Saturday, 30 June 2012

Cats, Sleepers & WSCs


Over breakfast this morning the girls enquired as to my plans for Saturday... When i replied "sleepers" they instantly showed an intense interest & both had smiles from ear to ear.  This is an unusual phenomena as my modelling does not normally invoke such a response.

The mood soon changed when they realised that we were having a communication short circuit.

To explain...We are awaiting the arrival of a rag doll kitten that is a part of Sophie's 10th birthday present.  The kitty kitty has already been named "Sleeper" which follows a tradition in this family.  Our other cat is called Loco.  We also have two ponds full of orange & black goldfish & they are named CL1 etc although with QRN in the picture this may change.... The budgies follow the same logic & are named B74, 76, etc etc based on their colour...with my favourite yellow one being named B80 or Murray.....i am sure you get the drift by now...

So when all became clear...the smiles & cups of tea dissappeared & the "retard" tag returned...

Now to the modelling....

I have been slowly amassing a rake of WSC sleeper wagons.  These have all been bought ready to run from ebay & other sources.  I figure that a 10 wagon train should satisfy my requirements.  I have 8 now, so am nearly there.

I know very little about the manufacturers of these models other than i figure there were two parties who released the models & at the least Trainmaster released a RTR version. I have had mixed luck as around half of the fleet purchased are poorly finished & the rest are just acceptable.  Thems the breaks when buying online...  I did try to find out if they were still available off the shelf....but all my enquiries led to nothing.

I have decided to bring the rake up to standard in regards running qualities, paint, weathering, & general appearance....the code boards will all need to be replaced as they are all badly reproduced with varying text size & font...they are a mess

The first wagon has been corrected, repainted & is now ready for weathering, bogie & wheelset final coat etc ...The Guinea Pig....

Some of the wagons came fitted with sleeper load castings & here is where the real subject of the posting begins...

While the overall appearance of these castings is to be commended, upon closer examination they just don't look right to my eyes.

I have spent a few hours over the last few weeks researching these wagons both online & in publications i have on hand to get a feel for how they looked in service & in particular the loads.

I decided to manufacture my own sleepers, fit a load to a wagon & if the appearance improved significantly i would then go ahead & fit out the whole fleet.

The next step was to find out the "exact" dimensions of a timber sleeper in use on NSW system. as the appearance of each sleeper in the load was important as this was one of the visual faults with the castings as far as i was concerned & the loads are the focal point.

To coin the old phrase...If it is worth doing...Then it is worth doing right....

To some this may sound like a basic known & apart from length ( due to gauge differences ) one would assume that all timber sleepers used in the last say 50 years in Australia would be basically the same dimensions but i wanted a source document that i could refer to other than the old "around 2400mm long" storyline. 

Some may find this as boring as batshit....& indeed i may be morphing into a fine scaler....but the table below is interesting. 

It is interesting to note the sentence directly under the table which probably negates the standard anyway...

Anyway....armed with this info i have laser cut the sleepers to NSW millimetre perfect in HO scale & set about creating stacks & this is where again my findings differ from the castings.  All photographic evidence that i have perused shows that the sleepers as a full load were stacked 7 high & this again differs from the castings. 

The last piece of the puzzle is that i cannot find any photographic evidence showing the number of stacks across the wagon. 

When utilising my measurements it works out to be 10 stacks....whereas the castings show 14.

Anyway with all that said i have attached some phots of progress & when the trial is finished a decision will be made if the effort has been worth it.

Wagon, newly cut sleepers & removed castings.....I hope it is all worth it...
or....What was i thinking!!!

WSC ready for loading...

Progress so far....& 9 wagons to go!!!???

And from above......

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Level Crossings


Well it has finally happened...The Level Crossing kits have hit the market...Seven years have past since the original release of our range & we are excited by the re- release of our humble range.

We have only this afternoon completed packaging of four different varieties of level crossing kits & have elected to open an Ebay Store to begin the ball rolling.

For those interested the Ebay Store is named Laser Rail Bits & we have listed the four varieties & will add to this range as soon as we can churn the components out & have the packaging & instructions ready to go.

Ebay is probably a "necessary evil" alternative to retail hobby shops & given the right circumstances we would love to support the local bricks & mortar stores & will look at supplying retail outlets should the opportunity arise...but in the past it was just not economical to send a few here & a few there as freight would either destroy the meagre profit margin for both parties or worse dictate a price increase to the end user....not my way of doing business I'm afraid.

Of course direct sales via mail order are also fine....if anyone is interested drop me a line on the blog & i will list all of our details.

As an aside i am acutely aware of mixing business with pleasure & have thought long & hard about posting anything about the Laser Rail Bits range on this blog. 

One train of thought ( no pun intended ) is that for me the two facets are intertwined as it is the layout that spawns the inspiration for the creation of the products & also will act as a proving ground for future stuff.

I will be using quite alot of our own stuff on the layout so i guess it is only natural that it may appear in some future postings...

The other point i see is the exchange of information that a blog provides & indeed if by now and again alluding to the projects we have either complete or in the planning stage we are able to inform some who may be interested well thats a plus....but input from other modellers would also be great to ensure the range is what people want & need.

In the end the followers & readers of this blog will decide....

I have included some shots of part of the range...



Sunday, 24 June 2012

Coal Stages


To me, a coal stage is a must in a steam loco servicing environment.  Even if your layout is in a later era they can be positioned in a state of disrepair & still add a focal point.

Choosing one that suits your intended track plan, space available or blends with the surrounding landscape environment is another issue entirely.

I am yet to decide on a firm period for my layout & with all the quality locos & rollingstock available, some flexibility will probably be afforded.

When i decided to plan & build a stage,  it became apparent that even though there are basic philosophies that carry through in each stage, there are however, subtle differences that have either been variations on a theme or have been additions at a later time due to maintenance.

Due to the availabilty of drawings & basic plans I decided to model the stage that was erected at Wauchope in about 1913.

This stage serviced parallel tracks & had a platform or inside bunker length of 102 feet / 6 inches.  This gives a HO footprint of  359mm long x 42mm wide.... I figured that this was a tad too big for my needs & decided to shrink the length to around 257mm which equates to a stage of around 73 feet in the old "stuff" overall.  The other reasoning for the size was also based on removing spans between piles.

So....over the last couple of days i spent a bit of time transposing all of these changes to the trusty computer with a view to lasering the components necessary for the stage & build a couple of prototypes to ensure all measurements were correct & all bits fit as they should.

The deck has all visible bolt detail & indeed looks crowded in places as the underneath joists overlap at joins.  The bolts used to fix the deck timbers to the joists were 5/8" & with washers ( i am assuming they were utilised ) a scale 1'' was lasered.

The photos show the deck, end bunkers, joists & bearers in place.  Detail still to be added are vertical support posts that strengthen the bunker ends & sides ( 3 evenly spaces per panel )  which will entail notching the deck so they fit flush with the piles when fitted.

A total of 39 piles will need to be partially rebated to fit the bearers & angled knee braces will complete the major construction components.

Of course Mr Grandt Line's range of bolt & nut detail will be included where the laser is of no use.

Yes... I have planned everything with a view to adding the kit to our range & have tried where possible to keep the kit simple.  Evidence of this is visible in one of the photos where the underneath of the decking sheet has areas shaded where the joists are fitted to aid location during construction.

Accurate & repetitive rebating of small dowel in both basswood & balsa has always been a problem for me & i will this week bite the bullet & make a jig that holds a large number of precut dowels to put through the rotary engraver & effectively route the required rebates in one pass.

It would be helpful for any comments to be posted as to the choice of prototype, size & any other issues that would make this kit attractive to the modeller.

Of course i will post progress of this project.....

Decking showing end bunkers fitted

Underneath of decking showing shaded sections to aid joist locations

Joists & bearers added

Sort Of...Close up Of End Detail



Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bridge Update.


I have spent a couple of nights on progress of the Cooks Cutting bridge.  All that is left is to place the Grandtline bolt detail to the bridge bents, then attach them to the deck, fit the footing plinths then add the multitude of almost invisible detail bits & pieces.

Then comes the most enjoyable bit to me which entails weathering & creating a time & place in history.

I am most impressed with the 1mm brass angle that i found for the guardrail staunchions....these have added immensely to the intrinsic strength of the above decking components & the appearance of same.

I have produced enough components for around 8 or so units &  will build another 3 or 4 of this project to refine or modify
the components

The last few bridge projects have convinced me that i should at least try & refine the items & release them as a commercial venture under the Laser Rail Bits brand we created some years ago.  It has been on my mind for some time to rejig our old range of detail items & do them as well.

As for bridges....I have a zillion different prototypes to choose from.

Time will tell & of course any readers are invited to comment on whether or not these types of structure kits still have a place and are still relevant in the marketplace.

Returning to the comment on weathering the structure earlier in the post...i am torn between painting the above deck detail white as the prototype appeared in recent years...or to just go for the 50s / 60s look...It might end up as one of each???

Anyway enjoy the photos...

Construction so far....

Above deck...

Friday, 15 June 2012

4 Wheeler Update


Two Blog posts tonite.....I need to get a hobby....

Have completed the spruce up of another few 4 wheel tank cars.  All they need now is numbers & toning down with road grime & a highlight here or there & off to work they go.

I am aware of the of the numbers for the Shell pots....i guess i can just invent the others.


Room To Move....Another Win!!!


From the moment the layout room was commenced i knew that a "modelling" area away from the main layout would be required...but in my haste to complete the main infrastructure, this requirement was pushed to the back of the pile. There was just too many decisions being made at the time & the builders who helped out with the timberwork & lining needed to be kept busy...seemingly minor issues needed to be addressed at another time.

With the recent spate of activity in the construction department, the need to have an offstage area where building, painting & scratchbuilding could take place has now become a requirement.

I certainly need an area for the airbrush & spray booth & this needs to be adjacent to an exterior wall so the spray booth extraction unit can exhaust to the outside world.  A whole heap of storage cabinets & shelves for the UFOs & bits & pieces would also be handy.

The area i had in mind was a previously unlined part of the main shed, adjacent to the layout room that would only need two walls to be insulated & lined, ceiling to be completed, lighting to be dropped from the present position & a door installed......I did have presence of mind to add plenty of GPOs for power during initial construction.  The added bonus is that this section of the shed has two large windows that would allow plenty of natural light.

Armed with my plan i attempted to negotiate my position with the "Residential Infrastructure Manager "....AKA "Peticoat Management"

I am happy to report that success was achieved & i now have approval to go ahead.

Because of the bench height of the main layout & the fact that a simple hole would give rail access to this new is entirely feasible that a branch, main line extension, or storage / staging sidings may well creep into the the very least i have already decided to add a repair road & rollingstock test area.

I am glad that this decision to add this room has been made now as it will have an impact on the final layout design.
I have added a couple of shots to aid the reader to make sense of this post & have purposely included photos from the construction period because the "transparency" of the walls at that stage aids the description.


This photo depicts the layout room under construction last year, with the area to the right of the incomplete main wall being the train room & indeed the blue storage box visible at far right is the location of Fish River & the installed bridges described in previous posts.  The "modelling area" under discussion is located behind the wall at left of shot with the yellow & red parts cabinets.....Readers should look at some earlier posts to gain a better understanding of this location.

As an aside...the completed wall spanning across the shed was installed years ago before any thought was given to the shed housing a layout.

The new area will give a 3m x 2.5 metre addition.


Another shot to put this post into perspective.....

The previous shot was taken from just inside the open roller door looking left...the location & one of the two windows of the proposed modelling area can be seen at at the far left of the shed.


Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Cat Is Out Of The Bag....


With all the talk of the impending deluge of tank wagons.....It is time to lift the wraps on a previously unannounced model that should raise the bar of RTR available in Australia, to a new level.

Gazumped Models is proud to announce the release of a new range of oil pots for the Aussie Market.

Check out the attached shots & i am sure you will be blown away by the level of detail...the sharpness of the ultra researched liveries, fine scale wheelsets & scale size couplers...& if all that hasn't left you dribbling profusely...Factory weathering comes standard!!!

Available in packs of 90 for prototypical "Block Train" operations.

These models will definately not be rerun & when they are gone... they are gone.....( We Lost The Tooling)

No use whinging to us if you miss out.. You have been warned!!!

Available now....only available from this Blog Site.....

Gazumped Models....."We're Always Upfront" 

Saturday, 9 June 2012

A Bridge Too Far......


As alluded to in an earlier post....I have commenced fabrication of the components required to recreate the road bridge at Cooks Cutting south of Goulburn...

This bridge differs from the earlier post's subject in quite a few design details.  Firstly this incarnation will span a double track. The piles are round & not square, the bents are of a different design & the guardrail railings are of another design.....just to name a few. may of been easier to just say its a different bridge altogether!!!

I have not done a full study of timber road over rail bridges....but it would seem that at some point there would have been parent designs that were adapted for each situation & indeed repairs & strengthening undertaken over the years have changed the appearance.  It may well be that available local supplies of timber & methodology may also have impacted on the final product.

With that said.... i have incorporated some changes in fabrication & construction with an aim to add some extra detail.

Firstly i have added, via the laser,  bolt detail where the deck timbers attach to the bearers.....If you look at the photo describing this you may well think they look too uniform.  I felt the same but of the bridges i have inspected this appears to be the norm.

While the guardrails have not as yet been fitted, the strength of the guardrail staunchions has been a concern to me for some time, as they will ultimately get impacted at some point when installed on the layout.  Up until now i have utilised either basswood "with the grain" or plastruct shapes.....Neither of these is a long term fix & indeed at times they have detracted from the model due to being way overscale.  On a recent trip to a hobby shop i spotted some 1mm brass angle manufactured by Albion Alloys.... I grabbed a couple of packs & only realised when paying that it works out at around $10.00 per 30cm length.
If this product proves succesful then i will try to source bulk or search out an alternative.  It must also be added that even this size angle is a touch overscale for a representation of a 50mm x 50mm angle iron in 1:87

The bents will also feature the norm of Grandtline bolt detail....

Who knows with all the materials i have aquired it may well prove worthwhile to release some of these items as kits under the old Laser Rail Bits brand....either that or they will make good Xmas presents !!!

Anyway i have posted some photos of progress & will update soon

Added this shot for the scratchbuilders out there....may be of some help...

Tanks.... A Lot....


With the long weekend upon us & nice sunny days ( after -6 degree mornings ) i thought it was time to get the airbrush working.

I have been keen to get the Austrains 4 wheel tank wagons out of their boxes & commence an attempt to give them a makeover.

A lot has been written about this range, with most of the talk centred around their prototypical origins & weight.  No doubt they are a heavy little bugger.  Contrary to some, this issue does not concern me as i am a fan of weighty 4 wheelers as they dont have a tendency to run away when coupling up & shunting.  As for their prototypical relevance...again this does not concern this little black duck as all the rollingstock destined for the layout will be treated to airbrush abuse. 

Out of the box they appear as though they have come from the "Island Of Sodor"  & upon closer scrutiny i am more concerned with the running quality & choice of coupler.  I have bought 5 boxes of the different offerings & decided before any work commenced i would couple them up & give them a run.

I spent a frustrating hour trying to keep all 15 wagons coupled together as i shunted them up & down the 13 or so metres of mainline that has been laid.... The other issue is the fact that the wheelsets on at least 8 wagons showed signs of being eccentric & these wagons tended to bob up & down quite visibly as they travelled along.

I am accutely aware that these wagons were offered under the "Basix" range and as such i didn't expect them to be world beaters...but inferior couplers & eccentric wheelsets?....I would have thought that you would spend more time getting these wrong & than right.

With all that said after some renovation work they will fill a void in my rollingstock roster & i am sure i will be able to improve on the shortfalls....Therefore even with the issues described a welcome addition.

I have so far commenced makeover on 8 wagons & now need to create some decals of choice  ( Oil Company & wagon numbers ) & complete the weathering to finish them off.

There are 2 silver un-liveried units & i will almost certainly mark these up as "Shell" & when these & the balance of the wagons are complete will post some more photos.

I have posted some photos of progress so enjoy...