Tuesday, May 27, 2014

running my train...

to death?
Oddly enough for running my train from 5pm to 10pm on Thursday and Friday and from 9 to noon on Saturday I have only one picture on my camera, the one of Robb with a Saturday passenger train shown yesterday.  35 miles were put on the train in that time.  One hour, 4 miles was with the small batteries and me sitting directly on the truck.  Talk about a fun way to inspect the track.  Flying on a magic carpet.  I could tell that the track was made on a panel with a slight turn at the end, shhhhhhtik  shhhhhtik every ten feet. I never noticed it while on the bigger train but sitting on a little four wheel close to the rails it was very noticeable.  I will say the track was quite well maintained, and I could tell newer than Hesston.  (The first section of this track was laid 20 years ago and is showing some wear and different construction methods.)
The engine ran very well the entire time.  Robb rewired it on Tuesday and Wednesday to add an amp meter.  Amp meters have very large shunt that needs to be electrically insulated.  While he wired I made a dashboard from a small wood box from Michaels, it hooks up to the truck via cat5 cables.  We will probably be wiring the unit one more time to install radio control.  Currently the control board is a pacesetter.  Robb purchased a 4QD thinking it would be better.  Several people at the meet said the pacesetter board was better than the other options.  We do want to play around to see if we can extend the range of usefulness of the throttle.  Currently it is 1/4 deadband, 1/4 useful and 1/4 way too fast.
One of the first areas of the railroad, and few of the open areas, most is in the woods or swamp.

While the truck ran nearly flawlessly.  I can't remember any problems with it. We did have some trouble with the cars.  The way the axle were made the bearings are at the outside edge.  Then the side frames have enough play to move in and out the full thickness of a bearing.  Yes, you guessed it, first on the blue flat an axle came out of the bearing, grinding down the end of the axle destroying the bearing but the wood block was fine.  Another railroader there saw our problem on Friday night and suggested installing washers or o-rings to make sure the bearings stay on.  We visited tractor supply and bought both, installing washers Friday night and ran for a long time no problems.  On Saturday the same failure occurred to the gondola, this time one of the wood block crack during the derailment. It actually failed within 1000 feet of loading into the van, if it had not we probably would not have taken a better look at the trucks until I was back in Iowa.  Robb decided that we should follow the other suggestion we got, mill the shoulder over an 1/8th of an inch on each side to have the axle extend out and the bearing in some.  He started the project while I took a nap on his couch.

Speaking of naps....
This is from Tuesday.  I used to sleep in the same spot with mom when I was a little kid.  Mom is watching a cooking show on TV and Lillian slept for several hours.

So while he milled axles on the lathe I re installed them on the trucks.  We chose to replace the two damaged axles wholesale.  I will also be replacing two of the wooden journal blocks that were damaged.  The bearings are held in the new inboard position by o-rings.  I plan to inspect the cars more often than every 60 miles until I know they are good.  In other bad news three of the nuts that hold the trucks together were missing.  I will be switching all the nuts out for locknuts or using locktite.

It is hard to sit cross legged for a long time, sitting like a chair is better.  Even padding on plywood gets hard, use good seats.  Sitting in a gon traps your feet, not easy to get out to switch, etc.  A flat car with a milk crate, or boat seat is better.  The long riding benches are good for passenger riding cars.  I plan to make up some crates to go onto our flats, they will double as toolboxes, the top will be wood, then a kneeling pad, then the foam cushion, then some cotton batting, and then the actual cover.  The larger the seat the better.  For some of the time I ran while sitting on both gondola seats.  These short cars are hard to load two people into, better to have one or one and a kid.

Make sure to wear sunscreen and have enough water.  Also dress for a breeze, riding the train is like sitting in a constant 4 to 8 mph wind.  I also like wearing safety glasses and gloves.

This is definitely something I would do again.  A good use of two vacation days.  I was within 15 miles of the ILS track Sunday on the way home, I chose not to stop off, I should have though.  The IMLS spring meet in in ten days.  The whole family will be going down there, meeting Jeff and Barb.

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