Saturday, October 29, 2016

Waihao Forks: Interlude

Am_Fet pulls out the "Prototype for Everything" file and recites:

One of my formative Model Train memories revolves around the many layouts that were built in KiwiBonds front room back when we werent old enough to know any better but before girls came along and changed all the rules.  Back in those days it seemed that the best train we could run was a long train of Hornby open 4 wheel wagons pulled by a cardboard DGr.  The load?  Why, coal of course!  To us, Coal was the raison d'tre of railways everywhere.  Everywhere you looked in books all you saw was long trains of black gold, and so thats what we modelled.

Everyone mellows with age however (except maybe Keith Richards) and the lure of Canterbury agrarian branch lines proved too much to resist.  Sure, it would be nice to have a few coal wagons floating about, but in rural South Canterbury?

Well oddly enough.....

Exhibit A, m'lud:  The Allanholme Coal Mine located on the table lands above Waihao Forks.  In discussions with the late and much missed Euan McQueen about this, he said the coal here was of the same type as that seen at several smaller mines all the way up the east coast of the island from Kaitangata to Shag Point and further up to Mt Somers.  However, as far as he was aware the coal was for local domestic use and was never railed out.

And then an article was found online from the Oamaru Mail from 1920 about a visit to the mine.  I wont reproduce the whole article here, but the highlights were:

- The Waimate Branch of the Sth Canterbury Development League visited to ascertain whether it was worth extending the rail line to the mine.
- Thanks to the amount of coal to be seen in the mine, it was agreed that an extension of the line would be of benefit to the community.
- "At present, Messers Meredith and Co keep a traction engine continually hauling to the Waihao Forks railway station...."
- Production was over 3300 tons per annum, much of which went as far away as Christchurch.

I can only guess that any extension would have branched of the branchline at McLeans Station and headed NW towards where the mine was located.

Modelling wise, it would make for a great scene at The Forks:  A Traction Engine with trailers in the goods yard with coal wagons awaiting loading.  Seeing as this was in the 1920's, it would be in the era when Waihao Downs still had a loco shed and staff and the main loco's on the branch were the Fa's.....not quite fitting in with what I'm aiming for, but definitely tempting if I feel the need to backdate the layout.....

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Waihao Forks: The Fill In

Am_Fet explains:

Another momentous occasion in the life of the layout this evening.  After a tour of most of the region, it is now safely domociled in the Top Secret Layout Building Facility in Stokes Valley where construction will continue over the coming months.

This evenings work session had our protagonists mostly standing around and discussing ways and means....before seizing the day and just leaping in anyway.  The plan was for the landscape to be built up from 5mm foamboard before being covered with putty to recreate the undulations of a normal landscape.  The plan is for the switches controlling the points to be contained within a small "box" that can be covered for photography or if the layout is not being shunted.

In this action photo, we can see your scribe hacking merrily at the foamcore with possibly the worlds sharpest (and dangerous) craft knife, while 0-4-4-0T starts drawing landforms for the hill at the left hand edge of the baseboard.  Also visible is the first test of the putty (applied by Cabbage, who also provided the photo).

Hopefully these layout building evenings will now become a bit more frequent as the weather warms up and working in someones garage isnt the imposition it was in mid winter.

My plan now for the next few days is to finally get back into some CAD work and get the stock yards and goods shed drawn using the guild drawings.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Waihao Forks....Saturday Update

Am_Fet writes in block capitals:

Well, the weekend plans for the major protagonists to get together at Cabbages top secret layout building facility on Friday night fell apart in spectacular fashion thanks to illness and family commitments.  Poor Cabbage, he had to go and spend time with the Marklin Club....

Anyway, here is the latest email from 0-4-4-0T with progress:

"We now have slow speed running on all parts of Waihao Forks.

The electrical interlocking doesn't successfully stop the engine if the points aren't set completely correctly - essentially because everything ran fine on insulfrog. But we have slow speed running through all areas.

Finer testing is beyond the quality of my engines to date. The Graham Farish 0-6-0 has a very long wheel base plus its motor doesn't run well at very slow speeds. The Microace 4-6-4 doesn't run well on the slightly rough code 40 track because its power pick-ups (on the first two driving axles and the last axle of the trailing truck) are only just good enough for very smooth heavier track."

I believe the meeting will be postponed until next week when hopefully we can start the landforms.  There is also talk of sub-contracting out the grass planting to another well known modeller.  I'm waiting for Cabbage to confirm.

In the meantime, I had better pickup my mouse and start designing the buildings and structures.

In closing, does anyone have any ideas for modelling stucco in the smaller scales?  Everything I read seems to be aimed at HO and bigger, ranging from sandpaper to talc or white pepper mixed with paint.

All answers on the back of a postcard please!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Waihao Forks.....On Point.

Am_Fet, with great relief, pens:

Whew!  We are up to date.  This is the latest report from Backward Engineering in Karori ("Where the past is being made today!").

The curtain wire is now glued down, and then the ends of the push-pull wire have been bent and threaded into the pre-drilled holes in the switches using small pliers.  The kink in the push-pull wire can be opened and closed slightly to make fine adjustments to the length of the wire.

All the brass dropouts to get power to the track from underneath are now fitted and soldered on.

Next, turn it all over and attach wires to the switches and dropouts."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Waihao Forks....gaining control.

Am_Fet enthuses:

Can I just start off by saying that although it may seem like this work has been moving quickly, nothing could be further from the truth.  0-4-4-0T and I have only really had the chance to catchup during the planned monthly meetings in Lower Hutt, so most of the work documented here has only really happened since the Palmy show...whenever that was.

So hopefully todays post will take us up to where things sit currently and you can then marvel at the pace that things normally happen at around here.

This pic arrived in my inbox last weekend:

As can be seen from this picture from Backward Engineering in Karori ("Where the past is being made today!") things are now focussing on the gubbins needed to make things work.

(Hilariously enough, my iphone autocorrected "control gubbins" to "control gibbons"....which probably isnt far from the truth!)

Anyway, here is the written report from 0-4-4-0T:

"The trackwork for Waihao Forks has been glued to some 10mm foamboard.  Head Druff says this dampens the amount of track noise.  Slots have been cut in it to take curtain wire which takes curved routes to the switches.  Music wire just under 1mm thick runs inside the curtain wire from the point blades to the switches.  Some 5mm foamboard in the slots holds up the curtain wire next to the point blades.

The music wire is bent through a right angle to go through the end of the moving sleeper that the point blades are attached to. Having the track on 10mm foamboard rather than 5mm board means Am_Fet will be able to shape the ground level in the area surrounding the yard to levels lower than the trackwork when required.  Otherwise the ground surface of the whole module would look dead flat and unreal.

Next job is to attach the music wires to the switches - to be shown in a future post.  After that, the electrical wiring can go in underneath."

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Waihao Forks - Setting the Scene

Am_Fet Postulates:

After the baseboards triumphant return from its southern sojourn, the next task was to work out where all the scenic features were going to go.

A meeting was hastily convened at the monthly club night with plans and photos in abundance.  Some mad rash fool started scribbling with a pencil, and by the end of the evening we had the beginnings of what (we hope) will be a very attractive scene. one had a camera to record the moment...Doh!

So instead, lets revisit my favourite photo of the station from the 1920's:

The three structures that really anchor the scene are the goods shed, the stock yards and the pub.  The goods shed was a stock 60' by 30' shed but with a strangely steep pitched roof.  As it was a known size, it became the "anchor structure" of the whole precinct, meaning it was sited first and we used its place to position the minor structures that related to it, such as the station platform and shelter shed and the loading bank.

Then onto the pub (what a grand idea!).  As the building was separated from the precinct by the road, we first needed to make an arbitrary decision on what looked like the acceptable width for a 1950's metaled country road.  Once this was drawn in, the pub was located in relation to the goods shed and station shelter.  It became apparent that the pub will need to be "split" at the baseboard edge, but discussions came up with a good way to make the most of the situation.

The stock yards were next.  We made a call on the position of the stock loading race and then drew the rest of the yards in position based on this.  As with the pub, the position of the road was critical and this was also drawn in.

The final structure to complete the scene is that non-descript corrugated iron shed on the roadside past the pub.  It will serve as a counterpoint to the obvious railway designed structures, being a simple rural shed seen in thousands of places around the country.

Final job was to rough in where the scenic landforms will sit.  There is a perceptible dip to the left of the track in the photo as well as the small hill the photo was taken from to include.  numerous lines were scribbled until something believable was deemed to be acceptable.

Apologies for all the words (lack of photos of the process is a bug bear) but I thought it was important to record how the process went.

And to finish off, here is a more recent photo from Joe Wallace.....its a brilliant photo for landscape detail.  The old loading bank and road can still be seen, and the roadbed leading up the hill to Mcleans can be discerned climbing up out of shot to the top right.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Waihao Forks.....On Tour

Am_Fet continues....

With the completion of the undergubbins (as seen in a previous instalment), the time had come for the focus to shift from the wastes of Lower Hutt to the leafy gentrified suburb of Karori.  0-4-4-0T took the baseboard home from club night and started the careful and painstaking task of marrying up the track with the baseboard (i.e he winged it).

The track was gently cut in the correct places and located on the baseboard....

....before being transported across the water to play a starring role at the Christchurch Show, even if only as a workbench....

I have no idea what Cabbage is saying here....a caption contest, perchance?  Note 0-4-4-0T using the area earmarked for paddocks and willow trees to assemble wagons....the philistine.

Recriminations will be swift, and effective....

(Luckily for our protagonist, the track was completed over the course of the weekend, appeasing the landowner)

Next:  Setting the Scene.