A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

July 7, 2013

The Sound of Fury

"I wish Bernie would install that wood pile. This BPS is no fun to sit on."

T minus seven and counting....

The do list is shrinking, though not as fast as I hoped due to the cassette staging and battery-decoder installs taking much longer than expected.

I made a new cassette from half-inch poplar. While the wood looks nicer than the previous cassette, it was a bear to spike into, even considering I was using flex track and track nails.  After building a 4 foot long cassette and testing it a few times, I decided to modify it. As I removed the long and ungainly cassette, I kept having visions of the whole thing dropping from my hands and hitting the floor.

The smaller cassette is for turning the engine.
The long cassette need not turn each run.
Note the thumb screw
for end of cassette security,.
So I put the cassette on my chop saw and cut it in two, but not after I did a test to make sure my chop saw would cut the flex track cleanly. It did cut cleanly and crisply.

Speaking of using big tools, I was also using a 20 ounce hammer and nail set to drive the track nails through the flex track and into pre-drilled holes in the poplar. You  got to love a scale where a 20 ounce hammer and a 12 inch chop saw can be used to lay track.

The new cassette works well - the cassettes can be repositioned without taking them from the staging table. We just need access from the back to work it. In my basement, I removed the front panel and accessed the cassettes from the front.

I added a rider and couplers to Dave Emery's box car. It is ready for service.
I did a bunch of little detailing projects before tackling the battery and decoder install in the next loco. This was the former W&ARR Texas. It is now the USMRR Fury. I originally was going to name it Leach, but after all the trouble I had with the install, Fury seemed like a much more appropriate name.

I believe the problems arose when I created a short circuit in the two track power feeders under the boiler tube. For some crazy reason the builders of these locos change the color code of the wires from the rails between the tender and the engine. I knew this, but I forgot that there was a wiring harness in the engine that feeds the headlight, AND ALSO takes power off one wheel on the pilot truck that has a wiper (presumably to help the loco pick up track power).  Temporarily forgetting the color code swap,  I assumed it all supplied one side of the rail but in truth that harness supplied both.

So by hooking pilot truck wire to the black wire that is connected to the frame in the engine I  created a short. Since I was just using a regular power supply with no short circuit detection, the loco just sat there when I put it on powered recharge track  and gave no indication of a short, even  the decoder was playing sound. But the rails were heating up at the alligator clip where I connected track power. I even got a second degree burn on  my thumb when I removed the alligator clips, I guess that was the highest resistance spot.

Anyway I sorted that out. I fixed the black wire from the pilot (actually removed it as it is no longer needed)  and redid the harness. No more short.

Then I did some tests that Derrell Poole at NWSL suggested (great customer service -  He answered my emails over the 4th of July weekend!). The BPS was not putting out 12V. The most I saw was 1.04V after 2 hours of charging.

I connected 10V DC to the decoder voltage inputs and was able to get it to play sound, but no output to the motor.

Using my existing plugs and  harnesses I put 12V to the motor with the decoder unhooked. The motor worked. So I knew my harness to the motor was OK.

The battery read 3.9V.

So I reasoned that I fried both decoder and the BPS. Oh well. I guess I'll be ordering some new BPS and decoders soon.

I removed both inoperative parts and redid the installation with a second BPS and decoder that I had on hand.  Fortunately, it works fine.   It picks up track power and turns on and off like it should. The decoder functions normally.  I used a Tsunami 23mm super mega bass speaker and it sounds good. I had to scratch build a square styrene speaker enclosure for it the would fit in the fire box/boiler. There was no room in the boiler for the decoder, so it is riding below the firebox. I painted the yellow heat-shrink black to make it less obvious. It actually doesn't look bad as it resembles the firebox in that location.

Once Fury was running I adjusted several CVs so it starts and stops smoothly and has good sound.  I replaced the burned out headlight with a yellow LED. I removed the lettering on the tender and repainted the letters using laser cut stencils. I replaced the name plate with a new laser cut one. I still need to add the wood pile and a coupler on the back. This engine never came with a rear coupler. Then I will weather it a bit to show a engine in heavy service.

Finally, we will have a back-up loco for use in Atlanta now that Fury is raging.