Sunday, March 29, 2015

V60: Gears

Wo gearbeitet wird, fallen Spaene

The remaining gears and axles of 260 417 are cleaned and oiled. Now I just need to find some quiet time to prepare the epoxy glue and get the motor glued in place.

Friday, March 27, 2015

What a mess

They needed to bring in the big crane to clean up this derailment near Mount Marvel at Silicon Valley Lines.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

V60: test-run with replacement motor

Today, I cleaned up some imperfections with the metal work from Friday and for the first time tested the new motor with the simplified drive-train.

I'm quite pleased with the result, even with the gears still dirty and a bit sticky from sitting in a box for over 25 years.

Friday, March 20, 2015

V60: The next victim

This is the ubiquitous Maerklin 3065, DB number 260 417-1 a first generation switcher for light and medium duty switching,  as well as light transfer freights. This is my next victim for conversion to digital. I'm doing this one differently than all the other conversions so far. The motor in this locomotive is awful and the gears are super-noisy. Two years ago I ordered a re-motor kit from SB Modellbau that fits this locomotive. It consists of a small Maxon DC motor, and adapter gears to fit into the Maerklin drive-train. This promises a much smoother running engine and I heard many good things about the SB Modellbau motor kits.

Before I start...
The only catch is that doing this conversion requires extensive modification of the motor block, thus the kit is labeled as "difficult" on the SB Modellbau Web site. "There is no difficult", I thought and ordered the kit.

I've never done a conversion like this before. You can send the parts to SB Modellbau to have the milling done professionally for a fee, but I wanted to try myself.

Today I worked up the courage to start grinding away the motor block with a cut-off disk in the Dremel and working out the more intricate bits with a milling bit. The zinc metal is relatively soft, so a fresh cut-off disk worked very well. The milling bit is a bit harder to control, but manageable at low speed setting. I used painters tape to keep the metal shavings away from gears and wheels as much as possible.

Halfway done.

Milling complete

The motor fits almost perfectly
So far, so good.

A couple days later I did the first test run.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Walking the Dog

One of the nice things of being up early and dropping off the kids at school is a walk with the dog along Coyote Creek Trail.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

V200: Conversion to digital operation complete

The digital conversion of the V200, Maerklin model 3021 is done. Since I had the lights and decoder working already, I just needed to put shell and chassis back together.

Here is a quick run-by in Talheim with an express train made up from appropriate vintage tin plate passenger cars.

This is the last post on the V200 conversion. The earlier posts are part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Monday, March 16, 2015

V200: Lights

Since I already decided that I would rip out the analog insides of this Maerklin 3021 and put a decoder in I did not want to keep the original light package either. I do want to do the model justice and keep the outside appearance as it was manufactured in 1958, thus I'll refrain from drilling out the 3rd headlight which is merely suggested by a bit of silver paint, as much as that offends my prototype instincts.

Light-board Mark I
I built a new light-board from some strip board and DCC-friendly 14V miniature light bulbs. I used some stacked styrene bits and double-sided tape to mount the board inside the locomotive shell, carefully paying attention to leave enough room for the motor assembly right next to it.

Light-board Mk I mounted in the shell
I hooked up my workbench 12V power supply and ... was underwhelmed.

Yes, the lights look ok. In fact they are looking better than with the original light package, but if I'm going through all this trouble might as well choose something with less maintenance burden. I remembered that I still have a pack of 3mm warm-white LEDs in my supply cabinet, and built a light-board with two LEDs arranged in series, protected by a 1.5kOhm resistor. After taking the photo I glued the stack of styrene and double-sided tape to the light-board assembly and mounted it the same way as the first one.

Light-board Mark II
The light looks similar and this was a somewhat pointless exercise after all, but now the old lady has LED lights. Woot.

Time to wire up the lights with the decoder in the chassis and see how well this all works on the layout.


"Hey look, there's a Hooded Oriole in our Lemon tree!"

I didn't know the name when I took the photo, but rather thought "that lemon is moving awfully fast"...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

16 miles in 60 minutes

It was raining this morning. I had to drive to the office instead of taking the bus as usual.
It appears people are unable to refrain from having accidents when you drop a cup of water on the road.

Total drive time from south San Jose to Mountain View was over 90 minutes today.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

V200: D E U T S C H E   B U N D E S B A H N

The paint on the V200 Maerklin 3021 is showing signs of its age and eventful life.

This doesn't look particularly good as a close up, but the impression of the locomotive improved dramatically from merely fixing up the lettering on the side. At the moment I'm not planning to do a wholesale repaint of the body of the loco but rather leave most of the scruff marks. After all, it's almost 60 years old. It's allowed to have a few wrinkles.

[Part 1 of this conversion]

Playing with V200

This is Maerklin's 3021 model of V200 006. This model must have been produced around 1958, since Maerklin used the 200 006 number only from the introduction of the model in 1957 to 1959 (see this link for a description of the various model versions).
I've installed an Uhlenbrock 76200 multi-protocol decoder which also has cabling for driving the original Maerklin motors without turning them into a DC motor first as I usually do.

And yes, the old lady is now being tested on the Welztalbahn.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Koef II at work

I did some minor detailing, added couplers and put the Koef to work. A transfer run to Talheim was completed successfully. However, the return with only two cars barely made it up the hill. This model simply doesn't have enough traction to pull more than two cars on a 2% grade. That's ok. It's intended to perform switching duties in Emsingen only. As expected, the Koef II also does not forgive dirty rails, but performs significantly better than I expected. I might spring for a LokPilot Micro 4.0 with Powerpack if switching with this little loco is as much fun as I'm hoping for.

To finish off the conversion series of BRAWA's 0458 Koef II, here are some shots of the Koef working in Emsingen.

Koef II switching cars in Emsingen
I'm pleased to confirm that the Koef II and the work crane fit on the turntable together.
[Previous installments of the Koef II conversion: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3]

Sunday, March 01, 2015

BRAWA 0458: Digitized

[This is part 3 of my Koef II digital conversion. Part 2 is here.]
Test-program the decoder
I used an ESU Lokpilot 3.0 as the decoder for the Koef. When closing the roof I noticed that the decoder just barely doesn't fit. The LokPilot Micro version would actually fit under the roof as designed. I squeezed the decoder into the cab for now. Wires be damned.

To finish off the evening, here's a short video of the Koef in Talheim.

[Read the last installment of the series here]

BRAWA 0458: Roof Off!

[This is part 2 of my Koef II digital conversion. Part 1 is here.]

The roof is off!
Instead of a screwdriver, I used a wooden clothes pin to push hard against one edge of the Koef roof and it just popped off. No damage to the roof or the body of the locomotive.

The cab housed a shrink-wrapped assembly to make the loco work with Maerklin-style AC power, and includes two capacitors wired in series to provide some extra juice for dead spots.

View into the cab with the connector leads to motor and pickups.

Read on in part 3.

Maytag MDB6701AWS dishwasher standing water in the tub

A "fun" way to spend a Sunday afternoon is figuring out why our Maytag dish washer has standing water in the tub after a completed cycle and also doesn't quite clean as well as it used to. I cleaned the floater which felt gooey and didn't really float up and down as easily as you would expect. Didn't make a difference.

The troubleshooting instructions for "standing water in tub" suggest to check the drain for food remnants. I pulled out the dishwasher from under the counter and checked the drain hose. No apparent blockage, but I noticed that it took 10s of seconds after the pump came on until the water started to flow stronger than a trickle. I figured there must be something blocking water flow inside the dishwasher...

There was, and I learned a few things:
  • When your lovely wife says, "The dish washer needs a thorough cleaning", do the cleaning. It'll save you pain like an overflowing dish washer tub later.
  • It is not necessary to pull the dish washer out from under the counter top in order to clean the filter and sieve.
  • Contrary to earlier dishwashers we had, this Maytag model (MDB6701AWS) supposedly doesn't need manual cleaning of the sieves and filters. Of course, that's not actually true, it just takes longer until it is necessary.
  • The mechanism to shred, filter and sieve food inside this dish washer is quite involved, yet fascinating.

I didn't take photos when it was dirty, but I took a couple after I had everything back together. This is the inside of the dish washer. As you can see there are no obviously serviceable parts. The floater is the round thing on the right-hand side.

I first removed the 4 screws circled in red to take off the sprayer arm and loosen the filter cover. Then unscrewed the 6 screws under the arm on the inside ring. I circled 4 of those screws in green, there are two more under the sprayer arm. The middle part now comes off fairly easily revealing a black disc, which is actually part of the pump mechanism. There is a small screw on top of the disc. Unscrew that, and put the disc aside. Finally, there are two more screws holding the filter/sieve assembly in place. Take those out, too. With some gentle convincing the cover and the filter/sieve assembly can be taken out of the dish washer. Underneath you will find the blade that hacks food into tiny parts to be washed down the drain.

In our case, the inside of the filter/sieve assembly was completely gummed up with food remnants. This part can not be opened. However, a little bit patience and using a shower head provided sufficient pressure to loosen the gunk through the sieve and wash it out. While everything was out, I cleaned the other parts, as well as the drain inside the dish washer.

Finally, I put it all back together. Apparently I didn't break anything in the process. Our dish washer seems to be working fine again. We're running an empty cycle right now to wash out any remaining gunk. So far, so good.