Above photo is my Gosford complete with the Overhead. Click on the photo to see the Main North Album at Flickr

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Derailments, Track & Speed Issues.

Operating two of my signature trains, the Double Garratt 1200 ton Newstan Coal train & the Northern Tablelands Express 7 Car DEB Set, both shown below, passing my Newstan Mine, on Fassifern Bank, I had some derailments. Some maintenance is way overdue.

Derailments are a pain in the butt anytime, especially with a Garratt but in tight spaces in the Newstan Mine Shunting Neck or the the DEB Set under the Overhead Wires, they're intolerable.

For the derailing Garratts, I first checked to see the Sound Tubes were in their correct locations on the Front Buffer Beam as dislodged Tubes cause the Pony Trucks to derail. 

The Newstan Mine Shunting Neck starts off from the Loading Bin through two sets of Points under Fassifern Bank (through the Black Hole in the above photo), then with two lengths of Peco Streamline track set at 20 - 22 inch radius to keep it inside the Fassifern Bank fascia & underneath the Sulphide Works with a further 2 metres of straight track under Sulphide Junction with minimal clearance. My Eureka Models Garratts are supposed to be able to negotiate 18 inch radius track. 

Using both Garratts, I found that the "outside" Drivers "rode up" on the outside rail, as it tried to negotiate the same 20 cms of the curved track, ultimately de-railing, in a bugger of a place. 

Using a smaller wheel base locos like the 50 Class, it negotiated this "tight" track okay. I could not fit my  NMRA Track Gauge in between the two rails, at this "tight" spot, while the rest of the track was okay.   

I lay a new section of track, soldering two lengths of Peco Flexitrack together & letting the track find it's own best lie then secured to the road bed with screws. I repositioned the LED Strip Lighting & trimmed some of the above track "road bed", creating a bit more clearance. This job took a few days with lots of swearing. 

One of the Garratts had it's Kadee fitted providing a "close as possible" coupling with the BCHs, looks good but on small radius curves, the Pony Trucks were touching the Coupler Box. I trimmed all the Coupler Boxes & fitted the Coupler to the "outside" hole, providing maximum clearance. I tested the Garratts numerous times on this Shunting Neck, with no derailments. Time will tell. 

To see my 1200 ton Double Garratt Coal train from Newstan, see my 2020 YouTube, below.

The 7 Cars of my Northern Tablelands Express have 2 axle Bowser bogies. Having only 8 wheels to pick up the power is fraught with power interruptions. To improve the pick up, I  have  have permanently wired the 4 Cars together, providing all wheel pick up. Same for the 3 Car Set. 

The 4 Car Set has two Motors & two Speakers from the one decoder with one of my Stay Alives, & with the two wires for pick up, making it 6 wires in the harness. The 3 Car Set only has one motor & one speaker making it a 2 wire harness, just for "pick up".

Recent running of the 7 Car set from Werris Ck to Sydney & back, the second Car of 4 Car continually derailed at Points. Repositioning of the harness & securing it to the roof inside, reduced the derailments. Running under the Overhead Wires of my new Gosford to Sydney section, these derailments became intolerable. 

More needed to be more done. The "fine" wheel flanges on the Bowser Bogies, need all the help they can get to negotiate the Frogs on my Points. While most of my Points have a .015" (15 thou) styrene glued to the Check Rail on the Points, I fitted more 15 thou styrene, to the remaining Points. 

With these above "fixes", derailments of the Express were all but eliminated. You cannot eliminate Operators running "against" an incorrectly set Point.  

Two Operators suggested the DEB Set was not travelling fast enough in sections of the layout. I had noticed this also. Looking for an easy fix, I decided to look at the Track Voltage. Down to 11.8 Volts DCC. I switched out my Ammeter that "robs" about 1.0 Volt but it made minimal difference. 

I adjusted both decoder's "Speed Tables" to provide the maximum speed & the 4 Car Set was only 18 MPH, while the 3 Car Set was 55 MPH. 

With the 4 Car Set upside down on the Workbench to clean the wheels, I noticed applying a Cotton Bud to the wheels of one of powered Bogies, it nearly stalled, while the other bogie was okay. It was time for a "Service" well at least some form of lubrication. I had not previously "oiled" the Motor/Gearbox Bushes on this DEB Set. 

I cleaned & oiled the bushes & added a drop of thicker oil to the gears & the stalling was gone. I did the same with the other "End" Car Now the 4 Car set had a Top speed of 60 MPH. What an improvement a little oil does & I used to have a Workshop fixing cars. They also let me loose on aero planes but I was a "Conehead", not a "Greaser". I lubricated the 3 Car Set.

I speed matched both Sets to provide 5/10/15 & 20 MPH at the appropriate Speed Step, with a Maximum of 30 MPH at Speed Step 28. I do this to all my locos & I use 28 Speed Step mode, so when an Operator sets the loco to Speed Step 20, the loco is travelling at approximately 20 MPH. To see my Speed Match Blog entry click here.  

Now with Speed to burn with the DEB Sets & as the train is an Express,  I decided to "up" the Maximum Speed to 40 MPH for the DEB Sets. The passengers will appreciate it.

To see my Northern Tablelands Express run to Sydney & back, click below on my 2020 video. 


Saturday, November 4, 2023

Fassifern Station Upgrade & the NMRA Layout Tour.

Upgrading my Stations has been a long time coming, the latest is Fassifern the second last one on the lower deck, then it's onto Ourimbah. Not much has been done lately. 

I made new 1.3 M long platform bases, using 19mm thick Pine. I added styrene to the platform edges then covered the platforms with a Sand mixture. I added a Fence to the Down Platform & "adjusted" the Footbridge a little for the Steps down to the Platforms & Road (down side).  

I used my original station buildings, a Suburban Station kit for the Island Platform & the the two small buildings on the Down platform then added some Platform Lights including the Nameboards. 

I will have to upgrade my Bracket Semaphore to be one of Ray Pilgrim's Fassifern's Double Bracket Semaphores with the prototype shown below. Because of the Wakefield Road Bridge, drivers could not see the Signal, so a Double Unit was made.

I'll replace my Dale Richard's Bracket Semaphore, built years ago. I have the Wakefield Road Bridge but my Fassifern Bank is at "right angles" to my Fassifern. I may add some Semaphores for the Toronto line.  

Looking north through Fassifern, the 1200 Ton Double Garratt Coal Train backing out of Newstan Mine & crossing over onto the Down Main. The Garratts will stop when they've passed the end of the Platform, then reverse, accelerating through the Station to attack the 1 in 40 Fassifern Bank, with some speed.

The Australasian region of the NMRA had a Convention at Rosehill over the October Long Weekend,  where I had volunteered for Convention Attendees to visit my layout on the Friday, Monday & Tuesday. This above upgrade was just completed prior to the Layout Tours, Visitors in the Morning & a 3 hour Operating Session in the afternoon. I had about 30 visitors. 

I knew my Queensland Mates were attending the NMRA Convention, so I offered to have them over for Dinner, coming on Sunday night, where I cooked Spaghetti Bolognaise, topped off with a Nanna's Apple Pie & Ice Cream & plenty of Cakes. Then we got to run some trains but mostly had a yak fest. I had a ball. Thanks Darren, Bill, Craig, PK etc. for making it to the Main North. Thanks for the photo Darren & Craig. 

During the 3 Operating Sessions, I asked for a volunteer to "run" my Double Garratt 1200 ton Coal train from Newstan Mine using my Operating Card & asked them how to improve the "running around" of the train at Broadmeadow to haul it into Port Waratah, without "running" onto the mainline at either end of Broadmeadow. as it's been suggested that what I need to do. The 3 different Operators had fun to say the least. Geoff, the last Operator worked in the Signaling Department of the railways & suggested I needed a few more Signals. Ray, I may order some more.

The Northern Tablelands Express DEB Set & the Garratts of this above train, had a few de-railments during the weekend, fixing why they de-railed, is my next Blog topic.