Northern Tablelands Express approaching Ardglen Tunnel

Northern Tablelands Express approaching Ardglen Tunnel
Click on the above photo to see the Main North Album at Flickr

Monday, June 27, 2022

Control Panels on my Main North Upper Deck.

Adding the 48s to Werris Creek and Willow Tree, I needed to motorize all the Points to make it all work for running the 48s. I had to redo the track for the Diesel Terminal to fit the Peco Point motors, as the initial track layout was done in a hurry & it is hard to reach/see the position of the Points. When I added Willow Tree, I added the Point motors & components as I laid the track & even added the ballast.

Finalizing South Werris Creek & Willow Tree was a real challenge as I had to prepare for a hospital procedure in April that took me out of action & when returning, resulted in a major lack of motivation on the Main North. 

I replaced the round table in the Family room with a 2 metre table I had downstairs & 4 chairs I found while walking the streets for exercise that the owner had put out for a council pickup. 

With the extra bench space, I set up my wife Elley with her Puzzle Books etc & purchased her a Laptop to look at YouTube videos etc, at one end & setup my Laptop on the other end. 
We now have plenty of room so the two of us can bash away at the keyboards together. Better still we're together as we face the challenges of getting older, together.

Last year, I'd already drawn up some basic plans of the 3 Control Panels I needed to make on pieces of paper. I needed to redo these in full scale. I'd previously made a crude Drawing Table using a piece of 300 mm wide timber, a Tee & a crude Set square for the the 45 degree angles, necessary for drawing up my Control Panels. Now that the 3 Control Panels a made and installed, Now that I've decided to make a Control Panel for West Tamworth, I'll add step by step photos below.

All the parts can be purchased from Jaycar: 3.0 mm Aluminum Sheet, 3.0 mm  LEDs, LED Bezels & all sorts of Toggle Switches, I used mostly DPDT. If a Semaphore signal is involved, I use a 3PDT unit. I have many Toggle Switches from the layouts I've dismantled including 4PDT units.

To operate the Peco Point Motors I made a 22.0 Volt D.C. home made Power Supply years ago & it located under Broadmeadow. This Power Supply already powers Werris Creek and Port Waratah Control Panels so I just extended the 22.0 Volt feed going out to South Werris Ck, Willow Tree & to West Tamworth.

Using a circuit, I saw in AMRM from John Snow (shown right) - thanks a lot John for making operation of my Peco Point motors easier, I solder 2 x Diodes (IN4004 1 Amp Diodes) & test the Motor & Point at the Bench. Occasionally one Motor needs a little more power, done by adding a second 2,200 uF Capacitor. Two wires are soldered to the "free" end of the two Diodes across the Solenoids. The Negative of the 2,200 uF Capacitors are soldered to the Negative 22.0 Volt Bus with one of the two wires soldered to the Positive of the Capacitor, the other wire to the Control Panel Toggle Switch. These two connections may have to be swapped around to get correct orientation of the Point - done on the final installation.

Mounting of the Control Panels depended on the location. The South Werris Ck panel was mounted with a hinge so as it was easily accessible for wiring etc onto two brackets for a sloping Panel. The Willow Tree Panels due to the heavy people traffic in the aisleway, were mounted recessed behind the Fascia similar to how I mounted the Armidale & the Newstan Mine Panels so as they would not be fouled by an Operator. Doing this was a little more difficult but worth the effort.

I moved the South Werris Ck Signal Box further down the Main towards the Station, across from the Turntable. This provided more of a Hill that divides Werris Creek from Willow Tree at the doorway into the garage where Willow Tree is, 

I added more Trees I got off a Mate, around the rear of the Werris Ck Roundhouse and I crowded the Sidings with Trees, shown below, maybe not like the real Werris Ck but my Werris Ck is small and needs prettying up & trees do a wonderful job here. The Two Werris Ck UP Starting Semaphores are hard to see with all the new trees but Operators have to vigilant when driving the trains. I added a higher Fascia along the Yard to accommodate the Control Panel.

Werris Ck & the two Willow Tree Control Panels are installed & working as I wanted them to, with the "route" shown with the appropriate illuminated green LEDs. 

Willow Tree North Panel with the route shown by the green LEDs taking the Operator (train) along the "through" road into Werris Ck.

Willow Tree south Panel showing the selected route along the "Trough" road what I call the Main & not passed the Station. This configuration also illuminates the North Willow Tree Panel as shown above.

At the South Werris Ck Panel I mounted a 3 Terminal 12.0 Volt Regulator powered by the 22.0 Volt supply onto a piece of aluminum for a heatsink, making a 12.0 Volt Bus going to each Control Panel for the operation of all the LEDs & the  appropriate 1,000 Ohm resistor. This Voltage Regulator could be bypassed by installing a Resistor dropping the 22.0 Volts to approximately 12.0 Volts for the LEDs. I may add a resistor at the West Tamworth Control Panel, as the Heatsink is hot to touch & the current to the LEDs is 420 mAs.

Constructing the West Tamworth Control Panel.

Using the appropriate Plan I make a Control Panel from the Aluminum Sheet & taped the drawn up "plan" to the Plate. Using a Punch & hammer, I centre popped the location of the all the holes for the Toggle Switches and numerous Green LEDs for route identification, 

Drill the appropriate holes - 6.5 mm for the Toggle Switches & 4.3 mm holes for the LEDs. 

Then spray paint the Panel Yellow.

Using some 3.0 mm Lining tape purchased from Auto One, join the appropriate holes for the track & add dead ends if necessary. I did make a mistake here, I just blacked out the yellow track - easy.

Paint the Panel Black.

Remove the tape to show the Yellow "tracks". Install the 15 Toggle Switches & 54 LEDs

Now for the hard part, the LEDs need to be wired up to illuminate the appropriate route/Siding etc via one of the Poles of the Toggle Switch using a DPDT/3PDT or if a Semaphore is used. This requires lots of effort but worth it the end. I then wired up the Point Motors, connecting all of the 2,200uF Capacitors to the Negative wire of the 22.0 Volt supply under the layout.
The most important route is the Return Loop, powered by a Dual Hex Juicer from Tam Valley acting as an Auto Reverser, located under the track.

The West Tamworth Panel with the appropriate Sidings etc named using my Brother Printer. Operating the Glen Innes Mail, leaving the Barraba Mail Coaches at the Station, run the Mail into Armidale. If the Mail needs to be "turned" for operating as the UP Mail, then take the Return Loop. Back up the Mail via the Crossover into the Shunting Neck. Then into the Station. Then back up to Armidale ready to operated as an UP Mail, stopping at West Tamworth to picking up the 3 Barraba Mail Coaches on the way through plus double heading 3009, through to Werris Ck.

The recessed Panel located in the fascia on the Down end of the Station with the Silo in the background with the 3 Sidings storing the RU Wheat Hoppers.

Behind the West Tamworth Control Panel - what a mess but it works. All the White wires go to the Peco Point motors.

At the UP end of West Tamworth (3 Loops), there won't be a Control Panel as the Double Slip that's not used much with the only used Point for the "middle" road being used for the Barraba Mail Coaches. If necessary to operate the RU Wheat hoppers or from the Shed, then this will have to be done manually.

All trains are set to run into West Tamworth Station by Occupancy detectors on the Lift Up Bridge with the Bracket Semaphore also indicating to the Station. There is a Bracket Semaphore indicating the route through the Points into the Return Loop or to Armidale. I need to set up something automatic if Continuous running is necessary. I have to think about this as Return Loop running is the major operation here.

The operation through to the UP Main from West Tamworth is done automatically with Occupancy detection & Point Motor Accessory decoder, Marcus' version, see below: 

The first 5 months of 2022 were quite wet with more mold prevalent downstairs. I spoke to a mate that suggested purchasing a Dehumidifier. These were scarce in June but I was able to purchase a Delonghi unit easily moved around the layout with the 4 casters, is now sucking out all the water in the air & hopefully reducing any new mold. Water has to be emptied from the onboard 4.5 litre tank unit but I can connect a hose for continuous draining, if necessary. 

Friday, June 24, 2022

How Lucky are we Model Railroaders.

Yesterday, Friday the 24th of June I was invited by Bob, one of my train mates to a Meeting of his group of model railroaders that have been meeting for years for a lunch & a catch up. I have been included into Bob's group as a Visitor, a local & somewhat familiar with DCC & electrics. I hope the others don't mind. I am a member of a few other groups where we used to run trains prior to Covid, once a month, the Friday Night Ramblers at Eureka Models, the NMRA & SCMRA.  

These daytime Meetings there's a little running of trains but more importantly the host kindly provides lunch mostly from the BBQ. The Host obviously gets a hand with what is served up but Members bring grog & lots of cakes. 

I've had the privelidge of Meetings at Bob & other Members homes but today I saw another one.

John has a Shed in his backyard for his very finely detailed O Scale layout where all rolling stock & locos were scratchbuilt/kitbashed. We're all getting too stiff for the Duck Under, so I don't know how you do it John. I did ask Bob, John was into HO with layout/s in the spare bedroom etc years ago & before that as a Collector. Some years ago he ventured into O scale. 

The Members here in this group organize trips away etc. I remember Bob going to Melbourne with the Group to see Puffing Billy that was instrumental in him now modelling Puffing Billy HOn3? Just today Ross was organizing a compartment in a train to the Maitland Steamfest. 
Members of the group are shown in the photo outside John's Shed.

While in years gone by, train talk & plenty of Banter was the conversation, today there was a bit on men's health. It is a sign of the times. One of the group Kev, I met when I was working for Qantas.

Ross bought a DVD along on Steam on the South by ARHS but we ran out of time. 

We are indeed lucky to have so many model railway friends. The comradery in the Hobby is one of the things I treasure the most. Thanks Bob for including me & taking me under your wing today. I will pass on the trips but would love to host a get together one day. Quite unusual, I was very quiet today, even with a mobile, I didn't take any photos. 

John thanks a lot for the great get together.    

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Willow Tree

In the early days of my Main North, I had ear marked Willow Tree on the 30 feet of track from Ardglen to Werris Ck, with the intention of adding/removing Bankers on some of my trains, but it didn’t happen due to the track being 1700mm off the floor. Without the banking operation being done, this section of track remained a single line. I added a Shunting Neck & Loading Bank for Werris Ck, operated from the doorway in the Trainroom. Note: The garage floor is 300 mm lower than the Trainroom floor. 

To get better operation of trains at Tamworth and the Werris Ck Shunting Neck/Loading Bank, I extended the Trainroom floor down the aisleway, providing an operating height of 1400 mm, shown left with me operating at the new Willow Tree. 

I installed a Step down to the floor, 2/3rds the way down the aisleway, to keep the Duck Under height at 1700 mm, making it easier for Operators to duck under the Duck Under.

Introducing the 48s to Werris Ck (a previous Blog entry), I wanted to add a 48 Banker to a double 48 hauled 1,000 ton BWH Wheat train. I replaced the Werris Ck Shunting Neck/Loading Bank with Willow Tree so I could add more of what I love doing, operating “Rear End Bankers”, to some of my UP trains, even if it was just a short “bank” around the corner into Ardglen. It’s all about operation.


I added a “scenic block” to divide Willow Tree from Werris Ck, at the doorway by adding a Hill, a road bridge and plenty of trees.

This available space was only 3 metres long, not ideal but compromises have to be made when building a layout, so it’ll do for my Willow Tree and the Bankers. The below photo from the Ardglen end shows my overall view of Willow Tree with my extras. Lots more detailing necessary.   

On the Down side of the Station, I added a Siding for a 60’ Turntable, Coal Stage and Sheep Pen with Ramp. The Middle track is the “through” road and the aisle side track is a Siding with a very compressed Good Shed, a Loading Ramp and a Wheat Shed.

Looking towards Ardglen shows the Station, the middle “Through” road and the Siding, with the severely compressed Goods Shed, Loading Bank/Crane and Wheat Shed into the available 50 mm, better than not having them. Adding a higher fascia helps with the "compression". The “old” Werris Ck Coal Mine, in the distance. 

Instead of removing the Werris Ck Coal Mine, the folks at Willow Tree now have a Mine that’ll be serviced by LCH Coal trains to/from Gunnedah (N.W. Staging) and Werris Creek.

Willow Tree will have 4 Starting Semaphores (yet to build my new brass units from Ray Pilgrim), for the middle “through” road and rear “Platform” road & a Down Home Bracket Semaphore above the Duck Under that'll show “the road” for the Points into Willow Tree.

With Werris Ck just "next door", it's Down Home Bracket signal is located at the exit of Willow Tree just before the Road Bridge, indicating to the Operator which road is selected when entering Werris Ck (Main to the Station or to the Yard). Maybe a Willow Tree UP Home will be added in the Cutting on the Werris Ck side.

When adding Willow Tree, I added Peco Point motors to all of the Points and ballasted the track with Chuck's Ballast, so the scene is "complete". With no Control Panels installed for the Points, they are operated digitally with the Index finger, that's possible when using Peco Point motors.

With the 48s now in Werris Ck, the BWH Up train stored at the Werris Ck Silos has been increased to 1,000 tons (16 BWHs & Van). Double headed 48s haul the train from the Silos, through W.C. Yard to Willow Tree, stopping at the Up Starting Semaphore as the double 48s need assistance up the 1 in 40 grade to Ardglen. A second Operator takes the banker 48 and attaches to the rear. Both Operators now "run" the train up to Ardglen, like it did in 1967, see the below 5 minute video. 



Thursday, September 30, 2021

Turntable Woes.

Many years ago, I wanted to turn Garratts at Broadmeadow so I purchased at great expense a 105 foot Central Valley Turntable Kit from the U.S. While I knew it was a kit, opening up the box I soon realized I didn’t need to turn my Garratts any longer and it’s still under the layout. I’ve also got a non indexed motorized 120 foot Turntable from a deceased estate but it is too big to fit anywhere on the Main North. If anyone would like this 120 foot turntable or a have a “kit challenge”, during Lockdown, pick either up or I'll post them for the cost of postage, they're never going to see the light of day, here.

Recently I’ve helped dismantling 4 home layouts and I ended up with 3 Fleishmann 90 foot Indexed Turntables and an unknown brand manual plastic 90 foot unit. I have turntables coming out of my “A”, with 6 on the layout and 6 others under the layout, but…...


Recently the Turntables at Gosford and Broadmeadow were playing up and the Werris Ck Turntable was not working at all. I need to have these turntables working for successful Operating sessions. Many layout owners I know, have complained about their Turntables, why should it be any different for me.


Gosford: An Antons 20 year old 75 foot unit, I got from another modeller after he went to O scale, so it’s had lots of work and it’s the most used turntable on the Main North to turn the steam locos for their return journey. 

Many years ago, I modified it, driving it with a DCC decoder, setting Loco 44 to full Speed and operating the fascia switches to operate the turntable.  

I was having problems with the circuits through the Wiper/Plate Assembly. I cleaned and adjusted the Wipers but it was still playing up. Gosford is on the lower deck of the layout with plenty of room under it, 

I bypassed one of the circuits through Plate/Wiper Assembly by hard wiring with the Blue wire shown in the photo, hanging down, twisting around as the deck turns. Every now and then I change the direction and now the wire un-winds.

Worked for years but it has just started playing up again. I need to add more wires to bypass the Plate/Wiper Assy. For now, I cleaned and adjusted the tension on the Wipers and Plate. It’s working again.  

If it plays up again, I’ll fix the Turntable like how John Gaydon posted on Facebook about how he repaired his Turntable with a Slip Ring Assembly, click here for details. 

Broadmeadow: Years ago, I installed a Fleishmann 90 footer I bought from a mate that's used much more now that I run a Newcastle Flyer. Turning locos became problematic. Fault traced to a dicky Motor, but instead of spending time fixing the Motor, I replaced it with one from my spare Fleishmann units, firstly dunking the Motor into some Isopropyl to clean the dirty Commutator and Brushes and lubricating the Bushes prior to installation.

Connected the tracks and running locos to park in the Roundhouse, something that was never achieved previously.


Werris Ck: While adding 48s to my Werris Ck, (a previous Blog entry), I found the Turntable disconnected with the Control Panel stowed under the layout. I cannot remember how long it has been like this except that it hasn’t worked for ages. It needs to work to turn the 35/36s.

I dismantled it and found the Indexing Pin permanently retracted, repaired by lubricating the Solenoid and Pin but intermittent operation of the Plate/Wiper Assembly caused more issues. It needs the same Slip Ring fix mentioned above for Gosford’s Turntable. Since I’ve got a couple of spare Fleischmann units, I thought I'd use one here.

With the Diesel Terminal located, I cut a bigger hole for the Fleischmann and added the Control Panel to the layout fascia. 

Now I have a working Turntable at Werris Ck with Fleischmann’s easy method of adding powered roads to store locos in the Roundhouse. I will look at replacing the Fleischmann Control Panel with 2 Switches. 

The Fleishmann turntables need an Auto Reverser so I wired Broadmeadow's Auto Reverser to also power Werris Ck's turntable but they cannot be operated at the same time, a small inconvenience for a cost saving.


Murrurundi: lately the Frateschi unit started playing up, it just needed a little tweak of the mechanism and it’s back working again. While out, I re-aligned the entry track.


Tamworth: I fitted a Walthers N Scale 120 foot Turntable, fitting HO track to the  deck, making it a 60 footer. 

Motorizing it for just turning the Barraba Mail’s 30T was too much effort, so using your Finger will do for the time being. 

The wires to power the Bridge running through the Spindle, just hang there, similar to what’s in Gosford, shown right.  

I installed 2 Micro Switches operated by a Pad glued to plastic cylinder to swap over the track polarity instead of using an Auto Reverser. 

It works a treat, even if it has to be moved by hand.

Willow Tree: Adding Willow Tree back on the layout, I needed a 60 foot Turntable, initially thinking I’d use a Frateshi but I found stored under the layout, another Walthers N Scale Manual Turntable, the same as what’s at Tamworth and not being far from the fascia, it would be easy to line up and turn by hand. Why not use what I’ve got instead of spending $150. Installed it and using the same 2 microswitch method for powering as the above Tamworth Turntable.

I have been lucky obtaining some Fleishmann 90 footers that fixed some of my Turntable Woes but without them, I’d recommend using John Gaydon’s Slip Ring modification to any of your troublesome Turntables. I had intended on getting a Slip Ring Kit but with all the turntables working now and without Operating Sessions during Lockdown, they’re not getting much use to test the longevity of my fixes. Plenty of other layout chores to do. I’ll post here when I add Slip Ring kit.   

Tuesday, August 31, 2021


Over the years for uncoupling locos and rolling stock I’ve used In Track Magnets, under track Electomagnets from Kadee and Bob Olde, Toothpicks, Satay Sticks (skewers) Rix Dual Magnet Uncouplers etc. Due to the extra effort and getting the location correct when using Electromagnets, I've only installed a few. 

Now days I use Yellow Piksters purchased from Coles, Woolies etc. 

I have fitted Yellow Piksters to all of my Throttles so everyone has an "on hand" easy to use Uncoupler. 

Shown left, is a Pikster fitted to a Cab06, complete with the Operating Card and an external "White" Direction Button on the L/H side that allows easy one fingered operation of the Knob and changing the direction, leaving the Operator free to use the Pikster. 

For details of the Cab04/06 Direction Button see my web page.

Drill a hole in the Top of the Throttle making sure the Pikster will clear the Throttle circuit boards inside, shown right in a Radio Procab.

Install a piece of 3 mm Heat Shrink for a Guide then at the bottom, glue the Sleeve that comes with the Pikster to the back housing, making sure just enough of the Pikster sticks out of the Top, to be able to grab and not too much that can fowl the layout. 

Sliding the Pikster inside until the Handle fits tightly in the Sleeve, keeps the Pikster secure and leaves the "hairs" of the Pikster Head protected and not being squashed out of shape. 

I’ve accumulated lots of the Kadee 321 In Track Magnets but all of us know they cause unintentional uncoupling of the rolling stock on slow moving trains, certainly a problem on a mainline but okay on a Siding like into my Gosford Goods Shed and at the Sulphide Works. I'll replace this with an Electromagnet, one day.

One of my mates Ray P uses the large under track O scale permanent magnets in some places on his layout with a fascia lever/knob that rotates the magnet through 90 degrees, UP to under the rails to uncouple and DOWN to eliminate unwanted uncoupling. I was going to try these but as usual didn't get around to getting one. 

Uncoupling for my "Rear End Banking" operations: Banker Locos, 5069 and 5229 at Murrurundi Loco, 5063 at Fassifern and 4801 at Willow Tree, have their Front Couplers "Locked Open" using Blu Tac or a piece of .010" Phosphor Bronze wire. The Second Operator has to vigilant to keep his Banker pushing hard up against the Van, you don't want a gap, not very pretty. When necessary, the Banker Operator just slows down his loco to a stop and it "uncouples", while the train continues on. The Banker Operator then returns the Banker to it's original location.  

If I ever I get to install the Overhead at Gosford, using the Pikster will be difficult, I’ve been experimenting with Electromagnets at Gosford, having purchased a few of the Bob Olde’s Electromagnets, see December 1991 AMRM for details, at an exhibitions, some years ago. Shown below with a Relay for the Timer including the Diode "across" the relay's Coil at the terminals.

Recently I’ve acquired more Bob Olde Electromagnets so I need to get them into Gosford, Broadmeadow etc.

Uncoupling using a Pikster at Werris Ck’s Rear Platform where the track is 600 – 700 mm from the fascia and 1400 mm off the floor, is very difficult for this short arse Operator.

To fit the Up North West Mail at Werris Ck’s Rear Platform, I needed to uncouple on a curve. I knew uncoupling was a “no-no” on a “curve” but I didn’t want to drill another hole 2 inches away and secondly, I was “testing” uncoupling here.

I removed the Point Motor and fitted an Electromagnet. Tested okay, I fitted another Electromagnet at the other end for down trains.

To make the uncoupling procedure easier and to eliminate the chance of burning out the Electromagnets, you need to use a Momentary Switch and a Timer. I made a 20 second Timer and buried them in the wiring mess at Werris Ck’s Control Panel.

I fitted LED Platform Lights adjacent to where the Electromagnets to help Operators positioning the 48s for uncoupling. They’re illuminated when the electromagnet is energized.

Uncoupling the 48 worked most of the time for me, but when I gave a Mate my “new” Operating Card for the Up North West Mail to test out the new Electromagnets and my Instructions, he was having trouble uncoupling the 48 at the L/H end.

Discussing this issue with another mate and asking what they’re doing on their club layout, he told me they were trying the Rapido Uncouplers and had tested them on a “double curve” providing the worst alignment of loco/rolling and they worked 100% of the time. I need one at Werris Ck.

Rapido "Rail Crew" Uncouplers.

About 2 years ago I saw the new Rapido Uncouplers a mate was installing on his layout and was suitably impressed. Being slack I did not chase up with getting some of the Uncouplers.  

I was lucky to be able to borrow a Rapido “Rail Crew” Uncoupler to test it at my problem Double Curved turnout to see if I could get better uncoupling.

As per the Instructions, you need a 44 mm hole. Guess what size hole I use for my Peco Point Motors – 44 mm.

Replaced the Electromagnet with the Rapido, it could not be easier, it was a snug fit, how lucky was I. I’ll fit the supplied securing plates later.  

 Wired up as per the Instructions using the supplied momentary DPDT Switch, initially connected to a "local" 12.0 Volt D.C. Supply and I connected my LED Lamp Post as my "panel" indicator, illuminated with the Uncoupler in the "energized" position. 

Shown mounted under the Double Curve Peco Points, with the "Alignment" black line showing correct orientation with the Internal Blue LED Indicator illuminated, indicating the uncoupler is "energized". 


Uncoupling works EVERYTIME on this curved turnout.

The Kadee Trip Pins move further with the Rapidos when compared to my Electromagnets indicating why these Rapidos work so well and without the time constraints on uncoupling when using a Timer,

I’d thoroughly recommend using the Rapidos and they come with everything to get 100% uncoupling.

I have a lot of the Bob Olde Electromagnet Uncouplers, that I’ll continue using as I have to use what I’ve already got stashed under the layout, with the backup of installing a Rapido, if necessary.

If you don’t have a stash of Uncouplers, then I’d recommend the Rapido as the “go to” Uncoupler.

For more details on these Rapido Rail Crew Uncouplers, click here.  

Now I’ve got a second unit, I checked out how they work. 

Top removed, the Magnets and the Plate are in the "OFF" position with the Plate and Magnets “in line” with the rails.

The Coil is just visible through the hole below the L/H magnet & the Micro Switch Striker is shown above the R/H magnet.

Momentarily operating the Panel Switch to the ON, powers the Coil for a second with the polarity of the voltage to make Coil have the same magnetic field as the L/H magnet - Like "poles" (magnetic fields), REPEL, causing the Plate to rotate 90 degrees. The opposite magnetic fields between the lower magnet and the Coil, helps with this movement. 
The  Magnets and the Plate are now in the “ON” position, now "across" the rails, contacting the Striker and illuminating the Internal Blue LED.
When done, the Operator momentarily presses the Panel Switch to OFF. This again powers the Coil with the polarity of the voltage reversed, causing the Plate and Magnets to move back to the original position, with the Magnets "in line" with the rails that disable uncoupling.

The other side of the Rapido, showing the Coil, Internal LED, Micro Switch for the LED and associated electronics.

Pins 4 & 5 power the Coil, while Pins 1, 2 & 3 are for the LED. 

Note: The Coil is energized for about 1 second irrespective of how long the Operator presses the switch.

When looking at Rapido Uncoupler reviews on the Internet, at:

Dale said he wanted to power them from his existing 12 Volt D.C. supply but found they caused so much electrical noise when operating, that it adversely affected other electronic devices on that 12 Volt supply so he wired them into a separate 12 Volt supply. 

A few days after installing the Rapido, my Control Panels at Werris Ck and Port Waratah were dead. I found there was a short on the 12.0 Volts D.C Power supply, Fault traced to a burnt out 555 Timer chip for the Electromagnet Uncoupler; Rectified the Timer and both Controls Panels, okay.

Remembering what I had read above and what's good "electronics practice" is when using Coils/Relays, there should be a Diode "across" the Relay Coil, to suppress the Spike caused by a collapsing magnetic field inside the Relay, when coil power is removed. I fit these Diodes on all my relay installations. There was no diode for the Rapido Coil, as this would be difficult due to the reversing polarity during normal operation of the Rapido.

In my haste to get 12 Volts for my Rapido installation, I connected my Rapido to the 12.0 Volts supply at Pin 8 of the burnt out 555, I suspect a “spike” let the smoke out of my 555. 

I installed a separate 15.0 Volt D.C. Power Pack for the Rapido.

Friday, July 30, 2021

48s finally in Werris Creek.

Finally, 48s arrive at Werris Ck on the Main North.


Instead of looking with a “blind eye” whenever a photo or references about diesels popped up in books, while researching the Main North, I should heed the information I was sprooking in my previous Blog entry, “The Prototype did Everything”, and include diesels to my 1965 layout that’ll enhance train operations, especially around Werris Ck.


The NSWGR introduced 48s in September 1959 and within 6 months, 14 of the first 20 were allocated to Werris Ck with the other 6 going to Casino on the North Coast.

The mainline locos that hauled some Down trains to Werris Ck, were replaced by the more efficient 48s to haul the trains further north and north west on the branch lines to Narrabri, Moree etc. With the return of these Up trains to Werris Ck, the 48s were replaced with the main line locos, to continue south to Port Waratah/Broadmeadow/Sydney.


With the 48s gradually replacing the Standard Goods “Bankers” based at Murrurundi, the importance of the Depot declined rapidly, the Depot closed in September 1965. The demise of steam on the Main North, was well and truly on the way.


In my early days back into the hobby, I bought a Traxx & two Powerline 48s. Endeavoring to get them to run better, their mechanisms were replaced with AR Kits and K&M mechanism and they still ran poorly. Being a predominantly Steam operator, they never got much running.

Preparing for the arrival of 48s to my Main North, I revisited these bad runners. I’d already added pickups, so cleaned the mechanisms etc. I even added Stay Alive to one but….


The arrival of my four Trainorama 48s and two later Powerline 48s and a Hollywood Foundry equipped 48, relegated these bad runners to Rotten Row. All surviving 48s have sound decoders and my home brew Stay Alives. 


To include the 48s into my train operations around Werris Ck, I repositioned a few tracks near the Roundhouse, moved a Goods Shed and added 4 Sidings to the L/H end of the Yard. Included in this re-modelling, I replaced the problematic Turntable with a Fleischmann 90 footer and now I have a working Werris Ck Loco, complete with Diesels.


My very compressed basic Werris Ck Diesel Terminal including a Sand Tower and a few “on ground” Diesel Tanks, being filled by the Tanker behind 4303, next to the Roundhouse.

With this addition of the 48s to my Werris Ck, I need to run the 16 BWH Wheat train (1,000 tons) from the Silo Complex to Port Waratah using double 48s but they need rear end assistance at Willow Tree  to get to Ardglen. I need to add Willow Tree for this "rear end banking" procedure, even if it's just around the corner for this train and other UP trains. I remodelled the area from the doorway, along the wall, details in a future Blog entry.

To separate Werris Ck from Willow Tree, I added a “scene block” with a hill, road bridge and some trees, adjacent to the Diesel Terminal, shown below.

In November 2021, I moved the Signal Box and added some more "hill" and planted more trees behind Werris Ck Roundhouse. One day I'll add ballast but still need to make a Control Panel for this end of Werris Ck. 

Train Operations around Werris Ck including the changeovers to/from 48s.


Goods Trains:

BWH Wheat 1,000 ton train from Werris Ck - 16 BWHs & Van to Port Waratah. Once empty, the BWHs weigh 370 tons so a single 48  returns the train to Werris Ck. In my case it has to be my new Powerline 48, as my Trainorama 48s will not haul this empty train up my Ardglen Bank.

North West Goods Trains, will get 48s at Werris Ck, similar to the North West Mail, see below.

Northern Goods trains to/from Tamworth/Armidale, some will be hauled by 48s etc.   


Passenger Trains:

All my passenger trains except the Northern Tablelands Express (DEB Set), will be hauled by steam engines to/from Werris Ck where the:.

The Glen Innes Mail: Keeps the 35/36 to Armidale.

The Relief NTE and the Werris Ck Day Train: North of Werris Ck with a 48.

The Brisbane Express via Wallangarra: North of  Werris Ck with 48s. 

The North West Mail: North of Werris Ck with 48s, see below for more details.


I’m not ready for “mainline” diesel locos yet but it shouldn't be what I feel like, it should be how the Prototype was. For now it'll be mostly Steam locos.  I'll find some trains for my 40s & 4303. 

These “changeovers” will provide more prototypical fun for the Operator. I should have done this, years ago but better late than never.


I have 3 North Coast trains, the Brisbane Ltd, North Coast Mail & North Coast Perishable Goods, hauled by 44s & 45s, staged under Murrurundi and operate all the way through to Sydney, bypassing the 46 “changeovers” at Gosford as the prototype did in 1965. 

Uncoupling for the "Engine Changes" at Werris Ck.

Uncoupling locos for the North West Mail would be difficult, using a manual method like a Toothpick, Skewer, Pikster etc, due to track at the Rear Platform is 600 - 700 mm from the facia and 1400 mm off the floor for this short arse Operator. 

I had some information on this Blog entry about installing Electromagnets and a Rapido Uncoupler at Werris Ck's Rear Platform for uncoupling the 48s, see my next Blog entry titled "Uncouplers" for all the details.

Click below for a 5 min video of running the Mail, that includes the 4 engines changes at Werris Ck and Gosford, prior to fitting the Rapido Uncoupler that takes about an hour do on the layout.