Sunday, April 17, 2011

Some Problems Solved.....

Last time I posted I mentioned we had a major issue with some locos stalling as they went through the points. We had other, more serious problems as well. This was the current draw with the six sets of points fitted with Cobalt motors and decoders. For some reason we had a high current reading on the NCE-ProCab controller. This controller has the ability to give an amp reading. With all the pointwork and track powered up we were getting readings of 1.25 amps. We should have been getting something less than 0.09 amps. Tuesday evening was the fortnightly meeting of the Tuesday Nighters. This meeting took place at Warren’s down at Shailer Park. There was considerable discussion about our two problems amongst the guys. Darren and Craig made several suggestions which we decided to try during the week. We also decided to contact the supplier to see if he could shed any light on the issue. We tried testing the decoders and point motors in many different wiring combinations and also successively cutting out various decoders and point motors out of the system each time taking note of the current draw. Despite many suggestions by e-mail we were not having any luck with a reading of 0.25 amps being the lowest we obtained for a single decoder not attached to anything other than having power in and power out. We were stumped! Raymond thought he had found the problem with the stalling by certain locos going through the points. The Davenport 0-4-0D still stalled but most of the other locos seemed to pass through relatively easily. The “fix” apparently wasn’t totally satisfactory. Craig has told me I should refer to the UTP panel as the PCP panel, so I will try to do this in future. I also mentioned “suitcase connectors” in my last report which Raymond had bought from the US. They are more properly referred to as IDC or “Insulation Displacement Connectors” which eliminate the need to strip and solder wire joints. You just use a special connector clip with a crimping tool which bares the two wires and locks them together in the connector clip thus eliminating the need for soldering. Saturday, 8 April we went for our usual Saturday morning visit to Austral Modelcraft. Here we purchased an NCE SwitchIt Decoder to try out in place of the other points decoders we had. The next day, Raymond installed the SwitchIt and connected it to two of the points (103 and 104 on the Diagram) in place of a previously installed decoder. Craig (Cassino) came over that afternoon to check out the decoders we were having trouble with. Craig tried different wiring to the various decoders and confirmed the high amperage we had been getting. Raymond was watching the amp levels while Craig was under the layout. We then turned our attention to the NCE SwitchIt Decoder. Together Craig and Raymond set the CV address on points 103 and 104 and then tried changing the points using the NCE hand throttle. It worked!! The current draw was only 0.01 amp as well. This was most satisfactory. Raymond had fixed the polarity problem he had had through the point frogs which had been causing the locos to stall. We could now run the Ixion Coffee Pot, Bachmann Davenport 0-4-0DM, MMI K-37 and a Bachmann Shay through these two points at the slowest of speeds without any hesitation by any of these locos. It looks like we now had the problems solved. Saturday, 15 April, I called in to Austral Modelcraft to pick up some more NCE Decoders. We wanted an NCE Switch-8 but Ray did not have any so I bought three more SwitchIt Decoders while Ray put the Switch-8 on back order. Sunday 16 April we (Raymond that is) installed two of the SwitchIt Decoders to three more points (107; 109 and 110). He had some difficulty with getting the polarity through the points set properly but resolved the situation after a few choice words and a bit of tinkering. Raymond had a pounding head-ache which did not help his concentration much. We test ran the Bachmann Davenport 0-4-0DM, MMI K-37 and a Bachmann Shay through the five points we now had wired with excellent results. At speed setting one the Shay took forever to travel at its slowest speed with no hesitation through the pointwork. The Bachmann Shay and a log train trundles along the layout MMI K-37 No.499 stands on a siding We are rightly pleased with our progress but are still stumped at the unusually high current draw by the non-NCE decoders. Also attached to this Blog is a diagram of this first section of our On30 empire which will show the point numbering. We intend to finish the trackwork in the yard and then tackle the scenery on this section before extending the baseboard structure and constructing the next section of track.

Track Diagram

Like Craig in his Blog (Craig’s Shed) I have been preparing for the 10th Australian Narrow Gauge Convention to be held at The Workshops Rail Museum over Easter Weekend (Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd April). My two papers will deal with prototype narrow gauge in Queensland so this will be a busy week as, although the papers themselves have been completed, I have yet to put together the Powerpoint programs.

It is Tuesday Nighters this Tuesday night to be held at Peter’s home at Robertson. Raymond and I are looking forward to telling the guys about our progress and how we overcame our decoder problem.

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