2018 Coastal Carolina Railroaders Model Train Show Superintendent's Report
Friday, February 23rd found a contingent of NRMRC members congregating at the storage shed to help load up the club trailer. Thankfully, we had a number of members come to help load, even though they couldn’t make the show. Chris Thompson, John Wallis, Sly Glass, Bob McConnell, and our esteemed leader, Todd Shoffeitt were there initially when Superintendent David Derway arrived. Shortly after the 9:30 arrival time, Joel McCurry and Dave Thompson arrived with the club trailer in tow.
Work promptly started on unloading tables and TTrak modules from the trailer to make way for the NTrak modules that needed to go. Everyone pitched in and we managed to get the trailer loaded by 10:15. We only had one incident, when Bob M. lost his footing on the edge of one of the pallets and down he went, followed by the track box and the mountain division of Long Bridge which dealt his head a glancing blow on it’s way to the ground. It took Bob a minute or two to get his thoughts together, but once he got up, we checked him out and he assured us he was good to go, but thought it would be better to sit on the sidelines for a bit. With the extra help we had on hand, this wasn’t an issue at all. The Track Box did suffer some damage on one corner, but the modules appeared to be OK. When we were loading, we did find that on the Plains Section of Long Bridge, The right hand side clamping plate had broken loose from the bottom and top plates. This will require us to be careful installing it at New Bern, but will require a repair prior to the next show it is used in. Standards Committee Chairman was notified for it to be placed on the list of things to do.
With Joel’s expert guidance, and lots of helping hands, we were on the road by 10:20. Some folks headed to Wilber’s for lunch (where Don Wenzel joined us), some headed to the Riverfront Center in New Bern, and others headed home. I can’t thank those members enough for being willing to come help load, even if they couldn’t make the show. This year’s show turned out to have one of the smallest attendance counts for us in years. Originally 14 members were going to come, but 4 (30%) had to drop out for one reason or another. Several of these occurred the day of the show. This put Joel’s setup equation to work, which says for each module, it takes one man hour to setup. We had 25 module man hours with 8 folks to set them up which should take a little over 3 hours. So I decided to keep the layout as it had been designed.
When we arrived at the Riverfront Center in New Bern, Jim Kalenowski was waiting for us. The main contingent of folks arrived around 1:40 PM. It took awhile for us to get the two trailers unloaded, but by 2:55 we had the layout set up underway. Dave Koss arrived with his Marion module set and got busy setting them up. When we unloaded Red Rock and brought it in, Dave T. noticed one of the Tortoise’s and it’s mounting plate had been knocked off the bottom of the module and was hanging by an electrical wire. We have no idea where this happened, but it necessitated a long and involved repair session to get it back on and usable. As usual, we had to make a small change to the layout plan, but with all hands keeping busy, we were able to get the main rectangle closed by 3:55, and completed setup of the spine by 5:50. When we left, we only needed to put joiner tracks on 3 of the spine joints to complete the layout. It took us 4 hours instead of 3, so maybe we should make that 1.25 man hours per module instead of 1. We ended up with a layout 20’ X 24’ with a 16’ spine for a total of 20’ X 40’ overall.
One issue that did arise, is that I was made aware, at the show, that the DCC Master that had signed up to do New Bern decided to retire, effective immediately. He could help with some aspects of the DCC, but he was not willing to fulfill the needs of the job for the weekend. So I did the only thing I could think of, run to our retired DCC Master, John Wallis, and ask if he would be willing to do the job. I’m not sure if it was the desperation in my eyes, but for whatever reason, he said “Yes”. Whew! Dodged a huge bullet on that one!!! This will have an impact on future NTrak shows as I’m not sure how many other members will be willing to act as DCC Master (or have the skill and knowledge).
Back to the show….
Saturday Morning: We were allowed in the building at 8 AM, where we immediately went to work finishing the joiner tracks, cleaning the main lines, and getting the rest of the layout set (I.e. curtains up, signs up, powering up DCC and troubleshooting). Fresh dounts and Coffee were provided by the Superintendent as a means of saying “Thanks!” for everyone pitching in and doing a wonderful job. Terry Baker arrived from Carrboro to lend a hand in the final setup and running of trains. By 8:30 the layout was complete. Jim K and Joel M. started running track cleaning trains while Dave D. worked on some of the stub lines and Orange lines with a soft bright boy.
We did note that Gold Hill Corner still lacks permanent connections to the UP5 panels installed on it. Standards Committee notified to place it on the list. By 9:30 we had trains running. Initially we had alignment issues with Geezer Gate, and a shim added at one show had to be removed. There was an issue on the Blue Line with derailments on Rockin’ Toxin, but a quick adjustment cured that.
During the show, a cable truck built by Paul Ohegyi on Fitz Yard was damaged, but Jim K. came to the rescue and did a quick rebuild which salvaged the truck. Way to go Jim!
It took awhile for us to realize that we had not installed the smokestacks or coal cars on Appalachian Coal, and Jim K. noticed that one of the wooden dowels was still loose. Evidently the smokestack dowels and many of the people had been installed with Walther’s Goo, and it was starting to let go. Jim used CA on the wooden dowel, and will try to pin the loose people back on when he gets the chance. Dave D. installed the rolling stock and smoke stacks, which brought the module back to form.
Several loose joiners were identified on joiner tracks over the next few hours, and each one was tightened up as needed. Many members started running trains of differing lengths and types as the Convention Center filled with people. John Czarny and Steve Corlew Richmond came to run trains and seemed to really enjoy themselves. Both fellows belong to multiple NTrak clubs, with John being an Associate Member of NRMRC for some 35 years now. Steve had a 102 car coal drag pulled by 2 Fox Valley GE4400’s that made a number of trips around the layout. Jim K. had a 76 car coal drag, which ran great until he tried to get it around Lollipop Farm where it string lined on him. Public turnout was very good and we always had an audience looking on.
There were no reports of lost locomotives, wifi drop outs, or any issues with the DCC functioning. We ran trains until 5 PM when we were ushered out. Several of us went to dinner and then over to the Coastal Carolina Railroaders Club House for their open house. They have quite the setup and have done a lot of work In the 2 1/2 years they have been working on it. They have a double decked, winding HO layout with several staging yards and a huge 2 1/2% grade helix that must be 6 feet in diameter. They are using LED rope lights on the layout in addition to the ceiling’s fluorescent lighting, which make things easy to see. It was nice of them to let us come over and admire their work.
Sunday Morning: They let us in a little early, 7:55 AM. Once again Coffee and Donuts were provided by the Superintendent. John Wallis started up the DCC and ran into some issues we were not expecting. When he first powered up the booster and command station, for some reason, it sent 12V DC onto the tracks, causing Joel’s locomotives (which had been left on the layout the night before) to take off in reverse. Normally this wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but David D. had left Geezer Gate open while he was bringing in equipment, and a number of Joel’s cars went off Geezer before John could get the power off. Ouch! One covered hopper had the top pop off, but the rest seemed to have survived their trip to the carpeted floor.
Geoff and his son Ryan Flegel came down on Sunday to run trains and help with take down. We were certainly happy to get some extra hands for work and have Geoff and Ryan run on the “big” NTrak layout. It was about this time Dave Koss asked Dave D. if the welder on Rockin’ Toxin was on strike or taking a break. Sure enough, the welder wasn’t welding has he did all last year, and a broken wire under the module was located and fixed. Welder back at work! One joiner was noted to be under a rail, and this was repaired as well.
By 12:30, a lot of folks had headed off for lunch, and we had a heck of a time keeping a good number of trains running, but we did manage. Among some of the trains running, I did see another long coal drag with steamers both front and rear. Most trains ran w/o issue, but we did have a few derailments, mostly due to equipment, operator error, and some unexplainable. Dave D. worked with his Tank Train cars for a few hours before giving up. More work required before they are ready, for sure. We also had a number of busy fingers wreaking havoc with turnouts on Rockin’ Toxin as several trains were sent into the loading/unloading area. To my knowledge, we only had one instance of Geezer accidentally being opened with trains on the track. Unfortunately, Ryan Flegel learned the hard way that a quick glance isn’t enough to make sure the bridge is clear as he opened Geezer while Don Wenzel’s coal drag was traversing it. I think there were only one or two cars damaged, but it could have been much worse. Lesson learned, I’m sure.
Public turnout was again better than I have seen in several years and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The vendors were doing a brisk business, although there wasn’t a lot of N Scale for sale.
We received a check for $350 for our participation. From all indications, this was one of the best attended shows at New Bern in years and the hosting club was very happy.
At 3:50 PM we started breakdown with most of the modules out to the loading area by 4:55. Unfortunately some of the young “helpers” took Crossovers out too early and left it unprotected on the loading dock. A quick rain storm came by and drenched the module. It will have to be checked for damage once it fully dries out. We managed to get all trailers loaded and by 5:45, we were on the road home.
So ended the 23rd showing of the Carolina Coastal Railroaders Train Show. A bit of a panic now and again, but by coming together as a club, we came through it and had fun to boot. John Wallis did a short DCC report which follows:
The original plan for New Bern was to use our DCS200 as the Command Station instead of the DCS240, which experienced problems in Charlotte. After changing the CMOS battery we could not get the DCS200 to fire up as it should.
We then went back to using the DCS240 as the Command Station. Based on information from the Digitrax Yahoo Groups list and Frank Fezzie we disabled the expanded slot function in the DCS240 (OpSw #44 = c) and then disabled expanded slots in each DT402D and DT500D throttle (Options: XP slot = OFF). The DCS240 functioned normally throughout the show. We elected to use a LocoBuffer-USB as the interface to the computer running JMRI rather than the DCS240’s built-in PR3.
As time permitted the DCS200 was checked over. A number of OpSw switches had been changed to non-logical settings. Once these were reset and OpSw #5 was set to “c” The DCS200 appeared to be operating normally. Since the DCS240 was operating well we elected to continue to use it as the Command Station.
After the layout was wired and powered up we discovered a LocoNet cabling issue at Red Rock Junction that prevented the reversing Booster under Red Rock from turning on track power. This was fixed and operations were then normal. A single Booster powered the whole layout along with the reversing Booster under Red Rock which powered the reversing section along the spine. Consideration is being given to installing a LNRP under Red Rock to separate layout and local LocoNet.
The DCC system operated flawlessly during operating hours. There were no loss-of-control, radio dropouts or Wi-Throttle drop outs. There was one report from one operator who felt that WiThrottle on his iPhone was taking longer than it should to log on to the WiThrottle router.
Although there was no effect on train operations a glitch was discovered during power up of the DCS240 on Sunday morning. When the power was turned on the DCS240 did not power up correctly, and was non-responsive, as the LocoNet link to the LocoBuffer was not active. A manual reboot (OpSw #39) using a DT402 throttle reset the DCS240 into operating mode. Normally, with the LocoBuffer link active we would have rebooted via JMRI.
2018 NRMRC Superintendent for New Bern
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