Saturday, 26 May 2012

Everything New Is Old Again....


It is well over 7 years since i received my first shipment of basswood & ply veneer sheets & commenced dabbling in model railway detail items with the laser engraver.

While i am not a timber fancier as such, Basswood is a magic looking timber that is well suited as a modelling medium mostly due to the tight grain & inherent colouring.  Incredibly it is classified in some quarters as a hardwood even though it is a very easy wood to machine & work.  Not unlike balsa but a fair bit stronger & less inclined to "feather" at the edges.

With the aid of the laser & a fertile imagination it wasn't long before more than acceptable items were created & i figured that if it was made from prototype in timber....then it was possible to recreate in model form using scale timber.

Not everything in prototype stays new for ever & i feel that part of the attraction of timber is how it weathers & ages.

This is also so in modelling terms & i spent a deal of time trying products that would have the desired effect of prematurely aging these model creations, while not adversely affecting the timber.

I tried quite a few methods with mixed & at times frustrating results.

I have a long way to go before i feel i will have mastered this art...but a product i came across does go a long way to helping.

I am not sure where i first heard it mentioned but the product is generally used in the saddlery & leather industry as a leather stain....The brand i use is Raven Oil.

It is available in about 20 colours but indeed i have only used " Raven Black" & have had no real need to search out the other colours.

I found it by asking at a local saddlery....& will not forget the look i received when the salesperson asked me what i was going to use it for....

My ,method of applying is to mix the product with methylated spirits around 100 parts metho to 1 part Raven Black...although this ratio can be varied by the user.

Methylated spirits is a good thinning product & dries quickly which is handy when applying to components that have been glued & also minimises warping of the timber.

The mixed product is then brushed on & allowed to dry.  Several coats can be used to build up age / colour... & brush direction can highlight grain etc.....Take it easy until you get a feel for it....It does indeed soak into the timber & while this can have adverse does ensure that the stain is permanent.

A couple of words of warning...Neatness counts as the weathering solution will not penetrate the timber where residue glue is located & do not flood the timber as some glues can be partially dissolved.

When dry...finishing off detail with weathering powders, dry brushing paint washes etc etc will really enhance the model.

Another product that i am trialling at the moment are the Floquil paint pens & am finding more & more uses for them.

While the described bridge is of a single line overpass....I am now working on a double line bridge based on the one located at Cooks Cutting south of Goulburn.

I have no idea at this stage just where these units will be installed on the layout....but as for most things....i will find a spot. 

Anyway i have included some shots to illustrate the text....


The "virgin" bridge before treatment...

The transformation begins...

Still a lot to do....but another step closer

Cooks Cutting....Located South Of Goulburn....Between Yarra & Breadalbane
The next bridge project.... slightly different style from the single line project.

The Floquil Range of Paint Markers

Friday, 25 May 2012

Creating Water.....Or The "Resinator"


Following my postings on the trials & tribulations of the river scene...i have been contacted by a number of people...two of which i have had no contact with for over 10 years, seeking info on products used etc & i figured it might be of some use to convert these calls into a stand alone post.

Even if it helps one person avoid the pitfalls, then it has been worth it.

When the decision to create a river scene on the layout was made, i set about researching as best i could.  It became apparent early on that there are specialised products available from the normal model railway scenery suppliers...

After a few calls it also became apparent that the quantities i required would need to be sourced from overseas directly...or wait for the local suppliers to build up an order worth placing . 

Other factors that would need to be addressed were that  they are relatively expensive when you work out the coverage area, would they survive the trip & indeed would there be a restriction on some of them being airfreighted because of the lack of info on the stuff  re volatility etc.

It all became to much of a drama & a decision was made to complete the job using resin.

My first ill fated attempt at creating "water" has been well documented i will just concentrate on the succesful method.

Before moving on to the actual materials used, it is worth touching on preparation of the shorelines & river bed.

In the case of Fish River, the complete river valley is built on a common or garden plywood base with the river banks built up using styrofoam & plaster bandage sloping up to the natural trackbed level.  The actual river bed started off as raw plywood.

I did think about the sealing of the plywood, but more importantly was the need to lay down a believable colour that would form the river floor & accept the resin.

Another factor was the possibilty of the resin seeping under the scenery at the edge of the river  & delaminating it from the baseboard.

In the end i finished the river bed & shoreline using a brown acrylic paint & then used a watered down PVA soup to seal the river bed to the river bank.

Indeed all scenery was finished before the river was laid as i reasoned that the river needed to fill the valley & not the other way around.

One last word of caution is to ensure that at the front & rear of the layout any small gaps where the front fascia or rear backscene meet the river bed.... they need to be sealed as the resin will find any escape paths.  Here i used a bead of clear silastic.

Now for the fun part.....

Following talks with the very friendly & knowledgable people from Barnes Products Pty Ltd....located in Sydney... i was given a choice between two products that would achieve the desired result.  The first being Epoxy Casting Resin...or an alternative was offered... Clear Liquid Urethane.

From my discussions it would seem that urethane ends up being a bit more "flexible" than epoxy when cured & for casting, cures with more clarity than the very slightly yellow epoxy.....Urethane is also double the price of epoxy casting resin.

While the flexibilty of urethane was attractive, the clarity issue was a no brainer as the material was to be heavily tinted anyway... all this factored with the prohibitive cost of urethane...Cast Epoxy Resin was selected and ordered.

Barnes also have a range of resin pigments available & i certainly endorse selecting one of these..... I selected Burnt Umber...but each to their own.

I ordered three packs each making up 1.5kg of product.  Each pack has two containers being marked part A ( The Resin 1KG ) & Part B ( The Catalyst 0.5KG ) mixing ratio is 2:1 by weight, which is completely different from traditional resins where only 3 or so mil of catalyst are mixed with say 1 litre of resin.

For my needs i mixed two packs of part A ( Total 2kg )... then mixed in the pigment a little at a time until the desired tint was acheived & indeed then added a little more taking into account i still needed to add the 2 packs of part B ( Total 1kg )

***Use the pigment very sparingly as it is easy to add more, but impossible to remove from the is unbelievable how little is required.

In hindsight i guess i could have added the pigment after mixing the entire batch because the product does have a fairly long "Pot Life"

Irrespective of which method is used....take the time to stir the combined components extremely well... before applying to the layout.

As i stated in an earlier posting...this product does not appear to reach high temperatures during the curing process & while it gives off very little vapour while curing...common sense should be maintained.

One last word of advice is...try to minimise dust etc for around 24 hours to ensure a clean cured surface.

And above all...HAVE FUN. 

Resin Pack From Barnes Products

Resin Pigment Pack


Monday, 21 May 2012

General Musings...


Whilst assembling a Lloyds 4 wheel HG guards van over the weekend I couldn't help but muse about the great range that this producer once offered.

With all of the brilliantly detailed ready to run wagons available today, it is easy to forget the impact that this manufacturers range made on the local market...

Of course there were other manufacturers & indeed their input cannot be challenged....but to my mind Lloyds epitomised all that was good with the hobby.

An absolute plethora of available kits of both locomotives & rollingstock...some in hindsight were quite obscure.....but nonetheless a joy to build & run.

The range was mostly in stock & it was an absolute joy to call direct & be greeted with a genuine warmth & friendliness that defined the proprietor.....You always devoted a bit of time to make the call, because a lengthy conversation was the likely outcome.

Nothing was a bother & indeed if you were after a built loco or some piece of rollingstock RTR ( due to an impatience to build it yourself ) you were given an accurate timeframe & timely calls or a letter outlining progress always followed.

As for the kits my opinion & when one uses hindsight,  many of the kits were way ahead of their time in regard to quality, instructions, and ease of construction....

So what happened...

I am aware that the rollingstock range was largely aquired by another manufacturer & i must admit to not being offay with the intricacies of running a model railway related business...but.... why are they still mostly unavailable.

I am also aware that in the intervening years a lot of what was once supplied by Lloyds is now or will shortly be available RTR...but when one looks at the catalogue of fine kits available over the years there was certainly a few years ( at least ) where a window of opportunity existed to capitalise on the investment & indeed there are some kits that could be released today where no RTR equivalent is even planned at this stage.

I did not intend for this posting to be a criticism of the present custodian of this great range...And indeed there may be other factors that have influenced the direction of this range.....but with the inherent quality & popularity ( if one measures the prices gained for anything of Lloyds origin on ebay )....i think i am justified in making the observation...

As usual i look forward to any comments or input...

I will post some shots of this wagon when i am a bit further advanced..





Friday, 18 May 2012

Is DON... Is Good...


In an earlier post i included a shot of an under construction boiler house & gave an assurance that i would also add another post pertaining to the whole complex to put the earlier shot into context....Here's the story...

Before i had the layout room benched & ready to go, I embarked on a plan to create industrial dioramas that could be incorporated into the layout as it took shape.

In hindsight the plan was flawed because i had no firm trackplan in place nor did i have any real idea as to where these dioramas would fit into the big picture.

Putting aside the negatives, it did give me a chance to reintroduce myself to building structures & also gave me the ability to try different detailing & landscaping ideas with a view to proving some & discarding what didn't work.

Well planned dioramas do however give the portability to enable the project to be moved between locations to allow modelling at any time that suits....Especially winter nights here in the tablelands.

Luckily only a couple of these dioramas were commenced before i realised the futility of the excersize, without a final home on the layout was assured.

The industry at the heart of this post is the DON smallgoods factory that was to adorn the corner of the layout located on the down end of Fish River yard. ( opposite end of the layout from the river )

The attached photos show an incomplete diorama & sad as it seems...i cannot see it ever being incorporated into the layout in its present form.

The basic issue is that the board it was built on is way too big & even if modified will impede the radius of curve i desire as the trackwork leaves Fish River to turn the corner.

So the upshot is the industry buildings will be finished & incorporated....but the rest will most probably be trashed.

As touched on earlier this diorama was a good practice tool & has helped immensely with proving ( or disproving ) methods i will adopt in the layout as my skills improve.

Anyway the shots tell the story...

DON Smallgoods

Overall View Of The Siding & Buildings...
I have NO idea why i included a second road???
The Loading Dock Decking is laying across tracks awaiting fitment.

Another View of DON Smallgoods showing the faded signage that needs to be weathered to
take away the "whiteness" of the signage
The roof of the loading dock....needs colour improvement

One idea i had was to produce concrete areas with inherent expansion joints & irregular cracking...
including drains utilising the laser... Apart from the colouring & lack of final weathering i am quite
pleased with the result

A sort of close up of the drains...apart from depth inside the drain...a fair facsimile in model form

Fish River Revisited...Or "Take Two"


Well... 24 hours after a downpour ( of casting resin ) Fish River is flowing again!!!

All looks good & it would seem the technology used on this occasion has worked a treat.

Not a lot of heat generated in the curing process & almost nil smell....

One word of advice, if you are planning to ever use this method, go really easy on the chosen colour pigments.

As they used to say in the Pecks Paste ads...A little Pecks goes a long way!!!

Have posted some shots of the river in flood & yes i know....this location is getting a bit boring....just like the hack spot at top bridge in the Cullerin Range!!!!

Mind you with the little progress so far in the landscaping stakes....This is as good as it gets...Better than bare gyprock walls.


Saturday, 12 May 2012

A River Of Dreams....Well Hopefully !!!


A quieter than expected workload this week, coupled with a new found enthusiasm for the layout, prompted a return to the layout room.

A start on scenery was the agenda & i decided to commence work on the river & riverbank portion of Fish River environs, complete this & then move out in both directions towards the tunnels & the Fish River station & yard area.

During this process i figured that as the scenery took shape a better idea of backboard requirements would begin to materialise.

At this stage i am thinking that the backboards will be constructed from landscape photos stitched together then digitally printed & laminated in long sections & applied to 3mm acrylic sheets...then again if i can cajole, bribe or otherwise interest my wife to bone up on her watercolour skills...a more traditional approach will be used.  Time will tell!!!

The week started off well with the landscape of the river valley being completed by mid week.  I then had the chance to use my new whizz-bang Noch static grass applicator. 

I purchased this unit some time ago from Scenery Express in the States with an absolute truckload of static grass following a frustrating search for a unit locally.

I was aware that cheaper units exist & of course there is the option of building your own...but i figured that with the amount of area i will be landscaping, then this purchase would well & truly pay for itself over the years....but i must confess i didn't expect the reaction...or more correctly non reaction of the local hobby shop fraternity... Ah well...

Even with the little use of the system so far, the results are in my eyes fantastic & i figure when i get proficient enough with the unit it will lift otherwise ordinary scenes &  my rather ordinary skills.

Back to the river...

When all scenery was complete i figured i would have a go at "filling" the river & after some to-ing & fro-ing  decided that synthetic resin with a dash of tinting would do the job.

I mixed 2 litres and went light on the catalyst so as a slower reaction would take place & hoped for success.... After this layer had set i figured i would add a second pour with very little tinting,  hoping this would add depth to the "water".

All went well for the first hour or so following the initial pour & indeed the girls briefly braved the stink in the room to inspect the work in progress... Everyone was impressed!!!

The second hour did not fare as well as the first... My next inspection revealed that Moses must have entered the room & fiddled with the river....

Huge cracks had started to appear & the shrinkage at the shorelines had to be seen to be believed....on top of that the whole surface had begun to warp...

As i stood there speechless my wife entered the room & uttered the words... "Hmmm very abstract !!!"....i was now as shattered as the river.

The next morning after the "tectonic plates" had settled down i set about chipping & scraping the mess off & after that commenced repairing the shorelines & river banks.

Following a two day post mortem & talking to people much more experienced than i.... the answer was that epoxy resin would have been a vastly better choice for the job & following a chat with the guys at  Barnes Supplies in Sydney... We now have a supply of the right stuff  along with the correct pigments

Tomorrow is Mothers Day & D day for a second attempt to be made....we live & we learn....

I have posted some shots of the river area before & after the clean up of the disaster.....enjoy....and i hope to post some more shots after tomorrows attempt.

Landscape taking shape...

Scenery well advanced & following the disaster during cleanup.


Another view of "ground zero"....note the damage ( missing timbers ) to the truss bridge caused during removal of the mess 

An example of the static grass & scenery....a first attempt...

Friday, 11 May 2012

A Prototype Detour...


Not sure whether this post belongs on this blog...but what the heck...

When looking through some photos recently i came across a couple i had taken in March this year of the "Goulburn Steam Weekend" that was not a literal sense.

The programme that took place over the weekend of 17th & 18th March was supposed to feature a 30 Class steamer on 4 return journeys between Goulburn & Marulan each day.

As it turned out the 30 Class did not materialise for reasons that are best left out of this essay & the weekend went ahead with 4403 & 4807 top & tail with a rake of preserved passenger rollingstock.

Sunday provided the best  morning light so with a cup of tea & camera in hand i walked out the front door & captured an up working.

I guess i should at this point describe the location of the included photos for those readers that are not familiar with the Southern Line...

Both shots are taken at the same location in North Goulburn between the disused ballast quarry & the original Hume Highway overbridge. ( Right at the 222km peg ) 

When viewing these photos later it occurred to me the railway infrastructure changes that have taken place in the last 10 years ( i moved here in 2002 ) at this location & indeed the changes that have happened in say the last hundred years.

I guess the major changes in my time here would be the dissappearance of the Down Distant & Down Outer Home signal ( both removed around 2004/5 ) which used to provide me with a heads up to approaching down trains before the advent of a certain website...The other major but less visible change would be the concrete sleeper replacement programme...

The Down Outer Home was located approximately where the excavator is sitting in Photo1
As an aside...i tried to procure ( legally ) either of these decommissioned signals from ARTC to erect in my back yard....this was not to be & i happily settled for the Down Home signal from Galong...

When one looks at the last hundred or so years...the changes are major & i will describe just a few:

 The biggest change would have been the duplication of the main south running line.

The Hume Highway originally crossed the line on the level, then the first road overbridge appeared, followed by( in around 1978) the second four lane bridge just visible beyond the original bridge in Photo1.

The quarry referred to is a bit of a landmark around here... ( and has a fascinating history in itself ) it operated till the mid 1940s and is located in the side of the hill above the exhaust of 4807 in Photo2

Rail access to the quarry was via a siding that left the down main via trailing points near the overbridge in Photo 1 & paralleled the down main ( in an up direction ) to the quarry ( its route is identified by the ARTC 4x4 in Photo2 )

The now closed North Goulburn station would have been my "local".... the down platform, station masters residence & empty signal box still exist & are located just beyond the road bridges in Photo1

One other major change was the closure of the Crookwell branch would  have been possible to hear & see the workings trundling on & off the line from our front door....



As a railfan....i am blessed to live where i am & i guess the lessons re learnt while writing this post is that nothing stays the same & i should be out there recording the changes no matter how small....that may make me more aware & observant in turn helping me in the minuature stakes towards creating a better modelling environment in which to run my trains???




Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Mental Toecutter Has Been...


In my last post i described a dip in enthusiasm regarding the layout proper & my desire to change direction for a couple of weeks.  Well this change began with a stocktake of rollingstock, kits pending completion, structures requiring finishing off etc etc.... These are known in our house as U.F.Os. ( Un-Finished Objects )

It didn't take long to realise that if i lived to celebrate my 127th birthday then i might be in with a show to complete the drawer after draw & box after box of STUFF...Oh & then there is the layout itself!!!

All purchases start off with the boldest of intentions but when the reality all know the story.

With all the talk of federal budgets looming & belt tightening i figured it was time to take a leaf out of the treasurers book & weed out all of the bits & pieces that in all honesty have little chance of ever seeing the light of day let alone a pair of rails.....Ahhh the power of the press!!!

First to get a start on ebay was a Stephen Johnson CPH 38 Kit, followed by a couple of unfinished  railmotors 401 & 403...(as purchased) a couple of 4 packs of Auscision undecorated NGPFs...after all i have amassed  way too many of these and unless i plan to include the Port Kembla Wheat Terminal in the layout & spend a few more months of painting & weathering etc....then i think i have enough...

A few more bits of rollingstock were listed & i figured that the Toecutter audit had been completed.

It was then i found the 12 packs of Walthers piping kits that i had purchased from the US to give me all the valves, piping & pumping equipment i would ever need for my yet to be built oil depots....Great idea & forward thinking at the time...but why 12???

I could put this decision down to any number of excuses centering around ignorance ...but the fact is i spent a large part of my working life in and around terminals & refineries....So i will just stick to the old "they were cheap at the time" reasoning.

So it would appear that the Toecutter will need to list again & while i am at it i guess i should do something about the 15 or so tunnel portals i purchased due to my inability to decide which looked more prototypical to the Aussie variety.

Well at least with all this going on, the lack of creative juices where the layout is concerned is turning into a new found enthusiasm....anything is better than sorting through the piles of stuff that were neatly packed away in boxes & drawers under the layout....not hurting anyone.....

Ah well back to my ebay page to see how things are going & calculate how many packs of oil pots ( NTAFs) i will be able to afford when the sales are over!!!......Maybe i will not need to list the packs of piping kits after all...