Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Days are Early Days

As the years go by they seem to get shorter as it feels like only a couple of months ago that I attended the 20th Modelling the Early Days of the NSWGR. This year, the 21st convention has come and gone again and apart from a new venue, the quality of presentations and information was the same as always....excellent.
Some of the standouts were Craig W's presentation on the preservation of a 1903 cattle wagon. This was excellent as I'd seen this particular wagon on the TRAK blog and since they'd disbanded, I'd wondered what had happened to it. I had heard it was going to Oberon but we all know now that the wagon is at Valley Heights and will be the subject of a static restoration / conservation led by Craig. Interestingly, it's the last wooden framed cattle wagon in existence as the preserved examples are all 1960's conversions using standard 18' steel underframes which, as Craig pointed out, are not really a true representation of the cattle wagon as the majority were wooden framed. It also seems that the 2 "Ned Kelly" cars that were conversions from wooden framed cattle wagons have disappeared from the RTM during all the moves and disposals of assets. Not good. Craig is looking for volunteers so get in contact with the RTM if you want to help out on this project.
We also learnt from Ian D about the tubular framed vehicles imported by the railways in the 19th century as well as Cowdery couplings and the experimental combination cars trialed by the railways to try and get more revenue from stock wagons by using them as covered vans as well.
But the standout for me of the day was Gary S and his research on the liveries of the NSW locomotives in the 19th Century. Liveries are such a controversial topic but Gary's well researched presentation left me a lot clearer on the colours used....except maybe below the or indian red???

The other great thing is meeting new people so this year was no different. Spoke with Oscar D about his incredible engineering and the superb results he achieves in his true to scale modelling. I didn't know P87 wasn't "true scale" but I do now. Also met Nick who's been reading this blog....hope you get your house completed soon so you can get back into modelling again.

And lastly, it's the access to great Kits produced to suit the era we model and this year was a beauty. Spent a fair bit of money but what else should I spend it on? Booze, women, fast cars....nah, nerdy trains it is for me!! This year I picked up an 1885 and 1891 louvre van as well as some second hand Pioneer Models 2nd class Redfern cars (thanks Es D) as well as a T 14 class single spinner from John Sever of Ezi Kits.


Yes, the 3 members were gone by 1893 and no, they never ran up the hill beyond Picton but I don't care. It looks so good and should look lovely hauling some 4 wheel passenger cars that Elscotto purchased from Eddie G.

Bring on next year and I won't leave it so late to get my models finished to take to the convention....didn't take any this year as I didn't get to finish them....oh well.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Ants that Ate Earlwood

As usual, I had planned to spend an hour or so per night in the garage working on the railway. Monday went to plan and I spent some time repairing the horseboxes etc that needed some work after the paint stripping exercise. All is good. Tuesday night comes around so I wander out to the garage, lift the roller door and turn on the lights. And I see them. There's a trail of ants wending their way across the floor to the back of the garage where I've stacked some 3mm ply. I check to see if they've made a nest in the ply but no, they obviously prefer something more tasty (and more expensive). The ant trail continues on along the back wall of the garage to where I have a book case where the laptop and ALPS printer lives. You can see where this is going. I look at the bookcase and see that the ant trail leaves the garage floor and climbs up the back of the bookcase to disappear under the laptop........
I lift up the laptop and the little buggers scurry everywhere but this isn't their main objective. I lift up the printer and it's a seething mass of ants and eggs, hundreds of the little %^&$s. But it doesn't end there. There's still ants coming from the printer so I open the hood and there's an even larger mass of writhing insects. I won't bore you with every detail but there were literally thousands of them infesting every nook and cranny, the printer ribbons, the control board, the power supply, the print head even inside one of the paper rollers. So out with the vacuum cleaner and 3 nights later, after dismantling every component, I'd gotten rid of every ant. It then took me 2 nights to get it all back together again as one of the paper feed components fell out when I was dismantling it so I didn't see where it was attached. That took a couple of hours to work out. Fortunately, they didn't like the taste of laptop so I didn't have to pull that apart as well. The good thing is everything appears to work after the ants had been evicted which is a relief as ALPS printers haven't been made in years and I don't where you'd be able to source one. Aust-N-Rail was where I purchased mine but they haven't stocked them for years.
Next week, I'm off on training for the salt mine where I'll become a new and improved being but unfortunately I have to stay on site so no train time this week. Boo!!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Let's do Everything Twice

Modelling is so much fun I'm going to do everything twice.....or so it seems at the moment. During the week I sprayed 2 x BKG's, KKG, KB, BKD, GT and NIB set with some Craftsman Models Tuscan Red that had been laying around for a number of years. Well that was a mistake, at least for the BKG's, KKG, KB and BKD. For some reason, the paint finish was "furry" and reminded me of the texture of rough suede. Now the GT and NIB set seemed to be nowhere near as bad but I can't work out why this has happened to the others. So what this has meant is I've had to strip the paint off with Poly S paint Stripper and start again. It also means reattaching some of the details that have come loose in the stripping process. I'm going to give the NIB and GT a blast of gloss clear to see if that fixes them up otherwise they'll be getting the treatment as well. This has never happened to me using Floquil Paints so I suspect it's to do with the Craftsman paint...maybe not thinned enough or too thinned either way, I've  got to do it again this time with some newer Railey Paint. Oh, I'm all ears if anyone has got any ideas what went wrong.
I also attempted to print the decals I'd spent hours on doing the artwork. I created the artwork using PowerPoint 2010 on my Windows 7 computer in the living room. The ALPS printer is getting on in years and as the manufacturing ceased about 10 years ago, there's no drivers available for modern Operating Systems. This means I have to run the printer via an old P3 laptop running Windows ME and using PowerPoint 2000. So I saved the artwork to the earlier version of PowerPoint and transferred the file to the laptop. I opened the artwork to see if everything was OK and all the print registration was all out of whack. The red shading had moved all over the place and will take hours to get it right again.
Happy Days!!