One recent Friday I got a call during the day from Gary Laker, one of the Ramblers who was desperate to do something. Gary works to a roster and was out of sync with our meetings so I invited him over that night.
I also rang 'Rowdy' David Allen another quiet Rambler.
Well we had a most enjoyable evening running trains and adjusting the CVs on a Tsunami Alco 251 V12 decoder I had just installled in a Trainorama NSWGR 44 class. Gary had been a driver for 15 years and Rowdy had been a fireman for several so they were invaluable in determining which of the 15 diesel horns in the decoder was the closest to a 1960s 44 with dual horns. After much tooting of horns it was down to two, numbers 4 and 13. I am using the number 13 horn at the moment and it will be put to the test the next time all the Ramblers drop by.
Next we moved on to dynamic braking, the Tsunami allows the dynamix brake to be turned on with function 4 but you can also have the throttle respond accordingly by adjusting the CVs. By default the Tsunami will drop the diesel sound to idle when the dynamic brake is used but the real 44 class would go to notch 4, so notch 4 it was. This doesn't give as much change in engine noise as the default as you may only be around notch 4 when descending a grade but it's nice to know that it is happening.
In conjunction with the dynamic braking I had set the automatic notching in the Tsunami to change every 10 throttle steps, so when set in 128 mode and with a speed curve active that tops out at the 80 step mark this gives you eight notches as per the prototype. The Tsunami can also be set up for manual notching where the diesel engine sound is disconnected from the throttle and most be notched up and down by the driver, I haven't tried this yet.
The 44 was given a heavy momentum for both accelerating and decellerating for more realism.
The Tsunami allows function 11 to activate a brake that will slow down the loco, the braking effect being fully adjustable by CV for effect.
Now, I use NCE and function 11 is an awkward two handed button press and function 7 operates the brake squeal noise so I used JMRI Decoder Pro to make function 7 sound the brake squeal as well as activate the braking effect. Function 7 is also the brake squeal on locos fitted with QSI sound decoders such as Eureka and Austrains C35 so this is a good match, nothing more confusing than trying to remember which function does what and which decoder is in which loco. The JMRI DecoderPro freeware program is just the thing for setting these function button assignments easily.
With the momentum and the above adjustments the 44 took on a whole new dimension.
There may be more adjustments to make for fine tuning but I am more than happy with the way this 44 operates, two more to go.
A word of warning, the standard shrink wrapped Tsunami barely fits and one speaker must be removed to make room. For my second 44 I have bought the Atlas variant of the Tsunami, this being a flat long decoder that should replace the existing lighting board although it isn't the same shape. Maybe one day Trainorama and other manufacturers will ensure that the lighting boards in their diesels are made to the Atlas 'form factor' for ease of decoder installs, or at least for this decoder. Unfortunately this is not the case with the upcoming GMs.
One last point, I fitted a speaker enclosure for the 44 that is available from the Model Railroad Craftsman at Blacktown, NSW. This speaker enclosure need a little bit of chamfering on the inside edge to fit the existing 44 class speaker. You must have an enclosure sealing the back of the speaker as you will get little sound the way the speakers come in the 44 class without it. The speaker needs to work against entrapped air to produce the sound.
Gary Spencer-Salt, the proprietor has produced this speaker enclosure to go with his Loksound sound decoder kit specifically set up with 44 class sounds. Having seen and heard this operate in James McInerney's 44 class I can thoroughly recommend the Loksound as a far easier install than the Tsunami.
Finally, towards the end of the night Gary Laker asked if he could take a photo of his 13 class and passenger cars that has been working their way around the layout that night.
I gave him my camera that is permanently set up for model photos and a tripod. The desktop photo above is the result of his photo and a bit of enhancement by me by dropping a real background into the photo instead of the light blue background that exists right behind the train (see below).
As you can see Gary is a fine modeller with a good eye for weathering.