Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Club Meeting, 17th December 2017

Hi and Seasons Salutations to All,

Yesterday we were the metric dozen - nine members plus a friend (perhaps future member) of Rod's from a Men's Shed.

Mousehole Arises from the Ashes
As promised, there was some gentle, disorganised running of trains.  Geoff the Pres ran an F3 or thereabouts hauling a shortish rake of freight cars, then his 0-4-2 T ( I suppose a 1400 Class) with a pair of 4 wheeled carriages as a push-pull unit on the branch line.  Later still the Evening Star hauled the blue Pullman stock around for a while in the (vain) hope that the noisy gears would bed in and quieten down.  I managed to assemble enough freight cars behind the NSWGR 80 class that it finally no longer made it round the uphill curve approaching Sayer from the north end.  By the time that it stopped with wheelspin just short of the summit, the last car was approaching Gin Gin.  That train was more than twice the length of any of our passing loops, so not likely to be a problem when we attack a timetable day.  In contrast, George had a tiny three carriage shuttle of DBB origins that made its way on the branch line.  Geoff the Sec and Rod re -graded the track bed on the approach to the bridge over Martin's ravine.  David did a bit of fine tuning on the scenery around quarry corner.  Dale found things that nobody else could.  And Helen and Judy assembled everybody's contributions onto one table that we gathered around and then put the put the world to rights once more while we scoffed the goodies.  If only the Government would leave things alone from one week to the next, then we could make real progress.

So our modelling year ended with a disparate mob having all pushed in more or less the same direction, and utterly transformed the Pool Room.  We are definitely a fixture at the CSCC for the foreseeable future.

Enjoy your next Sunday away (Christmas Eve), and the one after as well (New Year's Eve), and we will gather again on Jan 7th.  The workaholics will probably want to build something, and I would like to ( read "desperately need to") sort out who will be doing what at our 2018 show.  If you will not be with us, please send me an email prior to the 7th, saying what days you will be able to help out, and what you would like to help with, so that we can spread the load equally, as far as possible.  Set up day is Friday 12th with 13th and 14th as our public days.

Best wishes to all for the New Year
Peter

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Club Meeting 10 December 2017

Hi All,

Every one knew it was a running day, except Geoff the Sec.  So he worked for a while, until he got fed up with that game.  Late in the day he borrowed the 80 Class to rumble around with a satisfyingly long rake of freight cars.  

First to hit the track was Paul with a new model of one of Britain's classic locos of the 19th century - the Dean goods.  A lovely little model, by Oxford (better known as makers of model cars),  this hauled a rake of battered, weathered wagons around until Paul deemed that it was now run in.  Then it was the turn of some equally battered and weathered 2-6-4 T to haul them around.  

Derek continued to solder wires here and there without causing very many shorts, and I was sorting out those freight cars that rolled freely from those that did not.  That done, Marco Porter was able to move enough of them to fill any given siding at Stanley Creek.    Geoff the Sec told me that the "stiff" ones are mostly 50 years old, and have not turned a wheel for the past 40 years.  "Fix it, dear Henry", etc.  

Jack ran his HO r/c battery powered diesel and, over tea, sought advice on how to do similar in G gauge.  He received advice, but I am not sure if it helped.  

Geoff the Pres had the impressive 2-10-0 "Evening Star" that flatters but to deceive.  The motor is actually in a rather lightweight tender that produced a lot of gear noise and wheelspin and very little forward motion when four lighted carriages were hooked on behind.  Similar problem to the freight cars - one carriage in particular was hard to drag because of high friction from the pickups that powered the lights.  In contrast, his little 0-4-2 T just purred around.  

Greg had a little video camera on a wagon that was being pushed around by some anonymous looking diesel of the BR persuasion, and Rod had a different BR diesel that put in a late appearance.  

George had a Southern Pacific F? diesel that struggled to haul 3 or 4 (should pay more attention) "heavyweight" passenger cars.  I attribute most of the struggle to dirty wheels on the loco that combined with every speck of dirt on the track to bring proceedings to a halt.  At least it did point out a few spots where glue had made its way onto the rails.  Earlier, the Dean goods had identified every main line point where the moving rail was not making adequate contact with the fixed one.  Diesels tend to bridge these gaps whereas 0-6-0s do not.  

Judy and Martin did not bring anything to run, but Judy unloaded flyers for the show to all who would take a few, and passed a pile of old club paperwork to Geoff the Sec, who is compiling a rational record of Club activities since our formation.  She also mentioned that the Show is now listed on a social website  https://www.weekendnotes.com/model-train-show-phillip-island-district-railway-modellers-inc/  so you are encouraged to visit that, make sure to get to end of the article and "like" it.

Don't forget to bring a spot of tucker next week, and we will have another laid back day of doing not a lot.

Peter

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Club Meeting 3rd December 2017

Hi All,
The end of the day marked the end of "normal"  activities for 2017.  So what normally happened?

As promised, Derek courted death by soldering iron, out of sight of most of us except Rod who kept making holes in the baseboard and poking bits of wire at him.  David plastered the hill which the quarry is trying to cart away.  Geoff the Pres and Dale finished putting up the back scene on the branch line side of the divider, and protected Rod from further injury by neatly fitting capping strip to all the rough edges.  Thank you, gentlemen, it was only a matter of time before I too came away bleeding.  In fact, I guess that most of us are at the stage where the skin and the blood are thinner than they used to be.  Judy had brought a bunch of new, double sided name tags to be laminated.  Why double sided?  For the show, instead of risking more blood-letting by safety pin, we will all have name tags on lanyards (with which to hang ourselves, or each other).  And we all know which way around name tags want to hang on lanyards.  Geoff the Sec had forgotten to bring any tools (as if the Club doesn't have any!) so amused himself by coupling a couple of metres of freight cars behind my NSWGR 80 Class and hauling that lot around at freight train speed.  After a while he disappeared into the store room and claimed to be sorting things out.  Grant walked back and forth, hither and yon, creating cerebral scenery, and wondering where to put the Pub.  Or was it the Church?  If I remember town planning from my days in Ireland, they are on opposite corners of any given crossroads.

I had a quietly fruitful afternoon sorting out bugs that I had built in when I laid the Stanley Creek freight yard trackwork.  During the week I had taken the Porter 0-6-0 home and introduced him to Marco the UPRR gondola.  These two are now inseparable companions, and Marco Porter is now a 4-4-6-0 combo who unhesitatingly explores the length and breadth of the Stanley Creek yard.  He can escape onto the main line if some one leaves a point open. 
I also found that while he did not have any problem pulling a 4 foot train of wagons on the home track, there are a few freight cars on the club layout that he can barely move on their own without wheel spin.  Time for a bit of maintenance, or release the handbrake, or suchlike.

As foretold, next Sunday is set as a running day, so bring along your favourite loco (or use a Club one) and stretch its legs along the main lines,  or fight your way through oncoming traffic on the branch line. 

The 17th is still to a cakes (but no ale) afternoon.  Not to over cater, if you just bring enough for one, there will be enough for everybody when we mix and match.

And somewhere in there, there is a bit of tweaking to be done on the U-Drive.

Peter

Friday, December 1, 2017

Meeting 26/11/2017

Hi All,

More than twice as many of us this week, but not any noisier - at least not when Martin and George turned off the world's second loudest vacuum cleaner.

I rocked up rather late (not too late for tea - got to make the most of it before Helen finds her new house) to find Martin, George, Dave and Paul busy building scenery.  Rod was puzzling over trackwork at Mousehole, Derek was down at floor level with a hot soldering iron for company, while Greg tried to look as though he knew what Derek was doing, and why.  Geoff the Sec was standing around - possibly doing something, I was the other side of the divider so how would I know?  Jack had recharged the battery in his r/c diesel, and ran that around derailing this and that.   As well as a date loaf (or similar), Helen had brought along a box of disassembled USA diesels that Ian was going to do something with one day.  These are available for anyone who wants a challenge.  Dale was harried from pillar to post with the usual range of questions.  All I asked was "Does the Club have a 40' gondola that I can modify?" and that led to looking through every mysterious cardboard box in cupboardus giganticus.  We found a lot more than a gondola.  To remind us that our annual show is now seven weeks away, Judy had brought along the first draft of the Show Programme, and that got passed around.  George did his usual meticulous proof reading, and found every one of Judy's deliberate mistakes- just can't get anything past that fellow.  Check out the Club's blog site, to see if any of the photos taken by Jack's drone came good. 

Next month, Derek is going to try to get the branch line powered up to its end on the 3rd, the 10th is to be a running day, the 17th will mainly be given over to eating cakes, the 24th is reserved for Christmas Eve and the 31st for New year's Eve.  Jan 7th we better try to get the Club layouts in running order for the show because Friday 12th is set-up day.

See you on the 3rd for what will be our last "normal" day for a while. 
Peter

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Meeting 19/11/2017

Hi All,

Every once in a while I have to remind my readers that these notes are not in any way an official record of PIDRM activities.  They are the ramblings of one, slightly twisted, club member's recollections of a pleasant Sunday arvo.  Principally for the "benefit" of members who could not be there  to share it in person.

With only six of us present, yesterday should have been a quiet afternoon.  However, Jack was one  of the six - that always puts the dB count up.  Much of his afternoon was spent in trying to flatten the battery in his r/c diesel.  I have to confess to being impressed by the performance of that loco.  He also wondered (at approx 87dB) if he could build a battery powered G scale loco in time for our January show.  A phrase including pigs and aviation came to mind.

I had promised George that I would re-address a loco for him, so I brought along a lap-top to talk to the Club's Digitrax PR3 unit and its associated HO and N scale tracks.  In the end, George had brought along about six assorted German locos.  I am guessing that these probably had Lenz decoders.  Whatever they were, they appeared to conform well with the NMRA standards, so all went smoothly. (I think - still awaiting George's report of what happens when he puts them on the Waverley club's layout).  Then Geoff the Pres took time out from helping Dale to paste up branch line backdrops to present me with a couple of Hornby locos that had gone beserk.  One of the good features of the PR3 setup is that it can read back all the information that has been fed into the decoder.  Geoff's "Evening Star" loco turned out to have a strange address - no wonder it ignored commands.  That sorted, it still did not work when we tried on the layout - more on that shortly.  Then there was his little 0-4-2 tanker - a very old Triang loco I think.  When the Club bought the Porter 0-6-0 to work the Stanley Creek yard, I replaced the Bachmann decoder with a Digitrax N-gauge sound decoder.  Geoff then squeezed the original Bachmann decoder - it is a tiny unit - into the 0-4-2 that was built before DCC was a twinkle in any one's eye.  It remained stubbornly on its 03 address until I remembered that it is part of the Bachmann E-Z range, and will only take a 2 digit address.  So we gave it one of the remaining 98 2 digit addresses that were available, and all is well.  Finally, Jack took time out from flattening batteries to offer up his Hornby A4 for re-addressing.  That one was easy, and then it chuffed and whistled its way around the main lines for the rest of the afternoon hauling the blue Pullman carriages, plus a diner, and a guards van that parted company now and then.  The guards van was always found by the battery powered freight that was following behind  (still, impressive battery!).

It seemed that the decoder in the "Evening Star" might have lost its motor drive capability, so we pulled it out and plugged it into another bit of Club gear - a decoder tester that Ian Sayer made originally, and I tarted it up and added an old Jinty that had been donated, so that motor, lights and sound can all be checked prior to installation.  Or after, in our case.  Lo and behold the Jinty spun its wheels on cue and, after Geoff found the wiring problem and plugged the decoder back in, so too did "Evening Star".  All in all, a successful afternoon for the locos.

Meanwhile, George had rejoined the chain gang, breaking rocks in his quarry, and Judy had sorted various financial aspects of hire of the Cultural centre with Dale.  The bond - which we have always had returned in full in the past - has risen from $200 to $500 this year!  Not a problem in the long term, but it does go to emphasise that we need to keep a healthy bank balance.

Dale is threatening to declare a running day some time soon - I'll post the good news when I hear it.

See you on the 26th
Peter








Friday, November 17, 2017

12-11-2017

Hi all,

Most of the usual suspects were to be found loitering around the layout, mostly with intent to do something.  This was accomplished with various degrees of success.

Dale had brought in a pack of Hornby DCC point clips, and I spent a happy time fitting these around in the Stanley Creek yard, and getting the Pennsy 0-6-0 shunter to crawl around in a very satisfying style.  Right up to the place where Derek has wired the frog  of a point for the direction LEDs.  As some sort of fringe benefit, this then proved that the power district implementation worked as it should.  The freight yard shut down with a dead short, but everything else kept working.

So, one problem solved.  One problem created.  Plans B, C and D are currently under consideration.

One puzzle that we did solve was the question of why the red or green point lights showed yellow.  We (Derek, Greg or I) will explain it to anyone who cares about square waves and Hz..

Meanwhile,  every one doing scenery, painting, sorting the store room, exchanging hellos, making tea, etc made steady progress without any need for furrowed brows.

I should try it one day - except that I don't really like doing scenery, painting or making tea.

See you on the 19th

Peter

29-10-2017 and 5-11-2017

Hi All

It seems that I kept you all in the dark about what happened last week (i.e. I never got around to writing any notes.)  Put that down to some sort of age-related phenomenon, likewise my inability to fill you in about it now.  I do recall that there were about 10 of us there, busy and happy as ever.  And that both Dale and I forgot to bring the dry-lube potion to fix a sticky point.  This week we both remembered, and then Paul told us that he had some all the time last week.  Note for the future - if you want something outlandish, Paul might have it in his truck!

This week, again ten or a dozen of us at the Club, depending when you conducted the census.  The background scenes have now  been placed all around the inside of the divider, and definitely add to the ambience.  A bit of cunning camouflage is called for to blend scenes behind Stanley Creek - yet to happen.  

The first station on the branch has been  named Gingin until we change it.  Likewise the entire layout is confirmed as the Bass Coast Line.  There is a coal loader at Gingin.  It is filthy - don't know why as there is no coal delivery system as yet.

I have news for those of you who thought that mountains were made of rocks and soil.  If George makes them they are polystyrene foam, and if Paul makes them they are cardboard strips and hot glue.  Once the grass has grown over them, who is to know?  Some sort of epidemic must have swept through John's Falls last week as the local cemetery is now full.  And some of us now know why Yew trees are a feature of English country grave yards.

I also have news for those who thought that DCC layouts need to be wired up.  Jack happily drove his battery powered, radio controlled, loco all afternoon,  without the layout switched on.  Don't let Derek or Greg know, we don't want them to feel unwanted. 

Around the freight yards I am pleased to report that the sticky 3 way point at Sayer responded well to the dry-lube potion and now usually works.  Also (reminder to Dale) those Hornby springy thingies that look like a staple work wonders for little 0-6-0s that are looking for a current supply while sitting on a moving point blade.  We need lots of them.  Or else to do all our shunting with great long Co-Co diesels.

Geoff the Sec asked me to put something in these notes.  I hope that it was to say that there will no meeting on Dec 24th, and that Dec 17th will be be more of a sit down with munchies than a railway day.  If that is wrong then I will try again next week.

Until the 12th

Peter
















22-10-2017

Hi All,

It was a quiet day at the Club.  Dale was there, and some other fella (ah, that would have been me).  It was even quieter after Dale left early to avoid the traffic.

However, some useful things happened.  Dale did some serious sorting out in the store room - initially prompted by my asking if he had seen my x, y and z that been victims of the recent tidying up process.  We found those, and then he decided to make a day of it.   I concentrated on the 3 way point in the Stanley Creek yard.   Because we use the above board point motors we are unable to use the Peco clip-on switches that they recommend for switching power to the three frogs within the point.  Small micro-switches with a light throw force seem to do the job mechanically and electrically.  Ugly, though.  Some scenic treatment required, I think.  Also, because there is a close, parallel track at one side, there is no room for a micro-switch. So both motors have to be on the same side.  So one of them has to lie along the curved track.  So the well wagon cannot go down that track - well it better not need to.  All this was accomplished to a background of sounds along the lines of  "So that's where it got to.  I'd forgotton we had these.  Well, that can go in the rubbish. ..."

And third hand reports suggest that the BMRA tour was a success, so thanks to everyone who opened their layouts to the mob.

See you on the 29th

Peter

15-10-2017




Hi All,

It has been a busy few days at the Club.  Last Friday, a few of us went in to prepare for the Senior's Open Day.  George dropped in with the core of the quarry, Rod helped, Dale and I did a few things on the HO layout - most noticeably painting the fascia boards black - and Derek and Ankie set up Bald Mountain in the main hall.  More on this later.   Jack was there, too, carpet bowls in hand.

A slight variation on the same personnel ran things smoothly enough on Saturday.  The public attendance was disappointing for the Seniors - showing how important it is to get the advertising right - but they emphasised that they appreciated our support.  Jack was there again, this time with OO locos.  He had an A4 Pacific (miraculously, not the same loco number as Dale's) and a very nice model of an SR Adams Radial tank engine.  In my youth it was Hornby Dublo, and you had a choice of 3 locos.  Now the Hornby range is 113 locos.  How times have changed - more on this later.   At the end we packed up and wished Derek a happy holiday in Japan with Ankie.

Sunday was another quiet day - much of it devoted to trying to find things that had been put away to make the place tidy.  Geoff the Pres and Dale added more fascia boards and I played with a recalcitrant 3 way point.   David, George and Martin beavered quietly away and now, by accident not planning, we are developing continuous scenery along a whole section of branchline - from Port Gary, through John's Falls, past the quarry and over the gorge carved out by the river X.  Of course, if we were in Devon, that would be the River Exe.  Come to think of it, our branchline terminus is indeed based on a station from somewhere in that area.  After tea (nice fruit cake, Helen) we tidied up again in preparation for the BRMA visit on Thursday.  After the happy day that Geoff the Sec finishes the shelving in the store room, it will be much easier to find things that have been put away.

Now to the "more on that later" things.  Bald Mountain, like many of us, is showing her age.  She started off as five modules in, I think, 2006.  That has now grown to nine modules.  Eleven years of mantling and dismantling, and being carted around the state is taking its toll, so we are seeking input from all and any of you.

She remains good to look at, popular with the younger generation (and therefore their parents), and reliable and easy to operate once set up.  And to replace totally would be a bald mountain of work.

However, she too was a learning curve, and the N gauge scene has changed over the past decade.
Things that now give trouble: 
1)  The legs are too wobbly for an exhibition environment.
2)  The mechanical connection between modules is wearing, making alignment difficult (critical in N gauge)
3)  The track is prone to work loose at the module ends.
4)  The electrical connections between modules are becoming unreliable.
5)  The old MiniTrix locos donated by Ian have worn out.  Typical of their period, they were powerful, heavy and went round tight curves.  The bigger new locos need a wider radius (the bogies don't have swivel clearance).  
6)  Our new smaller locos struggle (with wheelspin) to haul even short trains around the "figure 8" module that has steep grades on long 200mm radius curves.  This is the module that contains the Bald Mountain.
7)  40' boxcars are fine on the tight curves, but there is not the trackside clearance to handle new 70' and 80' passenger cars.  (They look silly, anyway).  Second hand older shorter models are not easy to find.
8)  Once upon a time, the Rapido couplings were universal in N gauge, but now all American rolling stock has KaDee style couplings.

We already have possible fixes for some of these deficiencies, but I don't wish to lead the debate.  Any suggestions, and preferably real life experience, will be welcome.  Send me an email, or discuss it at Club.

We don't intend to try any miracle cures before our next show so no rush, just bear it in mind while looking around.

Peter



15-10-2017

Hi All,

It has been a busy few days at the Club.  Last Friday, a few of us went in to prepare for the Senior's Open Day.  George dropped in with the core of the quarry, Rod helped, Dale and I did a few things on the HO layout - most noticeably painting the fascia boards black - and Derek and Ankie set up Bald Mountain in the main hall.  More on this later.   Jack was there, too, carpet bowls in hand.

A slight variation on the same personnel ran things smoothly enough on Saturday.  The public attendance was disappointing for the Seniors - showing how important it is to get the advertising right - but they emphasised that they appreciated our support.  Jack was there again, this time with OO locos.  He had an A4 Pacific (miraculously, not the same loco number as Dale's) and a very nice model of an SR Adams Radial tank engine.  In my youth it was Hornby Dublo, and you had a choice of 3 locos.  Now the Hornby range is 113 locos.  How times have changed - more on this later.   At the end we packed up and wished Derek a happy holiday in Japan with Ankie.

Sunday was another quiet day - much of it devoted to trying to find things that had been put away to make the place tidy.  Geoff the Pres and Dale added more fascia boards and I played with a recalcitrant 3 way point.   David, George and Martin beavered quietly away and now, by accident not planning, we are developing continuous scenery along a whole section of branchline - from Port Gary, through John's Falls, past the quarry and over the gorge carved out by the river X.  Of course, if we were in Devon, that would be the River Exe.  Come to think of it, our branchline terminus is indeed based on a station from somewhere in that area.  After tea (nice fruit cake, Helen) we tidied up again in preparation for the BRMA visit on Thursday.  After the happy day that Geoff the Sec finishes the shelving in the store room, it will be much easier to find things that have been put away.

Now to the "more on that later" things.  Bald Mountain, like many of us, is showing her age.  She started off as five modules in, I think, 2006.  That has now grown to nine modules.  Eleven years of mantling and dismantling, and being carted around the state is taking its toll, so we are seeking input from all and any of you.

She remains good to look at, popular with the younger generation (and therefore their parents), and reliable and easy to operate once set up.  And to replace totally would be a bald mountain of work.

However, she too was a learning curve, and the N gauge scene has changed over the past decade.
Things that now give trouble: 
1)  The legs are too wobbly for an exhibition environment.
2)  The mechanical connection between modules is wearing, making alignment difficult (critical in N gauge)
3)  The track is prone to work loose at the module ends.
4)  The electrical connections between modules are becoming unreliable.
5)  The old MiniTrix locos donated by Ian have worn out.  Typical of their period, they were powerful, heavy and went round tight curves.  The bigger new locos need a wider radius (the bogies don't have swivel clearance).  
6)  Our new smaller locos struggle (with wheelspin) to haul even short trains around the "figure 8" module that has steep grades on long 200mm radius curves.  This is the module that contains the Bald Mountain.
7)  40' boxcars are fine on the tight curves, but there is not the trackside clearance to handle new 70' and 80' passenger cars.  (They look silly, anyway).  Second hand older shorter models are not easy to find.
8)  Once upon a time, the Rapido couplings were universal in N gauge, but now all American rolling stock has KaDee style couplings.

We already have possible fixes for some of these deficiencies, but I don't wish to lead the debate.  Any suggestions, and preferably real life experience, will be welcome.  Send me an email, or discuss it at Club.

We don't intend to try any miracle cures before our next show so no rush, just bear it in mind while looking around.

Peter