Crossing Paths

Crossing Paths
Model Melbourne trams

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.


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. 

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.

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.

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.




Sunday, 6 March 2016

There is a fine line between detail and insane.

I have been in the process of installing lights into the two SEC trams, Ballarat 28 and Bendigo 29. These trams were DCC chipped nearly two years ago, they had their CVs tweaked and have been in regular service since.

County cousins from about 2 years ago.
However a tram without running lights can be a hazard to itself and to others, for when it is called up by the controller, you have no clear idea which direction it will go when it moves into step one, (usually into the tram 'behind' it at the depot), nor can you tell if it has stalled on dirty track or it's just being difficult.

That's the thinking behind about fitting lights are, the headlights let you know which way it should go and the saloon lights inform you that the tram is receiving power and is waiting for further instruction, this sums up the detail aspect.

The insane part of this blog, is that both trams are of the single truck four wheel variety, (Ballarat 28, a reworked tyco/mantua trolley and Bendigo 29 a JEM resin kit on an Bachmann 44t powered bogie) therefore there is a distinct lack of real estate inside these models, even when you have installed rather small decoders, there is the space consumed by the mechanism, then you decide to install headlights, marker lamps and interior saloon lights as well, enter the two blokes with the straight jacket and a few sessions of weaving cane baskets!

The mechanism of Bendigo 29, with a socket on top
fashioned from half an eight pin IC socket.
The innards of Bendigo 29.
With three LEDs at each end, two warm white, on red.
What makes this concept more interesting is that I install LEDs with dropping resistors for lighting, but as I choose not to incinerate surface mounted LEDs for these projects, no, I use the more robust 3mm LEDs, warm white for the headlamps, red for the tail/marker lamps and yellow for interior lighting.

With the marker lights, I use 1mm(.040") fibre optic thread/element that is heat shrunk to the LED, and to ensure that the 'magic smoke' does not exit the decoder, all leads of components and wires are heat shrunk and insulated. All of which is in the confined space of these trams.

The marker light assembly, a warm white LED with heat shrink
surrounding the two smaller heat shrunk sleaves that the 1mm Fibre optic
element will press fit into.
Testing the marker light assembly before installation.
Ballarat 28 was just as entertaining to do, and was fitted out in a similar way. The results speak for themselves
Ballarat 28 & Bendigo 29 passing outside the Grand Theatre,
and earlier in the evening along Victoria St.
Then back at the Depot later that night.
From under the wires with little trams in the dark.

P.S. This is the 100th post of Victoria Street.




Wednesday, 24 February 2016

We're havin' ourselves a barn raisin'

All good depots need a shed, a tram shed/car barn, somewhere to berth and then service rollingstock after a hard days work, and in the situation of Victoria Street, somewhere to hide rollingstock from the domestic curse of household dust.

The Depot shed with W5 800 on the kitchen bench
(The place where all good models are photographed)

After the construction of the depot light and overhead array, I have been trawling cyberspace for a suitable structure to 'plonk' over the frame, I have settled on a traditional 'saw tooth' design that will allow ambient light during the day but will 'light up' in the evening when trams are retiring for the day.

A simple construction made from 4mm foam board, this grand shed spans the three roads of the Albert Road/Westside Depot, the roads, numbering from 1 to 3, left to right.
This is enough to serve the requirements of this cross suburban line with a little more space for a few heritage units for weekend gunzel* excursions.

Hiding in the shed

At the rear of the shed, road three runs through to an external yard (loading ramp), this is the entry/exit point for rollingstock on the layout.

A shot from the rear door of road 3,
looking out onto Victoria Street

More details to be added, brick paper, roofing and so forth, but it is a tram shed.

From under the wires inside the shed,

*Gunzel ( noun, slang Australia especially Victoria): A person who pursues useless and pointless railway enthusiast activities. Verb (intransitive) to gunzel, to go gunzelling.
UK equivalents: gricer, anorak.
USA equivalents: foamer, foamite.