Friday, 30 May 2014

Burke's Backyard and The Layout...


I think it was Don Burke who originally advocated placing newly purchased pot plants around a garden to ensure correct placement before actually planting...  I guess we in this hobby have been following that adage for many years before he ever appeared as the "garden gnome" on TV.  In the case of model railroading it is not only trees and shrubs...but also track, structures, scenery and most other items that are positioned around a layout to ensure that "it all fits" from an aesthetic and operational point of view.

As touched on in an earlier post, I have been working on the location of the Argyle Flour Mill and just when I thought I had it all worked out...doubt has crept in regarding the ultimate positioning of this industry.  It is not so much the flour mill in isolation...but more about how the placement will affect the overall "look" of this location.  I have included some photos of the trial fitment of the mill and they should allow the reader to follow my logic.  I must firstly explain that the mill will either be just the solitary building or, as also shown, with a silo complex / grain unloading shed, most likely a boiler house and one or two small outbuildings. 

So here is the view including the solitary flour mill building...and to my eyes, even though the area has not been fully scenicked... the placement just looks too big and bold and tends to make the bridges appear to be out of scale or lacking in bulk or height. It could also be the fact that the mill is on a slightly elevated track and would have been better suited to have been in a hollow slightly hidden with landscaping or conversely the main lines may well have been better placed on a rising grade with the bridges approached via embankments...anyway, we are too far down the track for that modification to be retrofitted!  

Another shot showing the yet to be modified silo and grain unloading shed added The silo complex will need some work as it is presently depicting a structure for the cement industry and ultimately (if utilised here) will need the roof structures removed and a conveyer shed added and an auger chute to transfer grain to the mill.  Again the industry seems to overshadow the rest of the scene.   As I write, my wife has just poked her head over my shoulder to view the photographs and she also suggested that the scene looks "too congested" and maybe that is another aspect that comes into play.

I guess I will just have to play with other suitable industries over the weekend and maybe try a "lighter feel" like a petroleum depot and attempt to hide or tone down the industry with landscaping.  In the end it would be a shame to deviate from the original flour mill plan.  Ah well...tomorrow is another day!

On a more positive note, I received a fairly large and much anticipated, combined shipment from the US this morning from a number of suppliers.  With regards to one supplier called Scenic Express, I tend to place an order about twice a year with them and apart from a heft amount of static grass and other sundry items, I ordered some ready made weeping willows to place along the river bank.  I have planted a small amount already and feel that they have certainly improve the somewhat naked look that this area once had.  Based on my initial reaction and the reduced prices...I will be ordering a lot more differing types of trees made by this particular manufacturer to augment the home made varieties already growing on the layout....Don Burke would be proud! 


  1. Rod

    Rather than having the bins why not just have an unloading shed with an iron an iron conveyer structure built behind the unloader, & a covered conveyer belt into the mill itself.

    Going back a bit, many rural areas that had small mills that supplied more the local area had such structures, & smaller storage bins at the back, thus you could make a smaller bin for the back, even flat against the wall at just over half diameter.

    I may be wrong but I don't think the old mill at Glbn at South box had large silo's. Even the one at Narrabri in the 70's did not have the complex that is there now, even Gunnedah has expanded to a huge structure these days..

  2. Rod,

    Why not move the mill building one building length to the right and have the unloading shed Colin mentioned in it's place, with the conveyor etc. You could portray the silo's on the wall behind the left-hand side of the mill building then either on the backdrop or in low-relief. The unloader at the Arnott's factory at North Strathfield was an iron awning off a brick building with the silo's there set back a fair way from the track.

    You could then use the longer tail of the siding to store the unloaded wheat wagons, adding another operational dimension of clearing the other 'finished product' wagons when it comes time to retrieve them.

    Just a thought!


  3. Col and Ben,

    All input is very much appreciated...I am going to leave this area for a week or so and mull the ideas around in my head. Best I step back and hopefully a few more words of wisdom may arrive... Great thing about this hobby is that there are always varied tasks that need to be addressed and when a "creative block" happens...come back to it later...

    Thanks Again,


  4. I like the look of the flour mill, I hope you don't decide against it! The willows, too, look very convincing from the photos I have seen of the prototype NSW scenes. With regard to placement, a feeling has been growing with me that when I look at layouts at shows and in the media, they are often arranged as if a feng shui consultant has been hired. Everything is laid out as the ideal, perfect situation and I can understand that...but the prototype and it's environs, especially in the C20th, grew with scant regard to how it looked and owed more to serendipity if it happened to actually have something special in the way of atmosphere. And yet it so often did.
    I'm sorry to be devil's advocate...just a cautionary voice to guard against making things look too staged. My feeling would be that the mill and the silo complex wouldn't just happen at the side of the track, there would be other evidence of industrial activity elsewhere to make a transition between the front and the back of the board, like overhead supply pipework or a gantry of some sort...that might be one was of making a transition. Ben's suggestion of a lower shed to the left would work well, too. Please forgive me for waffling on, you just inspired a line of thought :-)

  5. Rod

    I would move the silos to the closer side of the mill as they tend to foreshorten the distance to the tunnels. The silos would tend to block the interesting view of the mill veranda and awning that can be seen in the photos but as Iain says things tended to just happen without thought of a 'nice' arrangement.

    I think the visual distance to the tunnels is too important to muck up.

    Sorry for this late comment, I thought that I had already commented and found that I hadn't.

    Ray P