Saturday, 15 August 2015

Layout, dcc thoughts and surprises in Carlisle

Well, Ive done a bit more on the old railway...but mainly on the deconstruction side of things!  Theres only one more set of boards to be separated - but as I probably already being a bit mean...(which is mad because Im getting paid a heck load of money at the end of the month!) Ive decided to reuse the baseboards.  So its not just a matter of separating the old ones, its also a matter of ripping off all the old track, then getting enough of the old boards flat so that i can turn them over and reattach the strips of wood to the previously ballasted side for strengthening, leaving me with nice clean surfaces to start laying track on!  And track, thats another thing I need to buy...


Oh i hate hate hate hate HATE respraying stuff!  My dad found some isopropyl alcohol in the garage though, so I was able to use that to get the 3 coats of paint + CSX decals off my AC4400.  But now that I've done the new coat of "Royal Mail Red" over the still doesnt look great.  Railmatch spray cans are supposed to be good, right?  Ah well, I'll just weather it plenty once I've put on new Canadian Pacific Beaver decals, and hope for the best!

Despite all that, I do still want to redo my SD45 in Wisconsin Central!

I just ordered 3x three-function decoders from Lenz, as I'm going for DCC on this new layout.  I'm also thinking of hooking up the old Lenz system John at the club gave me and just look at the waveforms on a scope if I can...though would have to filter out the 15V(?) AC 1st to be able to see the digital data properly.  In fact, at my work recently I was allowed to play with a Microchip PIC development board, and I decided to investigate using the MSSP (Master Synchronous Serial Port) module for I2C communication (said i-2-c or else i-squared-c).  This is a comms protocol to allow devices to talk to each other with a 2 wire bus, invented by Phillips in the 80s I believe.  Anyways, managed to get the module working, but Ive broken the oled display + controller I wanted the pic to talk to...great :(  But Im hoping learning this kind of thing will not only be valuable for my career, but also for potentially building a DCC controller at some point (I know that sounds ambitious...though I bet Donald and Kenny at the club have already done it...)  Alot of projects for that sort of thing online have their code written in assembler though...urgggh.  As my dad said "people only write in assembler instead of a higher level language so they can show off".  I have to agree :P (but only because I havent mastered assembly for even one device, let alone a whole bunch of em!)

Real life trains
A few weekends back I went down to a wedding in Carlisle, and stayed over.  On the saturday, I wanted to go to C&M models on Crosby St. to see if I could pick up any british modern image freight locomotives for my brother, especially as I wondered if they still had a 2nd hand DB Schenker class 66 for only £60.  This was gone already (figures doesnt it?) and most of the decent 2nd hand stuff had gone, but there was still loads of old men crowded round the cases having a look at stuff.  (My girlfriend felt very out of place being the only woman in the entire shop...) There was a beautiful model of Britannia "Clive of India", with DCC sound for only £137, which would have been a real steal.  I ended up chatting with a guy who was obviously sorely tempted to buy this thing, but who "really couldnt...I'll have to loook away!"  

Anyways, found a Hornby DB schenker 92 for £76 and then we headed to the station, as there was a craft fair on there my girlfriend wanted to look at.  Got into the station...and I saw THIS:
Duchess of Sutherland at platform 3, Carlisle citadel

Duchess of Sutherland was sitting at platform 3 with a train of West Coast Railways mk1s, and oh my goodness she looked fantastic!!  After a while she was moved off the train with only 1 carriage, and shunted far back onto another track further south in the station.  A class 47 was moved up to the front, and then the Duchess was moved even further south, presumably off to some kind of yard.  I guess the 47 was taking over for the rest of the trip!
I had never seen a de-streamlined Duchess before so this was a real treat!!

This was later on when theyd shunted her backwards toward the south-east end of the station


Friday, 12 June 2015

Well...its been a wee while since I posted...been a tad busy.  what with uni, a very good friendship plus general life i havent had much time for model making.  Been to carlisle quite a bit by train, so thats something!  And the 350s arent bad to ride (though they could seriously do with coupling 2 together more regularly than they do...also...First Transpennine...I'm not sure how you actually manage to have a "technical fault" on a sodding refreshments trolley...did a wheel come off???)
DB schenker 60 and DRS 66 at Carlisle 22/05/15 on some sort of a ballast train.
Later saw this parked at kingmoor yard

..ramble ramble busy busy etc etc.  Havent even been along to the club very much its been that crazy!  But now I've got the summer before me i have a wee bit more time to "do" trains.

Went to a swapmeet recently and picked up a Kato NW2 switcher, in Maryland and Pennsylvania.  Very nice but i needed it in CN, so I've been repainting it...which is going a little better than i thought.  spray painting stock has always been my least favorite bit of modelling because
a) finish is always crap
b) i get covered in paint
c) the garage gets covered in paint
d) my model ends up worse than before!

But im actually pleased with the results so far.  I got the transfers off with a glass fibre pen, had to wear rubber gloves to do this as ive had experiences with glass fibres in my fingers before...urggghh. Then sprayed the body black and the ends orange.  Now really just need to scratchbuild new exhausts and get some CN logos + running no.
At the same swapmeet i got 3 nice books, one is a classification of american diesel locos (from the late 70s, so covers quite a lot of stuff even though obviously later mahooosive GE stuff isnt included).  Also one on the Baltimore & Ohio and another on the New York Central.  Been really nice with the weather recently to sit outside reading these, with a beer too...(I can feel like a real 'Murican! :-)  )

My new books!
repainting the ac4400 has take a look...

"oh dear" you say.  yes, I sprayed it with gloss paint without realizing it was trying to redo it with railmatch red...yeah told you spray painting wasnt my strength :-/

The North American rail bug has bitten my brother a little more too...hes got himself an F7cab and booster units in pennsylvania rr colors. He's wanting to redo it in CP just for a wee spraying exercise.

Now finally heres a couple pics of the old layout we built in the attic , started this when i was 13!


yeah its a mess!
we had some BS idea about it being freelance so we could run what we liked etc  decent standard for kids but wanting something better now...need to find a way to get the ballast and scenery off so we can reuse the old boards possibly...if the 2 (or 3! :-P ) people who read this have any ideas please let me know :-)

So anyways will need to measure the part of the attic we're using, so id better go do that now, have a good day!

wee edit: btw most probably know that here in scotland driver training has begun on the new borders line from Edinburgh to Tweedbank - if I get any photos of this in the near future I'll be sure to post them!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Switches and LIGHTS!!

I know this post comes rather soon after the first one, but its because I've been tinkering away with some PIC chips (the 18F4550) and the Microchip Pic kit 3.  I know this doesn't sound like its remotely related to railroads or model making, but I've finished up my first year in electrical/electronic engineering at uni, and so I wanted to keep up my very basic knowledge of C Programming throughout the summer.  Also, this is directly related to the layout as I'll hopefully be using microcontrollers to drive the servos that move the switches - (or "turnouts/points" for fellow brits!).  Maybe also do some sort of lighting sequences...?  I won't go into the details here, but I will provide a link to the youtube vids I've been using where this guy explains in great detail how to configure the chip, set up the timer modules etc to do this sort of thing.  Anyway, here's what my first bit of programming did:

yeah, a bunch of LEDs flash.  Not very exciting but still something.  Specially as this was done in software; if I want to change anything, say on a soldered up board, I don't have to de-solder and change any hardware, i can just change a few things in my program in MPLAB X, build the program and then write the file onto the chip with the pic kit3.

This used delay functions to make the leds blink...but what if you want each led blinking at slightly different times?  No problem, do a bunch of calculations and use the 4 timer modules:

Again, not very exciting...but still!  Come on!

And just today...I've managed to get a servo moving!! (1ms pulse one way and 2ms the other way)

Anyway, so thats the electronics stuff out of the way, i can now show the slight progress I've made on the auto factory:

Also i just got an accurail open auto rack kit from the states, might well start building it soon:

and here's another addition to my growing collection of locos, a CSX ac4400 (only £60!!)

I might keep it he way it is possibly repaint it in Canadian Pacific colours. We'll see.

God bless and happy modelling!!

P.S:  here's the link to the youtube channel I've been using as a guide for these microcontroller projects.  The guy's teaching is excellent: (note a basic knowledge of the C programming language is recommended before starting)

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Canadian Railways....

Well, I've been into British trains for a long while...but over the last 6 months or so I have developed an interest in American and Canadian trains, specifically diesels.  Some dvds at my model railway club got me started, and of course now Youtube has been a great source of stuff.  I've now bought myself a nice potted history of the Canadian National railway by Tom Murray (see below)

And also a bunch of Dvds from greenfrog productions...I got all 4 of their volumes on the CN (including its operations in the states) and another one they sell courtesy of CanRail on branchlines in Ontario in the 90s.  I highly recommend these dvds, they are very good, lots of interesting info about the operations and great footage of the trains themselves.

The livery of the CN was what really stood out to me at first, the orange and black (and at one time with "zebra" stripes) I thought were really nice.  I've since also read about VIA Rail Canada, Canadian Pacific and also the nice Go Transit commuter trains (the ones with the unusual looking bombardier cars):

(by the way, the VIA rail site has some interesting stuff; they have 360 degree photos of the interiors of their different passenger cars.)

Anyways, this new interest in these railways then got me buying HO versions, starting off with a walthers trainline CN gp9rm and a bachmann CN gp38-2 from ebay.  The gp38-2 is currently being detailed, since there are A LOT of differences between a standard unit and the versions used by CN (not counting the widecab variants).  Of course bachmann just used one tooling across them all, but I can't really complain as they are pretty cheap.

 The gp9rm is to be an even bigger detailing project, as the body on the trainline version is....well...not very good.  I'll probably get a proto 2k or bachmann gp9 body and then a kaslo shops chop nose cab and do some serious cutting and glueing to make an accurate model.

Also now got a Pennsylvania Railroad Sd45.  Was wanting to maybe do this in Wisconsin Central livery for the club layout.  Bit scared to repaint it does look nice though.  It can always sit on display if it doesnt get resprayed.

Also have a sw1200 in CP Rail (old "system") livery by Proto 2K.  Very nice also.

Aaaand.....a bachmann CP sd40-2...

My brother and I are now planning a layout in our attic based around the automobile industry, possibly set in Detroit. However there are automobile factories in Canada as well (such as in Oshawa) so we may have the layout set there; this would make sense as then we're not just limited to CN, we can run CP as well (though Detroit does allow for a fair bit of BNSF).

I've now bought a couple of tri-level auto carrier cars, and also a Walthers auto assembly plant kit.  I've built the front so far.  Some of the window pieces are missing (which is worrying!)  I'm debating wether to call Walthers or else just to make some out of plastic strip.

So anyways, thats my first entry into Canadian/American trains and any progress on modelling projects or even just links to interesting vids of rail action I will post on this "blog" thing.  Thanks to Alan Aitken for the suggestion of starting this!