2021_03_14 Track Work

 2021_03_14  Running repairs, and a good pussy!

And starting with the cat. She snook in a night or two back and when I opened the door in the morning, actually thanked me for letting her out.  (My HERO!!) unexpected that.

Of course I was worried about what I would find. However apart from a few wagons derailed, no real damage.

I found a puddle and cleaned that up, but then found how she was trying to get herself out. She was going to dig herself out Ha Ha. Probably saved the trains by keeping her occupied.

She had been on the desk, trying to reach the window, I see.

Tried to install some point levers, finished up fixing up a double slip :(

The throw bar broke and was replaced with some circuit board.

And then I found a dead spot between House Creek and Wodonga Station.  The problem was that I had not attached droppers, and relied on mechanical connections. Ah well, it will be fixed, and whilst I am at it, I will increase the length of the reversing section all the way to the points at Wodonga. Will now hold 50 bogies on the SG and about 45 on the BG,

Have been running trains on the layout for over a week. And that's really good news for us. Its been a long time coming. The reversing loop here at Wodonga was preventing long trains from running. And several other places have bad connections. Some points need juicers or connections to the live frogs.

But things are looking very good at the moment. Now we can start on the scenery. :D




2021_03_07 More point motors! plus Taiwan to Aus in 10 days!

 2021_03_07  Thursday workday with Al and Saturday with Graeme and Al

On Thursday Al came over to help with wiring and point motors. Its just too hard for me to work under the layout doing wiring or installing motors, and to constantly get up off my back, to locate the wiring, or to see if the points are working correctly, before I screw them home in their best position.

In a few days, Al's son is coming to visit and we decided to have an extra work day on Saturday, to see if we could get a train to run the whole layout. We needed to find one persistent short I introduced fixing other problems.

It seems like it worked, and I am about to spend today tidying up and testing everything. The good news is that so far this morning, I have placed sound locos around the layout drawing about 3.0 amps and the Digitrax system has stayed up for over two hours (the fault was shutting us down within 3 mins!)

Also on Saturday, Graeme came across to design some scenery and fascia, around the top of the helix, where the escape road points and connection to the top level SG track was recently finished.

ok some pictures should tell the story.

At this stage, we had run out of ANE point motors, and so I raided the Tortoise stack, which was reserved for semaphore signal and lever frame work being done by Tony McKenzie under a signalling contract.

Al finally got a sit down job, whilst I was underneath stringing the wires to the control panel and attaching the motors.

And after that the "postie" arrived with my new order of ANE point motors. How about that!  less than 14 days and I ordered them on a weekend to boot :) They are an upgraded version, but mechanically the same. Now all I got to do,is put them all together

And so when we vacated the corner, Graeme moved in to install some new facia and prepare the branchline for scenery...   woohoo!

I guess the outriggers are in position.

The fascia is leveled up and tacked in. Found some tunnel mouths.

And finally!!  a lot of ugliness is covered up!!   

 This is where McKenzie will fit a lever frame. Which will replace the existing one at Honeysuckle.

Helps introduce some contours and slightly widens the area. I can see a road here now :)



2021_03_01 Point Motors and Switching!

 2021_03_01 Points and switches

Last Thursday Al and I spent the day fitting DCC Concepts point motors and wiring them to a proposed signal panel. and Saturday and Sunday after buying the DPDT switches from "Jaycar", I started wiring them up.

The point motors have two SPDT switches built in, one of which will be used to set polarity of the frogs, and the other will be used to operate signals in the future. 

One drawback I have found (actually two) is that you cannot center the action without power. Thus the 9v battery in the picture. Connecting cables is easy. Simply push the wire in after depressing a button.

Unfortunately, I have had 12 of these  devices in storage for about 12 years. Of the 12, only 8 actually worked. I had to reheat all the solder tabs seen in the picture and after a few wasted hours I managed to get two of them working and two needed to be binned.

I found some picture frames at reject shop. I removed backing and glass, and cut out a perspex panel, to replace glass. At $5 it saved a lot of work.

Jaycar supplied the DPDT switches at $3.75 less trade discount.

I tried to draw out a representation of the area controlled by the motors.  This was drawn on the protecting paper fixed to the perspex.

The switches were fitted into the perspex where marked. Down being straight road and up being diverge.
Panel was screwed into side of layout. Not sure if that was a good idea, but I strengthened the frame with solid angle brackets, seen above

12v Positive and Negative connections all soldered in and connected, with heavier feeds for power connection. Now all I got to do is make it look neat :(

To drill out the perspex, I needed to find a way to drill out the holes without chipping the perspex. So I went to Duck Duck Go, my new favorite search engine. They suggested using the drill  fitted into the Ryobi, and lubricated with soap, which is in the onion bottle :) And every hole was clean, and not one of them cracked the perspex. WOO HOO!!

All the cables running from the point motors arrived behind the panel, were numbered to match the numbers on the panels, and the connections were made.

All I have to do now is connect in the crossovers. That is two point motors need to be operated from one switch, to cross trains through. Need to work out which wire connects where? I suspect the wires will cross to the second motor.

When the panel is tested and working, I will mark out the underside of the perspex and line the track diagram with white tape. Then paint the back of the panel black. This should look the part :)

Then tidy up the wires....




2021_02_18 OMG! where did this mess come from?

 2021_02_18  Mess appears again, and some new purchases.

How does this happen? Been working under Coal Siding, so the storage had to be moved out of the way. But the clutter on the table top has got to go!

More mess. The busier I get the worse it gets.

Ok desk is not so bad, but a dozen projects are in the Q.

Moved the point control panel and  sorting out wiring and adjusting servo motors.

Not much happening this side.

ugh!!  ok Saturday job before Al comes back.

And if you have a keen eye, you might notice a couple of Rail Tractors , which I was very fortunate to find on RailPage.




2021_02_14 February update!

 2021_02_14  We are still plodding along.

Relay Honeysuckle and prepare for installation of new signals.

I took the opportunity to replace the old insulfrog points and track with code 75 electro frogs. We also removed the lever frame from the base board.

Modified Tortoise motors needed for the lever frame install.

micro switches add to the built in switching.

Installation crew from McKenzie and HolLand , prepare wiring and modify Tortoise motors.

Another view.

The temporary frame, allows trains to continue to run,  and this was what happened when Victoria's western line was converted to SG and automatic signaling was centralised in Adelaide.

When McKenzie left the site, trains were restored as track was replaced.


Very fortunate to pick these up on Rail Page.

Massey Ferguson rail tractor

In the Back ground, the V/Line Rail Tractor and the

 ANE point motor, which shows the large movement of the actuator wire

These are much different to the plastic adapters I have been using.

Another view. These operate much better than the others.
First the plastic based ones have the wire fixed to the plastic actuator.
The Ane ones are loose attached, and the hole in the mounting plate gives it a solid connection with the point throw bar,
The vertical position of the actuator is mechanically better.

The platic one has to have bends placed in the piano wire and these foul the servo, if not properly set up. And I must admit i never got to work out what the best shape was. But Ane allows a straight wire and is superior. I get a decent throw every time I build one up. The plastic base also only uses a screw to hold the servo, and I had to glue the servo into it to keep it steady.

Yes this has been a huge discovery, and both Al and I are happy to find a better solution.



2021_01_08 Chasing gremlins again

 2021_01_08  Background sky, DCC lost signal , LT1 tester.


Over the Christmas break, friend Graeme came for a visit and started tackling the skies once again.

The top level has been improved with a lighter blue (mixed some cloud white) Then the bottom of the back drop was sponged and wiped with neat cloud white, introducing some natural haze. You may notice the bottom level is unfinished with the blue over the bridges untouched.

A long shot which tends to make your eyes ignore the sky, which was too intense before.

Top and bottom level repainted. The layout was clean to allow the drop cloth to be used without damaging rolling stock. Two days later Al and I were building point servos and installing them. I am so damn messy.

Two weeks of misery

The DCC bus failed (and I cant remember what killed it)  Here the throttle shows the engine on the track. No lights or sound as indicated by throttle. And no movement.

On a test track the locomotive responds as it should.

(imagine the two pictures above were reversed as I set this up after the "fix"

Both throttles are set the same (7 turns on marker lights)

The problem was difficult to work out. It came suddenly. I shut down the layout and the problem was there, next time I started it up. Any locomotive that had been returned to Decoder Pro was dead. All locomotives not recently being run on decoder pro, worked ok.. What the......?

Anyway this was a distraction, because when Graeme came to visit, I demonstrated the problem to him.

Finally we decided to swap the test command station into layout and remove the one there.

That solved the problem. It seems the 5 amp command station was unable to run the layout. Mind you I am able to isolate the 9 other blocks to lighten the load.  Anyway I need to return the unit to Digitrax.

Working on the Loconet!

Their must be a reason why the first command station was only failing after a loco was run on Decoder pro.


 The Digitrax LT1 test the loconet. When a controller is plugged in, all 4 LED's light up.

If the right hand led is out  you need to plug in a controller.

I tested every UP5 and found several problems where  One, the two middle led's were off and 2, the two outside Led's were off

So after testing every connection, I found in a couple of cases that the wires were not connected in the plugs correctly.


This special tool trims and strips the outer cover.

This is the clip with the lock tab on top.

Looking at the connection the lock clip is on top, holding it this way, and the blue wire is on left.

And so I had to correct the errors. Mind you the errors had been there for 10 years or so.  I am thinking that the errors might have cancelled each other out, as I would make up a cable and hold both ends together to ensure wires matched. I guess I might have got both ends wrong?  Later on I bought a cable tester which would have tested only that all wires were connected.

The last part I tested was the New Helix. This is where I only got two test lights to show.  And so I removed the loconet back to where it tested ok. I then double checked the cables . The only thing I found was one UP5 had been connected with a third connection out the side port and running up to Honeysuckle panel. This was then connected all the way to the BG station on top of the new helix. I decided to remove this connection. I then connected the new helix UP5 to the last UP5 on the bottom level, which was only 5 feet  or less than a meter and a half.

This corrected the bad tests that I got on this side of the layout.

And so two weeks of misery was now fixed and trains seem to be running just fine.

Next week after a frustrating Thursday just past, Al and I are going to solve the Tam Valley Singlet Servo problem that has us stumped. It just never ends.




2021_01_04 (video fix)

 2021_01_04  Video Fix


The morons at You Tube are at it again!  Anybody would think it was a political video? :(



He was a big man!   He barked at me many times, but I am going to miss him a lot

God Bless you John

Rod Young

2020_12_31 New Years Eve. Last report for 2020

The trains are able to run the whole map...finally :D