Sunday, June 23, 2013

Operating night fun

I had an operating session last Friday night with the Ramblers. Here is a short video of No. 81 goods that had failed on the bank between Cox's Gap and Wollar. I made up No.81 and didn't test if the allocated locomotives could get it up the grades. It made it up two grades and then attacked the 1 in 40 of the continuous 200 degree curve before Wollar where it ground to a halt. The goods was being followed by a 5708 on an empty wheat train so the D57 was co-opted into assisting 5085 banking in the rear. Now apparently this is a no-no as remarked on the video by James McInerney who virtually challenged me to put it up on the net, so here it is. All in good fun, driver of 3532 was Peter Jarvis, driver of 5085 bank loco was Bob Lynch, driver of 5709 was Graham Saint.

As No.81 crests the grade and proceeds to Wollar you can see the 57 slow to a stop before it drops away back down the grade to Bylong . The next scene has No. 81 charging through Wollar in readiness to climb the last grade to the Gulgong staging, unfortunately the C35 pulls away on the flat and 5085 is left to chase it.

The last scene is the 57 on the empty wheat train leaving Wollar as a C32 on the pick up shunts.

Over all, a good night and for the first time although we were running late we did finish the timetable amid much hilarity.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A change in direction

I have been a bit quiet of late as I have recently made the decision and have been preparing to retire and needed to focus on the financial side of life. I will retire in 12 July 2013 and I am looking forward to it as you can imagine. I had intended to carry on working until I turned 65 next year but have taken this decision due to the recent health issues of my prostate removal operation and the more recent attack of Shingles. The Shingles have not completely gone away and across the area affected I have varying degrees of tingling, ticklish sensations and even numbness in my eyebrow. I don’t know how long it will take for these to go away but as Shingles is caused by the flare up of the Chicken Pox virus lying dormant on nerves within the body when resistance is low and stress is high then the only way I can reduce my stress levels is to retire.

I have been doing some modelling though and I have fitted LokSound v4.0 decoders into two NSWGR D57 Class steam locomotives. I have a LokProgrammer on loan from Marcus Ammann and it is needed to change the sounds in the decoders. I am not fully happy with the sounds but I am very close. The main issue is the chuff, the D57 class having three cylinders with slightly different timing on one cylinder have a very distinctive beat, like a 1..2.3. I have a nice sounding chuff happening but I need to modify the sound scheme for the chuffs to achieve the D57 beat. The sound scheme is like a flow chart telling the decoder when and under what circumstances to chuff and when to drift (as in a certain reduction of speed steps I assume). The flow chart is very complex and is easily messed up but now that I am going to be retired and I can focus my attention on it for longer I will try to produce the D57 beat.

Whistles for our steam locomotives are also a problem but I have managed to find a reasonable whistle that is from the USA Heisler sounds (LokSound v4.0 -55452 Sound File). The chuff and other sounds are also from the Heisler. The Heisler has two ‘engine sounds’ or chuffs going on so I turned one of them off and then adjusted the chuff rate as per the LokSound v4.0 Manual for 6 chuffs per revolution. The whistle is interesting as it has a flow chart that depending on how long you press the whistle/function button it will give a whistle that tails off or cuts off, you can almost play it. It has a nice pitch and sounds a bit like it was recorded at night in a valley as there is an echo but I have heard similar with our locomotives as well.

The two D57s will get a work out this Friday night as the Ramblers are coming for a timetable operating session.

I have spent the last couple of nights setting up trains for the session which is quite a chore. The problem is we have had a few running nights where anything goes and it usually does so the trains were all mixed up and in the wrong locations. They are normally in the wrong locations after a timetable operating session anyway but at least they are just in the staging yard pointing the wrong way at the other end of the layout. There is something to be said for a layout designed to have all the trains back in their starting places at the end of a session but I prefer to have trains that go somewhere not round and round. There is a cost for everything in this life so you have to weigh up and make your decisions; circled back to retirement there.

I attended the Epping Club’s Exhibition on the long weekend and here are a couple of photos I took of the Whereisit layout, small but nice. I didn’t take many as exhibitions are not conducive to taking good photos due to the lighting and the fact that the trains keep moving (I take time exposure shots).

10 Class Crane loco 1052  in the loco depot

Water tower on Whereisit

Model Railroad Craftsman 5 ton yard crane on Whereisit

While at the exhibitions I learned that Geoff Knott was not very well and of course since then we have heard that he passed away. We have lost one of natures gentlemen and a great world class modeller. You will be missed Geoff.

Here are some photos of the layout Geoff and his mate Michael Flack exhibited at the last Epping Exhibition Geoff attended in 2012.