Friday, 1 March 2019

A zoo?

I was looking out the back window recently and something caught the corner of my eye moving. When I looked up there were two goannas strolling across the back lawn and headed for the side gate.
As usual it was the mild panic in where was my camera or phone? I found the camera and then went to another room adjoining the side gate to take a photo. Well I know I saw two of them but could only find one of them in the garden.
G2 the goanna, not sure where G1 went to?  
Three of the kookies in for a feed
So one headed off somewhere unknown and the second one chucked a 'U'ee and headed to the back yard. Luckily the garage door was closed otherwise I reckoned he would have gone in there. So I allowed a good half hour and decided it would be safe to re-enter the shed. I haven't seen them since.
I really reckon I should have started up a zoo in the backyard. Over time I have seen the goannas, a few snakes, an echidna and the scrub turkeys have taken a liking to the bush/garden and have fun scattering the mulch everywhere. We also have about five kookaburras and many king parrots drop in a few times a day for their feeding. The big trouble is that they are all not together at the one time otherwise I could have got the kindy kids at the school opposite to come over and have a look. Can you pat a goanna?
Well that is the animal side of things over and yes I have still been working on the railroad. I have been concentrating on getting a large section of the layout finished. There were many pockets where I had made a start but not finished one big area.
One of the jobs was to revisit the trestle area. On my previous HO layout the main focus point was down the back corner where I called it the gully area. There were three tracks crossing the gullt at different levels and was probably the most scenic area completed. Eventually the tracks will be run through this area and will need a complete scenic update.
A creek bed with ferns and reeds

One of the down sides of completing the scenery is the fact that I have lost another spot to put my junk, mix paints etc. The above scene is a field completed with using some dishwashing cloth available for under $3, so it is very versatile and looks OK in my book. So when you can't think of what to place in an area just put in a field and fence it off and maybe add a horse or cow. Also placing a few white flowers in the field draws the eye to that spot.
Up goods heads over the trestle
A few extra ferns have been added
8A works an Up goods
8A crosses the local road with photographic background
In the last photo I placed a photo that used to reside at the opposite end of the shed. It was surplus now to its previous use and I then thought it would be suitable to place against the wall so that the road appeared to disappear in the distance. After a bit of work on the scanner and photo editing I found that it worked well in the spot especially when viewed from the above angle. I plan to have backdrops all around the layout one day!

Other Side of the Tracks

I have put up the first five of the Other Side pictoons on the link on the top right hand corner of this blog. I plan to post five more each month until they are all published, so enjoy numbers 6 to 10

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Other Side ......Other story

It all started way back in December 2006. For those of you who get a copy of the Australian Model Railway magazine and have the February 2019 issue will now realise that the last "Other Side of the Tracks' pictoon has been published.
I had put together some scenes taken on the old HO layout and put them up on the Railpage forum way back in 2006. There were only a few but enough for some to comment that maybe I should approach the editor of the AMRM magazine and see if they were suitable for publication.
Knowing a bit about the editor James McInerneys' demeanor they were sent to him and he replied that yes they would be OK for publication.
The first one that was published was one using my daughters mobile Nokia phone. It was placed on a flat wagon and then parked beside an engine where the crew spotted it and made their comment re its size. Phones of today may be of similar size but way more refined.
All 74 of the published pictures were made on my HO South Coast layout. I had made a recent sea change and decided to model the Victorian narrow gauge 2' 6" lines in On30 but still based in New South Wales. This change meant that the old layout had to be demolished and the 'stage' for the 'Other Sides' would vanish.
Some of the pictoons are obscure, some straightforward. When I would produce a pictoon and have it nearly ready I would then show my wife for any comments. She is not really into railways but knows how I operate and if she 'gets' it then it passes the pub test as they say.
I have commented often in my blogs that I often went into the train shed with no set project to do in mind but sometimes this would result in a scrawled note, maybe just a few words
My rough notes for the 'Other Sides'
 on an A4 sheet of paper. On the notes above can be seen crosses where the note has been translated into a pictoon. Some never made it to the printed pages - the note 'soldiers looking for the road to Hastings' was going to have a bunch of appropriately dressed soldiers asking some road workers if they knew where the road to Hastings was as they were running late for a battle. I tried for ages to obtain some HO soldiers to do it but never found any, so that was one that never made it to the magazine. I only needed a few words on paper to jog my memory on what the next pictoon would consist of.
Some ideas never made it to the note pad at all, some went straight into production. I think most of the results came out alright in publication. I don't consider myself as a photographer, often using the term 'f' stops as the first letter of another word when something went wrong. Looking through the rear viewfinder of the camera often didn't show up flaws that were quite noticeable when viewed on a 24" monitor. Rather than return to the shed at times I would use Corel Photopaint (poor mans Photoshop) and do a few adjustments to the picture. Things as simple as fixing up scratches on figures or seeing a bit of extra dirt on a platform that was magically cloned with another good bit somewhere in the picture.
Having prepared the picture to get it nearly ready to be sent in, lastly I would then take it into CorelDraw and add the borders, add the necessary words, put in the 'last line' and then print a copy off. Only for variety I decided early in publication to change the border colours. There was no rhyme nor reason to the colours I just thought it looked better.
I also used the font called 'Comic Sans' just the name says it all.
Another idea I had for a pictoon was the last one that was published in the February 2019 edition. Maybe I had some DEB instant mashed potatoes for dinner that night and that then sparked the idea for another pictoon. The hard part was actually finding a small truck that could be overturned. I must have been looking for around two years and finally found one at Frontline Hobbies up near Newcastle when out on a train trip one day. The actual model was an OO scale but as it was going to be on its side this was not going to be a problem. It was also brand new (as expected) and I had to weather it up to make it look like it had been carrying potatoes. And to finish off a back tailboard sign was printed and stuck on. I had to borrow a 900 class (known as a DEB set) from Marcus Amman for the photo shoot, I promised it wouldn't come back covered in mashed potato. This hopefully made the shot authentic, although a lot of this local content would be lost on overseas and possibly interstate readers. The 'last line' was a quick flash to the brain where I could use the term 'spud' (Self propelled underfloor drive) to finish it all off.

It was sad to finish the series off and I would have extended the series had the HO layout still been around. Just to keep my safety valve working I have created a different series called "Owen Thirtys Neighbourhood" for the On30 layout. This will be random and just added when an idea pops into my head, certainly won't be a prolific as the HO version.
So after the effort of producing "The Other Side of the Tracks" and it now coming to an end I decided I would like to preserve them in some way. I have now put a link on the top right hand side of the SCR blog that will link to the pictoons. They will be done around five at a time but also will have an 'explanation' to some of the background of how they came about.
Keep reading the blog and check out the link from time to time. 
I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have creating them and they will all eventually be published on line. A further bonus is that there some that were created but never published in the magazine.
The first five can now be viewed with the link and also the introduction to the series in the December 2006 issue of AMRM.


Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Going Loco

Ash pit at Eden
Welcome to 2019 already on its way at a fast gallop. Time for more updates, the first for the year.
It gets hard when I go into the shed to tackle the next project. So many things to do. At the moment I am concentrating on getting most of the scenery done on the two Eden boards.
One area I thought that would benefit from a makeover is around the loco area. I have already completed the track up to where the coal loading platform will be and the ash pit has been constructed.
The area where a loco shed is to go into has at the moment a lot of bare baseboard. I thought that if I conentrate on at least getting the base of the engine shed made then when it is in position then the ground around it can be finished off. I am not planning at this stage to actually complete the shed until later.
One thing I find hard is getting plans that suit what I am trying to model. I was lucky to obtain a plan of the loco shed at Colac in Victoria. It is unusual in that the roof line is curved. As my layout is based in NSW I plan to have a pitched roof with the top vents. 
Current track to be removed for construction looking towards Eden station.

Styrene base cut for size. NA 8 trying it out.

The loco shed will only fit one loco mainly because the space I have to fit it in is restricted. There is minimal clearance in the above photo on the right hand side. I have satisfied myself that all my locos will be able to get past the shed although close. This is one of the aspects of narrow gauge modelling that I like.
The white point rodding in the above photo was one of the first things that was installed and that meant everything else had to fit around it. So the only position for the shed had point rodding in the way and when the hole for the pit was being dug out Mr Murphy turned up and there was a cross supporting timber in the way. Not a lot but enough to be a nuisance.
A hole lot better now
Unavoidable was all the dust from the jig saw that was spread around the whole hole area. Use of the vacuum cleaner inevitably sees many of the 'weeds' disappear 'up the tube'.
Basic floor and pit walls are completed
 I find working with styrene a bit easier than working with wood. You just need to score and then snap, so if I can do it anyone can. Construction was made with materials on hand and only the rail support beams were made using timber.
Rail supports and cross timbers in place.
 The pit is made from the plan and also doing what worked on the day. One thing I needed to incorporate was a drain at the bottom of the pit. Digging in my 'scrap draw' I found a piece of channel that I maybe bought 30 years or so ago. I knew it would come in handy one day.
Floor is in position with supports.
I came across a photo of a loco shed that had a brick floor and as I had a sheet of styrene sheeting I used this on the bottom of the pit. I was surprised with myself at how well the construction was going. I was doing some of this work today when we were sweltering in near 40c temperature.
8A is back to try out the pit
 In the above photo the white square blue tacked to the end of a NQR is a styrene clearance gauge representing the widest and highest known locos that will travel over SCR. It also works as a clearance car for scenery that gets too close to the tracks. I found that out the hard way recently when the shay decided to get entangled in some scenery. In real life this wouldn't be a problem, but half an hour later in the model world, the gears were free from the trackside scenery.
Will that be bricks all round?
I decided to complete the floor with the brick sheet. Not sure if any or many were actually done this way but it looked okay. The shed is certainly small only taking one NA with any others overlaying at Eden will have to stay on outside roads.
What a difference a spray makes!
Progress was bettter than I had expected so once I had all the floor and pit components in place I was ready to get the spray into action. I might as well make full use of the hot day and go and spray outside. With the heat of the day it was only a short while and the shed floor was then put into its final resting place. This meant when it is glued down then the bare patches around the shed can be finished off. There is plenty of weathering yet to happen around the shed both inside and out. I will possibly have the top of the shed removable at least until I get the track in position and dirtied and greased up. I have greased up some track at the passenger platform using Tamiya Smoke colour which gives a good shiny/greasy finish.
Looks like 8A has settled into its new home
This project took a few hours to complete but I think was the easier part of doing the shed. Now to source some windows and work out how to construct the sides and roof.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Its the Pits

Wow, still can't believe how quick this year has gone or nearly gone. I think back a few months when it was a lot colder and I was writing up my third Victorian trip blog report. That beautiful feeling when you rock up to Belgrave station on a very cold morning and the mist is hiding the narrow gauge train we are about to travel on. The smoke from the loco giving away its location. Now compare today when I am writing this in mid thirty degree temperatures.
I have been keeping a photographic record of the construction of South Coast Rail for various reasons. One reason can be help is when the scenery is in place and you want to check where wiring, baseboard joints etc are located. Handy. It also lets you look back and see how far you have come and progressed. Looking at the photo folder for SCR I discovered that I have been underway with the current narrow gauge layout for over three years. The oldest folder is dated December 2015. Prior to this I have collected the older HO SCR photos. They are in monthly folders and the better photos are still available on the top right link on this blog under Flickr hosting.
So far on the layout apart from a few humans strolling around, a mock up building and various trucks and cars, viewing the layout without a direct comparison with the narrow gauge track and standard gauge makes it harder. All the Victorian narrow gauge systems had transfer locations where goods could be transferred between gauges.
Pit area outlined ready for cutting out
When designing Eden yard the transfer track was an essential inclusion. I didn't have a lot of room to include one but another problem arose when trying to match the model with the prototype. As the floor levels of the narrow gauge and broad/standard gauge wagons didn't align it was usual to ramp up the narrow gauge track so that the floor of the narrow gauge wagon was at the transfer platform level. On my version I didn't have the luxury of length to ramp up the narrow gauge track so I reversed the idea and lowered the standard gauge track instead.
The pit has been cut out and lined with styrene and S truck added
This was the only way it would work for this location. Initially when laying the narrow gauge track, the points were operated with the wire in tube method. The track was laid furthest from the side the point would be operated from so that the channels could be routed for the tubing. Initially I had laid the tubing in across the location where the pit would eventually go. If I left it there then there would have been some tubing going across the top of the pit. So I had to bend a few 90 degree corners to lower the point wire under the pit bottom. It plans to think ahead. (sometimes)
Sides of the pit have been lined with Cyclone sticks
I lined the pit with some styrene which enabled the old tried and true Cyclone ice block sticks. These were provided by my wife. She doesn't call it an addiction to them but they are always high on the shopping list. Just cut them in half for O scale and they work out well.
An 'S' truck in its final resting position.
I needed a wagon to place on the standard gauge track in the pit. As my layout is placed on the far south coast of New South Wales the cheapest, smallest wagon I could get was an S truck one of over 10,000 that were built in the past for the NSWGR system. I was able to get a just released O scale kit and had help from one of the group members (thanks John) who assembled it for me.
A lone S truck waiting for some work

The Peco O scale track is laid in the pit

View from the other direction
  John who had also converted from HO to O scale was able to supply a surplus section of Peco track to fill the bottom of the pit. Some of you would have got out the packet of spikes and hand made sleepers and done the job properly. And even though this section of rail had rail chairs instead of spikes, these ease of using the ready to run track over hand laying track was a great time saver.
Ready for the dirt!
 The side of the pit was also painted up with some Tamiya dark grey paint and supporting upright timbers were also glued into place. A timber capping was also laid across the top of the pit timbers.
Weeds in place already, known to grow quick!

Layer of dirt applied, starting to look better
 Another trip to the local oval for some more dirt which was spread over the bottom of the pit. I am sure the local council is wondering why these holes are appearing in the car park.
Finally the weeds are applied and it looks like a decrepit pit
After an application of various weeds along the bottom of the pit it is pretty close to my vision of how it would turn out. I may need to install some type of buffer stop at the far end of the pit.

 The hard part of the pit has now been constructed so if I don't get to revisit it again it looks complete. This is only the first construct for this area. The next build will be the transfer platform between the standard and narrow gauge tracks. Then I will need to build a transfer shed over this area. Once this is all done then I shall build a transfer crane. The pit is shoe horned into its location but this gives the eye plenty to concentrate in one place. All the yard junk that you find like drums, crates, timber etc still needs to be placed.
So this will be the last post for this year and 2019 will hopefully see the majority of the remaining scenery at least started. I have many structures to do but I will keep plugging away with it all.
I hope 2019 will be a good one for all your layouts, thanks for all your nice comments over the past year on the layout and will catch up in 2019.

Monday, 26 November 2018

More on Pambula

Work has continued on at Pambula after the fascia has been put in place. It is not a large location so I thought I would finish off the layout between the fascia and the outer tracks.
I made the scenery higher in this section and cut the fascia to suit. It was then I needed to fill in the missing bit. Over the years I have tried a few methods, the old layout used the well used chicken wire and plaster where I was able to reduce our pile of newspapers into the plaster mix. This makes it interesting when demolishing the old layout and I always tried to locate some old newspaper with a date left intact so I could get an idea as to when this section was done.
I have moved on from the old plaster days (although it still has its place) and tried either the yellow foam board or foam. The corner section at Pambula called for a large piece of foam and having scabbed up two large foam pieces from a clean up pile I then looked for my electric knife to slice it all up. The electric knife was on its last legs for the last piece of foam I cut when the switch broke and was running as soon as it was plugged in. The knife had definitely cut its last Christmas ham long ago. When I plugged it in there was this burning smell and at the risk of loosing the shed to a fire, it was decided to chuck it in the bin, except for the blades. So this piece of foam was cut out using an electric hand powered blade. I must admit it took a little longer than using the power but I eventually got the job done.
Replacement electric knifes seem to be rare in the shops these days but as luck had it, two days after the knife went kaput there was a local garage sale supporting the local Mens' Shed. I was just about to leave and I spotted a Sunbeam electric knife. Beauty and after opening the box  and seeing no residue of ham on the blade I asked the guys 'How much?' He said $5 but as I only had a $10 note I made a donation for their cause. I was more than happy with my purchase. I tested it at home, it worked but it is yet to be introduced to its first piece of foam.
The foam was glued into place and then came the decorating. The photo shows some yellow cloth which is a cut up piece of 'Shine Wonder cloth' that I purchased at Woolworths. I have used it often on this and the past HO layout and it works well to represent grass, at least I think so and is way cheaper than using commercial products. They used to make it in a green colour but I can only find it in yellow now, but it colours up nicely with Tamiya Flat green.
Scenery slowly greens up

The last time I used the foam for the scenery was when I did the scenery around the trestle area. I had almost forgotten how toxic the fumes were when I applied the soldering iron to the foam. It had to be done outside otherwise I reckon I wouldn't be typing this now. It was then painted up with my usual 'Harold' paint colour and some black oxide also used for highlights, plus some drybrushed lighter Tamiya paints. Most of this cutting won't be visible from the normal viewing angle so I only gave this location my 80% effort.
Mallee shelter location
One thing in my favour in regards to station buildings on the narrow gauge is that they were hardly elaborate structures. Many locations only had a nameboard which let you know where to stand for the train to stop and pick you up. More upmarket places had at least a corrugated iron shed with a seat at the back. At least it would keep the sun and rain off you while you were waiting for the train. Pambula is to get a mallee shed when I get around to building it. The layout will need a couple so I will make them all in the one go. I made a full size paper mockup which you can see in the photo. It helps visualise how it will look in the end. They didn't even have a platform so I have used some cork, coloured it to represent tarmac. Its the least I could do for them.
Two recent constructed vehicles by Stephen Postma have pulled up at Pambula
So that's all that has been happening around Pambula recently. I conclude with a few other shots taken while there.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

A bit on the side

Wow a month has gone by since the last post. Having a large layout has good and bad sides to it. Being a member of various forums I often see finished layouts. The builder is able to make this claim because the layout measures around 2 foot by two foot in size. You wouldn't need to have a shed to put it into. Even set up in a garden tool shed it would get lonely and have enough room to invite three mates over all at the same time. I keep working away on various projects and there are multiple jobs to be completed.
There is no point making a pecking order list of jobs, I would invariably ignore it  just do the next thing I saw when I entered the shed.
As I expect this to be my last layout, I want it to look good and operate well. I hope all the years of practice can be consolidated into this layout. Some modellers are very good at whatever they lay their hands on, but for me it takes a little longer. Have a look at some of the following photographs at my woodwork to see I am not a master carpenter. The layout is strong and guaranteed to hold me up if I ever had to walk on it but why?
Climax 8 with a coal train and an NA on a mixed cross at Pambula
One of the quickest ways of making a layout 'look nice' is to cover up the sides of the layout mainly to be able to hide the junk underneath. This can be achieved by using drop curtains or solid sides. I intend to use both but have been recently cut up some 3mm mdf to make a start on making the layout look pretty. I ordered 5 sheets of 2400mm x 1200mm sheets of mdf and these were brought down to the shed. A shunting manoeuvre was needed to get them around a corner of the layout to their resting place for the time being. Then the next fun bit came when I had to try cutting them up vertically to save another trip outside. After getting some of the sides and baseboard edge bits done I moved them out onto the lawn to give them an undercoat. I didn't use a proper primer paint as I always seem to have leftover 4 litre tins of paint and it was good to be able to nearly finish off a leftover tin. It was a hot humid day and no sooner had I got one sheet done, it was dry and the second one completed. I don't know what drives insects to think they can land on wet paint and then take off again. Sadly it doesn't always work and quite a few insects on the day gave their life up for South Coast Rail. A very light sprinkle of rain on the day saw me rush to put a few up on their sides.
Top and bottom panels in place. Bottom panel to be fixed.
The leftover colour  that the panels were painted in was a pleasing colour called 'Abstract'. Nice as it was it was not a deep enough colour to avoid the inevitable scratches  it will receive over the years to come. It will be painted a more suitable darker grey which is shown in the left hand photo.
I have also fitted another piece that goes directly onto the baseboard edge. I decided to do this section so that I can complete the baseboard of Pambula between the edge of the baseboard and the back scene board.
I must admit it lifts the look of the layout immediately even without its final coat.
Underneath the side panel I have fitted extra boards to support the sheets of mdf. A few spots of contact adhesive will see them fixed into place.
My next project before the sheets are fixed on will be to get some carpet tiles for the floor. Once they are laid under the bottom of the sheets then they will be fixed into place. 
I was asked once why I didn't make the panels removable and couldn't come up with a reason other than once they are there they are there for good. The next time they will need to be removed is when the layout will be demolished. 
The 'corner' at Pambula

The above photo shows off my attempt of carpentry but it has resulted in a solid support despite the final finish. But the good news it will all disappear shortly under scenery.
Pambula - looking better
 One of the downsides of finishing sections of layout is the vanishing work bench space. The above photo shows how quickly unfinished sections of the baseboard become parking areas for junk. So they gradually disappear to other areas when a section becomes finished.
Pambulas corner heading towards Bega

The far end of Pambula
The above photo shows the Bega end of Pambula, the dead end siding is also visible. It also shows the area where the new baseboard work was joined into the original part of the SCR. As rough as it looks now it will all be better when it is finished off complete with scenery.
It looks like the summer 'humidity' switch has been turned on and last week I had my window 'skinny $20' air conditioner switched on. It doesn't do a brilliant job in the whole shed but enough to ensure I will find a project to do down 'that' end of the shed.
Another shot of the crossing of the two trains.
 Another project I have been doing in the shed is to try and get items relative to the Victorian narrow gauge. On the wall of the above shot is a genuine x Puffing Billy timetable that I purchased back on our first visit to Gembrook back in 2016. It was quickly grabbed from the shop at Gembrook station for only two dollars, my prize find. I had to roll it up and even had to carry it on to the plane back to Sydney. I only wish I could obtain more of these genuine Puffing Billy type memorabilia for the shed.
See you next blog.