Wednesday, 22 November 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, 17 November 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



8-10-2017

Hi All,

Brief notes this time.  I do like our new home - I think that there were fourteen of us there - including Geoff the Sec and Alan sawing up great lengths of wood in the middle of us all - and there was still room to move.  Of course, with Jack back the noise level was well up and the relevance of the comments was well down.  Even Martin's non-sequiturs do not hold a candle to Jack's.

The diesel railcar and the EMU were back to running smoothly.  On getting them home, I found that the only problem they had was the amount of dirt caked onto the wheels.  Can it be co-incidence that they used to operate on the branch line on the old layout and, being at the back, this track was harder to clean?  Another thing to wonder about - the EMU picks up power from the first and the last of its six bogies.  These were the only wheels that had dirt stuck to them.  Because they are the first wheels to encounter dirty track, or does the electric current flow attract dirt?

Next weekend is the Seniors open day, and we had a great tidy up and clean up at the end of the day.  The down side is that we will never find anything again, but the public image is much improved.  A few of us will be there Friday afternoon setting things up, and a few more on Saturday to run things, then Sunday we get to doing our own thing again.  But leaving things tidy for the BMRA visit the following Thursday.  

Busy as a bee with a bum full of honey.

See you somewhere,
Peter