Sunday, June 4, 2017

6029 Finished


Once again, it has been a while since updating my blog. These days I find Facebook a little easier to keep updated as Facebooks photo and video sharing features are much easier to use.

Since my last installment, I have finished the Garratt, including the sound file, presented at MRNSW and hurt myself.


I have shared some of the photos and information contained in this update in previous posts. I thought I would consolidate 6029s build in this one blog entry.

The Garratt, particularly the sound file has exceeded all my expectations. While the audio side of things isn't bad, it is the way in which I have developed the operation of the sound file that I am most happy with. The file incudes a slipping feature, where if the driver is too heavy on the throttle the front engine unit will slip. To arrest the slip the throttle needs to be shut, then re-opened slowly. The slipping feature can also be enabled/disabled by function button, just in case it gets tiring.

The Garratt project, like all my other steam projects has throttle controlled chuff intensity/duration and coasting features.

I had spent quite a few hours recording 6029 at various locations. As with nearly all my files I am never quite 100% happy with how they sound. I think its a speaker thing, something that will most likely not change much for the smaller scales.

My 6029 is a Mansfield model. I bought it from a friend and immediately stripped the paint. A few little things needed fixing and while disassembling the chassis I noticed there was room and provisions for plunger pickups. The Mansfield model as delivered was fitted with wiper pick-ups for the non chassis power side. While wiper pickups aren't bad, my model was missing a few and on other models fitted with similar set ups I noticed they were sometimes misaligned.

I wondered, why would Mansfield Models have had the holes in the chassis sides for plunger pickups and not used them? I checked the alignment of the holes to the back of the insulated driving wheel rim and they were spot on. Not only were the holes in the chassis but the insulated bushes were fitted also. I checked my unpainted Garratt and what do you know, the bushes are fitted to it also!

I went about making four pickups for fitting into the bushes on both engine units. After painting it was all assembled and seemed to work.

Original Wiper Pickup - Inboard

Plunger Pickup Construction

Completed Plunger

Plunger Pickup Fitted to Inboard Position

Plunger Pickup Outboard (front)

On to the sound install. The model is fitted with two Loksound V4s, two Zimo sugarcube speakers and two ESU powerpacks. The Decoders, power packs and speakers are fitted into the boiler section with 4 pin TCS connectors joining engine units to boiler. I wanted the 4 pin connectors secured to the engine units so as to make connecting/disconnecting easier. I made up the looms and then a soldered a brass keeper onto the inboard bogie retaining nut.

The decoders and speakers were fitted to machined Delrin mounts. These mounts were drilled, tapped and then secured into the boiler unit utilising existing holes. I hate DCC installations where everything is just thrown in the boiler or sticky taped down. It's just something that bugs me ha ha.

The two sound files that are loaded into each decoder are slightly different. One causes the wheels to spin with large throttle inputs while the other decoder locks the electric motor into the speed where the slip began. This literally took me months to achieve, mainly in making it easy to use. The hardest part by far was maintaining the appearance of both engine units travelling at the same speed once the throttle was shut. This was a real challenge.

Anyway, enough talking. Here are a few more photos and a couple of videos. Please excuse the videos, they were taken on my iPhone.

I Painted the Garratt with Mirotone Etch Primer


On to something different, I recently presented at the MRNSW (Modelling the Railways of NSW) convention. It was my first time presenting at a modelling forum but I had a blast. My topic was on recording and building sound projects for locomotives. I had severely underestimated the amount of time a subject like that could consume. I only made it half way through my presentation during the first session. The sessions that followed were crowd driven, trying to discuss points of interest. In reality, I could have spoken all day on just the ESU LokProgrammer. I was kidding myself trying to squeeze the whole lot into hour long sessions ha ha. Lesson learned.

I have to thank the organisers of MRNSW as it really was a great day. Thanks!

Other Stuff

The main reason I am actually updating my blog today is that I have plenty of time on my hands. I hurt myself badly last weekend while riding a moto x track. I am very fortunate in that I can still walk. Many things ran through my head that afternoon while laying on the ground. I am a very lucky bloke in that I will recover and I have a wonderful wife who is looking after me while my mobility is limited.

Lucky for trains I guess as the hobby is keeping my mind ticking over. I am currently trying to sketch out a drive flow for the NSWGR CPH railmotor. I am trying to build something that closely replicates how the real thing operates. More to come on this soon hopefully.

That's about it for now.

Thanks for looking,


Monday, January 9, 2017

Half Baked Garratt


I hope everybody's New Year started well.

I have not made as much progress with my Garratt as I would have liked. The front engine unit is painted and re-assembled, and it actually runs nicely. I was a little nervous as I had completely dismantled it. The plunger pickups seem to be working nicely.

The real reason for the lack in progress has come about due to sound file testing. The AD60 slipping sound file has really had me thinking. The slipping method was quite easy to achieve. In contrast the engine units re-syncing (speed wise) with each other as proven to be very difficult to get right. I am getting there and the project is fairly easy to control now.

I have included two short videos, taken on my phone. Quality is not so good, sorry!

The locomotive is made up of two Garratt models. The front engine unit is freshly painted, the unpainted boiler section is from my second model as I don't want to handle the freshly painted boiler unit. The rear engine unit is about to be stripped of its old paint.

The decoders and speakers are just sitting there for testing purposes. This will be installed in the boiler section, mounted on a machined Delrin mount.

The front engine unit will slip. This happens with a large increase in throttle position. The locomotive is running at approximately speed step 6-8. The throttle is rapidly increased up to around speed step 18. The locomotive slips and the throttle is closed to arrest the slip. After the throttle has been closed, it is slowly opened once again and the model accelerates.

There is still some work to go in regards to the project but thought some may find it interesting at this early stage. Before anybody tells me, I know the chuff timing is not right. This will be sorted once finished ha ha.

Thanks for looking,


Sunday, December 25, 2016

I am Slipping


Well as the title suggests, I have been slipping when it comes to updating my blog. As Bob Stack mentioned in his Blog a few months ago, the Russians seem to have taken a keen interest in NSW modelling. I have had hundreds of blog hits coming from Russia! I have not received my new Russian mail order bride yet, as I am sure Australia Post have been quite busy between sorting Christmas deliveries and throwing everybody's Ixion 32 class models around!
Danielle and I are now feeling more at home in our new house so a little bit has been happening on the modelling front.
While on the subject of slipping, I purchased a Mansfield AD60 Garratt off a mate a few month ago. I have stripped the model of all its paint and have begun the long process of repainting and re-assembling everything. There are a bloody lot of parts to the Garratt, I hope I can get it back together!
Anyway while disassembling the chassis I noticed that there were four Delrin bushes fitted to the chassis rails. To me they looked like plunger pickup bushes. On closer inspection I discovered that they lined up perfectly with the driving wheel rims. The Mansfield Garratt was built from the factory with phosphor type wipers on the leading and trailing insulated driving wheels. While these tend to be ok, I prefer plunger type pickups due to their robustness. I find it interesting that the plunger bushes were fitted, without the actual plunger pick up from the factory? Lucky I guess, as drilling the holes in the chassis (like I did for my Trax Z13) is tricky work.
Original phosphor wiper seen on rear right hand driver
The factory plunger pickup holes in the chassis just to the left of the rear driver horn block guides

I turned up a few little brass bushes which locate the spring on the plunger. A trial fit to the chassis and they seem to work nicely. I am not sure why Mansfield ended up steering away from this type of pickup method. I hope I don’t find out once the model is all put back together.

The forward driver plunger pickup fitted

While my engineering brain was in gear, I wanted to come up with a neat way of attaching one side of the DCC connectors – the ones that will link the decoders to the engine units. I didn’t want the connector flapping about and I thought if the female side of the connector was fixed, it would be much easier to make the connections.
I ended up fabricating a little keeper which is soldered onto the inboard pony truck nut. The whole lot seems to screw together nicely and will keep the connectors out of sight, yet accessible.

AD60 Sound Project
The Garratt would not be complete without a new sound project. I have taken quite a few sound recordings of 6029 and have been filtering through and editing my little heart out.
Sometimes I have brain waves. Sometimes, well most of the time I don’t think about things enough. The Garratt however opened up a new opportunity in regards to DCC and realism. When it comes to realism, particularly for a Garratt, one thing that is so important is to have the exhaust of the two engine units falling in and out of synchronisation. While this effect can be done with only one ESU decoder, using two decoders (Yes it’s costing a fortune in decoders!) gives me the ability to induce a proper wheel slip in one engine unit.
It has taken me around three months to perfect the Loksound V4 slipping template however I now have a reliable and responsive project. I have designed the project so both decoders are using the same DCC address. As with all my projects, the throttle will once again control the sound flow – none of that ESU ‘Full Throttle’ function button pressing rubbish in my models thanks ha ha! When accelerating the Garratt, in the lower speed step region, if you open the throttle too much, one engine unit will slip. The wheels slip instantly and obviously the chuff rate rises to match. To arrest the slip the throttle must be closed slightly. Once the slip stops the engine units match their speeds and the locomotive will continue, as long as the throttle is not abused! This feature will allow the chuff synchronisation to be actually put out by a real slip. While typing this I have been testing it on the bench. It is not installed in the locomotive yet. It is looking promising however will most likely need tweaking once the locomotive is running. ESU V4 decoders are simply amazing when it comes to producing a realistic driving experience. If you can imagine it, there is most likely a way to build a template to achieve it.
Layout news, well there isn’t too much. The layout is still safely tucked away in Moss Vale. While I do have the room here, I will wait until the layout room is lined before I relocate it. I think I previously mentioned that I was changing my layout modelling location. I have been building bits and pieces for Picton now for many years. While a little sad to make a change, I have decided that I need to do something much simpler and concentrate on the quality. I have decided to build Fish River, I railway location on the Main South between Goulburn and Gunning. This location is quite interesting with it having two dead end refuges and a sand siding. The bridge over the river is fairly substantial and is located close enough to the station for me to model the whole location to scale. One of the biggest drivers for my change is model visibility and sound project staging. The mainline track at Fish River climbs steadily at both ends away from the station area with the refuges remaining level. This split and track elevation will stage models visually and aurally really well. I felt Picton was going to hide the models in the cutting a little too much.
I have drawn the entire track plan in Templot and have printed a full ten metre section and a four metre section out. The four metre section (pictured) will be used to build all the points on. The points have been drawn to NSWGR practise in OO-SF.
The sand siding ran very steeply into the river. I have plans for a sand loading platform however can find no information on whether the platform was actually built, what type of wagons were used and how the wagons were shunted. If anybody has any information I would love to hear from you.


On sound news, once the Garratt is running, I will set up a Facebook site which will outline my projects and how they are controlled. I feel this will make managing peoples requests easier and give me the ability to monetise my work. Look out for Llewot Digital soon.

Well I hope everyone had a great Christmas, I had a good time at the Illawarra clubs Chrissy party. It was great to catch up with so many people.

This year Santa bought me a motorcycle rather than coal which was nice. The coal would have actually been quite handy as my 57 is still running around with no fuel.
Well that's it. Happy New Year and stay safe,

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Trying to Build Realistic Sound Templates


It has been far too long since my last update. Unfortunately I don't have much to report. My spare days are mainly being used to build fences and gates at this point in time. I have not been buying much in the way of trains lately however I did buy a Sound Devices MM-1 pre-amplifier to supplement my Rode NGT-3 microphone. I am hoping that this little device will help record better audio.

This post is purely to show case a few of my latest projects. While the actual audio sounds have progressed also, the main thing I have been working on is dialling in my Templates. I am trying to build templates and sound flows that help create more realistic operation. It has been a steep learning curve however I am enjoying staying up at night going over and over sound flow problems in my head ha ha.

Anyway, below are a few videos of my latest exploits.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Post From Wichita Kansas


It has been quite a while since I updated my blog. For some reason I have not been concentrating on it much lately.

Danielle and I have recently moved into our new house and it is basically taking up most of our time. I hoping to have a modelling space soon.

Meanwhile, I have been doing some work on ESU diesel templates and built up a new D57 class project. As most reader would be aware, ESU released their 'Full Throttle' feature recently. In my opinion, the new feature is just a new method of manual notching. They have added a speed hold function, coast function, eight notch function and a brake. The speed hold function locks the electric motor to the selected speed and allows the throttle to adjust the prime mover sounds. The coast function allows the user to force the locomotive prime mover sound into notch one/idle at any speed. The eight notch function does the opposite and forces the prime mover sound into notch eight and the brake function stops the locomotive (momentum settings are best set high) with any speed step selected.

I don't want to sound negative however ESUs concept is kind of ridiculous. Sure this has resolved the issue of separating prime mover speed from track speed however it is a messy solution. Like I said, in my opinion.

Here are the reasons I do not like it:

1. After having pressed the 'Hold' function and after having used the throttle to change the prime mover sound - once the 'Hold' function is released, the locomotive will accelerate or decelerate to the selected speed. To prevent a change in speed, it means that you must remember the speed at which you started. Some may not care about the speed change. Its a personal thing.

2. Pressing a function button to hold a speed, manipulate the prime mover noise, then deselect the speed hold to be able to slow down again is really quite stupid. For one, when shunting this is dumb.

3. Function buttons are prime real estate, particularly if you are a NCE user. Who wants to continually look at function buttons when shunting?

4. Consisting will be impossible with any other decoder or non 'Full Throttle' Loksound decoder.

5. The coast and eight notch ability can be done without function buttons.

I get the feeling that someone discovered a few check boxes that were not really used (they have been there for a long time), worked out that if you use a second sound slot as a control slot, that they could create a new method for manual notching. It seems the firmware update was used to add new function terms.

The one great thing that came out of this is the 'brake' function. While this has/is available on other decoders manufactured by others, it is a welcome addition to ESU.

When I built my XPT project, I built it with the ability for the prime mover notches to be selectable on the way down. This allows you to coast at speed or select notches at will. Having tried to create a better diesel ESU project, (I have never been satisfied with any diesel sound files due to the way they
drive) I was very interested to see what ESU had come up with regarding 'Full Throttle'.

Well as you can probably tell, I was disappointed ha ha. I decided to go back to the drawing boards and build a full eight notch diesel project that was completely driveable, sound and loco speed by the throttle. No function buttons.

As I have not recorded an eight notch diesel locomotive, I had no sound files to use in my new template. I ended up using ESUs EMD 645 project, deleted all the sound flow slots, substituted my new template and loaded the file into my Auscision 422 for testing. Last week I was able to run the 422 on Ray Pilgrims Bylong (thanks Ray). Rays layout is beautiful as most of us know but the main challenge was to convince Ray that a Loksound decoder, with a diesel file was useable without having to play the thing like a piano. It was great to see Ray find the project easy enough to drive. I have to admit, although in Candy, the locomotive looked great slugging up the 1 in 40 grades with it's prime mover sound adjusted to suit.

Anyway without banging on about it, I hope to modify my whole diesel fleet. This will most likely mean having to record quite a few locomotives so I have audio files to use. The 48, 45 and 43 are high on my priority list.

I have attached  two videos of the 422 and a video of my latest 57 file. I am sorry for the poor narration on the 422 videos. In regards to the 57 file, I have to make one small timing change.

422 Class - Part A and B

422 Class - L. Towell - Throttle Notching - Part A

422 Class - L. Towell - Throttle Notching - Part B


I am currently in Wichita, Kansas and have attached two photos from the trip so far. One is the SR71, no more needs to be said about that and the other is a steam locomotive that I have no idea about.

Thanks for taking a look.



Sunday, January 31, 2016

Andian Models LWW


Just  quick post while I wait for a decoder to load.

My LWW is one of those projects that has been hanging around for years. I found it a challenging little kit, however it all went together ok.

One of the main reasons for the delay has been me figuring out how to mount the couplers and also how to add the brake detail. I had a few photos of the brake gear sent to me but it has taken me ages to figure out what I was going to build it out of.

Anyway, I turned up the air reservoir tanks on the lathe and modified bits and pieces I had laying around for the brake cylinder and triple valve. All in all it came out ok.

The couplers are the Sergent variety, mounted on a threaded brass spigot with a 10ba screw.

The brake shoes are Ian Lindsay castings, I do need to tidy these up a bit as the photos show some unevenness.

The timber platform was made by laminating timber to brass, milling the ends so it sits at the correct level and weathering.

Still to go is a general tidy up, adding the rest of the hand brake/ brake detail, painting and then just maybe, just maybe it will be finished! Finally!

Thanks for looking,