Crossing Paths

Crossing Paths
Model Melbourne trams

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Time flies by.....

Well, it seems that Christmas is now upon us, so I decided to get in early, and as per usual I have wasted a bit of time, resources and cash on creating this years Christmas card. so enjoy.

The Christmas tree is created from one Noch 20 odd foot conifer, some 'hundred and thousands' for baubles, a little frayed golden/silver gift ribbon for tinsel applied with PVA glue, then plonked behind the signal box at Victoria Street.
So, all the best for the season, stay safe, avoid family dramas, and remember it is all about the kids.
From under the wires and the plastic pine needles,
Regards Glenn

Saturday, 23 November 2013

In the Pink (Now for something different) and a visitor.

As I wade through my fleet of trams and attempt to retrofit DCC and lights, I am also a Dad to a pair of girls, one pushing five and the other nudging three. Needless to say my life is surrounded by most things pink*.

The oldest has been haggling me about a 'tram' for her for a while, and it should be pink! This got me thinking...
  • one slightly ordinary Mehano trolley.
  • one of those plastic static German trams that seem to come attached to a card.
  • one NCE D13SRJ decoder.
  • one pantograph (found in the bits box)
  • a couple of LEDs and resistors.
  • and some phaffing around.
This loose collection of missed matched items are in the process of being cobbled together to create this, a cheap, durable tram that works and meets the design brief as stipulated (demanded!).

2312 (the pink tram) a work in progress
at the corner of Victoria St and Epsom Rd
Now for the cunning part, this tram has been tinkered with as so to allow trials in the operation of live overhead on DCC (pretty clever eh?)  The other thing is, with the plug in decoder, I can 'borrow' it if the need arises.
Also the oldest is in the process of birthday season, so a new member was added to the family, Sparky. A rather cheeky hand friendly budgie (parakeet).

Sparky poses on the Victoria St crossing square.
(so far he has not manage to 'deposit' any traffic hazards)
On the computer front, my brother in law, Mick ( a hoarder of technology) had in his collection of 'assets' had a spare computer monitor gathering dust, better in my study than eventually on the hard rubbish. Thanks Mick.
From under the wires and a couple of little thumbs and a few feathers.
*Disney Princesses, the house of mouse has lot to answer for.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

More lights and a moment of darkness.

Yes, I do know it has been a while, and I do believe that I am now settling in with the new gig so therefore I may have developed some sort of routine that allows some more modelling.

Back to Victoria Street, the fleet is now in the process of undergoing an update, I have purchased some 3mm warm white LEDs for directional headlights, and now I am in the business of retro fitting them, also, while individual trams are on the workbench, interior lights and fibre optic marker lights are being installed where required.

So far X1 460 is now running the new LEDs and now has interior lighting, all controlled by the NCE Z14SR DCC decoder.

X1 460 at twilight.
SW6 870 has also recently undergone a refit, with headlights, saloon lights and the original (1970's) layout of marker lights (white, red, white) either side of the headlight. With the left over function of the decoder, one cab end can be lit up as if the desto box lid has been left open. This open desto lid provides better illumination for the trailing cab at night time, as the red marker lights don't seem bright enough for half cut drivers to realise that there maybe a tram ahead! As per prototype, the drivers cab bulkheads are painted white. This tram still runs the 'trusty and rusty' Bachmann 'pancake' mechanism.

The magic (madness) inside

SW6 870 now in service with lights and the correct doors.

The trailing cabs at night, (870) with and (812) without the rear desto box lit.
Now for the dark side, the vintage laptop that I use for the JMRI decoder pro has decided to extinguish its backlight for the screen, thus throwing a decent sized spanner into the works, until I can get a second hand monitor, I will have to struggle along by attempting to shine a desk lamp off the screen and try to decipher the text like some demented Egyptologist reading hieroglyphs in a tomb. (there will be no chance of using the 'good' laptop in the study after sharing a 'fatal' beer with the last one, by order the minister of war and finance!)
So from under the wires and squinting at the screen,


Saturday, 28 September 2013

Football Season (The Grand Final)

As intrinsic as trams are in Melbourne, football (Australian Rules) also plays a major role in the life and fabric of the city. From a home grown urban domestic competition, now has evolved into a national obsession.
This game has a cradle to grave legacy on families, it decides the planning of social/family occasions, and usually comes with the typical Melbourne greeting of "What's ya name?, and who do you follow in the footy?"

At one stage, with eleven competing clubs in inner urban Melbourne and the other from regional Geelong, most, if not all original home grounds were serviced by nearby tram routes at one stage, as with time the completion expanded, some clubs (South Melbourne, Fitzroy) relocated to Sydney and Brisbane, other franchises were started in Adelaide and Perth, then western Sydney and the Gold Coast.

Suburban grounds while they still exist in the hearts and memories of the tribal enclaves of the city, games are now played at either the iconic MCG and/or Docklands(insert sponsor's name here) Stadium at staggered times to suit the needs of the prime time television god, a long way from six games on a Saturday afternoon broadcast on competing AM stations.

The tramways must of had some real fun and games trying to co-ordinate extra services to and from these games all starting and finishing at roughly the same times, so here is my homage to those blokes who punched services, cut notches and punched tickets.

A typical Saturday afternoon in Melbourne,
A Football special short shunting on Victoria St.


So to the competing clubs today, Hawthorn, 5km east of Melbourne, entered the competition in 1925 and won their first flag in 1961 (against Footscray*, darn it! ) now going for their 11th flag, versus Fremantle, so far west from Melbourne that they face the Indian Ocean, entered the caper in 1994 going for their first. (*I am not a fan of Hawthorn)

From in front of the tele, and under the wires.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Street Life

A couple of weeks ago the crew from Sunshine Model Railway Club had their August exhibition, and for the first time in three years I was not exhibiting Victoria Street, so this gave me plenty of opportunity to have a good look around the trader stands and have a rummage through their boxes of obscure modelling items.

I am always on the lookout for people to fill out the street scenes of the layout, as trams tend to run through an urban environment and people are an active component to the operations of trams be it 4mm to the foot or 1:1 scale.

Another thing is that streets are full of other features, and needless to say I was stoked to find scale parking meters, ideal for the inner urban scene, and the soon to be scourge of my local traders and residents.

The other aspect are the parking bays and road markings that go along with the street scene, on many layouts at exhibitions I have seen a perfectly ballasted and weathered railway blighted by an attempt to 'model' a road by a dark grey strip of paint divided with an equally harsh attempt of hand painting a centre line, some may have even tried to mask the road before painting the lines, only for it to bleed under the tape.

The method I use on Victoria Street is the glue and paper strip technique, it gives sharp lines and a tidy finish, the paper I use is bog standard office paper cut into strips 1.5 mm wide and trimmed to length glued into place with PVA glue on the bitumen road surface of my choice, 400 grit wet and dry sand paper. It works for me.

(It is also easier than painting road markings, especially when you have already hung the trolley wire!)

So here are a couple of happy snaps with the slightly better digital SLR.

Evening twilight on Victoria St, now with metered parking

Looking for change for the meters, from under the wires.


Sunday, 7 July 2013

A Real Clanger

I have recently obtained the sound module from a promo item issued by Yarra Trams as part of an ongoing safety campaign. The item was a bright yellow foam rhino fitted with a sound module that sounds two beats of a tram gong.

The rhino campaign states that a tram is like up to thirty rhinos on a skate board, so therefore a 'look and listen' campaign. A subtle reminder for any pedestrian or motorist who decides to position themselves in front of a moving tram, that they are either a fool or a definite front runner for a Darwin Award.

Innocent enough.
The sound module is roughly an inch in diameter and three quarters of an inch thick, it is powered by two small lithium button batteries and is actuated by a small press button, given its size and 'disposability' it cranks out a decent set of clangs with a nice sustain.
So with a little bit of fitting and phaffing, and a new push button and some fresh batteries, it's all now fitted into the facia of the layout. (my first foray into sound...) The red push button is now a magnet for my kids, they push it, it goes clang clang, so they push it again, to them it's better fun and more addictive than bubble wrap!

The interactive display
I know, if I really wanted too, I could go into the full sound DCC sound caper, but I am having enough fun at the moment with my little gong button.
From under the wires and driving the missus mad.
Regards Glenn

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Cutting Notches

As I have observed with the remaining stock of W class trams in circulation, is that they have a certain characteristic when accelerating.

As these trams run a traditional series/parallel DC controller (7 series, 7 parallel notches) there are a distinct yet subtle 'kick' most times when notching from first resistance series (notch 1) into second (notch 2) and when going from full series (notch 7) into first resistance parallel (notch 8).

A typical W class set up (minus all the vigilance controls that exist on the current

 Melbourne Fleet) photo courtesy Wikipedia.
With DCC and the Decoderpro/JMRI software, I have 'tweaked' the speed curve on all trams to include this feature, it also allows for a visual speed check of the running tram without having to look at the numbers on the NCE Powercab.

Believe it or not the jump from one step to another in running is not as severe as it appears the speed curve.
From under the wires


Friday, 10 May 2013

Changing Tracks

To be quite honest, little has been done on Victoria Street in the last couple of months, There has been a career change, so after near on twenty five years on being in the maintenance engineering caper, including the usual field of self inflicted injuries (mashed thumbs, nasty lacerations, the odd sprain and/or strain and burns!!!!), my working life has taken another direction.

With the new gig, as they have a rather stringent social media policy, all I can say is that they operate differing shifts, run large 1:1 equipment and deal with all aspects of humanity*.

So when I finally get myself into some sort of pattern, the planned backlog of work will be tackled.

 The two yellow lines of facing points (Melbourne)
signifying a compulsory stop, so to observe the
setting and intended direction the tram will take before
proceeding. (like in life, look before you leap)
Photo courtesy of Vicsig.
*the diverse and interesting people of inner suburban Melbourne.
From under the wires,

Monday, 18 March 2013

Stepping out of the comfort zone

Occasionally you can get a little bored of running on your own layout, so when the opportunity to give my girls a gallop in greener pastures came up, I thought why not.

The crew at Melton Model Railway Club also have dabbled into the NCE DCC/JMRI wifi caper, together with the Free-mo Au mob have had a couple of run days on their collective temporary layout.

So myself with a road case of DCC fitted trams and my NCE Powercab, hit the road and headed west to Melton.
 The city and the bush.

 Running away from home.

 Hunting in packs.

Loitering with intent.

Mixing it up.

 Even the old X1 went for a run.
 After some dramas with wifi router, everyone went retro with power/pro cabs plugged into the layout.
So all in all, a great day with a fair minded concept of a modular layout that gave the girls a good sustained run higher than half throttle over a decent length of track, thanks again to Adam and the crew at Melton for the opportunity to have a cracking run.
Not from under the wires this time.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Time to get organised.

Several projects have been horribly neglected since becoming besotted with DCC, materials for other projects have stockpiled to the point that the domestic authorities are in the process of intervention.

  •  The illumination of Victoria Street, so far only one module has been completed, The Railway Station. The rest of the layout still resides in the dark ages.
  • The animation of the crossing gates.
  • The construction of several other classes of Melbourne trams, these will include the W2, X2, VR, PCC 1041 and a Z1/3, plus the reworking/painting of several existing models with the correct decals and the installation of DCC friendly lighting.
  • The construction of 2 to 3 more modules featuring back scenes such as residential, educational, and industrial to compliment the current retail, recreational and railway aspects, all with simple trackage to offer longer operational running.
  • The updating of the track wiring for DCC, and the elimination of terminal strips in favour of plugs and sockets.
So there it is in simple point form, I have to spend more time at the work bench and less time phaffing about  on the laptop, which reminds me of a couple photos I recently uploaded to flickr of shots in the dark.

 As shade of film noir.

 Now in living colour,

and at the other end of the 'only' lit module.

From under the wires,
Regards Glenn

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Life and Art

I try to capture the essence of Melbourne life in Victoria Street with street scenes from a time ago.  People, places, signage all play a part in creating a narrative of the time. While most scenes are created out of my memory. One in particular, is one I intend to model possibly when exhibiting and I need to go for lunch or for just a wander.

The scene played out yesterday (24/1) in full 1:1 scale in Racecourse Road, Newmarket.

Note the scorch marks on the impact beam courtesy of 600 volts.
(Herald Sun Newspaper)
This event happens too often, 3.7 metres (12 feet) is not that great a clearance; however, it always seems to catch out truck drivers regardless of the advance signage, clearance gauges and warning lights and this causes all sorts of traffic mayhem for locals, the route 57 tram and the rail line above.
So at the end of the day, some truck driver will be looking for a new career.
Play safe, work safe.
From under the shorted out wires.

P.S.Happy Australia Day.