Stay Alive ‘Peckett’ – fitting decoder and ‘cap’ to the Hornby model.

January 22, 2017

There’s not a lot of room in the Hornby OO gauge Peckett W4 0-4-0ST locomotive model which comes as no surprise. To maximise pulling power, the saddle tank, boiler and frame assembly is entirely cast from metal – beautifully done but challenging should you wish to fit even the smallest ‘Stay Alive’ device or speaker for digital sound.

 

The challenging little Peckett - a beautiful runner, but interesting should you wish to fit something other than the decoder Hornby has designed for it.

The challenging little Peckett – a beautiful runner, but interesting should you wish to fit something other than the decoder Hornby has designed for it.

Hornby has fitted a non-standard 4-pin interface for an adaptation of its small loco decoder. However, not all of us use Hornby DCC equipment and for various reasons too many to mention here. Adding an alternative N gauge decoder such as a Digitraz DZ126 for example would require hard wiring – at least it will slot into the front of the motor cavity where Hornby intends its own decoder to fit. However, when it comes to adding a Stay Alive device or digital sound…there’s simply no room unless the 4-pin plug arrangement is removed from the side of the motor and some milling out of the inside of the die-cast body undertaken – tricky!

This project shows how I fitted an N gauge decoder and Stay Alive to the Hornby Peckett.

This project shows how I fitted an N gauge decoder and Stay Alive to the Hornby Peckett.

To take advantage of the lovely mechanism over the sharp and complex track of the Loch Dhu Distillery yard, Stay Alive is essential to smooth operation in a loco with just four wheels and four current pick-ups distributed over a short wheelbase. I decided to try one of the low-cost LaisDCC decoders with its Stay Alive unit which would provide something like 0.5 to 1 second of power when track supply is interrupted. More power time would be desirable, but there’s simply insufficient space in the loco for a larger capacitor circuit such as the TCS KA-series decoders! Anyway, this is how I tackled the project. The same approach could be adopted by those wishing to fit a digital sound decoder – a sugar cube speaker should fit at the front of the model where I fitted the Stay Alive device. The model’s wiring, TV interference suppression capacitor and decoder retaining bracket were removed first.

Two screws hold the body in place - one is concealed behind a NEM coupling box.

Two screws hold the body in place – one is concealed behind the NEM coupling box at the front of the model.

There it is!

There it is!

For this project, soldering cannot be avoided. You will need heat shrink sleeve, a soldering iron and electrical solder, Kapton tape, double-sided adhesive tape, wire strippers, tweezers, mini-drill, milling tool for a mini-drill, wet and dry paper, screwdriver set, fine nose pliers, modelling knife and somewhere comfortable to work with plenty of light. It’s a long job!

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The wiring is simple including the rather large 4-pin socket arrangement. Interestingly enough, this is the start of fititng a decoder to the side of the motor to leave the front area clear for the Stay Alive unit (or speaker for a sound decoder).

Die-cast metal all round in the motor cavity - all of which can cause a short and kill a decoder if care is not taken over insulation and making enough room for the decoder.

Die-cast metal all round in the motor cavity – all of which can cause a short and kill a decoder if care is not taken over insulation and making enough room for the decoder.

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Yes, there is potential for attaching a decoder to the side of the motor. Some further space will need to be ‘created’ by milling away some of the inside of the loco body. There is also enough room to run wiring across the top of the motor mount but not around the back.

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Wiring and brackets are stripped away. Heat shrink sleeve is used to insulate the soldered connections between loco wiring, Stay Alive device and the decoder harness wires.

The decoder wiring has been shortened to fit the model. The unwanted lighting function wires have been trimmed short and insulated from everything else with 'Kapton' tape.

The decoder wiring has been shortened to fit the model. The unwanted lighting function wires have been trimmed short and insulated from everything else with ‘Kapton’ tape.

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With the decoder positioned on the side of the motor, it is now a simple task to work out how much metal to remove from the inside of the body.

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Around 2mm of metal was removed from the inside of the body, on one side only. This shows progress after 30 minutes of very careful work.

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Once the body will easily slide on and off the chassis without the decoder catching anywhere, you are finished. Clean up rough edges with wet and dry paper and insulate the inside surfaces of the motor cavity with insulation tape. When test fitting the model, do not force it over the decoder – crushing and scraping will damage it. If there is even a hint of the body catching the decoder, remove it and slowly mill away some more metal. There’s plenty to go at without piercing the saddle tank!

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Final assembly with Stay Alive ‘cap’ taped into place and Kapton tape used to secure wiring in place. The body now drops straight on to the chassis without touching any components.

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A time consuming installation but well worth it. The value of CV29 was set to 34 to switch the analogue operation off so the Stay Alive unit will function correctly (also for 4-figure addressing). I hope the close proximity of the die-cast body will act as a heat sink for any heat generated by the decoder, not that this loco will be under much load!

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The installation has resulted in a smooth running engine. The effect of using a low power Stay Alive is to make operations smoother in such a small short wheelbase engine. If the track is truly contaminated, it won’t work as well as a TCS KA-series ‘Keep Alive’ device, but there’s no fitting one of those in a Hornby Peckett without seriously milling away a great deal of the die-cast metal with the consequent loss of adhesion.

Examples of the TCS KA-series decoders and 'Keep Alive' units - too large for this project!

Examples of the TCS KA-series decoders and ‘Keep Alive’ units – too large for this project!

The Hornby Peckett at work at the Loch Dhu Distillery interchange sidings.

The Hornby Peckett at work at the Loch Dhu Distillery interchange sidings.

 

 


Have you ever smashed a model?

January 13, 2017

Thankfully – no, not happened to me yet. However, there comes a time with a project where you have to cut your losses, at least in time and move on. Put it in a box and leave it for another day. I currently have a small layout project that has driven me a little insane last year. Put it aside for a few weeks and now I am back to it with renewed enthusiasm.

As for rushing projects – I sometimes blame exhibitions and train shows – they are a real deadline that focuses the mind but also focuses frustration at how long projects can take to complete.

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I mean really trashed it.

And not to recreate a prototype photo or to model an effect. Have you ever been soooo FRUSTRATED that something wasn’t working out the way that you wanted it to, that you just said ‘F*%K-IT‘ and smash…you destroyed it?I admit it,I have.

If by some super-human feat of self-control you have not, I bet you’ve been close and wanted to.

But here’s the thing. I don’t feel that way anymore. And I have the hobby of model railroading, in part, to thank for that.

This is a hobby for patient people.I’ve learned that projectscan’t be rushed, steps need to be followed in logical and methodical, well thought out order, or mistakes happen. First fill, then wait, then sand and wait, then prime and let dry, then paint one thin coat and let dry,then repeat…dear God can’t I get this done TONIGHT?And when I…

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Mid-life crisis…? Well, after 2016…

January 6, 2017

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Um, no, you are not seeing things… I have the opportunity to look over the forthcoming Bachmann Hawksworth OO gauge auto-trailer (2017 release) and have enjoyed looking into 64xx ‘Pannier Tanks’ too. An interesting class of locomotive. There’s one that has attracted my attention: No. 6403, and that is due to my interest in the railways of the Black Country. The loco concerned was ‘shedded’ (to use a steam era term) at Stourbridge Junction in the last few years of its life and the Bachmann model above, according to my records and research, could relatively easily morph into No. 6403, more or less.

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39-578 as W234.

The auto-trailer shown in these pictures is yet to be released by Bachmann (39-578) at the time of writing. It looks pretty good to me on first inspection and with reference to ADW150375 and other images, I think the shape is pretty good (ADW150375 did see extensive modifications for its departmental role, something I have to consider when making comparisons). Anyway, here’s a few images of the model to give a flavour of what is on its way. Also to be released soon is a plain unlined BR maroon version (which will be very attractive for its ordinary every day appearance) and one finished as a preserved vehicle in chocolate and cream livery. And, no, this ensemble will not be appearing on Folkestone East…

autocoach-4-omwbautocoach-5-omwbautocoach-3-omwbFor the record, the Bachmann Hawksworth auto-trailer was first released in late 2015: 39-575 in 1951 BR crimson and cream as W231 (larger numbers); 39-576 BR lined maroon as W228W and 39-577 in BR crimson as W237W.

To come is the featured 39-578 BR carmine and cream as W234 together with 39-579 unlined BR maroon as W236 and 39-580 heritage railway chocolate and cream as W231W.


Filthy, Dirty, grubby, meet the model of 2016… The Peckett is finished.

January 5, 2017

My modelling recently has been somewhat lazy, I have expected results from lacklustre effort and been pissed off with the outcomes, much like my recent work life. It has been a rubbish year really …

Source: Filthy, Dirty, grubby, meet the model of 2016… The Peckett is finished.


Peckett appreciation…Loch Dhu’s newest locomotive.

January 3, 2017

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Despite my best intentions, the new Hornby ‘Peckett’ 0-4-0ST locomotive proved to be totally irresistible! I chose the plainest one offered by Hornby for Loch Dhu Distillery which was supplied by Crafty Hobbies of Barrow-in-Furness – my thanks to Shelagh for her help in securing the model. It will be simple to add etched nameplates and new works plates to transform the loco into ‘Loch Dhu No.2’.

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Whilst I organise some new etched plates for the model, it has been undergoing a little testing on my OO gauge Loch Dhu layout and after a short running-in period, it told me of some over enthusiastic grasses on the siding and a slightly misaligned rail joiner. otherwise, running was impeccable.

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Track weeds were trimmed back a little to clear the low slung chassis of the loco. It is a beautifully built model with smooth valve gear action and good shunting capability. When a decoder is fitted, it will be adjusted for a low maximum speed appropriate to an industrial loco.

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Fun with some Bachmann wagons. I am in agreement with many that this loco could turn out to be a big seller for Hornby.

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A lovely little model and the second 0-4-0ST to be acquired by Loch Dhu Distillery (from the Manchester Ship Canal Co. and Esso Petroleum) for shunting duties. It will work alongside an Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST once its identity has been changed. Apparently, negotiations are underway to acquire a third locomotive for the distillery: another Andrew Barclay – this time a smaller 9-inch version in late pre-war condition. Rumour has it that the distillery has its eyes on Dailuaine No. 1…

Dailuaine No.1: disgracefully stuffed and mounted at a distillery it never worked and with which it has no association. Time it was removed and restored in fully working condition. This loco is an important part of Speyside line history. It was allowed to work the main line between Carron and the Dailuaine Siding to serve the Imperial Distillery as well as Dailuaine itself.

Dailuaine No.1, an Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST. it is disgracefully stuffed and mounted at a distillery it never worked and with which it has no association. Time it was removed and restored in fully working condition. This loco is an important part of Speyside line history. It was allowed to work the main line between Carron and the Dailuaine Siding to serve the Imperial Distillery as well as Dailuaine itself.


Winter walking: Sgùrr Breac.

December 30, 2016
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Approaching the summit of Sgùrr Breac in cloud and with a 40 mph SW wind.

To counter the excesses of Christmas, I made an attempt to bag the last two Munros in the Fannaichs. A small weather window opened up on Tuesday (27th December) after the second of two very intense low pressure weather systems had blown through leaving a fresh breezy day to attempt the walk. I had no idea how much snow was left on the Fannaichs at this time, so went equipped with winter gear including ice axe for traversing snow fields which may (or may not) be frozen and extensive on the lee slopes of the hills. My targets were Sgùrr Breac and A’ Chailleach, the two most westerly of the Fannaichs.

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Loch a’ Bhracin near the starting point on the A832. A morning shot.

As it turned out, the wind was too severe to allow a climb of both Munros in the short time available in mid winter with dusk at around 15.45 hrs. depending on cloud cover. I was not keen on clambering back down through Allt Breabaig in near darkness, not even with a head torch and other light.

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I climbed up onto the ridge at Leitir Fhearna at the start of the walk to reach the start of a ridge walk along Druim Reidh that would take be to the top which lies between the two mountains. The wind chill and speed made walking challenging and with the turn back time approaching, I decided to leave A’ Chailleach for another day and concentrate on climbing Sgùrr Breac. Once completing the top, I walked down the south east side towards Allt the pass or bealach (Allt Leac a’ Bhealaich to the south of the pass and Allt Breabaig to the north of the pass) which separates Sgùrr nan Each and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala from Sgùrr Breac. The bealach was the route for the return walk which turned out to be relatively sheltered. I have used the Allt Breabaig bealach route from the north before and in much better weather conditions too!

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The view west from Druim Reidh on the approach to Toman Coinnich, a top which sits between the two Munros. The picture was taken just before entering the cloud sitting over the hills.

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A panorama from just below the summit of Sgùrr Breac. The shot was taken just below the cloud base. Loch Fannich can be seen in the distance and the Munros Sgùrr nan Each and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala also make it into the shot.

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Approaching the top of the bealach or pass from the south for the return leg of the walk.

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Shelter at the top of the pass. Beyond, to the north is the walk-out through Allt Breabaig which was very wet with snow melt. Even the path had assumed the role of a small burn!

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A sight for tired feet – Loch a’ Bhracin at the end of the walk at dusk. Only half a mile to go to reach the car!

 

 

 

 


Julenissens reiserute

December 23, 2016

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In the north of Scotland, we rely more on weather information published by the Norwegians on yr.no than we do by the Met Office. The weather map for Julaften (Christmas eve) featuring Julenissens reiserute has been published by yr.no and it seems that Julenissen (Santa) is due to take a swing around Svalbard first before heading down the coast of Norway. Julenissen plans to loop inland before sledging towards the Oslo area, finally leaving Norway somewhere near Kristiansand. It appears that the final leg across the North Sea to Scotland is still provisional…

Have a great Christmas (god jul) everyone!