the track, chisel up the caneite (homosote) from the MDF, re-cut and join the MDF, cookie cut the "new" baseboard and adjust the surrounding supports before relaying the track. I now have a much better transition!

Power section problem

I have a mix of DCC Specialties - PSX's and Digitrax PM 42's for power sections within my 4 booster power districts. I use a Roco MultiMaus DCC system as the group I meet with uses the same system.

In describing the issue, I have three "traditional DC" power blocks each with a Block Watcher connected to one power section of one booster district on a PM42 where I am experiencing "some issues".

I can run single or double head Blueline SD40-2 (each with a ESU Lok Pilot DCC V3.0 decoders fitted), Athearn Genesis Big Boy or Blueline AC4 or AC5 (also with a ESU Lok Pilot DCC V3.0 decoders fitted) without fault, however, when I run a single or double head Athearn SD45T-2 (each with a ESU Lok Pilot DCC V3.0 decoders fitted) it causes the PM42 section to cycle between short / restart - erratically.

This does not happen on any other power section powered by either a PM42 section or a DCC Specialties PSX.

I am wondering if the PM42 has been set to something other than factory defaults. I do not have a Digitrax DTxxx throttle to check/reset the PM42.

I have checked with my local hobby shops and Digitrax is not sold in Adelaide here in Australia, so finding a local to borrow a throttle also does seem a good prospect.

I am thinking I may need to scrap the PM42 and purchase some more PSX's - an expensive solution - unless I can get a solution. If you have any ideas please feel free to pass comment.