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Hi all again!

Since I can’t make any positive movement forward on my layout, I feel I must let off steam with this note. I have a list of jobs to be done:

1. Improve the lighting in the garage, not only for better illumination of the layout, but also for all uses of the garage.

2. I have to replace four pulleys of the hoisting system which do not rotate when the baseboard is being lowered or raised. Fortunately the cords used are Kevlar mountaineering cord which seems to resist the friction and slides over the stationary pulley. I had arranged to have my son-in-law and family for the weekend of 1st November so he could help me with the job, but my wife going down with flu and his mother suffering a fall stymied this.

3. When we get around to replacing the pulleys, I want to turn the baseboard round. This is because the new controller connects to the same end where the point motor control is installed and this means that when the garage door is closed, I have little room to move in the space formed between the door, a side table and a chair (the transformer and controller go on the side table). With my previous starter kit, I had a hand held throttle with freedom of movement all around the layout and this lack of space did not occur.

4. The scenic arrangement needs finishing. The original layout plan contemplates a second signal box and, to place this appropriately, I shall have to demolish or remove a line-side shed. Also, in parts I have foam track underlay and in other places I have cork where I shall have to ballast. A burnt out point motor needs replacement and finally, some items are in need of repair.

Although it may seem strange to some, it gets very cold here. As the crow flies we are just over two miles from the Med, practically at sea level, but we get early morning frost and ice. This week we had ice in the back garden. So, to avoid working in the garage (surrounded by north and west walls), I have made a portable test track for working on the kitchen or dining room table. It can be used either as a programming track or main as it can be interchangeably connected to the leads from my controller (see photos below). It is obviously not long enough to do long main track testing but at least the start volt (CV2) settings can be tested. Apart from that, all CVs can be read off and reprogrammed as necessary. I have three locos which need adjusting.


This shows my controller with two female ended leads which attach to male sockets on the baseboard.


This shows the male socket at the end of the portable test track, albeit unfortunately not very clearly


This shows the portable track.

I finally received (after 16 days) some spares ordered from the U.K. and set about doing something that I would not have dreamed of a year ago, namely modifying RTR stock. I was inspired into this by reading of others who fit a body of this onto a chassis of that and do other changes. So, to change the couplings on a Fowler 4P 2-6-4 tank of 1992-5 vintage, I changed the front pony truck and fitted new couplings and have also chipped it. Some modification of the interior of the body will be required to allow for convenient housing of all the additional wires and insulation. But, at least, it responds to commands. I also ordered a replacement pony truck for my Stanier 4P because I have had problems with the original. One wheel has lost its tyre twice and even came off when I tried to replace it. So, if this happens again, I shall have to replace the pony truck.

As mentioned on forums and blogs, I have had problems with chipping locomotives and have spoiled five or six decoders. My experience now shows me that not all the problems were due to the decoders. What is obvious is that the decoders were probably not adequate for the particular locomotives to which I fitted them but, also, I was not aware of the possible need to reprogram various CVs and, if I had known, I would not have been able to do so with my DCC starter kit. Also, at that time I thought that all decoders were the same (part of the blissful ignorance mentioned in my first ever post). While on the question of decoders, the Bachmann 21 pin decoder (ref. 36-554, ESU manufacture) according to the data sheet attached therewith, has no provision for modifying CV6. I am wondering if it has an automatically variable default value. In the Zimo decoders CV6 comes with a default value which is automatically one third of CV5, so if you reprogram CV5, it adopts the new value, while at the same time it can be reprogrammed otherwise.

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