Tuesday, 24 April 2012

" If It Becomes A Chore...It Ceases To Be A Hobby"

I rarely give advice to anyone in the hobby...( some who know me would probably proffer that this is wise as no one would listen anyway )... but the statement contained in the title of the posting is something i always hold close.

I guess we all have had moments where the creative juices dry up or we just get jaded...

This is where the uniqueness of the hobby comes to the fore.  There are so many facets to this great hobby that allow us to move from one complete mindset to another.

I must admit that i am at present finding it hard to spend any longer than an hour or so in the trainroom at the one time.  I need a break from tracklaying, point motors, wiring & control panels.

Scenery & ballast is required to the finished sections....but as stated... i need a break...

It is probably wise to back away or quality will most likely suffer.

This feeling i am sure will be short lived but for the last couple of weeks my attention has been drawn to completing some of the rollingstock projects that have laid dormant for some time.

We all have that stack of boxes or drawers full of UFOs, opened & unopened kits that require our attention...

I have included some shots of a cross section of the current projects, some close to completion & others...well...

As i compiled these shots i realised the irony in that all of these wagons that i have laboured over, are or will shortly be available RTR...Ah well i don't think i will ever lose the interest in building from kit or finishing off with the air brush.


Ready to be dissasembled for washing & primer.....

Almost ready for service....after a final appointment with the airbrush


CV almost ready...


Some heavy weathering...maybe lighting & the CCA will be ready for the branch

More 4 wheel variants under primer... a mix of plastic & whitemetal kits

Lest We Forget

Well it is Anzac Day tomorrow...A time to take a moment & reflect on the brave people who sacrificed their way of life & in too many cases their very lives to ensure we have the quality of life we share today....An inspiration to say the least.

Anzac Day indeed holds another significance in this part of the world & that is a meteorological one.  Anzac Day normally heralds the beginning of cold weather here in the tablelands....an anecdotal approach for sure...but it is uncanny how the weather changes significantly within a few days.

I love the winters down here....plenty of time & excuses for indoor pursuits....perfect for a model railroader!!!

Even though i left Sydney over 10 years ago i still get calls from friends, clients & colleagues that invariably include some light hearted ribbing about my choice of destination & my lack of sanity for moving here...I never fail to have a chuckle to myself as these are the same people who religiously & lemming-like spend most winters driving backward & forward to the snowfields while spending thousands for the privilege.....and i am known as the retard???...Hmmmmmmmm

Anyway with that out of the way...back to modelling!!!

Scenery installation has commenced  in the Fish River area of the layout. To be precise i am concentrating on the River area with it's associated bridges & will work outward from there. I decided to use foam as the base material, shaped & covered with plaster bandage & then a final coat of  earth coloured plaster so any chips or scratches in the scenery will not reveal white... Something i learnt from a couple dioramas from years ago.

The plaster is taking an eternity to dry due to a combination of the weather & the insulating qualities of the shed.

I am not sure whether this is the best method for scenery....but until i try other methods it will suffice....ADVICE IS WELCOME

Will post some photos when i have some meaninful scenery completed...





Friday, 13 April 2012

More On Sound Fitted Locos


In my quest to learn more about cyber stuff...I uploaded a couple of videos to Youtube & thought i would also post here....

I filmed these locos soon after fitment of AT1000 Tsunami Decoders....

While i am fairly happy with these trial locos....i feel that deep bass speakers might add the final touch & will repost some videos when i undertake this "upgrade" .

In the meantime...enjoy

Oh....BTW the 44 class looks a bit odd as the body is sitting a touch high because i had not fully fitted it during the testing phase.



Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Golden Grain


One of my priorities on the layout will be the movement of grain & to that end i have bought up big on the Auscision NGPFs & variants....

Through procrastination i largely missed out on the first run of these wagons & have had to purchase where & when possible.

I have at last count around 90 wagons & all of them were purchased as the "Non Decorated" variety....a decision that i have come to happily accept as this means i can paint,  weather & personalise without having to mask the number panels & logos.

Around half the fleet have now been treated with primer, teal ends & the first coat of finish colour.....

In my weathering world....now is the time to add the number panels & a variety of logos that were utilised on the prototype.

This caused a bit of angst for a few days as i had no idea where to source these items...either in whole form or decals made piecemeal.....So the project came to a halt & placed on the backburner.

A few weeks later my wife was delivering a cup of tea to the train room & made comment on the "rotten row" of wheat wagons that were lined up all over the place in the paint shop section.

After explaining my predicament she suggested i make my own decals.....After raising my eyes to the heavens....i enquired as to how this could be achieved...." What about using one of the digital printers? " was the reply.

It must be explained that as part of our business we possess wide format digital printers that are utilised for signage & it had never occurred to me that they could be used in this fashion....It was at least worth a try???!!!

First trial was to ascertain whether the fine print on the number panels could be achieved & this test passed with flying colours...

Next was to measure & dimension real number panels & a quick trip to Goulburn yard yielded that info....

The last piece of the puzzle was to try and procure the differing logos utilised over the years on these wagons.....That proved harder than expected.  I thought a google search would unearth what i was looking for....Not to be.

I have redrawn the Freightrail Grain logos in both blue & white backgrounds, did the same for the L7s & was lucky enough to have a friend donate the FreightCorp logos....Now i have an almost full set in high reolution.

The next step was to run some colour proofs for checking &  produce some masters.....SUCCESS!!!

The printer has print & contour cut ability in one operation so i printed a run of them on an extremely thin adhesive sign vinyl.....what i ultimately ended up with in essence was a few hundred tiny stickers...

The last part of this saga was to compile a list of prototype wagon numbers & check letters....this proved to be the easiest task as wheat harvest was in full swing & we had a 20kph speed restriction past the front door....so easy peasy!!!

I have attached a couple of pics that show the finished article ( FreightRail Grain ) logo & number panels attached to wagons for evaluation...

As an added bonus...the ink used in the progress can be aged / faded by using a wipe of metho....or indeed continuous rubbing with your finger......when the desired result is achieved...apply the logo & finish weathering the wagon...

Armed with the ability to now complete this task in-house...i have found a supplier of 600mm wide water slide, decal paper & trials will begin printing direct to this material soon..

My apologies for the photo quality....

Wagons with decals applied for testing



Faded logo applied...

Another logo variation...



Another Project


Over easter during an unplanned "stocktake" i unearthed two new Bachmann Spectrum DCC Ready Ballast Regulators that i purchased sometime in the last year or so.

 If my memory serves me correct these units were used as "fillers" in a large box of stuff i purchased from the USA & were extremely cheap at around $40 or $50 per unit when purchased in concert with the bulk of the order.

They closely resemble those locally used & while there are few track maintenance vehicles on the market....most are static & the rest are not indicative of local prototype. 

To balance my mind from layout building duties...i thought these may prove to be an enjoyable conversion to DCC & sound over the coming cooler nights.....Yes i know this may surprise a few but Goulburn does get a bit cooler in winter...

Mind you, like most of us,  i have way too many UFOs ( unfinished objects )  laying around...but hey why not add another.

I decided to dissassemble the unit last night with a view to getting a feel for what i might need to complete the conversion & will outline my findings here...

Well for starters the instructions that come with the model are largely useless...the exploded diagram would be some help if assembling in the factory..but nil use to the end user.  The reference to wiring is again useless.

The box says DCC ready...maybe they mean the box??? 

DCC ready is largely a misnomer.  Sure there are some solder tabs hanging off the circuit board....but in this day & age i feel that DCC ready should mean almost plug & play....otherwise don't use the term in the first place. 

Then again in hindsight i should remind myself that during my very short apprenticeship in decoder & sound installs,  all of the projects have required rewiring etc etc..... 

So with apologies to Mr Bachmann... where to from here.....  well for starters i will need to source a very small decoder & matching speaker setup.....Anyone got any ideas???.....Maybe i need to look at N scale...

Either way i think that at least one of the end cabs will need to house the decoder setup & until i research out speakers i have no idea on placement.

Lighting will be another challenge & i need to research prototype lighting & possible use of a strobe???

I feel confident in the wiring conversion although i am not sure i am comfortable with the track pickup style from the "B" end & may get rid of the bare pickup wires that travel from the circuit board to a wiper plate on the underside of the "B" end bogie... This mod would require running new wires & camouflaging them inside the unit's frame.

Well i am now committed to this conversion....if for no other reason than the challenge...& will report back on progress...

Time to ring The Craftsman i feel!!!

Any advice would be gratefully accepted... as per usual.....

Shot of the power bogie with circuit board visible & rear pickups dissappearing out of shot to right


Shot of the vehicle with power bogie removed..of note is the lack of concealed room for hiding decoder & speaker
 & the rear bogie pickup wire arrangement.



Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Past Comes Back To Haunt....Or Help???


I had a SICKIE today!!!!!....although i am not quite sure how you achieve that when you are self employed???

I spent the first half hour after getting up trying to work out who i should call to inform of my non attendance...

After taxing my brain for an hour or so....i took the opportunity to drop Soph off at school & just bask in the joy of my deception for the day...

I have been trying for a while to set aside a few hours with a view to cleaning up the shed & take a couple of trailer loads to the tip.

Well by about 10am one trip had been completed & of course i gravitated to the train room...

With all the track now laid, all electrics working as designed & testing complete, the station area & environs of Fish River are now ready for the next step &  my mind has been drawn toward ballasting, scenery & detailing.

I had decided earlier in the year that i would mentally section the layout & try to totally complete each section as i went so i did not end up with a vast network of bare track & completing ballast, scenery & structures for the whole layout would be too daunting to contemplate.

I spent the next couple of hours searching out & assembling all of the detail items & structures i have on hand & mentally picturing the scenery etc.

While on this search i uncovered some items that we manufactured around 5 years ago under the Laser Rail Bits brand.

When our first laser engraving machine was installed around 6 odd years ago... it quickly became apparent that this technology could lend itself to the manufacture of model railway lineside items and so during the rare down time that we experience i started to design & manufacture a small range of items...following the mantra that if it was timber in prototype then we could build it in small scale.

We began selling both in HO & O  on ebay & it was an enjoyable time designing, manufacturing & packaging these items. It appeared by sales & comments that they were favourably received by the market which was very satisfying.

( There is a shot of the timber station facing kit as built...based on Crookwell Station in an earlier post )

The upshot was that our main business workload would not allow us to devote enough time to ensure we could do justice to this sideline venture & as such we scaled back to the odd release when time permits.

I have got a head full of ideas for new items & if time & demand permits we will commence again...

In the meantime i have enough bits laying around to furnish the layout & have posted some pics to give an idea of  some of the items...

I must apologize for the quality of the photos & must learn how to take macro or close up pics some time soon...
Goods Embankment Facing 

Ash Buffer...


Goods Embankment Detail

Various styles of level crossing utilising "new " timber & "recycled" sleeper decks that can be extended or shortened depending on installation location...



Sunday, 1 April 2012

More On Cobalts

Hi All,

Just thought i would offer an observation on Cobalt Point Motors...

During commissioning during the last week or so, one thing became apparent....that being that no two Cobalts act the same.

Each unit displays a unique speed at which it operates, or throws & each varies in noise that it emits.

I found this puzzling & thought that i may have not installed some correctly...but check & doublecheck of connections, input voltage, adjustment or foreign objects blocking movement or actuator wire proved fruitless...All was as it should be...

I then searched the web for any unknown issues & on the many forums that i visited ( mainly abroad) it became apparent that what i was experiencing was normal & was the only issue that appeared as any "weakness" to these units.

While it does not affect the overall experience of using these motors...it was somewhat daunting to experience for the first time.

Any other observations are welcome.

The "Dark Side" of the layout during wiring

Regards, Rod

Open For Business

Just for the record... a small milestone was reached at 1905 hrs on the 31st March 2012...

The trackwork encompassing Fish River, environs & approaches ( including the branch ) was energised for the first time & all points were commissioned following a couple of half days of testing & adjustment.

Our daughter Sophie was awarded the honour & ran the first train off the branch & duly arrived at Fish River Station amid much fanfare & without incident!!!

Well this is not strictly true... I invited the girls to be present just after dinner to witness the running of the first official train & after much explaining on my part that it would be more interesting than Funniest Home Videos....they accepted.

A pre celebration Banquet of home made pizzas was enjoyed & just before 1900hrs the crowd gathered in the train room for the opening speeches & arrival of the first train.

I had gone up to the train room earlier in the afternoon, assembled & shunted the first train to the end of the branch & checked that the road was set for a faultless arrival....Or so i thought...

Brand new 4202 & rake of tuscan coaches was chosen for the event & all was ready...

Right on 1900hrs...Sophie took the 42 to notch 3 & it bellowed into life....the train burst out of the tunnel & approached the truss bridge nearing the  junction at Fish River.....

Horn blaring, headlight big and bright & the 42 chanting as it slowed for the points to join the main line all was perfect.....then.....she stopped dead....

The double slip was not set for the road....whoops...rather embarassing!!!

Before i could even fathom what had happened, Sophie had set the road & also cleared another opposing point at Henderson's siding....then reversed the train for another try.

And the rest is history as the first official train arrived safely at Fish River platform at 1905hrs.

Sunday 1st April 2012...First day of normal traffic...


Control Panel Progress

Hi All,

I promised an update on control panel progress & after much time has passed, here it is.

Well the Fish River Up Box is now finished & installed.  I elected to mount the Cobalt point motor A4 decoders in the panel rather than at the point motor for a number of reasons...including but not limited to...less wiring between the panel & the point, the ability to have the bulk of the equipment at the panel for easy locating & identification of any problems that might occur & the fact that the less time crawling around under the layout...the better.  This activity is no fun whether you are 8 or 80 years old.

From the panel there are only 2 wires required to run to each point....the "motor control wires"....even so i decided to run a 7 core sheathed alarm type cable to each point which should future proof the wiring if any other trackside items were installed at a later date that required cabling....Signalling???.   It is also a lot neater from my viewpoint.

While talking about the future it is also worth stating that i have installed 3 banks of AD4 decoders in the panel which obviously equates to 12 decoders....Fish River Up Box only controls 10 sets of points...so i have two spares which will take care of any mods or decoder failures.

There are terminal strips attached to the underside of the panel enclosure which handle all in & out cable connections.

During the planning phase, and after reading the myriad of on-line & written articles on DCC wiring it became apparent to me that dividing the layout into power districts was sage advice & i decided to utilise an NCE EB3 type of circuit breaker / distribution device.  A device with 3 outputs would satisfy my here & now requirements & more could be installed as the future dictates.   When i made the decision to purchase i was steered toward the DCC Specialties PSX-3 as it "had more bells & whistles" than the EB3....in hindsight it may well have been an availabilty issue on the part of the vendor that governed the advice.  I will post separately on the DCC Circuit Breaker issue in the future as it deserves to be addressed in detail....but my findings thus far while clouded in "high tech confusion" is that the PSX is great for power district supply to the track BUS....but useless for supply to the AD4 decoders because the small wiring from the PSX to the input of the AD4s may be resulting in faulty short sensing due to resistance???... Mind you i need to spend more time researching & reading on this issue & MAY STAND CORRECTED.

Apart from the above issue, the panel works as designed & i am happy with the result.

The PSX-3 & AD4s are installed

Panel switches & LEDs installed & being populated

Panel installed & Ready To Go.

Regards Rod.