Crossing Paths

Crossing Paths
Model Melbourne trams

Friday, 30 December 2016

Something different.

How does one make a layout a little different and offer some other entertainment. A narrative requires conflict in an effort to define a hero or a villain, enter tank warfare.

These were obtained in the Christmas Day draft that is Kris Kringle at the outlaws.

One of German decent the other somewhat soviet.

While Melbourne avoided direct contact with the enemy during WW2 other than the odd surveillance aircraft sporting bright red dots as an insignia, that what followed with the associated level of domestic anti aircraft fireworks. this city managed to continue on as a hub for munitions and logistics during the great conflict.    

The latest interaction features two small remote control battle tanks of indeterminable scale. but they do offer another dimension of theatre.

These little pieces of conflict are operated on the common remote frequencies of 27Mhz and 40Mhz, their only downfall is that they tend to run at full speed, regardless of straight line speed or turning and under certain circumstances prototypically throw their tank treads thus rendering them disabled.  I may have to 'adjust' their enthusiasm.

These micro examples of warfare use the concept of infra red signals to impact the other, after a four "hits" the receiver is disabled. The entertaining part is that the delivering tank 'recoils' on firing while the victim 'twitches' on  impact.

Waiting its turn at the gates.

The visitors are taking advantage of Oktoberfest at the racecourse.

The comrades are waiting in the siding at the Ammo factory.

"Sorry sir, but our insurance does not cover damage due to international and/or domestic insurrection or conflict."

A foot note:
' on July 14, 1943, tramcar No. X1 459 possibly made tramway history-- it collided with an army tank! It was outbound on the Russell St route '*
This happened while crossing Geelong Rd along Barkly St, outside the Plough Hotel,and..then...clout!.'

*Electric Traction, Footscray memories, Vol XVII, July, 1962.

Here is my take, sister tram X1 460 has had a run in with the interloper at Victoria St & Albert Rd.

(There will be some paperwork for this....)

There is nothing a spot of weathering cannot do to improve these.
Always learning under the wires and have a happy, safe and enjoyable new year.

Regards Glenn

Friday, 9 December 2016

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas

Another year rolls around and before you know, it's Christmas. Therefore as I have done in years past,
here is this years Christmas card from Victoria Street.

As always I wish all the blog followers the best for the season, the usual rules around safety, the fact the one cannot consume their weight in food and beverages and not suffer the consequences and in the end it's all about quality time with family that involves bringing joy to the little ones.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

From under the tinsel and the wires.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

After the epic sports hiatus.

"With the breaking of the long suffering premiership drought together with the time honoured spring racing carnival on top of the bride absolutely smashing her post graduate studies, services have resumed along Victoria Street."

Other than the odd shuffle of services along Victoria Street, I did make some headway into a drawn out project, my interpretation of MMTB freight 19.

On a mail run to Victoria Street 

The prototype 
(Photo Trams Downunder)

The prototype freight 19 started off as a single truck saloon tram, built by Brill and assembled in Australia, originally plied its trade for the then NMETL (North Melbourne Electric Tramway & Light Company). 

These trams ran services through the inner north west of Melbourne, which connected with the then cable (city) tram at Flemington Bridge to the then outer suburbs of Essendon and Ascot Vale. 

After the consolidation of all municipal tramways under the banner of the MMTB, these little trams found themselves operating on short cross suburban routes until they were retired into freight duties.

These freight duties involved the distribution of departmental mail and supplies from Preston Workshops/stores to outlying tram depots, as trams they could access deep into the sheds over pits to deposit such items as brake blocks plus other bits and pieces. 

This tram was kitbashed from the readily available Tyco/Mantua trolley, with the combination of a few strokes from some needle files, holes drilled for headlamps plus some panels from  20 thou styrene, a dash of filler with a splash of paint together with some decals, and Bob's your uncle. 

There are a few details to add, such as lifeguards,
 a decoder plus some weathering.

MMTB U 205
another reworked Tyco/Mantua trolley

the pair at the Ammo Factory

One basic model, many possibilities. 
L-R, SECV Ballarat 28, MMTB U 205
& the stock model.
Pushing freight from under the wires.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Living in a parallel universe

As one of those that models a small scale tramway, one tends to heavily invoke the modellers licence; but what if your slightly obscure view of your small empire became reality?


X1 460 (an old Footscray Tram) leads SW6 964
across the crossover heading off to the football
Victoria Street is my little microcosm of the tramways that run in the western suburbs of Melbourne, while not true to any particular part that exists due to the ever dynamic streetscape that is an inner urban environment.

I have kitbashed various buildings with verandas together with rather local signage to offer an experience of familiarity.  A combination of local and nostalgia breathes life to Victoria Street. 

This weekend stuff did happen, my little empire may have cross pollinated life as we know it, because I for my own amusement had populated the local streetscape with small copies of the 1954 premiership banner poster from the long forgone Melbourne Herald newspaper celebrating the Footscray Bulldogs grand final victory. 

The Milk Bar

The Servo

The Pub

The Signal Box at the gates.

Football (Australian rules) is much a part of Melbourne as its trams, the original suburban football grounds were/ are served by nearby tram routes, some even had spur lines or loops built nearby to handle the traffic on game day (every game then started at 2pm and finished about a quarter to five).

The club I follow are now called the Western Bulldogs, formally Footscray. The club has somewhat a tumultuous history featuring the combination of poor luck, decisions and financial management. It has survived through all these dramas, but has never been successful on the field, it has always been every one else's second favourite club. 

This weekend I got to see my beloved Western (Footscray) Bulldogs play off in the AFL grand final, their first opportunity in fifty five years, then finally win their second premiership in sixty two years. I also managed to obtain a ticket to 'the big dance'. 
time for an update

As you may guess, the entire inner western suburbs of Melbourne and beyond are at this stage painting and or decorating this region red, white and blue.

Somewhat a shade dusty under the wires in a red, white and blue neighbourhood.  


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.


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.