Sunday, 24 December 2017


Its now just over 8 months since my last post but, to me this latest one is a follow up to where we are follow the completion of making the old 6x6 converted dusty garage at Wadalba.

We finally sold the house less than a week before the RE agency contract ended, around the same time we put a deposit on a block of land at Raworth which adjoins Morpeth in the Hunter Valley we set our minds on building a new house as it will mean little need for maintenance compared to the house at Wadalba which was due for work that was completely beyond me and my wife Julie.

With contracts exchanged we moved out of Wadalba into a renting situation in the same suburb and only 3 minutes away from the land we purchased, we are less than 10 minutes drive to Victoria St station that has a half hour service to the Newcastle interchange. with usually a 5 minute change to electric trains to Sydney, we like it here owing to how quiet it is. The house plans are at Maitland Council now and the hope is a start will be made in February with us able to move in late May.

The final pull down of the layout revealed a fair bit of work made worse by my design work, and primarily because I screwed the bench tops down into the frame work rather than the opposite which would have made things a lot simpler and handier to pull down and transport it.

We extended one bedroom on the plans to a size of 6 x 6.1mtrs, this will allow with some modifications better access to some hard to get at locations, more especially the two areas on the Peninsular section that Nullo Mountain and Jacks Creek are on, especially the covered tunnel area on the line from Akuna to Nullo, and the other track underneath that runs from Moblayne down under and to the staging yards.  The worst part of the changes is that the entry will now be at the opposite end of the side it was previously , which means a double lift up bridge.  That will be a challenge for the future.

The best part to me is that the layout room will be in the house, in air conditioned comfort without the amount of dust that was in the old garage.

Its going to be a big year ahead in many ways, I pray my health and strength will improve as well as Julies.

From Both of us to all my blogger friends and families we both extend our greetings to you all for a Merry Christmas and for the year ahead may it bring you all what your needs are and some of the wants which always linger around.

Colin and Julie Hussey.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The void increases

Well a week has gone since the start of the layout dismantling.  Ever the optimist I hoped all would be smooth sailing, but seems the layout was happy and wanted to stay as it was in some sections or more like some areas in the sections.

I had hopped that the dismantling would be fairly easy, and go smoothly, to date I would say its a bit of a 50/50 event that way, often a solitary hidden screw would cause a bit of frustration trying to find it by breaking up the scenes area, with the plaster having filled up the heads and time to scratch out the stuff. Some notations have been made that will mean a change in the method and location of where screws will be used in the rebuild.  The down side in a sense of this is that much of the scenery has broken up and had to be put in the bin, meaning some renewals in the future.

I missed taking initial photo's of the dismantling but there are photo's in previous blogs that will show how things were and how they stand as of today, my hope is that the whole layout bench work will be dismantled fully in 4 days as there is only 4 sections to go.

Photo 1 looking from Akuna down to where the Moblayne depot was, now its stand against the wall with the underside showing. The right hand wall is where the staging yard and a down approach to Akuna was
 Photo 2 looking from the same position as 1 with what was left of Akuna at the top and the double approach road underneath.  The right track comes directly down from Jacks Creek on the right through the tunnel portal into what is the down arrival staging yard. The left or outer track comes from the Up staging yard and goes direct to Moblayne via the bridge near the entry door
 Photo 3 looking from the other end of photo 2

 Photo 4 shows Jacks Creek with part rear removed and ready for removal.
 Photo 4 the backdrop wall is gone so is trackwork over the join that can be just seen, the black wire making a defiant stand before removal.
 Photo 6,  Jacks Creek is now gone
Photo 7, looking over Nulla Mountain saw mill prior to its removal today.

As I work and sections removed I continue with thinking of ideas relative to the future, while trying to visualise the future I tried to imagine how things might look without the large partition that seperated Nulla and Jacks creek, also provided a blocking of the view through to Akuna. Doing that was to try and separate the areas in the visual sense.  Looking over it I tried to think HO scale rather than just for the layout but also for the operator and imagined passengers on a train and train crews as to what they might see as they looked out over the journey.

Withe camera position just to the inside of the track that went down from Nulla to Jacks Ck, I aimed it across and towards the up end of Akuna.  The level that Akuna sits on is at the lower part of the backdrop painted board and partly covered by dismantled baseboards. During the pull down of the Mill area the low profile scenery was damaged enough that meant it going in the bin, meaning when renewed I will not have the partition as before but will have the scenery formation made up approximately 40mm higher, so that when looked at from the same eye level as the photo, the Akuna backdrop should provide something of depth to it.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Vision - Void & return

Essence started out as a Vision, which had no name associated with the layout at the beginning. The idea of a layout was only ever something that was a dream that developed into a vision, it became a reality only when we moved back to Sydney's west end of 1999.  It took near on 10 years in an early development that had to be fitted into rebuilt half a knock down asbestos garage of 6 x 6m.  In the end it barely worked but the shift to Wadalba the vision grew, and from there the new train room was formed out of another garage of the same size but it meant the room would be able to go to what my vision really had in mind.

From what was a void, of nothing, except the track and some items brought from Shalvey that I thought could be used to fill that garage from an void or empty space into the vision that I had. Largely that vision was attained but not to the success that I had hoped for. Thing was that being what in reality was a big leap forward into so many new areas for me, such as scratch building items that came out of memories such as the old Chargemans office at Werris Creek and other items, were challenges and many completed successfully while others? some have gone but will be replaced with new builds.

The planning for the future Essence has started so all things being equal it will return but when is another matter. With the house now on the market and some interest so far, its only been a bit over a week now, and sales up here are not bad but not like Sydney though, and the agents confident of a sale in not a long time frame, has meant a lot of ideas for Essence has been all but put back to the void status while house items and the like have taken precedence for sorting and packing up.

As for the layout I had been progressively packing up all the R/S, loco's and other moveable items as time permitted, with 99% of such items packed and moved out, over the last weekend I have made the tentative steps of dismantling the track and framework, a time of mixed emotions and very much a new round of learning.  As Essence was built up, I tried to plan as much as possible to have the whole layout to be in a type of module construction that was able to be dismantled without a lot of problems should anything happen to me. Was that a success? The answer, yes and no.

When confronted with the start, I went around the layout, checking out each area to work out where to start, the bridge was first to be removed, an easy choice, then the return section under Moblayne at the end of the staging yards, that allowed for a continuous run. This provided the earliest of challenges owing to the removal of screws, that suddenly were not as conveniently located as I had though. With that taking half a day, so what next?

As I needed space for any sections pulled down to stored upright, I took to the largest one piece section, a full 1220 x 2440nn 12mm ply board that the roundhouse and that end of Moblaynes yard and station. This took a fair bit of work just to get it seperated from the next section, being the same size but angled at one end towards the entry door. The depot end finally came down on Monday 10th.  This removal actually showed up how much amiss I had been with the design as I had thought that the various board and track layouts would both work wonderfully in alignments, that is a rail join perfectly situated over the joins in the base boards. Yeah Right!!. Rather than being a work of ease, I had a lot of breaking up of ballast, scenery and taking some track up, that I had hopped would not happen.

With lessons learnt (up to that point) Tues-Wednesday,11/12/04, had me take down all the staging yard and 2 sections of the incline from Moblayne up towards Akuna. There is now just one 2440x450mm wide section to come down, from the there and a full wall of 2 levels will be completed.

None of this work has been done without a lot of thinking about the void that will be created and what then to the return of Essence. The reality is that at our next home the room to house the layout while hopping it will be of the same or similar size such things as where the entry will be, means that Essence will have to more than likely have some changes to the layout plan. Initially I was thinking of it being less than it is now, something initially of dread was my thinking.

However, as the knock down progressed with care, my mind was also active in looking ahead, as each section came down, I had to break up much of the scenery and other items to get at hidden screws, the thought of this unplanned for damage weighed on me a bit, but as I plodded I started to see other visions that can see changes in the future that will add to what old Essence did not have. A wide section where I had to gouge out plaster and static grasses, is the perfect spot to have a watercourse flow through and under the track with a low level pier bridge.  Much easier perhaps than redoing the removed plaster.

The demolition is sad but out of the possible sorrow there comes the reality of a new vision, to see the empty void filled once again.  Over the next week I will be taking some photo's of what has happened so far, and I know I should have tried to take them at each stage. It's likely going to be 12 months at the least before the new abode will be moved into, so a lot of dreaming and planning will be going on.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Movement of sorts.

The heading says it all as little has really happened on the layout now for some time at least in the moving forward way.

Since the last post back in September last year I have tried 4 times to finish this post following the last one and when I hosted our local groups weekly meeting so this is a bit of reflection over those times but also, to events since and for the future.   On meeting nights I spend the days leading up to it preparing the layout to ensure or at least trying to ensure that Murphy does not show his ugly presence, this day was pretty much the same, first off, a check of all points to make sure all blades throw properly also a good vacuum over all track to ensure any rubbish is cleaned out, then a clean of the rails.

Once that is completed  I run a test train to ensure all runs well, usually the test train will have an S truck behind the engine with one of the little Noch clip on track cleaning pad on the leading axle to wipe up any residue from the Fleischman track cleaning pad. Next is to test each train that is to be run on the night. and following another two around after the cleaner and each showed no problems, so I was pretty happy with that and looking good for the night. Next was a short "holiday special" with a TOR 32cl and two dog boxes from Austrains, and a TOR PHG. The train started off well and then stopped and became jerky, stop -  started, checking nothing wrong with the track and all another attempt to run it had the same problems this time I noticed some sparking under the boiler, so it went out of the roster. All other loco's doing the round ran well so onto the night and why the sparks.

A sort of concern was the old reports that said the 32cl was a potential disaster, but that night I gave the 32 to Gerry Hopkins to check it out, and the following week he came back saying the 32cl has very strong magnet in the motor, he believed the strongest he knows of, resulting in the model being very prone to picking up dirt, and especially any loose static grass near the track, and my model had a lot of it, which was the problem as the static grass sparked with electrical contact.  This meant I had to redo my cleaning roster in a big way, the model actually performed brilliantly after getting it back but is now off the layout as is a lot of other items as well.

Since that meeting, I did a lot of thinking, especially with the amount of dust and loose scenery bits that caused the problem. With a look around the train shed the decision was made to do complete layout cleanup,  it also made me realise how inadequate the room really was. Simply its a standard 6x6metre garage, with one opening door, the walls and ceiling have been insulated along with a wind heat extractor in the middle of the roof. Overall for a garage I have tried to make it as dust proof as possible and I thought I had done a fair job really.

A look however at a couple of carriages with black roofs that had sat in a siding for some months now without moving, gave me a real reality check, rather than being low shine black the roofs were actually now a very flat grey look, a touch of them revealed a neat layer of fine dust, something that all the models had over them.  These aspects made me really look hard at things and that was not confined to just the layout either.

Dust I can only think is an incurable item in a neat home, let alone a converted garage, at least in the home dust is manageable with vacuum cleaners, brushes and the like. How then on a layout that has such a large flat area, where dust can settle and in many spots that are not able to take vacuum cleaning to the same degree as the house. I know of one modeller whose layout is part of the main house, but he has large covers that go over the layout when not in use, a great idea, but as he has more of a layout that is not rural based as many others, its not that hard to set the covers in place.

None of that helps solve the problem, so the alternative was to do some work on it. The work ended being more than som, rather an all but complete removal of everything not glued or wired down  then using a stiff hand brush, with a funny brand stamped in handle NSWTD, (looked similar to those used on the footplate) the stiff bristles were easy to sweep all up loose items but soft enough to not damage anything gone over.  As I worked, I brushed the whole areas of the layout, especially the track and all the grassed areas, hills and the like, progress wrought in many piles of loose static grass, flock, even ballast in some areas where the glue had given way.

Two photo's of Coxes Ck now devoid of trees like the rest of the layout

As the work continued I tried to keep the dirt like items separate from the flock and grasses then getting it into different containers in case it can be used again.  I now stare at basically a barren landscape that is devoid of trees, and looking somewhat sad really, the removed trees were checked with many of them consigned to the waste bin, with those that looked ok consigned to a different bin for reworking at some point of time in the future.

Prior to all this and before the meeting, I had been working on trying to build an Abatoirs, I could remember many times driving past the old Tancreds structure and sidings at Tenterfield, and it was different to most others, but there is nothing left of it these days, likewise, despite much searching I could not get any details or photo's of the works, until an ex driver from WCK was able to come up with a part photo, with that in hand, I set about a scratch built modellers licence version of Tenterfield abatoirs.

The above photos shows what was achieved prior to the last meeting for the meatworks. with the backdrop of Nullo Mountain with a solitary Sedum to add a bit of greenery.

So moving on.

With all this happening, I have also been hit with further issues regarding health, along with new scans have revealed a lot of degeneration along my back but also neck and shoulders so the future means I have a lot of adjustments to make to my lifestyle. With all of this and following on from the clean up and clearing off of the layout, I had to along with talking to my wife Julie who is also having some health issues we have decided that we really needed to consider the dreaded downsize options.

Both of us have similar interests outside our hobbies, and neither like the cramped lifestyle with mini blocks of land and what I see are all but ghetto style clusters of homes with little or no space on the block. something we have enjoyed in all of our married life and mostly where we lived has spoilt us in that regard, but approaching 70 reality hits.

As much had already been packed away off the layout,  Essence is being reduced and the shed is now looking like a bomb has hit it.  Three train consists sit on the layout, ready for another meeting to be held on the 8th of March, which will be Essences swansong. At least with all the work thathas been done it really only final clearing off and packing of the what's left and then the layout to be dismembered, and to that score the way the layout was built it was always going to be a job made a bit easier with the layout in sections, and able to be stored flat.

Essence began as a dream, I guess something that probably had its embryonic beginnings in the 50's when I was given a Triang train set that was a largish oval and provided interest and our pet budgie at the time that was not constrained in a cage used to fly down and sit on the top of a carriage for the whole time it ran, but make a loud noise in protest when stopped. I could nightly hear the trains that ran on the Western line between Westmead and Wentworthville, the sounds that came across were not understood by me at the time but the late night sounds of steam and momentum speed and exhausts as they went down the dip and slugged away up the grade to Pendle Hill were wonderful in memories.

Then was my working career on the railways but modelling always sat there and some items collected over the years and some of those now part of some council tip while others have been worked on and will form part of any future layout.  Is Essence dead?  A question that I ask muchly of myself, but the answer is hopefully one that will be positive and that will very much depend on what we do over the course of this year and what sort of home and layout room becomes available.