Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A Layout Needs Industries!!


This post is probably putting the cart before the horse...

I have enjoyed building the Walthers range of buildings ( industries ) over the years & to my eyes some have certain universal qualities & if detailed correctly can certainly pass for Australian.

So i decided that the layout would require amongst other things...a smallgoods factory...DON Smallgoods to be precise.

I have sited this industry on a diorama which has made construction possible at any time due to it's portability.

I have just finished building the boiler for the boiler house & took some progress shots...

The boiler house will eventualy be detailed with internals, stack & piping rack connected to the factory etc etc

It then occurred to me that i have no shots of the diorama.

So over the next few days i will take those shots & post...but until then here is the boiler sited inside the quite substantial incomplete boiler house.



Monday, 6 February 2012

Another Improvement


Thought i would post a couple of shots of an improvement to the yet to be placed Fish River station...

I never liked the original station facing...so it was time to laser cut a newie...

I will leave it to the reader to decide if it is an improvement...

Original Facing looking a bit drab & un-imaginative

The replacement facing being test fitted before installation....still requires staining etc
Note the recycled sleepers with rail plate marks & spike holes making up the facing...


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sound Decoders


My first foray into sound equipped locos began when i fitted out a couple of Bachmann  4-6-0...G gauge locos with Aristocraft wireless control & MyLocosound sound decoders.

The sight & sound of a double header leading a long freight on a frosty morning, puffing smoke & chanting along over trestles & in cuttings will be with me forever...The garden railway is no more......The neighbours are happier on Sunday mornings though !!!...

I never could seem to find the volume control pot...

Obviously G gauge locos are a lot larger than HO equivalents...the speakers are bigger & the noise is certainly bigger...But i came to the conclusion that a return to HO would certainly involve a sound equipped fleet.

When i begun rebuilding the HO fleet i took some advice & equipped a Trainorama 42 class with a Loksound decoder....a fairly easy conversion.  I was quite happy that i had a loco that made noise...but after a while i noted that the system had its limitations.

During that time i was able to sample the QSI offerings through the purchase of a Eureka 620 / 720 set & then followed a while later with the purchase of the long awaited CPH/CTH from the same manufacturer.

In my rush to fill the roundhouse ( that does not yet exist ) i also purchased a couple of Loksound equipped near new units from ebay.  One being a 442 & the other a 49.

The 49 seems to be about as good as a Loksound install gets & of course the 49 does not offer much room under the hood anyway... As for the 442 it sounded OK but all the functions were all over the place & needed straightening out.

Then one day a chance purchase from an american supplier was to change my thinking for the future...I came across a stock of Tsunami  TSU-AT1000 sound decoders going for around $40 or $44 dollars each....me being me....i jumped in and bought  a few units of the 251 & 567  variety & they duly arrived.  It was then that i realised that these decoders were board replacement type units for Atlas or Athearn units & were only remotely plug & play if you had these type units...

These are far from Plug & Play units and at first glance seem to have solder tabs coming out of every orifice.

No worries i thought... a quick call to Danny should sort this minor issue out.

Danny has a favourite expression that i am sure all who know him have had thrown at them at one time or another...

He listened intently to what i had purchased but then launched into a tirade of abuse which closed with.....

"ARE YOUR EYES F&%#*!? PAINTED ON!!!".....Did you read the description...etc etc.

There certainly are types of Tsunami decoders that are seemingly easier to fit....but from advice from another source...the removal of the factory fitted circuit board is required on a number of local maufacturer's locos anyway.

From my experience it is certainly easier where the 44 class is concerned ....I hat to think what the 49 class looks like under the hood.

As it turns out & after a lot of perseverence & phone calls in the middle of the night asking where does this wire go....I have "mastered" the art of fitting these units to at least the 42 class, 442 class & the 44 class.

It does entail essentially gutting the loco which is bloody daunting the first time...

A couple of weeks ago & experiencing a high from my new found skills...I decided to download & setup DecoderPro software & with the aid of an old serial / USB lead that i thought would never be used again...I had success...

I have only just started to scratch the surface of this software & its applications, but certainly can see just how powerful an ally this program is for a DCC equipped fleet of locos.

I have now logged all of my sound equipped loco roster into the program & have sorted out all of the basic issues with the fleet.

Now my plan is to convert all locos to Tsunami where possible...I welcome any comments here & feel sure i will insult some...but as far as MY ears are concerned the Tsunami decoders ( if fitted correctly i guess ) certainly offer a quality of sound that is in my opinion postcodes ahead of at least QSI & Loksound.

It is not hard to see how sound installs & fine tuning the output can be a separate hobby all on its own.

So...some advice from a rank amateur is....if you have been putting off fitting sound to your locos for one reason or another ....give it a go...seek advice & soon the veil of mystery will start to lift...Oh, and as Molly Meldrum used to say.....do yourself a favour & take a look at Decoderpro Software.





Control Panels

Hi all,

Fish River yard is now half completed...By that i mean that the "up" end of the yard is laid to a point adjacent with the platforms....The branch is laid in as well as all mainline connections & bridges are placed & track laid.

All track power droppers & point motors have been fitted & i guess like anyone else in this position, it would be nice to run trains.

I am able to run a short train up & down the branch from the junction, across the Fish River bridge through the incomplete tunnel & into the staging area....but this is beginning to get a bit tedious.

Layout control needs to be decided upon & commenced.

This is where i need to introduce another person to this BLOG....As without his friendship, guidance, input & patience i guess this layout would still be just a dream.

Danny Webb has been instrumental in this project even getting off the ground....

His ability to endure hour long...( and longer ) phone calls while i wax on lyrically about stuff i know little about as he tries to enlighten me is certainly a gift.

I certainly get support from the family....but outside help is critical in this hobby & i can judge my progress & confidence by the amount of ( or lack of ) frustrated insults i get during a call.

 My heartfelt thanks mate...

So it was Danny that i turned to for advice when layout control needed to be decided....

The NCE DCC system will allow me via the point motors & associated point decoders to operate the whole layout from the handpiece & while this would be attractive to many modellers....i would prefer a panel, incorporating pushbuttons for point control & LEDs for route status. 

These panels will also be designed to house a plethora of other bits & pieces as time goes by...ie layout power district CBs & status LEDs etc etc

It became fairly obvious because of the layout size thatseveral panels would be required to place them in operationally convenient locations.

With this in mind i set about designing a panel that could be "mass produced"  & be consistent throughout the layout.

I am yet to decide whether the panels will be incorporated in the layout fascia...or angled upwards for viewing & operational ease...one thing is for sure & that is they need to be modular so that they can be easily accessed to rectify any gremlins that are sure to creep in.

The first panel will obviously be to control "Fish River" & as the distance between point clusters ( up end & down end ) of the yard....i have decided to utilise 2 panels located adjacent to each cluster.

Therefore there will be a Fish River UP panel & a Fish River DOWN panel.

I spent some of the weekend designing & manufacturing a fascia for the up end of Fish River & have posted some photos.


The panel during the engraving phase....when the track layout & text are finished engraving, the laser will then cut the holes for the switch & LED fitment.
The finished panel on the bench....complete & ready for the next phase....i always put a layer of "application tape" over the material to be engraved.  After all the laser basically "cremates" the desired portion of the engraving plastic revealing the background colour & can leave a residue...which is probably visible around the holes at least.  The residual app tape is then peeled off at the end of the operation & a pristine white surface is left.  

This photo certainly requires explaining....
The engraving material is only 1.5mm thick & fairly flexible...and while i can source thicker material...the extra cost is hardly worth it.
This material is our "stock in trade"...so i back it up with 3mm clear acrylic that is lasered in the same fashion as the face sheet....but only incorporating the holes & outline.
When these two pieces are laminated they give a fairly rigid panel that is 4.5mm thick & readily accepts the switches & LED bezels.
The Total Panel Size is 230mm high x 600mm wide.... 
 I will post more images etc when the panel is being populated & closer to completion



Trackwork Begins

Hi all,

Trackwork on the as yet un-named layout has begun.....I have stated elsewhere on this blog i am sure....but to confirm...Peco code 75 track & points will provide the mainstay of trackage.

I have decided to concentrate construction on the station, yard area & environs  of a location i have named  "Fish River"......No this is not based on the real Fish River located between Goulburn & Gunning on the main south....I just liked the name.

Apart from being a main line station, Fish River will host the junction with a yet to be named branchline.

I guess there are elements of the real Galong & associated Boorowa branch  in the junction arrangement ie. slips being used.  I decided to use double slips as a way of saving space...

It must be obvious by now that this layout is evolving as it goes.....I have got a mud map drawn up....but as time goes by i keep modifying & or changing things..... 

To put things into some perspective....please peruse the following plans & photos....The plan will be updated when in an "As Built" state. 

The main line & yard area of Fish River is fairly obvious although some mods to trackwork have already occurred.... 

The branch can be seen leaving the main line crossing the bridge & entering what will be the staging area ???... travelling parallel with the main running lines crossing the doorway ( on the right ) travelling parallel & dropping in altitude with the baseboard opposite Fish River...looping under that bench & terminating in thin air between the existing baseboards....This will eventually be an island containing the branch terminus....it may well end up as a fairly lengthy island & end adjacent to the doorway on the right. 

Apart from Fish River & the Branch...i am  yet to decide how the rest of the layout will operate & as such there is no plan at this stage.. 

Incomplete track diagram of the layout.

Some pertinent dimensions..
Layout area 12m x 3.8m
700mm bench width on left ( Fish River )
500mm bench width on right ( open to modification )
Layout Height: 1300mm

Fish River Station looking in the UP direction towards the river & associated twin bridges...
Down Platform & station buildings on the right & Henderson's Flour Mill in the distance ( right )....located on the river bank.
The siding adjacent to the up main will now terminate pretty much where it is and will form a dock siding....Yes i forgot that Fish River will need an up platform & associated infrastructure....Doh 

View looking in the general UP direction ( down i guess for the branch ) showing the Fish River Bridges.....In the foreground is the Branch Line....while the up & down mains share the bridge in the background.  Also of note are the future tunnel portals ( just discernable ) in the background wall which will act as scene separators

A rather "depth of field challenged" shot of 4425 ( now Tsunami fitted ) & train coming off the branch approaching the main lines while a 49 class & train ( wrong road ) look on. 




Well the house renovations are complete....so back to the layout.

I must admit that the reno took a lot longer to complete than anticipated, although it hardly seems like last June since my last posting on this blog.  For this I must apologise.

What started out as a humble makeover... juggernauted to a full on gutting of the entire house....and i am sure most of you would know the rest...

Wives are a wonderful species arent they!!!???

Well back to the story...

Trackwork & other activities have started again in earnest & the hiatus has allowed some major decisions to be made.

The layout will feature a double track main.  Locations & yard layouts will be fictitious although i will draw the components i like from the many prototype locations that interest me & incorporate them whilst maintaining a flavour found on the main south between say Goulburn & Junee.

Control of the layout will consist of an  NCE DCC wireless system for loco control etc.  Points will be activated by Cobalt point motors via Cobalt decoders  from either a control panel or NCE handset.   All locos will be fitted with Tsunami sound where possible...of course some locos purchased with onboard sound will have supplier fitted native sound systems & each will be trialled & then a decision made to either accept or modify.

So thats the broad brush layout update at this stage.

I will begin adding posts pertaining to separate layout issues & look forward to some feedback & discussion....Please....