Sunday, May 23, 2010

April (2007) morphs into June.....

We carefully took up the track leading out of the main yard on the garage wall side of the layout. Relaid both curves and relocated the points into the yard using the 30” radius Tracksetta. I found that this was very easy to use except I had a lot of trouble inserting the track pins as per the instructions – our needle nose pliers weren’t “needle-nosed” enough. After a few harsh words (well a great number actually) and the loss of even more track pins which would spin off heaven knows where I finally got the section laid. The Xuron Rail Cutters were a snip (pun intended) to use compared to the Dremel. The C-16 and a K-28 can now be pushed around these curves very easily.
Raymond's MMI K-28 loco. A magnificent model and Oh so heavy!

Raymond was keen to start wiring the layout so that we could start test running some locos and rolling stock. We had a discussion about what wire to purchase and how we would set up the wiring for DCC. We decided we had better call in the Inspector General Rail Accreditation Unit (alias Craig Mackie) for his approval of the track layout so far and to consult with him (being an expert on DCC) for his recommendations for wiring sizes etc. I telephoned Cassino Headquarters where his Commander-in-Chief answered the phone and I asked to speak to the Inspector General. Craig eventually came out of the depths of his Cassino Headquarters and had to ask his Chief if he could go over to “Silkwood Depot” to do an accreditation inspection and consult with Dodgy & Son Railway Contractors (Myself & Raymond). Approval being granted the Weird Geezer duly arrived.

Having made his inspection he immediately slapped a defect notice on the contractors. Two points were located in such a way that they would short out if power was applied. The defect had to be fixed with appropriate insulating rail joiners before any wiring could be undertaken. After some further consultation the Inspector General returned to his office at Cassino Headquarters (within the half hour timeframe that he had been allotted by the Chief)

Raymond duly replaced the nickel silver rail joiners with insulating joiners. This was a relatively minor surgical process. We decided to defer purchase of wire etc pending further deep thought. (We are very deep thinkers – not much action though!!!)

Raymond then started work fixing the points and track in the yard while I tested clearances using some coaches and the two steam locos. Uh-Oh!! A serious problem has been detected.

A set of points leading off the yard lead to a head-shunt is too close to a passing loop on the main line and the Jackson & Sharp coaches foul each other let alone the C-16 and K-28. I had put these points in directly together which would have been fine for HO Scale but definitely not suitable for O Scale. These were the same points that had to have insulating joiners installed.

Dodgy & Son called a special meeting to discuss this problem. We felt we could resolve this one of two ways. Make a rule that either the head-shunt or the No.2 Passing Loop could not be used when a train was either being shunted or a train was using the Passing Loop – not ideal. The alternative was to relocate the set of points coming out of No.2 Passing Loop further away from the points leading into the head-shunt – seemed a logical solution.

While Raymond spent the remainder of the afternoon continuing laying the yard trackage I carefully pulled up the curves out of the main yard for the second time so as to relocate the points and relay the curves – for the third time.

Uh-Oh!! Yet another major problem has arisen. Somehow I have changed the geometry of the whole section and now the curve won’t fit (must be 30” absolute minimum). Left the problem (after a few choice words – my vocabulary is expanding) so as to ponder it (more deep thought) and retackle the situation another day. Need to carefully consider if there is another solution or out of necessity go back to the original layout – still not ideal from an operational viewpoint.

Raymond in the meantime managed to lay three sidings in the yard, a head-shunt for locos into the loco shed, a coaling siding, a second loop out of the loco shed and a fourth siding at the opposite end of the yard as well as the head-shunt for the depot yard. He still has to lay the three locomotive shed roads.

It is now early June (2007) and little work had been done in the last few weeks.
We went to our local hobby shop and picked up a couple of magazines while Raymond bought another G Scale loco, a Porter 0-4-0T. He already has a Porter 0-4-0ST.

Dick Smith’s, Acacia Ridge was our next stop where Raymond purchased 20 metres each of black and red wire rated at 7.5 amp which we thought would do for the Bus wire and Feeder wire for the layout as well as a special wire stripper/cutter tool. I purchased a temperature controlled soldering iron (55W), solder and cable clips to support the wiring under the layout.

Raymond spent Saturday afternoon putting Feeder wire on Loops 1, 2, 3 & 4 and the yard lead while I installed the NCE outlets on the side of the baseboard. Raymond then connected the wires from No.1 Loop to the NCE outlet and hooked up his ProCab controller. Power on!

We test ran a DCC equipped Bachmann Davenport 0-4-0DM first just to see if everything was okay and there were no short circuits. The thinking was if we blew up a loco valued at $105 this would be better than blowing up a loco valued at $500. However, everything went according to plan. We then tried a Bachmann Forney with its Tsunami sound chip. We only had about 12 feet of track to run on but it was great fun! We both had grins from ear to ear. The sounds the loco made were excellent and to actually see our first trains operating was exhilarating and a great incentive to continue the construction work on the layout,

Following this we had a discussion about how to run the Bus cables and locations of certain Feeder wires. Raymond decided to have another think about it.

Sunday morning 3rd June, we decided that the 7.5 amp wire was too thick for Feeder wire so I was sent out to Dick Smith’s, Browns Plains to get some 5 amp wire. Looked at several options and tried to phone Raymond to get his opinion but he couldn’t hear either his mobile phone (in his bedroom) or the house phone (upstairs). I decided to make an Executive Decision and purchased a roll of electrical tape and 10 metres of dual black/red 5 amp cable which could be easily split apart.

I got back home to find that Raymond was using Loop No.1 to set the DCC addresses on his locomotives.

The NCE system allows a 4-digit address for each locomotive so Raymond and I had previously discussed how we would allocate an address to each of our locomotives. I was to have the prefix 1xxx for my steam locomotives and 2xxx for my diesels and rail cars whilst Raymond was to use 5xxx for his steam locos and 6xxx for his diesels and rail cars. Further to this the running number of the particular locomotive was to be the remainder of the address eg Raymond’s Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Forney
2-4-4T No.12 would become 5012 and his D&RGW C16 No.268 would become 5268. The Porter locos like No.1 would become 5001 but we have yet to fit DCC decoders to these locomotives.

Actually we have quite a few RTR locos that have to be fitted with decoders – 4 X Porter 0-4-0Ts; 5 X Porter 0-4-2Ts; 4X Davenport 4wDM; 2 X Shay; 2 X Climax and 1 X Goose as well as Raymond’s Mountain Model Import K27 #455 and K28 #470. As well as these we have quite a number of kit locos to be built which will also require decoders when they are built including 3X Malcolm Moore 4wPM; 2 X Bundaberg Fowler 0-6-2Ts; 1 X B9 ½ and an AEC Railmotor.

The Inspector General Rail Accreditation Unit (alias Craig “Weird Geezer” Mackie) came along to make a snap inspection and give us some valuable advice which was much appreciated. His general approval of developments was most encouraging.

Raymond and I spent a great afternoon running the various DCC fitted locos up and down our short 12 feet of track trying the different sound effects. I was particularly taken with the sounds associated with the Bachmann Forney which included opening the water hatch, water running into the tender and then slamming the lid closed – amazing! I thought the Broadway Limited C16 had the best synchronisation of the chuff sound as it occurred 4 times per turn of the driving wheels. The Precision Craft Galloping Goose is also excellent. When you first turn it on you can hear the starter motor turning the engine over which then roars into life and sits there idling until you open the throttle when you can hear the gear change into first before it moves off and also hear the gear changes as it gains speed. Lights, bells, whistles and horns!!

Raymond trying out Goose No.5. Great sound effects!

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