(All trains on deck: The sector plate, ready for an operating session)
Chris Abbott had business in my part of town yesterday, so he dropped in for a visit. It was his first chance to see the layout since I’d upgraded all of my locomotives to TCS WOWSound decoders, so while we did not hold a formal operating session we did run a few trains…
The decoders give me more options for replicating the operation of a real locomotive, so they’ll take a bit of getting used to. As an example, here’s what’s involved in going from a full stop to moving forward, with throttle function buttons noted:
Blow two short whistles to indicate forward direction (F3)
Turn off blower (F4)
Turn off injectors if running (F8)
Open cylinder drain valves (F5)
Start bell (F1)
Release brakes (F6)
Turn off bell once moving (F1)
Close cylinder drain valves (F5)
It sounds like a lot to remember, but Chris and I have both spent some time in the cab of a steam locomotive, working as a fireman’s apprentice at a tourist line, so we appreciate the ability to duplicate this sequence in miniature. We know the process – we just need to remember which button does what. It occurred to me last night that the TouchCab throttle app for the iPhone may solve this problem, since it includes icons that one can map onto the various function buttons.
While we had a lot of fun playing with the new sound decoders, we found a curious feature – one we need to avoid for now, and fix down the road:
I use Lenz throttles with keypads. There are four buttons for the throttle: coarse deceleration (-16 speed steps); fine deceleration (-1 speed step); fine acceleration (+1 speed step); coarse acceleration (+16 speed steps).
Normally, I operate using the coarse buttons: I have momentum set fairly high (CV3 = 50), which helps sound decoders produce a dynamic chuff sound. But Chris was being more cautious so he started a train by tapping the fine acceleration button once (to the first speed step – V1 – of 126).
We were both surprised when the train took off at full speed!
Fortunately, nothing was damaged and Chris stopped the train quickly. But further experimentation showed us that…
1 – V1 put full speed to the locomotive.
2 – V2 brought it to a complete stop.
3 – V3 and beyond behaved normally.
4 – The reversing switch worked properly, so the same thing would happen in reverse.
5 – It happens with all locomotives, not just one.
6 – Analogue (DC) operation is turned off on all decoders, so the decoder should not be reacting to the pure power on the rails with no signal.
The short-term solution is to avoid using the fine acceleration/deceleration buttons. The long-term solution is to contact TCS to inform them of the issue and see what they come back with. Meantime, if anybody else using these decoders has had this same problem and found a solution, I’d love to hear about it!
That said, we still had a great time and I look forward to Chris’ feedback on the new decoders.
Afterwards, we retired to Harbord House for pints and fish: Salmon Wellington for me; classic fish’n’chips for Chris. Very, very tasty and we’re definitely favourites with the staff there.
As for the title of this post…
While we might think our trains are the best toys ever, my dogs know better. They are great fans of Chris on any day – but especially yesterday, as he brought them each a new frisbee:
Thanks Chris! We’ll put them to good use in the dog park this weekend!