Sunday, February 05, 2012

Fourth Operations session of the Welztalbahn

Yesterday, the 4th operations session of the Welztalbahn took place. Balazs joined me again, and Alex popped in for a little while.

I updated the schedule based on feedback I got at the LD/Ops SIG meeting last weekend. The biggest change is the addition of a local freight (Ng / Nahgueterzug) that runs from Prechtal staging to Emsingen early in the session, and a return trip to Prechtal staging near the end of the session. The intent was to make more use of existing staging capacity, as well as make use the engine servicing facility during the session. An unintended side-effect was that switching Emsingen became more involved. I'll likely revisit the yard in Emsingen in the near future to add a 4th yard track.

Another suggestion I implemented was parallel meets of passenger trains in Emsingen. While it's interesting visually, I'm underwhelmed about the operational need to run two trains up from staging on the same route back to back.  However, I'll definitely take another look at this as part of running passenger locals from Prechtal only to Emsingen (possibly servicing and turning the engine in Emsingen), and returning back to Prechtal, without running the train all the way down to Freiburg staging.

For the first time I used the new stub-ended staging tracks under Kopper Furniture to hold the two freight locals from Hausach and Freiburg respectively, which freed up the main staging tracks for trains that make multiple appearances. Even though the track is still not mounted permanently in place, nor has feeders, it worked well enough. I really need to power the switches, though ... A side-effect of using these tracks is that I actually do need to spend a little bit more effort on staging the layout for a session.

While the layout mostly ran well, this session still had some problems:
  • Early on we tried to convince the freshly digitized BR141 locomotive to actually work. It appears I need to take the motor completely apart and clean it thoroughly. Even on straight DC the motor didn't run properly, and lots of arcing was visible around the commutator and the motor brushes.
  • BR86 got stuck regularly, and needed the commutator cleaned.
  • After throwing a switch on the down ramp towards Staging 2, JMRI and/or the Intellibox went into a fit, LocoNet got flooded with switch commands, and the switch got toggled endlessly. I had to power down the layout, exit JMRI and start over to clear this condition. Adding "breakers" to Logix to control whether groups of Logix rules are active should help to diagnose this condition further in the future.
  • Due to the missing BR141, the schedule couldn't be run as written, and we somewhat messed up towards the end of the session.
Overall, the session lasted for about 2.5 hours, and we ran 21 out of 23 scheduled trains.

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