Crossing Paths

Crossing Paths
Model Melbourne trams

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Well, That was quick.

It is that time of the year again, another year done and dusted, The layout underwent a fair bit of work, rewiring for DCC, building and street lighting, the Caulfield Exhibition, then the installation of the animated gates. Fun times all round.

So as per usual, and somewhat late this year, the time honoured Victoria Street Christmas Card.

The season brings its annual wishes and hazards, above all be safe, enjoy/endure your family, reflect on the year, and try not to eat or drink too much.
From under the wires, and the LED Christmas lights that I will harvest later...
Regards Glenn

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

'Open Sesame'.........'creak, groan, clank'

Yes, I have done it! I have finally animated the crossing gates of Victoria Street. Another item has been ticked off the bucket list.

The finished product.
The gates are operated by a Tam Valley DCC servo decoder, the crossing lights are controlled by a six function decoder. The four crossing lights are LEDs mounted on the shafts of plastic provided by cotton buds, each LED has its own light feature, two are alternating strobe, one the Mars light function and the other the rotating beacon. This provides the prototypical mismatched sequence of rotating beacons that were installed at these crossings.
 Also the tram signals are operational, with a fibre optic thread running from LEDs using the other two functions (headlights). A LED is mounted on the facia in parallel of the tram signal to show its status.
An OFF/ON switch is fitted between the DCC bus and the servo decoder, plus the six function decoder in so to isolate the set up when running 'antique' DC rollingstock. 
Another dodgy video, but it works.
Then from above.
From under the wires with a smirk of satisfaction.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

More on the Gates

Now the fun part of installing the mechanism/control for the gates to the module. Holes were drilled at the base of the pivot points of the base board when the module was built, in the hope at the time.

The servos are fitted on Brunel Hobby servo mounts in a way not envisaged by the designer, the servo is mounted upside and with the inner side of the mount missing to allow the sweep action of the servo crank. The pivot pin is made from copper wire soldered to a copper wire 'staple' that that is hot glued to the crank, the pins of the 'staple' lines up with the holes of the crank, and the pivot wire lines up with the centreline of the servo shaft. A clearance hole was drilled in each of the servo mounts for the pivot wire to protrude through.

One of the four servo assemblies.
The crossing gates are readily available, made by Peco, while British in origin, they have been kitbashed and details added to make them more like the older style gates that dotted the railway network prior to the more contemporary boom gates. These were drilled out with a pin vice with a 1mm drill bit, along the centre line of the hinge pin.
The pivot pin through the gate post hinge.
(The copper wire will 'give' in the event of impact,
the post is pressed fitted onto its base)

Before with the crossing lights.

Work in progress
(the servos are pinned with thumbtacks until final positioning)
The front of the module will be replaced with a perpex window so to keep an eye of the inner workings.
From under the road, under the wires.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

"Open up the gates!"

One of my many projects on this layout was to somehow animate the gates of the crossing square of Victoria Street, I do now believe that I am a step closer to fulfilment.

I have glanced over the possibility of using servo motors in the past, but had no real idea how to make it all happen, today I stumbled across the dark arts of Tam Valley Depot being offered by Brunel Hobbies at the Croydon Model Railway exhibition.

After parting with/investing some cash, I came home with a servo decoder and four servos, in the process of cooking the Sunday roast, I nutted out the how to put it together, then program this collection of components, and made it work as a proof of concept.

Some happy snaps...
 Blu Tak is a wonderful product.
The entertaining part will be fitting it under the module
and making it work.
Behold the wonder of technology.............(and dodgy video)

some tweaking will be required, but that's where the fun is.
From under the wires with a new way to spend money.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

My cup runneth over again..

 As per usual at this time of year I have engineered a week off to co-inside with the Melbourne Cup Carnival, and as per usual there is a punch list of stuff to do around the house that not only would choke a brown dog, but also a thoroughbred.

 While I am permitted to wander down to Flemington (with the bride) to catch up with mates, sample a few beverages, and give money to bookies, the off days include a burden of tasks to be completed to the satisfaction of the minister of war and finance.

 So here is my homage to the spring race season, traffic mayhem, punters everywhere,  unpredictable weather and trams.


Planning is in progress for the extension....

From under the wires, studying the form and from the only place that has a public holiday for a horse race.


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Extending Services......?

While the layout 'works' at the moment, it does require a fair level of 'plonking' to rotate rollingstock at the fiddle yard end.  In reality the layout requires a depot, not a big one but one that would allow the stabling of trams and the ability to shuffle trams on certain roads to suit certain needs, without the issue of  'manhandling'.

I have cunningly devised a possible extension that may do this, first the original fiddle yard becomes another terminus, the space between the fiddle yard and the 'Railway station' becomes a chicane that allows the establishment of a small three road depot behind the 'new terminus'. (laughs manically while forming his fingers into a steeple like manner while chanting "Excellent, excellent")

This 'Chicane module' would offset the layout into the foreground, while freeing up space at the rear for the Depot.  The Chicane module therefore would be twice as deep as the other modules, but would free up some real estate for some residential development.

Now what would be the scene of the new terminus, another retail strip/beach type could work, but I was thinking more along the lines of an industrial setting. The inspiration for this terminus is the route 57 West Maribyrnong, which terminates at the Commonwealth of Australia/Defence Department Explosives Factory at West Maribyrnong, oddly enough.

This terminus features some open ballasted track, that once upon a time, had a siding for extra trams during shift changes at the factory, and then for quite a while did not see Saturday afternoon/Sunday services, which it lent itself for a great place for layovers for enthusiast's excursions. This ticks a few boxes for the scenario at the other end of Victoria St.

The Explosives Factory at Maribyrnong has been around for over a century, original making cordite, then moving onto TNT, then other stuff that could give you a nasty rash. The tramline was extended over the Maribyrnong River in 1941 as things were a little tense then that led to some urgent oil/petrol rationing, this tramline provided workers (mostly women) to service the war effort.

The inspiration...
An old photo of the West Maribyrnong terminus with siding,
 the explosives factory to the right, Cordite Road on the left,
 (note the single blade point for the siding)
The plan...
This is a rough draft, the fun part will be making it all fit.
Because a layout is never finished,
From under the wires with a pencil and some paper.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Service interuptions and some analogue running

It has been a month since Caulfield and I have done nothing since then, the layout has sat in the study as I left it when I came home on that Sunday night. The last weekend I started the getting 'the band back together', all that was needed, was a flick through of the October AMRM  to realise that I still have some work to do.

As part of the reinstatement of Victoria Street, the DC option has now been fully integrated, this now allows one tram at a time to be test ran to see if it should be fitted with DCC, and also gives those other pieces of rollingstock in my collection a chance to stretch their legs.

Since the conversion to DCC some two years ago, some trams and some new purchases have not the opportunity to get out of the display case and 'cut a notch'. Thus now introducing a rogues gallery of ring ins of my DC fleet......

A Walters Birney done up as MMTB X 217 with arse about doors
on a Tyco/Mantua Chassis.

A Tyco/Mantua tarted up as MMTB U 205
(Pretty much a dead ringer)
But wait, there's more waiting to become something else...
(and they all work!)

A Cooee Collectable Restaurant Tram with A Bachmann Brill Mechanism,
(this has a lot of potential with DCC/lights)
A Kochi 600 Hasagawa 1-80 kit with a Bachmann Brill Mechanism,
(The panto is pushing the body down at the No1 end,
another DCC candidate)

A Kato Hanover/Hiroshima Tram,
(Now this is a well built model)
A Double Truck Birney (Ken Kidder???)
This will need some work as it runs the old school
pick up from one side of one bogie, pick up from the other
side/ bogie, and it runs like a dog!
A Muni Boeing LRV by Mehano, this could have potential for DCC/Lights,
but could do with a better mechanism.
This is the RTR DC stock that has been waiting to have a crack, there are also some other projects/kits on the back burner waiting for their chance.
From under the wires and the smell of ozone of the rarely turned motor.
Regards Glenn. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A solid weekend at Caulfield

"Any exhibitor, who at a model railway exhibition has time to indulge in photography, either has a lot of minions or a static diorama."

All went reasonably well at Caulfield over the weekend, plenty of positive praise, lots of interest in the model trams and the operation of model railways in general with wifi and smartphones. A few faces were put to online names/avatars, a catch up with others who I exhibited with a few years ago at Sunshine. All in all a good vibe.

Victoria Street, while modular, travels as well as Guinness, great at home but can be ordinary away.
The rail over bridge and associated overhead received a knock in transit, all hail Blu-tac! With a somewhat latish arrival on the Friday evening, and after some issues with missing trestle tables, the set up and initial run worked well.

I had planned to print off some side street back scenes at home only to find that the colour printer had decided to print in sepia. The scenes were printed in black and white on the monochrome laser printer for size and scale, then the colour scenes were printed after set up on Friday night at the outlaws and installed first thing Saturday morning before the doors opened.

The Gates with the newly installed printed back scene.
Most of the rollingstock behaved, 812 had an issue with what I believe as an overheating problem, it would run for about ten to fifteen minutes before 'failing to proceed', usually under the complex trolley wire of the bend.  800 ran ok for a while, then ran erratically then the motor died, the classic case of the lights were on but no one is home, which after five years of continuous service with a Bachmann mechanism I consider that reasonable. 870 & 964 served the entire weekend, with cameos from 460, Bendigo 29, Ballarat 28 and the Oktoberfest Duwag. As always there was the odd derailment, stalling and stuttering, just to keep it real.
A shout out goes to my Brother in Law, Mick, who put in several hours over the two days with Victoria Street, He managed to grab a couple of quick photos with his phone, and is the supplier of the spare wifi router. Thanks Mick.
Epsom Road.
Victoria Street.
The overview on location at Caulfield.
Last but not least, a big thanks goes to my wife, who lost a husband for an entire weekend and most evenings leading up to the exhibition. On the final day, she appeared with the oldest and her Ipad, before too long there was a queue of young recruit drivers all waiting for their turn to 'cut a notch' with 964.
964 negotiates the gates.
Thanks for AMRA Victorian Branch for the opportunity to exhibit, thanks for those who follow and enjoy this blog and introduced themselves.
From under the wires, but really needs to catch up with some domestic duties.



Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Sunday shakedown and a photobomb.

In preparation for the Caulfield Exhibition, testing is currently underway. So far so good, the DCC wiring bus is working, the lighting is working, and most trams are behaving.

Most of the issues are related to details, decals and advertisements, plus some scenic items.

The JMRI and decoderpro passed with flying colours, the spare wifi router did its job, and every device was employed to have a crack at driving.

Seven trams on the go, from the left, two on the powercab, one each on the apple devices,
then three on the android smart phone, plus the USB interface on the right, complete madness!
shakedown Sunday, (this will be more presentable next weekend)
then Sparky decided to drop in and act as starter/inspector, he will
be at home in his cage next weekend, (he is currently going through
 that awkward teenage destructive phase and learning bad language)
From under the wires and close to the exhibition.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Countdown to Caulfield.

A few quick teaser shots of Victoria Street in the dark, so far so good for Caulfield.

Outside the Pub.
Crossing paths at the bend.
A night at the cinema.
From the ever growing punchlist under the wires.


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Weekend of Birneys

I recently picked up a DCC ready Bachmann Birney tram off Ebay, plonked it on the rails, fired up the decoder pro and started tweaking the CV, that's right the CV, as this is fitted with a rather basic decoder, it lacks the finesse of speed tables, kick rate/depth and lighting options that I have been accustomed to. The Birney goes well, a little too well and needs to be reigned in, this will get another decoder.
The recent purchase.

Eventually this Birney will undergo some modification to left hand drive, a splash of green(or brown) and cream paint and gold decals with black shadows thus becoming X 217. This will be my second X 217 after a repaint of a right hand drive Walters white metal Birney (that surely was made from depleted uranium given its weight!) This will not be DCC chipped and will live out its days in the display cabinet, with an occasional run on the DC optioned Victoria Street.

The first X1 217 (with arse about doors)
Now whether to go green or brown????

One pole or two....

From under the wires with a rather small tram.

P.S. the countdown to Caulfield continues........

Friday, 18 July 2014

Off to the Caulfield.

There is a good reason why a fair bit of infrastructure work is going on Victoria Street at the moment. Victoria Street has been nominated and accepted to exhibit at the AMRA-Vic Branch August Exhibition, (23rd-24th August) at Caulfield Racecourse.

Doing the form.
So how would the layout read in a racing form guide, something like this....
A 5 year old tramway shelf layout out of Something Different (Carendt USA) & Some Bit Of Time.
Last Three Starts:
                             2012-Sunshine Model Railway Club Exhibition. Reconfigured Layout
                             2011-Sunshine Model Railway Club Exhibition. Extended Layout
                             2010-Sunshine Model Railway Club Exhibition. Original set up.
Gear Changes since last Start:
                             Fitted with NCE DCC Powercab/USB interface with JMRI Decoder Pro.
Form Analysis:
                             The removal of block wiring and the installation of DCC has improved the operational options of this layout, coming off a long spell (two years) from its last three runs at Sunshine, it finally gets a chance in town. Watch with interest.                                                       "

So there you go, you can wander into Caulfield with your smartphone loaded with either Wi Throttle (I phone) or Engine Driver (Android) app, say G'day and make yourself known, after which you may be invited to 'cut a notch' on Victoria Street.

In an effort to facilitate safer working for guest drivers, Perspex barriers have been install at the ends of the layout, so to prevent trams diving off and onto the floor, as momentum is sometimes a cruel mistress. Some reworking was required so the larger trams did not foul the terminus points. The Perspex was courtesy of one those gift boxed bottle of wine/dodgy port boxes.

 "It's like some sort of weird force field"

stealing millimetres, everyone counts
Those familiar with Caulfield, know that it can have some rather dim corners in the exhibition space, that is why the lighting side of Victoria Street is now a priority.

Studying the form from under wires.


Sunday, 13 July 2014

Happy Birthday 845

Today marks the 75th anniversary of SW5 845 entering service, the oldest tram currently still in revenue service, be it on the route 30 (Monday to Friday, Latrobe St Shuttle from Docklands to St Vincent's Plaza [City-Brunswick St]). 845 occasional fills in on City Circle duties from time to time.

The new and the reliable.
E 6003 & SW5 845 on Victoria Parade, East Melbourne.
(Photo courtesy of Tramsdownunder)
Something to ponder, just because it is 'experienced' does not mean it can no longer still earn its keep. 
From under the wires

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Taking a step back to go forwards.

Now that all the modules have now been rewired with the DCC bus, finer details are now being added to individual modules.

The railway station module, being the master module, from well before DCC had been fitted with lights and internal details, the challenge is to retrofit the other modules.  The Racecourse module has just had street/effect (tree) lights fitted, which is good because now I can run trams again, be it on a truncated layout.

The end of the line at the end of the day.

Victoria Street in its original profile.
Now I wonder if the substation can handle all of this.
Plug and Play
(DCC bus plugs and lighting [RCA] plugs)
The terminal strip will allow potential grounded rail/overhead running on DCC 
The LED lighting was starting to drive me mad, streetlights too bright, effect (tree) lights too dim, and I had enough of sampling/changing fixed value resistors for the look I was after, so I installed 1K ohm mini trimpots inline to each circuit, (yes, we now have dimmable mood lights!)  The feed into the trimpots has a 470 ohm resistor in series as safety in the event I bottom out the trimpots to zero ohms when adjusting brightness.
Now not to get too distracted from the other tasks.
From under the streetlights and the wires.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Table cards and run numbers.

Now that Victoria Street has more operational flexibility since the installation of DCC, the concept of prototypical operation (timetabling) now looks more appealing, trams being by nature are a single running locomotive, running with very tight headways with others, using shared road space with other traffic and adhering to their own rules amongst themselves in regards to procedures and processes.

I spotted this online at vicsig, it involves the magic and the mayhem behind tramway operations, each tram is given a run number when in service and is operated by the driver by their instructions on a table card.

The table card is the 'job sheet' of the drivers duties for the day, time of departure, checkpoints 'en route',  meal breaks and other duties as delegated.

The run number is the schedule of work/service the tram is on, (similar to aircraft flight numbers, a designated service between point A and point B at a certain time by a certain airline), in this case the run number exists for that reason for the responsibility of the operating depot/service for that tram.

In days of yore, the run number and depot was displayed on a 'plate' that was hung on the leading near side window of the cab, mainly for the benefit of the relieving driver and/or inspector, (who would be supervising scheduling.)

W5 782 parked up at the siding at West Maribyrnong
(Note E21[Essendon 21] on the plate)
photo courtesy of trams downunder 
Now for operational reasons, I am not going to install incredibly small run numbers to my fleet, a small white/chalk board with the tram number matched to a run number. (eg 782-E21 as above) should suffice.(Did you picture model trams with post-it notes on them? I did)
The 'depot' that 'operates' Victoria Street is the fictitious 'Westside Depot' and for some unknown reason has the letter allocation of  'F' (go figure!). I have (with much infuriation) developed an excel spread sheet with some sort of a series of table cards that co-inside with run numbers that 'may' permit the multiple operation of services.
Run No table no 1 run 2 run 3
101 1 3
City (fiddleyard)down 11:36 11:00 11:30
Railway station 11:39 11:03 11:33
Racecourse 11:40 11:04 11:34
Racecourse 11:46 11:10 11:40
Railway station 11:47 11:11 11:41
City (fiddleyard)up **** 11:14 11:44
City (fiddleyard)down **** 11:45 12:15
Railway station 11:55 11:48 12:18
Racecourse 11:56 11:49 12:19
Racecourse 12:02 11:55 12:25
Railway station 12:03 11:56 12:26
City (fiddleyard)up **** 11:59 12:29

Like all well choreographed masterpieces,(as in life and in art), this may and will turn to dust at the drop of a hat, and that's when the fun really kicks in, trying to get this all to work on a 3:1 fast clock and then trying to adjust running when 'stuff' happens.

I'm looking forward to giving it a crack.

From under the paperwork, and under the wires.

PS. The works are continuing with the DCC bus conversion quite nicely. thanks for asking.


Sunday, 1 June 2014

Cutting the umbilical cord

I have now entered the final phase of converting Victoria Street to DCC operation, the block wiring that was initially was installed for DC operation has not been fully utilised since the adaption to DCC. This has been part of the plan since early last year!

There were seven blocks on Victoria Street, each block was wired to a DPDT switch with a centre off position, which allowed two controllers to control two trams at one time, since the adaption to DCC, all switches have been thrown to one side; therefore one controller, the powercab.

The infrastructure to support this arrangement resembled a rats nests of wiring and terminal strips, which when I took Victoria Street on the road or removed a module for some work, made it feel like I was reinstating a telephone exchange after a natural disaster.

So therefore, I have now bitten the bullet, and now in the process installing a DCC bus with plugs at either side of the modules for a more flexible and quicker setup and pull down arrangement. The bus wire is sourced from 2.5mm* domestic household TPI, (if it can handle 16A at 240V AC, it will handle DCC!)

Out with the old, the block panel and its umbilical cord.
However DC has not completely been removed from the equation, a DPDT switch has been installed including a DIN socket so the 'Cashless and Broke' inertia DC controller can control the layout if I wish to run one tram (at a time) that has not been chipped yet (a new purchase).

A new addition on the NCE PCP.
The Railway Station module is the first module getting all the attention, and now it is the master module, in the process the pub received some more detail to its lighting, inside and out.
Rocking out at the Railway Hotel with its neon sign and disco lights.
At the moment Victoria Street is currently a diorama.

The next modules to get the 'treatment' will be the Racecourse and the Fiddle yard, so I can still run some trams while The Bend and The Gates undergo a retro fit of lighting and bus wire.
From under the wires and with the smell of hot solder.



Saturday, 24 May 2014

Bush Week on Victoria Street

Bush week (1) n,[Aust slang],an agricultural show held in the city. (2)[Aust informal] An imagined or symbolic time when assumedly unsophisticated people from the bush come to the city, likely to be preyed on by tricksters there.

I finally got around to fitting decoders into my homage of the former SECV (State Electricity Commission Victoria) tramways that operated in regional Victoria in Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong.

These regional tramways literally ran on the smell of an oily rag, their rollingstock were made up of the cast offs from Melbourne and Adelaide and some still to this day, cut a notch at their respective tramway museums.

Bendigo Birney 29 and Ballarat 28 return from the
racecourse on an enthusiasts trip.
These models are still undergoing final adjustment to speed tables, kick rates and strengths before the real fun of fitting lights begins. (so far, so good no magic smoke has escaped yet!)
Ballarat 28 (a reworked Tyco/Mantua)
Holding up services at the racecourse.
Country cousins running amok in the city.
From under the wires in a darker shade of green,