Thursday, 7 August 2014

An update for the update?

Having just read back thru my posts I have noticed a glaring deficiency, no H0 updates!!! well it's not because I haven't done anything, it's because I....well....haven't...done...anything :(
I am about to go the the US of A for a holiday, Caboose Hobbies will be a must do stop so I can stock up on H0n3 track and code 55 rail while I am there, the weather will be warmer when I return and providing all the stars align for me, work will start on the H0/H0n3 railways in Ernest - I call my shed Ernest!! You'll have to go back thru old posts to see what my plans are there, nothing has changed and my plans as laid down will proceed.
The other omission was information regard the Penfield Model Engineers and mention of a new railway, the club site can be seen at , some photos of the old railway and the new construction can be seen there.
Why the new railway you ask? Well 1) our present track is next to the ¼ scale Speedway, on Open Days it can be a very noisy location, the noise has driven one member away, and 2) the railway has been down for a few years now and unfortunately, our construction techniques weren't the best, to the point where the railway is falling apart and in dire need of maintenance.
The club also had a very large boat pond which required a very large amount of water (money) to keep it filled, the decision had to be made to reduce the size of the lake to reduce costs, a few of us saw the opportunity to relocate the G1 railway into this new reclaimed land area, we approached the club with our plans and the rest is history. We are still building up the land form and preparing our area for the relocation, this will happen in the coming warmer (and hotter) months, we have an agenda to be running in the new location by Easter of 2015, which is when Penfield Model Engineers will holding the AALS (ride on type live steamers) annual convention.

Combine Mk 2

Well here I am, some months down the track with little to show for my efforts, but I have been having fun!
The coach kitbash posted earlier is developing, I wasn't all that happy with the length, it was just tooooo long so I cut a couple of window sections out, then to get a better feel for the end product I covered it with masking tape and painted her a green I found in the shed - a benefit in this size is that you can hit a model with the ol' spray can and get away with it. I quite like the new look, the final product will be covered with scribed timber and a guards 'duckett' will be fitted, the doors on the ends have to be modified into sliding doors, only skinny people can travel at the moment!
I look back on what I have achieved with this kitbash now and I reckon I might as well have scratchbuilt one, it may have been easier.

Anyway, the look I am trying to achieve is this, I have a way to go yet.

My quarry style "Ragleth" received a quick coat of paint a while back, it makes it look sort of complete, I think the rivets are out of scale though!! The cab steps are a brass etching from Swift Sixteen, an English firm  that specialises in 16mm scale details, they look quite nice.

And just when you think you are heading in the right direction, this engine comes along, it has a scratchbuilt body on the same engine unit as mine, I have fallen for the Colonial look about it, so guess what incarnation mine is going to take?  I have a 1:20 scale Westinghouse air pump that was going to go onto my X class conversion, eventually another one will, but the one I have now will go here.

I touched on radio control earlier on, this photo shows the Evolution of Live Steam Radio Control. The humongous unit to the left is the traditional live steam RC, the good old 2 stick control, some love them because you have to pull on a lever just like the real thing?? sorry fell'as, those in that camp are delusional. The centre unit had been my favoured style, pulling or pushing the trigger gave you forward and reverse and the knob controlled the speed, very much like a conventional throttle, it was easy to use and could be operated one handed to free the other hand for shunting. Then RCS (Remote Controlled Systems) brought out the bee's knee's of throttles, for a H0 modeller the TX2 on the right was the ant's pant's for use in the garden, the top knob controlled forward/reverse, the bottom knob controlled speed, small, light weight, easy in the hand with good control, two of the buttons can be used for other functions such as a whistle or whatever you wish. These units can also be used on battery powered engines where the buttons can operate bells, lights and horns.

And to finish off this update I'll have to tell you about the little hopper fleet that grew and grew, these LGB hoppers usually come in bright orange with handrails and platforms on the ends, I have been modifying them to a SAR look as pictured, they can dump their load thru the bottom doors, at the club (Penfield Model Enginers) we run these from a loader to a discharge area in a true loaded/empty scenario, I intend to do the same on my home railway, it is good fun operating such a train, the grade up from the old branch line at Penfield requires a helper or you have to split the train. 
I have 8 of these, the train of 8 plus brake van has defined how long my sidings are at home. 
Things are changing at Penfield and the new railway is flat, so a longer train could be run, I really like the looks of these and am always looking for more, a couple of days after this update I am going to USA for a holiday, I have known this for a while so have been looking for more with the knowledge I can get them sent to a friend then carry them back myself and save a bag load of postage ($50.00each presently). Over a period of time the value has increased to the point where they were asking to much for me to pay, so I have been very surprised to see a few come up in the last few weeks at bargain prices, and I have been the only bidder so I am bringing 3 more home for the family, the initial movement for the SAR Combined Divisions Railway will be with a load of socks (sans packaging), I'll have to get a bigger suit case. The train of my mine plus another 4 a friend has is going to look very nice indeed, double heading will have to be the norm with a loaded train then.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Progress - then disaster

I am posting a few updates on the same day so I hope you can keep track of where I am, I am posting in order of events though (well nearly). A post or two back I reported on the 'rebuild under way' with the sump tank removed, well that ended progress for a few weeks as I did the fragile back in pulling the damn tank out. While that was troubling me I did make some progress before I bought my new engine (sorry about the jump), the first picture is of the beam that will support my track pans and track, I hope you readers have imagination and can see the earth built up to the height of this beam, the lower track will go thru a cutting, the higher track will span this cutting on a 40' long plate girder bridge, to the right you can just see the temporary girder I fixed to the beam to aid in my rockwork for the cutting and making abutments.

The second photo is a track level view as you enter the cutting, if you squint and drink a lot of rum you will see the cutting walls rising on either side as you are about to go under the girder bridge, well it works for me, the rum that is!

Well that was about as far as I have gone on that side, I have a mountain of dirt to move from the front yard to the back yard to create my new hills, but a good back and helpers are few and far between, my next plan may be to hire a Dingo (digger, not the dog) and use that to move Mahomads mountain.
I had shifted my focus to the other side of the railway for a while, this bit of collapsing rotting board had to be replaced.

The track rises up to the left and water was running down hill (of course) and flowing out of my track pans at this location, hence the rotting boards, it didn't help that a certain rambunctious child (who doesn't visit anymore fortunately) was using this as a short cut up onto the cubby house bridge rather than the supplied ladder. The area to the left is where the previously mentioned Woolshed Flat bridge will be installed so quite a few metres of old board will be coming out and replaced by this new board (below) and the bridge section.

I'm still using the form ply as a base but I am trying a rubberised paint coating as a flexible sealant, I hope I have learnt from a few of my mistakes! I have mentioned track pans a couple of times, all my curves are of 3 standard radius (4', 6' and a 9' section), I have moulds for these and straight sections on which I layup fibreglass matt/resin, these become my 250mm wide track pans which also contain the gravel in a neat ballasted form, in particular on the elevated sections (no scenery) and on the ground level (scenic'd areas), on that troublesome down hill section I will now put drains in to direct any water away from the supporting ply base. An interesting phenomena with my 3mm crushed limestone ballast is that the kids - and that is virtually every child that comes here -  likes to run their fingers thru the ballast as they follow the trains around, true story. After the grand kids (and others) visit I have to go around and sweep up any ballast on the pavers and re shape it in the pans, I have thought a glueing down the outer edges of the ballast but I haven't come up with a way of doing that yet, maybe a cement ballast mix and I'll shape it in then wet it down?

Warning - the following view may be distressful to some people (me).

We had a night of terrific winds here on a Friday night before xmas, I didn't expect any damage so was pretty upset at the sight that await me when I went out the back. 

 The glass panels that enclosed the end of my pergola came from a GSR Indian Pacific Lounge Car that I was involved with in refurbishing some years ago, as you can see, the wind blew them out. Most glass panels were broken and there is damage to the track and base board, my son in law came around on Boxing Day and helped remove the quite heavy frames and glass and in general tidy the area up. Some temporary repairs will have to be done to the base board and track before train services can safely resume, although a live steamer has made some test runs at low speed! For now I shall resume repairs to the rotted base board and get back for a permanent repair at a later date, I have some rotted support posts in the area that have to be replaced with perma pine posts so that will all happen at the same time.
My last photo for this post is the area without the glass panels, 'before views may show up some of the earlier postings, I quite like it now, it gives me (and visitors) a nice shaded area to view the railway operation and improves access as well, I have removed rose bushes that were within that area and I did have it all quite tidy but some windy conditions have bought a few leaves back for you to look at!!

The seat to the left has some interest in that it is reputed to come out of a Fageol railcar, I haven't been able to confirm that, it had a wicker squab and base at one time, I hope an artistic blacksmith friend will make some bows much like a garden seat for me and I'll put some hardwood slats onto it.
That's all for,I hope I have kept you entertained, perhaps I'll do some H0 reports next time.

A change in direction -but I knew it would happen one day

I have for a long time had a desire to own a gauge 1 live steamer, I have found myself with a little extra cash flow so with a budget in mind I started looking, I would have ideally liked a prototype SAR engine but that was out of the question, an American narrow gauge engine would have been nice but they are out of my price bracket and most are physically too big for my railway so I conceded that a typical Welsh style engine in 16mm scale would be just right. I finally settled on this naked Accucraft "Ragleth" engine unit, I say naked as it doesn't come with any cab etc, it is up to the individual to make/buy his own.

There are a few options for the cab, a few English manufacturers make some excellent etched brass kit cabs in various styles to suit this engine in both 16mm and 7/8ths scales, I did think about 7/8ths but they are a very physically big model, even with these tiny engines, once again, that one is too big and that one is too small etc etc. In my research I took a liking to the open cab quarry style of engine, I had made the decision that I wasn't going to follow prototype in this extra scale in the garden, it was going to be freelance and whimsical, so with a very flexible scale ruler in hand (I made one out of cardboard!) I came up with the following look, this is a mock up out of easy to work with aluminium at this 'prototype' stage, the final product will be done in brass. This one will be just right.

Other modelling has suffered a little with this venture into another scale, I am having a great time learning how to fire and run the engine well, yeah, I know, it's gas fired so what is there to learn, quite a bit actually, there certainly is a knack to get them lit up and running smoothly, much like a real engine, the quest is too get as much run as possible using as little steam as possible, hence conserving gas etc, it is enjoyable. Luckily I made a good decision and bought the right engine, this doesn't stop the tinkering though, apart from a new body, there is a myriad of goodies to enhance the model from dress up cosmetic bits to performance bits like accessory fine control gas and throttle valves, chuff pipes for a better....chuff, and then there is little tricks like wrapping the burner in gauze to reduce the gas jet roar and enhance the chuff, and of course radio control, all great fun.
Of course having an engine meant I need something to pull, my 24th scale SAR rolling stock wouldn't look right, fortunately I had some LGB open wagons that also didn't look right with the 24th scale, they were going to be sold off, but in the nick of time they got pressed into 16mm scale service, one of them can be seen behind the engine. Another couple of LGB left overs are being cannibalised into this carriage.

The left hand portion was a bogie coach, the right hand portion was a 4 wheel coach, they have been joined on a common underframe, the body will be clad in scribed timber siding, the sides have been raised (well on one half at this stage) to make the sides taller and suit my new scale. The design has been influenced a little by the Mt Lyell carriages at PBR and other Aust narrow gauge lines (eg Innisfail Tramway), so if you imagine a Mt. Lyell style clerestory roof, composite 1st and 2nd class sections, bars on the 2nd class windows and end platforms with PBR style steps you have got the picture. I have a long way to go on this project.
In the freedom I have given myself, the scale for this work is somewhere between 16mm and 3/4" to the foot, the couplers will be Kadees for ease of operation rather than the loop and hook style normally used in these scales (PBR do it, so can I). My flexible scale rule can be quite rubbery at times which has been a challenge having spent so many years as a stickler for detail and accuracy, it has been nice to let my hair down a little (what hair said the bald guy).

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The great rebuild of 2013 begins

Well I have procrastinated enough, the re-landscaping project has begun, the first task was to expose, then remove the sump that had - in years gone past - recirculated the pond water via the Rocky River.
The exposed sump

The tank

I made the tank about 25 years ago from marine ply encased in a thick layer of fibreglass, as you can see it has reached its use by date, surprisingly it still held water, a pipe went from this into the shed to the pump (which was noisy as hell), that re-circulated the water back up to pond to flow back down the Rocky River into this tank. It took some digging and heaving to get it out, but I wasn't going to be beaten. Now I just have to fill the hole and start back filling with rocks and dirt to create my new contours, I get to play God for a while, till my back gives out.

And to fill out the page I have added a couple of photos from previous times, the Pichi Richi Railway in our Flinders Ranges is home to some beautiful cut stone retaining walls, the first photo is my recreation of those lovely walls.  NB30 was scratchbuilt by my good friend Steve Fry, it has had some rough times and is due for the paint shop soon, it has been built on a LGB 'mallett' engine block, I have another block that is fortunately correct for a South Australian Railways 'Y' or 'Yx' class 2-6-0 steam engine, those unfamiliar will have to Google to see what nice lines they have, well I reckon they do, information about Pichi Richi Railway can be found the same way.

Structures on my railway are few and far between at this stage, these are it!! I had a birthday party (mine) here in February 2012, a lot of the invited guests hadn't seen my railway so I thought I had better do something to improve it, so I built this SAR iron goods shed, I knocked it up in a couple of days and apart from the lack of detail am pretty pleased how it came out, it was only supposed to be temporary but has weathered our weather quite well so far so I might have to finish it off with trim and gutters etc.  I have been drooling over the work of an American garden railway modeller, Ray Dunikan, who does some exquisite modelling using a PVC Foam board called Sintra, I have only just found a supplier in Australia, so the goods shed may get rebuilt with this Sintra as a base, this shed will go out to the Penfield Model Engineers garden Railway (my club layout)

The other structure is this SAR 'Pill Box', it is a typical line side telephone box such as the SAR had at virtually every station and junction point, I have quite a few more to build yet but I don't think I will make all the locks, I am hoping I can cast the door section and the locks will represented ok, one will have to have any open door so I can display all the telephone equipment, there should be a couple of line insulators on the gooseneck as well, another project to finish off. This had to be finished in a hurry for display at a recent Model Railway Convention and is mounted on a base, I don't leave it outside

A close up of the lock, I'd open the door but I lost the key!!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

"The Bogies and Ol' Brill"

"The Bogies"

The bogies
Work does go on the background while planning my railway, although, in this case, it isn't for me, Rob will be happy to hear that I have finished assembling the white metal bogies for his rake of 800/860 class Suburban Trailer Cars. There is 10 pair of bogies in this shot to complement the 5 pair I had previously done, I have a fetish for making jigs for assembling bulk lots of anything, besides making it easier, a well constructed jig can speed assembly/production time immensely, in this case the manufacturers idea is to hold the bogies together with a rubber band, I couldn't get that idea to work with one bogie let alone doing it 30 times, so a jig was devised.

The jig
I failed to take a photo of the jig in action before the bogies were dispatched, so you will have to make do with the photo shown and some imagination, the bolster is screwed to the board as shown, one sideframe at a time is held up in place with the block of wood and low temp soldered when everything is true, the wheelsets are fitted before the second side is soldered on, the gouged out areas accomodate the wheelsets. A tip is to shorten the bolster to 21.3mm long and carefully drill out the bearing holes with a 2mm drill bit till the bearings fit in flush (2mm), I use a bit of superglue to hold the bearings in place, simple but effective. The attentive amongst you may notice that one bogie hasn't got an end spreader bar in place, I didn't notice it either till I was about to send the bogies, and would you believe it was the front bogie in the photo, that's a bit like photographing a model with wheels derailed.
And why so many 800/860 trailers cars, Rob is building a railway that has Gawler Railway Station as its central feature, so he needs them for his suburban workings.

"And Ol' Brill"

The Brill headlight
My H0n3 "75" model Brill railcar also got some attention recently, some time ago (a long time actually) the Brill had an accident in which the fragile, easy to break cast resin ends got damaged (bloody fragile polyester resin castings, thank god for Polyurethane castings). Painting the tiger stripes was a real bear when I built it and I considered myself lucky that I got them right the first time so I wasn't going to tempt fate and repaint it, so I repaired the old girl and only had to do some touch up work, but the pretty "crappy anyway" headlight casting was lost. We just had our excellent Modelling The Railways of South Australia Convention, one subject was going to be about the Brills and the call went out for models to display, I had always had an idea how I was going to make a new headlight so I can put a light in it (SMD LED), so a couple of days before the convention I fabricated the headlight shown, nothing like a deadline for results, it came out good and the first one was a winner, it's not unusual for me to make a few of something till I get it right, I am not a photographers A-hole, so my photo doesn't do it justice, and if I may pat myself on the back it came out pretty darn good

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The garden railway

Woolshed Flat Bridge

And now for something different, my much loved but very unused Garden Railway has got into a sorry state of late, now that we are getting into some better weather I have decided it is time to give it a face lift and take in a little vitamin D as well. One of my treasured features is my model of Woolshed Flat bridge (as on the Pichi Richi Railway in the Flinders Ranges, SA), the bridge spans a gap between a garden shed (which is staging/storage for my railway) and the main part of the railway, it is in an unfortunate position in that it isn't easily seen and the only trains that go over it are at the start and end of a session, so it see's little traffic which is a shame and has often bugged me, but I have lived with it for many many years. A couple of years ago another G1 mate made the comment that it is shame the bridge wasn't on the mainline and getting more traffic, I agreed but couldn't see a solution, he suggested a spot but I said "nah, I have other priorities". Well that conversation was always on the back of my mind, now with my desire to give the railway a facelift, a hard look at what I could and should do was thought about, a plan was formed!

The area to be reclaimed

Also in the railway was a fish pond, I came from the Jamie Drury era where every garden had to have a water feature, this overflowed thru a rocky creek and under the bridge to flow into a sump and be pumped back up to the pond. This had become a dated idea and the sump tank had developed some serious leaks and would need repairs so it is all going, besides, I never got to build the low bridge over the creek that was further up stream. In my grand plan the pond, creek and sump tank will be removed, the area you see will be back filled up to bridge rail level, I was thinking of a tunnel on the curved track that goes under the bridge but that will be in a deep cutting instead, the track will cross the cutting on a plate girder bridge. trains will now exit the shed onto some land rather than the bridge, I will have some more real estate for planting and scenery???? and I will have removed a maintenance issue of the pond and waterway and hopefully achieve a more pleasing to the eye scene as well, it is a bit of a shame about the digging and dirt, I hate digging dirt!!!

New bridge location.
The new bridge location will certainly be out in the open and should become quite a show piece, the railway on the other side of the yard circles a sand pit and cubby house, they have to stay for the grand kids, the post on the right will be relocated further to the right to make a longer bridge span, the real bridge has 5 x 40' plate girder spans, mine will be a bit shorter with 4 x 40' spans, it will still be about 6' long. I will create a valley which will encroach a little on the sand pit but I am sure the kids won't mind, the area to the right has to be rebuilt as well, my form ply base has delaminated and needs replacing, but it has been down for 25 years now so I can't complain, any new base will be wrapped in fibreglass so I hope it will last for another 25 years, that will just about see me out, now if anybody wants to come and shift some dirt for me? I can supply the spade and barrow.