Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bylong Operating Night

We held another operating session last night and all concerned felt that it went very well and that the layout operated very well which was a relief.

The layout is run to a 12 hour timetable that starts at 6:00am and concludes of course at 6:00pm. The timetable is run at a fast time rate of 6 to 1 so that 1 hour on the fast clock is 10 real minutes. This was made easy by the use of the clock facility in the NCE DCC system where the fast time is displayed on the Pro Cab throttles. Marcus Amman was also kind enough to bring along two fast clocks that plug into the cab bus and display the fast time in large red LED numbers. One clock was placed at Bylong and the other at Wollar for the Station Masters.

We ran again using NCE radio throttles as since the previous operating night a number of the Ramblers had their Pro Cabs converted to radio. There more than enough radio throttles to run the layout. The radio throttles performed flawlessly with no one complaining about delayed response or missed keystrokes.

We ran 25 trains during the session and finished the night at 6:00pm fast time one train movement behind the timetable which all agreed was pretty good, better than last time.

We didn't have a dedicated Station Master / Signalman at Bylong this time. That was my fault as I didn't ask for volunteers and we did have one instance of two trains in the section between Bylong and Cox's Gap Loop but not a cornfield meet due to that lack of control. There was one other instance when I was shunting the branch mixed in Wollar and I gave permission for a passenger train driven by Dave "Rowdy" Allen to leave Wollar down the grade to Bylong as a coal train was climbing the grade. This of course was very wrong of me as I had usurped the power of the Wollar Station Master, Layne Hardy. Layne has been the SM for the last two sessions and has done a really good job although he did say that next time he would like to run a train or two.

I will leave you with this YouTube video of 3532 on 81 Goods banked by 5085 as it passes through Bylong in preparation for the climb to Cox's Gap and Wollar. Apologies for the quality of the video but I quickly grabbed the camera and took the video without having the chance to set it up so that the focus was better. It is however interesting to listen to the discussion going on .

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Decision Made - Action Taken

Some time ago I discussed the height of my backscenes, now this was from the perspective of taking photos without having buildings or trees, etc. ending up with the garage wall behind them. Getting rid of those bricks and cutting around the trees can be an effort in Photoshop.
I was trying to make the decision about making the backscenes higher and was tossing up just how high.
I originally made the backscenes 14" (400mm) high which gave three strips out of an 8' x 4' (2400 x 1200mm) sheet of masonite allowing 2" (50mm) to be bolted onto the layout frame. I did this as I had some backscenes from Bylong in it's previous abode and in an effort to save money as we were in a new house and there were other things to spend the dollar on.
Well, I bit the bullet and over the last three days I have installed and painted the sky on 24" high (610mm) backscenes across the front of the garage part of the layout above Bylong station.
I have not blended the joins between the sheets as I had to make the backscenes removable for layout maintenance, up with the roller doors and off with the backscenes.
Here are a few quick photos showing the effect, a much greater sense of immersion as the top of the backscene is about 7' (2100mm).

The third photo dramatically illustrates the difference in height of the old and new backscenes.
The second last photo shows that I have got to do some work on the hill scenery leaving Bylong so that the 'lower' sky doesn't intrude into the hill. I will bring the hill forward along the backscene towards Bylong  with the trees 'walking' up the new part of the hill and blending into the upper level tree line better. This will also allow me to improve the last photo by hiding the top edge of the lower backscene in this picture.
Multi-level layouts certainly give a nice long run but at the expense of some interesting challenges.
Of course I now have to replace the existing backscenes with the new high version and my hills that I painted have got to go, which leads to another painting stage, nothing like repeating your work.