Monday, October 17, 2011

Well it's been a while

No excuses just a year or so of disruptions with operations, becoming a grandfather for the fourth time and my mum passing away just one year ago. The consequences are that work on the layout has be a bit patchy to say the least BUT!!!!!! just yesterday (Monday 17/10/2011) a persistent short in the track work for Merrygoen was resolved.
Now don't ask me how cause I really don't except that with some consistent fiddling I have managed to get the entire yard at Merrygoen powered up and working. The points are still not connected to the Modratec lever frame that is still under construction but things are happening.
Must have been the new CPH's I picked up a week or so back.
Well with much enthusiasm I have cleared away the debris so I can begin construction of the Merrygoen to Dubbo staging and Merrygoen to Craboon and on to Wallerawang staging (Dubbo and Wallerawang are opposite ends of the same staging yard).
I will put together some photos once the construction has begun and try to up-date a bit more often.
Keep modelling even if you have the occasional sabatical.

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Finally back to work

           Well it has been some time since my last post with some major surgery needing to be done to keep the main pump working to it's best capacity but finally I have been given the OK to do whatever I want except take up squash. This is hardly likely to happen as I have not run anywhere since 1974 and don't intend to start now.
           However there has been a significant increase in the exercise regime which is aided by the main pump now doing it's job a lot better and with some good luck and some persistence I will be able to walk all day in the not too distant future.
           Well enough of my health issues and back to the layout. Prior to my operation I had completed the next stage that will be Merrygoen but it was sitting on four saw horses ready to be lifted into place when I had to stop for a while. The good news is that on Friday night (27th August) a group of dedicated helpers arrived to assist in the raising of Merrygoen which is now permanently in place and ready for track laying.
            Track laying will proceed at a rapid rate as all the points are built and there is stock of suitable flex track just waiting to be pinned down over the already cut cork roadbed.
             Now the slow part. As the points and signals at Merrygoen will be operated with a  MODRATEC lever frame I will need to finish the lever frame and install the frame and all the wire-in-tube operating stuff before I can run any trains over the new section. The signals will come later but the frame has to be in place for the points as, not using Peco points, that could be manually operated initially I have built FastTracks points where there is no joint on the point blades requiring them to be moved and held in place in a suitable fashion.
             This was not a problem with Gwabega as it was going to be hidden staging I used Tortoise machines and a panel (see the first photo) to take care of the point operation.
              Anyway enough of the chatter and a few photos.
              First the Gwabega panel. (oops, the original photo file is 6.8 mb think I should reduce the size for a blog)

Merrygoen, built with the track plan laid out.

Gwabega with supports ready to accept the Merrygoen level.
Overall view of Gwabega with the Merrygoen level ready to install.
Merrygoen inverted with a light rope attached to provide lighting for Gwabega once Merrygoen is installed.
Merrygoen in place with the lights turned on to illuminate Gwabega
Merrygoen just waiting for track to be laid.
Now I'm just playing with the camera with a couple of shots of two of my test locos.
(see the dust on the 38 even at this resolution which is only one fifth the original image)
I'll be back when I have Merrygoen complete with the lever frame working the points and perhaps one or two signals.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Just an experiment

            Take no notice of this bit of blog I am just testing to see if I can up-load a pdf document in preparation for doing this on the Modelling the Railways of NSW blog when the time comes to put out this year's brochure and conference registration form.
            Well I know now I can't upload a pdf but I can convert my own (produced by me that is) pdf's to jpg's and upload them. So the experiment is now to see if others can download and print from this file below. Let me know if you have trouble doing that.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gwabegar is complete

It has been some time since my last post but then things get in the way like building a Sellers turntable from a kit for AMRM. The review will be published, I believe, in the April 2010 issue of the magazine. So to read about my turntable kit build you need to buy the next issue of AMRM.

Back to the layout. Over the weeks since my last post the staging yard the is "Gwabegar" has been completed with the track and point work all laid and the Tortoise machines installed and wired to a panel. The baloon loop that will provide continuous running (after I figure out the automation of the point motors needing to change to allow this to happen. But that is another project) works fine with the necessary smart electronics to do the polarity change "on-the-fly" as a loco passes through the gaped section.

Having completed the track work and electrical stuff for the point motors I have now completed the spiral that leaves Gwabegar and raises the main line up to the level that will be Merrygoen. As with the Gwabegar yard Merrygoen will be built on a flat section of ply so the next stage is to put in place the necessary supports and to that end I will be using the wall to provide the rear support struts will support the ply on the front of the layout. There will be some bracing of the ply using real timber but only as much as is needed so as not to restrict the access to Gwabegar.

In addition the entire base for Merrygoen will hinge at the wall to allow work under the base as well as improve the access to Gwabegar for maintenance in the future.

Once the supports for Merrygoen are in place and the ply fabricated to the dimensions required the will, I guess, be the long awaited "working night" on The Coolah Branch layout for the usual group of modellers who I tend to hang about with every second Friday night.

I have also included a number of pics that show the construction up to now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Track Laying Begins

Well all, after a couple of weeks getting the initial bench work for the Gwabegar-Merrygoen location completed I thought it was time to lay a little track. Now it has been a few years since I laid track and it was code 100 but now I am using code 75 Peco and the points are made using a "Fastracks" No.6 jig. I have prebuilt 22 sets so far 11 RH and 11 LH which will be enough to complete the section now under construction.
As in the tradition of many real railways/railroads (depending where you hail from) the initial track spike used was gold plated and I have a good supply of gold plated spikes if anyone wanted one to start their railway.
You can see from my pics that the golden spike is in place and that the Gwabegar staging in under construction.
What I have not photographed is the track spiraling around to cross the current track and continue on another full circle to the level for Merrygoen. I will, however, include that area latter when the second turn of the spiral is complete.
Well a busy family weekend ahead with a wedding, birthday party and not to mention the Parramatta Eels to beat the Canterbury Dogs tonight in the rugby league final.
Catch you all soon.