Ennitoun has been hit by savage cutbacks and withdrawal of all Locomotives and coaching stock. These cuts are more severe than those of Dr Beeching’s savage cuts in the 1960 of British Railways. At least his cuts left some lines and motive power. A decision had been made to upgrade to Digital Command Control (DCC ). To allow the smooth transfer from DC (Direct Control) to DCC (Digital Command Control) the wiring of the layout tracks had to be altered. In DC mode 1 Locomotive.Train can be controlled at one time by one controller. This means that in a dual track system two or more controllers are needed and care mast be taken to prevent short circuits. DCC has one controller/cab and all parts of the layout and all lines are live. Control of each loco is by means of DCC chip fitted to each locomotive, this chip is a programmable device and will only allow power to the motor when it gets the correct coded signal from the CAB/Controller. Once a system has been converted to DCC operation DC powered locos can no longer be run on the layout.
Once the decision was made to upgrade to DCC suitable motive power was sourced (i.e. those fitted with decoders or DCC ready). Some of the older locos were assessed to see if they could have decoders fitted and be upgraded. Stock survey on 9th April 2020 revealed that out of 70 locomotives:
- DCC Fitted 9 – able to be run on new system
- DCC Ready 19 – awaiting fitting of DCC Chip
- Non-DCC – 33 with possibility of 14 being converted to DCC by fitting chip
- Possible DCC stock = 42 out of 61 as at 9th April 2020.
The older Triang/Airfix/Palititoy/Bachmann models will be withdrawn and placed in display cabinets. Perhaps at some future date they may be converted. Reaming 33 non DCC stock will be upgraded by the fitting of a chip within the next few months (once the present restrictions on movement are rescinded).
With 9 locos ready to run under DCC and the decision to go ahead all rrolling stock was removed to allow the necessary rewiring to be undertaken. The DCC controller/CAB selected was NCE Power CAB starter set. To ensure that power went to all parts of the layout the self-isolating points/turnouts had to be made non-isolating. This was achieved by the use of Hornby DCC point clips . Once all 42 turnouts were fitted with the clips it was time to test the track using one DC locomotive. Placing it on a site that would normally be isolated from the controller a test power application was made – For the first time in my life I was pleased to see that the isolation of the shed was breached the engine was tested all over the track to ensure even if all points were set against it power was still getting to the loco.
With that simple test it was time to set up the DCC controller and test a DCC fitted loco. Looking at the diagram image to the left it is a simple procedure to link the two wire (the only wires you need) to the controller. Ah there is always an Ah at this stage
in the proceedings. When it came to fit the plug from part 6 to the socket part 5 it was found that diameter of the plug was larger that the circumference of the socket. Swearie word time, rant at manufactures that cannot do a basic parts check etc etc. Regardless of language, rant the point was at this stage the project ground to a halt. The PW Team leader advised the Fat Controller that they were screwed and the job was at a stop until the correct PSU with the correct diameter plug was obtained. The loss of revenue was the Fat Controller’s fault for ordering incompatible gear.
With luck and Royal Mail being its’ usual service the replacement part will be here on Monday 20th April 2020 and the final test be completed.
Oh the joys of lock-down, model railway and mail order (with priorities being enforced) have added two weeks to a three day project.
Link to Ennitoun Motive Power Album
Click on image below