Thursday 5 October 2023

The return of Essence.

Its been many a long gap or void owing to a number of issues, which includes health for myself and wife. Since our move away from Wadalba and having to rent for more than 12 months, and then get the house finished and yard etc, its very much been a process of sucking things up. Health issues along with covid and being stuck indoors mostly and when heading out, it appeared as if the Kelly gangs had joined together to clear the decks across the board. In that time, it really put our wondering as to the future and whether we made the right choice and the move up here to Raworth, rather than staying in Wadalba. The boxes that tied up rooms much to the ceiling also played a large part in holding items in various rooms, along with the number of them that reached the heights of Duglous Bader, well, not quite that high as the roof cavity was empty allowing for some sort of freedom. Since moving into our new home, one of the primary targets was to get Essence up and running, that in itself was something of a chore and I thank some members of the CCW model club for helping in the move and location for the first section of the layout, something I could not do by myself. The rebuilding of Essence is sort of almost complete after many a long day/night, much of the reason why the length of the time is very much due to health and the associated surgeries in different hospitals, while it has helped get me on my feet in a better situation, it still provides for the future with the layout along with other areas of interest for the future and whatever that may be. My main hope is that given half the year has passed, I sincerely look forward to the next steps that will bring the layout into a working one before end of year, hopefully the aspect of a large proportion of Essence will show its working rather than just static items on display. A fair degree of work has been completed and the Moblayne section which forms the primary locomotive servicing depot, along with other area's such as the town, Main station and yard area, for transfer of goods wagons along with storage and transfer to other trains. Having a 30T as primary shunter will keep it busy working at Moblayn station, the goods yard, along with transfer of stock to the meatworks just outside of the yards. A petrol depot also sits to the side/rear of the yard that is also to be serviced by the 30T or other replacement, such as a 32cl. One of the worst, if not the worst aspect of the layout is the simple fact that the work that was started with great enthusiasm has somewhat died off, primarilly the reason/cause has been with my health but I have at least been able to get the layout basically finished, but reality has it running short owing to my health areas. Winter has been somewhat of a drag owing to limited time in getting it more stable and with the hope of running which would have been much earlier had I been better health wise. As I delved into the layout to try and get it going, along with other finishing touches, the delays did not help but some work has picked up, but not as much as I would have liked. Near on a month back I took a diversion and decided to check out the fleet of models that included locomotives as well as Rolling stock, as I dilently opened boxes, both old and new, with unopened models in boxes, like others I think! I realised that I really had too many models of Rolling stock, especially with Goods wagons, and some carriages, putting them together in various areas there was basically no space with the number of models in boxes. I set out and filled up a number of boxes that had new models of goods wagons, of various types, a number of them were repeats meaning I had too many items of NSWGR rolling stock. The number of locomotives that I also ended up with, and one gone missing when sent away for repairs has not shown up, and its probably in some distant scrap area. The aspect with loco's shows that every section of track that runs to the Turntable, has all roads taken up, just like long weekends of locomotives waiting through the weekends & sitting in the various tracks that has them full, with at least three, models needing space around the TT. While the delemna for the loco's is a reasonably easy fix, as a couple of new roads can be inserted, the aspect regarding the rolling stock is somewhat another matter. I have lifted several brand new models that includes both 4 wheelers, bogie hopper wagons, some other heavy metal flat wagons, S trucks along with Sheep, cattle and other models, all in as new condition, those boxes are the first to be sold, and will leave more space for the layout and ability to operate on the layout. I do also need to check all the wiring to make sure all is compatible and with no dead areas. The task is still there, but as I am marginally better health wise, my hope is to aim at Christmas as the finishing off for the year and allow some more pleasure areas on Essence. Wish me luck, or better still good fortune as I go forward. Cheers to all Col

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Essence progress.

I have been doing some work on the layout, which means the former proposal on a post dealing with fonts on steam locomotives, while I have a degree of data, there are a couple of areas that I need to look into for that post, it has been started & in draft mode.  Besides that I need to get work on the layout that I have started done, which will help get the room a bit more organised than it is now.

The work on what I guess I can call section A of the 3 piece of Moblayne is to a semi fixed state, at least to the point where I have got a good start on scenery, after getting the brown pigment to mix in with the Cornice cement, the backdrop for the base board is in final stages of painting, before it goes up, I have need to put static grass onto the areas at the back of the Roundhouse, once that is done along with the backdrop I can move away from that spot, and work on tidying up around that area.

A quite tedious job was to get fence posts into position along with using elastic sewing thread for two rows at the top to replicate wire strands as found on the boundary lines, with bridal mesh for the main fencing mesh., only need to some rust like paint on that to give it some realism. There is but one fence that runs that part of the layout, rather than fencing off both sides of the Rail line, with none on the depot & yard side of the line, something that was very common across the state, also saves a day trying to work with it.

The main line track from the station/yard area is now in place with ballasting finished, minimum radius of 32" is excellent, and a couple of joins fixed which were problems on the old layout.  I thought the old radius of 28" was ok and the concern was that going to the 32" would mean I needed a fair amount more room, compared to the old curve, and would muck up the first section of the rising track to Akuna, It was a pleasant surprise to find the new radius has meant that it only goes 30mm further away from where the old line went, also to join to the Akuna section is only affected by 45mm short that needs a short track insert.

One blooper I found, which took me a little while to fix was I had not installed the Walthers 90ft TT correctly, it needs to have an area where there is no track space above a feeder that is under the pit.  I had to prise up all the track and rotate to new position, helped in another way in getting the various roads better aligned.

The roundhouse has proved to be a bit of a problem owing to the areas which were damaged in the move, one side  has pretty much broken up, and I am not sure I have the desire to try and replicate the original fine detail on the inside, as its not going to be seen anyway. I had heck of a lot of trouble getting one of the sides glued back in place, a brick wall that would for some reason not take Plastic cement or Super Glue, I was left with no other option than using Plumbers PVC cement and primer, that fixed it no problems

The last two days have gone into finishing the backdrop, the grassing of the area between track and the back drop, and from track to the depot area.
The very beginnings of the new Essence and Moblayne depot, new track in place between the two low profile land. A slow start but at least it was the start needed.

Taking the next step was to work on the size of the backdrops, as there are two large windows in the room, one to the left side of Moblayne and one at the back wall & to the right of the photo, trying to fit in commercial backdrops would not work, I may go that way for Akuna though.

The depot with the finishe painted backdrop in place, I have to say that I found doing this quite enjoyable after I had found 2 of the cloud masters (copies from friend) and decided to play around with them, Matt white spray paint and Matt Grey primer to see how much I could mess it up. Being a lowish profile backdrop of 360mm works well as does the length of it that fits at the Window frame to the left of the drop.
The approach to Moblayne from Akuna that runs behind the Roundhouse, the track comes off the new 32" radius curve, where I had to extend the baseboard by a whopping 140mm to enable the reworking of the track, where the inside landscape is shown, that was where the old line was. That made the curve of 28" radius a bit tight but I am more than happy with how the wider curve fits. The big advantage in the new room is that I get at least 400mm more room on each wall compared to the old garage layout.
Behind the Roundhouse and again the old radius is just visible to the right of the track, the roundhouse shows some damage as a result of the move.

Exiting the low cuttings and approaching the home signals, the brownish dirt spot is at the start of where the new larger radius curve commences, the worst damage to the roundhouse is seen on the wall, but most of the internal supports were also broken, I constructed the whole roundhouse with wood, if I had my time over again I would likely do it in Styrene, as the wood components gave way generally at glue points.

Many loco depots had small cut aways in any dirt areas such as I have created two of the, one a bit below the photo is the main entry to the depot for workers, the above one though is a short stopping spot where incoming crews could be relieved before going into the yard/station areas.

Friday 15 November 2019

Merry Christmas, Yes I know its early.

As I wait to see a neurosurgeon in a couple of weeks, along with most of the outside work being very much completed, my focus has turned to the layout, and sorting out of items, the restart as I had posted earlier has not progressed beyond that point as yet, but I look forward to the time between the surgeons visit and getting a temporary sheet of MDF up to mark out the sky and background area that will be painted.

Since the last bit of work, I have been slowly unpacking boxes, and sadly some items have not survived well, the roundhouse has a damaged side wall that will need rebuilding, also parts of the Orange based coal stage have broken, attempts to fix it have not been too successful either, as such I was looking at some styrene and timber purchases, today, as I move among the boxes and containers in getting things lined up, (sometimes I can be methodical) I found a container on the top of several marked   Sundry Layout items, on opening the container and finding some lost items near the bottom was a large plastic bag full of packs of styrene packs along with a number of North Eastern wood strips.

Therein lays the whoopee of Christmas coming early, as I now do not have to search and buy replacement styrene or wood for spares.

As an aside to all of this, I am working on a post that may or may not be of particular interest to many of you who follow Essence blog. I am hopping to add some posts that may help in regards to some different areas of the NSWGR in the steam era.  This coincides with a degree of research I had done previously as to the tight era that I have chosen to model, that being 1955- 1957/ very early 1958. Reason being that it makes me very much directed in what I purchased and will in the future prevents me being tempted outside that era.

In Byways of Steam #26, Ian Dunn put an article that was in an area that I am particularly interested in, and that is on Numbers in Font design.  This topic is something that I have been looking into for some time, it comes as a result of my time on the railways, also when I have looked at some of my own photo's along with those in books.  For me, I find that having a good collection of books that cover the modelling era I am working in, provides a heck of a lot of information that helps in having a relatively correct layout with models and their details..

I hope this topic is of interest, and as a starter please take note of the front end photo I took of 3812 at Enfield Loco #1 shed departure road in 1964, and the font and positioning of them

Friday 25 October 2019

Colour pigments

These posts seem to be coming fast and furious and while I am wanting to get back to modelling and the layout in place ASAP, I have done a lot of rethinking with the layout and especially the scenery and other detail parts, one thing with any aspect of our lives is how easy we realise that we coulda - shoulda done things differently.

One of the early mistakes I made was just plugging away with just getting things going without thinking beyond the basics, which often came back to kick me, but thankfully I had some excellent people to provide advice in the CCWN group that I was/am part of since the move from Sydney. Even on the first incarnations of Essence I met at least 4 people who were part of the group and each gave advise and help in a big way, one being the late Sam Mangion who would pick you up on the small things, and explain why to do it a bit differently, miss Sam heaps a great bloke.

One of the things he helped with was the plans for Essence, along with ideas with benchwork, and his coming over to make the lift bridge for access to the old garage layout.  At that time I worked on sections of the layout that was primarily involved with getting the track down, and scenery along with associated aspects would come later.

I had tried different items for making scenery, especially the hills and other raised areas, that included ordinary plaster, casting plaster and a product from the U.S, which the name escapes me, in the end I was told to use Cornice cement and add some disinfectant and dishwashing liquid to the mix as the disinfectant helped prevent mould in the more humid area of the Central Coast, with the dishwashing liquid helping to delay the solid setting of the cornice cement.  I found both great additions especially the dishwashing liquid as I could come back to the structures up to 4 days later give the structures a light spray with wet water and was able to sculpture the rock and hill aspects of what had been done.

As I progressed I got a chastisement for not putting any colouring in the mix, why? says I should I need it?  Well plaster and of any kind has a habit of chipping, and being a bright white once you scenic the area with colours and static grasses or whatever else you used there always seemed to be that white spot somehow come up and make the work look terrible, a dab of brown paint sometimes worked but it just meant extra work.

Thus the advice was to add brickies mortar colour powder to the mix or what was called coloured Oxide or pigments.  On the areas where I used that method, it really made things look better, add more oxide and you got a variation to a scene, same with less but add enough to ensure it was not too light and near white of the plaster.

The move to Raworth and working on the layout rebirth, meant I needed to search out some of the oxides that I thought I had, well going through boxes here and there, all I could find was a small amount left of yellow Australian Builders Oxide, in a 500gram plastic container, that colour is pretty strength so I have enough of it for repairs &/or replacement of scenery. However, I could only find a very small amount of a light chocolate brown which I know will run out and not really the darker brown I find more like the soils found in much of NSW which I use for the ground base and other scenery areas..

No worries head over to Bunnings to buy another container of it as its not that expensive especially as they sell 250g and 500gr sizes. Search as I may, there was no sign of the containers, some checking with staff and I am led to a single shelf that has around 7 1kg plastic bags of    Avista Cement Oxide each pack was around $16.00 and more than enough to do what I wanted, I purchased a bag at what I thought was good enough, but certainly when I used it, I was disappointed as it was not what I wanted, then came the search for the Oz Builders product.  After some searching I found the local Az Builders cement products factory at nearby Thrornton heading over I was again disappointed as they said they no longer produce that product and had no idea who else did.

Search as I may, only the Avista brand could be found, so onto ebay and other search engines, and find it can be sourced from China. what a surprise.  I decided to buy a pack of the brown which is dark brown but being in U.S dollars and conversion rates, a 500g back cost around $23.00, I ordered a packet and it arrived within a week, the dark brown is spot on, for those interested in the product here is the store, they now have AU$ price and its free postage.

I am more than happy with the product, its a bit more expensive than the Avista product but much better colour choice.

To finish the saga, I thought I had checked every box where I had packed layout items and models in, searching for another item, and there starring up at me from the drawer in a desk was the Oz builders oxide container near full.   At least I wont need to buy any more.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Welcome back, not Kotter but AJRM magazine

his morning I had to go to John Hunter for pacemaker check prior to surgery next week, as it needs replacing.  On returning by bus/train I got off and went to Barnes hobbies at New Lambton to get a couple of packs of styrene, primarily to replace damage to the scratch built Roundhouse on one side. There was no wood packs there but decided on Styrene instead when going to pay for it I saw on the counter a couple of copies of what I thought was old editions of the Australian Journal of Model Railway Modelling, a closer look revealed that it was a new edition, so the heading Welcome back AJRM.

The price has gone up as its now 8 years as Stephen Ottoway says in the editorial since the last edition, on the way home in the train I was able to skim through the mag, and gee its great to have it back, as it really is the best magazine for Oz modellers but there's also a lot in it that non Oz modellers will enjoy.

Stephen Ottoway mentions that over the years how the world of social media has consumed the hobby, and was wondering whether the magazine could survive (my reworking and understanding what he was talking about) but he felt committed to its production again owing to the amount of articles that had been submitted and they deserved to be printed, I agree.

Its been too long between editions and I have all the old copies and still refer to them at times, certainly I am glad to see it back.

The cost of the mag is $15.00 as against about $10.00 in the last one but more colour photo's now.

For those who want to model rather than just run trains, this magazine is very much worth every cent it costs.

Thursday 17 October 2019

Staggering second new steps.

Its been some time since the old Essence was pulled down, and over 2 years have passed since our move from the Central Coast.  Little has been done on Essence in that time, mainly some sorting out which it too played 5th fiddle to getting the house in some sort of order, and with 10 months now since the move into the new home a lot of work has had to be done to clear, clean and get the yard areas going. I would say that the outside is now around 95% finished with mainly the grass to be grown, and that will happen pretty quick with the summer warmth and some rain to bring the runners on.  I have chosen to simply use the native couch grass and get it to grow rather than spend money on new turf, glad I went this way as its the easiest grass to mow.

With that finished we want to concentrate and have one day per week for those terrible sorting out and chuck days, after too many years of accumulations.

Earlier when our youngest son was here for a few days he helped me get the largest base board up on its legs, and supports, this is the heaviest and overall the largest of the single section that has its place in a corner, the board is 2550, 100 mm wider than the original that allows for the increased radius track from 28 to 32." minimum radius, it also is where the depot is located, and my decision to get it up first is the best option for me.

Since that time, I lost some interest owing to the other work going on, today however 8th October, I put the extended section in place with Styrofoam set in place for the scenery to go over it., while not a huge job, it was a matter of working up some lost enthusiasm to restart the project.

While the move resulted in most of the items coming through unscathed, sadly the roundhouse suffered a wall breakage that will need a rebuild, not really looking forward to it but it has to happen, With it down I also noticed some of the styrene inserts in the flooring between the roads had bowed upwards, which meant some cutting down of the styrene edges, once the structure if fixed and the styrene painted it wont be seen hopefully.

One of the areas on old Essence that annoyed me as it did not look quite right was with the corners of the layout, being in a 6x6metre garage, the four primary cut corners, along with other largish supports in the middle of each wall, to me really made the layout look too sharp or something that I could never apply a right name for it.  Having one wall behind Moblayne with a commercial back drop, at one end the square cut corner finished nicely and I did my own acrylic painting on the extended side. Behind the loco depot it always looked too square, even trees and other areas of scenery to try and hide it barely masked the problem,  As a result I screwed and glued some thin ply and pushed it in to form a concave section to see how that looked, it was a test of patience as I was working on the top of the layout with foam and blankets over the tracks to prevent damage.  A lot of time was spent on it and I admit to being pleased with the results.  Other areas were not as successful though 

The above photo is early work that shows the curved rather than the sharp angle of that part of the old Essence layout behind Moblayne loco depot.  The following photo's show both one other section that I tried to get a better look along the side wall leading from Moyblayne to Akuna township. Its a slight improvement over the squared off beam but still ugly from my perspective.  Thankfully this will not be part of the new Essence, however, where that beam is, on new Essence there is a window meaning less backdrop, the same will apply to the rear of Moyblayne. 

The below photo is of the section that runs from Moblayne to Akuna, the obvious issue is the middle purlon that is around 25c, on both sides of the garage, to say they are ugly is an understatement, even with the MDF concaved cannot hide them.  The new layout will pretty well be the same, as well as the staging yard underneath, I have already taken the bits of plaster hills off that part of the section and filled the cut out where the purlon cut in, allows for a bit more and better scenery for that section. Other thing will be the aspect that with large windows the layout will come in only around 100mm under the window frame so minimal backdrops for those spots.

The above two photo's show the Akuna up end with the corner section being painted over, its not as bad as the middle areas, the pics are from early days, the top one shows the two oil sidings, with     the bottom one showing what was a road to a stock siding which may not be part of the future Essence as the entry to the room will be on the right hand side of this wall, to the right is the main line that goes down and around to the peninsular section and the crossing loop at Nullo Mountain, a timber siding is situated off the loop and will be interesting for some operators as to how they will work out how they will shunt to the siding.

The photo below is at the down end of Akuna along the wall from Moyblayne, the main is to the right and the track to the left is the silo road. That corner is covered up by trees and does not look that bad but like each corner on new Essence there will be curved backdrop fitted to take the sharp angle out.

Finally below is the opposite side of the garage showing the mid point purlon. very hard trying to make it even as obscure as the other side, but with trees in place it covers things to a degree. The tunnel mouth is the track that comes down from Akuna and into Nullo Mountain staff section and where the timber mill is situated,

Hopefully in the next week or two I can bring some photo's of the first steps of the new Essence with the beginnings on show albeit small

Saturday 13 July 2019


Some pics from old Essence and the early use of Chalks.

I want to change the front page photo but, I have to search my slide collection for the specific photo I want to really show, it is of 3642 at Tumulla on the rear of a guards van, the reason is to highlight the grime on both the pig and the van, I have however a photo that I downloaded from somewhere of 3652 at Bathurst on an up passenger train showing a fair amount of road grime, but there is to the left side of the photo a section of an LHG that has interesting coloured panels.

This is not a photo of mine and will pull it down as soon as I can scan the other photo.

Reason for this post is after reading Phil from Phillips Creek blog about the TOR MLV and course panel grooves, hopefully these pastel works of mine may add something for Phil and others.

I have in general found these to be pretty forgiving as against using paints while the chalk may come off or rub off it allows for adjustments to the colour tones, with paint I have not had the success even with spraying it and trying to get the right colour mixes.

Weathering is road grime and not just black, but here in the Hunter black seems to be the main weathered affect on the coal trains, with a bit of the old colour showing through and that shows with the main operators not having real clean loco's overall, although nice to see some that are.

My expensive weathering pack, first the water and mixing container and expensive brushes

Artists expensive colour palette box

Light weathering on RTC

Some heavier affects on some wagons

 The following two photo's are of the TOR MLV reruns I purchased some time back, the first foto shows the two MLV's an the end of an OTM LLV prior to weathering using the chalks. The second photo shows how the pastel chalks help fill the side panels making them a lot more realistic. I rubbed the weathered models number area to show its the same as the new model.

I am in no way an expert on weathering and the element of pastels makes me a lot more relaxed in weathering any models.  I have to admit that some of my first attempts at using paints and spraying all but wrecked a couple of models and once Essence Mk2 is up and I get back into the actual modelling side of things I do want to get help in using the spray paints, but with what I have achieved so far with the pastels I'm not too sure about that.

The last photo is of an Austrains pig, & while the more brown like mud affects are apparent in the photo, its typical of a steam locomotive in the Western and Northern Regions where bore water was very much in use and even the special treatments such as briquets did not help with keeping the locos clean.

The area around the firebox however should be more whitish owing to the ash dust that came up from under the ashpans when being de-ashed and usually stuck to the sides. 36cl had ash pan bottom discharge and water flushers which did help keep the ash dust down, on other older types of steam loco;s had ash pans that had to be raked out from underneath and the main dust went up and settled around the front of the firebox area including the boiler.

The above is initial wash using So Jongia Nimbus grey

Below in service for a few more trips