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.