Wabash work session : November 2016

Wabash work session

Yesterday, I joined friends Doug Currie, Mark Hill and Ryan Mendell at Pierre Oliver‘s house for a work session on Pierre’s Wabash Railroad.

Pierre organized the work session with one major task in hand: to pull the troublesome QSI decoders from his fleet of 20 Wabash F-units, and replace them with LokSound decoders from ESU. (UPDATE: After reading this post, Pierre has posted this morning on his own blog to explain why he decided to swap decoders across his fleet.)

Mark, Ryan and Pierre worked on this for most of the day at a table set up in the layout room:

Wabash work session
(Diesels disassembled and prepped for work)

Wabash work session
(The pulled and piled QSI decoders)

Wabash work session
(Plenty of room for a LokSound unit)

Wabash work session
(For this type of work, a professional soldering station is your friend: The Weller WES51)

Wabash work session
(With new decoders, Wabash cab units in the west staging yard are once again ready to race across southern Ontario)

Mark, Ryan and Pierre managed to re-decoder about half of the fleet before we had to leave, but Pierre promised to keep the momentum going and tackle the rest in the coming days.

While those three were busy at Soldering Central, Doug and I were given other tasks.

Doug made significant progress installing foam board insulation along the mainline east of St. Thomas:

Wabash work session

Meantime, I devised, built and mounted a push-rod for a switch in a tricky situation: right on the end of the steel trestle at the east end of St. Thomas yard. This required adding a styrene box around the mechanism to prevent scenery material from gumming up the works. It also required splicing in a new piece of fascia, which Pierre makes from 0.060″ thick styrene sheet. Pierre will shape the fascia after doing the scenery behind it. We mocked up the scenery with some green poly fiber to prove that the mechanism can be hidden under the hillside:

Wabash work session

Wabash work session

Wabash work session

All in all, an excellent day, including lunch at the Sunset Cafe and dinner at Boston Pizza. As always, work was accomplished and much hilarity ensued. Definitely a grand day out!

11 thoughts on “Wabash work session : November 2016

  1. You and your friends are lucky to have the opportunity to work together. Living in a scale model railroad wasteland makes such camaraderie tough and dispiriting.

  2. Another fun day. Thanks for sharing the record of it with us.

    I like the idea of that styrene fascia. Should be more dimensionally stable than Masonite and perhaps easier to curve too.

    And that soldering station. A man should succumb to envy but I feel it. That is sharp.


    • Give into the dark side (the light side?) of the force Chris. I have barely scratched the surface of soldering with it, but i bought a WES51 earlier this year, and its easily amongst the best money i’ve ever spent on the hobby. When i have lots of soldering to do in the future, i already know it will make my life much easier.


      • I’ve a Hakko station, and I would recommend some quality if you are going to spend time with a soldering iron. I started with a Weller 25w about 30 years ago, and spent ~15 years with a 12v/24w Antax as my good soldering iron, and are much happier now with the tools I have. Good tools make the job that much easier- not more possible, just easier. (I have a 30w weller, and a 80w for when I need to attach bigger bits, as well as torches (but no burning pichforks). Good solder helps too, and separate flux if you are going to do anything but tag wires together. I’m using 60-40 and 63-37, as well as having Low Melting Point stuff for kit building.

  3. Based on conversations I’ve had with several members of the prototype operations crowd a bit further west in the Great Lakes basin, Pierre is not alone in migrating to LokSound. A couple of owners of larger Chicago-area layouts I spoke with yesterday are in the process of pulling out their older sound decoders and replacing them with LokSound, and a buddy of mine in mid-Michigan is doing the same, but more gradually.

    I’m just starting to make the move to sound decoders myself, and the choice is pretty clear.

  4. Pierre’s experience with swapping out sound decoders is confirmation to me that my “wait and see” approach to sound was justified. Dropping a couple of thousand bucks a few years ago (assuming he paid ~$100 each for the QSI decoders) only to spend the same amount or more to replace them now seems like a poor use of limited hobby funds.
    Sound is finally starting to approach being something worth having, but I’m much happier swapping out my basic non-sound decoders for sound decoders when the time comes.

    • Hi Marc:
      There’s always a time when you have to pull the trigger on things. Sound and other decoder features will continue to get better – to the point where, one day, Pierre may tear out the new decoders and replace them, too. That said, the LokSound decoders have the advantage of being upgradable over the Internet, instead of having to return them to the manufacturer.
      Also, he didn’t pay for the QSI decoders – not directly: They were included in the models when he purchased them.
      As with everything else in the hobby, your milage may vary.
      Pierre, and I, and others, find sound to be a valuable addition to our hobby, and worth the investment – so for us it’s a good use of our funds. In fact, we could not operate our layouts in the realistic manner that we striver for without sound decoders: Part of the realism includes the engineer blowing the whistle before movement (twice for forward, three times for reverse) and once stopped (a single note). It also requires ringing the bell when starting a move and when moving past station platforms, team tracks, or other places where the railway may encounter the public. Even just these actions radically change how we operate – and as I’ve written elsewhere on this blog, they help extend the operating sessions on my layout from a 15-20 minute affair in which we knock a few cars about into an absorbing re-enactment of the real railway, that requires two-person crews and can take 75-90 minutes. I wouldn’t run a train without sound!
      Others may not care for sound – and for them, adding sound decoders would be a poor use. You fall into that camp for now, it seems… but may change your mind at some time, and that’s fine too.

  5. That switch at the east end of the Kettle Creek bridge is one at which a brakeman detrains to line it with no small amount of trepidation! Trust me on this….

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