Saturday, 14 April 2018

UPBNSF JD Ops session - 14/4/18

Yesterday afternoon I held the scheduled 2 monthly operations session on the UPBNSF Joint Division. There were 16 starters for the session.

Ops session Gang. Missing Duncan Cabassi (taking photo) and Jeff Grenfell, (running late)
The session commenced at 2:30pm with the official opening of the Rogers Run branch line. A small opening ceremony was held, with the official cutting of the SIGN by no other than ROGER. In recognition of this momentous occassion , the UPBNSF JD management had a directors special available for the first run out to the PGE power plant and back.

Looking at PGE Loop
Looking back at Boardman North

None other than ..."ROGER"

Upon completion of official ceremonies, the pre-start was held and then we proceeded to get into the operations session. We ran 22 trains for the session and considering that some of these trains take 2 hrs to complete that was no mean feat!! Just ask Steve O and John B how long the Millwood turn takes!!!

It was great to see Merv Bagnall run the first revenue train on the Rogers Run branch. Merv and I go back 35+ years and it was without question that he would get to engineer the first revenue train across the branch line.

Operations ran from 3:00pm to 6:30pm where we stopped for Pizza. Some said their good byes for the night and a few guys stayed on to do another hr of ops.

The night wasn't without a couple of issues. The premier train on the layout, the UP Potash train had multiple (and I mean multiple) uncoupling issues and the engines, all equipped with sound decided to play up going up the spiral. Considering this is the most expensive train on the layout in real dollars ...yours truly is not happy!!!! I've been onto the manufacturer of the potash cars regarding the uncoupling issue previously but to date have not had any success in remedying the problem. They are MT 1015's and the reliability on this freight car is abysmal.

I also had a similar issue with a unit grain train. On this occasion I just think the weight of the grain train cars is just way to light, so I'll try and address that issue over the coming days.

All in all outside of those frustrations, the ops session went pretty smoothly. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and the effort put into the paperwork side of administering the ops session is starting to pay off.

Photos below of Ops session.

BNSFMWB entering Yardley

Jeff (Yardmaster) working out his moves for the next train. T2 (Far end) is performing the switching

Cheney being switched by Alan


Anthony and Iain watching UPMEB
negotiate hangman curve

BNSFMWB passing Tyson meat
at Wallula East

Anthony and Darren working the
UPMEB at Wallula

Anthony and Darren working the 
UPMEB at Boardman

Steve and Wayne switching
Boardman Industries

King Laurie (Dispatcher extraordinaire)

And then there is the paperwork!
Your truly giving the pre start speech

 Thanks to all the participants. looking forward to the next ops in June.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Fine tuning the RED HEN

Some time back I offered to tune 2 x N scale "RED HENS" for a good friend of mine, Malcolm Jenkins. The prototype locomotives are South Australian.

I had just been at an Operations session on Malcolms layout and I had observed that the 2 locomotive were poor performers in a few departments. This has nothing to do with Malcolms skills as they are really nice models and anybody who models N scale Australian prototype here in Australia have to be very good modellers as they near have to scratchbuild almost everything! I really envy their skillset and patience but am sure glade I model the North American prototype.

 Anyhow as the story goes, my eagerness to get the locos tuned had me doing the first RED HEN the following weekend. I quickly returned this to Malcolm and he was very impressed with the results....well thats what he tells me anyhow?!! However then writers block set in ....ER well yeah I just wasn't motivated to do the second one...Sorry Malcolm.

So today I decided to complete the second tune job. I actually think this is a better job than the first locomotive and I guess you would expect that to be the case.

So here is what I observed at the ops session:

  • The Locomotives stuttered a fair bit on the track
  • They derailed crossing some turnouts 
  • Generally were erratic runners
It was obvious at the outset that the main issue with the locomotives was there lack of weight. They have a Tomix mechanism with a beautiful 3D printed body (Malcolms design and work here is amazing). TheTomix mechanism is a neat design but only as good as the weight applied at the wheel to rail contact point.

Step 1: Gather the tools required to do the work

Step 2: Remove the shell and determine how I was going to add weight. I observed that the inside of the roof was significantly clear from the DCC decoder. So I determined to fit one full length of lead sheet into the roof first.

Step 3: Measure the inside of the roof and cut a length of Lead sheet to fit inside. I also noted that the inside of the roof has 2 x plastic footing areas for the installation of the exhaust stacks. I would have to cut the lead sheet to fit around these. Further the roof is curved and not flat. Again I would have to devise a method of bending the lead sheet to fit.

Here I'm filing out the indentations for the plastic exhaust stack footing on the inside of the Canopy

Step 4: I devised a basic jig to put a mild curve in the lead sheet. This was by using 2 small pieces of ply clamped to the work bench parrallel to each other with a gap slightly smaller than the width of the lead strip. 
Then with a rubber mallet and a drill bit placed over the center of the lead strip which was placed across the gap. I proceeded to lightly smack the drill bit until the lead strip was the right shape. 

Step 5: Test fit the lead strip.......

 Step 6: Add lead weight to the available space. Here the lead strip is cut to fit inside the shell and then hot glued to the top of the gearbox.

 Step 7: Add as much weight as possible. Here I've added some shorter weights to the lead strip glued to the inside of the roof

Once I was satisfied with the above steps, and the shell test fitted over the mechanism perfectly......I placed the locomotive on my layout and test ran it. This worked pretty well and the improvements so far have made a significant positive step forward. However the locomotive is till a little jerky to a details freak like me but I suspect that that is the Tomix mecahnism and there is not a lot I can do here.

It was now time to make a couple of other fine tuning check. Firstly the wheel sets. Typical of a lot of locomotives...Including Kato, Atlas etc, the wheel were not in gauge. This would explain many of the derailments I observed during the Ops session. So I regauged the wheels utilising a screwdriver and an NMRA check gauge...Got to love the NMRA!!!!

Next was a coupler height check. Oh dear one end was really low!!!
Adjustments made and now Malcolm hopefuly has a sweet performing Locomotive

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

UPBNSF Joint Division Feb 2018 Ops session

On Saturday 10th February we held the first ops session on the UPBNSF Joint Division for 2018. 14 people attended the session. 

This time to do something a little different, the session commenced with a short clinic on the virtues and possibilities of JMRI interfaced into model railroads. This was run by Martyn Jenkins. Everybody seemed to enjoy the clinic and my thanks goes to Martyn for having the show and tell.

After the clinic we had our usual Ops briefing and then commenced operations. It was a very HOT and humid Queensland day so I tip my hat to everybody for putting up with the warmth of the two sheds with minimal complaints. It must be the free beer I supply that keeps everybody happy!!!

The following personnel were at the ops session:

Darren Starkey, Jeff Grenfell, Trev Phillips, Martyn Jenkins, Steve Ord, Clive Collins, Malcolm Jenkins, Roger Henery, Anthony Palmer, Nev Ward, Matthew Batzloff, and Peter Pennycuick, James Costello.

The first thru train of the day. An eastbound empty coal train
There were no first timers this session so we got off to a fairly quick start to proceedings. The Ops ran for 6.5hrs with a break for Pizza at the 4hr mark. During this time we ran 19 trains on the layout. That may not seem like a lot but it takes a minimum of 40 minutes for the thru trains to complete their runs and the manifests can take 2-3 hrs to transit the layout. So everybody was suitably occupied throughout the session.

Malcolm and Peter are working the boardman local whilst
Mathew and Nev are negotisting the switching of the first
BNSF Manifest train at Boardman

We started the ops session just after 1:30pm. I had a dispatcher, Yardley yard master and engineer, crews for Manifests, through trains and a couple of locals to get proceedings happening. Oh and yours truly was the trouble shooter and Operations manager. 

Paperwork was issue and off we went. 

I have to say that this was probably the smoothest operations session I've had... So all the hard work that has gone on under the layout, planning the session and setting up pre session has paid off. The only real dramas during the session was 2 rail connections that caused some derailments and JMRI listening to the layout but not talking to the layout!

Rest easy guys, I've already fixed the rail alignment issue and the next session they will not be an issue. 

 Now for some Operations session photos:

Malcolm is working out his next move
by reviewing the Manifest for the Local
T2 is taking it all in whilst Jeff is assessing
the next Yardley switcher moves

Steve and Martyn have arrived at Yardley
with the WB Manifest. They will all be busy
switching for a bit

Steve is the Conductor of the Westbound
Manifest. Its just crossed Joso Trestle here

The Eastbound Manifest has made its way from Portland - Boardman - Wallula - Joso. It is now ascending the grade 1.3% grade to summit

As the session progresses the dispatcher has his hands full for short periods making sure the traffic flows across the layout. Darren Starkey the dispatcher for the night did a great job. Further - Yardley yard has to work. If it gets plugged then the rest of the division comes to a standstill. Fortunately Jeff and T2 did an awesome job of keeping traffic flowing....Great work guys!

Yardley Yard 
Another shot of the WB Manifest

Roger the dodger!!! Our resident "all things"
Malcolm and Peter have turnd their
attention to the Wallula Local

Just West of the EB Manifest a UP reefer train is
 high-balling through Wallula
Soon after the EB manifest has crossed Joso
The premier train on the layout, The Export
Potash train crosses Joso trestel

And rounds the curve along the Snake River

UP Potash negotiating the spiral. This is a 62 car train and needs special

Meanwhile back at Cheney we have a z-train
making its way westwards towards Portland

Another EB manifest heading East across Joso

Matthew is working out his switching moves for Yardley Yard

East Staging towards the end of the session

We stopped for Pizza at 6:45pm. Had a great chat and then people started to drift off back to their homes. A few guys stayed and we ran a couple more trains before shutting up shop at around 8:30pm.

Thanks to all the participants on Saturday night. I had a great time and by the looks at the smiles on your faces when you left you enjoyed ......the Pizza.
Already looking forward to the next session.