Monday, 25 May 2020

3034 crosses the Nepean River towards Elderslie with a short mixed train.

3034 with a down mixed noting a modern BD bogie wagon approaches Camden.
A couple of shots of trains on the Nepean River Bridge - experimenting with different processing techniques to create the illusion of age. More to come soon.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

The coal loader at Narellan has had a major breakdown and coal is being shipped from Camden. 4101 is in the original loading bank siding with 2 x steel S trucks, regular S, 2 x K and an HG guards van. A couple of tippers are bringing in coal - a highly unlikely scenario but hey this is modelling.

Steady Progress.

There has been reasonable progress over the last 4 weeks. The Narellan module is now on its frame and legs and Kirkham module built.

Narellan on the left, Kirkham roughly in the middle and Elderslie to the right.

The Kirkham and Elderlsie modules have been formed into a single module, reducing the number of legs and electrical plugs required if they had been individual modules. This module is a combination of curves and straights that swings through approximately 135 degrees on a gradual climb of around 1 in 60. The distance between the two small stations on the model has been dramatically compressed. A couple of features from the prototype will be incorporated including the road crossing beside Kirkham platform and the culvert on the Narellan side of the crossing. The first point into Narellan yard also starts on this module, with cattle grids and road crossing on the Camden side of the yard.

A recent discovery is there was a creek crossing under two of the tracks towards the Camden end of the Narellan Yard, with openings sitting on concrete abutments and pier. These openings were supported on 15" x 6" RSJs and 12" x 12" timbers with some timber decking including a handrail. There also appear to be check rails as can be seen in this  photo from the Weston Langford collection below.

If you look closely you can see the openings under the tracks behind the CCA - photo courtesy Weston Langford
the Narellan module on the left and Kirkham/Elderslie on the right showing the different construction. Note the creek as mentioned above has been cut through the baseboards to allow building of the small openings.

The Narellan module while still L girder construction is different from the previous modules in that there are no risers as the overall yard area is virtually flat. The baseboard sits on 42mm supports positioned to allow installation of point motors, cattle grids and under track magnets.

From a track planning and building perspective I have had to work backwards from the Narellan coal loader towards Kirkham to get the best fit for all the features to be modelled including the openings mentioned before. The curves throughout the layout are 30 inch radius and set with a machined template.

Lessons from previous construction work.
All track wiring and links between track joins will be done before scenicing including point frogs. Some of these areas were done after ballasting on the original Camden module.

There were two catch points on the coal siding - simulated catch points will be installed when the track is laid and before any structures are put in place. There are several catchpoints around the Camden yard and these still have to be retrofitted, potentially a difficult task now.

Many people strongly advised against having grades on the layout, the Camden line has probably some of the steepest grades on the NSWGR and modelling them adds a lot of additional realism IMHO. There is a very steep pinch into Camden yard on my layout which in hindsight should have been flattened out a bit. The topography was based on orthophoto maps and gradient diagrams. I have now set a maximum gradient of 1 in 50 averaging more 1 in 60 where appropriate to the location. The total line length is around 18 metres and with various grades over this distance the fiddle yard will sit very high.

Reliability Issues.
Points are operated by DCC Concepts Omega Motors - these are a brilliant design particularly the inbuilt switches however I have had 5 out of 7 installed motors fail so far and have not been able to avail myself of the lifetime warranty. In the light of Shinohara ceasing production and the point motor issue I am leaning to any further track work particularly the fiddle yard being done with Peco Code 75 and the well tried and proven Peco point motors which I will be using on my N gauge British layout.

2 x  DPDT throw switches have fallen apart internally, rather disappointing as they have had very little use.  Connections were soldered to these switches and in the future solder connections will be replaced with small push on terminals or alternatively the switch will be on a small loom with a plug to facilitate easy replacement.

Uncoupling is done via Kadee undertrack magnets, some are stacked. Most of my rolling stock is current generation rtr and many of these wagons have weights that are attracted to the magnets which causes havoc with shunting. I may end up removing the existing weights and replacing with non magnetic material either aluminium or lead - would be interested in other modellers experience here.

Other Progress.
The coal loader is taking shape with some of the super structure added and work started on the conveyor and the truck unloading shed. A recent discovery from the October 2016 issue of Steam Scene is a colour photo of the coal loader.

Narellan Coal Loader photo courtesy of Bruce Irwin and Valley Heights Rail Museum

The coal loader will continue to be built on a separate 7mm ply base and screwed to the layout when completed. This allows me to build and detail in the warmth and comfort of the house now the weather is cooling down. The location of the coal loader on the layout also makes it awkward to work on.

I have had a quick win with building Elderslie Station, all the small waiting rooms  were really just little sheds from what I can estimate to be about 12' x 7'6" to 8'. These were not the standard A series buildings. All the small station platforms were built from sleepers and are reasonably quick to build.

Elderslie station was a reasonably quick project taking a couple of nights. The platform has been roughly placed in position to determine scenery requirements and sort out trackbed.

The piles for the trestle approach to Macarthur bridge are in the process of being routed so hopefully next blog update there will be continuous track from Narellan through to Camden.

Poplar trees were prolific around the line and I have just purchased another dozen from Andmakeitso. Ron does a great job on his trees and they are very cost effective.

I have enough timber to complete the curve out of Narellan so plenty to go on with for now. The NSW government plan to lift travel restrictions on 1st June so a trip to Bunnings at Bateman's Bay to purchase the remaining timbers to complete all the benchwork will now be possible.

Happy modelling, stay safe, sane and lets hope life might return to some normality in the near future.

another view of 4101 at Camden,noting a different consist to the top photo.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

The view of the goods shed from Clintons Holden dealership, the SM's house can be seen on the left.

Back on Track.
2020 what a start to the year, I trust fellow modellers are in good health and spirits. After a long break from building the layout things are starting to move again and reasonably quickly.    The plan is to build as much of the remaining bench work as possible, get the track down, wiring sorted and trains running. Bunnings has been the source of all my layout timber and our nearest store is 150km away a bit of a problem in the current era of essential travel only. 

The Narellan module under construction and testing its position in relation to the rest of the layout 
before installing the legs. The curve at the end will bring the line back parallel to the Narellan yard.
The shape of this module was to allow maximum track length in the yard, construction of the 
complete coal loader and sufficient aisle space between this and the Camden terminus.

As mentioned in previous blogs a number of changes have had to made on the fly to the layout design so its fits in the available space. Space utilisation is not overly efficient due to wanting to model some key features in full (milk factory, coal loader and the curve into Camden station). A major compromise is the up side of Narellan, on the prototype the track swings south or to the right towards Mt Annan, Kenny Hill etc, on my model the track now loops to the left. The curve is 30 inch radius and runs through about 200 degrees then goes into a gradual S past Kenny Hill and into the fiddle yard. It is also on a 1 in 60 gradient.

The intermediate module between the bridge and the milk factory. While coal was shipped from Camden prior to
construction of the Narellan coal loader, these trains would not have been pulled by 41 class locos.

An intermediate module  has been installed between the bridge and the milk factory with a slight curve that has allowed the terminus module to sit parallel to an end wall and the run from the milk factory over the river to Elderslie parallel to the long wall. The original terminus module is having some minor re-profiling over the transition area mainly the roadway.

Construction of the the Elderslie module is underway with Kirkham to follow once the Narellan module is on its legs and in its final position. This will determine the overall size of the Kirkham module. Its all a bit of juggle to maintain some aisle space around the curve out of Narellan.

Partially constructed Elderslie module
Excuse all the clutter general view of the train room showing the location of the curved module out of Narellan.

The plan now is to keep going with all the bench and track work, then come back completing structures scenery, backdrops and detail. 

Post the fires and drought my wife and I have built vegetable gardens and got the property back in good order so I now have a lot more time to hopefully put into the layout. A low profile model of the Station Masters house has been added to the backdrop.

The Sms house behind the goods shed. The building behind the SMs house was originally the Bank of NSW. It still stands today.
Prior to the lockdown I did a fast blast to Melbourne, photographing a few VR structures along the way and visiting Puffing Billy. 

Stay safe and well this is a great time to be modelling.


Friday, 17 January 2020

What do you take ?
Many parts of Australia have been devastated by the worst bushfires in our country's history.  The mid to north coast of NSW suffering major fires in October and currently horrendous fires on Kangaroo Island, East Gippsland, the far south coast of NSW, Batemans Bay area as well as areas around Southern Highlands and Blue Mountains (I am sure there are many areas I have missed)

View from our living area, New years eve 5.40am first reaction OMG

We live on a small property on the far south coast of NSW and spent around 4 days on Emergency Alert level with fires raging to the north and west of us. Our biggest threat was potential ember attack and grass fire which fortunately did not happen. We have been extremely lucky with changes in wind and the tremendous efforts of all the Emergency Services. Thats not to say we didn't have a few anxious days with 2 1/2 days of total blackness with an eerie red glow, raining ash and choking smoke. 

packed and ready to go 5:00pm 4th January

The car and caravan were hooked up packed and ready to go. Our property is well prepared and we are well equipped to stay and defend unless directed otherwise.

Apart from the obvious (passports, important paper work, family photos, clothes etc) what do you take in these situations ? I have dedicated hard drives and backups of my photo collections which were also packed. During this crisis we had the luxury of time to pack and prepare many people didn't.

As a keen modeller (trains and planes) I also have a pretty extensive book collection many probably irreplaceable. In the end I decided to take my Camden locos and rolling stock, Byways of Steam 21 and Pansy the Camden tram in the event I lost the shed and had to rebuild. I also took my N gauge collection which fits in a shoebox. 

Many of the locos and rolling stock are out of production such as the Trax 20 class and Bergs 30 Tanks. The crisis flagged a couple of issues as a model railway enthusiast:

1)  How are your models stored perhaps on the layout or in draws or a dedicated case.  In a crisis can you pick them up quickly and transport them without damage. All my wagons were in a purpose built box and locos in boxes in a plastic storage draw so it was easy to grab them and put in the car.

2) Does your household insurance cover your collections such as books or your trains - are these items listed on your home contents policy ? Might be time to review

These fires moved with incredible speed and unpredictable behaviour and demonstrated that many towns that had never been threatened before were not safe such as Batlow, Eden, Mallacoota in Victoria not to mention historic villages of Cobargo and Mogo 

The fire situation may go on for months and the RFS have advised it is something we may have to live with for some time. We have learnt a lot from the experience about what we take, how we store documents and items we would take so they can be gathered quickly. A key thing is it could happen to you so be prepared.

To all the fire fighters, supporting teams, Emergency Services, volunteers from overseas and the Australian Defence Force personnel thank you for your fantastic efforts. Stay Safe.