Sunday 17 January 2021

History or His story

 First, I hope 2021 has been good for you so far. I find it hard to believe that it is more than half way through January, time seems to be going faster.

So I have been slogging away at building South Coast Rail from December 2015 and in reality I think I have achieved quite a lot. From the dismantling of the old layout, planning and the building the new one. So far no regrets.

Yes history was made today when the 'missing link' across the doorway was finally completed, track laid and a trial run was made. Before this section was completed the layout was purely a point to point, the run being long enough so not to be boring. I am blessed with a large shed a hangover from the old HO days when a single car garage even didn't seem big enough. You often see US basement layouts and suddenly wish you had the same amount of room. There would be a lot of dirt to dig out from under the concrete slab to have the same result. An extension on the house for a family room back in 1999 led to extending the pipe delivering the concrete being taken way down to the back shed for an extra slab. I suppose I had the option of making a smaller layout but what would I do with the room left over?

Deadlines can often do wonders to getting a spurt on in construction. Approached by the Narrow Gauge Convention group to have the layout on display in Easter 2019 I set about having certain goals completed. It ended up sufficient to be displayed and there after I was able to slack off somewhat.

The diagram for the layout was published on a previous post so you can refer back to see the completed section across the doorway and joining Bega to Eden.

Printed circuit board join across the liftout section

South Coast Rail is certainly no flat pancake style of layout, it is either going uphill or downhill, the only flat bits being stations and across the Thomson River bridge and a few other spots. I didn't want to have to imagine in my mind grades that were non existent but actually build them into the layout. This also added to the interest in running and puts restrictions on train lengths through their actual weight and the actual steepness of the grade. This can then introduce other aspects such as assisting a train with a second loco to a location where the train engine can then take to train onwards without and further help.

I completed the baseboards between Bega and the doorway and then started on the liftout section. This was covered in the last post and before considering to lay any track I painted the baseboards mainly to prevent any swelling of the liftout section that may prevent that section from lining up. This happened on the old layout where the doorway would swing inwards and after a lot of rain it wouldn't line up.

With the lift out section lining up OK I then started to lay in some track using the last of the Peco narrow gauge track that is on all of the layout. I used a 24" radius template for a curve just out of Eden. Although I could have used a tighter radius I wanted the better look of a larger radius which should lead to smoother operation.

Junction outside Eden
I also needed to complete this section of track to enable the level crossing in the above photo to be completed. Also the fascia boards etc need to be completed. The track was laid across the printed circuit board and then soldered not forgetting to cut into the circuit board to prevent a short. After the track was soldered in place I used the dremel to cut the rails as this is part of the liftout section. After a few days both ends of the track were completed. During the week I had completed the continuous run also that runs across the lift out section. But when I laid in the junction track from Eden it was too close to the continuous run so it needs readjusting a bit.

This section forms a 'triangle' meaning a train can depart Eden go right around the layout and then return back into Eden. This needed a frog juicer to be wired under the baseboard for this section. I must say that for $60 it works well. Two leds are visible, one red and one green and they swap colours when the loco passes over the wrong polarity section all instantly.

So late this afternoon I thought I was all ready to do a trial as the track looked all ready, I rechecked the wiring, plugged it in expecting an all clear but ended up with a short. Bugger, so the first train was delayed. As it was fast approaching dinner time I went inside, had food, watched the usual covid update on the news and then returned to find where the short was coming from. I knew it was in the work I had just completed as I had a running day with Kevin 'Fox Valley' during the week

Visiting Fox Valley Locos
Fresh from a break I checked the first section that was where the track was soldered to some printed circuit board. I had cut between the rails but not the section the next set of track was soldered to. A lightbulb moment, so after the dremel had done its work, a quick replug in and all was clear Phew, (I hate looking for shorts)

So it looked like all was clear for the first train to circumnavigate the room and come back into the port of Eden. There was a train in the yard fresh from the running day consisting of NA6, NH, NQR, NU, NT, NQR, NQR, NC. This load recorded for posterity and the history book.

So tonight the train departed Eden yard at 7.23pm with a slow run up to the level crossing, a whistle then around the 180 degree corner and headed for Broadwater. The train was run at a speed of a setting of '10' on the NCE controller a slow chug along well suited to narrow gauge operation. A drift over the trestle outside Broadwater, another whistle for the crossing and straight through the station at 7.26pm. This was a non stop run, no passengers, no safeworking on this run. Around the corner from Broadwater and then across the temporary bridge beside the one day to happen Thomson River bridge. Once over the bride we go around the S bend up into Pambula. It is now 7.29pm, again no stopping and after a slight rise we finally hit the summit and head down the spiral. Introduced to lengthen the run and use up more baseboard the spiral is located on the old curved end section of the HO layout. Soon we pass Wolumla at 7.33pm, no stops and head around another 180 degree curve on a fairly steep descending grade, over a one day trestle and into a tunnel. The train completely disappears in there but you can still hear the train chugging away. Coming out of the tunnel we then head up hill around the corner past the gully and its waterfall. Although the track is completed here the scenery is all that remains of the HO layout. Remenicent of the Stringers gorge in Walhalla we head up into Bega. It is now 7.36pm actual time. Bega is the junction station for the Candelo branch and will one day have some loco facilities and a shed. It is also where the line divides at the other end of Bega, straight ahead leads back to Eden and through the turnout is good for another lap through Broadwater etc. We have just gone through Bega and the road is set for Eden. Around the liftout section and the frog juicer has done its job, no stopping.


6A and its train heading back into Eden

6A crosses the lift out section.
Finally back onto the section of track we left Eden on some 15" actual time ago. We slowed down coming into the yard and the road was set for the goods siding. So under normal circumstances the train would shunt, stop for passengers and safeworking and cross trains coming in the opposite direction. So on a bad day it might take 30" to do an out and back. Not bad for a narrow gauge railway.

I will get onto finishing the fascia and making sure all is right with the new section and then we will be able to have another running day next month.

See, I told you deadlines work!

Back home in Eden safely snuggled against the buffers