Ops with Mark and Dan

Yesterday, my friend Mark Zagrodney and his son Dan came over for an afternoon operations session on the layout.

I try for perfect operations sessions – zero derailments, zero electrical problems, etc. – and for the most part I have succeeded. But this session wasn’t one of those. Everything stayed on the rails, but I did have some electrical gremlins.

Once or twice, my DCC system kicked into short mode. I suspect, but can’t confirm, that something on a brass locomotive is touching something else that it shouldn’t – and that the lightning-quick circuit protection in the ECoS 50200 is catching the short before it clears itself. I’ll investigate that.

More frequently, though, the Mobile Control II wi-fi throttle would lose its connection with the base station. A while ago, I talked to Matt Herman at ESU about this and he suggested moving the Wireless Access Point (WAP), or replacing it with one from another manufacturer. I’m going to try mounting the WAP higher in the room – right now, it’s in the drawer with the DCC system. If that doesn’t work, I’ll look at a more robust WAP.

In part, I know the problems occur because I haven’t run the layout in a while (and I say that a lot lately on this blog). Unlike in the early days of Port Rowan, I’m less inclined to hold solo operating sessions these days. There are other things to do, and when I have hobby time, I try to work on something (such as the CNR 2-8-2 project).

I don’t know if that’ll change. The hobby is a social one for me, so I’m really happier hosting operating sessions than I am running solo. I guess I’ll have to book more sessions to keep things rolling smoothly.

Despite these DCC issues, I had a lot of fun. Dan took on the engineer’s role, while Mark played conductor. I helped out with brakeman’s duties as required. It’s always interesting to watch people solve the problem of switching what appears to be a very simple, straight-forward town like Port Rowan…

As an aside, Dan is a teenager and has grown a lot taller since the last time I saw him – he’s now taller than his dad, and definitely taller than the bulkhead that runs up the middle of my layout room. I’m glad I installed foam pipe insulation along the edges of this ages ago…

Afterwards, we headed to Harbord House for dinner – of course! And I sent Mark and Dan home with a banker’s box full of back issues of MR, RMC and other magazines that I no longer need in my space. Read and recycle!

6 thoughts on “Ops with Mark and Dan

    • Actually, everything is usually fine when I do have visitors, too.

      I don’t believe in Murphy’s Law. Either the layout wasn’t fine when there were no visitors – and you’ve been fooling yourself – or the visitors have added a variable into the equation that needs to be addressed.

      I try to make my layout robust enough and simple enough for visitors to eliminate them as the cause of the problems – and Mark and Dan did a fine job. No faults to them.

      The fact the layout didn’t run as well as it could have is mostly because I haven’t been running it as much as I need to in order to stay on top of the little bits of maintenance that all layouts require. And reporting the problems on this blog gives me a record to which I can refer. I can (and do) review my posts to look for patterns.

      I think invoking Murphy’s Law makes it too easy for us to shrug away a problem, rather than address it head on…

    • Actually, the layout doesn’t suffer from seasonal changes. The issue I’m having here is electrical, not mechanical, in nature. I’ll figure it out.

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