The mixed train to Port Rowan also served Port Dover – and the trip from Simcoe to Port Dover was fairly short, so it was done in reverse. To do so and still obey all the rules, I imagine the last car in the train (in this case, the combine) would have been equipped with a small air whistle, tied into the train line. A crew member – standing in the vestibule – would use this whistle to blow for any level crossings.
Even though I don’t need to operate the mixed train in reverse on the run to and from Port Rowan, I thought it would be fun to model this feature. And my recent upgrade of the decoders in my 4-6-0s meant I had a pair of Tsunami Light Steam decoders kicking about – perfect for the job!
Back when I installed the compensated subframes on my passenger cars, I did so on Combine CNR 7184 and Baggage-Mail CNR 7792. I then got into testing these cars in operating sessions – and while I’d built the new trucks, I never got around to doing the body bolster work to retrofit Combine CNR 7176. Yesterday, I decided it was time to address that.
While prepping the car for its new trucks, I also drilled two holes in the floor (labelled “hole” in the lead photo). I threaded pick-up wires through these holes. I then found a suitable speaker with enclosure and installed speaker and decoder in the baggage section using double-sided foam tape.
Under the car, I installed pick-up wipers bent from 0.015″ phosphor bronze wire. These went into holes drilled in the subframe and wipe on the backs of the non-floating wheels on each truck. The wires were simply secured in the holes with CA.
The car only has four-wheel pick-up – which would be a problem if I was trying to run a motor and continuous sounds. But I’m not: I turned off the volume on all sounds except the whistle. I set the whistle volume low, and picked one of the “peanut” styles out of the whistle list. The keep-alive capacitor on the Tsunami seems to do just fine keeping enough juice on hand to power the whistle when needed. Plenty of audio exits through gaps in the vestibule doors.
Since I have a second spare decoder, I’ll do the same upgrade to Combine CNR 7184 in due course.
This installation offers up another opportunity for enhancing operations. My CNR rule book includes a section – Rule 16 – listing various Air Communicating Signals. These were signals communicated from the back of the train to the engine. The conductor could direct the engineer to start the train… to back up… to reduce speed… to stop at the next station… and so on.
These were normally communicated through the signal line to a whistle in the cab. Since only passenger cars are equipped with signal lines, a cab whistle wouldn’t be in use on my mixed train or on a freight extra. So using such signals would not be prototypical on my layout.
But I think using the combine whistle to pass air communicating signals would be a lot of fun. So if someone wants to try it, I’m perfectly willing to play along…
UPDATE: May 29, 2014 – I’ve now done the same installation on my other combine, CNR 7184. And I’ve enabled the “steam release” sound, at a low volume, so that conductors can use a drop in the train line air pressure to communicate with the engine if they so desire. It’s not as elegant as the whistle – the hiss takes a while to build, so it’s more difficult to do “short” and “long” codes than it is with the whistles, which come from the factory with “short” and “long” on separate functions. But it’s there.
I should’ve mentioned in this post that I have left the lighting wires (blue, white, yellow) full-length on these decoders and curled them into the baggage area so that at some point, if desired, I can add lighting effects such as marker lamps that I can turn on and off as needed.
I have a couple of unbuilt resin kits for CNR vans (cabooses). At some point, I’ll ship those to my friend Pierre Oliver at Elgin Car Shops to put together. (Pierre has done my other vans, and I like his work so I’ll get him to build these as well for consistency’s sake.)
But before I do that, I’ll modify the kits so that I can fit a speaker, markers and a decoder into them after Pierre has assembled them for me. That’ll give freight extras the same operations tools as the Mixed Train.