Sunday, November 18, 2012

Memories of long ago.
Mothers in particular have a habit of collecting memorabillia that pertains to their children. Books, toys and other sentimental items are often stashed away for their own memories or for future passing on to their children.
My mother has been slowly dribbling items over to me when she sees me. Items such as photos, favourite toys (Didn't know you still had that Mum).
There are often times when you wish you still had childhood items just to take a jog down memory lane. Certains items can then be put in front of your own children for them to laugh at or feel sorry for you.
Todays offerings are a far cry from the toys a lot of us grew up with. Where did you shove the battery Dad?
A recent hand me down from my mother was an old Walther and Stevenson toy catalogue that she had obviously kept for over 40 years.  Walther and Stevensons were a toy shop in Sydney which closed in the early 70's. There were other 'toy shops' such as Searles, Levensons and Hobbyco which is the only survivor today.
When I searched the internet this interesting site had also recollections of Walther and Stevensons and the other shops mentioned above.
 When visiting these stores it was always to the train section first. As the years rolled by it went from the Hornby Clockwork trains to the Hornby 3 rail electric and then to Tri-ang trains which was my first electric train.
While writing this my memory goes back to a local chemist shop that for some reason had a Hornby 3 rail small layout in the shop. As it was just up the road I spent a lot of time there. Originally looking at it from the front, the chemist must of felt sorry for me and let me round the back of the layout as an operator.
I think the Hornby Dublo trains were more expensive than the equivalent Tri-ang and a kid that used to live in a big house behind ours became a best friend when I found out he had a Hornby Dublo train set.
Another school mate had a Marklin train set that were even more expensive than the Hornby Dublo. He was never as keen as I was and I had fun making reverse loops with both types of three rail set ups. I didn't at that time understand the problems that lay ahead when I tried to make a similar track configuration with two rail track that didn't work.
Way back then we still used to get junk mail delivered but the only difference with the old was that train sets figured prominately in them. This I am sure helped the hobby exist longer then. It should be interesting as we creep up to the 50th anniversary of the AMRM magazine to reflect back on how the hobby has changed in that seemingly short time frame.
I would like to share a few pages I have scanned from the catalogue so you can see what us old farts used to have. It seems so ironic that we can now whinge and scream that our models of today have a few errors or parts not modelled etc. etc.
Anyhow here they are:





alther & Stevenson were established in Hunter Street, Sydney, in 1900, making saddles and harnesses. The firm moved to 395 George Street in 1904 and remained there until they closed about 65 years later. Their usual arrangement with rural customers was by mail order and numerous requests were made for toys suitable for children's Christmas presents. This encouraged the company to open a small toy department in 1930. At this time they mainly stocked German-made toys. In 1935, a Mr A. Anderson became a director of the firm and the stock of toys increased. By the late 1930s the basement area was full of model trains, farm animals, toy soldiers and working steam engine models. After the director's son Kenneth Anderson took over the firm, the saddlery line was removed altogether and toys occupied both floors of the store. During the Second World War, when access to British and European toys was curtailed, Australian toy manufacturing flourished and many locally made items were sold in Walther & Stevenson's store including Australian-style timber farm buildings and accessories. From the 1960s versatile moulded plastics began to be used in toys instead of metal and timber. Japanese tin toys, as well as a large number of imported British and American toys forced local manufacturers out of business. Walther & Stevenson failed to move quickly enough with the times and had to close in about 1970.

Read more: http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=379852#ixzz2CY0GXMhS
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial
Walther & Stevenson were established in Hunter Street, Sydney, in 1900, making saddles and harnesses. The firm moved to 395 George Street in 1904 and remained there until they closed about 65 years later. Their usual arrangement with rural customers was by mail order and numerous requests were made for toys suitable for children's Christmas presents. This encouraged the company to open a small toy department in 1930. At this time they mainly stocked German-made toys. In 1935, a Mr A. Anderson became a director of the firm and the stock of toys increased. By the late 1930s the basement area was full of model trains, farm animals, toy soldiers and working steam engine models. After the director's son Kenneth Anderson took over the firm, the saddlery line was removed altogether and toys occupied both floors of the store. During the Second World War, when access to British and European toys was curtailed, Australian toy manufacturing flourished and many locally made items were sold in Walther & Stevenson's store including Australian-style timber farm buildings and accessories. From the 1960s versatile moulded plastics began to be used in toys instead of metal and timber. Japanese tin toys, as well as a large number of imported British and American toys forced local manufacturers out of business. Walther & Stevenson failed to move quickly enough with the times and had to close in about 1970.

Read more: http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=379852#ixzz2CXzdHEYO
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial

Any one having a memory lane trip??
Walther & Stevenson were established in Hunter Street, Sydney, in 1900, making saddles and harnesses. The firm moved to 395 George Street in 1904 and remained there until they closed about 65 years later. Their usual arrangement with rural customers was by mail order and numerous requests were made for toys suitable for children's Christmas presents. This encouraged the company to open a small toy department in 1930. At this time they mainly stocked German-made toys. In 1935, a Mr A. Anderson became a director of the firm and the stock of toys increased. By the late 1930s the basement area was full of model trains, farm animals, toy soldiers and working steam engine models. After the director's son Kenneth Anderson took over the firm, the saddlery line was removed altogether and toys occupied both floors of the store. During the Second World War, when access to British and European toys was curtailed, Australian toy manufacturing flourished and many locally made items were sold in Walther & Stevenson's store including Australian-style timber farm buildings and accessories. From the 1960s versatile moulded plastics began to be used in toys instead of metal and timber. Japanese tin toys, as well as a large number of imported British and American toys forced local manufacturers out of business. Walther & Stevenson failed to move quickly enough with the times and had to close in about 1970.

Read more: http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=379852#ixzz2CY0GXMhS
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial
Walther & Stevenson were established in Hunter Street, Sydney, in 1900, making saddles and harnesses. The firm moved to 395 George Street in 1904 and remained there until they closed about 65 years later. Their usual arrangement with rural customers was by mail order and numerous requests were made for toys suitable for children's Christmas presents. This encouraged the company to open a small toy department in 1930. At this time they mainly stocked German-made toys. In 1935, a Mr A. Anderson became a director of the firm and the stock of toys increased. By the late 1930s the basement area was full of model trains, farm animals, toy soldiers and working steam engine models. After the director's son Kenneth Anderson took over the firm, the saddlery line was removed altogether and toys occupied both floors of the store. During the Second World War, when access to British and European toys was curtailed, Australian toy manufacturing flourished and many locally made items were sold in Walther & Stevenson's store including Australian-style timber farm buildings and accessories. From the 1960s versatile moulded plastics began to be used in toys instead of metal and timber. Japanese tin toys, as well as a large number of imported British and American toys forced local manufacturers out of business. Walther & Stevenson failed to move quickly enough with the times and had to close in about 1970.

Read more: http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=379852#ixzz2CXzdHEYO
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Main North
Last night after much choosing of dates our group was lucky enough to be able to make a visit to Marcus Ammanns' layout. Unfortunately some of the group couldn't make it which indirectly lead to more cake and more room there for the three of us.
For those who don't know Marcus he is regarded as the DCC guru. Having a background in electronics certainly helps the situation. Some improvements in DCC technology have been improved due to his direct inputs. All good news for the hobby.
His layout the Main North is based on selected stations and scenes from Sydney to way up near Gunnedah.  Checking out the link for his web page also reveals a track plan which although three years old looks close to what we saw on the night. One slight change to the plan though. Although the plan shows the location of his wifes car in the garage, a recent update with a newer car has resulted in the car being now too high to fit under the non moveable part of the layout. Its what I call a win win for both parties.

The first photo shows the scene on entry to the room. A lift up flap gets you into the room. On this portion of the layout Werris Creek is on the top level and Broadmeadow on the lower level. You will notice a variety of chairs ranging from the first class chair (with arms), two second class seats (No arms) down to the hard third class milk crate which was put into use on the night, the host generously volunteering to utilise it. The workbench can be seen on the right hand side.

The layout resides in a double garage although this is hard to realise when you first step into the room. The 'S' shape aisleway works it way through the garage and on either side is generally double decked layout. The layout is well lit with lighting behind recently painted valances which look very smart painted in black. Location signs nicely produced in the NSW bar with circle style were ready to be placed into position.

In the above photo Sulphide Junction is on the bottom deck on the right hand side. Now having come down a step in the centre of the photo this now puts the station above Sulphide at about my forehead level. The plan of the layout showed a step that was once? provided for operators shunting on the top deck. You would get no complaints from Ray Pilgrim or Ian and Andrew from Bowen Creek but for the rest of us the only way to view it would be to do a Watusi/Zulu dance which would be rather tiring if you were given the pickup to shunt. Maybe Marcus has something in mind for the future.
The layout is laid with code 100 points and track and according to the layout plan runs for around 70 metres. At the moment no ballast has been laid. Marcus has put a lot of thought into the layout design and with a combination of selective compression and imagination it all works.

As can be seen from the photos scenery at this point in time is not very widespread. As they say Rome wasn't built in a day. It all takes time. Throughout the layout there are many buildings positioned already waiting for the grass to grow around them.
The above coal stage was a win off Ebay and sits in position awaiting connection to the layout.
The above relief building represents Cardiff workshops with Tickhole tunnel in the background heading off towards the next station through the backscene.
At the opposite end of the previous photo is the representation of the Sulphide Junction works, the ultimate destination of the W44 ex Broken Hill concentrate train. This train was run on the night with a double header consisting of a 35 and 60 class locos.
As stated at the beginning the layout is run on DCC. My current layout is DC, a spaghetti junction control panel and wired controllers. This I must admit was my first hands on trying out the DCC system. I can see why it is the ideal system and for various reasons such as cost, how do I get the flipping top of some of the locos??, what wire goes where? and what do I do when I can't find the short or the whole system just shuts down I will stay with my current setup for the time being.

NEWSTAN MINE
On the night I was given a double headed coal train from Newstan Colliery and had to take it up to Port Waratah. Marcus has made job cards which are about credit card size that fit onto the top of the hand controller. They give all the clear instructions needed to run your train. First off I had to get a single Garratt from a road in Broadmeadow and take it around to Fassifern then into the colliery branch. There was already another garratt waiting and the task was to put together two rakes of eleven hoppers, grab a brake van from a siding then with the double header reverse the consist out onto the main then set forward up "Fassifern Bank" With an actual grade on the layout as I headed up the grade Marcus said hit the F9 button which increased the tone to represent the loco working harder but not faster. I was suitably impressed.
As the train approached Sulphide Junction I was advised although the train was on the down track it started heading into the up refuge. This was mainly due to a human log jam in the aisle and I was tagging along with the train 22 wagons back near the brakevan. No problems though as the track was close in design to the prototype we switched back to the Down Main and off to Broadmeadow. There after a bit more shunting the train headed around to Port Waratah. Time then for another coffee break.
Just outside of Muswellbrook Marcus has scratch built this great compressed model of the Oak Milk factory which really captures the feel of the real building. Wouldn't it be great if Auscision chose this as the next building after the silos???. You can see the new SDS Oak milk wagons are ready for filling. No doubt these will be added to a job card for pickup to Hexham.





Another view of the layout showing the two levels with the Newstan colliery on the lower right and the Oak factory at Muswellbrook on the left hand side. The coal train I ran awaits the arrival of the light engine from Broadmeadow.
Well after a few hours of chewing the fat, running trains eating and drinking and good company we departed. I'd like to thank Kevin Waid for the photos above. It was a great night, thanks again Marcus.