Sunday, October 20, 2013

A town like Alice small design changes post operating session

Hi All

I had a "surprise" operating session, on Saturday in which Roger and Stuart arrived early afternoon, followed by Doug and Jon, later that day.

The layout got a workout, along with my sound equipped locomotives.
Roger was almost fixated by the Intermountain ES44DCs with sound, and alternating ditch lights.
Jon and myself shunted each end of the yard, breaking up 347 and assembling #166.
Stuart worked the ringer off #347.
I also took time to outline my operating ethos, and exhibition operating stance, Doug took notes!

A couple of things became apparent, and in my effort for continual improvement, the following are issues and mitigation.
1. Roger noted that after a couple of hours your feet got sore operating on tiles.
I will install rubber mats in the operating zone, aisles, cheepies from Bunnings, see how they go.
2. Doug for some reason likes to read his latest VR book in the middle of the layout:
See if I can get a small couch in the operating area.
3. I found myself back and forward between the kitchen fridge and the layout.
Please see below, Tanya had kept my old first fridge, and guess what, it fits right in the bar, perfect!
4. lack of space for issuing train orders and paperwork.
I knocked up some square tube 25.4 mm from Bunnings, I was shocked they actually had stock!  I removed the wooden legs, and hey presto, I have access to all the cupboards and work shelf.
I got this idea from another blogger, North Coast NSW, I think, and he had the whole layout supported using this method, thanks for posting man!
5. With five blokes in the layout area, and the down lights on, it started to get a bit sweaty:
Turn A/C on!  further mitigation, I will replace the halogen globes with LEDs, might as well plug some more in while I am at it.
6. Roger commented that the turntable still not working.
Soon Roger, soon!

other things in progress, the foam has been ordered for the completion of Alice Springs, and enough for the next layout.  Stand by....

Thanks to all that contributed to a great lazy day operating, thanks guys, I had a blast, and the layout performed like clock work.

Enjoy, Scott

Friday, October 18, 2013

The tale of two ANs, Barcoola review of Auscision's AN Class locomotive

Hi All

When Michael, Jon and Doug went to the Sydney Exhibition, they came back with a few goodies, Jon came back with two ANs from Auscision, many thanks Jon for being a pack mule, and spotting me the doe.

Firstly the AN model from Auscision is in the year they said they would deliver, so a tick in the box for that one!

I did a quick comparison between my seventeen year old scratch built AN6, and the couple of months old Auscision model AN4, no great surprises here.

Form fit and function, Auscision has captured the look of the prototype, quite well.

Detail on the observers side is well represented, including the Clyde builders plate (nice touch).
However the "Silicone Alkyd" lettering should not  be on this side.
 The colours fairly well represent the as delivered colour, however again the roof fades quite quickly.
 The crew are there, worthy of note, AN shirts are not that colour.  Having said that, its not the end of the world.  Makes you wonder where they got the idea that AN shirts are this colour, Trainorama made the same error with the GMs!
 Nose profile is close.
 The A ends compare quite well, I hope those double set of ditch lights work appropriately, considering the bars don't actually cover the lights.
The inner to should be the main ditch lights, the outer lights are strobe lights.   When the air horn is tonked, the strobes should flash in unison and the ditchlights should alternate.

The bolt heads around the window seals are again a nice touch, as are coupler lift bars, and air hoses (not glad handed)
 Here is AN9 in 2005.  Should give you some weathering ideas.

 Roof detail is nice. A/C grille, antenna array
 Radiator fans, and dynamic brake detail again spot on!

 Compare the models below with the prototype photo above, a little over use of yellow on the steps and handrails below the anti-climber.

 A small marking error on the B end frame on this side, should have the Silicone Alkyd, lettering in white here.  See prototype photo above.

 Bogie detail, again spot on.

 The Auscision model is missing lettering here.

 Radiator and Dynamic grille detail, spot on.

 The B end frame sill lettering is in the wrong position on the frame, however the air cleaner is well represented.
Unfortunately again the detail is really nice, but just not robust enough, out of the box AN4's rear side steps were already broken!

 Here is where the lettering should be.
 The B end looks really good, hand rails are the correct colour, except for the step and handrail below the anti-climber.
Here is how you switch the lights off and on.
 The body does not seem to sit well on the body and at the A end is is quite noticeable, if you run your fingers along the body side, you can feel the body bowing out.  I assume this is a lug problem, I will let you know what I find out.

Unfortunately I could not operate the model at this time until I get some 21 pin decoders.

The verdict:
Auscision have produced a fine example, of the AN class, no doubt about it.
Once again, being an AN modeller pays off!
However, its a shelf model, scale size detail is nice, but renders the model vulnerable to easy damage.
Other areas such as the cowcatcher matching the frame, and my version has some stains of what I assume is super glue between this and the frame.
Some simple errors, in lettering, but no actual detail faults.

The 21 pin plug:
I am sure the 21 pin will have more functionality, but why not give the modellers the option of an 8 pin.
The Instructions even recommend a sound chip, Trainorama seem to have mastered this approach with the GM class, and we can plug it or not.

Maybe Auscision could look at Intermountain, they have a dual mode chip that just works, sooooo easy, and is fitted to every non sound model. I would hope its the next step, and I for one are prepared to pay for.
if not, just give me the 8 pin option.

Would I buy another model? yup no problem, looks spot on.  Nice addition to Barcoola and Alice Springs, eventually.
Its a beautiful model that I can't operate, right now.
Both of these models will sit in the draws until I get a shipment of 21 pin decoders, as will Jon's and Glen's, and probably everyone else's.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

SDS ATBL AN tank wagons the Barcoola review

Hi All

Although it might seem not that much of a big deal, but SDS has produced what I think, is the first serious model of an AN Tank wagon, in ready to run.

These come in a three pack, two tankers with the round domes, partial yellow stripe, and one in full "patch" with oblong domes.
Here is the link:

The model in question is the ATBL, looks are quite non de-script, but this is the beauty of this model, its meant to look like this.  In particular the attention paid to the patch markings on the tank itself, as per prototype.  These particular models are of BP tankers, and were used on the standard and broad gauge system.  I think one example on BG would be the Gladstone oil train.
However on standard gauge there are plenty of locations to use this model, however for me, they were also used to transport fuel to Alice Springs.  BP had a rail served depot, on the industrial branch, at Whittaker Street, one of the few sidings which was laid facing west.  Thus this model is perfect for Alice Springs, in era and appearance.
The ATBLs that SDS have chosen were ex NSW tank wagons, that were used by BP.
Again SDS have stepped up and added the necessary details to make the model era and prototype specific, this includes

  • 3YE placard, with 000 call.  
  • Shunters steps, and handrails (I don't have shots of the particular tanker that is modelled after, and the ones on Norm Bray's site don't seem to have shunters steps).
  • Type A safety valve, info.
  • 80Km/h NSW symbol (which can be ignored if converted to an ATBY)
  • All signage in Litres and Metres.
  • Correct era high speed bogies.

the model itself is loaded with detail, including:

  • Full brake linkages
  • Brake pipes
  • bottom flow outlet.
  • See through walkways
  • see through and fully braced frame
  • All the appropriate handrails, taps, valves, turn-buckles and hatches.
  • Thin profile wheels RP088?
  • Brakes shoes and hangers on the bogies.
Another interesting feature is the end grab iron stake post (NSW requirement) is made of springy plastic, so if the wagon gets knocked , the detail won't break off, nice...

The down side...
The models seem a tad light, for my liking, However, I have given them a run un modified and don't seem to have any problems.
With such a delicate frame as per prototype, some of bits seem a little wavy, however you have to look for it to notice it, and does not effect performance, I am not going to worry about it, and in truth, these wagons would have battle scars by this time.
Some of the details grate details are askew, again for me no issue, just twist to fix.
the brake shoes are a nice touch, but sometime drag on the wheels, due to their close positioning.

the verdict:
As a AN modeller these ATBLs make a great addition to any layout and in their current form are perfect for Alice Springs and Barcoola out of the box.
Given the demands of the VR/Vline and SRA of NSW modeller, the ATBL has lots of extra detail.
This model is a great basis for a number of AN prototype models, and due to the generic nature of the tanks, they can be modified into other company tankers with very little effort.
Would I buy more? The answer is yes, I would look at recoding into ATBYs, you could also mod these into an Ampol version, ATJY, or a Mobil ATMF, with very little effort.

Nice work SDS!

 Interesting detail on this side of the wagon only, is the <110> symbol, which makes this an ATBY!