Sunday, April 3, 2011

And We Have Lift Off.....

Well we finally have “Lift-Off”. No, not lifting rolling stock off the track. We actually have power to The Shed layout for the first time. And who are those doubting Thomas’s who said it would never happen! During the past week Raymond has separated the black main bus wire from the red and installed suitcase connectors to connect the dropper wires from the track rail to the black main bus wire. The suitcase connectors eliminated the need for stripping a section of the wire and soldering. Raymond purchased a quantity of suitcase connectors and a special pair of crimping pliers from Micro-Mark in the United States. The suitcase connectors work out at less than 45 cents each. He has found installing these so much easier than soldering, although soldering in other areas is still required. Sunday morning 3rd April he has wired up the six point motors he has already installed and connected them to the main bus wires. I installed a length of 4 X 1 between two of the baseboard supports and installed the UTP panel. Raymond has then connected the main bus wires to the UTP panel. Raymond found the clips used to hold in the wire on the Cobalt point motors very difficult to use. The wire always seemed to want to pop back out after being “locked” in place. Either we are doing it incorrectly or it is a problem with the wire or the connector.

Three of the Cobalt Point Motors and four of the DCC Modules which control the points. You can make out the orange buttons which are pushed in to allow the wire to be installed and then released to hold the wire in place. The wires into the green terminal strips on the bottom of the DCC Modules are held in by the screws which can be seen at the very bottom of these terminal strips.

Power was then turned on. Programming of the six point motors was next. Most worked okay first time but two of the motors would not respond. Raymond tried reconnecting the wiring several times and eventually they came good but this continued to highlight issues Raymond has with the non-soldered joints into the motors. In the photo of the three Cobalt motors you can see the orange push-buttons clearly on the middle motor. You push these in as required and insert the appropriate wire into the hole then release the orange button. Theoretically the wire should now be held firmly in place. In practice we have not had great success with this technique. The wires seem to easily fall out or are easily pulled out meaning we have not got a good electrical connection if the wires are not secure. We then ran a Bachmann 2-8-0 along with a couple of AMS box cars and a Bachmann flat cars up and down the wired track. This was our first train operating almost the full length of this first section of the layout. We tried it through the crossover and onto the passing loop in the Depot area. The train worked smoothly through the points and the curves. It appeared we had been successful. But this was not to be the case. Raymond starts off the first train. The Bachmann 2-8-0 which worked the first train

The second train still using the Bachmann 2-8-0. It ran very smoothly and we detected a few humps in the track.

We tried an MMI K-37 light engine and found that it would stall on one set of points every time. We ran it in reverse onto the Depot passing loop and it stopped on each set of points through the crossover and onto the passing loop. Running forwards it was fine through the crossover (mostly) but stalled on that same set of points leading into an industrial siding off the main line. Frustration!!@@####

MMI K-37 No.499 loco ran well except for some problems at point frogs.

This was a problem we had had with the garage layout but these Peco Electrofrog points we had modified as per DCC Concepts and Peco’s instructions. We also tried a Bachmann Davenport 0-4-0DM but it stalled on every set of points. This, obviously, is a major issue but we have yet to determine the precise cause. We also have dropper wires under the rails at a couple of locations making humps in the track. These sections of track will probably have to be pulled up and relaid. Raymond has decided that we will in future solder the dropper wires under the rail but face it out to the side then down through a hole in the baseboard rather than through a hole directly under the rail. I also think we should make the hole slightly larger giving more room for any slight errors in lining the hole up with the dropper wires. Raymond says "We are now at the fine tuning stage".

1 comment:

  1. David,
    I assume when you said UTP, you actually meant PCP, as you were using the Powercab as the brains right? I'd suggest that you switch the ammeter on and check what is occuring when you run a train. I think those DCC modules might be robbing you of power. Install your SB3 and build a permanant Ammeter.