Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Back On The Horse...


Well it was back to the grind this week and while completing a rather repetitious engraving job today I had time to devote some time to the Trestle Project.  The wing assemblies required some more refining and apart from the wing pile  choice... I think we have nailed it.  There is not a lot of small diameter timber dowel available and with the variations required for HO modelling some compromises are essential.  The main thrust of today was to get the overall wing dimensions, batter and close fit of components right. With this achieved I attempted a trial fit to the main trestle assembly and utilised some commercially available basswood half rounds for the wing piles and while it was good to get a "prototype" completed... the choice of the half rounds has detracted from the overall appearance as they look too lightweight.  I will construct a couple more differing trials and a decision will need to be arrived at so kit manufacture can then take place.  I will try and complete the instructions this weekend and a small delay will then occur while we bring all other kits back into stock in particular the first bridge release, tank stands and station facing kits.

I must admit that I am looking forward to converting this finished trestle into a completed scene and again I will post the progress as this goes along.



Monday, 22 July 2013

Time For Reflection


Well it is now a week ago since surgery and I am out of the grasp of the NSW Health System.  This has been my first major foray involving a regional hospital and I must state that even though Goulburn Base lacks the sheer resources of Sydney hospitals...the staff here certainly do step up.  The care I have received has been above and beyond and I cannot but be in awe of the dedication they show.  On the other hand...my private health insurance v's a medicare stay bought me a daily paper and a television...what value!!!...Anyway today I received the news that the tumour ( and other iffy bits ) removed are B9 and there are no signs of lymphoma... and I live again to wreak pain and misery upon my ever suffering family and friends!!!.  The only downside to the whole kerfuffle  is the loss of hearing and loss of feeling over a fair portion of the right hand side of my face which will in all likelihood prove permanent...I was warned of nerve damage and I feel it is a small price to pay!...

Anyway...over the last week or so I have had plenty of time to contemplate the hobby and where I fit in it all.  Don't worry I have not had one of those "religious" type epiphanies....if that were the case I would probably be announcing a shift to Victorian Railways...No, I have just spent a bit of time going through the differing strands of the hobby and working out which of the strands I most enjoy and why.  The underlying factor in all of this is that I have found it very hard to get the juices flowing where the layout is concerned and obviously that would be apparent when I look back over the 90 or so postings since beginning this Blog which was initially created to allow me to chronicle the building of  what has become known as "Fish River"...and in recent times has emphasised  the lack of any real progress. 

While I understand we all find ourselves questioning our hobby involvement at some time or another...for me it has reached a stage where I do have to deal with the issue or risk some sort of mental implosion and while those close to me would proffer that this event would be a minor event based on the total mass involved, it is important for me to prioritise what I LIKE to do and those I feel somehow tasked to achieve. 

So what have I decided so far...

Firstly my dreams of a railway empire have been laid to rest for now.  The part of the layout known as Fish River will have all rail laying and pointwork finalised and scenery also completed.  A single track that circumnavigates the balance of the layout room will be laid and that will allow continuous running.  It will be nice to just sit and watch a train or two traversing the Fish River environs and not having to worry about said trains falling of the limited world I have in place now.

Secondly I will spend more time on the Laser Rail Bits range.  Apart from being a semi commercial venture, I absolutely live for the limited time I spend on kit development presently.  The joy I get from birthing an idea to ready for market is second to none and it requires more time to achieve the goals I have set myself.  I am frustrated with the present speed of kit development and this must change...

Thirdly ( Gee all this firstly and secondly stuff is starting to sound like K Rudd ) I plan to restructure the main business to focus more on the type of work that reflects time input v/s dollars.  While this may seem conceited...it is certainly not intended to be.  The business has grown steadily and we have worked hard over the last 20 years or so and I feel that it is time that the business become more tailored around our lives and not the other way around.

Lastly, I am thoroughly enjoying the creation of mini scenes or mini dioramas. It brings together many disciplines of the hobby into one single focus and I would love to explore this facet some more and hopefully discover some added skills and hone existing ones. The resultant scenes will either be stockpiled and end up as part of the layout in the future or will be sold if so desired...either way they are very fulfilling and in most cases gives me the ability to construct and place in context some of our kit products. 

The end result of all of these changes will hopefully provide a more balanced life and isn't that what we all try and achieve from being involved in a hobby in the first place???

Have a Great Week!!!          

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Backdrops and Scenery...


A few weeks ago a certain recently retired chappie from Bylong made a comment regarding the surface that I had chosen to photograph a piece of infrastructure on, being unflattering to the subject.  As much as this comment was tongue in cheek, it certainly got me thinking about the layout and backdrops etc.  To be believable a scene, diorama or layout does require the blending of rollingstock, infrastructure, scenery, lighting and backdrop to be in concert with one another to portray what we are all trying to achieve.... realism in "little" form.  There are certainly some modellers who appear to make it look simple to achieve the masterpieces that grace the blog sites and printed media that we can easily access...but for me it has and will be a long learning curve of trial and error until I am happy with the finished result. 

I have been studying backdrop methods for some time and my decision to end the procrastination and give it a go was made in the last few days and to begin I thought I would go out and take some landscape photos and just have a play.  As a fortunate aside we have large format digital printers as part of the business arsenal and I figured that this methodology of backdrop creation may as well be attempted first.  The attached photos show the results after printing a photo onto adhesive sign vinyl with the resulting print mounted on to some sheet substrate. The diorama was then placed in front of the backdrop and initial shots taken. 

So what have I learnt from this first attempt...

Firstly the chosen season would need to be mirrored in both the photo and the 3D modelled landscape so as hues, grass colours and general landscape items marry well.  The angle of the sun when taking the backdrop shots would need to be carefully selected to reflect the desired time of day of the layout if this is an important criteria.  It may be that shots need to be taken in flat light or on slightly overcast days so the shadowing is minimised.  The biggest problem I see in adopting this method for the whole of the layout is blending one shot into another to create a seemless backdrop over a large length of layout...in my case most likely around 9 metres between scenery breaks.  Of course there are computer programs that can stitch together several photos if taken in a careful method...but I wonder whether this would produce an optically curved finished result?.

I will continue to play around and see if most of the above issues can be solved adequately or it may be that the present method is good for diorama or infrastructure shots and painted backdrops may be utilised on the layout. I certainly have no artistic talent for painted backdrops...so it may end up that the job is "subcontracted".  Then again if I look at the present layout progress speed...backdrops may just be a job I can leave to the grandchildren...if I ever have any.

In finishing this post...just a note to the readers of this blog... I have an appointment with a surgeon ( who has promised to put everything back where they found it ) come Monday morning and I hope the next post will be sooner rather than later.  Thanks to you guys for your messages of support...They are greatly appreciated!!!



Saturday, 6 July 2013

Back To The Future....


With progress nearing completion on the Graham's Hill station area "mini diorama", I could not help but see the ability to have a bit of fun and recreate the location just after closure.  With sleepers laid and weathered, the overall scene reminded me of some shots I have seen of the equally fascinating Taralga branch shortly after services on that line had terminated.  In that line's case it was only a couple of months before rails were lifted between the terminus and Roslyn and the remainder of the infrastructure and right of way was left to decay. Another interesting point is that when the Crookwell line ( parent line of the Taralga Branch ) closed in the early eighties...no such attempt to reclaim rails was undertaken and as such they are still largely in place.  This fact probably has more to do with the timing of the Taralga Branch coinciding with a shortage of rails state wide during that era rather than the fact that the Crookwell Line never being officially closed.  

Of course the wayside station that I have chosen to model was located on the Camden Line but I would imagine the same method of decommissioning would have taken place as per the Taralga Line although in the Camden Line's case I have no idea of the wrecking ball timetable and weather the sleepers were removed shortly after the rails were lifted or concurrently.  Maybe one of the readers of this blog may be more learned than this scribe and chip in some details?.

Anyway I have captured this imagined scene for "historical" purposes as the last few detail items to complete this diorama will certainly add the activities of a working wayside station and the irony is that it will obliterate the future...

One thing is for sure and that is....we certainly have a great and varied hobby we have chosen to indulge in!!!


Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Calm Before The Storm...


Well with a definite date now set for surgery things are in wind down mode here.  The original date coincided with the Sydney Convention...but a few technical hitches and some moderate flooding here last week meant a fortnight delay which will now culminate with a chemically induced daytime nap mixed with the removal of some "iffy" bits on the 15th.  So much for having private health insurance...all that buys you is a free morning paper here at Goulburn Base Hospital!!!.    I attended a Pre-Op Clinic earlier in the week and while I am unsure of who invented this medical ritual...It was a pleasant 4 hours of poking, prodding and sometimes inane questioning all designed, I am sure, to satisfy some medical boffin's legal responsibilities...  I am no further informed as to my prognosis...with the only underlying concern being that the tumour could reveal the newly coined "Anna Bligh" disease something made patently clear by the surgeon... I have been there before and will just approach this episode same as before...So if I go MIA for a couple of weeks from the 15th and the emails go unanswered...I am not ignoring you intentionally.

Now back to some interesting stuff....We have progressed the first "trestle project" ( Codenamed "The Alan Parson's Project" for the Austin Powers fans out there ) to a point where most component refinements have been completed and we can move on to manufacture as soon as I return.  If things are a bit quiet here next week I may make a bit of headway but realistically nothing earthshattering will happen for about 3 weeks.

So what has changed you may ask....

The girder and base design have been modified to facilitate the easy addition of a proposed extension kit when available. 

A decision has been made to include pre lasered base jigs in the kits as I am certain the minimal extra cost will be offset by the ease and accuracy they will provide both while building, transporting and siting the finished structure.   These bases have been split and include interlocking...so either the original kit can be built or an extension added seemlessly. 

The girders have also been split and will allow a joint to be made via an overlap at the central corbel.  We have also decided to manufacture and include a jig for aligning and gluing of the girders and deck transoms.  The correct spacing of the girders is seen as crucial to the overall kit as other components rely on this fact. 

While talking transoms... a decision has been made to manufacture the transoms in pre-spaced "groups" with the joining webs spaced to be hidden underneath the running rails.  For those who want to add the transoms piece by piece...they can be easily separated. 

So that's the latest in trestle land at the moment.....Talk Soon...

Wings are almost ready...

Split Girders ( top ) and Pre-Spaced Transoms

Split Girder joint detail...

Interlocking base plates with pile holes...

Girder jig...