Friday 1 January 2016

Here we go!

Firstly happy new year to everybody. I hope everyone survived the celebrations last night. We had a quite night, just watching tele and viewing a Moody Blues dvd which finished beautifully right on 11.59pm last night.
So today being 2016, I thought I had better get into the demolishing mood, get down the shed and start jack hammering away the old layout.
Before I get into that I would like to thank all those who have left comments of encouragement, despair, sadness etc at the demise of SCR on the last blog entry. I hope no one got too upset re the news. There has been a great clearing out of items but still a lot to go. You don't realise how much garbage we (I) seem to collect over the years.
I have modified the header to include the words "In Transition". This will stay for a while until I get sufficiently advanced along to change it to a pure "Narrow Gauge" header that will reflect what I am actually modelling.
This will be the temporary header taken down the gully on the current layout until I can get some new work done. The NA still hasn't had any mods done to it yet. There was a recent article in the excellent magazine "Narrow Gauge Down Under" showing how to improve this model.

Well one thing that might surprise a few is that I have gone over to DCC. I have chosen the NCE  system as the majority of people I know are using it, so if I get in the poo with it help will hopefully be close at hand. Apparently NCE stands for North Coast Engineering, pity I thought SCE (South Coast Engineering) would have been more appropriate. I bought the Power cab starter kit prior to Christmas and it just sat in the shed for a few weeks. I watched many Youtube videos on the topic of setting up my particular unit. Most of them seemed to be done by teenage kids with unsteady hands holding the camera. I thought if the kiddies can do it then it shouldn't be too hard to do. So last week I unpacked all items and connected it up onto a long shelf portion of the layout that used to be the branch line. As previously advised being born and bred a DC man I realised the garratt had been sold and this I was told because it was sound it also had a DCC decoder in it. But luckily I had a Eureka CPH sound unit that I could test the system with. It had been a week or so since I watched the Youtube videos on how to set it all up, so as all men do, I went to the manual on the first page to see if it was written in "Dummies" language which I speak. I was off on a good start when the little red light came on the bizzo where you stick the wires into. So far so good. Then looking at the screen on the controller, it started speaking a foreign language, most of it in abbreviations. It wasn't sure what button to hit as there were so many of them. The most important key, one that I use on the computer  was the "Enter" key. It was asking for a short or long address and looking at the CPH it was number 26. So as a long shot I called it "0026" Believe it or not I finally managed to get some sound out of the unit. This was an exciting time for me, almost like being at the birth of your first born. I am completely hopeless at electronics and this includes mobile phones. I have what is called a "Not so smart phone". I was trying to locate my wife in the local shopping centre once, and by the time I worked the buttons out she was standing right in front of me.

Anyway back to the CPH. So I spent the next half hour totally fascinated by the DCC controller and shunted back and forth over the few metres of track. Sad that I was the only one there on that joyous moment. Reversing each time without the unit having to restart as it does in DC mode was one of the benefits of DCC. Now I have another problem, the sound on the CPH is too quite. The deeper I got into the manual the more scared I got, there were no headings that I could see that said "Volume control" or similar. So that will have to be a question another day for someone else to answer. I have bought a sound unit for one of the NA's yet to be fitted.
As I said in the opening I headed down the shed to start the demolition work. This is slow work as I am trying to reclaim most of the scenery material to reuse on the new layout. Luckily each week my wife brings home Chinese take away and the empty containers are put to good use stockpiling the various types of scenery material. (Must remember to label them all) So far I have managed to put out six plastic bags of scenery. It is not salvageable, so it goes out with the chicken wire as well.

This shot shows the opposite corner from that in the last post. The highest level track was the branch line and the next three were the various sections of the main line. There is quite a variance in the levels here but because of the length of the shed the grades were not steep. What is noticeable is the variation in the timbers I was using for the layout. I figured why spend a lot on new timber when it was all going to be covered up anyway? Contrary to what they say about pyneboard, if it is painted prior to laying track and it doesn't get very wet it should survive. Most of this section of layout is 15 years old.

This lower section of track was laid using code 100 track as it was hidden (See above shot) Again laid on any old timber to hand. The track actually went to a section I called the Power Station. This was where the loaded coal trains would eventually end up after loading way up on the end of the branch, running down to the main, changing locos, then proceeding to Batemans Bay where the train would be divided into smaller units of four or five hoppers. They would then proceed down this branch to be shunted into the "power station" for unloading. A few siding there would allow storing of empties, then they would return up to Batemans Bay for remarshalling into a long train to return to the Candelo Coal mine for re-loading. Well sadly this branch was never operated. It was initially tested but I never got back to finishing it.
Further demolition work was undertaken after lunch. Luckily for me when the manhole was put in 15 years ago I haven't increased in width too much allowing me access still to get closer to the corner. Thinking back the manhole cover used to support a pub, but now the patrons have to seek their drinks elsewhere. Not sure if the new O scale layout will support a hotel or not but I don't think any of the HO men would be able to handle the O scale schooners!
Initially I was trying to re salvage the HO code 75 track but it is hard to get it up without tearing the sleepers from the rails. I need to clear out all the baseboards up this end of the shed so that it can be repainted and the new baseboards built.
The current SCR layout was built into basically a single car garage that I extended back in 1999. It had a previous layout in it that was also demolished to make way for the current layout. In the above photo you can see part of the old baseboard that I couldn't remove. I left the old baseboard frame in position and just used it to support the new risers to carry the new layout. It is like an archival dig, where the old layout resurfaces. The rough looking cut on the right supported the track down to the power station. Unfortunately at the time of construction I didn't own a variable speed electric drill, but had an electric screwdriver. So all the frame was constructed with slotted screws. I hope these can be removed easily.
So on the first day of 2016 that's where we are up to on SCR. Hope you all stay along for the journey.


  1. Bob,
    Happy New Year and greetings to the new Sapphire Coast Railway. Having done a similar thing once many years ago, I agree that the the demolition work almost seems to take on the appearance of an archaeological dig reminding one of past successes or, perhaps, mistakes. You never know, you may even find a long lost tool.
    cheers Phil

  2. Hi Bob. Well done with your first solo attempt with DCC. The volume of the CPH is probably as loud as it gets because the default volume level is Max, unless "someone" has tweaked it. Now for a little programming tutorial, adjust the volume of the CPH to Max by programming a couple of CVs using Programming on the Main - POM. Use you Manual to help you. Program CV 49 to 0 and CV 51 to value of 1 to 127 with 127 providing Maximum Volume. You could also use the Wand but play with your Power Cab. Regards Marcus.

  3. Happy New Year, Bob. Great to read that you've made a start on the new SCR. I'll be following the blog with interest.