Sunday, April 23, 2017

The making of a gully

Some more work this week has seen formwork installed to allow the deep walls of the gully that will be in the background behind the curved trestle bridge. I am still getting my mind around the fact that this is being built in O scale and everything will be essentially bigger than when the last gully was constructed in HO. Does this mean I will build it quicker?
Back in 2000 the first HO gully began

The completed HO gully. Two Main lines and a branch crossed the gully here.

After studying this corner module, I have worked out that I will need to complete most of the scenery before I move onto the next module. I will need to fix a backboard on two sides while it is out from the wall. Also because this module will contain the curved trestle it will certainly be easier to complete the scenery first. So this will slow down the work on the Broadwater module. Although the Eden baseboards have had a little scenery work done on them, I have not tackled any rockwork as yet.
Layers of foam added to the base to form the walls

Thinking ahead to when one day the layout will need to be removed from the shed, I thought of using some foam to form the  walls of the gully to lighten the load. I had a few thick sheets of the white foam on hand but not enough. I remember that a lot of modellers use a high density foam which is the yellow foam in the above photo. I found out that the Bunnings store at Dural had a supply, so my wife and I went for a drive out to this rural area to pick up two sheets.
The caption says its good to go
The manufacturer even lists "train bases" on the label so I knew I had got the right one. There was no intention to use it as a base at this stage but to cut it up to make the walls of the gully. Easy to cut with a pruning saw I soon had the bits I required stacked up on the board.

Looks a mess at the moment.
This foam is not as easy to work with as the white foam and was taking much more cutting to get it shaped how I wanted it. Well old habits die hard as they say and I then reverted back to my old method of using chicken/bird wire to form the contours that I wanted. It was a lot easier than trying to shape the foam. The grey block in the photo is a piece of florist foam that I will use later in construction.
This photo shows the extent of the trestle module.
The trestle will sit on a 30" radius curve, had I made it larger then it would have made this module larger and reduced the size of  the Broadwater module. I think it will work out okay.
The module starting to take shape.
The above photo shows the module taking shape. It is almost looking like a skeleton, you see the bones first then wonder what the completed person will look like when the skin is attached. One thing I wanted to include is a series of waterfalls cutting through the centre of the boards. It will have about three drops. To disguise the creek coming from the wall I will put the beginning around behind a hill.
I have been collecting many waterfall images from the internet recently to help put together the final scene. I will also put a walking track around the final scene.
Route of the creek
You can see that any scrap timber I have has been used. One of the last bits of the HO baseboard will live on supporting a waterfall. I have made a decision to use plaster for the walls of the gully as opposed to using the 'soft rock' technique. I know it would save weight in the long run, but it would be another learning curve and I have already used plaster on the previous layout.
I put some newspaper against the chicken wire so I can visualise what it may look like. This module will have to remain out from the wall initially so I can do the start of the creek as I won't be able to reach backwards to do it if it was placed against the wall. The good thing is that I can practice there as most of it won't be seen.
8A tries out the 'bridge'
The last photo shows NA 8A on the roadbed for the eventual trestle. I am looking forward to starting on the scenery on this module but know it will take some time to do it properly. As I see this as my last layout at this stage I want to get it right.

Ian Lindsay Website Update.
Another new item added to the On30 Puffing Billy range for Ian Lindsay is the VR rivetted cast iron water tanks (650 gallons). To quote the web site:
"These were often used in group of 4 or more as overhead loco water tanks on timber stands, as at Walhalla and Hillside. Also, the Weed Spray Train had two mounted on an NQR."
A photo of three of these tanks used for poison is shown on page 13 of the book "Focus on the Beech Forest Line Part two"

New cast iron water tank
Further details can be found here: Ian Lindsay Models

Friday, April 14, 2017

Forced into a corner

Well I was notified during the week by one of the narrow gauge drivers that they needed more baseboards and track to be made and laid. Fair call  I said to them, so I started on the next corner baseboard.
I wasn't looking forward to doing this section as it had some tricky (for me that is) carpentry. We already know carpentry is not my strong point, so I spent quite a few hours just sitting on a stool and staring into the corner. Glad the  wife didn't stick her head through the door, she would have seen me and thought I had been sent to the naughty corner. No dear just, just some heavy thinking.
The corner baseboard has to be done to enable trains to finally achieve getting into the next station, so that I will be able to run around the train and come back to Eden again. It will also form a crossing loop in the overall scheme. I have also decided to rename this place from Greigs Flat to Broadwater. Originally I just looked at the Google maps, worked out my start station and the finish station and picked out the number of planned stations, then just matched them up with local names. To me the name Greigs Flat didn't do it for me. Similar to "my tyres flat" was likened to "Greigs Flat". This name also suggests that the landscape around here is "flat". This location will be flanked by a trestle bridge on one side and my version of the Thomson River bridge on the exiting side of Broadwater. The track has shifted slightly east towards Pambula Lake. Isn't it great to be able to run your own railway? Just a few clicks of the mouse and the new route is done. No Acts of Parliament, no petitions, no dirty deals done by politicians, it just happens. As Mel Brooks once said "Its good to be the King!"
New railway route via Broadwater.
Also to be noted on the above diagram, the line to Candelo will branch off from Bega rather than from Wolumla. This is due to another track plan change that will be explained when the track gets to the other end of the shed.
The little guys stirred me into action during the week and I have started on the framework for the corner baseboard. I managed to build most of the board near its intended destination, on the floor. It got a little cramped but I suffered with the cramped conditions, rather than take some time off and move a few things. I am like that.
Sydney turned on a beautiful Autumn day today, so I took the corner out into the fading sun for a few shots. I am still trying to get my head around the scale changes from HO to O scale. Everything is bigger I must convince myself.

This corner baseboard has the Monbulk trestle on the Puffing Billy railway for inspiration. I am using a 30" radius curve, mainly because its the only track gauge I can find at the moment. It looks OK.
After sitting back onto my stool for a bit longer and staring into the "box" I still haven't come up with a final scenery makeover for this corner. I know that O scale trees are way bigger than HO ones so I don't know how many will fit into this corner. I will come up with something between now and the next blog entry.
Location of road under trestle similar to that of Monbulk trestle.
This trestle will also be similar to that at Monbulk in that a road will pass under one end. I am not sure at this stage if it will be just a dirt road or paved. In the above photo I have used some ply to form the track base and part of the trestle. There will be seven intermediate piers between the ends. I would love to flood this valley with tree ferns but I haven't seen any model tree ferns that come any where near the real thing. They are a complicated item to make but they would look nice done properly.
Rear view of corner baseboard. 

The above photo shows the trestle from the rear that will be eventually up against the wall, so photos won't be obtainable when the rear section is in place and scenery done. Having taken these few outside photos, it was then time to return this section to the layout inside.
The engine crew are now happy, they can see progress.

The boards are temporarily together for now.
Taking the board back inside the shed I moved a few things around and clamped up the new board to the existing baseboard. (i.e. the one the crew were doing their whinging on in the first photo)
The bridge roadbed was placed up on a temporary stick to finally give an idea on how this corner section will pan out. This corner section will be supported by the baseboards on either side of it, plus a set of legs in the far corner.
The inspiration for this trestle is in the photo above.
It was ironic and not planned that there was a photo of G42 on the Monbulk trestle on the wall above. If the finished product looks half as good as this I will be happy.
The left hand corner will lead onto Broadwater station.
So things have been moving along this week on the layout. The weather is thankfully becoming a little cooler and the humidity is a lot less so work down there is becoming a pleasure.
As I write this the Narrow Gauge Convention is underway down at Geelong, Victoria. I almost got there but missed out. I don't know where the next one will be but I hope I might make that one. I'm looking forward to the reports and photos and a possible write up in the "Narrow Gauge Down Under" magazine.
Keep tracking in the mean time!!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Ian Lindsay website

Well, good news the Ian Lindsay website has been updated recently in April. This site is particularly of interest to me as without his offerings of the O scale Victorian narrow gauge wagons available I may never have taken up the challenge. Coupled with the release of the Haskell NA the combination of the two suppliers should allow anyone to model this style of model railway.
The site is improved with the addition of many images now to allow a visual of the product. Of particular interest is the new section of enhancement parts to upgrade the Haskell NA and also the recently released NQR wagons. There is also two photos of the stunning end result of Alan Rockett's NA that he has superdetailed. Some of the Ian Lindsay parts were used in the rebuild.
Finally I will be able to get bags of potatoes to put in the back of the ute, delivering them for loading into a NQR. There are also other new products such as narrow gauge buffer stops that have never been previously advertised.
I believe that Ian Storrie will be attending the Narrow Gauge Convention over Easter at Geelong. Its good to see him back making hard to find items especially for O scale in 1:48. I believe this is the scale that the USA modellers also use so there are many items that may be of interest to them as well.
The link is here: Ian Lindsay Models

An Inspiring website

There are many facets to model railways. Most people have a main interest usually the one that they are most comfortable doing. This can include carpentry, electrical work, kit building, tracklaying, operation and of course scenery work. If I was to pick my favourite of the above listings then it would have to be the scenery side of things. This item to me has a visual end result that brings a railway to life. 
Recent work at our house had the plumber tell me that they were the least appreciated group of tradies because all of the work was usually hidden. He said the painters and tilers were the most appreciated as their end product was visual.
This is my feeling towards doing scenery. Carpentry and electrical work although important is generally all hidden. This is why I didn't have to be a high achiever in woodwork at school. I must have known one day all my crook work would be hidden.
To anyone that has seen the work of the Red Stag On30 team, Geoff Knott and friends will know the high standards that can be reached. This layout impressed me so much that I was glad I was able to actually say to Geoff at an exhibition that his scenery work was the most impressive I had seen in my over 40 years of modelling. He modestly accepted my praise.
The advent of the internet has allowed the world to share the hobby on line with just a few clicks of the mouse. Most blogs have followers i.e. people who are interested in what you are doing and are happy to declare their interest as a follower. One day looking at the background of some of the followers, I came across this particular site called: Trainscape 
For some reason Jose Manuel Gomez was following my site. I am glad he did. Now I am following his site as he has done some magnificent scenery work. Now amongst some of the blogs that he follows I came across another site: Drawn From Life
Image by Marcel Ackle from his blog " Drawn From Life"

 Where the key element in Red Stag was the scenery, the Drawn From Life author Marcel Ackle has made model buildings that look like real life photos. It is some of the most brilliant modelling work I have seen. The timber work even has the moss growing on it. Words cannot describe the workmanship, you have to look for your self. And he has kindly provided some tutorials listed down the left hand side of the blog. He sets a standard that most people can never attain but it is always a goal that we can aim for never the less. Although the site is in German (I think that's what it is) there is a translation option available. 
Have a look through his blog it is truly amazing modelling!!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Going Around the bend

Yes slow progress but in the last week I have well and truly gone around the bend!  I have finally laid the track around the Snug Cove area and up to the end of the next two baseboards.
Track is finally laid up the hill.

The cork underlay has been used mainly to form a shoulder for the ballast rather than for sound deadening properties. In the yards and on the siding in the picture the track is laid directly to the baseboard as this is how yards are, usually no ballast and no shoulder.
The droppers have been soldered on ready for hooking up to the dcc bus once it turns up. You know buses have a reputation for running late, well at least here in Sydney. I am using the wire in tube method for operating points. I figure if you are going to walk with your train, then the point will be right in front of you. Very cost effective.
The un-named siding finally gets some track.
I also need to install the micro switches to control the frog polarity, these have worked well so far at Eden.
The coal unloading siding will run off to the right
In the above photo the NQR is at the end of the private siding, the elevation the track climbs is shown as well. The point sits at the end of the baseboard right on the join. The tracks have also been slightly superelevated on the curved tracks. They haven't been tested under power as yet, so hopefully it will all work okay.
Looking the opposite direction from the previous photo
The bit of white foam sticking up is covering the end of the point throw rod, I'm sure without it I would have been stabbed with it. Must have the OH & S in place.
A passenger tries out the new track
The above photos shows some greenery appearing. Trust me I didn't put it there, we have so much rain the last month here in Sydney and now the tail end of Cyclone Debbie giving us a lashing that I reckon the greenery has just grown from all the moisture in the air. Doesn't it look better already?
The blackboy (or if you want to be pc = a grasstree) was a Modellers Warehouse product I got from Dave at the Forestville Model exhibition early this month.
Trust me, making baseboards, laying track, wiring etc is the most boring bit in modelling but has to be done in that order before the best part, the scenery can be done. That's what brings a layout to life. So you will have to put up with that for a little while longer.
End shot of layout
I still have to complete the curved point and fit the throwbar and also make it electrically okay. Once that is done then the microswitches have to be fitted and then a hook up to the bus and we will be ready for testing the first train under power.

South Coast Rail - HO

It has been quite a while since the old HO layout has been around and it was a really enjoyable time and many an operating session was held.
Part of the sadness is diminished when you are able to look back on the many of photos taken while in construction and operation.
A collection of some of the better shots still exist here on this Flickr site: South Coast Rail HO
Older posts herein will cover more photos and the trials and tribulations of the building the HO layout. (The possum is now gone)
Please enjoy what was, we now move on to a new world and to see if I can improve on the former.
Until then, happy modelling!

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Point to be made

It was my own fault that I chose a curved point to build for a siding on the outskirts of Eden. The siding sits inside a 180 degree plus curve and will take around two wagons at the dock. My last workout on a set of points as explained in the post of February 18 was way back in my N scale days in the early 80's. Not having anything written down from the past episodes of point building I decided to bite the bullet and get on with making a curved point.
I needed printed circuit board (which is the usual medium for point building) and also some wooden sleepers. So I made a trip out to the Model Railroad Craftsman at Blacktown for some supplies. As I am using the Peco Narrow gauge track I even remembered to take a sample sleeper with me so that I could size it against what was available. I grabbed some Clover House copper sleepers and had to resort to some stripwood as they were out of wooden narrow gauge sleepers. In the end I just used the copper sleepers. A few other things were purchased there (as you do) and I headed home. I would vote this shop one of the best set out hobby shops in Sydney with plenty of various items, well suited for the scratch builder. (Are there any left?)
A start is made on the curved turnout
As I am using cork underlay on the main line section of track, I felt I needed something solid under the point, so I cut out some MDF to put the point on. It was prepainted in case it swelled up when I get to lay the ballast. I used a section of flex track to make the above point. The rails formed the outside tracks and then I used another piece of rail to make the frog section. So far so good, but even at this stage you can only test the track up to the frog with a bogie. Although there is a bit of slop in a bogie I used a NMRA track gauge to test the clearances. I actually had two track gauges when I was in HO but I think I sold them off. Even if I still have them I would never find them in the shed.
Nearly finished, raw and ugly
Well after a week or so I finally got close to finishing the point. It is laid on a 30" curve as can be seen by the nearly invisible track gauge next to the point. Thank goodness for the 30" marking on it, I spend ages looking for it at times, must put a dab of fluorescent paint on it. I still have to put the throwbar on. I also need to cut through the sleepers before I get to test it electronically. Some of the solder (read sodder in USA) needs to be cleaned up as well. But so far so good.
The siding takes shape.
In the above photo can be seen the joins between the two baseboards. It looks ugly now but I will cover it all up with ballast. As explained earlier I am building this part of the layout so that it can be taken apart and removed in the future. There is no point in demolishing a layout in the future when a little time taken now can avoid that issue. The point in the foreground will eventually head across a section near the door. For another day.
The first two wagons arrive in the siding

A view from the other direction
I am quite happy with how it is going so far. For narrow gauge the main track out of town on a 30" radius curve looks good. Even though there will be tighter curves elsewhere, this broad curve looks the part. One of the often asked questions in narrow gauge is "What is the minimum radius curve I can get my locos and rolling stock around?" I will never ask that question for my layout. I suppose I am not running 4 wheeled locos and rolling stock. Besides I don't have any empty biscuit tins that need filling with a layout. Pointless those types of layouts.
Nearly ready for loading

The whistle sign for the Main line level crossing is shown here, the wagons in the distance

Well I am happy with the progress so far. It has been slow but rewarding when I can see the progress made from this time last year. I'm sorry that the photos are just of general track laying and other construction, but I am looking forward to the scenery component, the bit that brings the layout to life.
Tomorrow I will be receiving a pack of goodies from Ian Lindsay models to further enhance the layout. With a pelican amongst other things, I might have to model some water for him around the Snug Cove area.
Till next time, enjoy your hobby.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Board 2

Well after conducting successful loads trials from the last post, it was time to get the saw out and start into the next baseboard. It would be so easy to have laid a straight line as the load trials were conducted but it would have no character. So I made a squiggle in pencil on the board for the track to follow. The track from the first baseboard joins the second at right angles. This is a no brainer for future times when they might need to come apart and rejoin. A Y turnout will be laid up to the join. One track forms the main line and the other leads to the coal siding.
Baseboard 2 showing cutaway for a creek/gully
The track is still on a rising grade from the adjacent board, the rise gentle enough so as not to restrict loads by steep sections. This may happen further around the layout.
Although my collection of pineboard seems to be growing I bit the bullet and purchased two 2.4m x 1.2m ply. Hopefully this will be stable enough to outlast me. When planning this section, I stared at this board for quite a while before I committed to pencil the route of the track. I wanted to incorporate either a creek or just a gully on the board and as can be seen in the photo a section was cut out and set in at a lower position.
There is no 'undo' button once you commit the jigsaw into cutting.
I assume this style of baseboard could be labelled the 'cookie cutter' style but it differs from some I have seen in that I use the whole width of the sheet and just raise or lower the board either side of the track roadbed. Using this system allow you to have a solid base for adding the scenery to. Some modellers I have seen just use the roadbed for the track and then have to come back and fill in around the track, which to me would seem more complicated. Each to their own.
I have still stuck with the 30" radius track on the two boards as it looks OK. I figure that if I need a tighter radius then all my stock will run around it. I think 18" radius would be too tight for my liking.
It is still a hard thing to do just looking at the boards and trying to visualise what scenery will go where. I don't know what will end up on the boards as yet.
Two wagons in the siding

The photo above shows where the Y point from the first baseboard will lead onto the next board. The siding was going to be too short to have two wagons in it so I extended the track base onto the next board. It looks rough as at the moment but it is great what you can hide under scenery, ballast etc. The building for the siding will go behind the red wagon. (one day?) The baseboards are 50cm wide at this point along the wall. It is still amazing to me how quickly O scale modelling seems to gobble up space.
8A climbs up over the creek crossing. Mount Crap in the background.
The next item on the work schedule is to start making the curved turnout that was shown in the last post. Once this is in place then the track can start to be laid onto the baseboards.
The next board in the corner will feature a timber trestle based on the Monbulk trestle like the one in the photo below.
In the meantime I will be doing some carpentry study, especially those tortoise and tenon joints.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Load Trials

Load trials, more on that a bit later. To get to the point of conducting a load trial recently I have fitted the baseboard top to the section containing the coal unloader and curved point to the siding near Eden.
The baseboard top was rescued from the old layout from Bega and moved to near Eden, not even a far distance in the real world. The baseboards that run along the wall of the garage have been made to have a slight climb up towards the next crossing loop station currently to be known as Greigs Flat. This rise in the track adds topographical interest and also a grade to make the locos actually work up this section.
At the far end of the first baseboard the rise is only slight climbing up about 20mm. This is enough to add a bit of variation in levels and start the climb up.

Although in real life some of the curves on the real VR narrow gauge are sharp, I have so far decided that I will use a fairly broad curve. One reason is that I had a leftover 30" track gauge from the HO days will can still be used on the On30 track being 16.5mm wide track, very handy. It also looks good at the moment this broad curve coming out of Eden. It certainly looks very messy on the board at the moment but it is the first stage of beautification (I hope) I could have painted this board with some brown paint but why waste that time?
The above photo shows the far end of the first baseboard and the track that will go into the coal unloader. There is no grade on this track and it is a level siding. In chalk can be seen the road which will come up from the coal hopper and cross over the line before running into the wall. One of the things I am not looking forward to is the building of structures for the layout. For this particular board I will need to build an unloader for the coal wagons. This will probably be just a hole under the track. This will lead to a conveyor to take the coal up to the hopper and the hopper itself. At this stage I have no idea what the end product will look like so I am open to any suggestions. 
The rise of 20mm on this board only starts half way along, then crosses over to the next baseboard. All these baseboards will be wing nutted together to enable removal at some time in the future. I am not giving too much consideration to the eventual weight of these boards, so if I find a bit of timber in the shed that will do the job at hand I will use it. If its too heavy at the time of removal I'll just rope in another guy to help. It would be more critical weight wise if the layout was going to and from exhibitions.
The above photo shows a train and some hoppers on the coal unloading siding, the grey plastic will be where the drop chute will be for the coal. The office and car adds some perspective to the overall scene.
The same photo from the opposite direction. The raised coal siding is clearly seen here and add some dimensional interest I hope. Snug Cove shelter  will be in the foreground. It will be small enough to be hopefully  made in an hour or so. Reminds me of those articles that use to be in the Model Railroader, can't remember the exact name something like "Dollar Models" Anyone remember? I'll make a couple when I do this one so the can be spread around the layout.
The long and winding road
Today I cut out the baseboard top for the next section. Murphys law it started raining today and is scheduled for the rest of the week. So that stuffed the idea of taking the board outside to cut it. Have you tried cutting board on an angle? Not easy for me anyway. There was nowhere in the shed that I could lay down the 2.4m x 1.2m board. After trying out a jig saw, various blunt handsaws and after spending fifteen minutes looking for another mini hand circular saw I had it was finally cut out. (What do mean a straight line Kimosabe?) The end product was not a pretty sight and was duly placed up against the wall with the nice side facing the aisle.
This brings the above photo to make some sense out of the title for this blog entry "Load Trials"
As explained earlier I want to have grades on the layout. So far I consider what has been planned is not a very steep grade and the only way to prove this is to carry out some load trials. So I got a few lengths of track together and laid them up the grade ready for the trials.
In my previous work life I was lucky enough to be employed in the section where the locomotive testing was carried out for the New South Wales rail system. There are certainly huge differences between testing a model and the real thing. In real life trains have to be tested under the worst case scenarios that being ruling grades and under wet conditions. Most of the testing for New South Wales is carried out on Cowan Bank near the north of Sydney on a 1 in 40 grade. Although not the steepest grade in NSW it is particularly notorious for its speed restricted approach at Hawkesbury River and sharp curves. Chuck in a few flange lubricators and a thunderstorm = recipe for disaster! Many a freight train have stalled in this section. The smartest thing the railways did in this section between Hawkesbury River and Cowan was to institute bi-directional working over both roads, although it has only been in place fairly recently. 
When testing these locos to simulate wet weather conditions a 100 litre water tank is strapped to the loco and piping worked down to be under the leading wheels. As soon as the loco hits the grade the water is turned on by the tester.
Well thank goodness we don't have to go to this extent on the models. Today I tried NA8 on the grade to see how it would handle a load. This particular loco was the first one I had sound fitted to and the weight that was supposed to be in the steam dome was replaced by the capacitors, so it is the lightest NA of the three. Using this logic if this one can handle a load then the other two NA's should be able to.
The first load trial
The first load was NA8 and six wagons behind. Although the grade is slight it had no trouble hauling this load.

So I added a few more wagons and the load was built up to 9 wagons and carriages. Again no troubles and up the grade she went. The last two carriages are both Bachmann that are lit and have wipers on the wheels which adds a bit of friction to overcome.
Third load trial and still managed!
Well the above photo shows the limit of the load testing. After adding two more Bachmann coal hoppers poor old NA8 was starting to show a few signs of struggling at the top of the grade. When the layout is running I don't intend to run trains this long (Unless double headed or I come into possession of a G class Garrat) It seems to defeat the purpose of modelling narrow gauge if the trains are getting too long. This was a good test for the loco and surprised me how well it actually went.
Although this setup looks a bit crude it proved that these loads can be hauled. I didn't want to get all the track bed cut out and finalised and then find out it was too steep. I am not sure if there will be steeper grades at other places on the layout, time will tell, but for now all good and a successful days testing.