This month has seen further work on ballasting, trial run of the RDC, land forms at the helix approach, Trackside buildings, Upgrading Command Station & Throttles, Maintenance and Operations Trials.
If you have not seen BJ's work at the Sandagte & Southern it is worth a look.
BallastingThe application of base material, ballast and ground cover including small bushes is generally completed before the wetting down and gluing commences. My scenery guru BJ believes this is the most efficient method for large areas requiring scenicing.
Mainlines behind Flintston
The base material, a sifted quartzite sand bought by the bucket load from a bulk garden supply company much cheaper than purchasing commercial scenic materials. The material will generally pass a 3 mm screen and the larger pieces trapped in the sifter are used for rocky areas across the layout.
This area is one of the most complex track work sections - it is not that bad really! Looking on the left hand side the two tracks [1 outside loop & 2 inside loop] by the backdrop are the double track mains on the dogbone, the third one  is a passing siding (which is a reverse loop) between the inner loop tracks of the dogbone [front track 4 and back track 2]. The next track is the outside track of the dogbone [5 outer loop front]. The three remaining tracks relate to Flintston track  is the yard approach track from the main [5 outer loop front] the remaining two [7 & 8] are loading tracks for a cement hopper.
The tracks in the upper right are the loco arrival/departure roads and the "Y" are the tracks forming a reverse loop for turning complete trains and also serves as the entry point from hidden staging under the lower level of the main layout. The bridge section in the lower right is the Huntington Branch before it enters Daveyston.
RDC Trial Run
Last month I talked about installing the sound decoder in my new RDC some simple test running proved its operation. It visited Ross Picard's Willunga layout for a running session at the round robin this week.
Helix ApproachThe basic scenery structure has commenced with the installation of retaining wall backing and basic land forms for mainlines and the tracks, old decommissioned (over bridge) and new (through the cutting), leading to the helix
Upgrading Command Station & ThrottlesSome time ago I purchased a new "system heart" to upgrade from the multiMAUS to multiMAUSpro to provide wireless capability. I decided not to implement the change over until the basic DCC bus and control panels were installed and operating - the idea was that if I was going to blow something up let's make it the basic stuff.
Whilst I was slowed down by a virus causing my intestinal tracks some upset I decided to upgrade the firmware on my new Roco multiZENTRALEpro, two multiMAUSpro's and seven multiMAUS's. This will allow me to address functions 11-20 on my recently acquired locos. The multiZENTRALEpro has wireless capability and the two "Blue" multiMAUSpro's are the wireless throttles.
I was pleased when everything worked first time after the upgrade process but some power cut out issues still plagued me see Operations Trials below....
The wireless throttles mounted on the fascia.
Maintenance IssueIt appears my fitting of an accessory switch to a point motor some three years ago could have been better and it was binding the mech enough to stop good operation causing some issues. I had to enlist the help of our smallest member of our round robin group work over the bottom level yard and under and at the very back of the top level.
Chris laying down on the job....
After removal of the point motor and "doctoring" it now works perfectly....
I have continued to encounter a spasmodic electrical fault when the current load got to about 1.7 amps. It was repeatable in all booster sections and they are rated at 3.2 amps each. Following more investigation I discovered in the multiZENTRALEpro manual a sentence that said "the overload light will illuminate if the power supply to the booster is overloaded" so the overload indicator will illuminate even if the DCC bus is not at rated load (the same sentence is not in the multiMAUS manual). This caused me to check the power transformer ratings. Sure enough they said 3.3 amps when BOTH secondaries are connected in parallel - I seemed to have missed this when I bought them about five years ago. It is not until high load testing (10 - 12 concurrent operating locos) that the problem appeared. So the transformers are half the required power rating.
I had some old Laptop power supplies which suited requirements so they have been commandeered!
After re-reading all the other manuals PSX, PSX-AR, Block Watcher I identified another flaw in my installation - the PSX's were all still at default 3.8 amp threshold So they all had to be set to 2.54 by programming each one. There were just a few to do....
Chris decided there have not been enough photos of me so he took this not-very-flattering photo and I was instructed that it had to appear. So here it is, me inside the helix installing the Laptop power supplies.
Thanks to those that continue to help me achieve my ambitions..
Till the end of January.