Saturday, November 28, 2015

November Update

November has again seen me spending some time in the train room for fine tuning after programming and reprogramming decoders. I was asked to host a visit from two members of the NMRA Australasian Region, I had to deal with a Speed Matching Issue, built an Accurail kit, renumbered some locos,  the Android tablets arrived, Modified a BLI Paragon 2 GS-4, attended two Ops sessions and I finished Chris's control panels.

Visit by NMRA members

I was asked by Andrew Emmett (an active member of The British Railway Modellers of Australia Inc.) a member of my daytime operating crew, if a couple of folks who were members of the Australasian Region of the NMRA, could come see my layout.  I welcomed the request and I was very pleased to host Gerry Hopkins MMR from the NSW Central Coast who is the NMRA Achievement Program Regional Manager and Peter Jackson MMR the owner of the On3 - Eureka Valley Railroad for a couple of hours.  Gerry has a nice YouTube channel too.

Speed Matching Issue

Following advice that my track voltage was "high" (and a possible cause of the current keeper issue last month) I decided that I should do some work to check a few things.  The RRampmeters on the layout had an "under load" voltage of 15.8 - 16.0 volts.  The test track was 20.4 volts with "no load" and 18.9 "under load".

I needed to match the two "under load" voltages as the locos "seemed to be slower" on the layout.... duh.....

I remembered a note I got from Don M. when I was first starting with DCC - see below

I remembered that a long time ago I obtained the "fast recovery diodes" and made up what was suggested - at the time I tried them out and they worked - then filed them in my electronics bits and pieces box....  I resurrected them and Ca'ed each set to a piece of evergreen sheet and connected them in an attempt to address the over voltage issue.

This resulted in the output being reduced to 15.5 volts "no load" and 14.5 volts "under load".  This was too low so I reduced the number in circuit - see below

Ah the right result...

The test bench

Loco on the test bed

The top line is the "required" speed curve and the modifications delivered the lower line a drop in top speed from 40 mph to 29 mph at full throttle...

I have correct the error on these 21 locos only a few more to do....

Oh well being retired makes it easier to achieve this - just lost a significant amount of time that's all...

Gondola Kit

I built an Accurail Gondola kit - this is the last one in the triple pack I did the others a couple of years back.....

I fitted Kadee whisker couplers and Proto bogies and it runs like a dream.....

Renumbering some RSD-15's

Some time back I bought two sets of the Blueline RSD-15's (250 & 251) offered by Broadway Limited Imports. After installing the Tsunami decoders the task of renumbering loomed....  I had asked a question "some years ago" on a Yahoo Group and got advice about ELO so I bought a can way back then - time had come to use it!

After successful removal of the painted numbers - I used an eraser to break the skin of the paint and after 3 applications of ELO - it was time to apply the new decals one number at a time.

I remembered "Tips and Techniques" put out by The Model Railcast Show a couple of years back and I put them all in a Word document, so I found and printed it.  I had Microsol & Microset on hand....

Second side could be a bit better but it will have to do as I don't have any more "4's" so the wider gap between the 4 & the 8 (due to my crappy trimming!) will have to stay...

Windows masked ready for "Dull Coat"

Android tablets

The 7" Android Tablets that I ordered from China for have arrived and I have configured them for my home network and downloaded Engine Driver.  During my wife's 60th Birthday party I go a 15 minute leave pass to take the eldest Grandson down to the layout room to try them out.  Well the generation gap could not have been so obvious he was able to control the locos more accurately and he liked that instead of "F keys" on the normal throttle he had buttons with "Bell", "Horn", "Short Horn", etc.

I guess it is what you are used too - I still like the "knob" on a traditional throttle!

BLI Paragon 2 GS-4 Modifications

I like the detail and mechanisms in BLI locos but their decoders not so much...  Once again the chuff reed switch had failed just like the in my Blueline Cab Forwards. I had previously found that the "pulling power" was no that great either and I turned the smoke unit off when it was unpacked for the first time. I came across a YouTube video on modifying a similar loco which addressed decoder replacement and weighting over the drivers so I decided to follow the general ideas outlined.

Factory fitted Paragon 2 decoder and the TCS Wow replacement with Keep Alive

Paragon 2 decoder removed from mounting

Brass strip mounting for heat dissipation

Positioning the new decoder items with Kapton tape

Smoke unit removed


Additional weight added

Wires for cab light, skyline number bard lights, marker lights, head light & mars light

The original wires were "rubbing on the flywheel"so I installed some polystyrene to stop that

Head light made from 1.8 mm LED filed back to the base & attached with Krystal Klear

Holing Mars light in place while Krystal Klear sets

Testing the head light and front number boards
I hope to finish off the all the lighting wiring soon.

Ops Session at Picardy

We had a fun running night during the month - Thanks to our host Ross P.

During the last running night The "Adelaide Team" and the "Birkenhead Team: both work hard to assemble trains ready for dispatch.  History has shown if 'a team: can get a number of trains ready for the mainline then the "other team" was on a hiding to manage!  Ross had a solution - he became the train controller and had implemented some manually controlled signals to keep us in check! We still managed to run 14 trains.

Birkenhead Yard at commencement

Adelaide Yard at commencement

Derek - one of the Birkenhead Yard team.

Barry working Bugle Ranges

Ros & Derek looking "is that still on the track?"

Birkenhead Yard "getting a bit full"

Ross watching intently and as train controller is working the signal controls

A "cross" at Hallett Cove

Barry working "Adelaide Yard"

Ops Session at Wayne's

The crew for the session.  Wayne used us as the Guinea Pigs to run "Session 3" for the first time to help fine tune the session and supporting car cards.  We had a few interesting times and some fun too!

The fast clock was either friend or foe from where you were at in relationship to the timetable!

The obligatory debrief over coffee, tea or wine...

Front camera lens on the phone needs attention me thinks!
I think Wayne was "run off his feet" a few times assisting us whilst we tried to meet his goals!

Chris's Control Panels

This month I finished wiring on the remainder of the five panels.

When all was done we had a celebratory drink!

Some of the comments on my Facebook post were: "Looking good Jim", "Any excuse", "Top shelf (wine) I hope...." & "Looking good Jimbo!!!".

Chris now has to organise some shakedown running sessions to prove the track work and point operation all work smoothly - I am sure there will be some "bugs" to be solved.

Thanks for reading.

Till the end of December 2015.


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