Monday, November 29, 2010

Wots up 'err then?

The weekends job continued on the Sabbath (I can't remember seeing anything about model railways in teh bible, so it must be OK). I did a final check on one of the sections just to make sure if I had gaped everything before the paint went on. Everything checked out except one of the brass sleepers between modules, and it was not a full short, just a partial one(ie the meter doesn't flick all the way over). I managed to isolate the piece of track. still there. I re cut the slit in the middle of the brass sleeper. Shorts still there, but a bit less. widen the gaps in all the PCB sleepers. short almost gone but I'm still getting a tweak in the needle. OK, cut a bigger gap out of the brass bar.
Needle still giving a tiny tweak. Bugger

At this point I decided to connect up the DCC box, and check out if there actually is a short, or is it just my imagination. OK, so it makes a funny sound when I short it out no purpose,. Now connect it to the track and.....its fine.
Must be time for a beer. And maybe I should consider investing in a new meter?

'It must be OK, its official and everything!'

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday morning

Hmm, posting has got rather haphazard round here hasn't it. truth be told, I've actually not spent that much time at the modeling bench this week. I've been doing a bit of thinking around getting some practice scratchbuilding some steam loco chassis using the 2mm parts. the real problem is deciphering the product list down to what you actually need to do the job. I get rather lost looking at 64DP vs 100DP and which one will do the job best etc. I'm also tempted to actually make an English loco as a cover to get the groups help....

What I have been doing is slowly gluing down the track on the first 2 modules and soldering in the droppers. while its a necessary evil, its not made for great blogging material.

"Move along, nothing to see here"

At least its providing a use for all those old textbooks I've collected over the years.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Boxed in...

Am_Fet scribbles:

And yet again some more ideas for the Box File competition bubble their way to the surface. No plan this time, just a photo...should be enough to go on...

The station is Khandallah (which apparently means "Resting Place of God") on the Johnsonville branch and the photo shows it in 1938, just around the time the main line was diverted through the 2 Tawa tunnels....but well before the 1500V DC overhead was installed for the units.

As a station to model, it would be perfect for those who hate track but love buildings and scenery...its possibly one of the simplest stations to have a signal box (24 levers according to R Heines book) and the trackwork would be nothing daunting at all....

For those questioning the operational aspects of a station, admittedly its not much...although electric hauled freights to JVille and the Raroa stock yards were an essential part of the line until the later half of the 20th century.

If you think this might be worth a look at, talk nicely to the Head Druff....I'm sure once he's perfected his stable of electric locomotive4s and units he'd be more than happy to share...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fresh meat

Foamers have been working themselves into a lather this weekend, and here's why.

The photographer is unknown, but was obviously either close to the action, or using the Hubble telescope from outside the port.
It shows just how big the new locos are. the Dx is far smaller. Judging from the size of the cab, they might be a bit more comfy for the drivers as well.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chook Chasing

Am_Fet writes

Well, they are finally here…..Lets not say that KiwiRail is a backwards looking organization, we’ve now joined the likes of The Warehouse and Kmart by importing cheap goods from China. And if the current rumours are to be believed (and lets face it, the railfan community have built themselves up into such a lather over the impending arrival of the DL’s who knows what crap they’re talking) we may soon see 60 of the beasts wandering around.

Okay, so lets take a step back for a few seconds. What does that mean for the railways as we know them now? First off, KR have just announced the rebuild of 6 DFT’s with better engines. And the report finished by saying that roughly they are a better fit for branchline traffic than the DC’s. Reading between the lines: The DC’s are stuffed. Secondly, pretty soon everything we see will have a KR locomotive on the front…if not a new one, at least a recently overhauled one.

The fact that we are facing a major upheaval was bought home by Drew when he wrote in an email “I have shifted my foaming focus to the old and crusty as their days are numbered with the Chinese about to breach our borders.” And just to prove it he sent a photo of South Island interloper 7117 strolling through the Naki. Word on the street is that it is hanging around Welly waiting for a slot to be “ARTA-ised” (if that’s a word).

These “Old Chooks” as Drew calls them wont be around for much longer….and while everyone will be risking life and limb to catch a glimpse of the new DL’s (which is just stupid, as you wont be able to move without tripping over one in a few months time), I’ll be following Drews lead and scouting out the “Old Chooks” before they are gone forever.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Not trackmaking

Moving away from tracklaying, and given that my co authors seem to have gone into hibernation for winter (which only one of them an claim), I suppose its time for an opinion post.

Over at in the last couple of days there has been renewed interest in Freemo standards. There seems to be some movement towards a 'new' standard in Australia, with an article to be published in an upcoming Australian N gauge mag. I had thought that there already was a freemo standard in Oz, but reading up I'm now not sure. I guess its like here where we still don't really know just how many NZ120 layouts there actually are out there, though there is plenty of evidence that people are building them (or at least the rolling stock).

It will be interesting to see what will come out of it. The sounds that were being made (by 1 individual admittedly) suggest that it might be an all singing all dancing 'DCC with addons set up'. Now I've got no problems with DCC as such, but I'm definitely in the 'turn it on like a TV' camp. I have very little interest in whats going on under the hood (that's my day job) provided that it does what is says on the packet. Thus block occupancy ('land protest?'), transponding ('crossing puddles?') and accessory decoders ('what is that woman wearing?') are all rather obscure terms to me. Apparently its all something to do with knowing where your train is, which is a new problem with DCC, with cornfield meets a specialty for the unwary (own up if you have had one....Mr B). Computer control is another thing that I'm confused about. Where is the fun in operating a layout that you have built from scratch by pushing a collection of buttons, or even worse, the power switch? I guess I choose to be a Luddite in these matters, but I spend enough time in front of a computer for work to know that I don't want to have it more involved in my hobby time as well.

I want to be able to wander along watching my train run through the scenery, throwing points as I go, or operating a yard from a signal box as god intended. Sitting remotely watching from a distance just doesn't do it for me.

Getting back to freemo what will be interesting will be to see what sort of system emerges when the dust has cleared, and whether we in little old Godzone might have any input?

(and over to the peanut gallery....)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Trackmaking XXII

With some of the track in its final position it was time to start thinking about permanent power feeds. I was thinking of brass mini strip with the end bent at right angles and attached to the top of the sleepers, but I discovered that the mini strip I had purchased for the job was far too small. Well, too small compared to the buzz bars that seem to be advocated on the Internet (and if the currents were that high, we would be welding the locos to the track, or burning through motor wiring. I have yet to see any reports of this in the model press). Anyhoo, the next stop? Copper wire, and more specifically copper wire 1.6mm in diameter (whatever that is in imperial measure). Now as a not particularly well know fact outside of the esoteric industry around Hi-Fi systems, the best wire for carrying signals without degradation is single core. Most ideally it should be flat, but single core is much better than multi core wires. If you are going to have to use multi core wire, then it should have as few strands as possible.

Right, back to something outside of physics. I cut the copper wire into 50 odd mm bits. One end was squashed flat (about 2-3mm worth) and then folded at a 90 degree angle to arrive at something that looked like this.

I then bored a hole through the trackbed and inserted the device like so.

Lower the head down till it is below the bottom of the rail and then rotate 90 degrees, to arrive at something that is almost completely unobtrusive.

Then its just a wave of the soldering iron and its all done.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Monthly meeting

Thursday night, and its that time of the month for the support group get together. I for once didn't have anything for show and tell. I should have brought along my scissors crossover but didn't want the Guru subjecting it to an intense 15 minutes of scrutiny. I should have as he was away cycling the Otago rail trail again (quick Q, how many of you have done it?).

Again some good discussions through the night. I got told that to build an H with its 2 unsyncronised engines might require 2 chips for the sound (I'm still not quite convinced, but...).
Someone asked about why Dj's got the chop (they were only 20 years old at the time of their demise), which was mainly because they could not be converted to single manning.
there was also a quick chat on bearings and getting hold of some of the mini ball bearings that are available from here.

So in the end not much to report (I think that modern living gets in the way far too much). One chap commented to me that he did want to do things, but he had too many hobbies. I tend to agree with that sort of thing. I have a few things that I do and starting to paint Russian cavalry is time I don't spend building locos or making track. I can't remember the last time I made a wagon...

Thursday, November 11, 2010


From time to time In this position (blog ringleader) one finds oneself in possession of highly secret information that one has been passed on pain of death. However while I can't reveal specifics the photos I have seen reveal that there will be some excellent new models available for followers of the scale sooner rather than later.

And I guess we could again run the age old pole 'so what does everyone want for christmas?'
Personally I'd just like a break, and possibly the chance to finish tracklaying on the layout. Maybe a source of correct sized spoked wheels on short axles (that are not finescale. they look sexy, but I still have my doubts about building track well enough to run anything). Time to do some CAD work on etched wagon underframes (which really goes and in hand with the wheels).

So, anyone else?

(oh, and we haven't forgotten, happy birthday mum)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Trackmaking XXI

Further advances in the last couple of days. I've got round to gluing down the first baseboard joins. I had previously soldered a long brass bar across the 3 tracks. These were positioned on the board edges, and the tracks largely held down with double sided tape. I the put some 20mm brads into the wood close to the brass bar (I should probably have used screws, but the ones I tried split the ply which didn't help matters much. Once I had all the tracks lined up they were all soldered together. The last step was the application of 5 minute araldite which was liberally (and quickly) applied around to get everything stuck to the track bed. Hopefully this will hold everything in the correct orientation for a while. No doubt Mr Boul will have a better suggestion that I should have used :v). Now all I have to do is gap the brass bar, attach the droppers for the track power, and I'll be able to run locos for almost 6'!

(I would have a picture to show you, but I loaded it on this morning at home, and then managed to delete it while I was writing this at work, so you will just have to wait)


Ok, so here it is then.

Not really sure if it was worth the wait....

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Its always nice to find the wee box in the mailbox in the evening.
I had pre ordered this kit back when I didn't know what it was going to be (but did ask if it was going to fit into the 1960's time period). When it emerged that the subject was a Yd I was pleasantly surprised. These ballast wagons are quite possibly the oldest rolling stock still serving Kiwirail And can still be seen in sets of 3-4 wagons all over the place. They differ from all other ballast wagons locally in that as side tippers they can carry any old size bit of rock around which is probably why they have not faced the scrappers torch yet. And they look interesting as a wagon on the layout.

So, what does one get in the box?

The castings are all crisp (as we have come to expect from Trackgang). The instructions seem to suggest that it may have been one of Pats unreleased efforts? I'm just wondering if he had any thoughts on releasing the S scale electric locos that he did in TT. A few D/Dm sets would be nice....

Things of interest (well, for me) are the pin point bearings, which seem to be a different shape to the ones that I have (from Markits I think).
I'll be replacing the wheels as well, possibly with Badgerbits ones from here which are a bit narrower in the axle length department.
(As an aside, and before anyone asks, I've already checked about the bogie wheelbase, and they are 12.5mm, vs the 15mm that we would require for the 6' passenger bogies.

Friday, November 05, 2010


I've noticed this last week, that we as a modeling scale are entirely ignoring the layout in a boxfile challenge. As my real life looks as though it might sort itself out a little bit next week, I might even have some time to devote to this. I already have the code 40 rail....

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Zh Zh Top

DB waffles forth:

Interesting trivioids about ZZ Top that emerged yesterday: they formed in 1969 (which, if you aren't keeping count, was a long time ago) and there have always been the three of them, two have the trademark long beards, the third is ironically named Frank Beard.

That, of course, has nothing to do with the topic for today but it should push this post past the minimum length mandated by Herr Druffnstuff.

In our last exciting edition of the ZH saga, I might have inferred that while the laser cut ones build up to a nice model with a little fettling and repairing, I wondered if it might be faster to build one up as a master and then try casting them. I acquired about 6 of these ZHs so if I end up with 6 by casting 5 of them I won't feel too bad about copying The Fettler's intellectual property, especially with his full knowledge.

The body of the ZH should present no problems, but the ends are pretty finely detailed and I have a nagging fear that casting them may not work out too well, but we shall see, dear listener. So lets attempt those ends first, as without them there's no point in continuing...

So here we are with an end master made up from the laser etched bits plus a few pieces to replace any melty bits and a few other adornments, including a base to give the whole thing some strength and thickness. As you can see, the main body skeleton (appropriate for Halloween when I took the pic, no?) is coming along as well. Tonight I hope to get some time to pour in some rubber, and then with some freshly arrived resin, we'll soon see if this is a feasible approach to making ZHs.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Slow patch

I've noticed in the last couple of weeks that there seems to have been a general slow down on postings at the Z120 site. I can't help but wonder if its because its finally stopped raining for the moment and the warmer temperatures are forcing people into the outdoors more often (in my case, press-ganged into sorting out the weeds).

Things around here may also slow down as well. I've taken on a contract to help out an old friend (as opposed to a friend who is old) which is going to be taking up some time in the next few months. The offshoot is that there is enough money in it (well, more than enough, but the lady of the house is partial to overseas holidays you understand) to hopefully move some of the larger projects on my books into the solid development pipeline (as opposed to the deranged paper ramblings that they are currently).

Its not helped by my covetous designs on other prototypes like On30 or 2mm English either.