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Old 06-06-2017, 08:21 PM   #51
BigTed
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I've kind of had odd sporadic updates around other forums and threads, mainly taking the form of me begging for help and lots of people jumping in with suggestions, so I thought I'd post a kind of summary update of what's gone on in the last month or so here.

I took up all the old track in order to replace the old insulfrog points, which is now done. A good exercise anyway as I was much more confident with flexi track, cutting, curves, soldering droppers etc. this time around so made a much more comprehensive job of it.

Progress isn't great though. Despite testing heavily with one of the previously more troublesome trains (a Lima class 156) as I went along and it running perfectly, once I got the trains that had previously well on it, they didn't run well at all.

Slowly I'm making my way through the issues one by one and I think I'm probably ahead of where I was before I ripped the track up.

I had one troublesome turnout that turned out to be the (currently unused) frog wire popping its head up and touching a rail.

Some derailment issues turned out to be a bit of plastic that came holding the insulating rail joiners getting wedged under a track.

I had a lot of issues towards the end (I did the work on the VERY HOT whit bank holiday weekend) with screws not going in or coming out due to worn threads which I think is a bit snapped off the head of the screwdriver so I've stopped working with the screws for the time being until I get it replaced.

The current situation is that a modern loco will travel across the whole track without any hint of an issue, but to be fair they were fine on the previous layout too.

I'm still getting a fair few issues with other locos but they can be as much an issue with the loco as the track. I'm amazed how quickly wheels and pickups can get filthy, and how quickly track gets dirty for that matter.

I'll add more later but here's a quick video of an 8 car APT consist making its way around the entire layout - every turnout, every stretch of track. This is a step forward as it regularly derailed on the old layout.

It's still travelling at a fair speed as it suffers from stalling when I slow it down, but I'm working on it!

https://youtu.be/sRtLtqw8cfQ
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Old 06-06-2017, 09:11 PM   #52
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You're a good few steps up that learning curve Ted.
I'd bet that any poor running now will be down to dirty track/wheels/pickups.
Run a Hoover over the whole lot you get rid of any dust as a first step. Clean the rail tops with a Peco track rubber, Hoover again then wipe the rails with a cloth and some IPA.
Wheels and pickups can be cleaned with the IPA as well. For really encrusted crud I use a Gaugemaster track cleaner - basically two brass brushes in a plastic housing that sits on the track. Careful with traction tyres though.
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Old 06-06-2017, 09:33 PM   #53
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Quote:
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You're a good few steps up that learning curve Ted.
Ha, you know sometimes I think I should stop and think about stuff like that!

I've just had a look at my eBay history - I bought my first train related thing on 7 March. I had no idea what to do really, then. I had never held a soldering iron, never even held a drill. I had no idea about electrical conductivity.

I had these old trains from my childhood, and upon discovering that there was a thing called DCC was calling up local model shops asking if they'd convert my old trains to DCC, and how much it would cost.

In the subsequent 3 months I've converted over 30 locos to DCC, putting CD motors in most of them. I've been soldering LEDs to strip board and cutting it, putting it in the front of trains and connecting up to DCC harnesses.

I've laid a medium sized layout twice, soldering droppers in.

With a software development background, I've thoroughy enjoyed working with the Pi, SPROG and JMRI. It hasn't been without its issues and bugs but the SPROG guru and JMRI developer, Andrew, has been exhaustive and dilligent in his work to resolve them.

And really the whole DCC thing really suits me down to the ground. Programming, configuration, all that stuff is where I'm really comfortable. I doubt I would have been quite so taken with the whole model railway thing if the possibilities that DCC present weren't there.

Oh and (with a HUGE amount of help from my much more practical and ever helpful Dad) I've put all those boards up in the loft. They're all pretty level and flatm although some work still needs doing on the joins.

So yeah as the whisky starts to take effect I think I'll sit here and feel smug and pleased with myself for the rest of the evening now. A LOT still to learn, and even more still to do, but a good start and I'm thoroughly enjoting it, despite occasional sulks and tantrums when stuff goes wrong.
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Old 02-07-2017, 09:08 AM   #54
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So.

I've posted a lot across the forum but havent' updated here for a while.

I went ahead and tore up the layout. Insulfrogs weren't going to work for me, with all those old trains.

The breaking point was a Class 156 Super Sprinter that ran beautifully on the layout but juddered and stalled terribly on the turnouts.

So I elected to do the changeover during the incredibly hot Whit bank holiday weekend. The family were away which meant I could get into the loft in the evenings, usually impossible due to sleeping children.

Here's a video I made immediately after laying the last of the track. Early signs were very promising.

https://youtu.be/IjtgitwrsjM

But I was getting other trains stalling on the points, and still am. Oddly, ones that weren't too troubled by insulfrog points.

So although I inintially wasn't going to do it, I'm now planning to put point motors and frog switchers on the layout.

Most of what I need will be arriving this week so hopefully I'll have more updates soon.
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Old 02-07-2017, 09:57 AM   #55
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Well done. One bit of advice, have you put a track pin as near as possible to the centre of all your points. If not, do it, especially in a hot place like an attic.
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Old 02-07-2017, 10:19 AM   #56
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Well done. One bit of advice, have you put a track pin as near as possible to the centre of all your points. If not, do it, especially in a hot place like an attic.
Thanks - I haven't. A lot of the track isn't fixed down yet as I just iron out the last few issues.

I'll have pints through the 3 'ends' of the turnout - what would pinning the middle down add?
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Old 02-07-2017, 10:46 AM   #57
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Use something perfectly flat to check the points are not slightly bowed and have you powered the point blades on the electrofrogs this would also require the wire connector from the frog to the point blade being cut/removed...
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Old 02-07-2017, 10:48 AM   #58
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Because of the way they are made points tend to bow. If you pin near the centre it keeps them perfectly flat, extremely important, and helps prevent, usually completely cures, stalling on the frogs and derailing. It works, quite a few on here will agree.
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Old 02-07-2017, 11:47 AM   #59
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Thanks guys I'll try to do that.

Tinker - not yet but am intending to. A lot of the layout is still unfastened so the points will be relatively easy to pull up. I've done some checking of the supporting beams and I think I've been lucky - only one of the points is directly above a beam. So for that one I've got a Gaugemaster frog polarity switch on the assumption that it doesn't need to be directly underneath the turnout.

I'll try to get some photos as I go along.
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:23 PM   #60
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So I installed my first frog polarity thing today and it seems to have gone well.

Trains are running pretty smoothly over it and it seems to be behaving itself. It was the first set of points I modified too.

The Cobalt CDU arrived today so as soon as the cable arrives I'll fir my first motor. I have the polarity switch for that too.

If that goes well then next step is a big order of switches etc to cover all the ground floor of the layout.

I discovered another reason for some stalling on the standard track was solder just creeping up above the rail on a couple of dropper joins. I've taken the track up and will probaby have a go at soldering droppers to the fishplates, see if I can make a better job of it.

Once I'm happy with all the rail on the lower deck it'll be ballasting, a couple of station platforms and a parking yard, then start looking at woodwork for the upper deck.

Only on the cool days, of course.
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