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This may seem a strange entry. But it is not. I used to work as a commercial computer systems designer and it was a rule that everything in the programme was documented. Similarly you should keep a "build diary" of your progress either with pictures or words and preferably both! Eventually things will break, wear out and need attention. The build diary will be your time machine to the point when you made the part or installed it. There is nothing worse than looking at something you have made and having to try and figure out how it comes apart and worse still -where did you get that part from in the first place?

Self Documentation.

This is a method in which you ALWAYS do things the same way. The classic point would be wiring.

For DC the RED being positive and BLACK being negative polarity are standard. The colours for DC of variable polarity and different to each other are BLUE and YELLOW. Thus you cannot tell if a BLUE cable is positive or negative but be certain that the YELLOW cable is the other polarity to it.

For THREE PHASE AC the case is very different. There exist TWO systems word wide. If you are using a Brushless AC motor using an American wiring code, (this includes China and Japan), then the colours are BLACK, RED and BLUE. If you are using a European wiring code, (this includes Russia, Australia and NZ), then the colours are BLACK, BROWN, and GREY.

To make matters worse it is common to find model Brushless motors wired for AC three phase using the colours RED, BLACK and YELLOW...

The only thing you can really be sure of is that GREEN or GREEN/YELLOW is Earth -this does not apply to items from the former USSR and some Warsaw Pact countries however.

As you can see there is a problem with the colours! It is possible to mismatch a BLUE/YELLOW or RED/BLACK cable in a system using both DC and AC. If possible your model should have "ring tags" to tell you what the cable is -otherwise it could get expensive.

I generally leave small sets of plans for my parts and wiring inside the model itself and small post-it notes covered with "Squire Seal". Remember that you built it and the only person who should know how to fix it should be you. There may come a time when you sell on the model or gift it to someone else. The documentation will serve them as it has served you and earn you sighs of relief, rather than curses.

A historical point is easily made with the LMS 10,000 and BR 10,001 locos. The generators were supplied by English Electric with energizers. These were marked for the North and South Poles. The electricians at Derby were faced with cables that were not standard with black cables marked "S" and White cables marked "N". The feed from the generators was of course in RED and BLACK Cables. When the American EP-2 locos were rebuilt there were bunches of cables in the panels with tags saying "we don't know where this goes".

The Plans

If you have built the model from a set of plans then the plans should be plastered with notes about the model. Stick on it where the parts are from, part numbers, where you changed from the plans to your own ideas and if needed, staple more sheets of paper to it to provide the space for your notes. If you sell on the plans or gift them along -then make sure as much of the documentation is connected to the plans as possible.

The Trick Book

This is where you note all the strange things that have to be done to make it work. I have a loco with 4 axles driven by chains. The method of putting back "on" a loose chain is to rotate the wheels in opposing directions. I have another that WILL insist on ingesting grass stems and I have noted how to release the gears from the grass. These are things that you will find "needful" in the future. One member used to "smell" his boiler to tell how far it was from pressure. It sounds strange but I seem to do the same thing with my soldering irons rather than look at the temperature set on the base unit...

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Page last modified on January 20, 2018, at 11:11 AM