Saturday, 21 December 2013

Shoe shuffle continues.

The roundhouse has been an almost constant stream of shoe shuffles some forward moves with a fair few back ones, thankfully though I think I have now reached the point where its more forward, less back but hopefully only forward movements from here.

Each phase of the construction has its moments, especially when one has never done a project as big as this before, so many new areas to learn, but I think the experience has overall been enjoyable.  The primary part of the roof along with all main trusses, & the inner or turntable end are now complete, awaiting the outer trusses with smoke schutes to be built & then attached.

The smoke schutes have been a challenge especially with getting the two trusses set together & supporting the schutes. Careful study of drawings & photo's gave me the positioning & basic measurements, along with how they were attached in the roundhouses.

With the schutes finished & trusses ready, the assembly became trial & error, especially trying to get the schute, supports in place & to hold together, in this area I could find no definitive drawing to give precise measurements & timber sizes, which meant a fair bit of licencing was needed. The first one took me a full day to get together without the edge box type frame.

The simple solution was to build the whole lot in small assemblies for strength rather than true scale fidelity

The above photo shows the truss with scale 6"x6" cross bars glued in place to keep a constant spacing.  I could find no detail or measurements as to the spacings along the back wall for the two trusses, the space measurements were there for the inside or middle parallel supports so for simplicity I decided on the same spacing along the whole of the truss.  .
The middle 6x6 is to attach the chimney part of the schute, one side glued to truss, the other to the chimney.

The next step was to glue the schute assembly to the truss.
Having tried to do this without the 3 extra spacings was a real nightmare, this time & using this process I was able to assemble all remaining 7 trusses together in an afternoon, while finishing off the original assembly ready for painting.

A finished assembly awaiting painting & then attaching to the main roof, I realised that the timber sizes were a bit large, so I set about cutting all the remaining 7 cage assemblies with finer timber, only the 4 vertical sections will remain as 6"x3" with the remainder being 4x3 inch.

While I have been as careful as possible with the PVA there is still some areas where the acrylic tube paints have not taken as well as I hoped.  So after one test of a finished truss I decided to try another paint tool I use occasionally & that is blackboard paint. This proved to be better than the tubes, as it went over any area of the waxy PVA paint & covered it without issue.

What I like about the acrylics & blackboard paint is their total flat matte appearance, no sign of a sheen even of the smallest amount. To me the two mediums along with the chalk pastels provide the dusty look that is more realistic than is able to be achieved with ordinary paints including model paints,

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A mammoth task, the 2 forward 3 back shoe shuffle.

The past month or so has certainly been exactly like the heading depicts.
Slowly improving following the surgery but confined to use a back brace until at least next March it means a lot of restrictions on movement & quite frustrating, but now having nothing besides a metal cage & 2 screws to hold my vertebrae in place, in order to allow the back to fuse itself I have a real desire to take time.

Thus the layout progresses at a slower rate than I would have liked, I am waiting on a friend to fix a TT for me, that will go in to Akuna for the day pick up/school train, he actually fixed my Antons 125 foot TT that I only supplied to him so he could use it for parts, but he found getting that fixed helped him with the small one. Now I have a TT I do not want, nor need, so maybe fleabay will get a listing for it.

Waiting for the TT to be fixed, provided me with the need to get stuck into the area cleared up for the main Loco depot at Moblayne, the first part was to get the backdrops in place & then to try & fix the areas slightly damaged during the hanging as well as the split from the long dry caused by our home being set on high active soil. With that fixed, well good enough for me, I set about doing the corner area behind the depot, with scenery, & connecting the painted backdrop to the photographic one.

Trusses as originally built & situated in place using blue tac. Nothing done on the backdrop & scenery.

The area was then finished with low lying scenery & some trees. Then the Roundhouse was taken up with some gusto. But with that start it soon became very much part of realising the task ahead, as well as what seemed to be the forward steps being out distanced by the backward ones. As the project proceeded, it was obvious that I had done things wrong in the first place, simply by putting the TT in place & thinking a simple task to build all other depot needs around it.

The theory, as well as practice would have worked had I had some more space than I have for the depot. At this point, I searched for Round House plans, & thanks to Ray Pilgrim for those he provided links to, also Ian Phemister for help, & Ray Love helped out with some drawings of his.

Early on I had built all the main trusses, & planned to have them set in place in the early stages, but it was apparent that a lot more planning & rearrangements were going to be needed.  The round angles had to be readjusted in order to ensure the track leads off the TT would be sufficiently apart for smooth & trouble free operation, The cutting of the pits, along with setting the angles, & back brick wall, was a large project of trial & error.
Ready for cutting the pits & foam cuttings for background scenery.

The pits were cut using a Trimming router, lent to me with a jig for the pits. As I am using Peco pits, with some modifications to build up the pit to be closer to the NSW pits, I had to adjust the widths using a single bit to cut them in place, what a messy & noisy job.  This work on cutting in the pits was done prior to the scenery being in place.
Basic scenery finished behind depot, the house & yard now awaits fences.

I had thought of different methods to secure the pits in place, ( I chose old faithful, clear Parfix roof & gutter sealant, holds everything in place firmly but allows for lifting if needed.)  & how to raise the Round house floor to the rail level. Initially I had looked at using some 3mm ply & build the whole RH & floor area separately & then move to the location, this was going ok until the ply decided it would fall off the layout top & break up into around 5 pieces.  I dismissed the idea of plastering the floor, & with more rulers & measuring I decided on cutting individual sections of 2mm Styrene to lock in around the pits.

The problem with this was that I had to do them in individual sections, a bit of a bummer at first but realised that the pit frame also raised the floor up by over near 4mm, & it left the styrene between the pits suspended, I used the cut out pieces from the sections where the pits were to show through to slide under the styrene, & that provided a firm & solid foundation.

This also led me to find the solution on fixing the truss support posts in position.

As prior to this my ideas that had seen me completely build all the trusses as well as glue to the main support posts, was seen as a bit of a folly, so another 3 steps back saw me remove the posts, but glue a length of 12x8 stripwood to the base of the posts at the correct distances for the two of them.  I glued the base to the pit cut out strips using Gel grip, cut outs in the styrene allowed the wooden sections to become secure, the styrene sat on top of the pit frames, & at the same level as the top of the 12x8, so a smooth floor was attained.

Various trusses as well as the support posts awaiting their positioning in the building of the RH

The fidly bits, smoke schutes in various stages of completions, 3 1/2 down, 4 1/2 to go. The worst part in building in wood is with this thin basewood sheets, they tend to curl when applying the PVA glue.

While I have pretty well enjoyed this project, being the largest & most complicated model I have ever scratch built, I will be glad when its finally finished.  The old building with the verandah around it is based on the old Chargemans office at Werris Creek, which I built from memory around 10 years ago, my first attempt at scratch building & working in wood.  Not too sure how far I have progressed, especially when looking at the RH & parts close, but I am pretty happy with it so far. The old office has a few bits fallen off, & some not far off.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Tenders & coal

As a follow up to the header photo, I am including a few shots that focus on the amount of coal in tenders of steam loco's.
An example of how the coal got down in the tender of a garratt after coming from Dubbo with the high load.  6038 is assisted by 5364 near Borenore on 238 goods, it will barely make Orange with the remaining coal in the tender.

On the same weekend that the photo of 6014 leaving Dubbo, sitting in the depot is 3801 waiting to haul a Victorian Enthusiasts special that night, it is without doubt the highest load of coal I have ever seen in a 38cl tender.
An old & age affected photo of 3607 pushing up a block wheat train at Tumula, in 1964. Just out of the loop this is the last banking job before returning LE to Bathurst before its next turn of duty. 3607 came out as an assisting engine on 45 Coonamble mail  & remained at Tumulla for more than 12 hours, having had 2 sets of men over the time.
3815 leads 5450 at the same location as 3607 on an Oge bound train. As both engines had auto's on the tender, the 38cl with the larger air pump was to lead, also passenger engines were to lead goods engines based on the auto to auto arrangement & air pump capacity. The freighter came fresh from Bathurst & coaled there, whereas the 38 would have come either from Dubbo or OGE in its previous up train, would have worked from Lithgow to Bathurst on another train & then on with this one. Bathurst could not turn 38cl owing to a 60ft TT. As Dubbo & Orange were the only depots to have Northern coal, & 38cl had to have Northern coal, they were set on a roster of Lithgow - Dubbo - Lithgow - Orange - Lithgow - Dubbo. They were completely shovelled forward at Bathurst, & Oge when working through as well as at Lithgow on the turn round. When spare they could work goods to Orange & get coaled there.  In this photo it can be seen how the coal has been shovel forward to the front of the tender with none basically left toward the rear & at the tender backhead would have been clear.

Finally 5412, is about to enter Carcoar Tunnel after working from Bathurst. The coal remaining in the tender is not too bad considering the distance from Bathurst & having steamed most of the way. The coal would have been sitting just at the edge of the sloped rear, & the doors to the coal area have been closed as a means to help keep the smoke out of the cab in the tunnel. When working through any tunnel, when the doors had been opened, the smoke would roll back into the cab, shutting the doors kept some of that smoke out.  Some enginemen were show off's & in this case the fireman is acting out the combing of his hair to look pretty for the camera.
From a personal perspective, I like to have my loco's with varying amounts of coal showing in the tender rather than having them full or the terrible looking plastic plugs that sit in tenders.
Excuse the quality of the photo's even had they been full size, they would not have been any better, in fact they would have been worse.  I have a huge job to rescan all my slides, & doing them in high resolution before they are totally wrecked. Many of the slides that are from the early days, were terrible for colour & on non sunny days they showed no sky colour at all. The photo of 3801 is an example of Ilford film on an overcast day, I tried Agfa at the time & it was as bad if not worse.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A quick post to describe the new photo in the main header.

Taken at Dubbo on my first ever trip there in 1964, one thing that stands out in it is the coal load in the tender. On the weekend of the photo, 3801 also was in the depot to work a tour train, & both the garratt & 3801 worked via the scenic route to Molong & on to Orange.

I had never seen any loco's ever with the amount of coal as found in both 6014 & 3801, as the latter was also coaled up that high.  I was to find out that the route was very hard with a lot of heavy grades, & it was not unusual for loco's working that route on the up to have to cut off their trains at Molong & run light to Orange for coal, thus all engines working along that route were coaled at that level which from what was said amounted to around an extra 2 & a bit tons.  That brought the amount of coal up to near 20tons in the tender.

On my next post I will put on another photo showing 6038 nearing Borenore being assisted by 5364, that shows how far back the coal is, this engine & train came out of Dubbo & was also coaled up high as per normal.

The reason I put these up is to show a bit of variation of steam locomotives & how they were coaled for in service.  6014 has been coaled as it departed loco, to go on to its train, & very full, during the trip it would use pretty well all the coal in the tender.

To me part of modelling is the aspect of variation especially as I try to capture a sense of reality, small things like the amount of coal in the tender, & where it is in the tender is part of that aspect of reality, its the same as weathering of not just loco's & rolling stock but also infrastructure & buildings.  How long did any of these stay pristine when in use after the paint shops or painters departed, & as far as the NSWGR back in the 60's freshly painted infrastructure was not the seal of death to them.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Modelling Railways is fun.

The past few years, especially the time from April last year have not bee great times for me owing to health. When in Sydney I battled with pain owing to my back problems, it really pulled me down. About 18months before back surgery in 2008 I was going through a real tough time & I was looking to modelling as a means of dealing with the pain & associated problems, I was reading in so many places that model railways is fun, yet try as I might that did not come to me.

In fact, I would go down the train room with great intentions of what I was going to do, & of course have fun, I would be enthused to no end, but when I got into the room, I looked around, & after a short while I walked out as I could bring that enthusiasm into reality, in fact it was utterly frustrating.

Following the back surgery, which meant a birthday in hospital, I got over that, but a year later I was in hospital again for shoulder reconstruction over my next birthday, I tore the rotor cuff & ligaments on my shoulder when I tried to start the lawn mower, my GP was a wonderful encouragement though, he said get an electric lawnmower & press a button to go, That same year 2009 my wife lost her mother to cancer & we decided a move was in order.

2010 arrived & we moved to our present location, & then in March over my birthday I had neck surgery, 3 years of birthdays in a row, & nothing done on the layout except rip the old one up, & pack everything I could. Thinking back I actually enjoyed that.

As I recovered, I was able to start on the current project Essence, & I was looking to Fun again. However, my old faithful back was going backwards, & following a fall in the train room last May, I was in a race going downhill.  Surgery for a fusion was carried out around a month ago, & for the first time in I do not know how long, I can get around without the crippling pain I have endured, I still have a large upper body brace that makes me look like a star wars storm trooper or something like Hannibal Jones but it should be off in a few weeks, thankfully I only need it on when not lying down,

Since the fall, my fun modelling has been very much of a sedentary nature, thankfully I had pushed the boundaries in getting the baseboard, track & the heavy work all but completed prior to the fall. Yet, today I still have restrictions, although things have changed whereby I enjoy going to the layout, even the last year of frustrations are disappearing, & I am enjoying what I am doing, & have done over this last 14odd months.

I look at the small & slightly larger areas of what I have accomplished, & as I am tackling more & more things that I would have not thought of doing in the past, that topic of model railways is fun, started to cross my mind.  It was sitting there for a while but came to the fore when talking to another modeller this week. In the conversation, I found that we shared a heck of a lot in common, I have never met him face to face but have spoken to him on the phone several times over the past.

Interestingly his modelling world is changing, & I think it was as a result of frustration of not getting things done, & too much on the plate, the hobby was no longer fun, since his change he said that he is now starting to enjoy doing stuff again, modelling was no longer a chore, & he now looked forward to going to his model room & wanting to do things, whereas previously it had become a sort of burden & like myself those years ago, would walk away from it. He also indicated other things as well, that has his whole perspective on things changed, & changed for the better.

Model Railways is Fun!? It has been mulling around in my mind, so what does fun mean?  I used an online thesaurus to look up the word Fun, & see what it would come up with --- Joyful, exuberant activity.  I have to say that I was a bit taken back with those two interlinked words, & really wonder if that really does describe model railways.

I would really have to say that, I would not consider the hobby as being much like those two descriptions, as I could not see either being part of what really is a hobby that does not really create such atmospheres as those. I would associate them more with a large party when you have a lot of people around you sharing in a type of festive manner.

It does not mean that Model Railways is at the other end of the scale such as mundane, in fact when I look at the hobby, even taking the times of frustration into account, it is a hobby that one wants to come back to in some form or another. One other word I think applies much better to the hobby in good & even bad/not so good times, & maybe its a play on the word fun, but I would suggest that the theme would better be described in the following way.  Model Railways gives enjoyment.

In general terms, no matter what aspect of the hobby each person likes the most, more than it being fun, it is enjoyable, it creates satisfaction, provides for friendship & interaction between people of all ages, no matter the circumstances they are in.  The best part really is that as a hobby it embraces so much, as its not just one thing that makes it enjoyable, its not just the running of trains, making scenery, building kits or scratchbuilding, & any other item that comes to mind, it really is all of those things & many more.

But, the best part is that despite when as individuals we have our own preferences, & even prejudices, in general there is a heck of a lot of help out there, & its the people who make the hobby what it is, & that is enjoyable in good & not so good times.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A  bit of a longish post as it covers some work that has been carried out on Essence in the past couple of months, mostly its been sit down jobs owing to the health issues, hopefully that is now about to come to a conclusion with surgery planned for the 10th, which will take me out for some time.

Rolling stock addition. The IDR Elephant CW, a combo part kit & RTR Austrains 4 wheel underframe, I was looking forward to getting the model up & running as it provides a single model od a unigue somewhat different stock wagon & I think adds some interest to a 50’s type train,

The primary IDR parts include what appears to an already assembled 4 sided Urethane type body with a couple of brass wire, 4 well crafted brass buffers & a small decal sheet. Once finished even to just the undercoat point the model looks great & is free rolling, & a worthwhile addition to the layout.

The kit I received at first glance showed how far the detail of Urethane type models have come over the years & is an absolute credit to those responsible for its creation, & putting the sides togethe making for ease of assembly. On my model there was a pink blemish/spot on a door that was no real problem seen on both outside & inside of one side but, hardly noticeable with the undercoat.

Like all kits made from this product there is a reasonable amount of flashing to clean out & tidy up, initially I found that easy as one side & one end had very thin flashing that filed several of the gaps in the timber frame, but other side & end of was totally different with the flashing being much thicker & harder to remove. Not a big issue on the side but on the end it was harder owing to the smaller space to work in, & having end braces from roof to floor, I ended up breaking one off totally, replacing it with a small piece of 20x20 styrene, & cutting it down slightly.
To fit the RTR underframe is a venture of time & patience, with the removal of the metal weight & slowly filing away sides & ends to fit inside the body, both sides of the weight has a lip which has to be totally removed to allow the sideways fit & some steady work on the ends.

Once the weight is reduced I found some issues with fitting the two parts together, & takes some adjustments with the filing of the sides. The problem showed up that the body was not completely square, & on one end slightly bowed inwards, however with patience all went together ok.

The key to getting the assembly together is to line up the holes in the RTR underframe with the corresponding holes on the body to take the buffers, as they have long ends that are required to fit through & hold all together.

In this area I had some trouble getting the holes lined up, also the soft brass pin broke off on one of the buffers. Some trial & error again got the pins to the correct length & then made sure the wagon sat at the right height & final assembly & gluing & a very nice model is in place.

While simple in principle & a worthy addition, I think the model is let down slightly by the bit of trouble with the base fitting & heavy flashing on half the model.

For me the worst part however, & this is not the fault or blame of IDR, but that of the RTR part, & that being the terrible oversized Chinese rubbish couplers that are supplied with the model. As IDR purchase this from Austrains (so I understand), the concept is good, however, these couplers on other Austrains 4 wheelers are by far the worst I have ever experienced & have had many failures, even some models not having head springs, & some lying loose in the box being too short for the head. I now replace all the couplers on these models, which I think is an added & unnecessary expense of both money & time.

The replacement is not all that easy either especially on the hand brake end with the need to carefully move the cross wires out of the way to remove the couple box lid screw, to replace the coupler. To help in this process & simplify it, with the weight removed, I set the end on some blue tack, with the new coupler in the pocket I press the head down into the blue tack as it holds the frame & coupler firm in order to then work to replace the cover & screw whilst getting the brake wires back in place.

I would certainly recommend the model to others if they have need, also I look forward to other releases from IDR in the future. Despite some small things I am more than happy with the so far end results.

A slowish project & one that needs a bit of finishing off is an A4 station built from scratch along with the separate signal box, & an Ian Lyndsay oil store room combined men's toilet for Akuna.  Lights are fitted in the form of a 3mm warm white for the station & a 3mm yellow for the signal box. I need to fit another resistor to the station to tone down the light, also to further paint under the roof as the glow is showing through the paint.

The station itself is made from ordinary 38x19 pine cut to length with scale timbers glued to the sides, with black painted glass paper for the tarred station area & yellow Sydney brickies sand for the remainder of the platform.  Some fences are needed to put some finishing touches to it eventually.

Moblayne is the main depot area of Essence, it should have been where I started first, the reason not to was owing to my thoughts on what to do for the backdrop. While reasonably happy with the low level painted aspects of the remainder of the layout, I was not prepared to go down that path for this are owing to it being more open & harder to mask with trees & other scenery.

Over the years I had always liked Ray Pilgrims attempts at photographic backgrounds, likewise several other layouts that have also gone that way. I believe that good edited photo's add to the look & feel of a layout whereas I have seen many great layouts that have added large painted backgrounds to the layouts have tended to take away from the layout & spoil it. 

I know of many who believe differently & I think the problem may well be getting the backdrops at sensible prices, certainly photographic ones are not cheap either.  I have liked the Haskel series on Australian scenes but they had been off the market for some time, & with my health getting worse I saw the need to make a decision on what to do, in order to get Moblayne started, & finish off the rear of the tracked areas, as it required working over the track or getting up on the base itself.

A few months back I discovered some back scenes from an English shop & going through them I found a couple that could fit in with the slopes area of mid NSW, while not totally correct, they were available & the price for 2 packs each of 10feet, & of the same scene but mirror reversed was just right for the scene behind Moblayne.

When they arrived I was quite happy & with the cost at $50.00 for the 2 including shipping much cheaper than the Haskell product, which have since been back on the shelfs through various hobby shops,

Having wallpapered before, these were still a challenge & while up, the finished job is not great but, with some careful brushwork in a couple of months when I am improved the bits of problematic areas will be largely irradicated,

 Moblayne cleared & ready for the backgrounds to go in. The following 3 are the next days view prior to any work being undertaken.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Recently I had a bad experience which is not uncommon with Ebay, I had been looking at getting a cheapish Lazy Suzan for a paint platform & also to use for Locomotives on a bit of track on rollers to help with the painting of the wheels at slow speed, also with some programing.  An add there for 2 x30cm types including shipping for $17.50 was too good to miss, until they arrived & the best one could say was Cheap, Nasty & certainly not Lazy Suzan's as we know them, they were advertised that way with "turntable" in the title as well. A turntable yes, but that's all one can say. I sent them back, & the return shipping was near as much as I paid, I ended up with a refund but out of pocket.

That same week after the return Aldi had 45cm tempered glass proper Lazy Suzans for $8.00 each, so one for home use & one for the layout. Too good really to get it mushed up with paint, so I cut some white coated 3mm Masonite off cut to the size of the LS, & glued some sticky mat to the underside, that now sits on top of the LS & can be used for house & hobby.

Some time ago, the sticky mat items were promoted by someone in an AMRM edition,
& there were some warnings on the use of them, following it.  Last year I was at the #7 district conference here on the Central Coast, & a fellow who had a clinic stand on using styrene had a stainless steel rule, with one side of it covered with glued on Sticky mat, he swore by it as it almost totally prevented the rule from slipping on styrene when cutting it, subsequently I obtained an 18" SS rule from China for $5.00 & I have to say it works a treat.

The past few months have not been the greatest as far as layout progress is concerned owing to not being able to get around very well, so the time has been spent working on long started kits, & scratch buildings.  These early attempts were not that great but with some patience I have brought them up to an acceptable standard, at least for me. 

Job 1:  I had an old Structure Rama country shop kit, that I had removed a wall from & decided to build on a residence to the side, which has all but been finished with just a single window to be obtained, & finish off a couple of areas on it.
Job 2: Provided a bit of a major challenge.  This was to use the removed wall from the above kit & use it to form the outside wall of another store, that was to sit at an angle along a wall.  The idea was to have a full width at the front, but at the rear to only have half the width to enable the roof line to be at the full height. I would have preferred to have had the building much narrower but I could not work out how to have the roof line at the correct height as well as having the appropriate pitch of the roof. But, as I  wanted the buildings to be fully enclosed as I had fitted 3.5mm warm LEDs into it &
did not want any light bleeding.

Finishing the walls & main viewing side roof was no problem but getting the rear roof line in position, without simply gluing the building to the backdrop wall meant some work in cutting & working angles, thankfully the end results are not too bad, & the wall side having the roof made in 2 sections, & the rear section being fitted to the inside of the other roof made for an acceptable compromise.

The stores location that required removal & redoing the scenery at the spot for the building as well as redo the backdrop painting.

Building showing the backdrop wall side, & the way I had to fit the rear roof under the front side, with new low backdrop painting.
Store in final location
The buildings at the front are around 90% complete, to finish the scene will require fences, a street light as well as railway crossing stop signs.

Lastly, the above building started off as being a small corner store, the idea came from seeing similar buildings along the roads in rural NSW, initially it was to be just a store, but like the other one, I realised that they too had small residences built into them, thus the room on the side is an after thought add one.  Prior to finishing it, I did mark out rooms for it.

The corner store all but complete sits in Coxes crossing, all but finished with just some minor work to be done around the footpath area.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A recent addition

I recently obtained a used & redundant Antons 60ft TT, the subject of some email exchanges between myself & another modeller.  I reasoned I had need of a 60' tt for Akuna, especially for the turning of the loco that will work the school train to & from Akuna, rather than run TF in one direction.

I have to say that I would have preferred the open pit Sellers type but the price was ok so a pit type while a compromise meets a need. At the moment its not in an operating condition but hopefully not far off.  I am not especially a fan of the method used by the manufacturer of these TT's with a spring type pin designed to fit into holes that correspond to the approach rails in order to stop the bridge, while it may work & be better on the open pit types, the thought of the spring rubbing against the walls of the pit is not ideal as it will probably cause not just a noise along the wall but more likely a wear mark around the pit wall, meaning an endless job to cover the scratched paint & an unsightly wear mark also.

I have worked on using a modified type of locating pin to replicate what is a better representation of the locking pawls as found on these TT's. It means using the same but modified method of the pin, instead of under the main deck but between the deck rails & locate into a made up concrete spacer plate on the approach rails

Photo 1 shows the TT in location at Akuna.  Once the approach rail heights were set up, using some old pieces of styrene I began the task of building up the simulated concrete pawl locking slab, the idea was to have the base at the same height as the trackwork sleepers & build up using more styrene shorts to the same height as the top of the rails.

Photo 2 shows the beginning process of the locking slab, by making it at rail heigh or a sliver above it, also makes for a nice trip pin height gauge, which it matches perfectly with a Kadee gauge.

Photo 3 shows the all but finished plate, once the whole TT is ready to be permanently fitted into place, the approach road rails will be glued in place in the locating rail slots, the centre cut out is for a 1mm square metal rod to slide in position,
Photo 4 shows the finished slab in place with modified Peco ash pit in position for the approach rail held down in location for the bridge.

Photo 5, Rails in position with a small tack of PVA glue for testing.

I had to file the ends of the bridge rails at an angle to assist in the smooth running on/off of models, I tested the height as well as the smooth transition on & off by pushing an S truck with some degree of speed on & off the bridge without any derailments taking place.

Both ends have the modifications made & glued in place, here's hoping that the next step is to get it working.  At the moment I am quite pleased with the appearance of these small scratch built items, as it does make the TT look much better than just having sleepered rails right up to the pit edge, which was not often the case on most pit type TT's.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A plug

While I am thankful for a reasonably good memory of my time on the NSWGR which includes seeing pretty standard patterns in work & train operations, I am glad also of the photo's that I took along with old super 8 movie film to record a lot of the passing era.  All of this is a help as I try to portray what I can in the layout, however even with all of the memories, & my own photo's it really is limiting when considering the overall workings of the NSWGR both in my time & the preceding years to which I am modelling.

As a result of those limitations, I watch out for relevant books that fill in a heck of a lot of missing details.  For me, & I think for anyone seriously looking at developing their layouts a decent library is essential, after all if one sits down & does their sums on how much they spend on the layout & then filling it up with all the items they need & want, in the end the layout will generally reflect the amount of research that is done regarding what they are trying to achieve.

I actually believe that its just as vital to spend a proportion of money, be it a percentage of what is spent on the layout itself on a good support library, for that reason I am glad that over the years my library has evolved with a fair few books that no longer are in print, & even now still get a good go over, certainly some more than others.

Of these books, I have generally enjoyed all the Train Hobbies Landscape books on the NSW system, well those that deal with the era I am modelling anyway, in particular those dealing with stations, loco depots, & the various branch lines each are scanned fairly often in order to pick up the small things that are featured in the overall photo.

I have just received the latest branch line book Volume 2 of the Harden - Blayney line, & just like the first one its a wonderful book of photo's, all bar one are clear & well focussed to capture a wonderful amount of detail that can be included in a layout.  In the section on the Grenfell branch there are 2 photo's that stand out for me, the first owing to what is really quite rare, & that is an S truck with a load of bailed wool without any tarp over it, & on a train ready to depart.  I have to admit to never having seen such a thing, nor a photo of it happening.

Wool loads simply had to be tarped in order to protect the wool from the weather, although its likely that tarps were not available at Grenfell so it would get tarps at possibly Cowra before the night forwarding journey took place.

The other photo was one of Grenfell station itself, taken highish, & from the road side of the station, & I was amazed at the neatness of the station, while photo's show how neat & tidy the station at Wattamundra was, here is the terminus of a branch line that is indeed a picture of classic beauty. It looks not that long after being painted in a pale green with railings & other framework picked out in clean white trimming.

Except for the weatherboard construction, & the definite NSW rural scene, with an old truck at the station & a 30T in the yard, it would have looked not out of place on some English countryside layout.

These 2 photo's jumped out at me, in just the first skim through, now I sit down & sift through & take in the scenes at leisure.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Practice makes Perfect----- Until!

Around 10 years ago I did a 12 month digital media course at Tafe, at the time Digital photography was still very much in its infancy & 2 megapixel cameras were the talk of the town, the happy snappy cameras & then the first real mobile phone cameras were the teenagers delight.  Each of the students were assigned a specific major assignment & coped the wonderful subject of,  Will Digital Cameras replace film & slide camera as the primary medium for professionals.

At the time, all high end cameras were still film based, even video cameras that were then High resolution, or Broadcast Quality 720 recording. The assignment took 8 weeks to complete & based on every review, & professional area of research I looked into, the conclusion that I came to, which was agreed by the lecturer & others, was that until SLR, Large Format & other cameras were able to produce a minimum of 20 full megapixels, & not the shared or compressed types as found in the snappy happy & mobile phones types, then film would remain the choice of high end & professionals.

At the time I had not long purchased a new Film SLR to replace a 30 odd year old camera, & wow it was great, a couple of pro's I know also had invested in brand new top line body only Nikons at around $4500 each, then the lenses had to be taken in to account.  Fast forward to a mere 4 years after that when 6 & 8 full megapixel DSLR's were on the market & they changed, in 2008 I obtained a Pentax DSLR of 10 megapixels, two years I obtained a 12 megapixel Pentax K7 & both were excellent the K7 is brilliant for outdoor & proper photographic work,

Last year my wife's old Finepix tossed it in & I obtained a Canon SZ230hs in a run out deal for $189.00 it came on the market at over $400.00 primarily it has 12 megapixels & can do HD video.  This is now very much my camera of choice for indoor & taking photo's of the layout as it has a lot better multi focal areas than the K7 that I got on special in 2009 at $1500.00 Duty Free.

Thus to my heading.

I have never considered myself a brilliant scratch builder, in fact pretty standard fair & often my kit building skills have not been much better. Over time though I believe the skills have progressively improved,  While I am not one that seeks to ensure every item built is pristine, I try to ensure they are all aligned well & where possible no gaps & then fill them as required. The closer they are to the eye, & therefore being able to detect problems, the closer attention I pay to them.  OTOH, if a building is more to be part of a backscene such as along the wall of both Akuna & Moblayne, I tend to be a little more relaxed in what I do.

In saying that, I do not throw stuff together, & do take time, I do not generally use an air brush on such buildings, as even Akuna which has a depth of 500 mm's its hard to pick up slight blemishes, & even when viewed at basically elbow length.  On those two areas, I am planning of having 2 pubs each, fairly typical for many small to mid sized town areas, & I have set about building each one of them in a different style, that in may ways is an ode or representation of the many pubs across NSW & perhaps Australia,  I would certainly not try to do one of the great Queenslander 2 story verandah type pubs, owing to the intricacy of them.

My first attempt was to convert a Walthers Cornersone Merchants row building into the corner 2 story pub. The following two photo's show the initial stages of the conversation.

The above photo was taken using the old Pentax & still some bits had to be added such as some of the windows & door fittings along with the verandah covering. I was fairly happy with the work at that point as it was a fair amount of work involved.

The above photo shows the building all but finished at the first stage, but using the new higher pixeled Canon camera. & this is where the heading comes in especially the UNTIL!  this camera with higher resolution really picks up every single imperfection in the models construction & the other little areas of problems especially with the painting, I chose to carefully hand brush rather than air owing to the pain in try to mask the very fiddly & fragile styrene posts etc. But as the building will go against the wall at Moyblayne, which is 1210 mm away from the front, I am happy with it.
That is the great part of these modern digital cameras in that they show up the errors, which mean the builder needs to much more careful in his ""practice"", sure time will help, but in not every area.  Thus the camera could be said as being picky'er  than the eye.

The problem though, as seen in the top photo is that the building is quite large, in both length & depth, which is really too much, I thought long & hard about what to do & I was thinking of punting it, then I thought of cutting it down, I would have preferred to cut the length back, however it would have spoilt the overall look & feel for it, Thus the decision was made to cut it back on the side or depth, so armed with a modellers hack saw, I worked out where to cut. Here under are the starts to the project, & sadly the new camera shows up some bloopers that are not noticed when the building is towards the rear of the benchtop, in fact 4-500 mm its not seen
Above, The first cut was to remove basically half the depth of the side of the pub, I had to gently cut the two floors away, as well as the internal detail I had put in before, as well as needing to look at how the bottom floor which was the public bar would end up, well now its the smaller Saloon bar. The other fiddly part was to cut through the verandah, roof & the footpath as it took some time, patience & care
The old side wall which went to the same depth as the other side, also had to be cut down & refitted to the side.
#3 With this stage completed, which included further cutting down of the remaining part of the side wall, & made it fit into the return area for the saloon bar, a short wall had to be also cut in on the inside to provide a continual bar wall in the saloon.  The Salmon pink brick sheets were Slaters products, very thin & flexible to work with but as the Merchants row was basically a 4 wall job, & all open inside, a lot of extra work was need to make the pub into a more typical accommodation type as seen in many areas such as & similar to the old Signal Hotel at WCK. 

This hotel will be located at Moblayne with the shortened side against the back wall.
A fair bit of work is still to be done, but the new camera certainly picks up the UNTILL bit referred to.
I have now put the project to the side in order to concentrate on building from scratch a single story corner type weatherboard pub.  Having no plans to go by, & only some recollections of several old style pubs across NSW that had 2 bars & an oudoor beer garden, as well as the cold room was a free standing room out the back as were the toilets, it is to be very much the beaten old drovers/stockman workers pub, with no accommodation.
It has 2 bars, only, & like all my buildings they like this one will be internally lit.

Here are 3 shots of the pub under light,  The sad part is that despite a lot of time & work taken in the project & the hardest one I have yet down, when the daylight photos are viewed, the painting looks a shocker as do some of the finishing touches especially the awnings & facias, but now in place & some redoing, they will come up ok, & the presented photo;s will be a bit further back.

The samples here are just test shots with a battery of 2 banks of warm white lights cut from a reel of SMD 3528 strip lights, I do want to darken them a bit, also once some more detail is added inside the pub, the roof will be secured.



Friday, 24 May 2013

A quick update on the scenery & redo of the short section between Coxes Gully & Nullo, with the addition of raised facia, embankment grassing & some trees/brushes I am happy with the way its turned out, problem is the weather being windy & rain affected has blown a lot of leafs on the track, hardly noticeable with the naked eye but gee the camera has picked it up.

The photo's are taken pretty well at the same spots as the post on 18th April, so some comparisons can be made.

For me much of the work is slow but until the surgery is done things will be getting slower around the layout though.

Looking from Nullo down the grade to Coxes.

Mid way down the grade, following wind storm, just as well I didn't put in any umbrella grasses

Looking towards, Coxes station with main & loop, yard to the right

Looking from Coxes toward Nullo.
A pet dislike of mine is having Kadee couplers on the front of loco's that did not have them in regular service, & only had hooks, had me thinking towards finding a way to keep the hook & still shunt wagons on the loco end.  My thoughts went to the old shunters match trucks prior to the many conversions, which in the main were any available S wagon, sometimes they were wagons condemned for main line working or restricted as they waited on works attention.

The above photo shows a TOR 32cl with an experimental S wagon attached to the front, & ready to do some shunting at Coxes Stock handling facilities, gotta get the wagons in to get the sleeping stock up & out.

I have done a bit of adjustment on an old Euro type coupler that came as spare in an Austrains 36cl, by cutting away much of the plastic part that holds the D type metal outer coupling ring in a fairly horizontal position, allows the link to droop a little, but not enough to hold it onto the hook on the engine.

I then bent the ring downwards, which means I have to lift the ring to drop over the hook & that sits nicely in place.  With careful shunting & pushing the wagon, the ring ends up being pushed up & off the hook & onto the buffer beam, but with the bend in it, when eased back the link drops back onto the hook with no problems.

Initial tests have been ok, but I will need to have one located at both Coxes as well as at Akuna for the use of the shunting engine there off the school train, so some more experimenting is to take place,

If this ends up working, it will mean that if I am to run double headed steam, I will simply swap the kadee out for the modified Euro coupler for the assistant engine. Experiments continue.

The photo also shows the almost completed area of the stock handling yards which includes resting type facilities.