Sunday, June 30, 2013

Always Learning Something


For a while now I have been contemplating hand laying the track for Picton. After bugging a lot of people for information and then trying to convince myself that Peco code 83 is perfectly fine, I decided to take the plunge and ordered three No.8 point kits from the Proto 87 Store. I am not modelling in P87 however Andy (Proto 87 Store) offers high end 'Ultimate' point kits suitable for RP25-88 & 110 wheels.

Rob (Picton Blog) has built quite a few of these point kits and offered much advise. One of his tips was to utilise strategically placed copper clad sleepers in lieu of only using timber and glue. If anyone has built one of these only using glue and timber I would love to hear about your results and how robust the assembly ends up being.

The kit comes with a million etched tie plates which need to be cut then positioned between the sleeper and rail. These tie plates were soldered to the rail and sleeper very carefully so the spike detail was not lost in a pool of solder.

Using a Greg Edwards data sheet I found constructing the point fairly straight forward. It is not yet complete and not 100% perfect however for my first attempt I am pretty happy. I am having difficulty with gauge narrowing around the point blades. A set of wheels with properly set back to back dimensions have no problem tracking through however I still want my track work to be fairly universal. Maybe this is asking to much? 

Well, am I convinced that I need code 70 and 55 track? On one hand I think it looks better and having prototypical NSWGR track work is a plus but on the other is it really worth the amount of effort? Hopefully I can answer this for myself after building a few more.

I have included a few photos of the build so far along with a comparison shot of a Peco No.8 code 83 point. I am glad I have had a crack at this as I have always put building track in the too hard basket. Still to go are all the timber sleepers, check rails and throw bars, still a few hours in it Arrrrrrrg!

While on the subject of learning something, I attended the Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention yesterday. I had a great day and caught up with many people. One such person was Geoff, author of the Splitters Swamp Creek Blog. Geoff's scenery display was outstanding, I can only imagine how good the rest of his layout looks in the flesh! I will have to get up to Brisbane one of these days.

All the presentations I sat in on yesterday were very interesting. The military equipment lecture by Rohan Ferguson was impressive! I think Rohan probably knows more about armoured military equipment than the Army themselves! Very knowledgeable.

I think the operation lecture by Mark and Ben was very important. I don't think a lot of railway modellers have an appreciation of just how long operations take on 1:1 railways. It was great to get a run down on older era operations and an insight into marker light illumination meanings.

All in all a very good day and one I recommend to everyone. Thankyou to all the organisers, presenters and commercial stands for making it a great day.

Well that's it for now. Back to bashing my head on a wall in regards to track! If Micro Engineering made a No.8 point the decision would already be made. I used to be happy with code 100. What happened to that sensible bloke?

Thanks for reading this crap,


P.S. If I spelt anyone's name incorrectly in this post I am sorry. Your welcome to change your name so it reflects this post more accurately.

Friday, June 14, 2013

10100011111 - In a Different Dimension

G'day Blog Readers,

I have seen the light! No longer am I an analogue DC supporter.

With the release of the Auscision 422 class I decided to venture out and buy a DCC Sounds Loksound decoder. About two years ago I bought a NCE Power Cab with the intention of running computer controlled analogue throttles with the hand piece. This bright idea didn't work as the communication set up was only one direction, but this is another whole story. Anyway I decided to pull the NCE set out of the cupboard and installed the Loksound chip in the 422. I was hooked! Not so much with the sound but with the way the loco ran. I have never seen anything like it. I realise I am not breaking any ground here and you may be thinking this bloke is about twenty years behind the game, but for me this was unreal. Place the 422 in speed step 1 and off it crawls, very very slowly.

Now I had a problem as my main modelling era does not include big 12 wheeled boxes. Rather I would need to convert small steam locomotives particularly the  Z13, a local Picton resident servicing the Loop Line.

Ray Pilgrim in one of his "Bylong" blog posts described that he had fitted sound into a Protype Z13. After a few e-mails to the very helpful Mr Pilgrim I was able to source an appropriate decoder, it being a Loksound Micro V4.

While up in Mittagong I stopped in at  All Aboard Modelbahn. Brendo "On the Goods Lines" Blog put me into some small sugar cube speakers. I chose the 15mm x 11mm x 8mm unit. I can't remember if they were made by Zimo or CT Electronik although looking at there websites they do seem to be the same item. The speaker is strange as it is completely enclosed in a box with a flexible membrane around the perimeter. I was a little sceptical at first but then started reading a few very positive reviews.

On to 1311,

I have three Trax brass Z13 class locos. I painted and lined 1311 a while ago. As I didn't want to destroy my painted running model I used one of the others that still required a paint job for all my prototyping work. I removed the brass plate and lead weight from the rear bunker. This was quite easy and was achieved by just scraping the solder away until the assembly came loose. I also removed the small round lead weight from the boiler by simply unscrewing it.

After the modifications required were successful and not really that drastic I moved on to modifying 1311. I have to say that one of the hardest aspects of a DCC install for me is not damaging the model your working on. You really have to take a great deal of care.

I added two extra pickups to the loco. One on the lead driving wheel and the other on the trailing set of wheels. I switched the wheels around in the lead pony truck. This was done to prevent the possibilities of short circuits occurring between lead truck and the loco body/

I decided that the sugar cube speaker would be installed in the boiler just behind the smoke box but clearing the gearbox. I cast a small lead weight matching the boiler diameter but with a flat on top. The speaker was then stuck to the top of the lead weight with double sided tape and the whole unit installed using the screw removed from the original lead weight.

As the 13 is a small loco I wanted to add a TCS stay alive. I went for the KA2 model which has five 1 farad capacitors on board. The stay alive was actually too long to fit anywhere in the loco so I ended up cutting the fifth capacitor off including the PCB. As the capacitors are simply wired in series I attached fly leads to appropriate positions on the PCB and remote mounted the fifth capacitor in the smoke box. Its all very tight ha ha.

The Loksound decoder is installed along with the stay alive in the rear bunker. This combination just fits in the bunker and there is hardly room for the wiring.

I wired all the body to chassis electrical connections through a four pin micro connector. I wanted to be able to separate the body from chassis easily.

The loco is still not complete. I need to remove the weight from the brass plate and refit the brass plate into the bottom of the bunker so the chassis will screw down. The wiring still needs tidying up in the cab and then the crew may be able to resume their positions.

I am quite happy with the sound although I need to sought out the whistle. Here is a small video of the Z13 in operation. The Stay Alive is brilliant. While filming the video the loco actually ran off the end of the rails and preceded down the piece of timber still chuffing away.

This project was a bit of a tester for myself. Decoder Pro has opened up a whole new world and I am amazed at how adjustable the Loksound decoder is. Just another dimension to Model Railways!

Looks like Picton 1955 will be swept into the digital age. Now another 2 Z13s to go and 40 odd others. Sounds like fun...maybe not so much ha.

Now on to finishing this and building some points.

All the best,