Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hooray for Holidays

It's almost holiday time again with only a half day to go before the Salt Mine sends the minions away for a well earned rest. I'll be taking the public holidays and returning for 3 days next week before taking off for 3 whole weeks. And, importantly, I've been guaranteed some train good is that? Nothing like a long break from the Salt Mine and some train time to erase any memories of salt extraction. Hopefully, I'll have forgotten everything by the time I get back and they'll need to retrain / reprogramme me.

Since the last update, I've been a bit slack but I've still been able to do a little bit in between parties, lunches and family. I've finished the five points necessary for Hill Top including the power feeds so all the track is ready to lay for the top deck that's been built so far. I've also cut all the extruded polystyrene for the parts that need it but still have to glue it down. All the cork underlay is also ready for gluing so the plans for the holidays is to get everything glued down and build the embankments and grades for the leads into Hill Top. Then, it'll be lay the track and complete the power feeds under the deck and install the point motors and magnetic uncouplers. With a bit of luck, hopefully it will all go together and won't need much trouble shooting....I'm an optimist you know.

Also, I received a stack of information on Hill Top and Thirlmere from ARHS Resource Centre which included a plan and colour chart for the weatherboard Station Officers residence at Hill Top. Pure Gold and will be enough to build a reasonable model of the residence barring any incompetencies from you know who. Unfortunately, nothing turned up regarding the platform structures but the researchers did indicate that they felt the main waiting room was a single roomed structure scaled down from Thirlmere. Looks like some guestimation will be required to get something least no-one will be able to say "It's too long" or "It's too short".

That's it for me for 2010 and so far, I think it's been a fairly productive year. Things haven't moved as fast as I would have liked but reality has to be squeezed in between train time. Them's the breaks as they say.

So all you Ferro Equinoligists out there, have a splendid Christmas and I hope you've all been very good boys and girls and Santa brings you lots of goodies.
For everyone else who doesn't like trains......too bad.
Only joking, hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

See you all in 2011 for more adventures in the wacky world of Early 20th Century NSW Railway Modelling.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pointy Stuff

Looks like the Salt Mine has got to me again. New job and new challenges have meant that train time hasn't been as much as it usually is as the Salt Mine demands much focus and pounds of flesh. Anyway, no use listens anyway. Also, being Christmas, the Vendors are showering me with lurve in the form of parties and drinkies and add to that family, you see why I haven't been getting much done. It's probably good to have a bit of a break now and then so when you get back to it, you have that much more enthusiasm.
Point building continues and I've nearly completed one with the just the guard rails and power feeds to go. Here's how it looks

A #6 Point for Hill Top

I'm reasonably happy with it so far and it should look Ok once all the rail is painted and weathered. Hopefully, there won't be too many mechanical issues with it. I guess I won't really know until it's installed and carrying traffic. So I've now only got another 8 to go................................. Remember how I was saying I wanted to have something running by Christmas, well given it's under 4 weeks away, I reckon my chances of making that happen are pretty slim. Maybe I'll get it together in my January holidays, we'll see.
Lastly I thought I'd post a shot of something different, Elscotto's 60ft Sellers turntable that he started for me. Here's a shot of it

This will become Picton's Turntable

I've also enlisted the help of the ARHS Resourcing Centre to look for plans of Hill Top and Thirlmere for when I can start building the station layouts. Looking forward to what they can turn up and once I get the track built, I can start on the intersting stuff...sometime in 2020.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

On Track

Work on the tracks continued this weekend with all the track, except the points, gapped, fishplated and painted. I also soldered all of the electrical feeds to each individual track section / panel with dual feeds on the longer sections. I also made small razor saw cuts on the rail heads to represent the gaps between individual rails and then glued fish plates to the sides of the rails. I then painted the track with Floquil Rail Brown but will follow up with some highlights of rust etc here and there to give some contrast. I've only detailed and painted the viewable side of the rail as there's not point wasting any more time on track that will never be seen. Any way here's how its turned out so far,

The rail brown looks a different shade in real life

More contrasts will make it look better I think

I picked up some Extruded Polystyrene Board from Foamex in Revesby so I can build up the height of Hill Top so I can have the mainline ascend up to the level of the down refuge.

And a big thanks to Linton for sending me a whole bunch of plans for Picton Station, Stonequarry Creek Viaduct, the Engine Shed and Goods Shed. This should spur me on to get the top deck up and running as I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into something aside from track. I probably should take a break from the track but I just want to get it done so hopefully, it won't take too much longer.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Time is Not on my Side

I don't know about everyone else, but I just can't seem to get enough time to spend on my modelling. And it doesn't help that some of the tasks are very time spiking rail to sleepers. I try to spend an hour and a half each weekday night with the occasional day on the weekend in the garage so I'd be interested to see what everyone else does.
I've finished spiking the rail on the approaches to Hilltop plus all of the sidings and built myself a catch point for the refuge on the down side of the mainline. I've run out of sleepers at the moment so I'll have to wait for Mr Postman to deliver my order from Model Railroad Craftsman 
Elscotto came round during the weekend and dropped off a 60ft Sellers turntable he'd put together for Picton, thanks mate. Elscotto also pointed out that the down refuge I mentioned before, was actually level, while the mainline dropped down the hill beside it so it's actually on the top of the cutting. Luckily Elscotto spotted it otherwise stupid me would have built it all on the level. So, I'll now have to raise the level of Hill Top to give me the ability to drop the mainline alongside the refuge rather than dropping the grade at the end of the refuge as I'd originally planned.
That's it for this week so I'm not going to speculate on what I think I'll be doing as I've noticed that every time I say I'm going to do something, I never get around to doing it.
If I make some progress this week, I'll put some photo's up otherwise I'll wait until I've got something to show.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Sun Never Sets on Hill Top

Looks like I haven't posted anything for a while so I better make amends and give an update on what's been happening.
It's been slow going with the track work as I haven't had as much time available to me as I normally do due to school holidays, jobs around the house, Liverpool exhibition and fixing my brother's computer. Oh, and a NRL Grand Final.....Go you Dragons!!!!!
Aaah, that's better.
Anyway, I've soldered up all the frogs and bolt details for the points and have spiked most of the track for Hill Top so this week I should start painting the rail after I solder the electrical feeds. The Kadee #309 magnetic uncouplers I ordered sometime ago for Hill Top arrived which I have to install and I've also ordered some Cobalt point motors from DCC Concepts which I'll need before mounting the points on the baseboard. I've also been trying to work out the dimensions and interior layout of the Hill Top station buildings so I posted some questions in the usual forums. The responses to these questions and others I've had have been fantastic (Thanks Pete, John and Evan amongst others) and the information I'm receiving is helping immensely.
So, here's how Hill Top is looking at the moment

The Track is not fixed yet

I also filled all the gaps and painted the backdrop for the so far completed layout. I took the easy way out and painted it sky blue but I did consider painting it grey. Picton will be set in winter hence the thought about painting it grey. Anyway, it's blue now and I'll probably add some clouds after seeing Geoff's efforts on his blog . It will always be sunny in Hill Top!
Here's a view of most of the layout so far.

The exercise bike must go

Just a little bit of a ramble on Liverpool. For me, each year just keeps getting better and better and not because of the layout quality but because of the people you talk to. Elscotto and I ventured out on the Saturday and I met some of his friends plus caught up with Ian at the Coff's Harbour Railway Modeller's Layout. I had the pleasure of seeing some of Ian's models, highlighted on his blog, trundling along behind a D55. Let me tell you they look better in real life....fantastic work. Also caught up with James from AMRM and thanked him for his photographic efforts of my models in the latest AMRM. The models look better in the photo's than they do in real life so thanks James.

That's it for now

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Tracks of my Tears

Well, the track laying is going sloooowly as I'm now spiking the rails down after gluing with Pliobond. It's driving me crayzee I must admit so it better be worth the effort. The bullhead rail and chairs arrived so I've put all the chairs on the rails ready for gluing. The rail is code 75 and the chairs are 4mm but the ballast will come up to about half way up the rail so the scale and rail size shouldn't be noticeable. This will be installed as Hill Top's loop. I also purchased some Uneek point rodding, adjusters and balancers which unfortunately, were not what I expected. The rodding and rodding chairs are OK but the adjusters and balancers are cast in relief so they won't be making it onto the layout. Instead, I ordered some etched 4mm parts from the guys at Wizard so we'll see how they look. Hopefully, the scale won't be too noticeable. There's a lesson here.....never, ever procrastinate when buying stuff. I was about to buy the rodding and ancillaries from IR Models when Ian shut down the business. Damn!! Hence the search now for suitable replacements. With a bit of luck, Ian will find a new owner for his etches and I'll be able to get what I need. God knows what I'm going to do for signals if this doesn't happen.
In the meantime, to keep myself from going mental, I built some backdrops for the layout out of 3mm ply. Here's how it looks

Near the roller Doors

The Other end

I've also ordered some Kadee uncoupler magnets for when I finally get to install the track and points. That is if I don't lose my mind in the meantime.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rob The Builder

It's been a busy week this week with quite few things started and finished in the train room. I mentioned in the last post about making a module for the upper and lower decks near the roller doors. It's mostly completed with just the top deck to go and the backdrops to be added. I also built 3 book cases to store my kits, tools and magazines. Here's a photo of the module

And here's one of the bookcases

I've still got to sand them and then they can be painted and then all of my stuff can be brought in. I'll probably have to build some more to hold everything but at approximately $25 each, it's not going to break the bank
The track work continues and I've started on the points needed for Hill Top and Thirlmere. I had started by gluing the sleepers to templates but the glue didn't hold the sleepers so I had to do it again.  Modelling is sooo much fun when you do everything twice. I've done 8 points and have glued down all the track plates and have glued the straight rail down with the rest to follow this week with luck. Here's 2 of the points.

Still a fair bit to go but I've set myself a target to have trains running by the end of the year.....we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jetstar = Craptacular

Got back from Darwin on Friday after a 4 and a half hour flight with Jetstar. What a mistake that was. Now, I don't care about in-flight entertainment or crap airline food but I do want to have my seat recline!!!
No-one told me that Jetstar are so goddamned cheap that they've installed seats that don't recline. I'm 6'4" so economy class seating is not the most comfortable at the best of times let alone not having a reclining seat. Caveat Emptor I suppose.
I could bore you all about all the other things that got up my nose but that would just show you what a whining old sook I am, so we won't go there. The salt is the same in Darwin but it was still good to get out of the office and catch up on some reading....trains of course with a touch of Second World War carnage.
I was given time off on Sunday to do train stuff so it was into the garage to lay the cork underlay for the track. I've done Hilltop's cork underlay and some of the mainline but still have a fair bit to go. Also, I glued sleepers to the #6 point templates from Greg Edwards ready for soldering / gluing the rail next week.
And lastly, I built a module for the bottom and top deck that will sit where the garage roller doors are. So far all of the previous bench work had been attached to the garage wall and was self supporting. I couldn't do that on the roller doors so I had to build more conventional bench work to support the bottom and lower deck.
So that's it for this week.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Release the Navvies

Mr Postman brought me Greg Edwards NSWGR Track book during the week and how good is it?!?! Everything you would want to know about NSWGR track standards but were too afraid to ask. And it has cleared up all my questions about track sleeper spacing so the Navvies were released from their shackles and were told to get cracking.
I made up a jig equal to 4 x 24ft rail lengths and then spaced the sleepers at 2'9' centres except where the fish plates will be. The sleepers here are spaced at 1'10" with these standards adhering to the 1890 measurements. I then cut some PCB sleepers to the correct length of 8' and laid them together with the stained wooden sleepers into the jig. I then applied Scotch blue masking tape to the sleepers which removed them from the jig and kept them in place while the soldering iron was applied to the PCB sleepers to keep everything in alignment. Now, all I have to do is glue the wooden sleepers to the Code 55 rail, add the fishplates, spike the rail, paint it and then fix it to the cork roadbed....simple hey?

Comparison between track from Robbyco Enterprises and Micro Engineering

There's quite a difference in the sleeper spacing

I also managed to solder up a frog for the #6 points from Proto87 that the Navvies will be constructing soon. Well, not this week as the Evil Overlords at the Salt mine have said I must try the salt in Darwin. And before anyone says, "Oh but it's warm up there" I'll draw your attention to the fact that I hate weather over 25 degrees. I may have to taunt the locals to relieve the heat stress. Anyway, here's the frog

Reebit, Reebit

I also ordered some bullhead rail and chairs from Wizard Models in the UK for Hill Top's loop which has arrived ready for installation. These guys are excellent with really quick delivery times so I can thoroughly recommend them. I've also bought all of my sprung buffers from them and may have to end up getting some screw couplings from them as well depending how the ARkits couplings turn out.
During the week Elscotto and I went round to Ian T's house to check out some magnetic uncoupler action on his Darling Harbour Layout. Needless to say, we now know the pitfalls of operation using these couplers including unprompted DCC commands. Thanks Bob G, Ian T and Es D for an entertaining evening talking Elscotto's and my favourite subject, Ferro Equinology.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Track Pedant

This week, I started to get everything ready to begin laying track. I began by staining all of the sleepers using diluted tyre black and I reckon they've come out pretty good. They've got that silvery-grey look about them so I'm pleased with that.  Next, I went back and looked at various articles in ARHS Australian Railway History to look at the track dimensions. The March 2008 issue has a great article on sleepers and their dimensions which has left me more confused than anything. Aside from the varying sleeper lengths and widths the bit I'm confused about is the sleeper spacing. According to the article, sleepers were spaced at 2'6" centres which is a pretty big gap except at joints which were spaced at 1'8". Joints were also parallel initially and later went to the staggered joints that I'm familiar with but the big problem is I don't know when. The State Library photo of Hilltop circa 1910 shows the track definitely with parallel joints.
But back to the sleeper spacing, the 2'6" spacing, or 18 sleepers per 40ft rail length, was standard until the 1930's after which the number of sleepers per 40ft rail length was increased to 20. This appears to be the standard up until the 1960's at least. The problem is that I have a number 6 point template from AJRM that has the sleeper spacing much closer so does that mean that sleepers were closer under points? Also, commercial track is much closer like the point template so now any track laying is on hold while I work out what the story is with the sleeper spacing. I've place an order with Greg Edwards for his Track Work Datasheets so hopefully, that will shed some light on my dilemma.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

We Came, We Saw, We Took Photo's, We Drank Beer

Elscotto, my son Tom and I went for a drive down to Picton for a look around and to take some photo's for later reference. We took about 170 photo's of Picton, Hill Top and Thirlmere which will be the 3 stations on the layout and of course Stonequarry Viaduct. Here they are if you want a look

We also measured a few structures including the Viaduct and what's left of the platform at Hill Top. During its mainline days, Hill Top was a busy little station with passing loop, refuges and siding

Track and Signal Diagram dated 17/5/1897

There's some photos at NSW State Government Records dated circa 1900, 1910 and 1955 which clearly show how Hill Top was in both mainline and loopline service. I really love the photo dated circa 1910 with the hedges, topiary, bullhead rail in the loop and wooden platform extensions to the original stone platform. This is what I'll be modelling. The only thing left of Hill top now is the stone platform which measures 75' long by 22' wide at the Station / Signal box and 52'6" to the top of the platform before it starts sloping down to the ground. That, and the pine trees which border what would have been the up platform. If there's anyone who knows of any other photo's of Hill Top from the early 20th Century I'd love to hear from you.
We also did some measurements of the Viaduct with the arches being 27'6" long and the stone blocks being 5'6" long and 1'2" high. While typing this I just realised I didn't measure the width of the arch base or the width of the stone blocks (smacks forehead). Oh well, I'll just have to go back for another beer, I mean research trip. I'll have to measure Thirlmere Station and Goods Shed as I've read that these were both bespoke designs built by local contractors and that there's no plans in the archives.
We had lunch at The Imperial which was built in the 1860's and was originally named "The Terminus" no doubt due to it being close the railway station. If you look at photo's of Picton station in the 19th century, you'll see a 2 storey building on the hill behind the station....that's The Imperial. The food was good and the beer was Reschs so Elscotto and I were happy. And also, there's a nice photo in the dining room'd never expect it, Picton Railway Station! And what a beauty it is. Never seen it before and it appears to be turn of the Century and was before the signal box was moved to the Melbourne end of the up platform. In the up dock are 2 LV's and opposite on the down is a horsebox. So for Linton, who's also building Picton, the use of the up dock still remains unclear as I've now seen a Redfern car, 2 x LV's and a HFL in the dock as well as the coal filled D / S trucks you mentioned. There's also another photo of a P climbing the hill outside Picton on a train of 3 dogboxes, a Cleminson and 4 wheel van / horsebox. Beautiful.
And I got to do some modelling while Frannie took the kids to see Shrek 4. I'm working on some old carriages that I'm going to put on EBay as they're no longer needed and I chopped up some sleepers ready for staining this week.
All in all, a fun weekend.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

All Work and No Trains Makes Rob Boring

Not much to report on at the moment, too much time being spent at the Salt Mine. Also, I've also had a few family engagements as well as good weather on the weekend which means kids sport, kicking the footy around and catching up on the repair tasks around the house. All this means no trains for me!
Elscotto dropped round during the week for a chat and to drop over some early issues of Model Railway Journal so at least I got to talk about trains. We're planning to go down to Picton (the real one one) Thirlmere and Hilltop to do a bit of research and photography next Saturday. We might pop into the RTM to see how things are progressing as well. And a beer or two at the George IV or the Imperial might be on the cards as well but we'll leave that till last otherwise we won't do any research. The idea is to get some ideas for the topology and scenic layout for Thirlmere so I can get started on the track work and scenery. I know I keep babbling on about starting the track work but once I make this trip and take some photo's, I'll be starting....really trooly.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Feelthy, Feelthy Wagons

The last few weeks since the Early Days Convention have been a little on the slow side. I've started a new job at the salt mine and the overlords have determined that I now have to manage production of sea salt rather than the traditional mining for salt. So what this means is that I've been spending a lot more time learning about new technologies and team dynamics which of course means less time at Picton. Of course, if I didn't work at the salt mine, I wouldn't be able to afford all the goodies for Picton. This thought at least keeps me going back everyday,
I started weathering all of the wagons and I'm not happy. A number of decals have fallen off or have disintegrated and some have not adhered properly which has given that decal sheen patina to some of them. Not happy Jan! The ones that disintegrated were affected by the Tamiya flat finish I applied to seal them so I swapped to Floquil and all was good. I'll have to re-decal about 10 wagons so that means reprinting the decals and applying them again.
As I said I've weathered most of the wagons that the decals survived and I did this mainly with dry brushing and acrylic washes. Here's how they turned out

Feelthy S and not so feelthy K


 I still have to give all of the wagons a mist of earth to tone things down a bit and then I'll add some weathering powders to see how that looks. All of the photos I've seen of trains in the '30's show the wagons generally well maintained with the odd exception so that's how I've tried to weather my wagons. Pity there's no colour photos around to really see how they looked so it's up to us to interprate what we can.
Oh, and I've also done a little more on the MLV's and they all now how have brake roding installed with truss rods to come.
I've also ordered some some Floquil Paint Pens from Stanbridges in Perth as they were the only ones I could find who could send the pens via Australia Post. So I'll be finally laying some track soon....I need a diversion from the wagons.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Early Days Love In

Yesterday was the 20th Anniversary of the "Modelling the Early Days of the NSWR" Convention and what a great day it was. About 70 people attended, most of whom were familiar faces, and as usual, the subject matter was informative and thought provoking. It's interesting to reflect on the impact this particular forum has had on the hobby. We've seen kits produced by some very talented modellers over the years (thank you Peter F), most of which would never have seen the light of day otherwise. The amount of research that the presenters do and pass on, really makes this a not to be missed event. Even if the period of focus, 1855 - 1930, is not your era, there is much subject matter that transcends the period of discussion.

This year, I was asked to talk about Picton and how I'd come to the decision to model this location. In the back of my mind, I was thinking that nobody would be interested but afterwards a couple of guys, John and Gary, both made mention of what a good choice Picton was. John was one of the presenters and gave a very informative presentation on building Manning Wardell F and H class in 7mm scale. And Gary is a wealth of information and has actual paint samples that he has been analysing from pastoral green, C35's and C36's.

This is why I return year after year!

I also got talking to Ian and Andrew from Coffs Harbour and these boys are serious. Aside from some exquisite etches of a LLW well wagon, they showed me an example of a BLV and a SL heavy load vehicle that had been produced using 3D CAD and resin / thermal printing. I am continually amazed at the innovation in the hobby....and people say it's stagnating? I don't think so. It reminds me of people who say that the music of the '80's was crap. Well, yes the mainstream was, but if you looked deeper, there was there was a subterranean movement that pushed the boundaries and was continually looking for innovation, Sound familiar?

Anyway, Elscotto and I emptied the wallets to procure the goodies on offer. Elscotto spent some bucks on some turn of the century (19th-20th that is) figures....he reckons it was money that should have been spent on other items. I guess Elscotto is not a people person........

I had an 1885 and an 1891 louvre van on pre order that was available for pickup and you don't get this stuff unless you attend the conventions.

I also took some of my models along and James M took some photo's and took down some details of each model, so I'm hoping they might appear in an AMRM some day.

Bob G and Ian D have done so much to progress this niche of the hobby and I'm grateful to them and everyone else who has contributed to the organisation and content of the "Early Days"

 I am a better modeller because of this forum

Sunday, May 16, 2010

D is for Decals

The white printer ribbons arrived so I finished doing the artwork for the decals. This took quite a while longer than I thought as it was difficult to get the relative font sizes correct between the codes and numbers, capacity / tare and the solebar numbers. So after a bit of experimentation, I finally got it right and set about trying to do the printing. Well the memory ain't what it used to be, age and alcohol abuse might be catching me up, so for the life of me I couldn't remember how to print using the white ribbon. I tried everything but nothing seemed right and I didn't want to waste decal sheet and ribbon experimenting. Then, when all else fails RTFM, which doesn't work when you can't find the bloody thing! I searched for hours where it should have been and then of course, I looked where it shouldn't have been and there it was. As it turned out, I was on the right track and if I'd gone one more step, I would of been printing. Still, the manual really helped especially after the first print showed that the white was too opaque and needed a second coat. I tried that and the two print runs didn't register correctly so it came out blurred. The way around it was that the printer driver has an overlay function which basically re-feeds the decal sheet back through the printer for a second ink run. After that, it looked great. So, I now have enough decals for 130 wagons as this was what I could fit on an A4 sheet which isn't too bad. The only thing I couldn't reproduce was the handbrake, on and arrow symbol. I just couldn't get it small enough so I'm leaving it off.
So, aside from the already completed refrigerator cars, I've gloss coated all of the goods wagons and applied the decals on the K's, S's, ICV's, PV, BD and BDS leaving only 39 wagons to go....oh dear. I am never going to build up a stack of semi completed wagons again. Anyway, here's a pic to give you some idea.

The explosive decal came from a commercial source...can't you tell?

So this week, it will be decals, decals, decals.....I'm mad for it!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Learn to Love your Louvres

While waiting for the printer ribbons to arrive, I realised there wasn't much happening in the carriage works. Sure, there's about 14 or so 12 wheelers that need buffers, drawgear and bogie detail to be added but I have to buy the wheels and couplings. Then there's the EAM underframes, again waiting for wheels and couplings as well as the Trainorama S's and K's also waiting for new wheels.  And hanging over my head is the order for some LFX's from Mike McCormac so I'm being particularly frugal at the moment as the Capital Review Board won't release any extra funds.
With the that all in mind, I thought I'd start on the wagons for my No179 fruit express. I've got all the bits and pieces on hand including 10 x AR Kit MLV's and 2 Redfern Models MLV's (ex BCV). If you look at photo's of 179 Fruit Express in the '30's, there's a wonderful hotchpotch of bogie louvre vans making up the train including Thow BLV's, and cantilever underframe MLV's as well as the standard MLV's and ex BCV, MLV's. So, there will be some scratchbuilding required to make the louvre vans that aren't available commercially. Anyone got any ideas on how to scratchbuild louvres?
Anyway, I made a start on detailing the underframes of the AR MLV's

All original detail removed and new queen posts and brake cylinder supports added

10 MLV's ready for more detail

 Each queen post has 13 parts so there's a lot of fabrication to happen here which I'm about 2/3rds the way through. Maybe I should have made 1 and made some moulds and learnt how to do casting. I made 1 MLV about 10 years ago and I fabricated the queen posts for it so I'm following the same procedure.

And here it is, warts and all

The Redfern MLV will be a challenge but I think the bones of the model are OK. Well at least that's what I'm telling myself. Mind you the model is advertised as being caveat emptor so I shouldn't be too critical. You be the judge.

This is going to be fun?

Next week, I'll continue with the MLV's and I might even have a shot at some track work. Elscotto also said he will pop around this week to pick up his D's and a brake lever jig I made for him so we can have a night talking about long as he doesn't point out any deficiencies in my handywork ;-)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Decal Time and the Need for a Tardis

It's been a quiet week this week in Picton, well, not necessarily quiet but not particularly productive in terms of output. You see, it's been decal time for the refrigerator wagons and I've decided that decaling is the least satisfying out of all the various aspects of model railways. Don't get me wrong, its not that I hate doing it but the fact that it takes so long is what I don't like about it. I reckon Time is the killer for all modellers. You only have so much time you can spend on your favourite hobby so when you spend most of your weeks available time on decaling you start looking at how you can do it smarter and quicker. A Tardis might be the answer but I don't think that's going to happen soon. The main problem is the cutting up of the various codes and numbers to suit the stock and then the application, letter by letter and numeral by numeral. And getting them straight and spaced correctly. So anyway, I've decalled all the refrigerator cars with the appropriate codes and numbers from commercial decals I'd bought years ago. I now have 54 goods wagons to decal.......
A few years back, I purchased an ALPS printer for the purpose of printing my own decals. Unfortunately, these printers are no longer available and the consumables for these printers are getting harder to get. Aust-N-Rail stock the ribbon cassettes and I also found this site in New Zealand who stock consumables, and I'll be placing an order for some white ink cassettes this week. The exchange rate helps making the choice of supplier.
The other task this week was creating the artwork for the goods wagons which I completed using MS Word. Had to trawl the internet for some stencil fonts but eventually got one that looked OK. Its not quite right but will look the part. The beauty of doing this is you can code and number anything you like and it will be all one decal, no cutting, no aligning. I've also done the capacity as well as the tare which was handwritten rather than stenciled. The only decal I've had a problem with is creating the "On" decal with the arrow which was placed above the handbrake. I just can't get the artwork small enough so I might try some other programme to duplicate it.
I'll need to get a wriggle on if I'm going to get the wagons completed as I want to take some along to "The Early Days" at the end of May.
Anyway, that's it for this week. Next batch of photo's will be when I've got something worth showing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

SuperCheap Auto is My New Friend

Some time ago, I'd bought my air 2hp compressor from them for the princely sum of $99. I think I've spent more on the air lines, moisture traps and fittings than the compressor itself! Bought the moisture trap / regulator today from SuperCheap and then found I couldn't open the air valve so back to the store for more fittings and Voila!! It all works. No more buying stuff from Airbrush suppliers, SuperCheap has a good range of fittings at half the price. Anyway, the compressor got a work out today and I've finally finished painting all of my built goods wagons....all 62 of them. So now, it's on to the decals and after that the weathering. Oh, and I finished Elscotto's D wagons except for some 3 link couplers. Here's some pic's of the D's and all of the other stuff.

1898 D Wagons, one built to pre-1910 condition with lever brake and the other, post-1910 with wheel handbrake

D's, S's, K's, BD and BDS and some watergins

SV's, OSV's, CW's and BCW's

LV's, CV's, MV's, ICV's, and a PV

SF's, BEY's, BHG, SHG, HG, 2 underframes for an AL and a FJ plus an underframe for a GT

And lastly, the Refrigerator cars, SRC's, BRC's, MRC's, Howlin and Tiffany

The next pieces of work will be to design and print some decals for the goods wagons and then the weathering. I can now also move into painting some carriages that have been waiting for a number of years including some EHO's, a KB, BKD, KKG, some BKG's, AL, FJ, EAM, VAM and LAM. And won't it be fun to line them all.
It's been good of late to clear everything out and actually paint all the models, some of which, are 20 or so years old. Soon, I'll be able to move into other things like track laying and scenery and all of those kits sitting there in the cupboard.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Explosive Good Times in the Paint Booth

So, there's been some progress at Picton since the last update. The track gauges from Railway Engineering found their way to Picton this week so big thanks to Steve Hatch for resending the order with no fuss. I also got some 3mm cork sheets from Portugal Tiles so things will be moving soon once I work out what to stain the sleepers with. I'm also contemplating what to actually use for sleepers. I happened to measure some Red Head's, long, BBQ matches and they scale out to be exactly 9" wide which is the standard width for sleepers in the 1908 - 1928 period. Dimensions of sleepers were 8' x 9" x 4 1/2" so they're a good match. (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk) Anyway, I'll be asking around what people use and do to lay their track before getting stuck in.
Elscotto popped round to check on progress and pointed out some deficiencies in my baseboard building. Gee, thanks mate ;-) Anyway, I fixed that up last weekend so all is good now and ready to go. It just proves that a second pair of eyes are invaluable with building and modelling as it saves on mistakes and helps you get things right.
The painting has been going well with the refrigerator cars repainted (except for the MRC's...more on that later) and about 30 cars finished. And thanks Craig, for the tip on the Tamiya masking tape, it worked a treat. The last couple of posts have been sans photo's so here's a few to show I'm not making this stuff up.

1896 BCW flanked by 1890 BCW and 1921 CW

BD, K and 3 plank D

BEY and SF

LHG / BHG and 18' LV

HG and Steel S's...not Trainorama

A brace of ICV's

MV, LV, CV and LV


Yep, things were going well and I was about to paint the MRC's when there was a loud bang followed by lots of hissing from the escaping air. What had happened was the moisture trap must have had a hairline fracture in it which eventually gave way. This is what it looked like afterwards.

Trap go bang

So I'll be looking out for a new moisture trap this week before the painting can continue. At least Elscotto might get his D wagons finished.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Masking Tape Damned!!!

It's been a productive week in the spray booth with lots a paint flowing, mostly on the models. I've painted about 20 or so wagons in NSWGR Gunmetal Grey which I'm quite happy with and another 20 or so waiting their turn. So then it will be decal time. From what I've seen there seems to be 2 types of font used for goods wagon codes and numbers in the '30's, one a standard Arial looking font and the other a stenciled version. I'll have to consult with the Learned Ones at the "Early Days" convention in May as to what this means and what the balance would be in terms of how many wagons were lettered in each type of font.
Anyway, this is not the point of the post.
Here I am, painting the refrigerator cars as mentioned in a previous post, and all is going swimmingly. Fairly quickly, 8 cars are in startling gloss white with masking tape being applied to a BRC, 2x MRC's and 2 x SRC's. I used up some old tape I had on the SRC's and MRC's and then some new tape on the BRC.
Then I left them for a couple of days and came back and sprayed some Floquil Grimy Black over the roofs and under frames. It was hot those days so temperatures at Picton would have been not particularly pleasant.
Then I took the masking tape off..........
The BRC was fine but on the others, half the gum from the masking tape stayed on the wagons. Expletive, Expletive, Expletive!!!
I managed to get it off with some Meths but not without ruining the white paint and also damaging a fair amount of detail on one of the MRC's. So back to the workshop for repairs on the MRC and back to paint shop for the others.
I fixed the MRC during the week and painted them all today so I'm back where I started from. I should be applying decals this week and doing some weathering with some photo's to follow.
The lesson here is don't use old masking tape if you want to avoid anger management classes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mr Postman, is there a Package for Me?

A while back I decided that at least for the loopline, I would hand lay all of the track with stained wooden sleepers and Code 55 track as NSWGR  track in the 19th Century did not have track plates but had 4 spikes per sleeper / rail. It was not until the early 20th Century that track plates were decided as being necessary. So to represent dog spiked track with no plates, I would have to hand lay the track.
Anyway, I bit the bullet and placed an order for some track bits and pieces from Andy Reicherts Proto:87 store in the US. Have a look at I can't recommend this site enough. Although, as the url suggests, Andy's main interest is Proto:87, there's plenty of goodies here for the finescale modeller as well. He has 3 types of points available with varying levels of detail. I ended up getting some base level #6 points (10USD ea) for points not in view, a bunch of Superfine #6 points with additional detail, 1yd length Code 55 rail, track joiners, spikes and fishplates. Elscotto opened up the wallet and purchased some "Easy Street" grooved rail and points for his "Elizabeth St" module. So 2 weeks after we ordered, a package arrives at Picton and all I can say is WOW.
Andy even threw in some extra detail packs at no extra cost. If I get this right it should look superb.
I also placed an order with Steve Hatch at Railway Engineering for some finescale track roller gauges. See
Unfortunately, the order has been lost somewhere between the US and Picton. Steve has been great and has dispatched a replacement order so hopefully, the gauges should arrive soon and the per-way gang can start wielding the picks.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bunnings Makes a Fortune

Yes, they do, and it's mainly because of me, what with buying tools and materials for the layout. Anyway, there's been some progress this week with half of the top deck being built and mounted on the walls. I've also moved my work bench and rolling stock storage into the garage and have set up a rudimentary spray booth so nothing else gets painted as well.
So the plan at the moment is to have the mainline and Picton Station and yard environs on the bottom deck with the top deck being the Loopline with Thirlmere and Hill Top as the stations. I'm also going going to mix some eras as well with the Loopline being set prior to the deviation and duplication in 1919 and the bottom deck, as I've said before, in the 1930's. Both Elscotto and I have a number of carriages and locomotives from the 19th Century that will need something like the Loopline for them to run in an appropriate environment. I'm also using some modeller's licence in that the infrastructure for the loopline, as being used as the mainline in the 19th Century, won't be too much different from that used in the early 20th Century as a branch line. This will allow me to run CPH's and 13's in my "Modern" time frame as well as running A's, B's and D's in the "Early Days" No doubt, there will be some wayward J's and O's struggling up the 1 in 30's as well.

Here's some photo's of the progress so far.

The ply and track is just for effect

The "Spray Booth"

The work bench and storage cabinet

This is where Thirlmere will be

Aside from the baseboard progress, I've been painting a batch of refrigerator wagons including 2 x SRC, 2 x MRC, 2 x BRC, a Howlin and a Tiffany, Summer and Winter Car.
This week, I intend to finish the painting of the refrigerator cars and maybe I'll be able to start on the rest of the wagons.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Let's Get to Work

The Hired Help arrived on Valentine's Day, 2009 to begin work on converting the garage. Luckily for me, Valentine's Day doesn't get recognised in Picton so work could begin without ramifications.
First thing to do was to nail up some gardener's chicken wire so insulation batts could be installed. It's one very hot garage in the summer so any relief from the baking heat will be needed to stop me and the models from melting. I don't enjoy summer at all. It doesn't like me and I don't like it, so maybe  down the track, I'll have to install some air conditioning. We'll see.

Let the scratching begin

Get down, Funkster

Elscotto's practical knowledge soon got things underway and we had most of the chicken wire up over a couple of weekends. The challenge for us was finding time in our busy schedules to do work so consequently what I thought would take a couple of weekends ended up taking about 3 months!!! We had to extend the rafters downwards to give clearance for the fluorescent light pots I had bought as well as provide something for the new ceiling to be attached to.

Batts in and additional rafters installed

We decided to get a real electrician in to cable up the power and lights

Next, came the hard bit of putting up the ceiling and installing the cornices. The ceilings took a couple of days and again, what I thought would take a month or so ended up taking about 4 months. I am not, nor ever will be, a ceiling installer. The amount of rework I did as I kept stuffing things up was amazing.
Anyway, bit by bit, I managed to get the cornices done and all the filling at least presentable to a point where I could paint the ceiling and get the lights installed. Soon after, the walls and main support beams were attacked next by filling holes and removing nails etc, followed by a coat of azure blue paint. Elscotto helped again with fixing up the dodgy window and putting some eves up at the back to keep the grape vine from invading the trainroom. Next to last task was filling and painting the floor so that the final result looked like this:

Dodgy window fixed

You could eat your dinner off that

There are 12 double fluoro lights installed. Turns night into day!

The window you can see in the last photo above was totally rotten so it came out and was replaced by a new Aluminium window. Locks have been installed and now the garage is complete and ready for the Per-Way gang to start.
It's only taken a year but it's been well worth it as I can now start on the fun bits and get trains rolling into Picton.
And as I said before, it's been with Elscotto's help, advice and encourgemant that has got me off my lily white behind to get things done.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Blank Canvass

Up till now, I've been a solitary modeller, mainly because I've had other priorities like family and playing in bands so contact with other like minded individuals was limited. I work in telecommunications, which is a den of geekdom, so although there's generally not many peoplle involved in the hobby, there is at least an appreciation and an understanding of the complexity....especially when you start talking abut DCC!
So anyway, for a number of years, I've been attending the "Modelling the Early Days of the NSWGR" Convention, again keeping a low profile. And all the while I'm thinking about how to convert the garage into Picton's home and guessing about how I would accomplish it.
Many people have talked about the value of joining a club...I can add that attending conventions like the "Early Days" is also the best thing you can do as well. You get to talk to like minded people, exchange ideas and make friends as well.
I got talking a couple of years ago to Elscotto who has since helped me immeasurably with converting the garage to the trainroom. Aside from practical help, he's got me off my backside and actually doing things which is the biggest help anyone can give.
Anyway this is what we started with.

Bare ceiling, no insulation

That window was completely rotten and has to be replaced

More Ceiling

Looking at the doors

Very dodgy window installation. Yes, that's Fibro holding it in.

And no eves so the grape vine can also make its way inside.

 This was how it looked in February, 2009 before we started. It has taken nearly a year to finish it off and start building the baseboards.