Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Friday, August 20, 2021
Toward the end of my post on the non-shake down shake down session, I mentioned that I'm actually short on some diesel locos. I have more than enough DL-109s (NH class DER-1) to cover the Shore Line trains, but don't have enough diesel power for my local freights. So allofasudden, my Alco switcher projects moved to the front burner . . .
One of those two projects is to convert a c.2003 undec, non-DCC Proto2000 S-1 into DEY-3 #0967 - the main diesel loco on the Valley Local during my era. I have a Loksound v5 decoder on its way for the "decoderization" and in today's mail - just in time for Friday Fun (and a Weekend Project, if Hurricane Henri doesn't screw us up) - I got the speaker for the "soundification."
Up to this point, I've either accepted a loco's stock OEM speaker or used iPhone4 speakers for my sound installs. But ever since I heard of Scale Sound Systems speakers on my favorite podcast, I've been curious about them - and once I heard that Mike Rose is now using them exclusively in his installs, I decided I had to try one myself.
Now, I'm no audiophile but I know that there's a lot of science that goes into making good sound. And I know what I don't like (e.g. the old MRC sound decoder/speaker in my other Atlas S-2), so I figured the flagship diesel on the Valley Line would be the perfect
excuse opportunity to try an admittedly "premium" speaker.
I just ordered the speaker this past Tuesday and - despite a warning on the website that all speakers are made to order and require a 3-14 day lead time - I got it today. If speed of service is any indication of quality of product, I'm sure to be a very happy customer. Of course, the free lollipop didn't hurt ;^)
I'll post a full review once I get it all installed. For comparisons, the Atlas S-2 I'm working on (which will become DEY-5 #0604) has a Loksound Select decoder and an OEM speaker, as does my Atlas RS-1. My RS-2, as well as all of my DL-109s, have Loksound Selects and iPhone4 speakers. So I'm very interested to
see hear what, if any, difference I can discern.
If it sounds only marginally better to my ear, I'll probably just stick with the iPhone speakers. $17 vs. $2 per speaker is no joke - and the huge price difference is definitely a consideration when equipping a large fleets of locos. But I have a relatively small number of engines to "soundify" - in fact, other than a couple more brass steamers, this P2k S-1 is the only one on the horizon - so an SSS speaker is certainly worth a try.
Have any of you used Scale Sound System speakers yet? If so, let us know your experience in the comments below!
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Monday, August 9, 2021
It's been almost two years since I've heard the whistle of a steam locomotive going past our house, but shortly after I got home from work I heard it's call & confirmed that the southbound was backing down to the Junction.
Which of course gave me plenty of time to catch it coming back northbound . . . Enjoy!
Friday, August 6, 2021
|My co-crewmember on the Valley Local, PieterR, before things started to devolve...|
It all started out typically & innocently enough. I did my usual ops session setup (a process I'm really trying to streamline) and invited a small group of my regular crew over to run the trains. One of the nice aspects of my railroad is that I can operate with as few as one or as many as 13 people, so I knew I'd get a session in no matter how many showed up. As it was, I only had to annul the Shore Line trains and the short local (PDX-1), opting to have 2 man crews on the Airline & Valley Locals and just TomD on the westbound Shore Line local (PDX-2).
So far so good. But then I did what turned out - perhaps - to be the equivalent of poking Fate in the eye . . . I decided all the trains would be steam powered(!)
Yup, three New England Rail Service New Haven Railroad K-class moguls - all brass - ran at the point of the three locals. I've run them all before and they run as beautifully as they look. Bur for some reason, about 30 minutes into the session, they all took turns shorting out the layout. ARGH!
Now, more reasonable folks would have taken that opportunity to remind themselves that this was supposed to be a shake down session - to see what inevitable glitches may have cropped up over the year-and-a-half of idleness - to create a punch list of items to address - to, even perhaps, actually address those items as they cropped up.
But no - not me. With every irritating, incessant beeping of every short circuit indicated, I just became more aggravated and determined to Keep Going At All Costs, trying to WILL the layout into behaving.
Yeah. That didn't work so well.
Thankfully, my crew is not only good humored and patient, but it turned out they had much more reasonable expectations of the session than I did. And, as a result of cooler heads prevailing, I got the punch list I'd sought by scheduling the session in the first place (and that I, apparently, subconsciously sought to avoid by plowing ahead):
- Reset and Reprogram the decoders in all the steam locomotives.
- All the shorting may have affected the electronics, so best to do a "clean reboot" to remove that variable. See the videos below for some of what I'm experiencing.
- Run all the steamers in the dark to check for any arching.
- While they've run fine in the past, brass steam locomotives are notorious for developing short circuits over time as paint wears and parts come into contact with each other.
- Run some metal wheelsets through all the turnouts/frogs.
- One of my COVID projects was to do a thorough cleaning of all the rails and apply graphite.
- Despite my efforts to apply it very sparingly (a little goes a very long way), I may have been a bit heavy handed in some places and any rough spots - typically at rail joints and frogs - may have knocked off more graphite causing more to be applied.
- Too much graphite may have caused some bridging of electrical gaps. But once it burns off, it's fine.
- Reintroduce just one steamer at a time at future ops sessions.
- In the meantime, I'll be running all-diesel sessions.