Saturday, 29 December 2018

Some Silos and Shops

I've been working on an interior of a station building for a club up the coast. The work is going slowly but here is my latest offering at home and in the station building.

The shops were made over a series of nights at the club from styrene. The fridges are images downloaded thanks to Google images and glued onto silver boxes. The staff are pretty much the same people painted in different colours. The menus and posters were created the same way. All images were put into a Microsoft Publisher document and printed out. The shop signs across the top were created using Word Art, except for the Chick-fil-a sign which is a real franchise in the States. It's one of my mates favourite chicken outlets. When my wife and I were in an airport in the States we ordered a chicken burger each. They served them without buns. They also gave us the wrong burgers but by the time we'd figured that out I couldn't be bothered going back and complaining a second time. Despite that, the chicken was good and their advertising posters amusing, so I thought that I would stick it in the take away shops.

My next job for the club is the toilets and news agency.

On the home front, I thought that sitting in front of some aircon with the cricket and a kit was a good idea. So I finished off my grain silos for the brewery at Awdry.

I intend to put an unloading shed in front of the silos. In fact, the whole brewery site needs to be raised 9mm for clearance of the the awning. The silos are painted silver because that what Google images told me. In hindsight, I may have only seen new silos used for advertising. They are also sitting very close to the building. In realigning the track behind, I had to get rid of the annex to the side and rear of the main buildings. This has left a gap where there was no wall because it would be covered by the annex. I can't find any bits that I have saved which would fit the gap, I even thought of cutting the annex. However, the silos are big enough to cover the hole.

I need to finish off some of the paintwork around the doors and base.

Then I reckon I can get on with the dairy end of the station.

Until next time, happy new year.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Christmas Track Work

As real railways shutdown for Christmas track work, I though that I should do the same.

The first bit to sort out was the hump from Brewery Lane down the incline. It was pretty sharp so I put in a bit of packing to ease the bend. It's looking a lot better now. The packing still looks a bit shabby.

Next, I took out a point on the line to the wheat silos (or where they will be). The finished image is below. This was going to a yet to be determined industry. However, it would mean the operator would need to uncouple the wagon at Awdry and propel the wagon to the other side of the layout and past the bloke who is operating the main yard. I would need this point later.

Away from the Awdry Branch, on the lowest level, North Bega Steelworks needed some modifying. Being on the low level and down the front, this will probably be the last area finished. The steel works receives steel coils and turns them into wire coils. The steel coils are delivered into a shed and the wire is loaded in another shed. The steel coil siding needed to be lengthened by one wagon length and part of the track lowered as the wagons had a habit of running out of their imaginary shed. The same thin was happening with the wire coil wagons.

As I use vinyl flooring under my track instead of cork, this was taken away and the track replaced onto the bare boards. It's working so far.

Next to the Steelworks is the container terminal. The container wagons have the same problem of running way here too. I slipped a piece of folded card (an old waybill) under the tracks. This is working well at the moment too.

From here it was a trip with the work gang back to Awdry for the planned work on the oil depot.

The cattle siding was shortened and then lengthened at the last minute. The points in the depot were taken up and replaced as planned in the photo in the last blog post.

It was looking great... and then I put the oil tanks back in.

The middle track remained in place through the whole remodelling. All I did was to put the Peco Streamlined point in where the had been a Set Track point. It is exactly the same length as before, however, now there is less clearance for the LPG tank. This is because the Set Track points curve away more sharply. I didn't think about that. 

Am I going to change it? 

No way. It will add a bit more shunting for the operator to carry out.

You might notice the green and red dots next to the points. This is to let the operators know where the points need to be when they have finished using them. The tie bar needs to be pushed away from the red and towards the green. When I finish adding scenery I'll place something red or green next to the points. At the moment, they are training operators.

All of this was done before lunch. Hooray for me!

I hadn't tested it.

It wasn't until I sat down and started writing this post that I thought that I had better check that it all worked.

If you're still with me here, let me tell you about comprehension skills. When we read, we use different strategies to help us comprehend what we are reading. One of these strategies is predicting what a text might be about or might happen next with what we are reading.

By now you'll have predicted that there were problems. My 50 class derailed on the Y point. It was pretty consistent. I'm not sure why (no pun intended) as I have another of these points on the entry to the loco depot and the 50 class has no troubles with that point.

There was another one which I could test. Frog's Hollow has a small three siding goods yard with a Y point. The 50 class hated this one more than the one at Awdry. The solution was to remove the spring above the front bogie and see if that helped. The result was a 100% success rate through both of the Y points. I'm not sure of the rest of the points on the layout and the effect the lack of spring will have. For now it works.

The spring has been put into a small plastic bag which has been labelled, and put into a safe place, which has also been labelled.

Other stuff that I have done in the past few days had been to fix the alignment of the drop down bridge. It was held in place by two bolts. If it didn't go down well then you could give it a bit of a shove and it would come good.

However, everybody (myself included) has a habit of leaning on it and putting it out of alignment again. A third bolt into the lower end of the drawbridge seems to hold it in place more reliably.

I also took a bit of time to put some car card boxes together for Awdry as the car card had to be placed next to the wagons. I used a drop saw on 3 or 4mm MDF but the results were not that good. I found that I can use a craft knife and a steel ruler on this instead and get a cleaner edge and a lot less nasty dust. As I need to create a few more of these, they might be able to be done in cooler air condition comfort.

Until next time.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

A Couple of Operations

I offered my layout for an end of year get together. As I prefer to run trains for a reason, I set up an operating session. 

One thing that I have learned is that operating a layout slows down construction.

The session often starts with a briefing. This is generally to introduce the throttles and how to use them to select and deselect locos and to remind the operators of some certain rules and procedures.

Every train has a card. It gives the operator instructions of where to pick up their train and what type of loco that they should use. These instructions are pretty explicit. While I know what to do, as it's my layout, my operators don't. They haven't had hours running trains as I have to work out where things should go. These cards are A5 in size. I also have A5 clipboard with the map of the layout on the back. I have found that no one seems to look at this.

When the instructions are finished, these cards are put in the "Completed Trains" box and a new train card is taken from another box. These cards are put in with some sort of sequence which makes sense for a day on the railway.

I use car cards and waybills for my wagons. I downloaded an Excel file a few years ago. The file prints your car cards and has cards for locos as well. I also used the spreadsheet to create car cards for my coaching stock so that they can be tracked and located on the layout as the goods wagons are. Some carriage cars are individual cars but if they are in a fixed set, such as a HUB set then only one card is created.

The same file also produces 4 position waybills as well. This worked pretty well in the past. I have simplified it over the years. I found out though that the operators working in the main yard didn't have the same fictitious geography awareness that I had. This made it difficult when they had to make up trains.

After watching numerous YouTube clips on operations, I found an example where the waybills were colour coded depending upon which town they were being delivered to. This was a brilliant idea. Even better was that they were available to download. These were created using a Powerpoint slide. While it isn't as sophisticated as the Excel spreadsheet, everything is on one slide. After making changes, I print the sheet cut out the waybill, fold it in half and stick it into the card card.

I used this change in the waybills to do some serious planning of traffic movement of my goods rolling stock. For example: Bega has a goods shed and wagons visit it from all over the layout as well as the network. The goods shed holds four bogie vans. I wrote down the the number of vans that I though that I would need. With four position waybills, I figured that I'd need at the most 16 different vans. I managed to cut this down as the destinations of each wagon was planned across the four positions. The planning was nothing more than four columns in an exercise book. These were entered onto another page if they were going to Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra so that I didn't have too many wagons going to each off layout destination. Some of the destinations were made up. For example, I don't think that Canberra has an Oak Dairy but I needed a destination for my Oak Milk tankers. My Dairy Farmers tankers go to Bega Cheese.

This old school method is labour intensive but I reckon that I have something that works. And with each destination framed inside a colour coded box, whoever is working the yard can assemble trains more easily. This worked well so the effort in the lead up was worth it.

The idea of the operating sessions is that we don't need to get through every train in the session. Next time we just pick up where we left off. I can also run trains in between sessions as well.

The first operating session was followed up with another mate a week later. A couple of pre-sorted trains from the previous session were dispatched from the yard to on layout destinations. I used a Eureka 50 class to take a train to Awdry. I have fitted a KD to the front so that I can shunt trains here and bring them back without needing to travel around the layout to turn the loco. As I was shunting the oil depot I found that an old point that I had used was causing problems for the leading bogie. That's probably why it was still in the box. The two set track points in the oil depot were causing problems too. The 50 class doesn't like the set track points.

Below is the work that needs to be carried out to make Awdry yard more user friendly for the 50 class.

Until next time, have a Merry Christmas.