Saturday, October 31, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: New Booster

Not a lot of work on the layout as my time was limited today.  I did manage to pick up a new booster and install.  Immediately resolved the issues.  Thinking back, I have had random, crazy issues from this old booster for years (dating back to v1.0 of the layout).  I should have just sent it off to NCE back then.  At this point, I'm done with it.  I purchased the replacement and will send off the old unit for repair.  If it doesn't cost much to repair, I will keep it as a spare or setup a separate programming track with my laptop.

Ahh...the new Command Station smell.

Installed in all of about two minutes.

The old beat up POS booster.

I added some more plaster to the sand dump track to square it off a bit.  Once dry, I will sand it down and add scenery before gluing everything in place.

I squared off the area a bit to give more room to allow the front loader to scoop out sand and drop back into the pit.  I need to create some wood bracing to create a place for the front loader to drive up to the edge of the cliff.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Injury on the Job + NCE Booster Troubleshooting

Injury on the Job
Late last night, I was working on the layout again.  I went back and filed down the solder joint on the turnout behind Libbey-Owens Ford glass that I had repaired earlier in the evening.  It is in an awkward place that isn't easy to reach.  The mini-file slipped from my hand as I drove my index finger into the ultra sharp metal turnout point.  No blood, no foul right?  Well, it hurt during the night.  It hurts this morning.  It seems when you hurt a finger, you hit said finger a gazillion times the next day.  So, it appears it is yet another reportable accident on the ROCK.  Damnit!  We now must hang the sign of shame again.
Know a good injury lawyer?

Oh, speaking of donuts, so I'm seeing this nutritionist.  She does body nutrition studies.  Upon performing one on me, she asked, have you been around any chemicals lately?  My wife just laughed.  I said, weeeeell, about everything regarding my model railroad has some label on it that states it is known to cause cancer in California.  Yeah, I probably glow in my sleep from messing with this stuff.  

NCE DCC System Woes
I called up NCE support this morning.  I asked about the issues when booting.  Here is what I see when turning on the system.

This is what pops up initially.  This is supposed to clear out and go to the last locomotive registered on the throttle, but it becomes stuck on this screen.

This is what it should look like after everything boots properly and initializes.

Support stated to remove the T-Shaped Daughter board from the main motherboard in the unit.  Reseat it and try again.  He believes it is either a hardware issue which hopefully reseating the board will correct or the startup commands (much like a computer) have become corrupt.

I was know I have done this already.  To the archives....

Ugh...I believe it is just time to replace the six year old booster and/or send it off for repair (and have a spare).  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Track Work and New Sand Unloading Track Progress

This evening, I worked on a few things for about an hour.  I repaired two broken turnout points.  I repaired the North Ottawa Silica turnout ground throw.  The throw bar was damaged.

I then cut in the new diamond for the sand unloading track.  I used wall plaster to build up the area for the trestle in the sand pit.  I will let it dry and then finish it off another night.  I believe the turnouts I ordered are due to arrive Monday.  In the end, I will have a run around track for access to the new sand unloading track at the north end of the plant.  This will be used for reducing sand on overloaded cars caught by the scale.

In other news, the NCE booster is acting flaky again.  When I turn it on, it doesn't initialize to the normal ready mode.  The throttles light up and only lists their throttle ID number.  I don't get it.  I removed all the locos and throttles except one.  It still didn't work until trying five or six times later.  It's so frustrating.  Not sure what is causing the problem.

Here is the current Project list:
  • Repair North Ottawa Silica Turnout
  • Repair turnout at PQ plus any others with broken points
  • Adjust scale sensor at Ottawa Silica
  • Check programming on locomotives (speed matching) and clean wheels.
  • Install Sand Dump Track
  • Ballast Peoria
  • Install roof on Westclox
Photos of tonight's progress:

Looking North at Ottawa Silica

Looking North from the Ottawa Silica loading building.  Tracks 1 to 4 left to right.

The sight of the new turnout and crossing to access the new sand unloading track.

Cut the yard lead to add in the new crossing.

Filled in the area with various debris (more was added).

Unloading track temporarily in place.

The unloading track will have a two car limit.

Once this dries, I will add just a touch more of plaster to level the track.

I think it will work out well.  It will be nice to have an official unloading spot for over tonnage cars.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Progress? What is that?

Not much progress on the layout lately.  Life has been very busy in our household.  Last night, I made the most significant progress cleaning up the room, putting away tools, storing away excess cars, setup locomotive test track, put away all the tabs that were scattered all over the workbench, and finally finished re-staging the layout.

I'm changing things up this time operating as Second Shift.  It will adjust the train schedules slightly, but for the most part things will be very similar.  I'm also running two unit sand trains.  One east to Blue Island as usual and one west to the Little Rock Division.

Athearn Announcement:
Did you see?  PQ cars coming next year from Athearn!  Wahoo!  I haven't decided how many I will purchase, but it will be at minimum three.  Maybe five or six total would be reasonable.  The logo is and reporting marks stenciling is more modern than my era, but I will take it.  The build date on the cars is good.

Hoping to get some things knocked off my short To Do list, but I know I will have quite a few visitors to the layout in the next five weeks or so.  So, we shall see.  

Tonight, I surveyed the area to make a run around Ottawa Silica Track #1 to access the sand dump tracks.  Currently only two cars can dump sand at a time.  I'm not sure if I should add more trestle to allow three cars to dump excess sand at one time or not.  

Here is the current Project list:
  • Repair North Ottawa Silica Turnout
  • Repair turnout at PQ plus any others with broken points
  • Adjust scale sensor at Ottawa Silica
  • Check programming on locomotives (speed matching) and clean wheels.
  • Install Sand Dump Track
  • Ballast Peoria
  • Install roof on Westclox