Saturday, April 30, 2011

How not to chase trains.

Right, here's how not to do it.

The target is the 'Round the block' excursion featuring Da1431 and a rake of 56' red carriages. right, I know the times and the locations, how hard could it be.
There is a stop at Pahiatua from 1:15 to 1:45. Excellent I think, I can visit the railcar group again and everything will be open (previous visit can be found here).

What I didn't figure on is the shopping trip that I participate in beforehand. This sees me setting out from Palmy at 1:20 over the Pahiatua track. I'm sure I'll get there in time. by 1:40 I'm still 10 km away and faced by a choice of turning off towards Woodville. No, I'll be fine I think, its bound to be running late.

1:50 sees me at Pahiatua, where I'm greeted by an empty yard, and people cleaning up. Bugger. When did they start running excursions on time then?

However, the huge plus is that I have a preservation site full of all sorts of goodies, and I'm the only one here .....

so, first up and a personal favorite of mine, the Tin hare RM-5 Mahuhu.

The original had the body in aluminium, but the rebuilding will be in ply and fibreglass. Surprisingly enough this is strong enough. Also if you look carefully you can see a second cowcatcher behind the first one with the cutout to clear the center rail.

From the back, and you can see that the top rear is about the only bit of original paneling left (I tapped it with my finger to make sure).

I had forgotten that they also had the remains of RM-9 Arai-te-uru as well. This looks much sadder and I doubt there is enough original material here to do anything with it short of a full rebuild.

Also in the shed was one end of the twinset railcar, RM 121. This is coming along slowly.

The 3rd railcar on site is RM31 Tokomaru which is a 'runner'. When I arrived it was parked up by the shed.

Photographing it was a bit of a bugger as I was shooting into the sun.
'Don't worry mate, give me a minute and I'll move it for you. Where would you like me to stop it for you?'. Well, they were going to put it away, but still it was nice

There was also time for some detail shots recalling a bygone age of craftsmanship.

There were a few items that I had forgotten were at this site. how could one forget the other Drewery, and still the prettiest TR class on the NZR. One day I'll make a running model in NZ120.

In the future projects shed I spotted this under a tarp. Its a guards van, but closer inspection reveals that it is a clerestory roofed version (one of only 2 left I think). Another thing that I noticed was the full width underframe. The other restored van F139 has a narrower steel frame.

I knew that the Excursion was due back in Palmerston North at about 3:15. so, which seemly heaps of time I drove back over the Pahiatua track. On they way I spotted this from the side of the road.

Finally I arrive at the Railway station at 3:15 to be greeted with....

'Its a nice crossover...'

So, 100 odd km later and no shots of the train. However by no means a waste of a day.
(Thanks very much to the Pahiatua group for allowing me to wander round. Always remember to leave a donation when you are having a look round and photographing items. If it was not for groups like this we would not have the items to look at in the first place)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Trackmaking XXVI

Well, continuing with the track making, its time to move onto the 3rd module. The plan is to put in the main lines and then the loco depot tracks. First up I checked the track template that I had created.

'Someone has blundered'

This alignment is very important as it sets up where the tracks into the shed at the other end of the module are, so I couldn't just shuffle it over, but instead had to re-draw it.

'A very important picture of lines on paper'

Its one of the drawbacks of the system. still, it only takes 5 minutes to sort it out.

And then we get to draw out where the sleepers are.

At this point I headed in for the night as it was getting rather chilly in the Man-sion. I either need to get a small heater or a really big soldering iron.

I've also been doing some thinking in the last week about the possibilities of running wagons with Peco wheelsets. The current thinking is that if I widen out the clearances on the mainlines they can run through without shunting.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Trackmaking XXV and a bit of a milestone

Well, this is the 900th post on the blog. I'd like to thank my fellow contributors, though they seem to have been rather quiet of late. 900 posts is a hell of a lot of information and I must admit that its getting to be a bit of a paint to navigate through. I'm thinking of taking some of the project threads and putting them up at, similar to what I did with the Trackgang railcar build. however this is not going to be a quick process (ie its so far behind anything else its not funny!).

Another thing that has ventured across my tiny brain is that its a year (or less) away to the next big NZR convention. That's only 11 months to get those projects started and finished. its something you out there in reader-land should aim to do. if we can get a sizable amount of NZ120 models in one place (and possibly even a layout to run them on) it would be a good leg up for the scale. Its going to be 23 years since John Rappard displayed his ground breaking Dunedin and Port Chalmers layout. It would be nice to see something equally exciting happening.
get to your workbenches chaps...

Things I have learned today. Code 40 rail is sharp enough to cut fingers reasonably deeply if you run it across them while holding too tightly. Superglue stings when you are using it to glue bleeding cuts closed so that you can carry on building point work. And blood doesn't seem to act as a particularly effective flux for soldering....

So, here is what the finished article looks like (sans tie bar). The large rail at the back is code 55, which shows you just how small it really is. The radius is 600mm which is the minimum radius I'm using.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trackmaking pt XXIV

Went along to a local modeling group the other night (as I commented on in the previous blog post). Turned up at the hosts house to be directed out to the shed. The layout was US Ho with a Rail Command digital control (I think its not DCC, but a pre DCC system). the layout had some very nice modeling on it with a very well modeled desert scene. They were a good bunch of guys, but I don't think that the US scene is quite what I'm after. I guess I'm looking for a kit building/scratch building group similar to that which I was a member of in Nelson. However I'm not sure if such a beast exists here in the Manawatu.

In other news, I managed to get out to the Man-sion this afternoon. While waiting for my next order of rail from Woodsworks I figured I could try assembling a point from the code 40 rail that I had on hand. I had planed to use code 40 for the yard tracks leading to the air-rail shed. I had drawn this out at some point, but it appears to have vanished in the move. Here is the spot.

The tracks have to come from the right hand side and then curve round to run parallel to the tracks on the left running past the fulling point to the turntable. Here is the track template.

It is completely different to the previous one where the point was on the curve. I like this one better as there is more space for some other scenes that I want to include. The sleeper placements were then marked out.

Using the sleepers from the 2mm association I then placed them using double side of tape. At this point I was going to lay out exactly what I did, but the blood rushed to the head and before you know it...

I'm in 2 minds about this code 40 rail. Its really fiddly to work with, but on the other had its incredibly nice to look at.

"Mmmmm, Pretty''

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oh god not again....

Happy birthday to us.

'Oh gawd, when will it end.....'

That's right, you favorite blog has turned 3. No, this one...the one you are reading now.

Well, I was going to write something philosophical like but I cant be stuffed really. I've been having a series of groundhog days at work, but have finally beaten my problem, so will have to face the next one. I suppose I could point out that we average 300 posts a year, and there might even be some good ones in there.

I have however been out in the shed doing a few wee bits here and there. Just to ease myself back into things. Strapping applied to a couple of J wagons, underframe bracing on the R1. I also spent 5 minutes wondering where the fish plates I applied the other night had gone. Paint them and they vanish. I'm now divided about putting the rest on.

All things being equal I'm going along to a local modelers group tonight. Will be interesting to see how the do things up here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wagon time

From the dandruff wagon workshops this past weekend.

Quite a while ago (ie I can't remember at all) I received a casting for an R1 from Christchurch which i had never seen before. I had some old crappy Atlas bogies attached to it and was planning to put it in the coaling track in the loco depot on the layout. However I was sitting at the workbench looking at the 2mm etched bogies I had assembled and suddenly though, "I wonder if they will fit under that?'

The answer is obvious. Now all it needs is the underframe details and its done. I just have to come up with a wagon load for it.

I also tried some bogies that I've recently come into under the Yd. While not quite correct, they are free rolling and have NMRA standard wheelsets.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A package from the mother country

The package from the 2mm chaps turned up at the end of the week.
first up the sleepers. they seem to be cut from 0.8mm material but are the correct size. Well, good enough. 1000 for 10 quid.

Next up a couple of etches. The one on the left is various adjusters and links for point roding from signal boxes. the one on the right is fish plates.

'I must be mad....'

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend report

Well, not much happening modeling wise here, but all that seems set to change.
I've just had the Paypal notification that the first of my orders from the 2mm association has been processed, so a stack of PCB sleepers and other bits are currently winging their way here, and track making can again start in earnest.

I've also been doing some more thinking about point actuation, with my spiraling circle between servos, memory wire and just plain old manual throws. manual throws would be nice, but if i want to operate from both sides of the layout, I'd have to come up with something that I think is a bit beyond my meagre woodworking skills.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Your wish is our command

Further to Wee Duggies comments on Opua wharf, here is the track plan as I can't remember if it has featured here before (Oh, it sort of has).
However heres the actual track plan. Not only the wharf, but also the station is incredibly neat.

(We must restart the layout ideas section here, or maybe a design a station section)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Un coupling

Something that has been rattling round my brain for several years now has been a method of remote uncoupling with DCC. My neurons have looked at and discarded several ideas, and asked 'where is the beer?' Last weekend something gelled when I was thinking about something else, and so I wandered out to the Man-sion to knock up a prototype.

My previous tests had revolved around electro magnets behind the buffer beams. However there was always the problem of fitting a large electromagent....well....anywhere really. This then sort of evolved to several neurons mooting an actuating rod through an electromagnet that fortunately died a death in a second bottle of red wine late one night.

The latest idea has turned back to something that my inner geek has always looked at and thought 'that would just be cool'. Memory wire has been mentioned before here but more in the 'cool toy in search of an application'. Here is one that I think might fit. Memory wire shrinks about 3.5% as it is heated ie when a current is applied across it due to some weird chemistry stuff which I should be able to explain but can't as I was asleep that morning in class (it was warmer than the flat).

So, not actually having any memory wire I made do with the bits I had. The main hurdle was to design a linkage of some sort to modify the motion for the microtrains coupler. 2 Minutes with a bit of plastic and some copper wire and the first prototype was born.
(the wagon is being used as it was available, not because I'm planning to put them in wagons...)

This was designed to pull the coupler sideways while keeping the linear motion of the wire. The required pull distance is only 2mm so a length of memory wire of about 60mm should do the job.

'Must buy a tripod'

The prototype seems to work, so the next step is to actually build a real one.

One problem that has occurred to me is that when going round corners the couple has to move to the other side which should be limited by the solid wire linkage. There might have to be a spring in it somewhere to allow some extra movement.

Friday, April 01, 2011

While I was Sleeping...

Am_Fet writes:

Back in yon old days, our models were all English with large dollops of Hornby and Lima. Running was hesitant at best and was quickly consigned to large boxes when other "pursuits" took over. Hornby suffered from huge gaps in the running gear and those couplers! Lima was powered by "Pancake" motors, so named as they had trouble pulling the cream off one...

And so these English monstrosities were pushed aside for the American ideal of central motors and all-driven wheels and quietly forgotten....Sure, I kept up with what Iain Rice was up to, and I love Chris Nevards blog, but I still thought of English off-the-shelf models as...well, toy like.

So imagine my surprise this week when I purloined a copy of "ModelRail" magazine from the Train Control Lending Library (Swipe Access needed) to find it had all changed! The Chinese (via Bachmann and others) were flooding the market with superb 4mm locomotives....just look at this 7F for example (from Chris Nevard):

That is just superb....and I dont think that many "finescalers" would be able to do better with an etched kit. I think from memory the first RTR that really made me sit up and take notice was the (now quite) old Peppercorn A1 form of my faves...

In our sphere, one doesn't have to look further than Dapol, now under the Bachmann stable as well. The recently released B1's in N are really just exquisite; Gone are the pizza-cutter wheels, and in fact the whole scale in England is experiencing a bit of a renaissance:

Even the layouts are improving. This is Glenuig by Gary Hinson in 4mm...just love the grunge on those Mk1 carriages:

(Actually, I look at Glenuig and wonder why we dont see more NZR layouts like this...)

I think that the biggest "tick of approval" for this new surge in high fidelity RTR English trains is the fact that Tim Shackleton, one time editor of the erstwhile Model Railway Journal (The Brit one), is now writing articles showing how to weather up the new crop of models, and not a P4 wheel in sight. In fact, after looking at all of these new toys now on the market, I'm starting to find MRJ a bit..."sniffy"...

Anyway, I suppose the point I'm trying to make is....its all about the technology. Brit modellers now have access to the best that CAD/CAM can deliver; They now have sound and DCC. Hell, they even have Nochmaster style grass on their layouts. No longer are they playing second fiddle to their North American cousins, they are almost themselves getting ahead of the curve....and for someone who has a dull hankering for the days of youth and 4mm English locomotives, that's great.

BTW, if anyone has an old Lima J50 top lying around, I'd love to take it off their hands...