Thursday, 4 December 2014


Since the last post there has been slow yet steady progress on the layout to which I am quite happy with, much of Moblayne has been completed, the lighting in the roundhouse has received a boost by a simple change to the LED strip lights. Previously I had run 2 sets cut from some Ebay Chines 5 metre warm white strip lights, which were too bright, attempts to cover over the LEDs to dull was not satisfactory, so I bit the bullet & ripped them both out.  The fact that the lights for some reason decided to die on me made it an easy decision.

I replaced the strips with identical ones but placed under the trusses along the rear section & just to the front of the shutes. Prior to resoldering the wires to the bus wires I soldered a 1k resistor to the positive lead as a test, & it really dropped the intensity of the lights. The strip lights have a built in resistor for each 3 LED's while ok for room lighting, they needed to be dulled further, this simple addition has brought the lighting down to a very nice light affect.

When I started the layout, & that was way back in Sydney, I sat down & worked out a program of train running & rostering, & came up with a set of numbers regarding both passenger & goods rolling stock that I thought I needed, along with the loco's to run them, the list was long & it certainly meant I needed to budget tightly & save well to achieve it.

One major thing I decided on was to severelly restrict what I purchased, the only way that could be possible was to restrict very much the era/time frame of what I wanted to model & accomplish. Initially I thought a mid 60's transition period but ruled that out pretty early as it meant I was open to many more temptations than I wanted. My period was set very tight into a 1955/56 period, but as things happen I have slightly extended it to 1954 - 57, it allows for a wider range of models & temptations to take over.  That's not to say that I have had to resist very hard in purchasing some models that cover a later period, should I surrender to that.  Hard decisions? Yes but I think worth it.

The new head photo shows an element of what I would like to capture of one type of train that was common in the 60's & a bit later

As I work on the layout, I usually also am reflecting on what I am doing & trying to achieve with Essence, this often includes thinking on where the hobby is heading. During one period where I found the need to stop actual work on the layout, with other pressing needs  & made me reasses much of what I was doing. This personal reflecting primarilly centred on the amount of train models that I have & was looking at for the future, this led me to do a stock take of all the train type models, that I have, also the few that I have on order.

This reassesment has actually been ongoing & one that I shared with some modelling freinds which led to some various comments & to a degree how they were also thinking of things as well. It was therefore of interest to read Comment column from Bob Gallagher in the latest AMRM. What Bob has said in that editorial is pretty well smack bang on what I have looked at & spoken of for some time now.  Following the stocktake of models, & the recording of them in what is R/S registry basically confirmed to me that with what I have already, I can really operate & do all I intended to do in the first place with what I already have, in other words I now have no real needs for anything else, especially once the long awaited orders eventually get here.

So what of the future & what it means for me, what purchases do I look at? Wants? well they are always there but, they will be carefully assesed by what I can afford & save for.  If I was to roll over into the needs area, I would put that down to the operating arena only rather than scene making items, which I can build as time goes on & when the time permits, & in the end there's not that many that I have to have, maybe its just time to finish what's been started.

My passion for the layout & operations is defined by those early transition period trains & older infrastructure all or most of which has dissapeared from todays scene.  The variations of how a goods train looked is quite incredible, no matter the length or type of train, exception perhaps was with the block wheat or coal trains, but even in those areas were variations, mixed or a complete train of RU's, along with tarped BCH, & BWH hoppers.  RTC or fuel trains were not always in a full load consist, except the occasional empties returning behind a single steam locomotive.

Wool being a vital commodity & often near full loads were seen, interestingly though is that while all wagons were tarped often only a few wagons on the train looked the same.  Other open wagon trains were broken up in appearances with flat wagons, or the RTC's in the consist, & how many of those trains did not have 4 wheel stock wagons in them?

Those images are the main aspect of what I am after, therefore as new items of R/S arrives I can carefully or not, select models that will fill the bill towards variety, & I acknowledge there are several that I await I am also aware that some may not arrive except in kit form, but that's fine & ensures I will be able to keep busy as I add them to the not too full box I have.

As for locomotives, the old list had several freighters listed along with others, which would total an old need of 10 more to purchase.  I admit to one thing & that is I would really love to get those models, & if it was possible I would likely do so, however I very much doubt it even if they all get here while I am still here & able to enjoy them, to which I hope I am wrong.

If nothing else, I sense price will alsp determine a lot of things, yet when I look back on my first NSW model, a 1st run Dockyard 38cl which set me back the equivelant $58.00, which was also $10.00 more than my first NSWGR take home wage for working 12 days in that fortnight, the modern day modeller with diesels now over $300.00 each, is below the minimum weekly wage of today. Although that is also countered to an extent by the reduction in buying power of our $$ in the shrinking packages that seem to be ever on the increase.

 So, with all that, I plug on enjoying what I do & continue the work on Essence, since the last post & more especially the last week has seen a bit of finishing off of some areas getting ready for the next group meeting here on the 3rd of this month, as well as building the base board area for the last section of the layout.  Moblayne abatoirs & stockyards, which sits in a corner just under the down end of Nullo Mountain, & to the side of the down approach rails to Moblayne.

The points in position for the abatoirs, an outer home signal will be placed short of the points to protect the siding from through trains.

  Baseboard in place & the styrofoam cut up & glued to the side of the Main line area of Nullo Mountain.
 Next, the cornice cement mix has been put into place, I use some brickies mortar colouring, then apply a very light wash of black tube acrylic paint at the top & then spray with water to allow the black to run into the crevices.
 Next step is the painting of the rock face using layers of umber acrylics

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

 A future project for the layout is to have a small timber mill at Nullo Mountain, a look around the state these days can only find more modern mills, although there is one not far from me at Wyong North, the photo's here are some I took at Quirindi NSW a few years back, like the one at Wyong Nth they are very much relics of a time gone by.

Austins, is a unique mill in that its still a family operated mill after many years of business, & is also one of only a few left that specialise in the cutting of Cypress Pine, a wonderfully beautiful timber, one that white ants will not touch has grain like no other, but is harder than hardwood, really requiring drilling holes for nails to penetrate the timber even when green & worse when dry.

Its not a large mill, & one ideally suitable for a model layout.  The heading photo is of the large machinery shed & the remaining is of sections of the mill itself, the office & residence is at the rear.

Following on from my last post, I have now been able to primarilly finish off the ground work at Moblayne both at the depot & the goods yard. Some wiring is still needed to be finished but I am generally pleased with the results.  Some updated photo's, in one photo that I took it showed up a glaring problem with an approach road from coal stage to Turntable, requiring some per way fixing to it. 

 An overview of the depot

An ants eye view from the goods yard towards the station & depot

 A view above the ant

 Station from yard end
 The yard is located on the down end of the station.
 Station - The photo's show the red roof as much brighter than how they really look.
Some minor work has been carried out at the loco facilities at Down end of Akuna, with the Turntable area being filled in & an initial cover of ground flock being applied, above this will be added static grass..  The Silo kit is one of those projects that need to be moved up in the priority order, at least for painting.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Some works carried out

The past month has provided some time to advance some of the jobs that I have had priorities to get to finishing or a close state to it.  Moblayne has been the big priority owing to the depth of the baseboard 1220mm.  I agonised over doing the yard & depot until the work along the backdrop was finished & while its still not finished I decided to take the plunge & get the station, yard area to near completed stages meaning there is only minor work to finish off along the back.

Photo's of the work up to this weekend.

My rendition of a NSWGR BBBS unit of the Per Way division or Bristle Brush Ballast Spreader. Simple & authentic, the brush hails from the NSWGR era & was used to level & spread the ballast in the yard, only some minor bits to complete the work.

Coxes as its now known but may be gazetted for a name change following the raising of  area in front of the creek, with grasses in place, & just the water to be added to the creek, hopefully the summer rains will arrive before long to get a flow going.

Hopefully before getting a few days off from mid next week, the primary area at Moblayne as far as the yard, sidings & depot will be all ballasted in place, so a few extra photo's will be posted beforehand.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Some work at Coxes Crossing

Well the past few weeks aside from other things has shown a slight degree in work on the layout.  As previously mentioned the area known as Coxes Crossing had annoyed me for some time, so it has recieved the first stages of being updated a bit.


 The above photo is a repeat of the photo previously shown & marks the main area to be worked on,  it shows the creek along the back that was what annoyed me the most.
Removing all the trees & building in the foreground I then attacked the creek & had to cut & chisel the old enamel based clear coating I had used for the creek. It was supposed to be clear but turned into a very red/brown stagnant water look, as mentioned also on hot days it softened significantly with whole shed smelling of the enamel  fumes, quite unpleasant.

 Taken basically from the same spot as the previous photo, the new cornice cement covering went straight over what was left of the old grassed area.  Prior to this work I used a sharp edged 75mm bakers dough cutter type spatula to scrap off as much of the old grass I could, amzing what I was able to retrieve, & much of it stuck together & has formed nice lots of clumps, which will be reused on this & other unfinished areas of the layout.
 Looking along the area from the Down end again just shows the raised area on the station side of the creek. I use Brickies yellow Sydney sand for the road base sifted through a very fine sifter.  The brown soil is sifted & dried ground coffee beans rescued after use in the Expresso machine. The remainder goes into the main gardens & highly reccomended as a nutrient & composting material.
 Outside of the buildings & stock yards, Coxes crossing is seperated by the creek, thus the need of a bridge of some type, a low flood or water way concrete crossing was considered but! As a young fella growing up we had a few creeks around my haunting ground, & the sound of cars going over the old loose timber bridges remains a wonderfull memory for me.  Three such bridges crossed the Toongabbie Creek at Northmead, Briens Rd, Hammers Road & Moxhams road, & there were several others in othe suburds as well.  Northmead Public school was not far from the Moxhams Rd bridge & was a busy road that throughout the day the noise from the bridge could well be heard, thus the need of such a bridge.
 Going over the still cleared out creek I obtained a standard flat bridge kit from Rod Kelly of Laser Rail bits, which was a good starting point & after some modifications to it, the photo's show the end result, hindsight tells me I should have got the curved type rather than the flat, none the less I am more than happy with the end result.  I weatther the bridge using soft pastels, & some acrylic white for the rails.  I will build up the back wall a little & add some trees to take away the sudden stop affect that probably spoils the image.
 A few items set in place for the benefit of this photo & to mark out the footpaths etc.

Some work at Moyblane has continued, including the building up of the base behind the station & to the road, same method as used at Coxes. The station is a representation of a station, not exactly accurate in a prototypical sense but it does contain the basic elements of some various types of stations found in country NSW.  The station faces are also Laser Rail items, needing 3 such kits with enough left over to cover the rear sections under the buildings.  The hardest part was glueing the facing to the curved end section at the forefront (Down) end of the platform. The station is long enough for a 6 car Rub set, with the van sitting off the platform.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

I received the latest AMRM on Friday 12th September, earliest delivery I have ever seen, must be light on in the publishing industry these days & in a light period.

A couple of things that were in the magazine has me really wondering & after some experiences with models in the last couple of weeks, I feel a need to comment on them, initially I thought of sending a letter with the hope of it being published but after some thinking, whether right or wrong I have decided to comment here.

The first aspect relates to the guest commentary which is found on page 3, while in the main there's not a lot of issues, but one thing that interested me was the bit about detail on RTR models, & how the Australian modeller has generally been receptive to them except for a small group of hypercritical & commercially uninformed have shown dissatisfaction, but on the whole we are happy with the offerings to date, but rocky roads are ahead, if we listen to our importers.  Further on, its mentioned how in the UK some went back to such things as molded on detail which was not well received after such things were introduced in the UK.  This is a very abbreviated comment of what was put in the editorial. 

To me, I have to say that some aspects are worth noting, whilst others not, certainly the aspect of detailed models has been great, yet how great is it really, especially when we consider the market that models are produced for?  Problem in having any sort of commentaries on this sort of thing is that it can paint a broad brush over a subject requiring a lining pen. Thus the topic of detailed items on models is a wide area & one that is vexed owing to how each individual modeller looks at it, & not least their individual abilities skills.

For me, & don't get me wrong I like detailed models, but also at times I really wonder to what extent the move to the highly detailed model has actually been worth it, owing to quite a few things, not least the poor & flimsy way they are fitted to models, what has been added while what has been left off, both critical areas for the adding of realism to models, besides that, how much of it can be seen when operating or standing still on a layout?

I have a bit of a box of bits & pieces that have fallen off models, some of them I have no idea about what they are & where they fit, that is of course if you can fit them back on, especially if the items are made from the Delrin/ABS type plastics that are all but impossible to glue, that is if the items are not that fine & finiky which prevents them being glued back in place correctly.

One of the importers told me a while back that it does not cost extra for the detail, whether its a lot or not, as long as its in the original brief & quote from the factoy, somewhat a change to how it used to be from my understanding.  Another aspect in this is given the cost of models, one would think that if the detail is provided then it should be a sturdy enough item to withstand some work on the model. 

At this point we get the comments about these models are not toys, & need to be handled correctly, & not rough.  Good points, but! how often have we opened the box of our new drool item & found bits loose, or bits broken, & you get a good price for a NQR model? I try to be very careful when handling models, keep most boxes & internal packaging, but, I also see models that suddenly are missing a piece, spider brake handles, air hoses, a break in a plastic pipe etc, after they have been placed on the track & ran for a while.  Sometimes the little box has a replacement but not always.

A couple of models, I have had to reduce the weight of by needing to remove the body, not that hard, but the metal weight is glued in place on the main bottom which has the trusses & brake gear on a seperate plastic casting, both are superb in detail, to get the weights removed, means seperating body & chassis into 3 sections, then you are left with just the main floor with the weight glued on, so with care the weight is removed without a lot of drama's, but care needs to be taken with reassembly to prevent some of the brake detail breaking when fitting back together.

Why the need to remove the weight, some may wonder.  Well when I initially received them I thought they were heavy, using a digital scale, they came in at 107/8 grams, to me too heavy for a bogie vehicle, especially when compared to other bogie wagons I have, both from the same company & others, which weigh between, 74 & 87 grams, the later is for a BWH, & the associated BCH from the same china source was 74grams.  I had trouble trying to pull a train load of them behind a DJH 57cl on the 1:40 grade, removing the weight got them to 77grams much better, they still roll as easy without any problems at all. To me if extra weight was needed, rather that the plastic underfloor assembly which included the U channel, if it was done in metal, that certainly would add more than enough extra weight without goin overboard.

At the price of these models & hey, this is nit picking is the disgusting air hoses, they are plastic, featureless, & drop out very easy, all other companies models that I know of have very neat, strong brass items, the silly part of this is that the models come with whisker type Kadee couplers, not the cheap Chinese items, if there is no expense spared for the couplers, why the other areas of cheapness?

I am not just targetting one company in this, but when I read the review of the release of the old Austrains, K wagons, under the Columbia brand, the point in the review mentions the slightly updated brake gear, including hand brake, & a simple wire under the floor, these along with new all blackened wheels certainly improves the model, again its not all that cheap, but what is found with the models is that they are robust & the detail for mine adequate, so 2 ticks, I will shim the sides down though on mine, as per a previous blog post.

In the end, I think its great having the detail, if its correct, sturdy & can be refitted should it come off. 

The second item in the AMRM dealt with adding weight to the Eureka R class, now at this point I have not read the article, but I was stunned at how much weight was needed to be added. Certainly the person who wrote the article has done a very complete job, & provided excellent detail on what he did with the work, & on each score should be commended.  BUT!  Again this is not a pick at Eureka by itself, but when I looked at the cut out weights along with the overall work that had to be done to this model, that comes now at an after delivery price of $660.00, I have to wonder why the amount of time & effort is needed to make a model able to pull loads that are close to a prototypical load.

Over time I have added some weight to my Austrains, 35 & 36, Eureka garratt, in fairly simple & easy ways, in order to compensate for the lack of pulling abilities.  If my layout did not have grades I would not need to do it, but having 1:40 grade & other 1:75 grades its needed. But to have to go to such a dramatic effort as seen with the article, I have to ask the question especially when we consider the price of the model, is the modeller being short changed, or the other obvious question at the opposite end of the scale.

The 3rd item that I would like to commment on is the one in regard to adding detail to models, the example being an Austrains round boilered 36c to which the owner has done a very good job, & credit due to him.

This comment is more to add a bit of correctness more than anything to the article.  Primarilly in regard to the fire irons.  When TOR released the 32cl they included a set of fire irons, which being at least an attempt to add a necesary item to a model, unfortunately had some quite incorrect items in it,

Steam locomotives were equipped with set types of fire irons depending the type of engine, & primarilly due to the size of the firebox. There were in the sets specified for all engines the following, Dart, Rake, Short & Long Pricker.
Looking at these items, the best way is to describe them & their use, certainly there was not irons found on any locomotives.

DART:  was the bent type, usually it was bent at app 33degrees, with the type of it looking much like pyramid type arrow head. This was the type seen very much high up on the firemans side of a 36cl tender.  This iron was used in the initial spreading of the fire in a depot during engine preperation, engines in depots had the fire banked, under the door, to get working steam, the grate area had to be covered, thus coal was shovelled over the grate, & then the dart was used to lever down between the back of the firebox & the bankde coal, & lever it up & breaking the coals up to spread over the green coal.

PRICKER.  Short types were for small firebox engines such as a 30class & smaller.  Long Priker was found on all other classes.  The Prickers were straight, with a section of metal approx 10" long on the long Pricker & app 8" on the short pricker at a 90degree angle to the main rod. The primary role of the pricker was to break up the coal or fire on the grate that was too heavy, & no or little air was getting through the built up coal & ash.  If the fire became clinkered the pricker was used to break the clinker.

RAKE.  In a sense its a wrong name, as I see many make up a fire iron such as supplied with the TOR 32 cl, that hat 3 or more prongs on it, this is wrong. The Rake actually looked much more like a garden HOE, that was on a long metal rod, same length usually as the long Pricker.  The rake had a head very much like a garden hoe, & was used to evenly spread the fire over the grate area.

Often a short & long pricker were found on engines that were working on long haul trains, in this cast on a 36cl the short pricker along with a rake was positioned along the same side but on the footwalk area on 36cl while all other engines. A long pricker sat above the coal doors, & was the same length as the coal bunker width.  38c had racks for them all on the tender face above the coal doors. 59c along the sides of coal bunker & over the coal doors.

Stoker fed engines had a short pin iron, which had a short 90 degree piece on the end, which was used to pull the slides in the bunker. 38cl engines had or were supposed to have a short handled rake, more akin to what is seen on meteal gutter cleaners, this was for pushing any ash build up in the ashpan sides towards the centre of the ashpan when doors were open.

The extra shovel seen on the side of the 36cl in the article was another item often seen in some areas, as a back up in case the main one was lost.

The positioning of the crews bags, both gladstone bag, or the steel barracks bags, on a 36cl more often than not, the bags were set on the hand brake for the 36cl on the firemans side, often tied to the hand brake handle on other types, if not kit locker was on the tender, the only other place was to sit the bags on the coal, primarilly in the case of 3650gallen tenders & smaller.  These engines along with the Wampu tender had a rack on the drivers side for the fire irons as well.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Satisfied or satisfaction in the hobby. OR The procrastinators delight.

A modeller in our group who is in his 90's had a nice layout, U. S based & while there were some problems at times, with short circuits, & in a couple of unseen sections of the layout, it was a generally pleasing layout to visit & operate on.  Earlier in the year we all arrived to find the layout bar the main benchwork all gone, ripped up & he was ready to start building a new layout.  Start a new layout at his age??  WHY, surelly the bugs could be eradicated & the like but a full new layout, sheesh many have not even got their layouts to operating condition at a much younger age.

Seems this was not an unusual thing for him as he has done it, well so I am told around 4 times or more before.  Seems the reason is simple, he gets bored with what he has & wants something different.  He also gets a lot of satisfaction in the actual building of the layout & planning in what he does.

Looking at the old layout, detail was good, but like many other layouts, there was a lot of it & very U.S styled with buildings mainly from plastic kits & the like, most trains were as they were out of the box, including locomotives & R/S.  Its been some months now since visiting the layout, but I cannot reccolect the models being weathered of other detail done to them, thus a build & run aspect was/is primary to his interest in Model Railways.

In 2004, AMRM editor of the time Bob Gallagher did interviews over a few editions regarding the "NEW AGE" of model railways, with expansion into China of RTR locomotives as well as other items.  The first interview was with the then head of TOR Phil Gibson, & the add for the new 44cl. A later interview was with John Eassie of Austrains, & the new Eureka proprietor Ron Cunningham.

10 years since that 44cl & the other announcements, a lot has happened over that time, many models have come, TOR has changed ownership, & John Eassie is openly saying he is withdrawing, & no more new models will be produced, also the business will be sold if a buyer comes up with the money.

10 years, ago I was restarting in the hobby, enthused at all the promises that were made & looking forward to what the various sooth sayers were promising & had in the future's or crystal ball sightings. At that time with the promises I divested myself of a lot of the old models, an original Dockyard garratt was sold but that provided an earlier airfare to China to capture the last country with heavy steam working, something that drew me back 4 more times in that decade.

With our move here to the central coast & the layout going ahead, another operation just past, to mount 5 operations in 6 years, with a couple to come, I still look to how many of those promises have come to fruition. Not all the fault of the proprietors, but still dissapointing I guess.  However, on reflection, these delays & non fulfilment of the promises has provided me & I know many others who have said the same thing, & that is we have all found other areas in the hobby as much, & in many ways more fulfilling & providing satisfaction than opening a box & sharing in the new wonder term of the MR hobby, being a Plonker.

At the moment, 99.9% of my track is in place, just an abatoirs link is to be built, I have enough loco's & R/S to run trains to my satisfcation or needs.  I do need to finish off some passenger carriages & other R/S items, but they are boxed away, & will, or at least intended to get finished on day. But!. I have to say that the actual running of those models or trains no longer has the depth of interest to me, sure there are some locomotives I will still be getting, if they ever get here, & some R/S items I would like, if they ever get here, but! (again) I have to say that I too am getting a lot more satisfaction out of the construction aspects of the layout.

So much so, that I was looking at one part of the layout that I thought was finished, but it was one part that annoyed me the more I looked at it.  Its really only a small thing that annoyed but enough to rip up the section in question at what I called Coxes Crossing.
The photo shows how it was originally, & what was annoying to me was the way the creek turned out after reading & hearing of the way to use clear varnish to layer water for a layout.  I had spent time detailing the shallow area & took some time in layering the varnish ensuring completely dried prior to the next layer, along with edge painting.  When finished it looked reasonable but last summer with hot days, the smell from the varnish started to get overpowering, also the whole lot became soft on days when the temperature exceeded 30degrees.  I started to get concerned with the vapor & potential for it to cause a fire. Paranoid maybe, but still the more I looked & thought the worse it has gotten. 

Thus it got the bettter of me, when I started to work a bridge crossing in place, & out came a chisel & I took to it in a small section, the overall softness of the varnish, supposedly clear was quite amazing when it says it sets hard, only the top layer of around 1mm was anywhere close to being hard, but certainly not as hard as I expected. A good afternoon had the primary area removed, & a new bottom area prepared, a tin of Casting resin from Bunnings will now form the basis of the water feature along with other redesign of the area around the stock yards & goods shed.

In the fill in times, a station building for Moblayne takes shape as does the station itself, the deck for the goods shed also nears finishing, more areas of scenic work has really provided a good amount of satisfaction, & not a train has run since the last meeting here.

What this level of satisfaction also does is to allow me time to get the items done that provides the delight for the ultimate procrastinator, if the spellings wrong, well that also goes or fits in well with being satisfied with the hobby in a new way.  Essence, is essentially coming together, & in a way I wonder if I ever will finish it, maybe knowing that, is the ultimate in satisfaction, unless I think ripping the whole layout up & starting again is the way to go.

Monday, 4 August 2014

After some months, well its more than a year really that any trains had run on Essence, & with a Meeting to be held here on 23rd July, a scurry meant clearing up & testing at least the main lines & primary loops to ensure I could run some trains prior to my doing a Powerpoint presentation dealing with tarps, timber haulage & some details on the working at Gosford during the electric & steam changeover days.

The day before the meeting, it seemed all things were working ok with the 2 diesels I had, also the 32 & 35cl were doing ok & no problems were found with them. With those working I decided to test a DJH 58 & 59 cl to see how they went, well things were not too great really owing to derailments of the two of them meaning they were put in the depot & sidelined.  Another problem also cropped up that had not been anticipated & made me go into the growl mode, while it would not affect any running it meant a fair rethink with it.

The problem turned out to be with the roundhouse, & I believe much of it was the result of living in an active clay area, evidence of the affects in the train room as well as in the house can be found with cracks developing around some areas of both structures.  The variables in temperatures this winter also has I believe added to the problem of movement in the baseboard & its structure. 

When I had designed the RH, I went through some different stages & alterations to how the building was made, the end design had the building & floor all part of a single structure, with the pit & track all part of cut outs, the floor was built up with styrene, to just below the top of the rail, & meant to sit on the outer edges of the modified Peco inspection pits, with a sheet of styrene running level to the rail height on the outside.

When finished all fitted in nicely thank you very much, but in the months of active clay movement, I found my measurements were too fine, an initial adjustment was made by cutting the styrene back somewhat, which did not work as well as I thought, what I also found was that the styrene had actually developed a bow in it along several of the mid pit sections meaning they sat up & the locomotive wheels would catch on them.  I have now decided to completely remove the remaining styrene flooring & either plaster between the pits, or cut more styrene & glue it to the baseboard between the pits, which I think will be the end option as it also allows for a much easier removal of the main roundhouse structure if needed in the future.

During the meeting there was some discussion about prototypical aspects of operating a model railway, this is something that frequently comes up in some circles especially relating to loads for specific engines over different routes & grades, a classic one is the load as well as length of a train that a garratt hauled. Generally speaking a garratt both light & heavy types hauled the same load on grades of 1:66 & over, but on grades such as 1:40 there was around 30tons difference, with the light types taking less, eg: 575tons for light & 605tons for heavy types, another difference was on the short north, where those loads applied from Enfield to Hornsby, but from Hornsby to BMD, another 50tons was permitted for both types.

Unlike smaller engines, a garratt was permitted to take those tonnages along with a length load of 58 S trucks + brake van, = 60 4 wheel vehicles.  Usually this length was only found on the empty wire train that did comprise that amount of S trucks, so as a bit of an experiment I decided to make up a train load of that length & see how it looked.

In doing this for fun, I found it difficult to really make it up to that long & be able to contort myself to take the photo of it, thus the following photo is made up of 54 S trucks & 3 CV trucks, making it 57 + Van.  The end of the train can be seen by the silver roofed PHG to the right side of the far wall. The length of the train works out at approximately 6 metres in length.

If one was to run such prototypical loads on my layout, & I am thankful of having a 6x6metre garage space for it, such a train would take up 2 sections as well as block everything in any of the 4 centres on the layout. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014


On the same day as header photo, 3651 hauls the up midday flier through Ourimbah station.  The busy Pacific highway can be seen at the left top corner of the photo

 As close to the same position as the main photo of 1964.
Moving to the Eastern side & crouching down, more is able to be seen of the old Highway, homes, shops etc, & even traffic lights, in around a kilometre & a bit, there are now 4 sets of traffic lights & roundabout, dual lanes to just past those visible towards the front of the 2nd photo. In 1964, it was one lane each way, all the way from Gosford to north of Wyong.

Essence has gone into a bit of a hibernation period for a while, as work duty calls upstairs.  The amount of work that the layout has taken up, especially in time has meant a lot of other work that has been in need of doing now has reached a point that to leave it much longer will make some relatively simple work, much harder in the future.

Like many I do not especially like house painting, but its certainly not that bad a task if you can tackle it sooner rather than later.  When we moved here just over 4 years ago, it was obvious that the inside paint really is the original, meaning that its now around 15 years since it was painted & it was  looking quite scruffy.  Painting is not that bad when the base is ok, & better to do in the cooler months, so my target this year is to get as much done as I can, & the worst part I think will be the shifting around of furniture to get needed access. With this painting near finished I am looking forward to getting back to the layout, things have to happen as I am hosting a meeting here in 3 odd weeks so its near panic stations to tidy all things up

The aspect that I liked about trying to replicate the older NSWGR & in the period just 8 years short of when I started on the job, was not just the variety that was found on almost every train & their consists, it was also the infrastructure in & around the lines, stations, depots & townships. If I have a sorrow its that I never got around to taking photo's of a lot of that stuff.

Working on steam in those days was not the pleasant job that many like to think of, when the good old days are spoken of, thus the bush sojourns ever diminished as the novelty wore off, likewise as steam finished up, along with other interests developed, railway photography even trains went to the back burner without a gas connection. Besides, the system was always going to survive wasn't it.

As I go through some of my slides I remember my first decent camera was a 35mm Voightlander, top camera brand & produced nice shots, problem was that it was not an SLR, the sighting was via a top eyepiece with a line around it, indicating the frame that would be taken, also a manual, guess work focussing set up, I used it for around 3 rolls of film before trading it in & getting a Pentax S1a SLR, which lasted me for years.

On the day I visited Ourimbah as shown in the head photo, I used up a roll of B&W film before the slides, sadly the B&W film is one of many lost rolls, Super 8 movies & other documents from the time, during the move from Werris Creek. On that day a Friday, there was a vintage car rally somewhere up North that saw a stream of old vehicles, passing by along the Pacific Highway, the sorrow is that when one looks at the 1964 photo & compare to the other twoe taken in early July this year, its easy to see the changes.
Looking at such older shots, it certainly reminds of a time past when things were much quieter & easy going, not much pressure placed on the individual, meaning life was quite pleasant, & one that certainly did not the rigidity of rules that are ever present these days.  Even if the wires were not there or the trees in the latest scene, its easy to see the increase in road traffic on a highway that is no longer really part of the primary interstate road network. Imagine having to travel from Sydney to Brisbane today, going along the old Pacific highway, How's your patience? Ahh! no road rage back then either.

Finally, 3 shots of Moblayne following some town construction, & the small extension to the cuttings near the depot.


Sunday, 8 June 2014

Brick pit

In the past I set myself a goal of going to 2 NSW exhibitions a year, they being the annual ones put on by the Epping Model Railway Club now held at the old Brickpit at Thornleigh, on the June long weekend. The brick pit comes back to my memory as one of those midnight shunting locations on up pick ups, usually with K wagons rather than other types. 

Another siding nearly opposite the Brickpit called Gonoroo, & often by a name near to it, was also a regular shunting location that took Barley & other grains for processing. The one big memory of the area was the stench that came out from a company called Harris or similar that was from memory associated with the grain unloading facility caused the smell as they made flavourings for many products.  The brick pit was shunted on the up with Gonoroo on the down.

The other exhibition is the annual one held at Liverpool over the October long weekend, while this exhibition is pretty well known the Brickpit one is quite so, but is certainly gaining in popularity. Owing to the amount of pain with my back, from end of 2012 I was unable to get to either exhibitions last year, & something I missed a lot. So with surgery last September I was really looking forward to this years calendar & getting to both of them this year.

One thing about health is when its bad its great when you get better & back to some sort of normality, the trip to Canberra over Easter was my first such venture since the operation & while I passed with flying colours, the trip yesterday to the exhibition showed just how far I still have to recover, even though I spent around 4 hours there yesterday, which really is nothing by the end, I was glad to get home & the hours drive up the M1 was a mighty relief for me when it finished.

I am not a person who takes photo's at exh's, & is something I should reconsider but my past efforts have not been as good as I had hoped so apologies for none in this post.

I have to say that the Epping clubs exhibition really sits on the top rung of exhibitions, sure its hard to beat the big brother Liverpool for sheer volume & size, which also equates to numbers, meaning crowds of people, especially on the first day.  My wife Julie came down with me & we arrived at around 0910, able to get a park under the hall & even then with near an hour to go the line was out to the footpath so we go in for a cup of coffee, & gee I have to say how much I dislike the auto machine coffee, next year is a thermos thank you, although the snag sandwiches even at the price go down nice.

The line started to move around 10 minutes early, so we sit for 20 minutes to wait for the clearance walk out & see the line down at the underneath car park entry, near as much as big brothers line. My thoughts immediately turned to the dreaded crowded aisles & stand issue but, what a wonder when inside out of the wind it was a wonder at how many people could get into this hall without blocking anything.  One lady on the way as she walked to the hall said she had to drive around for over 1/2 hour for parking, which is likely the biggest issue facing this location.

While Julie thoroughly enjoyed herself even building a small module at the kids scenery clinic, well done NMRA members who were much supported by those in the CCWN Wednesday nighters who I enjoy the company of & membership in.  She left for ferry rides in the city after 1 1/2 hours with a new found enthusiasm for my modelling & seeing what goes on, augers well for the future.

My overall time at the exhibition before my back started to really complain was 4 odd hours & leaving there around 1430. While it was nice to see the arrivals of new models for the first time, the OTM TRC's, amongst their other collections, the improved models in the Austrains range, taking in the new samples of BHG/SHG/ Loaf of bread EHO's, new RTC's from SDS, seeing items on the Southern stand, & the very nice 43cl sample from Auscision, perhaps the model that captured my greatest drool points was the O gauge Garatt.

What an awesome looking model, but I'm blowed if I intend to pull down the HO layout & go into a new venture to get one, including the other bank busters on display. 

Moving to Eureka's stand I noticed that their steam models have moved away from the original plug connectors between engine/tender that provides the electricals & take on the load bearing from the motored engine, now the wiring has a plug & metal connector as found on the TOR 32cl, which to me is a much better setup, although it means 2 connections to play with, I like the idea of the stronger set up like this.

Being a mid 50's modeller, my hope is to see the Eureka 40cl arrive before long, but they seem to be plagued by the latest drama's at the old SDK factory, this has apparently been resolved so one can only hope to see this long awaited model arrives soon, the same with the Austrains G/BL & 81cl. I also thought the samples of the G wagon from Eureka looked very nice as well.

The one area of layouts that continue to impress is the O gauge in both the Arakoola & Spicers Creek, the latter the child of Garry Spencer-Salt from MRRC at Blacktown & wonderful layout especially the attention to detail with the scenery. Using the natural dried parts of Sedum plants the "gum" trees look the part, as does the whole depth of the layout.

Lastly, for me it was great to catch up with the many friends & bloggers, friends from times past & bloggers from times now, the friendliness of the stall holders I spoke with showed how much less stressful this exhibition appeared to be.

The cottage industry people also with their small stands, including the new kid on the block Shrike models shows also that the hobby has a bright future.

Thanks to Epping & everyone for the day, & it was great to be back in circulation.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


The last few weeks has been slow for various reasons, as I sort of relax a bit after the concentrated work on the R/H.  The primary model work has been the movement along the backdrop part of Moblayne township, with the main road all but finished along with some scenery at the depot area, & building construction taking place.  Several small houses & shops have been in the process of construction, each a sort of representation of the old weatherboard structures found across NSW.

I am thankful very much for the many journeys around the state going back to my pre teens, taking in some towns that were nothing like they are today, homes on the old party line telephone networks, when truly everyone knew your business as the operators would ring through your phone code for an incoming call along the circuit, & as you picked up the phone to answer, there was the distinct clicks that announced your conversation was being heard by most along the circuit.  Something not able to be modelled though.

But, the thing that stuck out in my mind was as I remembered the towns was just how basic everything was, the reality of how long between painting of houses it was, it was seemingly unusual to see a sparkling freshly painted house, & that really was with good reason, it was a mongrel job to paint those old wooden weatherboards as well as the timber framed windows & doors, likely also the window awnings & brackets, eaves, facia's & gutters back then. 

The old paint had to be sanded smooth, patched & bogged up along the many cracks & often a pressure flame burner was needed to remove the old flacking pain then reprimed & sealed. The old lead based enamel paint which required at least 2 coats on top of the previous 2 other primary ones was not that easy, especially as the home owner had likely spent a lot more time at work in often much more physical duties as well. After using a hand push lawn mower to do the 1/4 acre block or larger, painting was the last thing on the mind. Even the thought of cleaning the brushes in turps & the like didn't quite seem like a joyous chore either.

Interestingly even in the 60's homes were not kept that much better on the outside either.  I marvelled as I worked through suburbs on steam locomotives, & saw the extent of homes that were let go & quite run down that sat along the railway lines.  The industrial fallout in many places, such as the Illawarra, Newcastle areas, along with Lithgow, Bathurst & many others was also intermingled with the smoke from steam locomotives in the depots, along with the burning of coke, coal & wood in home fires during the winter, affected everything around them.

Heading west from Northmead at night on photo journeys, & coming down into Lithgow valley, at night you could smell Lithgow 20 odd minutes before you saw it, coming in via Victoria pass was no better, during daylight though you could see in the distance the pall of pollution at the same time as you smelt it. I think pristine homes were a last thought owing to how quick the fallout brought all the hard work back to all but nothing, in a short period of time.

In some ways, I am trying to reflect that era in my modelling, well its a good excuse for poor handiwork in scratch & kit building & something I am going to stick to.  To capture this sort of image, we are fortunate for some very good books out there that show much of that bygone era, these as well as travel experiences do much to rekindle those memories that I have from those years ago.

The photo showing the cab of 5917 in the about me on the home page, shows me hanging out the cab of the engine along with the Enfield Driver WK Smith leaving Enfield depot to work 675 north ex Enfield, this was the last working of a 59cl on a revenue goods train all the way from Enfield to BMD, the date is in 1972 & is recorded in a NSWRTM magazine with the listings of the last steam workings on the Short North.

The job was a call out, as the rostered fireman had gone sick, well I know the reason for it, as I also remember the trip as a hole.  I was to subsequently work on 5917 again in 1980 from Unanderra to Moss Vale & return on a Legacy train, this time as the driver, likewise some years later on the same engine again returning from Cooma from Bredbo to Michelago.  Times of memory rekindling to sit in the fireman's or even the drivers seat after many years away from them.

Some 5 eventful trips to China between 2001 & 2012 to see steams last great stand, also rekindled those memories.  Those memories were very easily rekindled by the aura that came from Steam, the various smells long gone, did not change. What the smell & atmosphere was in NSW back in 1972 at Enfield, & later in those other working times, was exactly the same thousands of Kilometres away on the lines across China, while the engines looked different as did the crews, that was all the difference really was.

Over Easter 2014 my wife Julie & I travelled down to Canberra, where we had a day at the War memorial, what a change since my last visit back when a teenager, & waiting on the Vietnam marble lottery to fall, when it happened I was left on the railways rather than the potential to SE Asia & the tropical resorts over there. 

On the Saturday night we went to the photo shoot with both 3016 & 6029 in steam, where we also met up with Towelly, & another friend from up this way, & a very enjoyable evening was had. What made the night was after asking the museum about prospects for some sound recordings, & gaining approval for them on arrival I was pointed towards a person who was "driver in charge" of 6029. On meeting up with him an instant recognition took place & knowing him as an ex Engineman from Broadmeadow, he also recognised me & some time was spent in recounting names & experiences on the ground, then an invitation back in the cab.

The invitation was accepted with the warning, come & look at the luxury that its fitted out with.  Climbing up & into the cab, those smells & atmosphere was once again high in the nostrils & all other senses that could take it in.  Luxury 21st century 60cl style was found in the arm rests & seats, gone was the 1/2 inch thickness of padding over timber of horse hair seats & backrests, thin arm rests, rather both seats & arm rests were full of thick firm foam, as well as the back rests, which in many ways compared well with some of the better seats in diesels, certainly no other steam locomotive in regular service had anything like these.

I was then sat in the fireman's seat & told to put a fire on. Suddenly I was taken back to 1972 & looked at the gauges, & valves, after a short look over, I reached up to the main steam valve up on the boiler back head & was opened, then the stocker motor control valve above the 5 knobs that controlled the steam jests to the spreader plate was opened. The noise of the stocker along with the jets raised to a high pitch, the noise of which was quite incredible, even after such a long break, it soon felt just part of the normal operation in the cab.  I was then told that I had passed what apparently was a test of my memories.  Shortly after the safety valve lifted at 200Psi, & some stuck fingers in their ears & head down to try & shut the noise out.

The only thing that was missing to add to those noises was the sound of the exhaust at heavy load with the cab vibrating in movement, the injector full on & stocker going fast to deliver coal into the firebox.  I did not miss that one bit, nor the heat that was generated in the cab in summer, or steam leaks that prevented any sight of the driver with windows closed in the winter.

Ahead was the ultra shine of the brand new gloss black paint, later to be covered with fine ash when the fire was knocked down, one trip was all it took for such an engine to lose its gloss & just become a dirty beast, one of many.

Some photo's of the night.

R & R Reaquainting & Reminiscing

 From the drivers seat

in position for the shoot
dry pump, & manual lubrication 
De-ash, the first signs of boiler weathering

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

At last

After months of work the Moblayne R/H is in place, albeit not totally as its still just sitting there, & with some minor adjustments to be done to the internal lighting, that will stay as is for the time being, the only other things needed for completion is smoke shute covers, & external lights to the outside of the shed, 5 in total.

In the end I had to do some timber removals as I really felt that having the roof battons served no useful benefit anyway, so they came off.

Down  approach to Moyblayne approximate location of the distant signal, just past garage shown on previous photo.

There are some lights too bright which will be fixed, although they look brighter in photo's rather than real life although I will try to bring the levels down.
Using cut up pieces of Styrofoam boxes to form low embankment from road to trackside. Short cut out is road access into depot Home signal to be located just past the crossing.

The above 3 pics show my first real attempts at clouds, while generally happy with the result the large on the left is not to my liking so an attempt will be made to alter it. The work on the clouds has helped to try & cover some problems previously mentioned with the backdrop which has been primarily caused by the active clay region we live in, dry weather cracks appear, wet & the cracks close up & now they push together forming ridges, nothing really can be done, so its live with it & try some different things to cover up the imperfections.

Primary through main road is in place the next steps will include road base to go in place with dirt. With this section on the move now, the finishing of the pub along with other buildings  will take place.
Last but certainly not least.   One item that I had been eagerly waiting for was the platform for the Coxes Gully goods shed, it was a real pleasure to receive if from Rod Kelly on Monday just gone, along with his wheel painting device & another water tank stand, the main truss part of the stand was cut out that night, & now ready for assembling, this leaves one more stand that is needed.

I say a real pleasure to receive the platform as I looked over it, & while the detail is superb, the actual assembling of it by Rod is absolutely top rate, a real pro's work indeed. 

As I looked at it & put the Ian Lyndsay building on it, I thought that it actually needs to be eventually situated elsewhere & it will end up in the Moblayne goods yard, I will scratch build a G1b goods shed for Coxes as it would be a more suitable size for this location.

A real appreciation of work indeed & many thanks Rod.

The timber platform with Ian lyndsay shed on it. The 2 MRC's are the latest run from TOR. Still the same body but the additional items of detail improves the look, the worst is still the timbers which are a bit too heavy & deep, also the paints pretty heavily gloss. 

The worst aspect I find with weathering models factory painted is getting chalks & powders to stick, I have a steel Scratch brush from Walthers a $4.95 investment that I love, the first photo shows one side with original paint & condition, above photo, shows the platform from Harlow graphics also my weathering of the other side of the MRC after using the scratch brush to take back the paint, & apply the chalks
An OTM latest run LLV, sits next to the MRC, this has been weathered slightly with the scratch brush, & some chalks on the scratch brush, bogies are painted using Sonja's Nimbus grey as undercoat & chalks on top.
I have found the MRC wheels to be slightly too thick, & bind on my 1:40 grade with 28" radius curves that also has some super elevation on them, replacing the wheels with 100 wheels from TOR, improves them no end. In the AMRM review mention was made about the wheels supplied with the models being not what was ordered, sadly some more issues with China factories.  I could not work out why the binding too place until I did a back to back measurement of the actual wheel, which revealed the ones on my 2 models were closer to 0.114 than 0.110, shows how much affect a near 1mm oversize of 2 wheels has an impact, as the models ran freely with the wrongly supplied wheels on straight track & likely larger radius curves but with the narrower wheels they run as well as any other wagon on my layout.