Saturday, December 31, 2011

Changing Directions

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned that I scratchbuilt my point motors :

using a method shown to me by Allan G., whilst I have been reasonably pleased with the end result, they do have some shortcoming - the main one is that they are not adjustable in their movement - it's all or nothing, and they do not have any DCC functionality, sure I could get a DCC stationary/accessory decoder but that would not have fixed their other limitation of no flexibility in their movement range, and whilst in the main they function OK, there are a few which are noisy, and others which just do not move far enough, leaving a small gap between the point blade and the stock rail which can lead to some rolling stock derailing, so I have been toying with the idea of replacing them with something better for a while now.

I've always been impressed by the servo motor (from the RC hobby) point motors
9G servo mounted in a bracket and actuator fitted ready for under point deployment

they are a very small and compact unit , compare the size of the scratchbuilt unit to the servo based unit in the photo below :

but have thought them to be a bit dear, then whilst at one of the CCWN meeting held at Rowan place (Main South) I noticed that Rowan had some servo motors acting as point motors, when I asked Rowan how he found them he said that the original decoders he got where a bit 'chatty' and figured out close to $100 per four, to me $25 per point is a bit on the dear side, he then mentioned that he had just got a set of decoder/drivers from Tam Valley in the States and found these to be quite good, and reasonably priced (Rowan was using the 'Singlets' at the time).

 Upon investigating the costs I figured out that if I bought the Quad Pic boards and the servo motors in quantity it would figure out to about $10 per point, that includes DCC capability, compared to the $7-$8 it was costing me to scratch build the point motors (with no DCC capabilities) I figured that out to be a good deal, pretty well a no brainer.

A Pair of Quad Pic servo drivers/decoders, these control up to 4 individual servos (or more if paired as crossovers)
I found a good article in the 3rd Quarter, 2009 edition of the free Model Railroad Hobbist EZine  which describes the Tam Valley decoders and how to connect the servos to the layout, whilst I did not follow their method to the letter(they recommend using double sided tape to fix the servos to the layout, I prefer to use screws as I think that gives a better fix), it certainly has some good ideas which I have used.

Seeing I had a requirement for more point motors I figured out that I would be better getting these rather than continuing along the scratch building path because they give me flexibility in their movement range, they have DCC inbuilt let alone that fact that it save me time in not having to scratch build any more point motors, I would still have to make the mounting brackets, but that is a fairly quick task which took all of about 2 hours to make sufficient brackets to mount 36 servos. I have made two types of mounting brackets, one is made from a 25mm Plastic angle (about $9.00 for a 2.4M length) which will be used where the point motor is not directly underneath the point as it has slightly more clearance than the other style of bracket :

the other is made from a 'U' shaped piece of plastic moulding  sold at Bunnings as a plastic floor covering cap for about $3 per 2.4M length, this will be used where the point motor is directly below the point,

the 'U' type bracket has a channel of about 13mm in width into which a servo fits quite nicely, an end on shot of both types of brackets is below:

You may have noticed that the actuating wire is 'threaded' through the plastic lever, this is quite easy to do as shown in the photo below:

So far I've replaced about a dozen point motors and am very happy with the result to date. As for the scratch built point motors I currently have on the workbench and those currectly in place in the layout that will be replaced with the servo motors, I will probably end up using these replaced point motors to drive the lower quadrant signals I have.

I hope Santa was kind to all (Looks like the Jolly Gent has put down for a set of Euruka BSV's for me:-) and that the New Year is a prosperous and good one.

Well that wraps this little session up, now back to fitting more point motors.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Maldon / Castlemaine

I really should have posted something about this back in August, but didn't really think about it until just recently whilst looking for some photos & came upon some I had taken recently. Mind you it really has nothing to so with the Mudgee line, then again neither has the BGM Vic J that I have to build.

Back in August a mate of mine and I went down to Melbourne for the Caulfield exhibition, the exhibition was worth flying down for & very enjoyable, also picked up one of the NSW BKX car transporter kits from Strath Hobbies (as recently review in AMRM), just have to find the time to put it together amongst all the other stuff I want to do - maybe another retirement project along with the J.

We had 2 days down there so visited the exhibition on the Saturday and then did some travelling on the Sunday, went to Puffing Billy in the morning & saw 2 trains depart, then hightailed it to Maldon to see the Maldon / Castlemaine (Victorian Goldfields Railway) steamer run, we made it too late to  catch the 'J' to Castlemaine but had a great time none the less exploring Maldon station & it's surrounds - especially it's selection of wagons :-.

Maldon township is great - like stepping back in time & has some great old time looking shops etc, unfortunately we did not have much time to explore the area, but we've slated it for a re-visit next time we head down that way.

I had heard that the station itself was burnt down a few years ago & I wasn't really sure what to expect and was very pleasantly suprised to see it had been rebuilt to what I can only assume was it's former glory.

If you get a chance to visit it's well worthwhile a trip and only about an hour or so from Melbourne itself, I know I'll be visiting again and probably staying closer to there so to have more time to explore.

Well that's it for now.

Cheers Alex...

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Roundhouse

A little while ago I started making a roundhouse for one of my station on the lower part of the layout, of which the turntable was described in an earlier post, which is roughly based on what was at Orange - 5 stall saw tooth, the only photo I have is from the Byways series of books - hope the guys don't mind if I include a pic showing what I'm trying to achieve - well worth getting as they have a heap of great information.

Photo from the Byways collection
I made the base from 40 thou (1mm) styrene and some slaters brick siding for the low brick exterior, whilst I'm happy enough with the end result it was a real pain in the proverbial cutting in the pits - and they're still probably not accurate, but they'll do me.

You may notice some metalic pins at the bottom, they are countersunk M3 machine screw which are araldited into the roundhouse base which then go into corresponing holes in the baseboard, washers & nuts are then use to fix in place, hopefully this will keep everying aligned.

About a month or so after I started I attended the Epping/Thornleigh exhibition & saw that Antons/Uneek had released a new kit for a simliar roundhouse, if I had not started on my one I may have bought the kit plus an extra 2 stalls as it would probably have been a quicker option (see Ray P's Bylong blog for some good discussions on it), however as I had already started I simply kept going.

I photocopied & scaled the drawings in Byways as a guide & taped it to a piece of blue insulation foam, covered it in glad wrap so the glue would not stick to the plan & then used drawing pins to help in placing the timbers to make the roundhouse roof trusses & sides - a simple enough jig and worked good enough for the 27 odd roof frames & the 2 sides I had to make.

Foam jig and some of the trusses made assembled into the model
Most of the scale timbers are by Kapler which I bought from Gwydir's, unfortunately I ran out of the roof rafters timber (I used 2 * 3), so bought some from another shop which where marked by the manufacturer as 2 * 3, even worse when I placed them on the roof it became clear that they are actually smaller in size, not by much and hopefully not noticeable when I eventually clad the roof with corrugated iron.

Talking of which I bought a 'corrugated iron maker' from Brunel hobbies whilst down at the Caulfield exhibition, it's basically a 2 piece perspex jig in which  a piece of aluminium is placed in the larger piece & the corresponding piece of the jig is drawn against the aluminium to press in the corrugations:

- only hassel I have is that the aluminum supplied, whilst thicker than alfoil is still fairly thin and thus fragile and also ends up curling a bit, but it can be straightened up quite easily, I experimented with some foil from the seal in the top of Milo tins & I found it too thick for my liking,  my daughter thinks the foils she uses for hairdressing is possibly in between the two, so I'll experiment with that when she gets some next (though I'll probably have to buy it for her -ahh  the joys of being a Dad to an apprentice hair dresser - pitty I don't have much hair for her to practice on :-), I'll update on that little experiment as I get to it - I experimented with the seals on the Alpen Blend chocalate powder last night & found it pretty good - just gotta figure out where to get some from if the haridressing foil is not suitable.

At this stage the roof & supports are pretty well complete, the legs of the frame have a wire pin glued into then and this pin then inserts into a corresponding hole in the base of the roundhouse, hopefully this will make for reasonably accurate alignment :

I've also started on the side wall frames and hope to fit them in the next week or two.After that is the End glass & louvers treatment and then the smoke flues and finally clading of the building with corrugated iron. One thing I do want to do, similar to what Ray P has done for his roundhouse, is to include interior lighting, I have some station lampshades which I am thinking of using along with some SMD LEDs, and it's something I need to allow for before I go much further.

Well I guess it's not much to show for the length of time since the last update, but there it is. Hopefully the next update will be a bit sooner than this one was.