Monday 25 January 2016

Mug Shot

Well how about that, the mugs have arrived. The above photo shows the mugs in the position where the photo was taken a few years ago and is also the header photo for this blog. The photo reproduction has come out quite clear, but that all depends on how well your sample photo is taken.
I have only one complaint that the yellow in the word "rail" on the mug is a little patchy, don't know why. Couldn't be bothered sending them back, will just live with it.
I got excited about their arrival when an email was sent on the 12th January saying they had been sent. They were coming from Melbourne (I hope) but they only arrived here today the 25th January.
I reckon I could have walked to Melbourne and back in that time and picked them up. Not sure if Australia Post has slow mail but this I reckon is definitely snail mail at its best.
So do yourself a favour and get yourself a mug to remember your railway by. A great novel idea.
Have been busy cleaning up the shed the last week and have quite a few more bags of rubbish to go out in the red bin.
I actually got to get a coat of paint on the ceiling as well. Not the best thing to do ceilings but it looks a lot nicer now.
Photo of recent painted ceiling
After much hole filling on the southern wall I finally got to put the first coat of paint on. The blue was slightly darker than the previous coat but looks a lot fresher. I don't normally hate painting and putting on the first coat is always good. You get to see it refresh right before your eyes, but I hate doing the second coat. Almost seems a waste of time. I reckon they should sell paint thicker and call it a one coat paint. It seems a great waste of time doing the second one.
Photo of recently painted wall

Again I thought I wouldn't have to mention the possum again. No he's not back but I had to remove a layer of his calling card (piss) from the very top of the roller door. You could not see it from the room but maybe that's where the smell was coming from on the hot days. I asked the wife if she could supply me with some old towels, very old towels I requested knowing full well their next assignment. So armed with the towels and a bucket of hot water I went down to attack the job. I took three towels to lay out across the door and after twenty minutes, took the external hand brush to the job. Boy did he lay it on thick. The brush was hardly making a dent in the job. So remembering the ballast removal exercise, I then entrusted the job to the wire brush and drill. Making sure the drill and brush was at a 90 degree angle to my face, I started on the job. It worked well, even going down to the bare metal.
So along with the wall the roller door was painted and looks so much better, fresher and smelling better.

So the progress is slow but starting to look way much better. I can't believe some of the hidden thing I have been finding under the layout. Not sure what I was going to do with all those PMG lever keys, they are now in the bag waiting to go out. I was also able to try out our new vacuum cleaner, a bagless one this time. I was sick of keep having to buy all those bags for the old machine. They were treated as eternal and were never disposed of when full. Usual comment "I wondered why the machine wouldn't pick anything up!" The first to go were the daddylong leg spiders. They had no toilet manners, they just let it rip where ever they were. Usually over the top of the layout. I gave them a fighting chance by turning the suction down a bit but they were no match for the machine. Hopefully I got a few breeders amongst the lot.
The final shot shows the nice clean roller door and wall. It seems a shame to start putting the pictures and diagrams back up, but there is still a lot more cleaning and painting to go before I make a start on the new baseboards.

Sunday 17 January 2016

Getting stuck into it

I am feeling sorry for Pat O'Scale in the above photo knowing what's ahead of him. A lot of work. The pile in front of him is the ballast being reclaimed from Bega Yard. I was looking for a bulldozer to help him but couldn't find one.
Well there's no turning back now, it has all gone too far for that. And boy what a mammoth job it has been so far, certainly no five minute knockover. The plan was to demolish the layout across the front of the roller door to allow access into the shed. The only way was just to get stuck into it and slowly but surely the layout was dismantled.

Where the western end of the layout once was
In the above photo can be seen part of the usual clutter that habitates under layouts - out of sight, out of mind. The square box has been there that long it once delivered a 19" CRT monitor now long gone the way of the dinosaur. (So has the monitor). On the right hand side are the remnants of Narooma and Batemans Bay on the lower level. The top level was the skinny board that took the branch up to Kameruka.
Current location of western end of layout
The above shot shows where most of the demolished layout ended up, turfed out you might say. All of the baseboards that were pyneboard have been sent to the far reaches of the garden to wait for the heavens to rain on them and so return to the soil where they started life. Sort of an ashes to ashes type story. All of the other boards that might have a third life will be trimmed, denailed and set aside waiting their next calling. Those that don't measure up will wait until June where they will go onto the council roadside clean up pile and end up as landfill. They have a similar journey as the pyneboard but are basically on the slow train to re-incarnation.
The current end of demolition ends at the former entrance to Narooma and Batemans Bay, hopefully  drivers will be vigilant to see the sudden drop and stop. Part of the scenery has been de-nuded of scenic material, going into the take away containers for later use.
One job that seemed to take ages was the stripping of track from the boards at Bega taking nearly four solid days. The first job was to go down each track and remove the brads from the centre of the track. The heads were so small a few were often missed but found when the track was started to be lifted. Once the brads were removed the next job was to tip a bottle of water all down the track to loosen the ballast glue. Trust me using PVA glue is the best way to secure track down, after about twenty minutes of soaking a chisel is dug under one end and slowly works it way 'down the line'. Being an optimist I hope that quite a lot of track can be salvaged to help pay for the new track required. Once all the track is removed and piled up all that is left is the ballast. I then used a chisel to pile up the ballast also for reuse. (See lead photo) Most of the track on the layout was laid straight onto the baseboards and I rarely used cork. The pundits say "O, I used cork underlay because it is quiter" and then go and run some noisy sound locos over it. Who's hearing the trains now? It wasn't until day three when my hand was sorer than day one, when I came up with a brainwave.  I put a wire brush into the electric drill, and got through it much quicker.
The photo above shows where Narooma and Batemans Bay once stood, never to run again. In the foreground is a box that contains a food processor that somehow found its way down to the shed. It begun life in the kitchen but only for  a short time. I declared it a failure in food processing just after I had read in a magazine that you can convert foam rubber into foam for scenery in one of these machines. All that was necessary was to add water, set it to high speed and hopefully instant scenery. Well all was good, it produced good foam but then I thought why not add some green paint and cut out a later step in the process? So that worked OK as well but it was just after this first attempt that its return to its intended position in the kitchen was never going to happen. The wife would freak out with a green stained bowl. Suppose I could have said I was making Kiwi fruit juice? So currently its just in the way, I'm not sure of its future.
The intention is to remove the baseboards from the walls around the front part of the where the new layout will be erected. This weekend I have been going around patching all the holes that come from removing the baseboards. Some holes end up bigger than others depending on the nail size that held the board to the wall. Today I purchased a tin of ceiling paint and hope to get it on this week. Its like playing draughts at the moment, all the items that came from the baseboards at Narooma and Batemans Bay are sitting on the "Bega" board down the middle. So when the walls are painted I will put up a temporary table to receive back the "Bega" board items. So when the roof has been painted, the walls will be done.
I thought all trace of my friend the 'possum' was a distant memory but when I opened the roller door I found his calling card on the very top of the door previously out of site and out of mind. I would love to get the pressure washer onto the job but the roof and everywhere else would get flooded. So it looks like a tedious job of getting the rubber gloves, scrubbing brush, disenfectant, bucket of hot water and getting into it. Ah that might be Wednesdays job. Then the inside of the roller door can be freshened up with a nice coat of sky blue paint, its first one since the year 2000.
Now sitting perpendicular to where it once ran, the track from Bega and a few other places is piled up awaiting the pressure washer to hopefully blast the ballast off. Most of the track will be able to be resold on. On the right hand side is the box of screws that have also been reclaimed from the dismantling.
This is the box of points that have been collected do far, with probably another thirty to be removed. Now if anyone is interested in some track and points all code 75 you can contact me at southcoastrail - at - and I will let you know. Most of the points are in good order certainly cheaper than new ones and a good pedigree. There was also some track that didn't play ball with the track removal gang and only gave up its rail. So if anyone is scratchbuilding track in code 75, I have plenty.
So plenty of action down the old shed this week. I have also been notified that my "South Coast Rail" mugs have been despatched as described in the previous posting. Seems like a fairly quick service. I'll post some photos when they turn up.

Monday 11 January 2016

You'd be a mug if you don't!!

One of the great joys of the internet is the ability to be able to enjoy the hobby of model railroading at the click of a few keys. Wind back 30 years ago this wasn't possible and we were probably still enjoying our Lima 44 class locos.
The creation of the 'blogspot' sites has allowed anyone to be able to create a reasonable web site presence easily. Easy being the magic word is why I started to create my own blogspot mainly as I think I said on my first posting to form an electronic diary of your progression of the layout.
Hopefully this site will never disappear so it will always be there to remember.
As followers of this site will know by now I have decided to pull the plug on South Coast Rail and venture into the world of Victorian narrow gauge.
Something many people do when they go overseas is to bring back souvenirs such as tea shirts, spoons, postcards etc. These are all mementos that are suppose to jog the brain six years after you have been to Bali, then you start remembering all the good times.
Well I have got hundreds of photos of South Coast Rail for me to look back on but I wanted something that would be more meaningful. 
I generally find the time to drop in on all the other rail 'blogspots' to see what the others are up to. One of those site is Phill Overton's site Philden Model Railway. One look at his site and you can tell he is a man of many talents.On the right hand site of the blog I noticed he had an image of a mug with Central emblazoned on it.
In an exchange of emails between Phill and myself the suggestion was made that he could arrange a mug to be made with a photo of South Coast Rail on the mug. What a top idea!. So I sent off a photo of my ex garratt 6039 chuffing along the valley. Another email came and it was all ready, so quick.
Wrap around for the mug
This can all be arranged through the "Shop" tab on his web site. Once you are there you will see some mugs. Click on one and it will take you to the page to order a "South Coast Rail" mug. (If you are desperate). I have already ordered three mugs.
Now what could be better that when you have your mates over for an operating session to be able to drink out of a mug with an identifiable rail theme rather than a dog or some other strange pattern on them.
I already have a selection of mugs that I unintentionally started to collect that reside inside in the wall unit. But once I get the new layout all going I will set up an area to show them off.
This idea of mugs also brings about another similar themed idea. I'm not sure if it is still a big thing in the USA now, but modellers used to have "passes" made of their layout and they would swap them with other friends. Now wouldn't it be a great idea if other modellers get mugs of their layouts and we started swapping mugs with each other! I would be quite happy to swap a South Coast Rail mug for a Bylong mug, a Main North mug or a Philip's Creek mug or anyone else that wanted one. So you swap mug for mug.
For those that like something stronger than tea and coffee and comes in a see through glass, you might have to ask Phill about that one.
I'll put up a shot of the mug in front of the scene where it was taken when it shows up.

Friday 1 January 2016

Here we go!

Firstly happy new year to everybody. I hope everyone survived the celebrations last night. We had a quite night, just watching tele and viewing a Moody Blues dvd which finished beautifully right on 11.59pm last night.
So today being 2016, I thought I had better get into the demolishing mood, get down the shed and start jack hammering away the old layout.
Before I get into that I would like to thank all those who have left comments of encouragement, despair, sadness etc at the demise of SCR on the last blog entry. I hope no one got too upset re the news. There has been a great clearing out of items but still a lot to go. You don't realise how much garbage we (I) seem to collect over the years.
I have modified the header to include the words "In Transition". This will stay for a while until I get sufficiently advanced along to change it to a pure "Narrow Gauge" header that will reflect what I am actually modelling.
This will be the temporary header taken down the gully on the current layout until I can get some new work done. The NA still hasn't had any mods done to it yet. There was a recent article in the excellent magazine "Narrow Gauge Down Under" showing how to improve this model.

Well one thing that might surprise a few is that I have gone over to DCC. I have chosen the NCE  system as the majority of people I know are using it, so if I get in the poo with it help will hopefully be close at hand. Apparently NCE stands for North Coast Engineering, pity I thought SCE (South Coast Engineering) would have been more appropriate. I bought the Power cab starter kit prior to Christmas and it just sat in the shed for a few weeks. I watched many Youtube videos on the topic of setting up my particular unit. Most of them seemed to be done by teenage kids with unsteady hands holding the camera. I thought if the kiddies can do it then it shouldn't be too hard to do. So last week I unpacked all items and connected it up onto a long shelf portion of the layout that used to be the branch line. As previously advised being born and bred a DC man I realised the garratt had been sold and this I was told because it was sound it also had a DCC decoder in it. But luckily I had a Eureka CPH sound unit that I could test the system with. It had been a week or so since I watched the Youtube videos on how to set it all up, so as all men do, I went to the manual on the first page to see if it was written in "Dummies" language which I speak. I was off on a good start when the little red light came on the bizzo where you stick the wires into. So far so good. Then looking at the screen on the controller, it started speaking a foreign language, most of it in abbreviations. It wasn't sure what button to hit as there were so many of them. The most important key, one that I use on the computer  was the "Enter" key. It was asking for a short or long address and looking at the CPH it was number 26. So as a long shot I called it "0026" Believe it or not I finally managed to get some sound out of the unit. This was an exciting time for me, almost like being at the birth of your first born. I am completely hopeless at electronics and this includes mobile phones. I have what is called a "Not so smart phone". I was trying to locate my wife in the local shopping centre once, and by the time I worked the buttons out she was standing right in front of me.

Anyway back to the CPH. So I spent the next half hour totally fascinated by the DCC controller and shunted back and forth over the few metres of track. Sad that I was the only one there on that joyous moment. Reversing each time without the unit having to restart as it does in DC mode was one of the benefits of DCC. Now I have another problem, the sound on the CPH is too quite. The deeper I got into the manual the more scared I got, there were no headings that I could see that said "Volume control" or similar. So that will have to be a question another day for someone else to answer. I have bought a sound unit for one of the NA's yet to be fitted.
As I said in the opening I headed down the shed to start the demolition work. This is slow work as I am trying to reclaim most of the scenery material to reuse on the new layout. Luckily each week my wife brings home Chinese take away and the empty containers are put to good use stockpiling the various types of scenery material. (Must remember to label them all) So far I have managed to put out six plastic bags of scenery. It is not salvageable, so it goes out with the chicken wire as well.

This shot shows the opposite corner from that in the last post. The highest level track was the branch line and the next three were the various sections of the main line. There is quite a variance in the levels here but because of the length of the shed the grades were not steep. What is noticeable is the variation in the timbers I was using for the layout. I figured why spend a lot on new timber when it was all going to be covered up anyway? Contrary to what they say about pyneboard, if it is painted prior to laying track and it doesn't get very wet it should survive. Most of this section of layout is 15 years old.

This lower section of track was laid using code 100 track as it was hidden (See above shot) Again laid on any old timber to hand. The track actually went to a section I called the Power Station. This was where the loaded coal trains would eventually end up after loading way up on the end of the branch, running down to the main, changing locos, then proceeding to Batemans Bay where the train would be divided into smaller units of four or five hoppers. They would then proceed down this branch to be shunted into the "power station" for unloading. A few siding there would allow storing of empties, then they would return up to Batemans Bay for remarshalling into a long train to return to the Candelo Coal mine for re-loading. Well sadly this branch was never operated. It was initially tested but I never got back to finishing it.
Further demolition work was undertaken after lunch. Luckily for me when the manhole was put in 15 years ago I haven't increased in width too much allowing me access still to get closer to the corner. Thinking back the manhole cover used to support a pub, but now the patrons have to seek their drinks elsewhere. Not sure if the new O scale layout will support a hotel or not but I don't think any of the HO men would be able to handle the O scale schooners!
Initially I was trying to re salvage the HO code 75 track but it is hard to get it up without tearing the sleepers from the rails. I need to clear out all the baseboards up this end of the shed so that it can be repainted and the new baseboards built.
The current SCR layout was built into basically a single car garage that I extended back in 1999. It had a previous layout in it that was also demolished to make way for the current layout. In the above photo you can see part of the old baseboard that I couldn't remove. I left the old baseboard frame in position and just used it to support the new risers to carry the new layout. It is like an archival dig, where the old layout resurfaces. The rough looking cut on the right supported the track down to the power station. Unfortunately at the time of construction I didn't own a variable speed electric drill, but had an electric screwdriver. So all the frame was constructed with slotted screws. I hope these can be removed easily.
So on the first day of 2016 that's where we are up to on SCR. Hope you all stay along for the journey.