Sunday, August 13, 2017

Back along the back

I have done enough work around the trestle now, so I looked for another area to commence on. The track has been laid and ballasted across the trestle.
I decided to start on the 'left' hand side of the trestle. This section joins the rock section towards the waterfall on the right to the section that will run into Broadwater. I have used some sections of  3mm mdf board on the rear of the module also painted it the wall colour so that it blends in.
As can be seen in the photo some scrap timber is used to attach the scenery to.
Some high density foam was glued down to support the 'grass' that will be above this section. I was initially going to use this yellow foam throughout the gully section but just ended up using the soft foam for the rocks. Dang so many types of foam to describe, I should just call them foam 1,2 and 3?
I had a piece of soft rock foam and glued it to the yellow foam. This piece is about to be tortured with the soldering iron to get the 'rock' effect. No rocket science in what I have done so far.
Now the next step in soft rock barbecuing is very important, almost a life or death issue. Either do the melting outside or have a large fan behind you, set to the max speed. If you are worried about your hair getting messed up, don't. Your lungs are more important.  The weapon of mass destruction aka soldering iron is shown ready to go. As soon as it hits the foam it will produce acrid smoke, so be warned. I think the end result is worth the effort. So if you are new to this work please practice outside first.
 Not the best shot but compared with same section in photo 3 it can be seen how the soldering iron melts the foam readily. It takes a bit of practice to get it looking Ok, I am still learning. The beauty of this type of work is that you just apply more greenery over the bad bits.
 I experimented with some Selleys Rapidfill over some sections of the rock. It took away some of the holes that occur in the foam. Old Harold the paint came out again for the base coat. It is starting to look a bit like rock now.
 As soon as you hit the area with some greenery it starts to look better. You can see that the new section has started to blend in with the other completed section. I find that also by using some foam under the scenery it gives a base to poke trees into later on. I used some of the Edco dish washing  cloth over the 'hole' above. Once this was glued into place it was just a matter of chucking in some bushes and anything green I could find till it starts to look Ok. When I dismantled the old HO layout the scenery was stripped off and placed into containers for times like now.
 Well I forgot to take some photos between the previous photo and this one above which shows this area nearly complete. I am quite happy with how this section is blending in together. I just need to get a few taller trees into this scene, then it will be complete. The track has been ballasted and so goodbye plywood central. Marvellous how quick the weeds grow.
 It now looks better now that the back section has been done. I might buy a ticket and have a ride myself!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

We can now cross that bridge when we come to it.....

If you had been a previous follower of the HO South Coast Rail, I hope the last post and the link to the Flickr photos brought back a few memories. I was reading the August Australian Model Railway Magazine today and looking at the new products pages you would hardly believe that this hobby of ours is slackening off. There are heaps of products now available to drop straight onto the tracks and just go.  Auscision are finally offering their locomotives with sound. Far from being envious of the new products my hip pocket is glad that I have made the change over to On30. The range of products other than the Haskell NA locos and their NQR wagons are basically kits that need assembling and painting.
Meanwhile back at the layout, the trestle has advanced far enough along to be able to finally lay the track across it. The trestle is built on a 30 inch radius curve and fits in nice to the corner module. It took quite a few hours to get the trestle made, but I am happy with the end result.
Bare roadbed waiting for track
I made a choice to use the Peco O16.5 narrow gauge track as opposed to the only other commercial track that being the Micro Engineering brand. Those two brands are the two extremes of the ready to run track. The Micro brands sleepers look to anorexic and the Peco brand suits the English style of track. Some where in the middle would be nice. I know the answer is to hand lay some track  but if I knew I was to live till 150 years then I might try that method. Any how once the Peco track it is painted up and ballasted it doesn't look too bad.
Track has been laid across the trestle awaiting ballasting

Join between two modules
First load of ballast dumped
Between each module I have used a section of printed circuit board and laid across the joint. It is then soldered down. I haven't cut the rail at this stage preferring to maintain electrical continuity. The tracks will be cut one day when the layout needs to be moved. Sufficient ballast is used to cover up the lack of sleepers.
I also added a check rail to the trestle as per common practice. It is supposed to prevent rolling stock toppling off when a derailment occurs. I wonder if it will still act that way on the models?
The check rail was made from a piece of leftover Code 75 rail which in theory sits lower than the code 100 rail. This should allow me to clean the track without rubbing off the rusty painted check rail. It didn't end up a perfect parallel track to the main running rail but this should give clearance for the flanges.
Another addition I decided to add to the trestle was the nut and bolt washers on the top timbers. Again I got my inspiration from the Monbulk trestle. There are 182 nut an bolt castings across the top of the trestle. So it took a while to drill all those holes and then place each casting into the hole with a small dab of glue on each one. Now you know why it has been slow progress in this corner.  
I decided to model a ballasted top trestle as opposed to open timbers. I am sure this method was quicker and easier to do.
Looking the opposite direction from the previous photo
 Although the ballast has been down for a short while, the weeds are starting to appear, maybe I need to model a poison train to keep the weeds down.
I chose to add an oil/grease trail across the middle of the tracks, this gives some variation.
Climax 8 trundles across the ballasted trestle

If I thought this trestle absorbed a lot of time I wonder how long it will take to complete the Thomson River bridge? It scales out at around 1.90 metres long. Oh well I like a challenge!
NA + trestle

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

In Memory of.........

I had a call last night from Marcus Ammann. He was asking why the link to my HO South Coast Rail Flickr photos wasn't working properly. Well I said that it eventually gets you there but really not where is should go first off.
Marcus being an expert in URL's http's etc worked out that I had too many letters after where they should be. So with a little massaging, we got it working properly.
I hadn't visited that site lately and going through it once more opened up the memory floodgates of my old HO South Coast Rail Mark 1. It was mainly an external resting place where anyone could drop in and remember the layout as well. Hopefully it is safe there "up in the clouds" ( I think I have got that bit right.
For anyone who hasn't been along for the journey SCR was started back in around 2000 in a shed around 34' x 12'. It took around 15 years to get to the stage shown in the photos. Over the years I have taken many of hundreds of photos, some good enough to publish on the blog, many deleted and some just for the record.
So taking the opportunity today I have decided to upload 483 images of South Coast Rail to the Flickr site for either your enjoyment or boredom. Originally I was just putting the good ones there but decided I need to show some of the early days where the baseboards were just bare and in the need of a good dose of scenery. Over the intervening years there were some dramas in the shed as can be expected. I have included some of these photos. Some would remember the fun had with the local possum. There is a shot of him with his bum sticking through the hole he made into the shed. I only found out he was still alive when I poked the longest stick I could find into him.
There is the day when I found out that roof leaks need to be fixed and not ignored. The photo shows the panel of gyprock hanging like a guillotine and the rat droppings that decided to fall over the layout and floor.
Kicking off the photos is a shot of the panel I made up to work the whole layout. I was a DC man and this concoction of wiring was a necessary evil of going down that path. Don't be impressed with the underneath shot of the wiring. It's just what you had to do to get the thing working. No wonder I have gone to DCC on the new On30 layout!!
You can see how the influence of the Victorian Railways had crept into SCR. I had a reasonable fleet towards the end. They are all sold off now and hopefully being enjoyed elsewhere.
You can see the times when I bought new locos in the photos, the 46's, L class, 45, 48's, 422 etc. They would become a feature of another blog as I would excitedly photograph them.
Looking back now on the photos I am quite pleased how it all turned out. Considering the number of years I have been modelling you would hope we all learn something along the way. The photos keep me from being too sad from missing the old layout, but there are many modellers who for reasons unknown just want to have a crack at another layout. My good friend Jim is onto his third layout I think. They are/were fine layouts.
Well there are quite a few photos to wade through on the Flickr site. The link is located just above the "My Blog List" on the right hand side. Forgive me if there are some double ups.
I would like to think my journey into On30 narrow gauge will be as rewarding as the HO journey.
Time will tell. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Getting Closer....

More work has been done on the trestle this week. All the piers have been made and were dry fitted out to see how they would fit under the roadbed. When they are finally put into place then the track can be laid across the trestle and finally proceed onto Broadwater..
There is more scenery work to be done on this module. I think I will be able to reach around the piers and finish off the finer details.
Here are a few further detailed shots of the progress. The piers are just resting in position at this time.

Friday, June 30, 2017

My Huge Workbench

At the moment I am working away at the layout trying to get to the first crossing loop so that I can at least go somewhere and come back again with a train.
There is a combination of projects going on at the moment that both require different tools and equipment to complete.
As there is no provision for operation at the moment I have found that the baseboard has become a convenient "workbench" for everything needed.
It has it minuses and pluses. Usually everything is in sight and a casual glance will find the required object. Trouble is when another object is sitting on top of what I am looking for valuable work time is lost looking for it. One day I spent ten minutes looking for the tape measure and then discovered it in my pocket. If only you could get back those "looking for object x minutes" and turn them into valuable modelling time.
I am not sure if it is a sign of a sloppy modeller having the stuff strewn over the baseboard top or not, or smart everything is in view?
Working recently on the trestle corner module, as it was opposite the Eden module, I have been placing containers of scenery material there within reach. Where it is resting hasn't been fully sceniced  as yet so nothing is getting damaged. I have a sort of workbench but it is not suited to track laying or other scenery work, so the work has to be done on site.
I guess as each section becomes sceniced  then that section will be cleared of junk and a no go zone for tools etc.
So until I move ahead with final scenic work, the baseboards will be open slather for collecting the railway construction junk that goes on it. I find as it is spread out it is easier to find. Why put it away one day and have to get it all out again the next day!! As they say 'horses for courses' Following are two supportive photos for the above statements.
There is a track under there some where?

There will be a train there someday

Monday, June 19, 2017

Forward and Onwards

Well I have finally finished making the seven piers for the trestle. When you compare the original dowel to the end product there is a few hours work to be done. To make the piers I used a full sized paper template which was glued to some timber.  Then with the dowel in position I hammered in some nails to make a jig, nothing fancy but it worked. So after a lot of cutting, drilling, filing, painting and weathering they are ready for be placed into position. I have put the nut and bolt casting into position. I suppose in the overall scheme, they wouldn't be missed if they weren't there but they do improve the finished look. Each pier took over an hour to complete the painting and weathering.
So with the bridge slowly coming together I turned my attention to the road that goes under the trestle on the Eden end. I felt that the base I originally made was too low, so I used some foam to raise the road level closer to the bottom of the trestle.
Using cork for the road surface
I used some thin cork for the road surface. I made the road slightly curved which looks better than a straight road. Then end product while intended for O scale looks like it is only wide enough for a  single lane road. I guess I don't have enough room to place the 'Road Narrows' sign. The building of this corner section is like playing chess in that you have to think ahead and plan out the finishing of each section. It will be
easier to make the road and scenic under it before the bridge is put into place.
The road is in place
End supporting wall for trestle
The end supporting wall in the above photo was made out of some supporting timber and the horizontal boards were actually ice cream sticks cut in half and weathered. The donor ice creams were from Cyclones and Jelly Tops. (Although any other flavour will do) They were weathered with chalks.
Dirt at the side of the road added
After looking around the shed for a while I finally found my ice cream container with the dirt I use to represent the ground. It was placed beside the road and glued into place. Best thin it was free from the road side out the front.
Slowly the greenery is added.
Once some greenery is added the scene comes to life. At least most of the scenic materials on this particular board are foam of various types which will help with the end weight.
I am always on the lookout for scenic material and I often cruise around the "Two dollar shops" looking for suitable material. I recently came across the above item and on close inspection found that it was made up of individual 'plants' that I could maybe use.
I ended up buying a plant and although the price originally showed $16 I found when I got to the checkout that it must have been on special at half price so only paid $8. I always like a bargain. The plant will allow plenty of individual plants to be placed around the layout. The closest plant in real life would probably be the birds nest fern. As I am working in O scale now they seen suitable but I don't think they would readily work in HO scale.
Some of the plants in position around the waterfall
I have placed a few around the waterfall to see how they look and they seem to work OK. They give some variation in the scene and catch the eye readily.
Happy modelling for now!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Trestle - ing onwards

Slow work over the last week has finally seen a few piers for the trestle assembled. I need to assemble the trestle so that I can build the scenery around the base of the piers.
It is certainly different building in a larger scale than HO previously, it seems solid. I have used 12mm dowel for the poles. It seems strange that when I was picking them out I was looking for the ones that were a bit rough. Bridge pylons are not smooth like the original dowel.
Lower portion of the trestle edging is put into place.
I had sourced some Mt Albert timber from "The Railcar" for this project, so far it looks like I will have enough for the project. The ply I used gives a solid base for the bridge and only needs the piers placed under it. The trestle will need seven intermediate piers of varying height. The trestle is based loosely on the Monbulk trestle on the Puffing Billy railway. By doing this I was able to use available prototype plans of the piers used on the narrow gauge railways in Victoria. But comparing the official Victorian plans there seems to be a slight difference to the way the Monbulk trestle has been constructed. It  will look the part in the end.
The trestle is based on official VR diagrams       

Waterproofing membrane added to bridge/track layer
I was able to add a waterproofing membrane between the side timbers. I don't think this was on the original bridge but must have been a later addition to the bridge to protect against timber rot.
The first pier starts to take shape
In studying photos of the trestle I think that superelevation has been built into the actual deck and the track laid straight onto it. I tried to replicate this on the model but trying to guarantee every pier would be exactly the same was always going to be hard. I have decided to lay the bridge flat and add some super to the track when it is laid. At the top of each pier a notch on each side has to be cut to take the cross timbers. I tried using a razor saw but it was too slow. I didn't have any other weaponry that I could use so while at the local hardware store I purchased a coping saw that had a fine blade and a few others blades for different uses. To say I wasn't coping with the coping saw would be an understatement. The results weren't pretty and hopefully will be mainly hidden under the top roadbed. I was re-assured by a friend who to his credit had made over two thousand dollhouses that because of the coping saws fine blade that they are not easy to control. I have taken that onboard for my excuse for poor workmanship.
The first trestle pier made
The first pier has been completed, glued up and ready for its first coat of paint. The horizontal timbers have been notched into the upright timbers but I became lazy and just glued the crossbraces onto the piers. I was after some O scale nut and bolt castings from "The Railcar" but they only had HO type but was told they would be OK. I still think I would rather some O scale ones that look more solid. Each pier was attacked with the cutting knife to roughen it up from the smooth original. Sometimes a bit too much came off but that bit can go to the back. The end product looks good.
The first layer of paint applied
The above photo shows the first layer of paint applied to the pier. I have read that the preferred staining material is to use Indian ink mixed with the isopryl alcohol. One local art shop had a big jar for around $14.00 so I thought I could try something else. I found a jar of a paint colour called "light hull grey" I applied it with some of the alcohol to dilute and it went on quite well. You can see how the piers have that rough look. Funny how in this hobby we try to make things look for the worse.
A bit of weathering added 
The above photo shows how some weathering brings the piers to life. I virtually used some Tamiya Khaki drab colour dry brushed on. Also can be seen the HO nut and bolt washers used that I think are a bit on the small side. I will try and source some O scale nut and bolt washers for the rest of the trestle.
Close up of weathering
The above photo shows the first pier nearly completed with just a bit more weathering to be done. I am happy how this has turned out, my first O scale one.
The first pier is tried out to see how it fits in.

The first two piers temporarily in position
So the first two piers have been made and now I must get on and finish off the next five. I must admit that with roller door on the shed up today taking in that warm winter sun and some music on the radio it was a good afternoon.
Keep modelling!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

I'm a convert....

They say that you have to try something to know whether you like it or not, this is the only way you will find out. I tried mushrooms once and now like them. With regards to scenery I had always used the plaster method. I had read about this soft rock method, but the old South Coast Rail layout had utilised the plaster method. I was quite happy using it and over time, the end results were okay.
In the previous blog I had mentioned reading about the soft rock method. So I experimented with my old office cushion and was pleased with results.
The electric carving knife was duly located buried at the back of the cupboard. (It only usually came out at Christmas time to assist carving the ham and then retired inside till the next one) Thanks for the tip Jim, the electric knife works a treat.
The first use of the knife worked well until the switch fell off. All I could see were two contacts inside which equalled 240 volts. The only way I could use the knife was to put an elastic band around the switch. This had a down side which means that I had no way of switching it on or off. Once plugged in then away it went. Plugging in a plug usually required two hands, one on each plug to push them together, but what I really needed was another hand to hold the writhering knife blade once it made contact. So far I haven't managed to cut anything including me.
Another issue was that the valley walls were slightly larger than an office cushion. So the search was on for more material. The shed yielded no extra, nor did a quick search of the house. I was very close when the wife offered up a foam mattress that has been standing idle in the linen cupboard waiting for a visitor to try it out. I resisted hacking up the mattress but thought if I hacked off one end then it could be then relegated to a visiting child's mattress. But then I remembered if I couldn't cut a bit of timber straight what chance did I have of doing a good job on the mattress?
The prize x 2
So then I hit the stores and hardware stores. I even went to Bunnings thinking they are supposed to have everything invented but come up a blank there as well. In desperation and still sans foam, I remembered why pay for foam when someone is probably chucking it out on a council cleanup? Our local cleanup is not on for another few weeks but I just wanted to get this valley work done.
Strike me lucky, last Thursday I was driving my wife to her mums and all this junk started to appear on the kerbside. I spotted a chair on the verge and I knew that foam and chairs go together. I had to pull around a corner and walk back to the spoils. But when I got there there was no cushion or foam. So back in the car and headed back to towards her mum. Then all of a sudden we both spotted what looked to be a pile of foam on the opposite side of the road. I even pulled the car up in a non stopping zone (but left the engine running) and raced across the road to see what was there. Talk about winning the lottery, there was a big pile of at least four foam mattresses just sitting there. Bingo, I grabbed two from the bottom of the pile, raced them across the road and into the back seat of the car.
The foamous left hand side of the valley
I wasted no time once the foam was home in getting the electric knife into action. As it was very thick I cut each section into three slices. All that need to be done was to attach it to the chicken wire and fire up the soldering iron. I was lucky this section of board was near the roller door as the soldering iron produces a large amount of probably toxic smoke when it burns. I set up the summer fan behind me an blew the smoke outside.
Rock strata getting etched in
Most form of scenery work always comes together progressively, a few stages and its there. So looking at the above photo this is the first step and then paint is applied.
Paint now applied
I still have a bit of 'Harold' (the paint colour) left and this forms the base coat. You can see in the above photo where I have dumped a pile of black oxide which I paint over the brown to provide shadow and variation.
The left hand corner is getting greener
The left hand side will be finished off at a later date as it will be accessible in front when the trestle is in position. Doing scenery work is not a quick exercise. I have spent quite a few hours over the last week on this area.
More foam is added higher up the valley wall

Looking at the above photo it looks on the rough side, don't panic as it will all come together. The next step here is to get the soldering iron into action carving in the rock texture.
This bit caps it all off
If you don't have one large section of foam to do the whole section it is okay to use smaller sections as I have done. The sections can be glued together or wired together. Any gaps that show up usually get filled in with scenery.
The capping has now been painted and blended in
The above photo shows how the top bit has been coloured and some of the gaps have been filled with foam and other bits of greenery. You can see how close the trestle will be to the wall of the valley. What a co-incidence the curved trestle matches the natural curve of the rock wall!
Greenery is slowly added to take away the solid rock wall look
Rock wall now stretches over to the road area
The above photo shows that the rock wall is now right across the valley and ends over near where the road will go under the trestle ala Monbulk trestle on Puffing Billy. I have also added a few other colours to the rocks for variation. These are drybrushed on and give it a 3D effect. Compare this photo with photo number six to see how well the foam has been blended in with the existing foam. Hard to pick where the joins are.
Having tried the soft rock and compared it with the plaster method I am now favouring this method. It is certainly a lot cleaner method and lighter especially when doing mountains. This section of scenery (like most) is viewed from a distance and it all blends in to the eye. You can get in close and be critical but when the trains are up and running the eye generally follows the train through the scene, the background becomes secondary.
Getting there slowly
In the above photo can be seen the road scene on the right of the baseboard. Once I am happy with the scenery/greenery on the rock wall, then I will get the trestle ready for positioning.
Till the next update, happy modelling.