Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just bumming around on a Sunday morning

Having purchased a nice track cleaning wagon see I tried a few weeks back on the night we installed the upper level to run the track cleaning car up the spiral from Gwabegar to Merrygoen using a nice new 42 class without much sucess as the load of the brass wagon and the drag from the track pad was just too much and the 42 just sat there slipping.

I knew I had a couple of large US proto locos in storage so after some searching I found both. Of course they both had very old DCC decoders (Digitrax DH120's) and having replaced one cause it just didn't work and trying each loco as the push vehicle for the track cleaner with similar results to the 42 I decided that the only way was to set up a permanent consist and to make a small track at Gwabegar just to stable the consist.

Well not only did the one old Digitrax decoder not work but the older version would not handle advanced consisting. Changed the other decoder and all was then well.

Well now I have a track cleaning consist just have to build the parking siding at Gwabegar. Thinking as well that a banking loco may be needed from Gwabegar to Merrygoen so the same siding could accommodate a banker as well.

As always a couple of photos for interest.

The 42 stalled and slipping

Serious motive power needed to move the cleaning car

Monday, September 13, 2010

Staff control of layout

Considering that I am building a single track main line with a single track terminating branch line I figured that to avoid the obvious problems of trains meeting either head on or nose to tail then I needed some form of control to ensure only one train operated in a section at any one time.
The simplest thing I could think of was to use a key switch where each section would have a different key so that drivers could not enter a section that was not "theirs".
Now key switches are not too hard to get BUT to get six (6) different keys cause I need six sections was a bit of a problem. I tried Jaycar and found that by using three different types I was half way there but 6 ? well. Ebay to the rescue and with a little searching I found quite a range available and now with three (3) more different types I have the six I need to control the layout. 
With the exception of Gwabega that is a baloon loop and staging area all sections will have two key switches one at each end of the section that will isolate a section of track so that a train cannot enter or leave the section without the key/staff. So before you can leave Dunedoo to proceed to Merrygoen the driver must have the key/staff to gain entry to the section and to leave the section the driver must remove the key/staff at the entry and use the same key/staff to turn on track power at the other end of the section.
Of course the driver must have a clear signal before leaving the section to enter a locality. The driver must also have a clear signal to leave a locality and these signals will only go to clear when it is safe to proceed. (signals will for the most part be controlled from the local signal box by mechanical or electrical means.

In the case of Gwabega there will only be one key switch and a driver will need the key to proceed from Merrygoen to Gwabega and once the train has been stored the driver will return the key/staff to Merrygoen for use by the next driver traveling to or from Gwabega. Drivers will have some considerable responsibility in ensuring the safety of their trains.

There will be some interlocking (electrical) to be done to ensure safety but that's another project altogether.

Just to give an example the following photos are of the key switch to allow a driver to enter or leave Merrygoen travelling either to or from Gwabega.

The staff in place and turned on to allow power to the isolation section of the track
Staff/key in place to power the isolated track section
The staff/key removed so no train can enter or leave Merrygoen