Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Casula Hobbies Z19 1954 - Modification of the Marker Lighting

My Casula Hobbies Z19 arrived a couple of days ago, a lovely little model and it runs really well. A big well done to Joe and his technical team.

Casula Hobbies Z19 1954 fresh out of the box

I had ordered 1957 but received 1954 for some reason, perhaps too many had ordered 1957 and I missed out. I don't mind though as 1954 is the same Baldwin tendered version with cut-out cab and cowcatcher. Given the COVID-19 situation, I wasn't up to taking it back or going to the Post Office to send it. Christine and I had our booster shots today and we won't be getting out and about until two weeks after.

I am not a fan of Loksound although I do have four Loksound 4 decoders in some steam locos. I decided that I would take the Z19 with the Loksound 5 sound option as I investigated the Loksound 5 Micro Next 18 decoder and determined that there were two extra power outputs that I could use to improve the marker lighting.

ESU LokSound 5 Micro DCC Next18 output diagram

It is obvious why the marker lights were set up the way they came as the soldering of the extra wires is perhaps not a great idea for a production model as it restricts the decoder from being a simple plug-in for the modeller who wants to add sound later.

Now, the exploded schematic of the model that is supplied in the box shows that there are four screws but they are mostly hidden beneath the ends of the front and rear bogies.

Warning, do not do what I did. I unscrewed the bogies at their pivots and then tried to move the bogies to clear the body mounting screws. The bogies have pickup wires through the tender floor and can't be moved far. I did manage to just clear the rear bogie to unscrew the rear body mounting screws but in trying this at the front a disconnected one of the bogie chains. Now, the chain is glued over a short small peg on the end of the bogie side frame and it was a nightmare glueing it back when I had finished.

The best way to access the tender body mounting screws is to carefully spread the bogie side frames and pop the axle out that is over each screw position. Don't bend the side frames out too far as the axle ends run in a metal inner frame for the electrical pickup.

Anyway, back to the reason for accessing the two extra outputs. The marker lights on the model are able to be switched on and off and are independent of the headlight(s). The model marker lights are designed to have white at the front and red at the rear when moving forward and the reverse of this when moving backwards. This is not prototypical when pulling a train as the red lights should be off.

Here is a photo of the underside of the Loksound 5 Micro Next18 decoder showing the additional output solder tabs which are AUX5 and AUX6. There are three other outputs but they are logic level and will not power a LED without some additional circuitry.

The underside of LokSound 5 Micro SCC Next18 decoder
showing the AUX5 and AUX6 outputs

The orientation of the decoder in the above photo is not the same as the ESU diagram as I decided to take the photo of the decoder in the same orientation as it is in the tender just flipped over.

In the following photos, I decided to use the number 3 output on the circuit board at the front and the number 2 output at the rear of the tender as they were easier to access with the soldering iron. These equated to the front and rear white marker light LEDs.

The white wire attached to Output 3 must be unsoldered from the board as it will be soldered to a 1KOhm 1/4 Watt resistor which has another piece of white wire soldered to it. This white wire is then soldered to the AUX5 tab on the decoder.

Output 3 white wire disconnection spot on circuit board

The yellow wire attached to the rear yellow surface mount LED will be unsoldered from the board at the R5/C8 connection in the lower-left corner next to the speaker. The photo below shows the yellow wire already unsoldered from the R5/C8 connection spot on the circuit board. I forgot to take a photo before I unsoldered the yellow wire.

Output 2 LED and  yellow wire disconnection spot on circuit board

The yellow wire is then soldered to a 1KOhm 1/4 Watt resistor which has another piece of yellow wire soldered to it. This yellow wire is then soldered to the AUX6 tab on the decoder. 

Please note that all white wire solder joints, yellow wire solder joints and resistor leads have 0.6mm heat shrink insulation tubing applied.

Extra marker light wiring and resistors in place

After re-wiring, I now have each pair of white and red marker lights on a separate function button. So the marker lights are a bit more prototypical.

  • White marker lights at the front when and red markers on the tender when running light (locomotive by itself). The reverse when running tender first of course.
  • White marker lights at the front when on a train and no red markers on the tender.
  • Red marker lights at both ends when shunting.

When testing the marker lights I found that if the red markers are on and you turn on the white markers then the white dominates the red and you can't even see a tinge of the red.

Once the re-wire was complete I weathered 1954 and added a crew.

I used two different greys, a darker and a lighter one and followed this with a light application of black pastel powder to the tender bogies as I felt that they were too light and clean. I then used some cream coloured pastel powder to add a spilt sand effect to the sandboxes area just in front of the cab on both sides. Finally, I added a very light application of rust coloured pastel powder to the lower half of the smokebox door.

Here is a link to a JMRI DecoderPro file I made for the Z19 default CVs. Before I did any of the above I read all the CVs into DecoderPro and also did my best to work out what sounds are on what function numbers (see the Function Labels tab in DecoderPro). I could be wrong for a couple of them so would be happy to be corrected.

EDIT: Here is a link to a just-released PDF document about the Casula Hobbies Z19 that includes the default function list.

One final note, I was disappointed to find that there is no short whistle for use when reversing, three short whistles. There is however a function button that will play four different long whistles, very strange!

Some whistle files can be programmed to allow a short or long whistle to be played depending on how long the whistle button is pressed but this isn't one.

I hope that the LokProgrammer sound file for the Z19 will be made available as that missing short whistle is very annoying.

If the file is made available then I will have to borrow a LokProgrammer from a friend and add a short whistle.

Overall, once again I can only say congratulations Joe Calipari.


I received a comment question about the coal load and if I have any intention of doing something about it, here is my reply:

"The short answer is yes. The longer one is that I hope to do something about a keep-alive but there isn't much room in the tender. The model coal load is quite flat and it is removable, well I hope it isn't glued in too strongly.

My idea is to remove the plastic load and investigate how much room can be found with a 'taller' load. The keep-alive will have to be a homemade one as the supercapacitors may need to be spread around inside the tender and coal load.

Then there is the final issue.... I have to find my supply of coal. I have obviously put it somewhere other than where it was usually kept."

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

A Home for the BYLONG Layout Circuit Breakers

Several years ago the layout gained a mysterious short circuit even though I hadn't been doing any wiring or trackwork recently. After a lot of searching under the layout and checking the track for closed rail gaps, I called in the big gun, Marcus Amman.

Marcus spent an afternoon with me checking all the same things and we still came up with nothing. At this point, it was decided that I needed to replace the NCE EB3 circuit breaker board as the EB3 boards were known to be a bit flaky. So, three NCE EB1 circuit breakers were bought and temporarily installed in the wiring. Now what I mean by temporary is that they just hung down below the layout suspended by the wiring to them. This situation stayed that way until about a month ago when I decided it was time to fix the mess.

I won't go into a too long-winded explanation of what I did so I will present the photo below and it will become self-evident. The EB1s are mounted on the perspex panel with 3D printed stand-offs. The stand-offs were 3D printed because we were in COVID-19 lockdown and I didn't want to do Click and Collect at Jaycar where there is a whole range of different sizes. Longer stand-offs were also printed to mount the panel on the layout fascia. The lit red LEDs on each EB1 board indicate that all is well.

Now, I should mention that somewhere along this journey when the EB3 board was replaced by the EB1s the short circuit disappeared and hasn't shown up again.

I should also state that the mainline was divided into two districts and the Cassilis branch was the third district. The mainline was divided at Coxs Gap loop but for years the two mainline districts would shut down when there was a short in either, I obviously had a sneak path in the track wiring. I searched for this for a long time and eventually accepted that this was just the way it is. Of course, when doing something totally unrelated under Coxs Gap loop I found some wiring that went from one end of the mainline outside the loop to the other end, it was tucked up behind some layout framework. A quick snip and all was well with the BYLONG world.

In the photo above a toggle switch and a 5 Amp ammeter can be seen. This measures the total amperage drawn by the layout when operating. The toggle switch is to cut the ammeter out of the power to the track when not reading as it uses some voltage. It is turned on when needed to check the current draw.

I am very pleased with the installation and it has taken away my concerns about those EB1s hanging in the wiring, also they were not very professional looking.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

A Track Cleaning Train

 As we all do, the search for a good and easy way to clean track can cause us to try all sorts of things. Of course, one way is to use the Peco track rubber or other brand, another is to use what used to be known as an ink rubber (eraser), a slight abrasive was bonded in the rubber. I have noticed that these are very hard to get anymore which is a pity as they were better than the Peco rubber. I am not going to get into the argument about the abrasive rubbers scratching the rail head as my track is long past protecting from that potential issue.

One thing I have always done is to use a 38mm paintbrush and drag it along the track at about 45 degrees to remove dust which I believe is a major part of dirty track. Combine dust with some conductivity fluids and you make the grey stuff that builds up on the wheels. Anyway, that's my theory. The dust by itself can also cause erratic power pick up and running. I will use the brush if I haven't run the layout for a few weeks.

In regards to conductivity, I started decades ago by using CRC 2-26, an electrical conductivity spray, this certainly works well but must be applied sparingly and away from grades. I applied it to about 50cm of each rail on level track in several places around the layout as well as on the point blade and stock rail contact areas of points.  I did find many years later that it can build up to a slightly sticky form at the point blade contact areas and start to restrict blade movement. This was rectified with an application of enamel paint thinner on a cotton pipe cleaner. This is how I enhanced conductivity until I started looking for other ways several years ago.

The next trials involved the use of graphite pencil sticks which seemed to work well but also had to be kept away from the layout grades. These can be found in art supply shops.

My latest efforts involve a geared motor rotating a cleaning pad against the rail tops. This motor is built into an NSWGR 48 Class HO model that runs as a dummy with another diesel locomotive, usually a Trainorama 44 Class. Behind the diesel locomotives are several wagons that have other track wiping and cleaning fittings.

Here are some photographs that show what I mean.

A white metal Protype BCW with an abrasive rubber (from Walthers I think)
The middle wagon has a piece of 1mm cork mounted on the Dust Monkey brush
Noch also makes the axle mounted Dust Monkey brushes

The cork disc and the cork on the Dust Monkey have a small amount of CRC 2-26 electrical conductivity fluid applied to them before operating. The CRC 2-26 can also be applied to the rails in a number of places around the layout to rejuvenate the cork. Any buildup of the grey dirt from the track can be cleaned from the cork carefully with some enamel thinner. Be careful not to saturate the cork with the thinner as it may cause the glue holding the cork on the plastic to soften. I use a cotton pipe cleaner to clean the cork.

The 48 Class has a piece of grey sponge mounted behind the leading cowcatcher to wipe the dust away before it can get on the locomotive's wheels and cause problems. I am still looking for a small brush arrangement to replace the foam.

The motor that spins the cork disc is a 1000 rpm geared 12volt DC motor that can be found here (at the time of this post of course):

On ebay


On Aliexpress

The body of the 48 Class is an old Trax body and the chassis of the 48 Class is made of several 3D prints. The non-powered 48 Class bogies are from the early Trax 48 Class and I have used two of them. They clip into the 3D printed chassis the same as they did on one end of the Trax 48 Class. It was lucky that I kept the Trax 48 Class chassis' when I made new mechanisms some time ago. See the blog post here.

The prints were done on a 3D filament printer except for the fuel tanks which were done on a resin printer. The fuel tanks might work on a filament printer with appropriate orientation and supports.

If anyone is interested and has an old Trax 48 Class body and a couple of the non-powered Trax 48 Class bogies then here are the STL files of the chassis parts and the fuel tank side (two required).


Chassis Motor Bottom Support

Track Cleaner Disc

48 Class Fuel Tank Side

The chassis parts were printed flat on the bed of the filament 3D printer.

Of course the adventurous could always design and print the bogies and use the white metal bogie side frames if they are still available.

The motor sits relatively loosely in the centre square hole and the square part below the chassis is glued into the chassis to retain the motor. The fuel tanks screw onto the chassis and retain the body. The disc slides onto the motor shaft which has a flat keyway. The disc can move up and down under its own weight but a small piece of foam is used to apply slight downward pressure. Too much pressure can stop the motor from rotating. The longer two box shapes can be used for some weight and/or a place to put the DCC decoder. Although my 48 Class isn't fitted with a Keep Alive as yet it would be a good addition.

Various trial materials were used on the disc - 2 types of material, cork,
2000 grit Wet and Dry and the last one has glue on it from a covering I removed
Under chassis view showing a piece of foam that exerts
a slight downward pressure on the disc.
View of the chassis, body and two fuel tanks that retain the body.
View showing motor sitting in the square box mounting.

1000rpm 12 volt motor

The decoder has Back EMF which can assist in keeping it spinning. The decoder is not in a DCC consist with the 44 Class as it needs to run at full speed. Any decoder with Back EMF would be suitable. The 44 Class is run slowly to give more cleaning revolutions of the disc on the rails.

Finally, this method of making a track cleaner could be applied to any other dummy model diesel by designing and printing an equivalent style chassis, etc.

Here is another motor and gearbox style that could be used. The link was good at the time of this post.

If your diesels are having intermittent power pick up issues then have a look at this earlier post where I put forward a theory about it and solve it with some easily fitted power pickups.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Wollar Triple Bracket Home Signal Control

Two posts ago I installed a triple bracket signal to act as the Home for Wollar station and yard. As I had some access difficulties if I wanted to install two normal bracket signals, I opted for the triple bracket.

The post was mainly about the small sleeper built retaining wall that I needed to make and install to retain the existing scenery where the triple bracket had to go.

This time I want to show what I did about controlling the triple bracket and also how I solved the visibility issue. The triple bracket was placed on the curve leading into Wollar and as such the arms were not easily visible to determine which track was set up for the train entering the yard.

As mentioned in the earlier post I cut the triple bellcrank style mechanism away and replaced it with one of my triple linear servo mechanisms by glueing it to the underside of the existing triple bracket base.

I then set up three Tam Valley Depot Singlet II servo control boards where I could access them from the front of the layout.

I extended a LED from each Singlet II to the front of the layout fascia and mounted the LEDs in a 3D printed box that showed which track each LED related to. The LEDs are bi-colour so show red or green depending on the signal arm position.

Here is the box with LEDs in place, working and showing green for the Main line.

Note the Accessory numbers A54, A55 and A56 as well as the L, M and BP written on the Singlet IIs with a white fine point paint pen. The L stands for Loop, the M stands for Main and the BP stands for the Back Platform track. Strangely, the Back Platform track is actually at the front of the layout. It is the track that the Cassilis branch trains arrive and depart from.

At the moment the triple signals can be operated by the buttons on the Singlet II control board or by accessory commands. The intent is to use an NCE Mini-Panel to change the appropriate signal arms based on the point levers (control panel switches). There is an Accept lever (switch) that can put all triple bracket arms to Stop.

So, the points will be set first, then the Accept lever will be set to allow entry and the appropriate signal arm will change to clear. The responding LED will show Green on the indicator box on the layout fascia.

Incidentally, the gap between the inner layout frame with the Singlet IIs and the outer piece of layout frame where the indicator box is mounted can now be filled with a piece of baseboard and the scenery will be extended down from the road to the front of the layout.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Small Signal Box Build

 I have a small NSWGR signal box meant for platforms on my Signals Branch Shapeways shop. The signal box is described as a 'Cheap Platform Signal Box'and one look at it and you can see why the NSWGR accountants must have loved it.

Links are here for those who may be interested.

Cheap Platform Signal Box available in Versatile Plastic or Fine Detail Plastic.

Detail parts for the Cheap Signal Box, door, windows, telegraph wire insulators, water tank and downpipe.

I have several of these signal boxes and I chose a Shapeways Versatile Plastic version to use as the basis for a junction signal box for the coal mine branch near Wollar. Now, as this is a platform version I needed to build a supporting structure for it.

Once again, I turned to my computer and ran Sketchup to design a corrugated iron lower supporting section. As part of the build, I also designed a flat base for the signal box to sit on. Extra parts were designed as well, these being a platform and steps, bellcrank and signal wire wheels for the area between the signal box and the track. I already had a small water tank designed so this came into the build but I needed a different downpipe from the gutter to the water tank and a water tank tap as well.

The corrugated iron support structure and the base were printed in PLA on my filament printer and the other small parts listed above were printed on my resin DLP printer.

Here are a few photos of the finished signal box. Overall I am quite happy with it and it is now put in place at the junction with appropriate scenery materials blending it into the scene.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Small Retaining Wall Build

 Back again!

When I first started drawing 3D signals that were available through my Shapeways Signals Branch shop the range was initially in the sintered nylon powder previously called White Strong and Flexible and now called Versatile Plastic by Shapeways. The signal detail parts were in Fine Detail Plastic. At the time I bought enough signals to signal my BYLONG layout. It was later that I redrew the signals for the Fine Detail Plastic and then Lost Wax Brass. So, I have been building my signals but upgrading them with fine ladders and wire handrails, etc. They don't look too bad at all, at least from a normal viewing distance.

I have been working on a triple bracket lower quadrant signal for my Wollar station yard on and off for some time in between making brass NSWGR signals for other modellers and I recently decided I had better finish it.

Here are some recent signals made from my range of locally produced lost wax brass signals.

Contact me by email at rpilgrim@bigpond.net.au if you wish to know more information about my range of signals or about ordering from my range, either signal kits or made up signals.

I cut off the existing crank-style mechanism and replaced it with a triple linear servo base as the under baseboard location of the signal was difficult to access. The linear servos were being driven by Tam Valley Singlet II servo boards that also have a DCC accessory decoder. The Singlet II boards were going to be mounted just under the front of the layout for easy access with one of the LEDs on each board being extended to the fascia. The reason for the visible LEDs was to show the position of the three arms as the actual signal could only be seen from the side. In doing this I also had to source some longer servo cables which I did through the Model Railroad Craftsman at Blacktown NSW.

Now, the location for the signal required the removal of some scenery from a low embankment in a box shape so I decided to draw up and 3D print a three-sided retaining wall made of sleepers and rail.

I had previously drawn a long retaining wall made of sleepers and rail for my layout so I modified that to suit.

Here is the retaining wall temporarily in place after trimming the scenery to size.

And here is the final placement of the retaining wall after painting the vertical rails with an old rust colour and using black powder on the grey plastic for the wood sleepers.

A nice afternoon's work I think.

The signal has had the throw of the signal arms adjusted and set by the Tam Valley Singlet II boards and it has been screwed in place. Unfortunately though as can be seen from the last photo above, I have to remove it and glue the large painted cast-iron brackets under the bracket platform, too excited to get it in place for sure.