Sunday, September 10, 2017

10 - 9 - 2017

Hi All,

As promised it was demolition day.  I think that everybody - bar Derek and Greg - had a spell in the long room, tearing down the remains of our learning curve.  

Our two sparkies devoted their time to laying in wires and continuing the discourse on raspberry pies.  For the rest of us it was out with the electric drills, who's got the bit for these bl--dy square head screws, ouch I didn't see that screw tip sticking out, pass me the crowbar - no make that the hammer, and give us a lift with this.  By time to go home the long room is clear and clean, apart from one lonely piece of bench, Geoff the Sec's trailer was loaded high and wide if not handsome, and a  bunch of old men were wandering about saying "Don't know about you, but I'm st-ff-d"

We had the sense to break off at one point to sample scones with jam and cream, and talk earnestly about same sex marriage - no one present had any first hand experience, so it was a bit one sided.

Our thanks to the effort put in by Geoff tS, Dale, Martin, Judy, George, Helen, Rod, David, and the sparkies of course.

Next week we should be back to building rather than destroying.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

3 - 9 - 2017

Hi All,

Nine of us turned up to play on Daddy's Day.  Not all were Daddies.

I arrived a bit later than usual to find half the mob there and already busy.  The stealth team had been in during the week and had poked, prodded and muttered incantations until the Digitrax booster began to boost.  Derek was following up this warm and fuzzy moment by connecting point motors to his revised power supply and demonstrating that crossovers now switched back and forth.  Sadly, at the end of the day, he left muttering about LEDs, AC loops, and having a drink.  Rod was playing Charades - the answer is that he was pretending to be a Crown fork lift truck,  (picking them up and putting them down) as he went around fixing the points that had been laid with metal rail joiners to the frogs.  Martin arrived with prefabricated walls for Mousehole Gorge, and Port Gary marched in, tucked under Paul's arm.  The bar for scenery standards on our new layout is being set pretty high.  Helen and Judy came, which improved the afternoon tea prospects beyond all measure.  I eventually finished nailing down the Sayer yard - as far as I will go until the turntable arrives - and Geoff the Sec did the same with his branch line tracks - as far as he can go until the coal flood loader arrives.  And we all managed to keep Dale busy with a stream of "have we got?  have you seen?  where is?  what do you think about?"

Over tea and coffee, after our inaugural monthly committee meeting, conversation revolved around exhibition layouts - triggered by comments from those who had exhibited at, or taken kids to, AMRA's Show at Caulfield.  A success from AMRA's side - big attendance - which brings its own problems with parking, moving around the venue, and catering.   Also rather inward looking, not much for kids, and too many trade stands and exhibits that were not well presented.  With "the holiday mob" making up the bulk of our patrons we have to strike a different balance - and this has drawn favourable comment from many of our exhibitors in the past.

Next week is planned to be a working bee, with a blitz to clear the long room - most of what is left is destined for the tip.

See you then,


Sunday, August 27, 2017

27 - 8 - 2017

Hi All,

Another quietly industrious day at the Club.  We welcomed new member Bernie, who will not be reading this because I don't have an email address for him.  In fact, it is possible that nobody has.

I had gone in thinking that I might "help" Derek with the command station / booster problem.  However it seems that Derek had decided that Greg was the man to solve this, and so devoted himself to wiring Stanley Creek point motors to the first of our new control panels.  Looks very smart, and very practical.  Funny thing - I tested the points and motors as I installed them, using a little 12v plug pack.  When Derek connected them to the 16v dedicated supply they did not work.  Various theories are being explored, fortunately none involve requisitioning my plug pack.

Rod continued to lay track at Mousehole, eventually saying something along the lines of "Oh, was I supposed to put insulated joiners on these points?"  I saw him later, laying track at John's Falls, and did not ask what had happened in between times.  Geoff the Sec, having finished with the nameless station, was also advancing on John's Falls from the other direction.  Helen arrived with about 10 feet of USA rolling stock and a nice Co Co diesel, and tried to run the consist.  Essentially, what it proved was that locos need clean wheels.  Judy had also arrived, wrapped in as many layers as Helen, and complaining just as much about the cold.  Bernie, having spent some time trying to figure out what we all doing, went off the the long room to help Geoff the Pres and Dale with their wrecking/dismantling activities.  There is now a sizeable space in there.  The layout of the Sayer freight yard has now been settled, an exercise made more interesting by having eight right hand points but only one left hand point to work with, and track is starting to go down.  Both Sayer and Mousehole await the turntables that Greg has foolishly offered to assemble.

That's all, folks - see you in the Spring (that's next week).


Sunday, August 13, 2017

13 - 8 - 2017

Hi All

On a beautiful winter's afternoon we had a near complete turn out of our very own G men - Greg, Grant, George and Geoff - lacking only our other Geoff.

Greg, back from his inspection of countries to the North, "assisted" Derek with transferring the Digitrax Command Station and Booster from the old layout to the new.  And then they tried to connect these to the new layout in a manner that would make things run.  Greg is probably still waking in the small hours screaming "Why does it say 'Trk=Idle'?"  It made me so glad that all I did a few weeks ago was to hook up the Zephyr unit, and simply run trains. 

This week, I stuck to my plan and finished the track at Stanley Creek Freight Yard.  Even installed point motors, right up to the time when the penultimate combination refused to work.  Three point motors later, I fear that the point is the root of all problems.  So, having had the immortal cup of tea, I went home.

Martin continued to combine pieces of cork into a facsimile of rock faces along the walls of the chasm that has opened up between the quarry and Mousehole.  George, after a brief session at the quarry with a very tiny saw, went off to join his fellow G men on the learning curve.  Looking in there later on, I found that they had spent the afternoon turning a once nearly finished layout into some thing that looks like Donald Trump's preferred vision for North Korea.  We are now well on the way to handing that area back to the Seniors Committee to fill with their own junk.

Don't forget it is our AGM next week - don't worry, it won't take much longer than our average tea break.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

6 - 8 - 2017

Hi All,

As I sit here, listening to the rain pounding on the roof, I can't help thinking "Thank goodness for the roof".

We were pretty snug yesterday, too, with the door shut and the aircon pumping out warmth.  Good to have a healthy Geoff the Pres back with us.  He and Dale have made very visible progress in fitting the fascia trim around the inside of the layout.  Geoff the Sec continued with his mission to fill the store room with shelves.  Grant was there, dropping pearls of wisdom and bits of fascia hither and yon.  Derek was dropping droppers, fixing the dead spot we had found and ultimately creating a short.  I was beginning to despair of that ever happening.  

Paul came with photos of a mockup he had made, to show his vision for Port Gary.  Then he innocently asked what colour droppers he should attach to the tracks on the wharfs (the tracks will be flush with the wharf surface, so we cannot just solder them on later as we generally do).  This provoked a howl of anguish from Derek, because there is no plan drawn up for the branch line and he did not know the answer.  We did sort out the answer but I won't repeat it here because I have already forgotten it.  Looking at Paul's photos, I feel that the gauntlet has been thrown down to our regular scenic specialists - David, George, Grant, Martin, Simon, et al (Al always turns up), not forgetting our tree ladies Helen and Judy.  

This absence of a plan for the branch line put me in mind of the creation of the universe.  We started with a great formless swirling mass of dust.  This has now started to take form and gather around discrete nucleii (called Geoff, Paul, David, George, Martin and Dale), all in orbit around the main line.  The next step has to be interplanetary travel, hence Derek's anguish.

Meanwhile, I do have a plan for Stanley Creek and continued to lay tracks in that yard.  Should be finished next week.  Which brings me to the yard at Sayer.  The passenger facilities are already sorted, with a main line carriage siding and branch line parking bay for railcars at the south end.  To the north lies the freight yard - another swirling mass of formless dust.  We have said that it will include loco facilities - water tower, coaling stage or tower, ash pit, turntable, oil tanks.  What else - looking for suggestions.

At tea - thank you to Nancy for the cake, and to some one for the chocolate snowballs - we spoke a little of the seniors open day (October 14th) and agreed that a few of us should come in on the Friday afternoon to set up Bald Mountain.  And Geoff the Sec has promised to send out a formal notice reminding members that our AGM is set for the 20th of this month.

The rain has now stopped and the sun is shining - maybe the dust is settling at last.

And I noticed that every one who drove to Club was driving a diesel.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

23 - 7 - 2017 - The main lines are now open for business!

Hi All,

Quite a moment for the new layout - the main lines are now open for business!  

After laying in wiring last week, Derek got a loco to move, but was defeated by the forest of undriven track pins.  Geoff the Pres and I laid into these with a will (and hammers and punches) and soon the permanent way became that little bit more permanent.  The Digitrax Zephyr unit that we use on Bald Mountain is so easy to use that a couple of crocodile clips to hook the output to the bus wires had us in business minutes later.  For no particular reason, except that I am familiar with it, the Club's 3 car EMU was the first to take to the track.  And it just went, round and round, both tracks, in and out of the station loops, without even needing the track cleaning.  A credit to all the track layers involved, and the solitary wirer upper involved.

Next to try was the Cotton Belt diesel.  It promptly derailed at one of the points.  So did our Southern Pacific diesel - same spot.  So did a Hornby 4 wheel wagon.  The EMU continued to whizz through.  A close look found that one of the point blades did not quite close against the stock rail.  Geoff the Sec judiciously applied brute force, and the problem went away.  The price you pay for running fine scale wheels.  The EMU is one of LIMA's upmarket products, but it must still have some of that toy train tolerance for imperfect track.  

Having made it through the troublesome point at Stanley Creek, both diesels then decided to die at the south end of Sayer.  So, too, did our diesel railcar.  There is a succession of points at this spot, and it seems that we need a couple more droppers at the right spots.  One again, the EMU copes with the problem because it picks up power on the front bogie of the front car and the last bogie of the back car, so it bridged the gap.  

But overall - a great success, and congratulations to everyone.  

Meanwhile, back at the branchline, Rod was laying track down from Sayer towards Geoff the Sec. He, in turn, was spreading points and rails around as he visualised the first station, and Dale and Co were doing the same at Mousehole.  At the end of the day, we did something similar in the freight yard at Stanley Creek.

And now for something completely different.

Toy train shows, Model Railway Exhibitions, however you want to dress them up.  My interest in them is nil, zero, zip, zilch, so small that you could not find it with an electron microscope. 

So why have "I" been "running" our show for the past 10 years?  Or however long it is.  Stan Gittus used to run the show. Then he asked for help, and I helped.  Then Stan died, far too early, and I have been stuck with it ever since.  Of course, I don't "run" the show single handed.  In particular Judy looks after the advertisng and the programmes, and Dale looks after the catering, and almost to the last man every club member helps at some stage through the show weekend.

However, this person's tank has run dry and it is time for a change, and at the moment I see three options. 

First is that some one takes over my "running" role and I simply help at our show or have an exhibit.  Thankyou. 

Second is that we add a fourth person to the core group.  Some one who does like shows, goes to them, can look at new layouts, talk to their owners about exhibiting at our show, and line up enough exhibits to fill the hall.  I would be happy to continue to figure out where to fit things into whichever hall, and liaise with the Shire.  Thankyou. 

Third option is that we don't hold a show.  The reason that we hold a show comes up for discussion once in a while.  My take is that it raises the Club profile and attracts a new member now and again - and we run it at a profit.  The accumulation of those profits has put us on easy street with building our new layout, and with contributing to the Seniors' finances.  On a poor year we clear, say, $2000.  To raise that from subscriptions, with a membership of 20, would add $100 to the $40 that we currently charge.  To just cover what we pay the Seniors would add $60, and our reserves would inevitably dwindle.  e.g. Geoff the Sec is talking about $400 to $500 for a sign outside the hall.

I am talking here about the 2019 show and thereafter.  Over to you, good people.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

16 - 7 - 2017

Hi All,

Firstly, welcome to new member Paul.   On the very day that we enacted an environmental control process - on days that that are super cold (or super hot) we now close the big doors.  Late comers need not despair, we now have a door bell.  All it needs is for some one to give a damn, and open the door for you.

I forgot to mention in last week's notes that Dale has paid the Seniors Club fees for all of our members, so any one who wants to attend the Seniors AGM is entitled to do so, and vote.  It is to be held on this coming Friday (July 21st) after their lunch.  More than that, I do not know.  Coming Senior's events include a Birthday Bash on 8th Sept (whose Birthday?) and an Open Day on 14th Oct. - that's a Saturday.  Over our next few meetings we should decide what we might do on the open day

Yesterday?  Perhaps the major short term achievement was that the double track main line loops were closed.  That's a fair bit of track - near as you like to 3 scale km on each line, or 2 minutes for a lap at 90 kph.  Another major event was the arrival of "The BOX",  brought in by Derek and David, sagging slightly at the knees.  Those who went to Inverloch had a preview, but all I can say for now is that it is a major upgrade on the power supply system we had on the old layout. 

Need I say that the BDS (Branchline Debating Society) continued unabated, albeit with a change in membership.  I should be more careful with my tongue-in-cheek comments.  it seems there is every likelihood that Port Gary will indeed be able to unload containers.  It turns out that Paul - like George - is very interested and capable in the scenery department, and he has taken away one corner of the layout to transform it into Port Gary.  Other than that, I saw that variously coloured squiggly lines had appeared on the branchline side of the divider, and I suppose that these might become the site for railway tracks one of these days.

Tea was pretty ordinary - only Seniors packet biscuits on the menu.  Definitely one of the drawbacks of only having ten white, male etc etc. in attendance.  Geoff the Sec passed around a couple of suggestions for the sign on the back wall, and the consensus was for using the roller coaster steam train logo that has been featured on our Show promo material for a number of years, together with "Model Railway Club" and the Club web address.  This latter, if you look it up, has contact details.

As a PS to The BOX,  Derek went to the clubrooms today and, uninterrupted by the helpful hordes, installed and connected many droppers along the main line loops, and assures me that there are no shorts.  After driving home many protruding track pins, we might get our first trains running next week.  If not, it is only a couple of weeks until Derek and Greg are back, and after that it is their fault if nothing runs.

Next design and build contract is for the freight yards on the main line - suggestions welcome.

See you on the 23rd