Friday, 27 June 2014

Nearly Time To Move In!!!


Well this weekend should see the completion of the long awaited modelling room.  Windows to be cleaned, 4 gang power point to be fitted and if I am lucky the girls might organise a cake or some other fat inducing treats to mark the occasion. I can't see a full blown house warming party anytime a piece of cake and a cuppa will suffice.  I should also add that the wood rack will also be relocated to the main shed and my trusty old roll-top, station masters desk will come out of storage and sit in it's place.

There has been a bit of rethinking, with the original room plan incorporating the airbrush cabinet and extraction system.  This will now be sited ( along with a paint cabinet ) in a yet to be completed setup out in the main part of the shed.  It will be great to finally be able to setup the solder stations, another computer for decoder programming, TV, radio and other tools and machinery in a permanent location that can be left at the end of a modelling session without the need to completely reconfigure the room which is what I have to do now when modelling inside the house.  I also have a fair quantity of railway plates, lamps, castings and memorabilia that will now find a home and who the next few weeks I may just install the upper quadrant signal and lamps outside the shed to finally establish that the shed is indeed a fully fledged rail nut paradise!

The attached shots show the shed almost inhabitable with the benches and all lining complete, floating floor installed and surface mounted power now available on both sides of the shed.  I decided to run the 240V power in conduit well away from the bench tops as I did not want any issues when the layout power bus is brought into the room with the arrival of the repair road branch.  It may interest some that the cabling that can be seen coming through the wall in at least one of the shots was once the power supply for the outdoor "Gauge 1" empire that once circumnavigated the backyard...I have left all power in situ for the possibility that one day it may be resurrected...cannot see this happening anytime soon, but as all cabling was laid in a tidy grid pattern housed in buried seemed silly to pull it all up.  I will just fit a junction box in the modelling room and terminate the cables neatly.

I have also included a shot that shows just where the "repair branch" will enter the room and once the timber rack is removed...I will have better access to this location and will soon reroute the layout main lines ( as discussed in the last post ) and prepare for the excavation and tunnelling of the wall that divides the layout room with the modelling room.

And so another project is coming to fruition...slowly but surely the shed is becoming the area that I had envisaged it to be all those years ago. Oh and before someone poses the question regarding colour scheme for the modelling room...don't I hate painting ( models excepted ).  In the interim the room will remain  "a la naturale".

Timber rack to be replaced with the desk and all is in readiness...

Location of the entrance of the "repair branch"

Plenty of wall space for all things "trains"

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Modelling Room Branch


With the modelling room finally coming to fruition, the time has arrived when a final path for a branchline to this room has to be decided and implemented.  The reasoning for the provision of this line was originally borne out of the simple fact that the new room adjoined the layout room and would give the opportunity to transfer locos and rollingstock to a dedicated servicing, repair and maintenance area away from the layout without having to handle them unnecessarily. 

Over time is was realised that this room and associated terminus, would also facilitate a need for an "as required" transfer movement where during normal running sessions...any piece of faulty rollingstock could be placed on a chosen "repair" road at Fish River yard and then when decided a special train would transfer this stock to the modelling room.  Indeed it may well end up that a mainstream terminus with station and yard may morph into being and in time this transfer branch may end up being a revenue style destination requiring a variety of passenger, freight and mixed style trains.  In the meantime I have been examining the best way of  branching off already laid track to give access to the modelling room.

To understand the issue at hand, I guess that a little history is warranted so that the casual reader can follow my logic a little better.  Fish River was always planned to be the centrepiece of the layout and was to be a medium size station and yard, situated between two major centres and serviced by a double track mainline. Over time I made the decision to trim back my planned "empire" and reduce the layout to a single mainline. With this decision made, I decided to leave the already laid "up main" in place and utilise it as a passing loop with the up extension between the branchline junction, across the Fish River bridge and as far as the double track tunnel portal, as a shunting neck.  I guess the prototype equivalent for this main line rationalisation would be sections of the Main Western line in NSW.   In the down direction from Fish River the main and loop revert into a single line as they leave town.

My idea was for the previously described shunting neck to be extended...but because it needs to cross the main line to get to the modelling room... grade separation was a possibility to cross the main and then enter the modelling room.  The problem with this plan was that the bench height in the modelling room is governed by the window sill height in that room and if the line entered this room under this plan,  it would be around 180mm higher than the bench height and would also severely impede one window...not really workable.   So the most recent plan is for a diamond crossing to be installed just beyond the tunnel mouth ( in the hidden siding room) and for the two tracks to now be transposed in orientation and entry to the modelling room should now only be around 50mm above bench height...certainly not the most conventional method of overcoming the problem...but it certainly avoids track sharing via points etc and does not require any grade separation.  It must also be stated that all of these modifications are unseen and occur in an "off layout" area.

The chosen method will also have an added bonus of exposing me to a diamond crossing as I have never utilised this type of unit...and I have also chosen a Tam Valley, Frog Juicer to look after the frog polarity this will be an opportunity to learn some new aspects of the hobby.

I have included some diagrams of the layout so as to aid the reader... 

Overall diagram of the layout with the required branch to the modelling room between "X" , "X"
The other track between points "I" and "G" is an existing branchline that will be visible but separated from the main line
and modelling room branch via a scenery divider...the main line will re-enter view at point "F" through a tunnel portal and cutting before crossing the doorway on a removeable section. 

The chosen method of trackwork modification...The diamond crossing at point "A" and the mods required to reorient the tracks at point "B"
As can be seen this will relocate the modelling room branch to the outside of the main line and facilitate it for entry to the modelling room which is located through a wall to the right of the layout room.


Saturday, 14 June 2014

Captain's Flat....Progress At Last


With the modelling room now well on it's way towards completion, a change of pace was required and I took some time to move ahead with the Captain's Flat ore loader.  I have decided to build the structure into a mini diorama so that if it does not end up as an inclusion on the layout it will at least have a home that can be added to the "shelf" pieces I have already built.  I say "if" included for good reason as the only logical place for it and associated sidings on the layout would be on the as yet uncompleted section of the layout which is directly opposite Fish River yard.

So with the diorama carcass built, it was time to research and construct the weighman's hut which on the prototype, was located directly under the loader shed and adjacent to the track. With this quaint...but rudimentary little shed basically completed, the whole structure can be placed onto the diorama so that final scenery contours can be worked out.

As I studied the prototype photos for the gazzilionth is not difficult to be drawn into imagining what it must have been like to have worked in this relatively harsh environment.  I guess the weighman would have had other duties as I can't imagine that this job would have been a day to day "whole of shift" proposition. As there was no stockpiling of ore at the loader, the job obviously depended on when wagons were available to load and the frequency of trains.  I have no idea if there was any "manual" movement of there certainly would have been down time at this location.  Perhaps the weighman was also engaged in work associated with the goods shed that was opposite and adjacent to the loader.  Or he may well have been purloined from the actual mine when and as required.  At the end of the day it would have been a fairly dirty, dusty, noisy and unpleasant job as the ore free fell from the trucks above, through the chute and into the S and K trucks within almost arms length from his workstation.  Winters would have been uncomfortable and summers would have been almost unbearable with the ever present danger of snakes and other vermin having almost free access to the poorly insulated and sealed "office".   I have learnt that there was a fuel stove in the shed and also a communication tube between the shed and the loader above, which allowed communications between the truck driver and weighman.  Apart from the items spoken of here and of course the actual would appear that creature comforts were minimal and it certainly was a spartan existence.  I have also come across some period photos that show there were raised platforms either side of the loader and adjacent to the outer rail that I imagine were used for "trimming" the loads and I guess this would have entailed extra workers at peak times.  I am not sure whether I will include these platforms in the actual model...but I guess for fidelity sake I should research them further as they would certainly add visual interest to the scene.

The scenery will be a fairly easy and plain operation as one thing that was still obvious up until a few years ago is that the ore slurry and tailings that had built up in the soil over many years, certainly curtailed any plant growth near the rail corridor.  Indeed it took over 40 years for any real recovery of the plant life within the corridor of the bulk of the branch to gain any obvious foothold.

I have also been fortunate to have found some road trucks that match the type used on the prototype, amongst my large collection of "stuff" and I will certainly convert at least two of them once the final detailing takes place.  As can be seen in the attached photos, I have also decided to include two sidings on the diorama and while one will be the actual loader road, I will try and include a yard crane straddling the other siding.  There was one located on the prototype just beyond the loader and adjacent to the goods shed and it's inclusion on the diorama will add scenic value I feel.  One other feature will be the inclusion of the actual weighbridge decking and this will be constructed from laser etched and cut engraving plastic with the casting patterns and detail included.



Sunday, 8 June 2014

Modelling Room Progress


Well the Queen's Birthday long weekend is upon us and around 30 to 40 years ago this particular weekend rivalled Christmas for any kid (or budding pyromaniac) due to the Saturday night meaning Cracker Night.  Bonfires were constructed and any spare change was spirited away to augment the large bag of fireworks that were supplied by my ever suffering parents.  But of most things that that have any sniff of fun attached to them, the bureaucrats snuffed that  "kid's right of passage" many years ago.

Of course these days,  fun to me is a couple of days devoted to the hobby and as the "planets aligned" with no other commitments for the long weekend, it was purely a decision of which aspect I would engage in.  In the end, the long dormant progress on the modelling room won out.  To those unfamiliar with the earlier postings surrounding the layout of the shed that houses "the hobby", a brief description is in order so as the casual reader will be able to follow this post.

The shed in question is 12 metres long x around 7 metres wide. A lined layout room takes up a 12 metre x 4 metre section of the shed and this area is in itself divided into 2 rooms due to an earlier wall that existed before the shed hosted a layout...the main layout room is 9 metres x 4 metres and on the end of that is another room 3 metres x 4 metres and access between the two rooms is via a doorway.  The original plan was that to have a 9x4 metre layout room with the 3x4 metre portion being a staging area...but of course regular readers would be aware that this plan has been modified.

I decided some time ago to add a modelling room and set about lining another area of the main shed adjacent to the layout room.  This area works out at 3 metres x 3 metres and has two good size windows for natural light and faces north so it is an ideal location.  The method of lining has been carried over from the original construction with timber frame, walls and roof insulated and MDF utilised as internal cladding.  This will be the 4th winter that the layout room has been in existence and the lining methodology has proved itself by maintaining a relatively even temperature right throughout the year.  For those unfamiliar of the climate here...summers can yield 40 degree C days and winter can regularly offer minus temperatures with sleet and snow a possibility.  Indeed this morning's minimum was minus 4.5.  I have left provision for a "pot belly" type combustion heater...but would doubt it will ever be fitted due to the required heat up time and the irregular use of the room.  One other aspect is that the ceiling of the layout room also has a yellow tongue type flooring fitted above the rafters to offer mezzanine type storage and also sandwich the ceiling adding another layer of insulation.

The modelling room, when complete, will offer a place away from the layout to carry out maintenance work, infrastructure and kit building and just a place to "chill out".  Storage of tools, equipment and all things "layout" will also find a home.  I have stated before that it is likely that a "repair" road will be laid in to the room so that wagons can be transferred for work required...or a branchline terminus may also eventuate...who knows?

Anyway as can be seen in the attached shots...all lining has been completed with window framing almost complete. One bench has been built and provision for another in place.  Timber trims will be installed around the windows and at all lining joints and I also have a fair amount of brand new floating floor packs that were destined for a long ago house job that are no longer required after those renovations and This will be added to take the edge off the concrete floor.  To complete things is provision for a ceiling trapdoor to give an additional access the ceiling storage.

It will be nice to get this job finished over the next few weeks as it will then allow for the remainder of the main shed to be sorted, cleaned out and tidied up.

The layout room wall is to the right of shot...with the access door for the layout room...behind and to the right of the photographer...