Friday, May 30, 2008

Living it up on Friday night

Man I know where its at. Home with a few beers.

And having charged the camera batteries its time for some more modeling shots.

I wasn't happy with the SD-7 sideframes so tried to do something more like a phase I Da. And before everyone says 'but that looks really good', It was crap before it was painted. And that's a big thing to get over. the local modeling press is on one hand to be commended for its adherence to showcasing the best of local modeling, but on the other hand, how many people does it put off actually sitting down at the bench. A notable recent exception would be Grant Fletcher's electrics ( its in the wrong scale but...). I first looked at the pictures and thought 'that's rough, and its not square..etc etc', but then realised that the man had actually got off his chuff and done something, and then written about it. I now look back at some of the things we did in the 90's and think 'my god that looked horrible' but when you stand back and look at the whole scene it works.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ye ha

Just to let my 4 regular readers know that I passed my PhD Viva on Monday, and just have a few corrections to make before I get to graduate. so hopefully normal service will be resumed soon. I spent tonight fabricating a 2' version of phase I Da brake gear, and once I recharge some batteries I'll take some pictures so that you can all feel much better about your own modeling skills.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NZ120 loco roster

(picture by Darryl Bond)

Possibly the largest collection of NZ120 locos on the planet. Pity its on long Island.

I've been preparing a list of locos I'd like for my Paekakariki layout, and frankly its getting quite long. A big plus with the location is that its on the way to the Hutt shops so virtually anything goes.

First up the steam locos. An inspection of the picture further down the blog shows at least 5 Ka's an Ab and a Da. 5 Ka's is probably a bit excessive, so maybe 2 will do. And a K for a wee bit of variety. Since I've brought the mechs already a J and Ja will make an appearance, and I suppose an Ab as well. so already up to 5 locos.

For Diesels several Da's are a given. I've already assembled a Phase 1, so a Phase 2 clyde Da and a Phase 3 are a good set. A Dg, Df and De would complete the set, and provide the EE balance vs GM

Electrics are a bit easier. A pair of Ed's ( since all the pictures I've seen are with 2 on the heavy trains over the hill). An Ew is also a necessity. Also 2 sets of D+Dm+D units, one clean, and the other not quite so clean.

A couple of railcars would complete the set, so a Standard and an 88 seater.

That's a fair list there. 14 loco's and 2 railcars plus the units. At least I don't have to build then all by the end of next week.

Next time, how the layout will operate.

Monday, May 19, 2008

How to avoid studying in one easy lesson

Well, a week out from my PhD viva ( its called an oral, but that just gets odd looks), so I'm having a break and putting down another homebrew beer ( my other hobby). In between boiling 20L of water (the water here is awful, and apparently better than a few years ago), watching other things simmer, and trying not to make a big mess ( so far so good) I've got some time to blog.
Not much done modeling wise, but my second 4-8-2 appeared in the mail, having been sent to my landlords place in Wellington ( thanks to NZ post; at least it arrived). So a pair of Ja's are on the cards, as the small cylinders will preclude them from being Ka's I think. however this will then lead to the problem that if I use another 4-8-4 as a base for the K classes then the wheels will be larger and it will look a bit odd. Not sure how I'll get around this yet. maybe make everyone stand back 3'....

Also, if anyone reading this has an unfinished Etchcetera Da Kit they no longer have a desire for, drop me a line. The plans call for 3 Da's ( phase I, II and III)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A weeks a long time in..

well, busy at work and things just fall off the end. plus I have a PhD defence in 10 days and that does not leave much time for this. so I'll just point the rest of you ( well 1/2 the readership) to a nostalgic trip back to the 80's, with big hair, shoulder pads, velvet boots (and I can't remember what the girls wore), and an amazing collection of trains around Dunedin.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

For Sale

(thanks to E.C.M.T. for this. hope you don't mind but its such a great detail shot as you can see all the bits)

What a steal at $175K. Outwardly seems in OK nick, and has all the important bits. I wonder how the real estate guys would describe it.

'Absolute bargin. Mobile home like this seldom come up. Small compact well heated living area with large tea and coffee making facilities. Railway views. Previous owner little old lady who used it for occasional trips between Invercargill and Christchurch. Some love and attention required, would suit home handyman or DIY enthusiast. '

And for comparison..

(Oddly enough also supplied by E.C.M.T., but costing a fair bit more. And using a flash helps no end for the pictures doesn't it)

So, the initial impressions are OK. the cylinders are not perfect, but not worth the hassle to move. the valve gear looks OK, and the trailing truck also seems proportionally right. so the next step is t source a heavy boiler for it ( brass or copper 1/2" pipe should do)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Modeling NZ120 one decade at a time pt2

As an example of last nights often rambling post, here's what has inspired my next large scale project. Paekakariki in May 1963.

Its actually almost idea for a layout. the hills behind the station rise at between 45 and 60 degrees. as its a point where steam and diesel change to electric traction there's plenty of action shunting wise. and as a bonus there are a stack of different locomotive classes that can appear. While it may appear like there is a lot of modeling to be done, remember I'm not going to knock this out in 6 months. The task can be initially be broken down into smaller sets. a look at the picture reveals that a few Da's will be required, some Ka's and possibly a Ja and an Ab. On the electrics side an Ew and a pair of Ed's, plus a D+Dm+D set for suburban trains. a passenger train to represent the Wellington-Auckland express is a must. Also required is the Wellington-Pamerston North 'tank train' that ran every day delivering petrol. Several other trains with general freight are also required, with an eclectic mix of whatever wagon you like to model ( within reason. No Q's please).

so while this may seem like a huge task, its a task that has very few limits with regard to rolling stock. And it doesn't matter if you are not overly confident in your modeling abilities. For all the models that appear in the journal, the builders have many others that they don't want you to see ( I have a collection of pictures of my old S scale models that may see the light of day simply to illustrate this point). Start small ( L's and La's are a great place to start, as they are very simple) and work up to the really hard stuff ( a Ka or Ja can be very daunting. I know, I'm daunted).

And the selection of this project was not an easy choice. My other choices were Arthurs pass ( as I had the models built, and actually had a plan drawn up before my interest wandered). the other project was a lot more challenging, but I actually got as far as building some test pieces before the chassis mechanics got too complicated.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Modeling NZ120 one decade at a time

Well, tonights mind expanding post is: how do you plan a layout from go to whoa.
This bit will be the go section I guess. Whatever has inspired you to create a layout, how do you keep the project on track? I've found the best starting point is to research the locomotives and trains that fit this particular prototype in the period that you are interested in. Use a broad brush in case not everything goes according to plan and you change your mind. Are there kits available. what sort of skills are you going to need to develop to provide the rolling stock? And probably most importantly, is there already a local group that you can fit into to pick these skills up.

I guess the best method is to work from my own experience. Modeling as part of a large group with a particular location (Otago), I gained experience making models of main line diesels and freight trains (mostly with container trains). however I was captivated by pictures in the book 'the midland line' and in particular those around Cass. I then started working on models of trains that worked through this location in the late 80's, which lead to Dc loco's and rakes of Cb's and Lc's. This involved the learning of how to cast resin in silicon rubber moulds to save a lot of work. An important part of this process is making sure that everything runs well, which is often forgotten in the whole scratch building process. I would always choose running properties over scale fidelity. So in my case the Lc's were mounted on peco chassis ( reasonably cheap and with really large flanges), and the Cb;s on MDC bogies with microtrains wheels. Rapido couplers were used for the wagon rakes with microtrains couplers on the ends. the Dc's were built on atlas SD7 mechanisms. The resin cast tops went through several iterations ( the last of which sold reasonably well) but all did the job. So when I moved to Wellington in 1993, I had the beginnings of the collection of rolling stock for my next layout.
(sorry no pics tonight).

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday night live

So, a jaunt back to the workbench, just to prove I'm not all mouth. While involved in a discussion on an unrelated topic, I was pointed to While looking at 20 year old master making technology, I also had a look at the pictures of the 3 different phases of Da. My etched kit is a phase 1(, but sits on a phase 3 mech which on the model is also a Co-Co rather than AIA-AIA). So, being a 2' modeler, did this bother me? For some odd reason yes. So, off into the workshop. Hmm, no plasticard of the right thickness. Hmm, that brass strip is the right size, and I need to do more work in brass. 4 Pieces of brass strip 3mm by 33mm were sweated together with no burned appendages. These were then marked out and filed to shape. At this point, the flaw in my cunning plan was exposed ( I'll have to find a 6 year old next time to spot it). I was going to need some detail on the side frames. the most important bits were the central brake cylinder, and the sand boxes at each end of the bogie. The side frames were separated, and a piece of brass tube 5mm long was soldered into the correctish position using a good old Mk1 eyeball measuring implement. a piece of brass square 2mm by 2mm was then filed to shape at the top, and soldered into place, cut and then the bottom shaped. this was repeated untill all 4 were done. the SD-7 side frames were modified by carving the old brake cylinders off, and smoothing the surface of the bogie frames. the brake rigging was also removed.
This shows the before and after shots. I think its what I was after it still needs the brake actuators added. Maybe if everyone stands back 2'....

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Good Old Days ( in black and white)

The previous post brought back a few more old memories of the Dunedin NZ120 group. More precisely the largest NZ120 layout ever seen. This modular layout consisted of a large number of modules, and from memory was about 16' by 24' with an overall C shape which equated to at least 20 modules ( its 20 years ago, and I'm a bit hazy on what happened last week, so bear with me). The many scenes included Palmerston, Waikouaiti, Dunedin railway station, Burnside, Wingatui, Henley, Alexandra, and a few other that I no longer recall. With a main and a branch line this equates to about 160' of track, and it was possible to run 3 trains without hitting anything (which was pretty good in pre-DCC days). At the exhibition shown in the photographs we even had a linking module to run trains between our layout and the smaller Chch setup. However we found over to 2 days that our larger trains did not run that well on their turf. The main reason for this was the Chch group used converted N scale models and hence their clearances were too small for our NZ120 models. also the tended to try to model the 50's and 60's where as our models were almost exclusively modern image.

The first picture is of the overall layout, just showing how big it really was. The clowns in the middle are (from L to R) yours truly, my now wife ( who must have just been passing through to actually see me that weekend) and my brother, plus another chap called Bob. behind me are Glenn Anthony, and Dean Whohra (well, it started with a w. I'll apologise for any dumb name mistakes now, but you should all get simpler names so that English scholars such as myself can spell them) in the middle of the Chch layout. I can't see any evidence of trains though. With such a large layout some trains put in large mileages often running for several hour's or so at a time. John Rappards Log train put in so many hours over a series of exhibitions that the metal wheelsets wore out the plastic bearings, and my Dx's wore the drives out in the end.

The second picture is of my brother and another Dunedin modeler called Garry Marshall (we think), looking for the next train. The station in from of them is a model of Wingatui, and in the foreground a model of a sawmill ( John was a carpenter and joiner by trade, and delighted in building these models which were just beautiful replica's of the real thing)

the next photo actually appeared in the Otago Daily Times ( just to show how low standards were at the time) and shows someone with a great crop of hair working on what he still regards as one of his finest single models. the building was built from the original plans held in the Hocken library ( this astounded me, as I spent 1/2 a day tracking them down, asked for them, and 10 minutes later I had the pages that Gordon Troop had poured over in front of me) the building was shortened to fit the site (not obviously). The tales of what was actually used in its construction were recounted in a journal from 1991 (sorry, no month I can't remember).
The dumbest thing that I did was putting in so much detail on the road side, when no one actually saw it. later we added a mirror so that this detail could actually be seen. I've been told that this model was recently rediscovered in the storage area at the Otago model engineers. I dread to think how it has suffered.

Here's what the punters did see. A good collection of trains. the 2 Dx's were from locally made zinc photo etches. the Ab and excursion train are from Chch I think. The rest of the wagons are mine and came from moulds that either myself or John made. the Za's and Zp's were my moulds, and the 20' insulated containers had resin ends ( from a mould of johns) and plasticard sides. the chassis of all the wagons were plastic

I hope the few readers that I have are enjoying my jaunt though the back blocks of some NZ120 history.

( and thanks to my brother for the scans of several of the pictures. for some odd reason they don't seem to want to expand on the blog, so you'll just have to save them and expand them yourselves)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A bit of history

A request from the east coast main truck ( well I think thats what it is unacronymed) leads to todays post. While not per-say a history of NZ 120 according to me, its still an interesting historical subject. While staying with my parents at christmas in Timaru ( we really know how to live, don't we!), my uncle tells me of an N scale NZ layout that his group had brought from a property in Dunedin. I imediately clicked that it was John Rappards home layout. It resided for many years at the top of signal hill road in a converted farm shed the was about 20' by 30' with a separate workshop. It was a very large layout depicting scenes from railways in otago. the main line swept down through Port Chalmers to Dunedin, out to Wingatui, then a branch line up to Cromwell, via another station, modeling scenes from the otago central branch. the whole set up was run with Zero-one, the great grandaddy of comercial command control systems. I was able to arrange a visit to confirm that the layout was still in existence ( though it had to be cut into sections to be removed) even after Johns death. I don't think it ever appeared in the local rag, so here are some of the pictures I took.

the first is Dunedin railway station according to John. For some odd reason, his station was in red brick, and it was never really finished as a scene properly. the second picture is of Dunnyburn, somewhere up in central otago. John made this location up as a 1/2 way point on his otago central branch line. The final picture is Johns interpretation of Cromwell, now long gone.
It was a great experience to see the layout again after so many years, and to see the modeling that had gone into it, even when there was no one who would ever see some of it.
Hopefully the current owners will be able to build it into a layout. it is a wonderful piece of the scales history.