Friday, October 30, 2009

SoundBytes XII

It has been a busy month here for us. We were set up at the International Hobby Expo in Chicago and we will be setting up at Trainfest in Milwaukee November 13-15th. In this edition, we will talk a bit about the iHobby show. Then we will introduce you to one of the newest members of SoundTraxx and her first snow. Last for our Tech tip, we will show you how to operate our Tsunami prototypically and help slow down our operation sessions and add virtual length to our always too short model railroads.

The iHobby show in Chicago is different from the shows we usually attend. At this convention, there are manufacturers from many different hobbies,
such as Radio Controlled cars, planes, boats and helicopters, slot cars, plastic model kits like cars and jets, collectible cars and a few tool manufacturers as well. The show is open only to store owners and their employees the first couple of days, and then is open to the public Saturday and Sunday. We were able to visit with many dealers over the weekend, as well as many of our customers. We demonstrated our new TSU-KT1000 installed into a Kato F40PH set up for HEP. (Head End Power) This decoder is the easiest yet since it has the LEDs built on the board in the correct places for the ‘light pipes’ that Kato uses for illumination, and Kato has provided a speaker mount for the 1” round speaker we offer as well. These should be shipping shortly.
We are also getting ready for Trainfest in Milwaukee, WI. This show will be held November 14-15, 2009. If you are able to attend, come by and see us. We will be showing any new products we may have up our sleeves!
On another note, the Cabooses are in the USA on a truck headed to our facility. These are scheduled to arrive by the end of next week. Once we have completed incoming inspection, we will get these out to our dealer network as quickly as possible.

The new SoundTraxx CEO(??)
Our newest member of the team has been getting a lot of attention. Nancy’s 8 month-old Golden Retriever, Sadie experienced her first snow this week in Durango. We all couldn’t help ourselves from laughing as she would bury her face into the snow and roll around. Sadie probably would be content to spend all day outside if she could! She spends each day ‘helping out’ in the office, greeting visitors and always wants to be a part of every meeting. She has become a staple of our office environment.

Tech Tip:
One of the aspects of operation we promote is realistic operation using sound. Following FRA rules and ‘Whistle Signals’ will help add that missing dimension to create a realistic simulation of the prototype. Add in handling of a train correctly, this helps involve us more than simply turning a knob to run a train, now we are operating a railroad. All of this adds to the fun, as well as adding to the always too short mainline runs, and switching jobs that we love to have during any model railroad ops sessions.
We have outlined a typical use of running a steam Tsunami equipped locomotive in pulling out of the yard and stopping to take on water. These methods can be used for a multitude of situations that may come up in an operating session. Running a Steam Tsunami

•Turn on the dynamo (F0)
This will turn on the electric power to the locomotive for lights.
•Whistle signals (F2&3)
Following whistle signals will alert crew on train and ground as to your train’s movements. See chart at the end.
•Turn on the bell (F1)
The bell helps alert anyone within the area to hear and look for moving trains.
•Throw Johnson bar (Direction Key)
This will set the locomotive into a forward direction.
•Release the brake (F11)
Setting the brakes holds the train still while crew are working. Releasing them in a separate step will sound the hiss of released air from the brakes.
•Crack the throttle (Speed Knob)
Start off slow to pull the slack out from the couplers. If you just crank up the throttle, the tons of weight behind the locomotive will break the couplers and cause the train to go into emergency.
•Hear the snifter lift (Automatic)
This is a valve on top of the cylinders that keeps water from condensing into the piston cylinders.
•Open the cylinder cocks (F4)
By opening the cylinder cocks, any sediment that could compromise the steam entering the cylinders is blown out.
•Increase throttle (Speed Knob)
After the slack is pulled out from the couplers and all cars are moving, now you can gently accelerate as the trackage dictates. If in a yard, proceed at yard speed limits, however if out on the main; accelerate slowly until reaching maximum allowable track speeds.
•Close cylinder cocks (F4)
Open cylinder cocks do cost pressure in the cylinders and therefore decrease the power the locomotive has available to move the train.
•Blow a grade crossing (when necessary)
Following FRA rules, every road crossing needs a whistle signal blown. 2 long blasts, 1 short blast then 1 more long blast. See chart at end.

Stop for water.
•Call For Flagman (F2 & F3)
Following the whistle signals will tell your train crew to protect the rear of the train from following trains during a stop. This signal is one long blast followed by 3 short blasts of the whistle. See chart at end.
•Drag brakes to slow train (F11)
Applying the brakes will gently slow the train to a stop. For the train, a gentle application of the brakes will keep the train from bunching up on the locomotive and keep it stretched out to protect against derailments.
•Come to stop/blow signal (F3)
Once the train is completely stopped under the water tower, blow one short blast of the whistle to tell everyone that you are stopped completely.
•Fill tender with water
Using F9 will give the sounds of the water hatch opening, water filling up the tender and when done, sound of the tender hatch closing. Doing this for a predetermined time per loco will ensure a full tank.
•Recall flagman (F3)
The flagman is protecting the rear of the train during the stop. We need to notify him of out impending departure. Blowing the appropriate signal from the whistle tells the flagman to return to the train. This signal will depend on direction of travel of the train. See chart at end.
•Begin departure
Start up the departure sequence again, whistle signals, bell, release brakes, crack throttle, accelerate.

Common Whistle Signals

- is designated as long whistle blast
o is designated as short whistle blast

Approaching a public road - - o -
Warning for areas where view is obstructed - o
Approaching a station or flag stop -
Release brakes - -
Set brakes o
Flagman protect the rear of a train - ooo
Stopping (When in motion) ooo
Going in reverse (When initially moving) ooo
Going forward (when initially moving) - -
Recall Flagman from West (North) - - - -
Recall Flagman from East (South) - - - - -
Approach/Meet with another train - - o
Acknowledgement of signal not otherwise specified oo

As you can see that there are many things to attend to when actually operating a steam locomotive with a train. Just turning a knob does not fully get you involved like sound can. This sequence was developed by following the actual operation techniques used by our employees Jarrette (Fireman) and Jeff (Engineer) on the Durango and Silverton Railroad. Following this sequence will bring the railroad to life, and help make it more fun!