Eltham South Electric Tramway

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Melbournesparks

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I'm behind on updates here! Usually I cross post the same update to a few different places, so apologies to anyone who's a member of the various facebook groups.

Electrification works are continuing, more wires went up on the weekend. Not far to go now!



The big RhB motor car tests the newly constructed overhead. The shiny copper wire will soon fade to a dull colour with a bit of weathering.




On my way home the other day I noticed a prototype example of the same thing, some overhead renewal had taken place in platform 5 at Flinders Street. The contact wire still shows a bright copper shine, but like on my small scale tramway it will soon fade.




The small electric loco checks the new overhead for trolley wheel compatibility.




The curved viaduct presents some new photo opportunities!




Today electric traction reaches this spot for the first time. The main line will be fully operational again soon!




The big RhB M car back at the crossing loop in the late evening sun.
 
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wayne kofoed

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A very beautiful tram way and a great pleasure to view photo's. Iwould like to see in person but live in Castlemaine far away.Congratulations on magnificent efforts on tram stock cheers wayne.
 
Melbournesparks

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A very beautiful tram way and a great pleasure to view photo's. Iwould like to see in person but live in Castlemaine far away.Congratulations on magnificent efforts on tram stock cheers wayne.
Always welcome to visit if you're in town, it's an easy train trip from Castlemaine!

For the first time today the entirety of the new main line was made available to electric traction. There will still be a few tweaks required before the official opening, but it was nice to finally be able to run the trams again!



Toastrack V214 on the stone embankment. The Melbourne early autumn is made for this type of tram, it's the only time of the year we have a moderately stable climate.



Astute readers will notice we haven't seen much of V214 this summer. The plating has completely worn off it's wheels, so it needs the track to be very clean to run reliably. It's going to be fitted with some new running gear with nice stainless steel wheels soon, just waiting for workshop time.




Ballarat 33 (which had stainless steel wheels fitted a while ago) is reliable as always as the main passenger car of the line. The tree fern in the background has taken a bit of damage over summer, but the irrigation has kept it alive, just. Hopefully the rain comes soon...



The long straight elevated section is the only place on the tramway where any real speed as possible, though as this slightly telephoto view shows you still need a fair bit of bravery or stupidity to try it! At least there's plans to plant some squishy plants underneath now...
 
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dunnyrail

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Just out of interest Mr Sparks, how do you find the interface between ally rail and wheels. Clearly the Bachman Based V214 has had problems. But have the LGB ones been OK? I ask as I am currently using Ally Cassettes for my 00 Railway and worry about loosing wheel surface on expensive sound chipped 00 Locomotives. Sorry about the thread drift guys.
JonD
 
Jasper

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Madman

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Melbournesparks

Melbournesparks

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Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed it!

Sorry for the late reply, it's been a busy couple of weeks.

Just out of interest Mr Sparks, how do you find the interface between ally rail and wheels. Clearly the Bachman Based V214 has had problems. But have the LGB ones been OK? I ask as I am currently using Ally Cassettes for my 00 Railway and worry about loosing wheel surface on expensive sound chipped 00 Locomotives. Sorry about the thread drift guys.
JonD
Good question, I've wondered about this too. It's probably important to differentiate between purely mechanical wear, and wear caused by arcing or some sort of electrolytic action. So far purely mechanical wear seems to be by far the most significant. The home made track is probably pretty harsh in that area, with a mixture of profiles, and a somewhat indifferent gauge in places! Add to that the dust that inevitably comes from running outside and you have a running surface that can be quite abrasive. The LGB wheels have not shown any signs of wear yet, they seem to have a very hard plating, much harder than the relatively soft aluminium rail.



This is how the toastrack tram's wheels look now, the relatively soft plating has entirely worn off the running surface. The pickup shoes were retrofitted and already well worn, they came from an ancient stainz motor block that's probably older than I am. The same wear pattern can be observed on unpowered rollingstock, so I don't think electrical arcing has contributed to it to much.

In HO scale operating inside the mechanical wear and arcing would be much less, but there might be potential for some sort of electrolytic reaction if the rollingstock was stored there for a long time? I don't know enough about metallurgy to say if it would be significant or not...


Here's a few recent night time photos. I'm looking into ways to power the on board lighting while the trams are stopped, it would certainly look good in the dark...



 
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trammayo

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Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed it!

Sorry for the late reply, it's been a busy couple of weeks.



Good question, I've wondered about this too. It's probably important to differentiate between purely mechanical wear, and wear caused by arcing or some sort of electrolytic action. So far purely mechanical wear seems to be by far the most significant. The home made track is probably pretty harsh in that area, with a mixture of profiles, and a somewhat indifferent gauge in places! Add to that the dust that inevitably comes from running outside and you have a running surface that can be quite abrasive. The LGB wheels have not shown any signs of wear yet, they seem to have a very hard plating, much harder than the relatively soft aluminium rail.



This is how the toastrack tram's wheels look now, the relatively soft plating has entirely worn off the running surface. The pickup shoes were retrofitted and already well worn, they came from an ancient stainz motor block that's probably older than I am. The same wear pattern can be observed on unpowered rollingstock, so I don't think electrical arcing has contributed to it to much.

In HO scale operating inside the mechanical wear and arcing would be much less, but there might be potential for some sort of electrolytic reaction if the rollingstock was stored there for a long time? I don't know enough about metallurgy to say if it would be significant or not...


Here's a few recent night time photos. I'm looking into ways to power the on board lighting while the trams are stopped, it would certainly look good in the dark...



The night shots look really great. As for stationary trams - why not fit a simple switch to one of the wires feeding the motor? Mind you, that might be pain at tram stops!
 
stockers

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or just go DCC
 
Melbournesparks

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The night shots look really great. As for stationary trams - why not fit a simple switch to one of the wires feeding the motor? Mind you, that might be pain at tram stops!
That would be the simplest way, though like you say you'd still have to manually flick the switch on the tram when stopping.

or just go DCC
Unfortunately DCC is pretty much ruled out by the high cost, especially for a largish fleet.

A potential option is constant voltage overhead (probably at 24-36v) and radio control. Unlike DCC the hardware is all simple non specialist stuff, so the cost is greatly reduced and it should give the same functionality. It also allows a gradual changeover period, the whole fleet doesn't have to be converted at once. I think I have a spare speed controller and radio somewhere, will have to do some experiments!
 
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PhilP

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That would be the simplest way, though like you say you'd still have to manually flick the switch on the tram when stopping.



Unfortunately DCC is pretty much ruled out by the high cost, especially for a largish fleet.

A potential option is constant voltage overhead (probably at 24-36v) and radio control. Unlike DCC the hardware is all simple non specialist stuff, so the cost is greatly reduced and it should give the same functionality. It also allows a gradual changeover period, the whole fleet doesn't have to be converted at once. I think I have a spare speed controller and radio somewhere, will have to do some experiments!
Do you mean to power the tram, lights, and radio from the overhead?
You will need some form of power-buffer and / or smoothing, as the radio gear will not like the constant small interruptions in power from the overhead..
 
Melbournesparks

Melbournesparks

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Do you mean to power the tram, lights, and radio from the overhead?
You will need some form of power-buffer and / or smoothing, as the radio gear will not like the constant small interruptions in power from the overhead..
That's the plan! The RC gear is usually 5V, so needs a regulated DC-DC power supply anyway.

Here's some recent trams...



33 finds a little patch of early winter sun. It's starting to feel like winter now, and with the sun low in the sky there is only a few hours a day now that parts of the tramway get sunlight.




We haven't see much of the LGB tram in this thread, but it runs every now and then. This is the least modified piece of rollingstock in the fleet, still almost entirely in original condition.




FO24 on the track cleaning train crosses the high embankment. The weeds are taking full advantage of the lack of mature landscaping here, it will be a while before this area looks decent. FO24 is looking a little lopsided at the moment, it has a loose headlight wire. It's not a critical fault, but will be fixed when it gets taken apart for a good clean soon.



Operating in an outside environment certainly shows after a while. I have HO scale trains as well, and a big difference with G scale is just how much more regular maintenance the rollingstock needs. There's always things that need cleaning, fixing and lubricating. FO24 is due for all of the above! I'm always worried about the amount of dust that builds up in regular operation, but the LGB gearboxes are well protected. Whenever I open them up they're always spotless inside.




The dynamic ever changing environment is part of what makes garden railways fun though! The plants are always growing, and occasionally need pruning to keep the track clear.




And there's always new opportunities for photos!
 
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Madman

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Why not fit a nine volt battery in somewhere with it's own on/off switch. Then use those LED self adhesive lighting strips ? I've used this method myself and am very pleased with it.
 
Melbournesparks

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Occasionally ? :eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:
I only do it occasionally. If the line isn't blocked it's fine. :)

Why not fit a nine volt battery in somewhere with it's own on/off switch. Then use those LED self adhesive lighting strips ? I've used this method myself and am very pleased with it.
That would certainly be the simplest way, though I'm trying to avoid batteries as far as possible. There is (or will be shortly) nine pieces of electric rollingstock in the fleet, so it's a lot of batteries to maintain and swap.

Time for a construction update! Progress as usual has been slower than it could be, partially because I am lazy. The last major step is coming together now though.



The points for the new depot being pre fabricated. In a bit of a break with tradition these points are made entirely from proper brass rail. Being able to solder everything together certainly makes construction easier and more robust, I wish brass rail wasn't so expensive. :(



The track, depot building and landscaping features approximately laid out on site to see how it will all fit together. The original two track depot building will get reused, but also gain a small extension for a third track. This plus an additional outside siding will greatly assist operations, lack of siding space has always been a problem. The track in front of the depot will be set in concrete up to rail level, so making sure everything is leveled and aligned properly first is important!
 
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Melbournesparks

Melbournesparks

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This morning the tramway was hit by one of the most devastating natural disasters yet. Over night the temperature plunged to 0.6 degrees, with a clear sky and high humidity. Even sheltered areas were hit by a severe frost, causing major damage to many plants. The steam tram went for a run this morning to inspect the damage, but it will be a day or two before the full extent is known. The Melbourne climate is not known for it's stability, but in recent years damaging extremes of heat, drought and cold have become more common.



Ice on the rail head. Exposed to the clear sky the contraction of the aluminium rail in this area would have been something nasty, but no broken sleepers have been found yet.




Frost damage on a fern frond. This area is surrounded by rocks and protected by overhanging trees, but was still hit badly.



More vegetation already starting to die. It will be a few days before the full damage becomes clear.



I tried to wash the ice off with the slightly warmer tank water, but the tap required the use of a blow torch to operate! First time I have ever seen that in Melbourne.
 
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Jasper

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Wishing you and your hard-working crew the best of luck, coping with adversity.
 
Melbournesparks

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Been a while since we had an update here. There has been some progress!


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Concreting for the new depot points.

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First pour complete!

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Second pour. This is the first time I have tried concreting any track, so it's a bit of an experiment.


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Next up is overhead wires. Here is the overhead frogs and section insulators ready to be installed.


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Adjusting the frogs. There's a bit of a black art to positioning the overhead wire frogs so the trolley pole always goes the right way.


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Testing for operation with pantographs as well. There's nearly an even split now between trolley poles and pantographs in the fleet.

The majority of the big infrastructure works are finished now, but there's a lot of minor jobs still to do!
 
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