Thursday, 18 February 2021

Schedule and waybill planning and implementation

 Time to write up some waybills

I have been procrastinating this task for a while, but finally have some thoughts about how the train schedule will work on the layout.

In order to write up the way bills I have manually created a few trains and now I need to write up the waybill for each car. I will use the 4 position waybill system with each car having its own car card that has a picture of the car plus the reporting marks on the card.

The plan is to have a mix of trains to cater for each type of operator.

The types of train will be:

Run through - does not swap out any cars, just runs from staging to staging across the layout.

A simple switching job - this type of train will run from staging, then when it reaches a specific town will switch  1 or 2 tracks and drop off or pick up a small number of cars and then continue to staging.

Complex switching job - this type of train will originate from the main yard and go out and switch a number of tracks at a few towns on the layout and the return to the main yard. There are a number of industries on the layout that will receive a car from off line, then load the car for another on line industry, then the car will then return to the main yard and then depart on the mixed freight. Some cars are captive so will run between 2 locations on the layout that are in different towns and therefore have to switch between switching jobs via the main yard.

As the simple switching job trains switch out specific tracks in 1 or 2 towns, the trains can either run or they can be skipped if I have a small crew. The run through's can also be skipped if needed.

The complex switching jobs have associated mixed freights that will run from staging to the main yard and drop off a number of cars and the continue.

Now to get on a write up these way bills.

Car cards next to each car, waiting for a waybill

A rough plan of each train and its direction, towns to stop at and types of industries to switch

A full list of all the industries on the layout. The red ones are the cars that are on line industries that will either receive or send a car to another on line industry.

The 4 way waybill. Here there are 2 waybills. They are double sided.

More progress to follow.

Friday, 27 November 2020

RF16 Shark sound install

 Ah the burble of a Baldwin

I have been planning the install of a sound decoder into the ER Models RF16 Shark for some time. I have been following a number of threads on "The RailWire" for a while and found some suggestions as to speaker enclosures and small mobile phone speakers that work well on the Loksound Micro v5.

Once all the parts arrived and with a little down time I set about the install of the speaker and sound decoder into the RF16.

As the ER Models RF16 has a reasonably solid frame, there was a little bit of milling to be done in order for fit the parts near the rear of the loco.

As the loco comes with rapido couplers and I always run the loco with its sister RF16, I cut the front coupler box from the bogie and installed a body mount medium shank microtrains coupler. At the back of the loco, I replaced the rapido coupler with a medium shank unimate on one of the pair and a short shank unimate on the other loco to get a reasonable gap between them.

Here are a few progress pictures and a short video.

The audio from the phone is not as good as the loco sounds on the layout but gives you an idea. 
The burble of the Baldwin sounds great!...

Saturday, 24 October 2020

GHQ Dozer build

 Hmm.. Missing parts.

Today, while procrastinating about developing a schedule and the card packs for the layout I came across a GHQ Bulldozer kit that I purchased many years ago and decided to build it.

All was going swimmingly well until I found that I was missing the main front blade and arms from the dozer. After a careful search of the area where I cut over the blister pack, the part, the is probably the biggest part of the whole kit is missing.. Darn it!.

I continued to build the the dozer with the parts I have and have contacted GHQ to see if a part can be sent. If not, then the dozer can be placed on a well car or flat car and be a load (once painted).

Now back to those car card packs.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Raspberry Pi - For JMRI

No not a a Raspberry Pie (the type you like to eat).

Have been watching with a keen interest the progress of the Raspberry Pi mini computer.

The Raspberry Pi is a PC on a board that are about $100. The idea is that they are small, simple, solid state and are used for what ever project you can come up with. The Raspberry Pi 4 fits into the palm of your hand and is about as powerful as your average size Laptop these days. Has 4 USB ports, built in WiFi, a wired network port, 2 x HDMI ports etc etc. Is runs a version of Linux called Raspbian. All totally Free..

I had watched a few tutorials on setting one up to run JMRI and had been sitting on the fence for a while as I had a old Laptop that I was using to run Panel Pro on the layout. The issue with the laptop is that it takes a while to start, does not have a battery and was a general pain in the neck. I found a cheap, used Raspberry Pi 4B 4Gb on ebay so thought why not.. Lets have a crack at this.

The guys at JMRI have set up a image for the Pi so that it can just be copied to a SD card for the Pi and it will auto detect the DCC system and connection to the Loconet. Too easy I thought..... and it was..

I have now got the Pi running on the layout in a way so that it does not have a screen, it boots up when the layout power is turned on as I walk in the room. The Pi then auto starts JMRI and the Panel for the layout and then runs the layout initialisation routine to set all the turnouts to a known state for the signals to work.

It is best to shutdown the the Raspberry Pi rather than just killing the power, so I have set up a turnout number that I can operate from the throttle so that it runs the shutdown routine for the Pi. Once done I can then kill the power to the layout. 

As an alternative, I also have an old iPad in the room that connects to the JMRI web server (that auto starts when the Pi starts). I have a panel that has some basic functions on it (per below) so I can enable the staging auto reverse set up so that I can just set a train running and JMRI will set for the selected clear track and then detect when the train is in the loop and auto throw the turnout so that the train can exit safely. It then waits for the train to clear the staging turnouts and a few extra blocks and then rests.

The panel also has a switch on it to shutdown the Pi so that I dont need to use the throttle. All rather nifty.. So now I can do away with the laptop and only drag it out when I need to program a loco.

The Pi has USB ports so that a keyboard, mouse and monitor can be installed if needed, but I can just remote control to it from my laptop or the iPad if needed. So no screen or keyboard is required in the RR Room.

All rather nifty really. That was a nice distraction from buildings. Now back to the buildings.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Fairhaven Glass and power station

More buildings completed

Over the last week or so I have been working on the buildings in Fairhaven.

The town of Fairhaven is dominated by the large glass factory. It also has a power station, pipe unloading facility and a Ball Metal containers. Ball metal containers was built a few months ago and I have been thinking about how to do the modern (that's modern 1970's style) glass factory. 

I finally got around to getting stuck in. After some research into glass manufacturing, I realised that the main commodity inbound is sand and the track I had allocated for the delivery was not very big. I also have a power plant that is more for town power as opposed to the glass facility. I then decided to swap the locations of the sand unloading and the coal unloading to enable more sand cars to be spotted. 

I adapted / changed / shortened a few existing buildings I picked up from Barry and John Fahey and built the power station and sand silo facility. 

The other function of the glass factory is to hide the track that is behind it that comes up from South staging. I made the buildings so that they can be picked up and moved, just in case of an issue or for track cleaning etc.

Here are the buildings about 80% complete as I need to add windows, paint and weather etc.

Most buildings with get a heap of roof details etc.

Here is an overall view of Fairhaven.

This is the sand unloading facility

This is the sodium and recycled glass unloading dock and main part of the factory

Here is the box car loading facility for completed glass products.

Main office building and the power station

Coal unloading facility attached to the power station.

I also completed the unloading dock and cover for the large power station in Plattsburgh.

The roof on the power plant is yet to be completed due to a shortage of materials. More is on order.

Will now do some running to test out the unloading and loading facilities.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Road bridges and a culvert

More bridge work.

I have long been looking at ways to cover tunel portholes on the layout or places where trains enter and exit the main layout. I have been lucky enough to obtain a few road bridges from friends fallen flag layouts over the last few years and have been storing them up.

This weekend I spent a bit of time cutting and modifying them to fit places where I wanted to cover holes in backdrops etc.

First up a bridge on the south side of Cooperville. There is a corner location and I did not put in a curved backdrop. So a bridge at a 45 degree angle should do the trick over the TOFC interchange. I think this one came from John Fahey

Next up I wanted to cover the access to the north creek branch where there is a train usually staged.

Again, I cut a bridge given to me to fit the space. I think this one came from John Fahey

Next up a bridge over the middle of Port Henry. Not prototypical  for the location but wanted to break up the scene a bit. This one cant from Barry Davies. I have set this one back a little bit to stop it from being knocked by operators.

Then a bridge over the North bound main line as the train enters the 1 turn helix. I cut up 1 long bridge to make this one and the next one. This one is from John Fahey.

Then I used a small part of the previous bridge to make this short scenery block.

This is the 1 turn helix heading south to Port Henry.

Then lastly a small culvert is placed on the North End of Fairhaven.

Lots of bridge work both road and rail this weekend. I have found I need more cars.. So need to see what I can find.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

More Bridges

Mainline between Cooperville and North Staging

Since the bridge install at Cooperville, I have been planning and kit bashing a few bridges to be installed on the main line between Cooperville and North staging.

The first bridge is an Atlas code 55 truss bridge with a ME 40ft girder extension. I think this bridge was given to me by Barry Davies and came off the now fallen flag Thompson River Canyon built by Rod and Vic.

The second bridge is a new Atlas code 55 truss bridge un modified.

The third bridge is a combination of a ME 80ft girder bridge span, a Kato truss bridge turned upside down and modified and then a ME  40ft girder bridge span.

All bridges have been air brushed with anthracite grey and then with a light dusting of burnt umber. The track and ties have been painted with my usual olive drab colour. With this track I used a micro brush.

The supports are kit bashed from an Atlas stone arch bridge.The supports are the same colour as the bridges (for now). More weathering to come on those. They are all easily removed at this point in time.

I think this makes a large difference to the look of the upper level. I have also reduced the height of the front fascia and the foam to give a better view of the trains.

I'm not 100% complete on the height of the foam base along the back of the track as I want it to look like the part of the line that runs along the edge of Lake Champlain in up state New York. So more thinking to be done there.

With the hot wire cutter in my hand, I decided that the large mountain on the single turn helix between Port Henry and Plattsburgh needed to be reduced in height and cut out the vertical groves. Here is the update to that scene.

 Stay tuned for the next update.