Sunday, 28 October 2012

Water Tank Progress


In between chasing CPHs & keeping clear of snakes....I have made progress on the Elevated Water Tank Project

Thought i would post some photos for comments...good or bad... all comments welcome.

The water tank stand in the photos is only a proof.  I will build probably 5 or 6 of these structures to ensure all dimensions are correct, all parts fit correctly, ensure we have the best method of  " ease of assembly"....and probably most important of all is that it just looks right.

At this point i take the opportunity to thank Ian Storrie from Ian Lindsay Models fame for his help & support thus far.

The tank which adorns the top of the structure is from his fine range.... I will look at other maker's tanks & designs as time goes along.

From the bottom up... I designed a base with pre spaced & cut holes for the columns. This base is made of MDF & while quite o/k for mock ups...the finished article will probably feature an acrylic base for sturdiness. This base / assembly jig certainly makes construction & alignment very easy.

The concrete footings are laser cut basswood & while they look o/k, I will probably look at getting some castings done with the grout mound etc...time will tell.

The columns & bearer assembly are a one piece affair with a laser line where the columns meet with the underside of the bearers to simulate the join...There are 4 of these assemblies that make up the bulk of the kit...very easy for assembly.  Other features are the cutouts in the top surface of the bearer at the correct depth & spacings which allow the joists to be installed accurately & with ease.  This design ensures a surprisingly sturdy finished article.  While on the bearers & joists... we have captured the chamfered top & rounded bottom of each component end.

So what is left to do... The diagonal bracings will now be fabricated & plumbing investigated...No promises here, but i will explore options for inclusion of this feature.

As much as i have followed departmental plans so far... I will need to modify some things along the way....for example the bearers & joists need to be lengthened to accomodate the tank & allow for the slight overhang beyond the tank.

So there you have it....I will post some more shots throughout the week as mods are applied & bracings are completed.

One piece column & bearer assembly...

Bearer & joist detail....note simulated join between column & bearer...

Overview of the stand...sans tank

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Musings & Candy LLVs


As you all know i have made the decision on an era to model & concentrate on....This being the very late steam & transition period sometime between 1966 & say 1973. 

While cleaning out the cupboards of stuff i have accumulated over the years i came across an LLV that is painted in the candy livery.  I wasn't sure what to do about this wagon but one thing is for sure it does not fit my chosen era.  It is a very well built & painted AR kits offering that i like very much.  After much to-ing & fro-ing i have decided to list it on ebay & see it go to a home where it may well be shown & run in a fashion it deserves.

The main reason for this posting is to spark a bit of debate & see if any more history on this wagon comes out of it.

From what i know...there were two LLVs that were treated to this livery & were numbered W2613 & W2615.  One train of thought is that this scheme was carried out as a trial & that a positive reaction may well have seen more of the greater wagon fleet adorned as well.  If this was the case it would have been a shortlived excercise as history has shown that the loco fleets so treated ended up with variations that saw the initial candy scheme truncated to a plain red ( red terror ) scheme in an obvious austerity measure.  In hindsight it is easy to see that the original candy scheme would have been very costly to maintain in both material & labour plus the time taken to initially treat & maintain this livery would have severely hampered the ability to quickly turn around locos following a Dulux service.

There are other less believable rumors that have circulated over the years & while i profess to know very little about the real reason for the conversion I feel that the codes that they ended up with probably give a hint as to more likely reasons. 

Mind you in the prototype shots i have seen i cannot make out a code board did they ever "wear"  these codes

I have only seen a couple of shots of the prototype vans after conversion & am of the belief they may still reside in Cowra. 

Hopefully someone more learned who reads this blog may well be able to shed some light on the mystery.

The wagon described in model form


Another view...


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Milk & Hobby Shops


Just received a package of Austrains 4 wheelers from Micro Models Hobbyland at Hornsby.

Before i go any further in this posting i feel obliged to give this hobbyshop a plug... I have been trying to track down the availability of some 4 wheel offerings from Austrains.  The Austrains site has scant reference to some wagons & as i did not go to the Liverpool exhibition due to work comitments,  I was certainly out of the loop. ( No Pun Intended )

I did ring the manufacturer three weeks ago...but was told that apart from the exhibition...the wagons i was wanting were unavailable from them & i would have to wait until the website was updated & order forms made available.  I will say little else about this phenomena...suffice to say the site has not been updated & I only became aware of the availability of said wagons through trolling the web...

But i digress...I rang the above mentioned hobbyshop on Sunday & was greeted with a warm welcome & a genuine understanding of my dilema.  I knew the types of wagons i was after...but had no knowledge of how they were packed & pack details, numbers etc.  The person i spoke to was Darlene & she spent a fair amount of time sorting out my issue & indeed while i was on the phone i also took the opportunity to purchase a couple of IDR MLVs for good measure.

And so it was... that this morning's mail contained a box from Hobbyland with a pack of SRC Refrigerated Vans, 2 Packs of LV Milk Vans ( Milk Van Pack C & D ) & the MLV kits...all wrapped to within an inch of their lives.....Brilliant service, delivery & packaging....Thanks to all at Hobbyland.

Now to the wagons themselves.....At first glance they are nothing short of superb.  The bar has again been raised & one can't imagine what the future holds for Aussie outline modellers regarding detail & quality. The underfloor detail, crispness, and attention to finer detail of the bodywork is quite amazing.

I must admit to not being an expert where LV Milk Wagons are concerned. Each pack contains 2 double roof versions & 2 canvas roof versions. If i am correct & they were canvas...then i will resurface the roofs of these wagons to better represent these wagons in service. I guess i will also research the internal tank details & add any detail i can to the inside that may have been visible from the outside.....Then go crazy with the airbrush & weathering mediums...

Are there any downsides.... Well nothing of any great consequence that i can see apart from one brake hanger & shoe was dislodged during transit somewhere along the line & was in the box under another wagon & one of the double roofs on an LV was a bit loose...If that is the sum total of flaws then i am one happy modeller....I will see how the couplers go on these wagons...but i can see a conversion coming on.

While i cannot work out the marketing strategy of this manufacturer...the present 4 wheel offerings are an absolute watershed moment for the hobby & i cannot wait for the "Ultimate" S truck & one would imagine an updated K would be not too far away.... I just won't bother relying on manufacturer websites for my info...

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A Tale Of Two 49s, Tsunamis & Sugar Cubes...


This weekend was spent fitting sound to the two 49 class branchliners on the roster.

The first attempted was 4917 & this loco is fresh out of the box albeit being in storage for a couple of years.  This was the first time i had attempted this class of loco & i was acutely aware that the limited space would be a test to this amateur sound fitter.

I have decided to standardise with Soundtraxx Tsunami AT 1000 decoders where possible & have so far successfully fitted these decoders to the Trainorama 44 & 42 class & an Austrains 442 class with little difficulty.

A point i have come to savour rather than fear is that with the use of this type of decoder...removal of the factory fitted circuit board is preferable & does offer a clean slate & more room for installation of the Soundtraxx decoder. 

All went smoothly with 4917 until a fault was found in the new decoder.  After installation was completed & the loco was placed either on the main or programming track both headlights ( either end ) would be on regardless of direction or whether selected to be on from the NCE handpiece.  After reseting the decoder offered no result   A call to the supplier all but assured me that i probably had done nothing wrong with the fitment & this type of fault in a new decoder while rare... does happen.  I had the option of sending the offending unit back...but elected to use this as a learning experience & wire the lighting through the alternative Function 5 & 6 tabs on the decoder & then programme these functions to operate as per usual.

I should state at this point that with the 49s... I decided to fit LEDs as replacements for the factory fitted headlights & do away with the marker lights altogether.  This decision while probably angering some is a personal one as i do not consider this option as important and as some of the fleet do not have this option i standardise & have all locos the same.

4917 was duly completed & i am more than happy with the finished result. I will now play around with the loco through DecoderPro & personalise some of the features & running qualities....Then it is off to be weathered & into service.

Now to 4910... a secondhand unit i purchased with Loksound already installed... This loco under power sounded more like fingernails being drawn down a blackboard rather than anything that travels on rails & cried out to be Tsunami-ised.  The same conversion methodology applied to this loco except the need to aquire a speaker setup as when it was fitted with Loksound the original speaker & enclosure were obviously discarded.

A search for a suitable speaker proved a little more difficult than expected.  The well known local DCC supplier i contacted seemed a little unsure about a replacement & so a couple of 8 ohm speakers were recommended & mail ordered... again this would prove to be a learning experience.  The first speaker was a common or garden 8 ohm unit... i am unsure why this unit was recommended as it had no hope of fitting into the hood of a 49 class anyway....the second speaker was sent purely as a trial for feedback and is nicknamed a " sugar cube".  It is manufactured by ESU and the little bugger only measures 14mm x 12mm with a thickness of around 5 mm with mounting tape.  After fitment of the decoder & sugar cube speaker the chassis was given a run & while the speaker's operation was does not stack up with the output afforded by the original speaker fitted to this class of loco ex factory.  With no other options to get this loco finished.... I raided a 47class I have & "borrowed" the speaker.  I still need to fit the LEDs & another branchliner will be ready for service.

I am sure i have said this before... if you are putting off installing sound for fear of the unknown....DON'T.  Once you have fitted sound to one loco, the bulk of the mystique will disappear & there is a another complete side to the hobby in learning & tweeking to get the best out of your locos.

4917 in the operating theatre....I must admit i like the DCC Concepts range of accessories....
There might be cheaper stuff out there but i like the quality of their stuff

4917 stripped of original board ( visible at bottom) Speaker will stay & all wiring will be tidied & readied before Tsunami is installed

Close up of the reatained factory speaker & enclosure.  Of interest is that the speaker enclosure also supports the No 2 end lighting circuit board & housing...

4910 being fitted with the Tsunami Decoder.  At far left is the No 1 end & headlight circuit board enclosure....
Of contrast is a comparison of the No 2 end of this loco & that of 4917....
The original speaker & enclosure had been discarded when the Loksound unit was installed.....This required a new enclosure & lighting support housing to be fabricated when converted back to Tsunami...

The Sugar Cube speaker & packaging
Close up of the Sugar Cube ESU speaker....
4910 with Tsunami & 47 class speaker & modified enclosure fitted
All that is required now is the fitting of the No2 end lighting & a final wiring tidy up.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Big Brother & Branchline Progress...


Hmmm 2 posts in one day...I need a hobby!!!

With the fleet now thinned out & all pressing commitments under control... I finally got the opportunity to spend some time on the layout.  Two issues have been niggling for some time & i have now been able to address both.

The first is the destination of the branch line which begins at Fish River.  It leaves the up end of the yard, crosses Fish River adjacent to the main line & then enters a tunnel which takes the track through to the second area of the train room.

This branch will now exit the tunnel into this area & travel around 3 walls of this 3.8m x 3.8m room servicing some industries & will terminate at a branch line station area with minimal infrastructure.... There will be a false backdrop around this room 200 / 250mm out from the walls to allow the main line to traverse this room unseen on the outer wall.

At some time in the future another 3m x 3.8m area of the shed adjacent to this area will be lined & utilised as a modelling & maintenance area & there is a possibility that the branch line will continue through into this room. As both main & branch are not grade separated this would necessitate the branch crossing the hidden main on the level & while feasible i am not entirely sold on this idea.

As already touched on. The main line which will now be a single line will basically dissappear into the tunnel at the up end of the yard & will run parallel & hidden from the branch line through this area & then  re appear near the train room access doorway... a liftout section will need to be installed at the doorway & with the revised layout design the liftout will only need to be single line.

In an earlier post i had written about a diorama i had created featuring the DON smallgoods factory & siding & had almost given up on utilising this unit on the layout.  While working out how the branchline would eventuate & the need for a blocking backdrop to hide the main line in the area explained above.... it dawned on me that this diorama could be incorporated in to this area. It would require some modification to one end of the landscaping & a change in trackwork...but at least it would provide an industry & a use for the diorama.  The photos should explain how it has been placed....

How the area looked... showing the main line portal ( furthest from camera ) & the branchline access to this area.
For clarity... the location of Fish River & the bridges & yard are beyond these portals in the main 9m x 3.8m portion of the trainroom

The baseboard has been cut out to accept the diorama & if you enlarge the photo you will be able to see where the branchline needs to appear
While not readily obvious in this shot... the diorama is sitting around 200mm from the rear wall leaving room for the hidden main line.

The scenery has been cut out & the branchline tunnel portal now visible.
The branchline will utilise the second siding of the one time diorama & some pointwork will need to be modified.
Also another siding will be laid off the branch to service the area to the right of the photo.  At this stage this area will probably
host a petroleum depot. 

Another issue that i have envisaged in the early stages of the layout is the relative isolation of the room housing the branchline as discussed earlier. I would imagine that the bulk of the action will take place in the main train room area. Main line trains will only traverse through this area... leaving the branch workings & shunting as the only reason for being there.  Even at this early stage... knowing exactly where trains are in this area is handy & while i have no plans to look at track occupancy systems to locate trains, another system needed to be looked at.  I have been studying the viability of a cheap system of remote cameras & this week i purchased a couple of units to try out. 

These units with all hardware & leads cost about $100 for the pair & have the ability to be networked ( wirelessly ) back to a computer & monitor allowing up to around 64 units to be incorporated if required.  The picture quality is not of the "digital handicam" level....but for what i am looking for they appear to be adequate.  I have utilised an old wireless network modem & have one unit working under test.  They can be remotely panned... to around 300 degrees & tilted through around the same, but do not allow remote zoom.  I have an old workstation & monitor setup in the main trainroom & this is presently used for running Decoder Pro & other rail related DCC software...linked to the NCE system.
This system is now hosting the cameras as well & i can already see a need for a couple more cameras monitoring those hard to see & obscure portions of the layout.

I will post more info when i have become more familiar with the units & have selected final installation positions.

Pic of the workstation... this area has been dedicated to housing all things "computer" in the trainroom...& a backdrop will eventually seperate this area from the layout ( left of photo )
At present DecoderPro is utilised & connected to the NCE system & now will also house the camera monitor software & display
Also of interest in this photo is the branchline tunnel portal ( looking FROM Fish River )  just visble on the far left & the access doorway & benchwork located in the branchline area visible to the right

Close up of the camera under test... it can be mounted this way or inverted & comes with all mounting brackets & hardware...

It Must Be Spring...In The Big G.


Just before i pen a layout related post.... Just thought i would add these pics taken last Thursday night & Friday morning.

Goulburn has always had Attention Deficit Disorder where the seasons are concerned...& last week was no exception.

Indeed many years ago it snowed in Goulburn on Christmas Day....I questioned this but sure enough it is in the records...

The snow started to fall at around 11pm Thursday & stopped at around 8am Friday...

I personally love the snow as it adds another dimension to living here...

The main southern line taken from out the front at around 5am Friday...

Same location just looking back at the Hacienda

My Car...

Hmmm Boss's Car....Not Happy Jan!!!

In the backyard.... The site of the long closed Rocky Ponds Southern
G gauge railway empire...

I am having a Sickie Today....