Since my porter is serving as a working horse in the vicinity of a logging railroad, she’s burning wood, as one might tell by her tender. The original smokestack has only got a small diamond spark arrestor which doesn’t really fit to a wood burning loco.
My faithful Porter had some work to do during this winter, for which it was transported to different places: Into the garden, at my parents-in-law’s, even at work. Of course, these transports always entail boxing and unboxing into transport crates, which lead to considerable wear regarding the coupling between loco and tender on the one hand, and the conductor’s platform at the tender’s rear end on the other hand. Thus, we’re going to focus today on ever-occuring maintenance and possible improvements.
After assembling the transmitter, I proceeded with soldering the parts. This turned out to be a fiddly affair, which kept me from taking pictures. In return, there’s a video of the final testing! 🙂
Overall one can say that the manufacturer’s documentation works very well. Once you’ve found your way around the diagrams and schemas, the assembly is easily done in a few hours’ worth of time.
It is really helpful to plan the wiring in levels or layers. At the bottom, I placed the ground connectors. There I connected the potentionmeters, the main switch, its LED and the bind switch. The two function switches remain untouched for the moment because after soldering they will partly block access to the potentiometer.
After I finished the powerpack the next opportunity was seized to perform an extensive test run.
First the pack was connected to the charger and fully charged. To be on the safe side I placed the accu pack in a fireproof bowl and thanks to the fine weather I could move the whole setup into the garden. In case that a cell had been damaged, it would have spared me the troubles of toxic fumes in my workshop.
All went well, so I could plug the powerpack into the existing R/C circuit. The results were stupefying: almost three hours of solid mileage with 40% capacity remaining. Now I’m convinced that I can get up to two hours of operations out of the powerpack without overtaxing it. Next step will be the assembly of the DelTang transmitter.
As I wrote earlier, I’m going to switch my father’s Mogul loco to battery power. However, I want to gain some experience first by modernizing my porter loco.
At the finish line the porter as well as the mogul locos will be equipped with DelTang receivers and Li-Ion powerpacks.
Since the first test run some time has passed by, but there have been only a few opportunities to make progress with the tender’s construction. Nevertheless I managed to slip into the shop now and then and today I’d like to summarize the progress.
The most important thing first: the tender’s got a knuckle coupler. On the one hand it seemed plausible to me, since I’m going to model a railroad at the beginning of the 20th century, as mentioned on creating the blueprints. On the other hand I’m hoping for easier operations. I’ve already got some experience with link and pin couplers and I find it quite cumbersome to pull and put the links and pins between the cars with a long set of tweezers. Knuckle couplers however allow for automatic coupling at the best of times, especially if you can set brakes on the cars. Decoupling is even easier if you have cut levers at the side of the cars or use an R/C-controlled servo to pull the pin.
Today was a very special day for me. After years of planning, after months of constructing my porter tender, after weeks of waiting for vacation – today, I finally got to lay my own rails out in my own garden and I let my own loco run a few rounds.
With working couplers between loco and tender finished, I finally wanted to see some colour on the side walls. First, the stakes were painted with carmine red acrylic paint, as were the handrails. That turned out to be a bit tricky, but a second coating provided an acceptable surface.
After all handrails looked nice and the paint was dried, the red areas were masked with tape. You have to work carefully and pay attention to apply enough pressure at the edges of the tape, in order to avoid fresh paint to seep into the gaps of the wood’s grain.
Of course, the electrical connection between loco and tender made it necesarry to add a coupling between the two before there could be any test runs. In order to stay close to the prototypical concepts and to make a long-lasting connection, I wanted to use threaded rods and square nuts. Unfortunately there was not enough room on the loco to use nbw on both ends, so I soldered a square nut onto a threaded rod with a diameter of 1,6mm. That way it looks like a genuine nbw from the outside, but can be screwed into the thick plastic frame.
Now that the tender’s basic construction is finished, I wanted to achieve operational readiness. That required the porter loco to get converted from rail to battery power. The most important thing to keep in mind is to insulate the loco’s circuits from the rails in order to avoid “supplying” the rails with the battery’s current. Only then one is completely independent from other loco’s and can really enjoy the advantages of battery power.