I have ordered components for more current sensors from China. I.e. I hope the components will arrive before Christmas. This time the current sensors will be based on bridge rectifiers and ILQ620 opto-couplers, i.e. the type that reacts to current in both directions, i.e. AC:I have also ordered what I hope are pretty smart connectors, where a connector is soldered to the printet circuit board and all wires are screwed into another connector, that fits into the first one:Only the printed circuit boards do not seem to be cheaper in China than in Europe. And I already have a few of them in stock.
Even before that, I will make a new levelling of heights and slopes on my layout. I have already been making the outer curves softer. I might begin with just small blocks of wood, clamps etc., but I will not be done until every bit of my layout have been tested with the Bn wagons and wood blocks etc. are glued or screwed on the layout.
I have spent a couple of hours on a few findings:
– The derailments happens with the same wagon. If I exchange the wagon with another one, the train can go through the troubled curve. I cannot see what the problem is with that specific wagon. Maybe a fault in the coupling kinematic or in a boogie?
– If I am trying another curve, there are no problems – at least not consequently. Not even with the “problem” wagon.
– There is another curve in the other side of the layout where it is always the last wagon that derails.
– The couplings are not very stable. Especially not uphill. I must try out Fleishmann Profi couplings. I also have to get the train to reverse all the way round. And I have to test both clockwise and anticlockwise.
– I can get the “problem” wagon run through the “problem” curve, if I attach the track with a clamp on a very strategic place. The train has just passed the “problem” curve on this picture, where the clamp is holding the tracks down, so the slopes are correct both along and across the tracks:It is a sign that I am going to have to re-level the entire layout and that I need to attach the track firmly.
At the same time, I need to take a second problem more seriously: I have been using thicker plywood for the rear shadow yard than for the rest of the layout. And the transition is quite rough. Luckily, the joint is only srewed and not glued together, So I can disassemble and then align the thickness:And I also need to ensure that the layout is level all the way seen across the tracks.
Finally, I need to make a safety net below the layout. I don’t believe that one should ever trust 100% that no derailment can occur. And I cannot bear thinking about trains for thousands of kroner plunge a meter or more down on the floor. The safety net should not be a coarse net so that couplings, horns, buffers, antennas etc. could become entangled and break. I imagine some curtain fabric, where I am sewing Velcro in all edges, so that I can easily remove and attach the safety net.
I have bought a small piece of 3 mm wooden fiber board (masonite) to align between the different plywood thicknesses.
I have also disassembled the layout in one side at the transition point. But now I am no longer sure this is a problem at all:The front part (still green on the picture) is only screwed to the back part. And that is already aligned used some of the green foamy stuff. The alignment wasn’t perfect though, so I suppose that I will exchange it with a bit of the 3 mm board now that I have started. But I don’t suppose it will make much difference.
The rear part (where I have removed the green stuff on the picture) is glued. So I cannot put fiber board underneath the plywood. So I will have to add something on top of the thinner plywood – either extra layers of the green stuff or I might use a grinder to make a piece of the fiber board thin in one end.
The basic problem is however still the ground work where all plywood need to be firmly attached to wood blocks of the correct heights. And as part of that work, I need to find out why the rear shadow yard is askew across tracks even though the base frame is level.
Two things on my mind today: A comment for the Mck Bn wagons (maybe true for everything coming from Mck?) and a way to measure elevation.
Mck first. I have been really really careful. I have not even been running the wagons at high speed. And I have at no point in time had any wagon tip to the side when it derailed, which they have been doing several times.
Even so it is if all the small fine details are dropping off or break. It might not be all that bad yet, but two things have happened: At each end of a Bn wagon there is a tiny thin, but rather long plastic thing that I think should look like the brake tube or whatever it is, that is on the corner of each real-life B wagon:One such plastic thing got entangled into the coupling on the next wagon and broke. And while I was removing the wagons from my layout to put them into my showcase while I adjust the elevation on the layout, another part fell from one of the wagons. This time a box-like little thing that sits below the wagon. And a third thing that was wrong already when I unboxed the wagons: There is a tiny damper or whatever it should look like on each side of each boogie. One of these are missing.
The Mck models are very fine and very detailed. And for that one is paying extra. But I feel rather bad about the consequence of this detailing, i.e. that the wagons do not seem durable enough to be used. I will even stretch this to the point that the Mck wagons was not the right purchase for me. I am very pleased with the nice wagons. But I am sad that they only seem well suited for staying in the showcase. Maybe I should have bought other wagons that are less detailed but more durable. Heljan maybe? Hobbytrade? Togmodelle?
Heljan wagons are however equipped with many of the same details: But at least they are quite a bit cheaper, so I would become less unhappy if something broke. 399 kroner for a Heljan B wagon. 579 kroner for my Mck Bn. Both prices from www.nettog.dk.
And now on to the other topic: Measurement of elevation.
Until now, I have been trusting that the base frame that I built about a year ago is totally straight and level. But that is not the case. One corner is a few millimeters lower than the rest of the base frame. And then it is no good to measure with a ruler from the base frame and up to the track. In addition, a ruler is not precise enough to measure differences in elevation between levels.
I do like this:
1. Make sure your floor is level. Use a spirit level. 2. My floor is carpeted. Therefor I put a more even surface in the shape of the 3 mm fiber board that I just bought on the floor to have a good surface to measure from. 3. Place a steel ruler underneath the track, where you want to measure. Make sure the ruler sticks a little out over the edge, so that it can be seen from the floor. 4. Put a laser measurement device on the board on the floor and measure distance to the steel ruler. Do a few such measurements. 5. Voila - there you have it. The elevation is shown at the display.
As an example, I have measured 787 millimeters in the front edge of the front shadow yard. The back edge of the same shadow yard is 784 mm. And I can see why: The plywood is not firmly attached to the plywood, so there is a gap of 3 mm at the front. But these 78? millimeters is my elevation 0, since I cannot go any lower without sawing something of my base frame.
I.e., the rear shadow yard that according to AnyRail shall be at elevation 4 cm must then be at level 784 mm + 4 cm = 824 mm.
Skive H shall be at 8,5 cm, which equals 784 mm + 8,5 cm = 824 mm.
It may not be 2 mm error at one spot that ruins the running of a train. But the layout may not be bumpy. And the elevation may not be many millimeters wrong anywhere. That would leave me with a curve sloping across the track or a slope along the track of maybe 5 or 6 % instead of the 4 % that is the intention and which is already pretty steep for a train.
It was nice weather for gardening today. So I only managed todo the levelling for 3/5 of the rear shadow yard + a near perfect transition between 6 mm and 9 mm plywood in one side of the layout. And tonight I also glued some new green stuff on the transition piece as well as on the new outer curve.
I have attached the wood blocks for leveling firmly with a long screw down into the base frame or a steel angle, where I could not place a screw. The plywood is attached by a screw into the wood block so that it is flat towards all wood blocks and not hovering anywhere.
The important thing is that now I have begun the new leveling. Until further everything fits down to a millimeter according to the AnyRail calculations
I have decided to place wood blocks for each centimeter of change in elevation all the way round in the curves:
Tonight I got a bit further with the new leveling in the curves. As can be seen on the illustration above, there are places where the middle curve should have an elevation of 4,1 cm whereas the inner curve should have 4,8 cm. But since the two tracks are on the same piece of plywood, they now both are at 4,1 cm. I may have to fix this at some point, but until then, it means that some slopes exceed 4%:I had to go to the attic to find pieces of wood and board and whatever of various thicknesses, so that I can fabricate wood blocks that fits the exact number of millimeters as needed. But now the track is beginning to be fitted tight at the elevation they should be and in perfect level seen across the track.
It takes some time. I have to measure many times and I have to find the right combination of board and wood thicknesses that fits to the millimeter without consisting of to many layers. And then sawing, adjusting, fitting etc. where I keep running to the garage (where I have the saw) and back again to test fit. And if the final measurement reveals a wrong elevation, then is back and start all over again.
The explanation to the derailment may have showed itself already: I had to press down the plywood about 1 or 2 cm in order to get it down to the 4,1 cm. I.e. the slope must have been very steep indeed. If there has been 1,5 cm over a single track piece, it corresponds to 10% with a sudden transition to 0%. In that case, I just don’t understand that the visual appearance was not worse than it actually was.
I have managed the 4, 5 and 6 cm elevation points in one side now:The 7 centimeter elevation point is somewhat more difficult. I will have to make some more build up all the way down from the base frame, since the plywood is outside (or rather inside) the base frame.
I have now constructed the 7 cm elevation point in both sides of the layout:I have also done the rest of the rear shadow yard. So I have now only 3 elevation points left to do. 10 down. 3 to go. Objectively it might be somewhat exaggerated, but I find it a beautiful sight to look at the new “columns” carrying the plywood:
Yesterday I managed to empty the green house for tomato plants. So now I must get time to get the leveling finished.
I have made the exact same wood blocks for the left side elevation points as I did for those on the right hand side. And then I have measured to ensure the result is OK.
Re-iterating the test drives shows that the original problem is solved. I have bought AC wheels for the Bn wagons. But I will begin the test drives using DC wheels. And then I will mount the AC wheels afterwards – just as a safety measure. See this illustration:The problem was that the second wagon derailed when the wagons were pulled out of T14 and into the yellow track.
The other problem is still present: The rear wagon derails in T10 when the wagons are being pulled out of the blue track and up through T9, T10 and T11. It looks like a mix of couplings or kinematic that do not function correctly and thus forcing the wagon sideways while the wheels are not having the right distance and therefore running up on the top of the turnout rather than through it.
Having screwed the track in the left hand side properly to the plywood and having put AC wheels on the rear wagon, I have succeeded in running some full circles without accidents. It is still as if the coupling kinematic stays in their outer position after the train has come into straight track. And I have been reading that is a well known problem for at least some Mck Bn wagons: https://www.sporskiftet.dk/forum/modeljernbaner/skala-h0/problemer-med-mck%C2%B4s-bn-vogne?destination=node%2F16789
My dealer has promised me new kinematics, and he should really also exchange them. I don’t feel much like breaking anything in those quite expensive wagons and I cannot see how to disassemble them. The dealer explained that during production, some of the Bn wagons were equipped with faulty kinematics and some were not. But until I get the new kinematics, I might as well try if it is possible to “run them in” and that way maybe make them work properly.
The wagons can now be both pulled one way and pushed the other way round the track. So it is not all that bad. I have however still not dared to run the train at anything but very low speed.
I have not yet tried the Profi couplings either. But that is next on my list, since the standard couplings decouples when the wagons are pulled from T2 and through the crossing towards T16.
Conclusion: Success, even though I don’t quite trust it yet. But in the future, I will always make sure that everything is firmly screwed together and that all elevations are according to AnyRail.