Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Well a wee while ago I asked for info on where to get cheap decoders.
Steve came up with the goods (what a useful chappie he is) and suggested the Digitrax DN135D from Southern Digital. Its just a simple 3 function decoder, but hey, I'm a simple chap, and I don't want no sound or flashing lights (remote uncoupling though...). I orders a couple of decoders on the 22nd, and they arrived at home last night, so 8 days. Total cost was 2 decoders at $15.20 each and $8 for the postage, which translates to $54 in the local peso. From what I've seen of local prices, this is quite a saving.

So, onto the fun. First onto the dissection table is 1410. Now being of an older vintage, the old atlas SD-9 has absolutely no DCC readiness whatsoever. I did manage to find how to on the net and that sort of helped. So, cut off the motor tags, shorten the decoder wires and solder away. The first problem arose when it suggested that I could reroute the wires up beside the motor. 'OK fine' I thought, and after 1/2 an hour of stuffing and testing decided that these clowns were talking bollocks. I then went back to my fall back position and drilled a couple of holes in the frame next to the motor terminals. The wires were then lead out and connected to the decoder. This still shorted out, but worked when the motor was out of the frame. I kept checking my soldering but couldn't see what the problem was, and eventually just taped over the offending terminals. I'd just got the whole thing back together and squeezed the top back on. A test revealed no movement, which was traced back to the motor wire which had broken just inside the hole in the frame. Back apart everything went, and new stronger wires were soldered in. This time with everything back together it worked. One down and only 2 hrs on the clock.

Next up 1431. This had a decoder in it ages ago which let all the smoke out one day (which is an important component of any electrical device). The wires were still there so it was relatively easy to connect up the decoder. A minor hassle was that the decoder would not fit quite where I wanted it to go. This was eventually sorted and Da number 2 rumbled into life and down the track, where it promptly collided with Da no 1. I had forgotten just how much fun DCC could be

So, at the end of a long annoying evening I have 2 DCCed locos.


I'm not looking forward to the Ed's as the Kato Mikado chassis is known to be a sod to do, though maybe that's if its still a steam loco.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Taking a step back in time: NZ Railways Mag

DB writes: Wonderful things these internets. You start by looking for something in a maze of twisty passages, all alike, when suddenly you stumble upon:The opening of Elmer Lane

Applause may be directed toward the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre and to Kiwirail/Ontrack/Toll and other incarnations of our fine old railway entity for providing material. I'm not sure how many of these old NZ Railways Magazine's are digitised but there seems to be an interesting smattering of stuff from the 20's and 30's if that's what you're into.

Back to the Railways Mag for a second. For the electrified Wellingtonians among us, may I present a fresh Ed

And to finish, some spritely humour from the dark days of 1940:

It was the final of the local cup tie and feeling ran high among the spectators. One of the home team supporters was continually drawing the referee's attention to infringements of the rules apparently committed by the visitors, but the ref. wasn't having any. Finally, in the middle of the second half, when the noisy spectator had almost made himself speechless with his shouts of “Foul!” a train on the railway about a hundred yards away whistled loudly. “There you are, ref.,” shouted the man excitedly. “Even the driver saw that one!”

Long-winded Lecturer: “If I have talked too long it's because I haven't my watch with me, and there's no clock in this hall.” Voice from audience: “There's a calendar behind you.”

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trackmaking pt XIV

'Hi everyone, my name is MD'
(Chorus) 'Hi MD'
' Its been 24hrs since my last hit, and I'm still itching for another high. It started off innocently enough. A free sample of PCB sleepers and some code 55 rail. Just a couple of straight bits I thought, just to see what it looks like. Before I knew it I was running with a rough crowd. They gave me templates and track gauges and encouraged me to make points. Its got so bad that I'm now making track for others, and if I don't have a template on the workbench, I find myself edgy and just looking at the track I've made. My other modeling has suffered, its been months since I've made a wagon, or looked at a loco. I just don't know where this spiral will end, as I'm looking at double slips and scissors crossovers. I know I need help, but I only seem to get encouragement....'

'Its appearing like fungus'

And I've just noticed that I have yet to put any check rails in place on these, or gap the sleepers. Maybe when I get the rest of the track finished. Ohh, I'm getting all shakey....

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday morning

Saturday morning here at Chateau Dandruff. I'm about to step into the modeling room to start getting some track down, and should really take some pictures of the complete process again.

So whats everyone else up to?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Trackmaking pt XIII

(First up a quick apology for rushing Kiwibonds last post. I did think it was finished. I'll have to buy him some 3 berry cider next time he's in Nelson)

Well, I'm making steady progress on the 2nd module, and have almost completed the second section of track, bar the tie bars which has to wait till I get my other file back this weekend. However apparently this will involve me crawling around under a layout connecting point motors to a control panel. It really sounds like a sucky scavenger hunt. Anyway, her is how things are getting along. To the left we see the scary scissors crossover, and at the bottom a coupld of sidings. I'm still not sure If I'll ever use them to shunt, but they are there at least.

So, having finished the second section, I immediately laid out the 3rd.

Why is this so sodding addictive? Maybe I like solder burns or getting high on the flux fumes?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Boxing on:Hutt one, Hutt two, Hutt three

(well, don't say I didn't warn anyone..MD)
(DB belatedly finishes this off: )

I've always thought a workshops scene to be a nice diorama for displaying your rolling stock, so as one example let me present the exterior of Hutt Shops in a boxfile:

The scene is 'boxed in' if you will on three sides - by workshops buildings on each side, and a fence/backdrop behind. The join is masked by a track running in front of the fence that you can store locos, wagons, a craven steam crane or whatever. If you have any old loco tops you could rust them up or even partially dismember them and have your own rotten row.

OK, I know I have some pictures of Hutt buildings somewhere, but not handy... Luckily a trawl through the blog revealed this:

OK, technically that one of DFT 7008 was taken at Hillside by someone, but it illustrates the general concept...

Ah, here's some of the Hutt Traverser, stolen from the interweb. I'd model the doors as rollerdoors with plastic roofing material that could slide up in plastruct channels so you could have any of the doors open or closed. Alternatively you could hinge them properly.

(Stolen from www.valleysignals.org.nz)

(Stolen from the bettertransport.org.nz forum)

The truly masochistic could have a nice model of yellow TR56 shuffling things around in a style similar to some of those cute wee UK exhibition layouts except here the focal point is the normally-hidden traverser, and the stuff that is normally modelled is offstage.

Or is it

Another approach, slightly more interesting, and one that I've thought about for a long time, is to actually model inside one of the big assembly halls. I've always thought this would make an impressive small diorama to show locos in, or you could connect it to the above traverser concept and have an operating inside/outside workshops layout made up of two boxes.

This second concept goes a little something like this:
Your models are in the bays , surrounded by spare parts, workstations, benches, screened-off welding areas, a freshly overhauled prime mover ready to be installed, those elevated walkways and so forth.

I'd want to build a dummy loco that either has some side doors open or hood sections removed to show the bits and pieces that make locos move.

Mr McNaught did a nice pictorial of DX5477 being refurbished in the Railfan a few years back that would give you plenty of ideas for this, as would the articles that showed the DCs being 'created' in Australia and part 2 of the DSC article that showed them being assembled in NZ. For those with steamier tastes, The Real Mr Dandruff published some pictures recently of workshop interiors, and I'm sure you will have seen pics of Jas being assembled at Hillside. Evan posted an excellent Hutt visit report in here earlier too if you missed it with loads of pictures for inspiration, including the one of the DFT above.

As an added bonus, you could temporarily stick a fuel tank under a loco top and have it hooked up on the overhead traveling crane which could be motorised with slow gearing for the enjoyment of young and old.

I'd consider putting a roof on the thing too and lighting the interior (forcing viewers to peer into the depths and leading the eye on a path of discovery from detail to detail).

In the best traditions of not biting off more than you can choo-choo, the modules could be built quite quickly in a basic fashion - the blue walls with windows and roller doors etc, and then be detailed quite extensively over time. Later you could expand this into quite an extensive workshops layout by adding additional mini-modules containing the load-testing shed, the paint shop, the big blue wall that they always pose locos for photos in front of, the gutted DSC that they test refurbished motors in, the former stack of BR cars and (mainly Australian) locos awaiting overhaul or scrapping, even the old passenger stop on the way to Gracefield, which is, of course, another story!

And don't think you're stuck with Kiwirail DXs either...I took a picture of a pair of Q wagons here in 1990 while there were a bunch of southerners in town:

And to close, yet another interesting sidebar

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Unveiling secrets?

We have been kicking round ideas for the layout competition behind the scenes her on the blog, with a few in a fairly concrete form.

The question that I have for all you would be entrants out there is; do you want to see some ideas published, or do you feel that having ideas out there that are potentially close to your entry may lessen its chances of winning if its seen to be a 'copy' of someone else's thoughts.

Regardless of this, I will be publishing my ongoing efforts to build my layout. I'd encourage everyone else to do the same.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thinking outside the box pt2

A couple of days ago B.SE commented on the Cross creek loco depot idea;' I'd been considering the Incline as a project for a while but had given it up as it seemed impractical in the space I had and with the budget available. It would be very cool to see someone do something in this vein. I shall watch with interest'

Again the little gray cell roused itself from bed, put on its reading glasses and had a think.

The way that I would approach a project like this (and this goes for any project but this is as convenient and close to my heart as it gets) is as follows.

First up, and assuming you have done the research for your location, is to start building some rolling stock. its an easy start, and if you decide not to continue the project then Trademe can leap the the rescue. For the incline this is mainly short wagons (no modern Lc types) and short bogie wagons.

After this then you will no doubt want some locos. Be warned that the next paragraph may contain some heretic thoughts (my inner finescaler is safely locked in the trunk of the car, where's yours?).

The H is a large chunky loco so there is plenty of room for a motor and other bits. looking at the superstructure (the upper bit) there are actually very few differences between the 2 types. The most noticeable are the steam dome and the cab front windows. Creeping below the waistline, here is where some may wish to skip a bit. The Atlas GPXX bogie has the correct wheelbase ans wheel size for the mech. The big question I'll pose is 'do the waggly bits' actually have to go round?'. many moons ago (more than either of us will care to note) Kiwibonds built a Mitsubishi Dsa with outside frames on an old tri-ang Jinty 0-6-0. The outside rods were fixed and didn't move, yet to our eyes it looked really good. Why not apply this to the 'H' problem, at least initially until someone develops the skills/insanity to make it all work.

Right, skip back in. As well as rolling stock, its also possibly to build some of t lineside buildings as well. In this case, railway houses, jigger sheds and station buildings. These can be mini detailing projects if so desired.

Ok, so theres no layout building, but you could build a small yard to do some shunting etc, possibly modeled on the north end of cross creek, the loco depot, or even part of the summit yard.

The overall aim with all of this planning and building (and for any sort of project like this) is to strategically position oneself so that if the domestic circumstances change 4-5 years down the track, one is situated to immediately take advantage of it, rather than waiting round for the perfect opportunity to present itself, and then be overwhelmed by the modeling projects that need to be completed to even consider starting the dream layout. Its also easier to hide a drip feed project from the lady of the house.....

(As an aside, I keep looking at this as a layout project, and I consider it to be possibly the ultimate challenge. It was a toss up between this and Paekakariki, and I can't remember what the final selection process involved, maybe I'd relook at it if i moved to England for any length of time)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Boxed in

Today in the first of a series on the 'layout in/on a box file competition' competition, we look at what a boxfile is, and what you can (or can't) do with it.
First of all, what does it look like open?

Its size is 368mm by 264mm but that doesn't really help much to visualise how big it is. Instead here is a photo.

Arrangements of the boxfiles can be fairly flexible, really limited only by your imagination. As well as the linear approaches here;

and here;

There also exist the possibilities for more outlandish arrangements.

The Y;

The cross

and whatever this looks like?

Finally, they do not make very good hats....

"It is an overall improvement though..."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thinking inside the Box 1: Cross Creek

Am Fet scribbles:

Right, I've been playing with a few ideas over the past wee while that would be eligible for this here Nz120 layout comp thingie. As I've previously mentioned, I'm keen to try and think "Outside the square" a bit...obviously youre never going to be able to model a sprawling landscape running Ka hauled express's around in a boxfile, and I would like to think that there would be the opportunity for a wee bit of operation away from the exhibition circuit.

This is an idea that has always been in the back of my mind, although admittedly not in Nz120 (the original was planned for P34/9mm). To my mind, the Rimutaka Incline has a lot more "play value" per mile (only 3 miles at that) than any other stretch of track....and those Chunky H's look so cool! Dont think I can fit Cross creek, Summit or even Siberia into a boxfile though, so its really a case of finding a "nugget" of action somewhere and seeing if that will fit.

And here it is: Cross Creek locomotive depot.

The joys here are in the locomotive movements of the H's from shed to water tower to yard with the occasional Ab/A visitor for variety. Plus the railcar sheds in the background may receive the odd visitor (Wairarapa cars...decidedly odd!). Add on to that the need for the ultra cute wee Fell vans needing to be put over the pit after every run to change out the brake shoes, and you can spend quite a pleasant evenings play here....especially if you cant get that lovely waggling Stevensons gear to work!

Here is how I'd get it to fit:

The dodge here is using the boards in Portrait rather than Landscape to get depth across the depot. The angle of the main shed wont matter, and will in fact add to the look of the thing (arent we always told to put tracks non-parrallel to edges??). The tracks disappear off stage left to a sector plate which will happily swallow up the last two points (or so). Tracks wise, thats a 3 way there in the middle which could be taxing, but I'm picking if you can build working H's in this scale you can probably knock one of these puppies out before breakfast, then leave with your underwear outside your lycra to save people from burning buildings/collapsing bridges/forest fires/80's music....or am I thinking of International Rescue?

Slow weekend

Sorry to our regular reader, but theres not been much modeling going on here at the Chateau recently. however yesterday saw the lady of the house back on her bike for the first time since her crash 6 months ago, which is a big step. I've also been sorting out just where I'm going wrong with my points building, and I just made another step forward yesterday. Some of the problem stems from trying to build points with an overly large radius (1200mm which would be ~2400mm in S scale). If I came down to 900 or 750 I don't think that it would be such a big issue.
Of out to an ecofest display now, but I promise not to hug any trees or buy a composting toilet.

Friday, August 20, 2010

layout tours

As part of the Trainz weekend Saturday afternoon was devoted to having a look at some local layouts. For some odd reason I got to play driver to 3 other lucky modelers. We then set foot off into the wilds of Cashmere. As a bynote, Marks model works product list is unlikely ever to be graced by a GPS unit ('At the next intersection, go thataway').

First up was Peter Ross' layout.

His currently completed scene is the Amberly Lime works. This is a nice piece of modeling, but for some reason it just didn't 'do it' for me. I think mostly as it is a nice uncluttered scene, but it takes up far too much space. Maybe I'm just bias against S scale. Maybe because I'm not quite sure that the colours are correct (well to my eye) and that there needs to be a bit more green in the base.

Next up was Neil Andrews 9mm layout (the GPS was OK with this). This is huge and features an enormous number of trees made from almost any material you can think of. This layout had atmosphere that I did like. Then again I do have a soft spot for 9mm (I think most 9mm modelers do indeed have a soft spot..)

Finally, and for something completely different, we visited Glen Anthonys garden railway. I've never been impressed by these (maybe cos I've only seen them in magazines). However Glenn has produced a charming layout with some very nice rolling stock and structures. Hes an ex Nz120er who made the jump to the largest scale he could find, skipping all the inconveniently small ones along the way.

The C and old style train in among the plants are just great. Don't forget this is in winter as well.

And I just had to take this shot.

'It scales out to 9" gauge'

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ho Hum

Well, since work has anaged to grind off any enthusiasn that I might have had, heres a link for the day.

A colection of old pictures from the 1980's around the south island. Some good shots around Timaru,though I suspect that health and safety might have a fit today about people climbing the yard lighting towers. And where did that old carriage in the loco shed come from, and go to?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Clayton's Modeling

If you read any of the "unnamed" magazines mentioned by Am_Fet recently you will no doubt notice they all look at winter as the season for modeling projects to get moving.

So with that in mind I have plenty on the go...

...But winter seems different down under, so for the last couple of months at least the sum total of my modeling efforts have been of the armchair variety.
So to show that I have at least been thinking about modeling, here's some idea of what has been thought about.

Firstly the DFT.

Well this hasn't really progressed any further than the last peek we got at it.
The mkII version is at the laser cutters.

Okay so the fleet will be retired by the time this one gets finished!

Now I know Steve is chomping at the bit to get one of these to play with. Unfortunately for him (and me) Am_Fet with his ZH test managed to jump the queue at the laser shop. I'm not quite sure how he pulled that off, perhaps I need larger bribes!

Next the "modern" re-clad GT.

Yes I know, original GT's but you get the idea.

The first version of the CAD work has been done for this, but not yet test cut. This will be a similar idea to Am_Fet's ZH, formers with a thin wrap for the cladding.

Matangi (ears pricking up maybe?)

Nothing serious here.

Just playing with the CAD files from Hollywood Foundry to see how "low profile" the running gear could be, this has potential.

And finally something to temp anyone?

So can I argue that a CAD on a laptop in the armchair constitutes modeling...

... Probably Not.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The weekend that was.

Well, the Trainz weekend just past was quite interesting. I managed to arrive late both days (the first due to traveling down from Hanmer that morning, and the second due to a visit with some old friends that consisted of opening more bottles of red wine.) as such I missed some/all of the early talks. A pity as these were probably the ones i wanted to hear more from. Of the ones that I did see, Barry Fitzgeralds discussion on Foliage for New Zealand was a stand out. It did run my old sanded pinex grass' into a cocked hat (and I'm now told that one can't buy Pinex any more).

Personally, the best part was getting to put some faces to names. To have someone sidle up to you and say 'hi, I'm Captain Carbon' normally only happens in comic books. Thankfully he didn't wear his underwear on the outside. Likewise to meet Dorian (thanks for the clever ideas on wagon tarps), Fred, Brendan and Mike (again) was good, and a few good discussions were had between talks. Catching up with other modelers was also good.

Shopping wise I escaped lightly, with just some Carrs 188C solder paint and some more universals for the Ew to replace the one I broke a while back.

The big thing I've come away with is a bit of revitalisation in my modeling, spurred on by looking at others building models (which doesn't happen that often here in Nelson). Apart from the trackmaking I have been struggling with doing other things. Hopefully I can get back into it in the next couple of weeks. I've even brought some more plasticard to make some new wagons.

As a final note, and in 'finger-shaky' mode, lets see some pictures of your models (and I'm talking to you Brendan!) up on NZ120.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another milestone.

By the time you read this, we have had out 100,000th pageload. I would sort out exactly who it was, and I might if I can be bothered, but theres no prize involved anyway, and its probably someone looking for a cure for an itchy scalp.

But, since I'm a geek over these things, the 100,000 pageload was at 12:44 this morning (local time) and came from ......Computer Associates in Islandia, New York.
This may immediately narrow down the person involved. At least it wasn't my mum I suppose.....

Thinking inside the square

Am_Fet writes:

Well, I've just heard from Herr Druffbannfurher as he meanders northwards from Christchurch to Nelson via the coast. Unfortunately, the only trains running today are 700/701 (The Coastal Pacific), so things are a bit sparse trainspotting wise.

Anyway, todays topic: This here layout-in-a-boxfile competition.

I know the blog owner has a few comments of his own to put into the mix, but seeing as he isnt here I thought I would get in at the ground floor and put my own spin on things.

Firstly, I read in an American magazine (which darent not speak its name) about an individuals response to a similar call for small plans that they ran once, and its one I wholeheartedly agree with. He admitted that his original thought process was along the lines of "Exactly what could I fit in that sort of space?" He envisaged N gauge shortlines, HO switching puzzles, even Nn3 narrow gauge. But then he thought "What would I do with this space if it was the only space I ever had?"

So, using the limitations set down by the design rules, he looked at what he was really interested in (prototype, location, scale, etc) and designed to match....and came up with a much nicer model because of it. He noted that he didnt lose enthusiasm half way through the build, or worried about having to buy extra locomotives and rolling stock that he couldnt use anywhere else.

So I'm currently thinking about how I can model my own interests (Taranaki Milkies) in such a space...and it looks like there will be some compromise involved as I dont think Whareroa is going to fit, somehow....

Okay, so what about something else? Maybe the cheese stores at the western end of the plant? Or why not a small fictitious louding point for the OM's, possibly like Longburn? Do the OM's ever go through a Car and Wagon depot, say at Palmy?

Or do I move the OM's down the priority list and look at other stations on the MNPL, like Aramoho with its CF's of fertiliser and USL's for logs? What about the service siding at Kai Iwi? The old Cheese store at Patea?

Okay, so thats enough verbiage from me....but what about the readers who want to model the BoP log traffic? If this was the only space you were ever going to have, what would you do?

(Thanks to Drew for the pics, as always)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

That Infernal ZH (Thwarted....Again...)

In the absence of the proprietor, Am_Fet again steps up to the plate and writes:

I know there are a few people out there who are very keen to see the ZH and ZG arrive somewhere close to them so they can run gazillions of them on their layouts. So to that end, here is a report on the latest design iteration (Ver 3.0??)

As I have already stated elsewhere, the main design change was the use of 0.25 styrene for the doors in place of the earlier 1.0 and 0.5mm stuff, both of which proved too thick to be easily handled. This entailed a lot of redrawing of the original plan as the internal formers needed their overall shape changed to accommodate the thinner doors.

Anyway, the design of the ZH and ZG works on a central spine that slots into the floor and allows the formers and bulkheads to sit in slots to get the correct placement. The formers then support the doors which are a one piece wrap over the top.

The end bulkheads are then built up from 2 layers of 1mm styrene and attached....and this was where the first issue found.

Unfortunately we got rather major melt on the end bulkhead. I'm thinking of experimenting with either locating these bits well away from others on the sheet so they dont get knocked by residual heat, or even increasing the width of the lasered uprights by 0.1, or even 0.2. The underframe looks like it may have got knocked around as well, but I havent checked it yet. This pic shows the other bulkhead end removed ready for cleanup, and even it looks a tad manky (apologies for the blurry photo).

However, it was really the doors I was interested in. I had rastered in the fold lines, but was surprised to find they werent deep enough and had only really gone through the protective paper. Before unpeeling the second door (having discarded the first), I scored all the fold lines with the back of my scalpel blade a few times, and this did the trick. A wee bit of clever finger work turned out this:

Much more like it! A cleaner shape could probably be got with the use of bending bars or similar, but either way when attached to the formers it should hold its final shape quite nicely.

Unfortunately, I've got a few things to fix (sigh). The slots on the formers aren't deep enough (my fault for drawing one and copying, then not adjusting each former in turn for its individual position). I'll have to deal with the melt using the ideas previously aired, plus the measurements of the door circumference were slightly off on one of the planes and needs to be tweaked.

So yet again its back to the drawing board for the final tweaks, followed by another test assemble. So I cant really say when its due now, but at least its progress!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Am_Fet writes:

I was at a loose end Thursday night as far as reading material was concerned, but luckily managed to find a neat wee booklet that I had previously flogged from the "TranzRail Library" (when such a thing existed). Its called "Private Railways in Hawke's Bay" by A.C Bellamy, and although its only a thin wee slip of a thing ( a mighty 24 pages) its still a great read.

As much as I enjoyed reading about the works at Tomoana and Whakatu, the Fertiliser works at Awatoto and the Napier Harbour Board line, the real surprise was this:

"During the construction of the Wairoa to Waikokopu Railway by the Public Works Department in 1923, a siding was laid into the freezing works a short distance east of Wairoa. From this time until the linking up of this line in 1938 with the railway being built northward from Napier, meat from these works was railed to Waikokopu and shipped from that port. During this period the siding was worked by the Public Works Department, and from early photographs it appears the meat was loaded into insulated boxes on "M" wagons."

And then for good measure, they included this photo:

The description and photo was enough to pique my interest, so a quick search on GE quickly found this:

So with its big horseshoe curves and station, it would seem that Waikokopu is one of those rare "prototype for anything" stations. But where was the port? So at great risk of ridicule, I found and scanned in the only plan I could find in a crowded office surrounded by engineers....

The thing here is that this plan is "Tracks Suggested By the Railways Department" (their way of saying to the PWD "By the way, your station planning skills are crap...") but a close look does show the original alignment of the PWD trackage. The wharf is a simple loop with hardly any loading space at all. I would love to find some of the earlier plans mentioned in the index, but they had all been hared off somewhere ages ago (pity) so I couldn't verify the position of the 3-way turnout in the photo.

Still, what a great station to model. Modest, but with a bit of interest. As one of the crowd that had gathered to see what the mad foamer was up to commented, "It looks like its custom made for one of those Pommy model railway layouts..."

Friday, August 13, 2010


This weekend The lady of the house and myself will be traveling to the garden city. While its a 'holiday' the ulterior motive is this.

'Of course I didn't know it was on dear...'

It should be interesting to talk to some of the Christchurch chaps, and also cover the event for the blog.

'Ace boy reporter Bluebottle is on the job'

While I work hard at this, The lady of the house will be conducting an in depth investigation of the various shopping opportunities that a larger city has to offer. I can feel the Eftpos card warming up in my wallet as I write this.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Trackmaking XII

While working on the second modules trackwork, and avoiding doing other jobs (there is an order for the point work at North Junction to fill yet) I noticed a possible shortcut. With the previous track work I had drawn it out on plain paper, and then transferred it onto tracing paper. This is a hangover from the S scale guys methods. It also rely's on correct transposition of the various curve radii. I noticed on completion of the first piece of trackage and placing it back on the plan, it didn't match in some places. While looking at the second module tonight it hit me that I could instead just cut out the particular part of the track formation from the pre-drawn plan and use it as the track template. So before common sense got a look in I had cut out 2 track formations and stuck them down to the board.

'I'll just make a delicate incision'

'They look much more comfortable here...'

I then got stuck in and stuck down the sleepers. It seems to be working so far, but I have yet to wave a soldering iron at it.

(Oh, and today's question for the Peanut gallery is; any suggestions on laying track across an inspection pit? Do I have to prevail on Woodsworks to do a PCB template for one?)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Half baked thoughts

Well, its now out that I'm one of the 3 Judges for the layout in/on a boxfile. I guess its punishment for helping Wee Duggie set it up.

I suppose I get to put down some thoughts about what I'd like to see in peoples entries.

For those entering a plan, a clear track plan with (where possible) prototype photos to illustrate design points. Some sketches of scene details and a discussion of operational potential. This sort of submission will probably attract a few more 'out-there' layouts as it will be easier to design a layout than build it. However, pushing the envelope may reslt in amks being removed for 'not being in the spirit of the challenge'. Its hard to quanitify, but if you start cutting boxes up into odd shapes this may be marked down.

For those who are going to take it a step further and have a crack at building a small operating layout (and I do hope this is where the majority of entrants attempt to get to) the aims will be a bit different. I suppose I could bang on about excellence in modeling and fidelity to prototype etc, but what I would really like to see is people having a go and creating a believable scene. My personal aim is to try some new modeling techniques and have a go at some detail modeling in a small space. I might even have a go at laying some code 40 track, even if it instantly disqualifies me. I am also going to attempt to complete one of my steam locos that I have started.

I have also decided that I am going to chronicle my layout building endeavors. I'd encourage others to do the same, unless you feel that your efforts are too top secret to share. It will help othere to remain interested and focused.

As a final note, don't feel as thouh you have to use 4 box files. A small well executed layout that is achievable in 5 months is better than a larger layout that you may struggle to complete.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why didn't I think of this before

While pondering at the workbench yesterday morning, I looked at the first module, and suddenly wondered why I had not connected the power up and run things on it. After all, that's what the aim is surely. Right then, out with the file (contrary to local belief I actually own 4 of them!) and the ex-NZR multimeter to check that I've gaped all the copperclad sleepers. After 1/2 an hour of that everything seemed to be OK. Time to connect some wires at the ends of the modules. Hmm, theres that short back, should have done them one at a time. Found location of first short at the other end of the modules where the brass sleepers I had installed had yet to be gapped, which was solved in 30 seconds with a fret saw. Still a short out there. Eventually found the short in a small inaccessible nook between 2 rails, and managed to get enough of a knife blade in till the short went away.

So, finally everything seems to be happy, and its time to turn on the power. A light touch on the knob and 1431 rolls off down towards Wellington. Well, not quite. It appears that I have a dodgy pot in the controller. This means that the first twist gives full speed, which with further twisting rolls back to a dead stop, and then a slow start. This unless the controller decides to go back to full speed. After several minutes of to and fro I then tried the Ed's which also happily ran over the trackwork (though I suspect that there will be a few bits that need a bit of filing to iron out the bumps). I then put the railcar on the tracks, and discovered that there was a lose wire somewhere on board. 2 minutes to find that one and fix it.

So, I've got something that runs. I must buy some Decoders at some point so that I can get more than one loco running at once. Can anyone suggest where I can get cheap minimum function decoders? As I'm not doing sounds or lights I could theoretically get by with a no function decoder.

Monday, August 09, 2010

A bigish announcement thats late

Only by a day, which isn't much on the cosmic scale of things.

Announcing the inaugural 'layout in a boxfile-NZ120'. A reality series where YOU get to be the star. Arrange your own eliminations ('I don't like you there tree, you are the weakest link, goodbye'). Weekly challenges (' how do I unstick this building that I've just superglued to my hand). All leading up to the winner being crowned (or something similar; possibly tared and feathered if we are bored that day).

Have a look at the full document over at NZ120.org. the rules are pretty simple, and have been carefully sculpted so as to maximise creativity in the challenge. In the coming weeks we here at Chateau dandruff will be looking at some base ideas (just how much track can one fit in a boxfile), and some possible prototype ideas, thoug your design doesn't have to imitate one.

Anyone can enter (as many times as you want) and don't feel that you have to build the layout that you design, if you model in one of those odd scales and don't want to spend the money. However, I hope it provides the catalyst for some of you to have a dabble in the chosen scale.

I've come up with about 10 different ideas for this, and some of them won't make the cut to reality, but I'm quite excited about the challenges this poses. Its also much more manageable than a large layout modeling wise.

Gentlemen, start your pencils....
(Steve, sorry its not that KATO popsicle Dx you ahve been waiting for. better luck next time.)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Reply to comments

Micheal writes "Just got my NMRA N scale gage. Already have my woodworks rails and sleepers and a plan in my head. Would you be able to do a detailed post on how you build your points? Just want to see how you do your switch blades and tie bar."

I've covered this back in the early posts on trackmaking but I should really revisit this whole thing as some of my methods have changed a wee bit since those heady far of days of being a trackmaking virgin. I still have to think of a way to combine the methods used here in Nelson with those applied in other areas. These are to build the points on a bench to a standard type and then force the track layout to fit them. The Nelson method (which I think owe a fair bit to the British though I must ask the guru at some stage about this) lays out the curves and then builds the track to them, which gives curves running smoothly through pointwork without the sudden sideways movement.
I'm not quite sure how to do this just yet, but I think it could involve a roller gauge that is notched in the center so that the track can be laid with the notch lining up with the drawn track centerline. I'm not quite sure how to adjust this to pointwork without the track templates that I use. Maybe we could get some laser cut in some non melting material like formica or similar.

So to summarize, I'll have a crack this week and take lots of pictures of what I'm doing.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Quiet day

A modeling day here at Chateau dandruff. I went round to Teach's place to try out some Carrs solder paint. this is a suspension of solder powder in liquid flux. I assembled another of the 2mm bogies with this, and it was a bit easier than normal techniques. I'll have to buy some.
I've also received the latest order of rail and sleepers from Woodsworks, so will get stuck in to the 2nd module in the next couple of days.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Oooo, Shiny...

Am_Fet writes:

Seeing as I was absolutely pillored by "Dear Leader" after not getting scoop pics on Saturday, here are some quick pics of the "staff only" day today.

And its nearly impossible to photograph on a sunny day due to the reflections. Some work-a-day gunge will soon fix that problem.

Seats are the now standard bus-style, and the coolest thing is being able to look right through the whole carriage...should look superb on sharp curves!

And in a further exclusive, I can reveal we've already broken it....Doh!