Friday, October 31, 2008

And thats the hundred up..

Wow, 100 hundred blog posts. It just seems like 6 months ago that I wrote my first post (oh, wait a minute, it was).
To mark this bloody great big occasion, Hows about a contest. Design an Nz120 layout based on the very rough suggestions for a module standard ( based on 200 by 300 or 300 by 400 modules). provide a rational, and if possible some sketches. a photo or two of the location, or what you visualise your layout would look like. Spelling will not be marked.

There's even prizes! at the moment theres some Da etched Da number plates that I have for phase 2 and phase 3 Da's. there might also be some wagon tops and a real track plan or 2 depending on whether we can organise a 'mission impossible' raid on the Ontrack archives.

Cut off time for this competition is midnight next Friday night. Email to the address at the bottom of the page. I'll then post them and we can have a vote to see which one is the most popular.

Get those crayons out now chaps.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Modeling.

Kiwibonds has sent me some more pictures.

First up, the finished Di. This model is way ahead of what we were making 12 years ago, and I think its down to actually bothering about what the underframes and bogies look like. Now it needs a friend for the stone train.

Second up is a Udk. These were built back in the dark ages to go to tight places in the loading guage with overheight containers. First up, the real thing.

Then, how to do the bent deck.

And the final product.

Looking at the microtrains bogies tells me that its not worth bothering at the moment to start doing any CAD work on the correct style ones, as these look good enough for the 2' crowd.

Hindsight is 100%

I've just noticed last night that our dollar has again become 'the peso of the south pacific' (Fiji has coups and their dollar doesn't move at all!). The lady of the house went shopping on Amazon, and the bill that came back on E-mail was a bit of a shock. on the plus side, I've got enough credits (you spend, I spend) to buy some rubber and resin. The flip side is that everything that you buy from overseas (which is well, everything) is now up 30% vs where it was 3 months ago. and while I'm glad that I did some buying in the good times, I should have brought more. still, 2 4-8-2's wasn't a bad start.
I'm now waiting for Kato USA to start selling the spare parts for their GG1, as the driving wheels are exactly right for an Ed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A3 layout idea part whatever

After some face-to-face discussions with Amateur Fettler last night, a fair bit of my homebrew beer (he can still see, honest!), and some A4 paper shuffling, it has been demonstrated that the whole A3-A4 sheet thing won't work quite as I had anticipated, since they don't come out in nice multiples. Bugger.
Never fear, the new alcohol fueled plan is to have the base size out to nice sane measurements ie the A4 210mm by 297mm (how did I ever think this was going to work?)becomes 200mm by 300mm with the corresponding loss of 2370 square mm of modeling space. The A3 at 420mm by 297mm becomes 400mm by 300mm.
Just another one of those 'it's so sodding obvious' moment's of clarity brought to you by beer ('it's not just for breakfast any more')

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday night layout idea

(Scanned from the Railfan mag. Buy a copy for the rest)

To back up the yet to be released A3 modular system, we have a layout idea and even a plan or 2. The latest Railfan has an interesting article on the Ngapara branchline, which has a stack of photos of scenes just begging to be modeled. (sorry I've been writing science reports and I need a bit of time to get back to writing normally). The most interesting in terms of variety of locomotives used was the sidings at the lime works, which operated from the mid 40's to 1997. First of all several track plans was liberated from the Ontrack archives. The 1971 version was deemed to match the photos most correctly.

An overview of the area was also found on google earth. This is a great toy for getting an idea of what the ground contours look like, and also how the buildings relate to the railway( or in this case where the railway once was).

To finish we have a sketch by yours truly to show how it might look on 3 contiguous A3 modules if visualised by a 3 year old with a crayon (I will get my niece to draw the next one).
I'm not quite sure on where the module breaks go, but I can't hand feed you all now can I. Locos could be an Ab, Ja, Dj, Dsc, or a Di (I've seen pictures of one on local shunts in the mid 80's). Wagons are a motley assortment of highsiders, with a guards van or 2 providing the only variety.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An apology

I've just been reading back over some old posts, and come to the conclusion that while I have a PhD, I can't spell for shite.
I've been asked if I'm trying to be folksy, and the answer is 'no, I'm just bad at typing.' I apologise to all those english grammar experts and those who can recognise a split infinitive.

Hello, my name is XXXX and I'm a model railroader (2)

How many of you have a desk draw at work that looks like this.

Names are not mentioned to protect the guilty.
However, you may be an addict it you have
-Concealed credit card receipts from you partner.
-have recent purchases sent to your work address.
-made trips home early to intercept the mailman.

my advice is to get a more sociable addiction like alcohol or drugs, to cover the underlying addiction of trains. They probably work out cheaper in the long run.
Wikipedia has this to say further:
"Addiction is a primary, progressive, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over use of the substance, preoccupation with the substance, use of the substance despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking."

Look closely at your next modeling group meeting. Be very suspicious of anyone wearing a hat covered in badges.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I've got the files lined up, have contacted the laser cutter who gives me the list of formats they do. Do ya think that the free sodding CAD program will save as any of them? Apparently the Alibre design software is designed to lock you into using their service unless you shell out money for the full version. Frankly I expect far better for nothing.
(Unless its just me being dumb again, in which case I apologise. Otherwise I wish you to drink nothing but Budweiser for the rest of your days).

Time for plan B.
(Mental note to self; should prepare a plan B before actually requiring it)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fremo in europe

"Eccles, hows your German?'
'He's fine, hows yours?"

Just a link to a neat website, and you don't need to understand German to work your way around it.

This drawing thingy then...

I think I'm sort of getting to grips with this CAD thing. I can now do 2d parts, but will have to work at assembling them. As exhibit A here is the 2 A4 modules laid out in its bits. Not shown is the square bits of wood in the corners to keep everything honest. Now to find someone who can actually cut them out of 3mm MDF.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


While having a tidy up in 'der room' prior to a house inspection by the landlords, I stumbled across something I thought I had thrown out along time ago; the mk3 or 4 master for an Lc that had thicker walls for casting in whitemetal. Considering i made it 12 years ago, its in surprisingly good condition, and the detail is also pretty good. In the same box was a brake level, a handbrake ratchet and a brake cylinder. Now all I need is the rubber and resin and we are in business.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Layout ideas

The first in hopefully an ongoing series. Tonight Amateur fettler brings you ...Dobson.
'Located upstream from Greymouth and snuggled into the bank of the Grey
River, Dobson as it was is dedicated to one thing and one thing only:
Coal. Passenger and goods facilities are virtually non existent, and
only a tiny loop is provided to allow freights to bypass small passenger
trains. The station plan is quite clearly divided into 3 parts: The
arrival yard and bins, the dispatch yard and the passenger facilities.
Pushing empties into the arrival yard must have been interesting for
train crews and train control alike as no shunting lead has been
provided. And if you tire of shunting the endless rakes of Q wagons,
there is always the never ending parade of trains passing on the main
from all points north and east; anything from small tanks wheeling coal
down from Blackball to J powered expresses preparing for the climb to
Otira, and the Daily railcars to Westport.'

Photos of the location to come.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


After 2 hrs in front of the computer, numerous false starts, mutterings of " where did that go?", 1.5L of Beer and 1/2 a packet of toffee pops, I've produced an item of crap.

It does demonstrate that I have a long way to go, and the old pooter is struggling with its lack of RAM to drive the software, but its a start.

I might print it out and stick it on the fridge with a magnet :v)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A picture says 69 words

Kiwibonds has come up with a modification to fix some of the problems with a trackside Ur.

I'm looking on with a glass of my Belgian style strong ale.

My plan for world domination....

Having given up on trying to use an electronic device to convey my thoughts, I've resorted to the good old standby of pencil and paper. Here's my initial proposal for the end plate layout.

The width is a standard piece of A4 paper. The height may seem excessive but I want to give people the option of building scenery below the trackbed as well as above. Remember that a scene may be any length and consist of any number of modules, but the end plates must match. I've put in a footplate as well. This covers the left hand base of each end plate, and gives a positive mounting point so that the bolts are only for horizontal alignment. There will have to be some discussion as to the nature of the joining tracks, and also the thickness of the trackbed, and what the measurement from the footer to the top of the rails is. The double track standard track spacing is taken from a proposal in the December 1990 rag for standards for Nz120 and also Nn3.5.

Seriously guys, I want some input from outside the usual crew, otherwise I'm going to have to go out and find a 6 year old to spot the fatal flaw in my plan. You get such odd looks loitering outside schools....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kiwibonds to the rescue

Things have been a bit slow here of late. Just your typical lack of motivation. Meanwhile, in the wilds of long island, no such problems. More pictures of a Di almost complete.

And how are the bogies done?

"Didn’t look so good yesterday morning. As you can see, the big sidesprings are actually springs… ex rapido coupler springs on those old MDC bogies I guess. Brake cyls look ok from 10 feet – bits of sprue that come with MT trucks. Wee springs are bits of the bolts that you use to attach MT couplers.

A big thank you to all our bogie and coupler suppliers…"

(I'm not quite sure what the arrows are pointing/not pointing to)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

One post a weekend

Sorry to have been so quiet this weekend. I have been trying to master ( or even get to first base with) the CAD program that I downloaded for free from It has a even bigger plus in that its got some very good tutorials that come with it, even if 1/2 the time you don't know what the hell its on about, why you are doing something, where the button you are looking for is hidden, or where the picture you just spent 30 minutes on has vanished too. Apart from that, it seems to be OK to use.
Now, what sort of project do I want to try first? That loco that no-one has ever made? a wagon underframe or bogie? or maybe just some windows..

Thursday, October 09, 2008

So where is everyone

Checking up through statcounter tonight reveals 70% of my readership is from Auckland or close by. Given that I'm in Nelson, but apparently I connect thought the well known internet hub of Glenavy (I'm not making this up. Extra 10 points if you know where Glenavy actually is), I'm taking this with a grain of salt.
Even so, there's a stack of you out there reading these baltherings. Hows about some feed back from north of the Bombay hills? There must be a ton of NZ120 modeling going on.


Lukes comments on a previous post haw got me thinking. I think everyone needs a little motivation at some times. I struggle to get going at the work bench some nights (most, more on that later). While I do have a long term layout plan, Its going to take 5-10 years. Lets face it, Most of us don't have the space to build a large layout. That is what has attracted me to the A3 layout/module concept. I had previously considered T-track as a possibility, but it was just too small to do anything useful. Its been pointed out that an A3 area is a bit small to do much with. I think its part of the attraction. A modeler starting out could say build a scenic feature, say a bridge or level crossing. Along the way there are a few skilled picked up, and various techniques tried. Next up might be a small branch line station on 3 modules, with more scenery,and a few more models. The whole thing can expand 1 module at a time slowly growing into a larger layout. Several modules can easily be carried to a convention to be set up with others to run. This is where the motivation comes in. I've had far more fun modeling as part of a group than on my own over the years, and having others around doing things tends to feed off itself.

Now, where I'm at with the module standard. My plan is to create a file that people can download and have laser cut locally out of MDF. This will ensure that everything is the same size. Electrical Connection between modules will be by USB plugs and sockets, as they are very hardy and easy to find. The standard between modules is to initially be single track. However, people can build whatever they want in a set of modules as long as at each end of the set there is a standard connection. I'm torn between having a connector section between modules, or making the tracks run to the edge, with a wooden jig that sets them in the right place.

The main stumbling block ( to most of my modeling at the moment) is that I've downloaded a CAD program to see if I can teach myself how to use it to improve my modeling. This next bit will come as a shock to those who know me. I'm a closet perfectionist. If I can't see how something will work out in my mind it makes it actually harder to start the whole thing in the first place. So until I work out how to use this CAD thingy then the bench stuff takes a back seat. Another problem with my CAD program is that it does not seem to have come with the wee man inside that does everything I tell it to do. So last nights yelling 'draw me a wagon underframe you bastard' into the mic was not the most productive thing I could have been doing. There are a collection of tutorials that come with it, but upon reading through the first one, I immediately went and poured myself another drink. in fact I poured several. It must have been the fractions of an inch.

All is not lost however as Amateur fettler and his brood are coming to stay at labour weekend, so I'll just trap him in the computer room and feed him my home brew till he gives me all his secrets of this dark art, or until he passes out, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

It was 25 years ago...

I think sometime in 1983 Kiwibonds located the first copy of the local rag we had even seen, I think from Burglar Bills in Chch. For a group of boys in little old Waimate the discovery that there were other nutters doing somewhat similar things to use, and that you could buy kits for making models of NZR prototypes. A name that kept cropping up in these mags was Colin McHarg and his number plates. Tonight, after 25 years I'm the extremely proud owner of a group of Da number plates. I think this is the first work Colin has etched in Nz120, and the results are just stunning. I'm now not brave enough to cut then out of the sheet.

( It was a bugger to photograph these and do them justice. they are just that good.)

wagon pictures from the 80's

Kiwibonds has created a secret part of his website, devoted to wagons from the 80's that are definately not part of the modern scene.

As a taster, how about living in this.

Monday, October 06, 2008

So whats on your work bench?

I think It's time I had a tidy up. I can't even find my normal 6" to work in.
(no, this picture has not been staged)

According to statcounter 20% of my visitors have spent longer than an hour browsing the blog. As theres not that much of interest here, you are either on a dial up connection, or slow readers.

Finally does anyone else have any opinions on the A3 module ideas?(or any I just talking to myself in my own wee padded cell?). Kiwibonds has suggested a module of the Otira tunnel sectioned 1/2 way, which by my calculations could result in a module 3m long.
(Mum, thanks for the comments. Does beer count for eating my greens?)

Right, off to download a free 3D CAD program from somewhere.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Da Da Da Dum (A3 layout pt4)

Well, having spouted all these grand ideas, I decided this afternoon to actually do something about them. I had a piece of extruded polystyrene ever since I liberated it from a local building site 6 months ago which, being 2 inches thick, was just perfect for the job. I decided to do something simple to start with, 2 'long' modules (2 A4 longways), and a 15" radius curved module. I just wanted to do a simple embankment with a bridge in the center. I still have to make some endplates (and possibly adjust my original thinking on the bolt spacing) but its a good demonstration of what is possible, and that you should not restrict yourself to just one A3 module if you want more length to fit in a station or some other scenic feature.

Any thoughts chaps (and chapesses)?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Night picture

Paikakariki loco depot in the early 1960's
Not much more to say except I quite like the view. The actuall creating might be more problematic.
(I'm not sure where I found this. If its your picture, I'm sorry for not crediting you)

A3 layout challenge pt 3

I've been doing some more thinking about this at work today along 2 lines.
1) There needs to be a common end plate (duh!). The wide dimension should probably correspond to 21cm ( the width of an A4 sheet of paper). The track should enter or exit in the center of the end plate, which gives a center line of 10.5cm from either end. The depth of the end plate should be 10cm. While this might seem a bit deep, it gives the builder the option of building terrain both above and below the trackbed. I'd like some thoughts about this from the peanut gallery out there. It would be intended that the modules would be placed on a table top, and possibly have a support system at each end ( I need to draw some pictures of this as its not making alot of sense, but that just might be the homebrew beer).

2) Railfan magazine has started a regular feature on branchlines, which in my not so humble opinion is one of the more interesting bits of the magazines, especially the photo's included. Its just occurred to me tonight that there is no reason why the layout nees to be a loop. Adding in junctions raises the possibility of running a branchline off the main line to a terminus station, which is similar to what people have done in FREEMO layouts.

now I'm not suggesting that the more complex track layouts should be emulated, but some of the more simple ideas are worth looking at.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Monthly meeting

Tonight was the monthly local group meet. I took along the Paikakariki plan. This then provoked a wide ranging discussion on a variety of topics, some even related to what we were doing.
The main talk was on quartering driving wheels. Now personally I'm quite happy to have a chap in China do it for me, but when one is forced to model in an oddball scale (S), one must assemble everything one piece at a time. The range of tools just to get a wheel on square and set up just right was bewildering. There was also a slide section to the evening. This was more interesting than most as they were all taken in the 60's around the country. Some very odd shots ( a Bb on an RES excursion out of Frankton with red wheels, running gear and cylinder ends as well as the 'de rigure' white paint would have to be the most bizarre scheme I've seen on a steam loco in this country) and some lovely historical stuff. I've been having trouble finding pictures of the south end of the Paikakariki loco shed. Well, in the small set we saw tonight there were 3! and with more to come. I'm going to have to discover how to scan stuff from slides to a digital format.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A3 layout challenge pt 2

I've been doing a bit more thinking on this. Cutting up bits of A4 paper gives a variety of possible module shapes.

Clockwise from the bottom left, there is a standard A3, 2 A4's joined at the short edge, and a large (~15" radius) and small (~12" radius) right angle curve. I've been asked 'so what can you possibly do on something this size'.
I'm not sure its a big problem. In this modern age of less time and smaller spaces, plus job mobility, few of us have that much space for a large layout. I think I only set Cass up properly at shows, as there was no way it fitted into any of the flats I have lived in. However, with a smaller set up that can fit into all sorts of room shapes, the world is the mollusc of your choice.
The big thing will be to sort out a common end plate connector system to fit the small modules together into a large layout.

Also added tonight is a link to the BOP track gang. They are S scale , but the pictures are quite nice.

Just another note

You now don't have to be a member to post comments.
I'll throw everything open for a few weeks to see how many 'real' nutters I get.