Monday 26 February 2018

Update on Monty

Just a small update in case some of you wanted to know what happened to the snake. Well the last I saw of it was when it slithered under the fence towards the neighbours house. We couldn't spot it again but after a 'yell out' from the lady at the back house yesterday it was 'found' again.
This time the guy from the National Parks was able to capture it. He commented that it looked a bit underfed. So then he kindly took it back to the bush a few streets away and released it into its new home.
The Kuring-gai National Park is around 150 square kilometres, plenty of bush to play in so why they choose to come around houses is beyond me.
All's well that ends well.

Thursday 22 February 2018

The Full Monty (Python that is!)

It was only a matter of time that we had another visit from one of the National Parks neighbours. I should expect the occasional visit from wild life living so close to the bush. We seem to have the annual pilgrimage of the brush turkeys, possums and recently two days in a row a large goanna decided to walk up the front driveway and then disappear down the back yard.
The other day we were visited by a rather long diamond python. My wife spotted him (her? hard to tell) It was a warm day and he just slithered for a while over the warm concrete and then shot off into the garden. After taking a photo I went to warn my neighbour in case they got a sudden surprise. Being an ex National Park worker he rang a mate to come and take him back to the bush, but when we looked again for him he was gone. Never to be seen again. I suppose it is not a big deal with many of you having also come across snakes.
A visit from Monty
Ballast laid with weeds to come
There is never any shortage of jobs, both large and small to do to complete a layout. Picking out the one to do is the hard part. I decided to add some more ballast on the other side of the level crossing at Eden that leads to the goods yard. It was just a small section but like doing a jigsaw it filled in another spot. The above photo shows a cardboard outline of a factory/building that will serve the dead end siding. A VR narrow gauge buffer stop has been installed to stop any runaway wagons ending up on the road.

After the rains come the weeds and flowers
 For this area I have used the usual dirt from the local streets to provide ballast, I think it works well and the best part - it is free. The siding is typically more covered than the 'main line'.
Harry has stopped off to pick some flowers for his wife
Rolling into Eden
The critical piece of infrastructure for the Yowaka River bridge was obtained yesterday in the form of a piece of U shaped aluminium channel. After doing my calculations on a dodgy plan of the Thomson River bridge, I calculated that I needed a piece of channel 33mm wide and 15mm deep. After searching the web site of DIY Metal Supplies I found I was in luck that they had a stock size of 32mm wide and 16mm high. For a piece over 3 metres long it was only $13.26. Yes an exact figure. I dealt with a really nice guy there Mike and after I told him what I wanted it for and showing him a few phone photos, he understood as he had done some wargaming. So he wants to see some completed bridge photos one day. He cut it down to a piece 2 metres long for me as the bridge measures around 1.98 metres. So I have an offcut for another smaller version!.

The track will sit on top of the channel
I now think I have all the bits and pieces ready to make a start soon. I have ordered some rivet decals off Ebay this week and will trial them on the bridge. They might work easier than drilling countless holes to set the plastic rivets I have on standby. It is a big project but one I want to tackle and by saying I am modelling a bridge that looks horribly like the Thomson River bridge, I have an 'out' if I stuff up somewhere!
In the above photo the stripwood is ready in the tubes, the laser cut beams are ready in the bag and the long strip of foam for the concrete pylons is ready.
I plan to work out from one side adding the bridge top and sides. Once this is done then I will put the pylons up under the bridge and glue them into place. That's the current idea anyway. It's going to take a while to wade through the plans to work out how to do it. More on the bridge as it happens.

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Movin on'

Can't believe it's now the first week in February. Why does time have to move so fast? Even so I am quite happy with my progress. I have just looked at my blog around a year ago and I was just making the baseboard on the wall side of Eden. The boards are now in place right up to Broadwater, the first crossing loop station. Included in the past year was the building of a corner baseboard that contained the trestle bridge and the scenery has been advanced fairly well.
If I started with a clean slate, that is the shed was initially empty, then I might have been further advanced. But when the old layout had to be demolished first and the shed painted etc, progress became a bit slower.
I have done some scenic work around Broadwater mainly ballasting the track and yard. I will return to this location in the future as there are items required to be built here. I need a platform for the goods shed, a station building, a livestock loading facility, a water tank and a private siding building. And not to mention trees that need assembling.
The plan is to get all the track laid, then do the basic at each location which is mainly ballasting and ground cover and then return to do the structures. I reckon that I will need at least three corrugated shelter sheds around the layout so I will construct them all at once. This also applies to the water tanks and I need at least two engine sheds. Once the track is laid then some operation can take place.
Dirt is progressed along the goods yard

Recycled scenery placed at baseboards edge.
The 'free' dirt was gathered from various locations in the suburbs, a little from each location so that the local council didn't become suspicious. The red truck was put to use by being pushed back and forth along the road to create wheel tracks in the dirt. When this was sealed the grooves made this area look more realistic.
The application of 'ballast' makes the scene more realistic
Broadwater is contained on two baseboards which can be readily detached when ready for moving. This will be as far as I go with this board until I return for more detailing, at least it looks like a station.
Trestle bridge in the background and a mixed train pulls into Broadwater.

By far the most outstanding engineering feature on any of the four Victorian narrow gauge systems without doubt has to be the Thomson River bridge. Built early last century with a mixture of second hand materials it is very impressive and calls out to be modelled. Luckily it is still in place and trains again run over it courtesy of the Walhalla Goldfields railway. I was lucky to travel over this bridge in August 2016 as part of a tour to Victoria.
I plan to make a representation of this bridge for the layout and adjoining the Broadwater baseboard will be one to contain this bridge. After a ninety degree turn coming out of Broadwater, the track then proceeds onto my version of the bridge.
Bridge baseboard looking towards Broadwater

Bridge baseboard looking opposite direction
The baseboard timbers above may look ratty but they were free from old window frames that were replaced recently. Once the scenery and fascia is in place no one will know. There was a bit of guesstimation in setting the drop down section, hopefully I can fit it in with the four concrete pylons. I am still trying to get my head around how I will build these four pylons, they are tapered upwards, have a rounded front and a flat side down stream, and capped off with a larger piece at the top. Oh well a problem to be resolved another day.
Although I am referring to the bridge as the Thomson River bridge, I have relocated it to the NSW south coast town of Broadwater. Heading northwards there is a river called the Yowaka River which joins the Pambula river to empty into Pambula Lake.
Where my version of the bridge will be
Thankfully there are still plans around that show the various subsections of the bridge. Some plans drawn to the larger scale are quite readable but unfortunately many of the dimensions are unreadable due to the resolution they were scanned at. So my bridge will be as close as I can make it. I had started out trying to draw the bridge up to enable me to take direct measurements from them. It comes hard to try and unscramble the multitude of crossmembers holding it all together. So my model will be as accurate as my skills will allow but not fully detailed as time will allow. As the model will only be viewed from the one side, I can't see any point in trying to add rivets to the hidden side. As it is I will have to live until I am 147 years old to get everything completed.
On a lucky day I was visited by a young friend Nathan who saw my drawing of the trusses in the middle of the bridge. I kept looking at photos trying to work out the best way to tackle the build when he suggested that this would be a good candidate for laser cutting. Not only did he make the trusses but the beams either side of them. Two trusses will have spacers in between and also have some rivets attached probably using Archer rivet details. This is all a new adventure as I have never made a bridge before.
Laser cut beams in rough position
As I am reckoning on this build of the bridge to take a while I have temporarily slewed the track towards the wall to enable the bridge to be constructed in the correct position. When I am ready to start the build I will outline its construction on this blog. There is a lot of scenery to be made in the future. Again this baseboard will be removable so hopefully it will live on into the future.
The piece of timber shows the path of the bridge, once built the track will be moved onto it
 So all things going well I hope to have this bridge completed this year. Before I start operation I had better provide some 'fall' protection for the bridge.
More on the bridge as progress is made, see you on the next blog.