Thursday, February 19, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Various Updates and More Electrical Woes

Bulk Sand vs. Bagged Sand
Today, I went back and re-read some of the original articles that inspired my revision of the layout to model the sand operations of the ROCK.  The article stated that bulk sand was loaded into box cars up until the late 70s.  Around that time, it switched over to bagged sand in large 50' and 60' box cars.  I have only been using 40' box cars and calling it bagged sand.  Since my era is roughly based on the mid-70s, I was thinking of switching back to bulk loaded 40' box cars.  What would this mean for operations?  Well, for one the box cars would now have to be weighed as with the hoppers.  Second, the cars would have to be cleaned out first before being spotted.  This is the key point that I really want to hit on.  I'm thinking I could use the caboose track in Ottawa Yard (adjacent to the RIP track) for cleaning out box cars.  I can fit about five or six in there at a time.  Typically, the plant receives 8 or 9 a day so the yard crew would have to switch them out in shifts.  Cars would arrive in during the day requiring the yard crew to spot them at the clean out track.  I would leave it up to the discretion of the yardmaster to determine when the cars were cleaned and pulling them out to be picked up for delivery by the South Ottawa local.

I'm already using Southern 40' Box Cars for bulk loading, but these have roof hatches designed for that.  They are loaded with the hoppers on tracks one through four.

This RIP track is on the left.  I would use the caboose track as my clean-out track for the 40' box cars.


Telephone Pole Project:
Since applying the static grass, I can't find my holes for the telephone poles.  I re-drilled them tonight and glued them in place.

All signal heads lit!  Yeah!

Fast Clock for Ops:
I killed the Windows 7 partition on my Mac laptop to free up space.  I had to re-download my Fast Clock app to use through Terminal Server to my work.  If you need a fast clock for operating and have access to a Windows-based PC, I highly recommend this one.  It works well.

More Electrical Woes
This is very concerning.  As you might recall, I had some mystery issues over the summer where locos were losing their minds running back and forth.
The issue seemed to be solved by clearing all the consists.

Now, I have a new issue.  The throttles won't return to the normal position when the system starts up.  I can unplug, repower the system numerous times and still the same thing.  Then, randomly, it will initialize and go to the normal screen.

This screen should just pop up for a second before closing out and going to the screen showing the loco dialed in on that throttle.

I have researched some on the internet tonight.  I have tried resetting the entire system, but that didn't work.  I powered down the system and removed the CR2032 battery from the system.  That seemed to work as it booted up the first time after that, but later, it did the same thing again.  

I had one throttle jack that provided intermittent power.  I ordered a replacement as I had two others that were doing the same thing.  I replaced the cables and that didn't work, but when I replaced the jacks, it seemed to rectify the issue.  I isolated that UTP panel, but that didn't resolve the issue.  There are no shorts present on the layout per the status lights on the booster.

I plan on calling NCE tomorrow to see if they can shed any light on the situation.  I'm wondering if my NCE booster is just going bad.  It is seven years old.  There are no EPROM updates available since like 2007 (crazy, right?).  So, I'm at a lost.  I'm deeply concerned as what might happen during the op session with the system acting screwy.  

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