At the recent SCMRA Departmental Rolling Stock Seminar at Epping (April 2011) , I did a Clinic on "Loco Sand".
On researching this topic, I found an article in the Jan 85 Roundhouse on Hornsby Depot by Ray Love, detailing the track cleaning operation of the Cowan Bank etc, due to accumulation of sand that played havoc with the signalling system.
On the NSWGR, Main North there was heavy use of sand by locos as they struggled up the Cowan Bank with grades of between 1 in 40 to 1 in 55. In the open, the build up of sand/oil/grime was cleaned away by the rain. With no rain in the tunnels to clean the track , this build up of sand/oil/grime etc made worse by the heat inside the tunnel, affected the signalling system.
In the early 1930s, the Signals and Telegraph Branch experimented with cleaning of the track by fitting 2 Wire Brushes behind the rear bogie of a 30 Class loco. In 1936 the Signals and Telegraph Branch introduced the first Track Cleaning Van with two Wire Brushes, fitted and operated similarly to what was fitted to the 30 Class loco.
Initially the Van was an old American Box style carriage and operated by Syd Hanna. It was destroyed at Hornsby Yard in a shunting accident in 1944. A bogie BHG Goods Brakevan was converted to make a second Van. This Van was affectionately known as the Hanna Van, after it's long time operator.
The BHG Hanna Van was attached to the No 69 Down Pick Up Goods, just ahead of the Brake Van at 5:15 am, every Tuesday and Friday morning and cleaned the rails of the Cowan Bank and Woy Woy tunnels. The Van was detached at Gosford a added to the No 58 Up Pick Up Goods, where it cleaned the rails in the UP direction. Track cleaning was to be done at a minimum speed of 10 MPH where the brushes rotated at 695 RPM. Like the first Van the second "Hanna" Van was damaged again at Hornsby in a shunting accident , in 1950.
A MCV or similar van was modified to to be a third Van until electrification to Gosford, removed the need for such maintenance procedures, where is was withdrawn from service.
I volunteer to do a Clinic to get a model/building onto my Main North layout. Instead of adding a Sand Bin to my two Elevated Coal Stages, I decided I'd build a Hanna Van and add this "operation" of cleaning the track on the Cowan Bank with a Hanna Van.
Firstly I needed to build a "Hanna" Van and then add DCC to it. If I was to make a Hanna Van, I 'd like to make BHG due to it's extra detail (blocked out windows etc) that was not available, instead the MCV that's available from Ian Lindsay Models. One of my mates found me a BHG. I needed to make this a DCC Hanna Van with sound and lights. For sound of the spinning wire brushes grinding away the sand/corrosion etc, I tried a diesel decoder in one of my locos with the notching set to maximum - no good. I tried a Steam decoder at Maximum speed and the "noise" was close enough. What else was I going to use that was cheap. I had an older DSX sound decoder and needed to add a Function decoder, to "operate" it. For the Clinic, I used this set up.
Since then I replaced the Function decoder with a D13SR motor decoder for better "automatic" operation. I had to also add 2 miniature 12 volt relays to operate the sound, lights and sparks. I could have used a combined sound and motor decoder, but did not have one "on hand". The sparks are two 0.8 mm SMD LEDs glued onto the non rotating brushes configured as Firebox Flicker. The under floor illumination lights are four 1.5 Volt incandescent lamps wired in series with a 120 Ohm resistor.
The DSX is set up with address #9 and the D13SR is set up on address #8.
Prior to operating the Hanna Van, select loco #9 and set to Maximum Speed.
Then set up the Hanna Van motor decoder, this case #8, into a Consist with the operating loco in this case 3622 .
Operate 3622 (in consist with #8), to the Tunnel with the Hanna Van.
Stop just outside the tunnel entrance.
Press F1 (No Bells in NSW) and the lights over the Wire Brushes illuminate.
Wait 10 seconds as the operator pretends to lower the Wire Brushes.
Operate the 3622 to move forward.
The grinding sound and sparks start automatically by the motor decoder, as speed is increased above Speed Step 1.
Once finished cleaning the track, stop the loco.
Press F1 that disables the sound, raises the Wire Brushes and turns off the lights.
Drive the loco to Gosford.
Relay 1 is used to enable the sound and to turn on the lights by pressing F1.
Relay 2 connects the speaker via Relay 1, when the speed of the Consist is above Speed Step 1.
The motor output of the D13SR decoder, energizes the Sound (Relay No 2), whenever the speed is above Speed Step 1.
I made a Speed Table with CV67 at "0" and CV 68 - 94 all at "255", using Decoder Pro.
To see how it all turns out, see my Hanna Van on the layout Youtube at :
The No 69 Pick Up will be "staged" at Sydney Staging with 6 wagons including the Hanna Van. To ensure that it "all" works correctly, the operator will firstly "dial up" loco 9 (the Hanna Van) and set it's speed to maximum. He'll then take the loco/train that will be already consisted with the Hanna Van (loco 9), to the first of two Boronia Tunnels (only room for 2) on my Cowan Bank, stopping the train with the Hanna Van just outside the entrance. Press F1 wait 10 seconds for the brushes to lower, then move off. Sound and Sparks will start automatically as the the speed is increased. As the Hanna Van exits the tunnel, the operator will stop the train and press F1, wait 10 seconds (raising the brushes), then proceed to the second tunnel (3 feet away) then repeat the process. After raising the brushes at the exit of the second tunnel, he'll proceed to Gosford where he'll detach the Hanna Van and shunt it into the appropriate siding.
This total operation takes about 20 minutes. The UP No 58 Pick Pick Up, will pick up the Hanna Van and repeat the above operation, cleaning the UP tracks and leave the train in Sydney Staging (Loop). Operations like this, is what I want/need to re-create on my Main North, so the building of the Hanna Van was a fantastic addition to my railway.
Since the construction of the Hanna Van, I have decided to be more specific with my layout "era" and have locked in the mid 60s. Overhead wiring was completed to Gosford in 1960, so I will be fitting the "overhead", when time permits and have purchased some 46 Class Electrics,
The Hanna Van is not operated any longer and is "parked" at Gosford, I don't have Hornsby on the layout. Occasionally I will place the Hanna Van Track Cleaning "operation" Card in an Operating Session for a non era operation.