Tuesday, 10 November 2020

One step forward two steps back

 This shot was previously posted on the Campbelltown to Camden Railway Facebook page.
The photo was inspired by a picture taken by Peter Neve in Pansy the Camden Tram page 59.


      I did post this shot on the Campbelltown to Camden Railway Facebook page. The photo
was inspired by a picture from NSW Railway Archives in Byways of Steam 21page 63.


Its been quite some time since the last update. Over that period my wife and I have spent some time gardening and working on landscape projects getting the property in better shape since the drought and fires. We have had an incredibly wet spring including local flooding however everything is green and growing.

We took some time out going to Lightning Ridge and visiting a number of painted silos including Barbara, Merriwa and Dunedoo. It was an also an opportunity to see what is left of former NSWGR infrastructure and I was pleasantly surprised to what still remains at many locations. The silo art trails in NSW and Victoria are worth seeing, to date Weethallee has to be one of the best IMHO.

Merriwa Silo

   We high tailed out of Lightning Ridge due to impending storms and stopped at Burren Junction. A
 SSR ballast train pulled in while we were there. Severe storms and hail later followed.

The Boorowa truss bridge is in poor shape.

I have been unhappy with many aspects of the layout backdrop and decided to rip it off and start again. There were several areas of concern, inconsistent textures, raised joining strips, hairs and blemishes on the surface, way too vibrant, inconsistent sky tones.

The new backdrop is slightly lower than the previous and will be a continuous from the Camden terminus around to the end of Narellan yard. I have built frames around the walls to mount the sheets of ply which are butt joined and filled. It can still be dismantled however there will be minor damage along the some of the joins which would need repatching and painting if the layout were to be moved. This has worked out well, I can now pull a module away from the backdrop to work on it (after disconnecting from up and downstream modules). This was very difficult previously as each backdrop bolted to the appropriate module and there was an assembly sequence.

 I am painting the backdrop in lengths up to about 3 metres at a time and have mixed several jars of colour to paint a reasonably subtle mountain range in the background. I won't be putting too much detail in for now ( need to improve my painting skills considerably) however there will be a lot of undergrowth and trees along the Nepean River, Nepean house behind the Camden buffers and some close by undulating hills from Elderslie to Narellan.

There will be break in the backdrop at the end of Narellan yard where the track does a 180 degree loop back then runs parallel to the Narellan yard. This will allow the access to the Narellan to Kenny Hill and fiddle yard modules.

A couple of shots showing the backdrop frame construction progress

Construction has gone quite well and reasonably quickly but as they say the devil is in the detail. I will still make 2 dimensional models from paper and card to represent houses and buildings in the vicinity of the line. Again colours will be more subdued and as the colour palette is quite limited in my CAD package will do the buildings slightly differently to last time. 

Many years ago there was an excellent exhibition layout in the Newcastle area called SMR that had many unique and innovative features in its day, one was 2D trees essentially a painted trunk and branches on clear acetate with woodland foam glued around the tree structure. It was very effective and I will try a variation of this. 

There is a right angle bend here, a piece of quad has been set flush
 in the corner which reduces that very abrupt transition between the two sheets

1mm thick galvanised brackets are used to mount the frame
to the plywood walls

I am using the opportunity of the modules being away from the backdrop to slowly finish off the little things from Camden through to the start of Narellan. This has put the project back in terms of time but I think there will be a much better end result. The fixed backdrop also allows the opportunity to add an enclosed pelmet and better lighting. For now I won't be adding pelmets - its more time and expense and I am keen to get back on track and finish things and one day operate a railway.

Cheers for now 

Friday, 21 August 2020

 A change in pace.

I trust fellow modellers are surviving the current pandemic and maybe using some of the restrictions to catch up on some hobby things. Since the last post I have been working on the milk factory, installing concrete aprons around the building, started the awning and boiler house as well as working on the cooling towers. The awning is a very flimsy structure built with evergreen channel and right angle section. I am being challenged to build it square and straight. Once the corrugated iron is in place it will probably be OK.

As mentioned in the previous post there is a great Facebook page dedicated to the Camden branch and there has been the odd glimpse of the boiler house at the milk factory in various posted photos, to allow construction. Some progress shots below.

Have also been experimenting with weathering wagons using a combination of airbrushing, water soluble pencils and dry brushing. Weathering is a very subjective thing and still have a way to go. I use acrylic paint mainly Tamiya and Gunze. For the grime a very light dusting is applied of a mixture of Tamiya flat black XF-1, Buff XF-57 and flat clear XF-86. Dry brushing is done with various shade of grey and white. Some examples below including an weathered and unweathered HG.


I have also been sorting out intermodule wiring. A  standard colour scheme is used and 4 pin DIN plugs and sockets for connectivity.  I can plug any module into module 1 and things should work which makes it easy for testing when modules are pulled apart which is a common thing at present while doing scenery and detailing.

All wiring is documented in a spreadsheet and diagrams done in CAD - can't rely too much on memory anymore. It does help with trouble shooting and if the layout gets sold one day the new owner will have an idea how it all goes together

Work is also progressing on rebuilding the Bachmann shunter into an early 79 class - those very long buffers on the 79 may cause a problem with buffer lock even though I have very long couplers installed. Should have some 79 pics next update.

Cheers for now

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Quick Note
3034 on a late afternoon down passenger at Kirkham
The Kirkham Elderslie module wiring is nearing completion with a couple of wires to be soldered to the point blades. A standard colour coding and wiring scheme is employed throughout the 6 modules that make up the layout. Modules are connected via 4 pin Din plug and sockets. A power bus for point power (12VDC), remote throttle power 13.5VAC, a 0-12 VDC feed from the remote throttle and track power between the modules runs underneath each module. You can plug any module into the first module and it will work which is useful for testing when the modules are not physically lined up. The Kirkham Elderslie module has some additional wiring requirements due to a point being located at the Narellan end. The terminus and Narellan have their own control panels for point control, power isolation for separating double headed trains and throttle inputs. The layout can be electrically broken into 2 separate sections at Kirkham, allowing independent operations from Camden to Kirkham and Narellan to the fiddle yard.

Fencing and detailing continues on the Elderslie module and now on a roll to get it completed. I have built a mini Narellan Hotel - not entirely happy with it and may improve or rebuild it.

After years of resisting having a Facebook account I finally succumbed  - there is an excellent private group on the Campbelltown to Camden Railway which has some amazing pictures and info.

Took a few more photos  today some inspired by original B&Ws seen on the net. More to come soon

3034 and MLV about to attach to a CCA at Camden, I don't envy the guy hooking up the couplings

3034 with down mixed crossing the Nepean River

3034 gets ready to depart Camden with an up mixed

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Fences and Photos.
3013 arriving at Elderslie on an up mixed at last light. 
from last light to fog the power of photo editing !

Work continues on the Kirkham Elderslie module with Uneek Models cattle grids and more crossing signs installed. 600mm of Uneek post and rail fence has been erected from Elderslie station heading towards Kirkham where it joins a more standard wire fence with rail fence posts. The total running length of the layout is 18 metres which means 36 metres of fencing including over 6 metres of post and rail. Fencing was completed from Elderslie to Kirkham.

The new landmark signal, post and rail fencing and lightpost behind Elderslie station.
Another shot of 3013 with and up mixed at Elderslie

Two landmarks have been built and installed, one for the approach into Camden near Elderslie station and the other for the approach to Narellan from the Kirkham side. These were kitbashed from Ratio OO signal kits. The signal posts were shortened and thinned down, NSWGR finials added, ladder cage and Stephen Johnson models etched triangles.

3013 arriving at Kirkham with a down mixed fencing on the right has been added and backdrop started

The backdrop for this module is well underway. The landscape is very compressed and I have been making paper and card mockups of Studley Park House and the Narellan pub to see if they will work.  The pub would be in low relief and about 50-75% in size to perhaps suggest some perspective. I dropped the idea of Studley Park house as its too far away from the line to be significant. There is house to be built on Bringelly Rd adjacent to first point into the yard. Fencing is still to be installed between Kirkham and Narellan as well as a few trees.

What if the line didn't close 4701 stops at Elderslie on an up mixed towards sunset.

On the photographic side experimenting with different light temperatures and positioning of light as mentioned in the last blog to simulate different times of the day such as noon and sunset. Two of my original aims with the layout were to create something that would lend itself to photography and a historically accurate model.   The second point is a little redundant with a couple of todays photos - a "What if" scenario. What if the Camden line didn't close at the end of 1962 or the Glenlee coal loader wasn't built and the line continued to the 1980s. The line might become the domain of 47 and 48 class locos with the odd 600/700 or 620/720 rail car service.  Adds a little variety to the 20 and 30 class operations. The 20 class is undergoing repairs with new front buffer beam and coupler and will be back in service in a couple of weeks.

The next couple of weeks should see the Kirkham Elderslie finished - a first for the layout ! The link back to Camden will then be completed, then track work through Narellan. Work will also restart on the Currans hill module.

Thats it for now stay healthy enjoy your modelling

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Photo play.

Today I purchased a small LED flood lamp that you can adjust the colour temperature for daylight or warm. I am still trying to learn how to create shots around the layout that look a little life like and get a reasonable depth of field. Lighting is the other challenge, up until now I have been shooting with the available room lighting which is LED fluro equivalent and sometimes let in a little morning sun. Occasionally I will set up flashes, soft boxes or umbrellas - but its a lot of mucking around that is becoming more awkward as the layout grows and available space diminishes.

A couple of aspects I played with today were trying to replicate where the sun would be in real life on  the various areas from Camden to Narellan. One of the aims was to create a golden hour type effect and dark storm type lighting.  The layout is currently bits and pieces with large sections of unfinished scenery and detail not to mention no backdrop for most of it. This makes it quite difficult to capture a tight little scene that appears finished so the lesson here is start finishing things off - only trouble is it takes so long.

I tend to use a 35mm equivalent of 24-80mm f2.8 zoom and focus stacking to get the required depth of field and this is still taking time to become competent at. The camera is able to do this internally, a big improvement over trying to do it in Photoshop. There are many parameters that can be tweaked to  set the range of depth of field and after reviewing the camera manual and google searches may be a little closer to getting this right.

The other approach is to photograph your model as you would on the real thing, basically track level or some realistic vantage point that did exist such as a loading bank (none of those helicopter shots - although todays drones allow overhead shots).

Got a little bit more fencing done and a good deal on eBay for a bulk purchase of 10 x 0.6mm drills for continuing more fencing.

Thats it for now some pics below taken around Kirkham. The bloke on the motorbike is a train spotter !

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Chipping away.

3034 stops at Elderslie on a late afternoon down passenger.
Elderslie station has now been added and again some basic scenic work done. There is a small section of post and rail fence on the the Camden Valley Way road side of the building, a small picket fence enclosure at the Camden end of the platform and a power pole with a fluro light to be added.

Been experimenting with fences using old rail craft code 55 rail and some north eastern timber. These are proving painful and fiddly to build - been using little electric drill and burnt the first drill out after drilling about 70 holes in the rail. Threading is prooving a challenge as is manual dexterity the joys of  aging. The rail posts are spaced at 30 ft intervals with 5 timber suspended posts between each pair of rails. Fencing wire is a fine nylon thread that has been painted dark grey. The timber suspended posts were glued on with Selleys acrylic Kwik Grip. I have about 15 metres more of this fencing to install.

Another view of 3034 with down passenger coming into Elderslie  note the new fence and home made tree.
I have started to make my own trees again, using heavy electrical wire which is soldered in key areas then covered with liquid nails before being painted. Woodland scenics Fine - Leaf Foliage is the glued to the branches. This is an excellent product - a tad expensive and I will probably get 4-6 trees from a packet. There are dozens of trees on the layout - the more expensive Woodland trees are very good particularly after repainting the trunks. The more inexpensive ones are a bit like lollypops and require a fair bit of rework to look like Australian trees and shrubs and will probably replace many of these trees with home made ones at some point.

Another view of 3034 with down passenger slowing into Elderslie.

There was a landmark signal somewhere near the Elderslie station. The signal plan shows it on the left if approaching Camden, whereas my interpretation of some of Weston Langford photos suggest it was on the right of the track as per Camden home signal - Anyone know the exact location of this landmark?

 It was quite an elaborate landmark on a white signal post with black base, finial, lamp and ladder, a similar one can be seen on the cover of "Pansy the Camden Tram" near Campbelltown.

Until next time stay well, happy modelling

Sunday, 21 June 2020

3034 rolls into Kirkham with a down mixed
Somethings actually finished.
Kirkham station building is now completed and installed on the layout with some basic scenicing around the platform. Fences will come however the push is to keep laying track and finishing all the modules. The layout room is getting rather crowded as modules are getting built and when backdrops are installed it will be like a cozy rabbit warren.

another view of 3034 with down mixed at Kirkham from the viewing side of the layout

Have been experimenting with photography using longer lenses. A dedicated backdrop of sky is needed to hide background clutter for taking progress shots such as above. Kirkham faces away from the viewing side once this module is in place. When the scenery and fencing is completed more photos will need to be taken from the non viewing side as it will be too awkward once the module and final backdrop are in position. Elderslie on the other hand faces the viewing side.

Spending a couple of hours a day is paying off and progress is constant. Much still needs to be done at the Camden terminus such as finishing several buildings including the milk factory and general detailing.  Next update should cover Elderslie and track work into Narellan.

Cheers for now.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Seeking Help.
Would anyone know what was in the building on the right, my suspicions are some form of cylindrical tank - be nice to get it right as the the bottom appears fairly open. There was a grid made from rails where the tippers unloaded the coal on the rail side of this structure. The coal loader is progressing and this picture gives an idea of the size of the complex. As always a work in progress and hanging out to finish a few more things.

Any assistance appreciated

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Plenty happening.
3034 with a short up mixed heads away from Kirkham towards Narellan. Those cows will be contained in the future when the fencing contractor is free

Have made it to Bunnings and now have enough timber to complete the layout. There have been quite a few purchases over the last couple of weeks a new SDS NEO CCA in Indian red, another HG, several cattle grids and crossing signs from Anton at Uneek.

Work progresses slowly with the Narellan module and coal loader as well as the Kirkham and Elderslie module. The latter module is in the process of having track laid and some scenicing. I airbrushed the sleepers and rails before laying a length to see if this was a better method than painting after the track had been laid. My experience is its better to paint after - the reason being Shinohara track sleepers are for want of a better description a greasy plastic that acrylic paint doesn't adhere to particularly well. This is not a criticism of the product just an observation. After ballasting, removing the odd bit of ballast on the side of the rails and vacuuming, there were quite a few scrape makes along the sleepers and inside rails that had to be repainted by hand so I will continue to paint and weather track after its laid.

 In my blog of 23 May I mentioned some point switch failures. I am using a 4 pin automotive type plug and socket to connect the switches to the main looms under the baseboard. The terminals on the switch are an unusual size and I was not able to get any correct size slip on terminal fittings. All new switch installations will have the plug assemblies on, however I will not be retro fitting existing switches until they fail as the time can be used more productively elsewhere.

the point motor switch and revised loom and plug

All the electrics have been documented in a spreadsheet as well as on CAD and I will post a bit of story on documenting the electrics in the future. This is a traditional analogue DC layout and while I can see the merits in DCC particularly for splitting double headed locos at Camden and Narellan its way beyond my budget.

There have been a couple of new photos discovered and currently seeking permission to reproduce them - one is of the coal loader in colour loading BCHs - as a result it appears my coal loader was too  high and through a variety of means have reduced its height by about 19mm. A review of one of Weston Langfords photos shows where the road coal trucks unloaded the coal behind the raised timber ramp. The small building on the Camden side of the coal loader appears to be a weigh bridge. I now have to try and determine what was in the raised building at the base of the conveyor. Some pictures indicate possibly a large tank with conical bottom, perhaps for washing the coal prior to storage any info would be greatly appreciated.

3013 with a down mixed approaches Kirkham station

Enjoy the easing of restrictions and stay safe

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.