Crossing Paths

Crossing Paths
Model Melbourne trams

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

There is always something on the go.

Since the exhibition, the layout sat fallow in the study for over a month, still as the three disjointed modules that were placed there on the Sunday evening after the exhibition.  This is mainly due to the bride entering the final furlong of her post graduate studies, which in turn places me in the chief role of kid wrangler (3), until Melbourne Cup week (early November). 

With the modules not connected, this allowed some housekeeping to be performed between organising food relief (dinner) and emergency sessions of the UN Security Council (peacekeeping).
- some street lights at the junction were finally connected. 
- an external socket and switch installed to the front end of railway station module.
- an introduction into the realm of Bluetooth technology. 

Lights are on.

The intersection of Victoria St and Albert Rd is now illuminated by street light which improves operational safety for tram services heading to and from the Ammo Factory of a night time.



The Junction at night


A lonely wait at the Ammo Factory

The Glenno Go-Box*.

The only place that I could set up the rolling road was the open ballasted track on the Ammo Factory Module, but now I have installed the trolley wire, I no longer have the height under the wire to use it there.

Enter the solution to the problem.... 

The Glenno Go-Box* by Glenno Innovations.

"Crafted from the finest left over commemorative port wine display box, The Glenno Go-Box* will last longer than the horrendous hangover from the original contents.
It's a rolling test track, it's a servicing cradle with storage all rolled into one, but wait! It's also portable, it can run DC, DCC and also has a battery option for when you are away from the work bench.

A rolling road for DCC programming....

A servicing cradle.....
    
 The Glenno Go-Box* is supplied with two directional 1/4" mono jacks, with 1/4" plug on each, a battery pack, a set of powered wheel cleaning tools and a fly lead that connects to your layout, regardless if it's DC of DCC.

Battery option....
 
The Glenno Go-Box* is great for running in new rollingstock and/or programming DCC, as it takes up little space, ideal for those with small or micro layouts.

  Small and compact with storage....

In service mode, it stores and sorts all your service equipment in one convenient compact location.

The Glenno Go-Box*"

In reality, I have cobbled together an old grog box with a bit of flexi track glued to the outside base, wired to a pair of mono jacks that can fed by a battery pack or a fly lead from the layout, that can also power a set of Peco wheel cleaning tools, all of which can be kept inside with the rolling road under a sliding lid fashioned from an old cutting mat (as the perspex lid was re purposed for switch panels).  I have installed felt pads on one side and blocks of rubber on the other so to keep the rails side clear of the bench when in service mode.

Note; this concept is not trademarked* or patented, so feel free to plagiarise this idea for the benefit of the entire model railway community.

A switch and a 1/4" mono jack has been installed on the railway station module so to feed the Glenno Go-box, the switch throws the power from the supply(DC or DCC) to either the track or the output so not to reprogram the rest of the fleet sitting on the rails, the lead was purchased from a music shop, as used by rock guitarists for effect pedals.

The feed from the layout.

Bluerail Bluetooth Decoder.

From cutting notches to cutting edge. I have recently installed a Bluerail Bluetooth unit into
one of my fleet, SW6 870 a Cooee collectable static model retro fitted with the mechanism from a Bachmann Brill trolley.

Direct control via Bluetooth and the free app.

Not much real estate left under the drop centre.

This adaptable chip plugs directly into a 9 pin decoder socket, while larger than regular and cheaper DCC decoders, this allows myself to use a smart phone directly to control this tram without having to fire up the laptop, run JMRI, make sure the wifi is up and the USB interface is plugged in if I wish to trundle a quick service from one end to the other, without either having to punch in the car number into the tethered Powercab, all I have to do is power up the rails with either DC or DCC, open up the app and we are off.

The size comparison.

All the adjustments are made from the smartphone, also it plays sounds out of the smartphone, as it only set up with diesel and steam loco sounds at the moment, I have muted the horn, engine noise and toned down the coupler clank to substitute for the linebreaker kicking in. Break squeal and release along with the bell provide enough entertainment for me at this stage.

Motor control is smooth, but it will not tolerate any slight disruption to power supply and will shut down, it is probably less tolerant than DCC, but this is all a learning curve at the moment. The Bluerail unit also has four light outputs that can be adjusted from the smartphone.

I have bought another one which I may adapt into an adhoc Bluetooth DC controller or use as a spare if I let out the magic smoke!

So there it is, a bumper issue, and as with all road trips there were some casualties.

W5 800 looking worse for wear, minus a route number box and a lifeguard
residing at the Ammo Factory siding waiting for repairs.

Staring down into the football finals (Go Bulldogs!), then rolling straight into the spring racing carnival from under the wires.

Glenn



Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Sunshine Report.


Another exhibition done and dusted, the Sunshine Model Railway Club by their reports had a reasonably good turn out over the weekend of the 6th & 7th of August, to myself it felt busy at times but not too crowded, with the punters easing off during the last hour or so on both days.



Plenty of natural light at Sunshine.

There were two main points of interest with the layout, trams as opposed to trains, and the use of wifi control with smartphones/tablets with  JMRI and DCC. 

The tram angle with the JMRI works as it allows tight head ways and independent operation with the ability to wander from one terminus to the other whilst in some form of control. 

The other great feedback was how detailed the layout is and also how given its compact size offered plenty of operational scope. 

The exhibition was another chance to catch up with a few familiar faces and  put faces to names on people who follow this blog. There was plenty of variety of layouts on show, ranging from Z scale to G scale live steam covering Australian, British, European and U.S. prototypes, along with the usual traders.

On the Sunday, I was assisted by my oldest daughter which eased the load of having something on the move while chatting with the public. 

As per usual, there were a few dramas, such as stalling, derailments and the odd bit of bang roading together with a complete shutdown of the JMRI when the eldest turned off the laptop, but these add character as well as a few more grey hairs. 

The other thing that dragging out the layout does is it gives you a chance to view it from different angles and from a distance.  The pack up was pretty swift, the exhibition closed at 4pm and the car was packed and the key in the ignition by 4:27 and was home by 4:45 after swinging by the bottle shop(off licence/liquor store).


Looking along Victoria St back to the Depot.

 
From the depot end.
A few photos from the weekend. 




There wouldn't be an exhibition without Lego these days.


Pondering what to do next from under the wires.

Glenn

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The wire is up!

Finally the trolley wire is up left of the railway bridge on Victoria Street. 

After about eighteen months since the beginning of construction of the new modules, (the depot, the junction and the Ammo factory), the trolley wire sits resplendent above the rails. 
Now to be quite honest, I thought I would not be able to get this up before the Sunshine model railway club exhibition, the first weekend of August; however the lucky combination of an early shift and and the bride heading off with the kids to her parents for a few days during the school holidays allowed myself to knock over this task. 

The method of hanging wire is a bit of a dark art that requires a little planning and a fair crack of patience. 

The materials that I use for this project are;
- coat hanger wire (span poles)
- multi strand copper earth cable
- craft beads (insulators)
- PVA and five minute epoxy glue
- a sharp felt tipped marker pen

A collection of hobby tools required are;
- a soldering iron and solder
- small side cutters
- a 300mm/12" steel rule
- a cutting mat
- a few spring loaded clothes pegs

Let the fun begin

Now in a perfect world, be it 1:1 or 4mm:1', all span poles would be evenly spaced around the curve, in reality street infrastructure such power (utility) poles, driveways and other obstacles. This is where it becomes interesting.......

The span poles are the first to go up, straight coat hunger wire cut to length with a dash of black paint on the bottom like the prototype. 
Some span poles are reworked Atlas telegraph poles with a cross arm removed and a few insulators knocked off to resemble the power (utility) poles that line the tram tracks of suburban Melbourne.  
The span poles are glued into blind holes drilled into the base board, these holes should be a snug fit for the poles. 

The next is the span wire made from the strands of the copper earth wire, the strands are 0.6mm (.024") thick. 
To straighten the strand, I roll the strand between the steel rule and the cutting mat. 
First cut the wire longer than the span being covered, one end is coiled two to three times around an off cut of coat hanger wire, then five of the small craft beads are threaded onto the wire and are left to slide along the wire at this stage. 
The coiled end is slid over the top of the span pole, pulled taught then coiled on the opposite pole across the tracks. Rinse and repeat.

The span wires at the Ammo Factory

On the curves along the tracks, pull off wires are required for the intermediate span wires so the trolley wire can be centred above the track. 
These are soldered to the span wires close to the span poles, care is required when soldering close to the plastic power poles. 

The intermediate span wires are threaded with the beads and soldered to the underside of the pull off wires, again the beads are left to slide for the time being, the spring loaded clothes pegs assist in holding the wires during soldering.

When all of the span wires are in place, finding where the trolley wire will sit is the next stage. 
I have for this task cobbled a wire centering tool made from a non powered Bachmann Brill trolley bogie, a blob of Blu-tak and a tooth pick.  Crude but effective way of finding then marking the contact point of the trolley wire to the span wire with the marker pen. 

The wire centering bogie
Stringing the trolley wire requires over estimating the length of the run, starting from one then methodically soldering the trolley to every span wire where marked, at this point  making sure that two of the beads are between the pole/pull off wire and the trolley wire. The aim is to have along the span wire, two beads, trolley wire,  one bead, trolley wire, two beads. The clothes pegs come very handy when hanging the trolley wire and the wire centering bogie can assist in pushing the trolley wire against the span wire for soldering. 

Positioning and fixing the beads (insulators) along the span wire requires the tram with the widest pan on its pantograph for clearance purposes.  One bead hard against the pole/pull off wire, the next is placed clear of the passing pantograph, these are glued into place with PVA glue, the one bead between the trolley wire is glued dead centre. 
Therefore in the odd chance of a new tram with a wider pantograph fouling the overhead, the beads can be relocated with a drop of water. 

Clearance testing.  

The positioning of the overhead frogs over the points at the depot, junction and terminus I followed the local but fast diminishing prototype of Melbourne. Trolleyville online also provide tips on hanging overhead wire and fixtures. As the whole overhead had to taper lower to the railway bridge, the whole assembly was set into place by sliding and adjusting the wire height along the span poles, once I was happy with the 'flow' of the wire I used five minute two part epoxy glue to fix the span wires to the span poles.

To finish off, a splash of black paint. 

Easing into the Ammo Factory line.


The view from the railway bridge.


Another angle of the tangle

From under the newly installed wires. 
Glenn

Monday, 20 June 2016

Something's going on

The punters and traffic have been removed from the layout and are stored at the moment, rollingstock is in the process of getting a once over and a tidy up, track and infrastructure is being cleaned and tested, all of this can only lead to one thing, an upcoming exhibition. 


All is quiet on the western front.


 Playing the numbers game.
(Because you need to know what tram to call up)

Complete with pigeon holed up punters.....


 .....and take away traffic.

There is nothing that lifts ones enthusiasm than an impending exhibition date, as I have done some extensive work on Victoria Street since its last outing at the AMRA Caulfield exhibition during August 2014, I have accepted an invitation for the Sunshine MRC exhibition at Braybrook secondary college, the first weekend in August.

While I do get a few invitations to exhibit throughout the year, the combination of work/family commitments, exhibition dates and distance are the factors I consider, also I try not to over expose the layout on the exhibition circuit. The Sunshine exhibition works better for me for two reasons, one I have already been rostered three days off that weekend, and secondly, the venue is only a five minute drive from home. 

As I have exhibited at Sunshine before, it's will be nice to head back again, as it was here that Victoria Street made its debut as a small/micro layout in 2010.


My, my! How much has changed since then.
(Sunshine MRC exhibition 2010)

On an important side note, the curse of windows 10 has played merry hell with me posting updates to the blog, but somehow has not affected the operation of JMRI as far that can be determined, however I anticipate either some little issue before or a huge drama during the exhibition.

I know there are few followers of this blog will be pleased that Victoria Street will be out and about and have an opportunity to experience it first hand.

Looking forward to sharing Victoria Street from under the wires.
Glenn.






Sunday, 8 May 2016

Phaffing about

The last month after knocking over the depot shed, work and life has conspired against me. On the odd occasion  I tend to shuffle trams in and out the roads of the depot shed, along the stretch to the racecourse back to the ammo factory then back into the sheds.

 
Busy times at the depot.

The other thing I doodle with is time tabling, especially when I'm on dad duties, roughly drawing train graphs of arrival and departure times that allow for short shunting special services to and from the racecourse that also in turn need to avoid conflict with regular services. The backs of envelopes, pages from a scribble pad, scraps of paper all provide a medium for creativity while supposedly supervising small children.

I did manage to visit a hobby shop, I obtained some sanitation based objects, old school rubbish bins (none of those 'modern' wheelie bins), and a Victorian era public convenience for the Ammo factory terminus. As per usual the facilities were kitbashed to suit my requirements, as the original concept was again too large for the area provided.



I bet the ratepayers of Victoria Street are happy with the local council.
 

Loitering or stage fright?

The other purchase was a replacement motor for 812, as this tram had a history of coughing and farting after about fifteen minutes of continuous running, the current draw of the original motor was diagnosing an issue with one of the windings, the decoder after the stated period would kick in 'self preservation' mode so as not to allow the 'magic smoke' escape.

The replacement motor is one for the Auscision brand of Australian prototype locomotives, the centre height was spot on, however the diameter of the new motor is about .070" wider than the original, so some old tech school bench fitting was required to make it fit inside the split chassis of the Cooee Collectable mechanism.

 
I will make it fit.

The replacement motor also has some massive brass flywheels that may in someway affect the tides of the planet and not to mention the ability alter the course of the space time continuum. The original drive shafts to the gear towers had to be extended to accommodate the new motor, now I have a tram that could out pull most of the model locomotives going around if I could be bothered with fitting it with some kadees.

 
812 is finally back in service.
 
So there it is, in a nutshell. I have spent the last month phaffing around.

From a slightly busy work bench under the wires.
Glenn.


Monday, 4 April 2016

Works at the Depot.

The brickies have been in and the depot shed is starting to resemble something like a tram shed and less like a cool store, This is the largest and most intact structure on Victoria Street, it is also the final one.

 
A typical day on the tramways.

The brick sheet used is Superquik pasted onto the foam board with a glue sick, concrete lintels and bases are cereal box card,  the roof is in the process of being finished off with Wills corrugated iron.

The space between the shed and the office features the former substation that used to serve the depot and the line to the Racecourse and the Ammo factory,  The original rotary converter installed when the depot was isolated from the main system inside has been mothballed and the space is used by maintenance as a store. This was made up from leftovers from the Ammo Factory building, a Metcalfe Warehouse kit.

 
The substation/stores

Depot signage has either been scanned from books or sourced from the internet, resized in windows word then printed out on office paper.

Here are few more photos in and around the new depot shed.

 
4MPH in the yard.
 
 
Carring out from the sheds.
 
 
About to enter service.
 
 
Road 3 at the rear of the shed,
the entry/exit point of rolling stock for the layout
 
 
The whole depot lends itself to an inglenook shunting puzzle, which means that in order to run a tram from the back of the shed, one has to shuffle and shunt trams in and out and try not block the traffic out the front of the depot for any extended period of time. some trams are sent over the crossover to the Ammo Factory to hide for a few moments, others provide 'double shunts' at the depot entry, all in all fun and thinking all round.
 
Now for the fun part, the overhead.
 
From under the roof at the end of the layout.
Glenn.



 


 


 


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