Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Morning

Well, a bit of a slow week here. Real life intruded in the form of a reorganisation at work last week. Fortunately it was not of the 'fight to the death for remaining positions' kind but there was some jockeying for the new slots until the dust settled. Upshot is that we are all pretty much where we thought we would be, and there are more staff to be hired (and scientists no less). Try finding that in a firm in this country at the moment.

OK, so back to things railways. first up there is a request from Ben.

I am wondering if you might post a comment on the blog about ex-QR auckland SX cars and if anyone wants a set ...if some were etched?  They would be as they looked on the Queensland Rwys (i think Maxx later did something to the doors on the Auckland set, not sure if they had any other changes for NZ service other than that). 
The guy interested in doing them is in the 3mm Society and is doing the Thai ones and doesn't mind doing the QR ones, and they could be shot down from 1:101.6 to 1:120 easily.
Coincidentally this quarters  railfan has a photo spread on the Auckland suburban lines (I would say again, but until they start building something else then its the only game in town. There is a couple of photos of the SX set which runs as a push-pull between a pair of DBR's. Again, I ponder why someone doesn't give modeling the Auckland  region in modern image. Phere is plenty of different themes to look at. Maybe when MMW does the double tracked version of the mini me modules we mights look into it. 

Second up there was a link posted on the NZ railchat group that I'll add. Its mostly kettles in the south island, but has some great stuff from the 1960's for those of us with more nostalgic leanings. theres a also some US and Ozzie stuff as well. 

Finally a small preview of the next couple of posts concluding our trip to the far north, including questioning the official plans at Opua

And the oddest load you will ever see on a flat wagon in this country.

'Wow, I must have been hammered last night. can't remember where I put the boat'

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Up North II

Bit of a change in order today. I was ging to cover the far north, but instead we get the trip home first.

We start our day in Hamilton, an odd city if ever there was one. It sort of feels half finished (and I've discovered that mobile phone predictive text does not do sh*thole. Maybe its 2 words?). Anyway, the trip begins and I'm on the hunt for the bush tramway club in Rotowaro. The only problem is that I'm hunting in Te Awamutu (just don't ask, OK?). After this cock up is revealed, we decide to just head home rather than backtracking 60km. At Taumaranui we come across a twin Ef freight train going south.

And with crys of 'We're train chasing, baby!' (accompanied by stares which prompt the turning up of the car heater less I freeze under the icy stare from the lady of the house) we are off. Handing the camera over to the co-pilots seat and winding down my window we get the following shots.

'Not bad at 100 km'
Not to be outdone I have a go while driving at 70 km, with less than spetacular results.

'Kids, don't try this at home, its a bad idea'
Further south at Pinaka a stop gives these views. I'd cut down some trees but I don't have Mr Bonds gardening skills, or arms 20' long.


The next stop is Raurimu. I assume that the viewing platform will give me a decent view. It does, but is crap for photos. My repositioning manages to miss the train on the first pass, but never fear, you get another bite at the cherry here.

On to the next stop, the Makatote Viaduct. Again, the sun is in the wrong place, but thats never stopped me before.

We lose this train after Horopito. However further south we catch up with 'Dora' running a bit late.

Despite a quick departure from Taihape, we don't catch up with this train before Utiku (15 minutes), and the days chasing comes to an end as we head for home.

This day gave me pause to think about the dynamics of chasing modern trains. In the good old days, when everything pottered along at 50 km, and shunted every other stop, it must have been relatively easy to move to the next position, climb a tree, and line up the shot. Nowdays, with freights belting along at 80-90km its a far more difficult proposition unless one is very well organised.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Up North I

Well, back from our week break, and the occupants of Schloss dandruff ventured to the far north.
First up, Some huge place that's full of roads and cars. However as we were (again) not far from Newmarket, I was able to do some train spotting on the way out to dinner each night.

First up another overbridge that runs parallel to the main road.

From this overbridge we can look up the track to the first station on the North Auckland line which is just round the corner. We even get 2 trains and a level crossing with a difference.

Nice bit of clag as well.
 And as I position myself for a out of direct sunlight the sun, The photography gods conspire against me once more by cruelly changing the crossover

Thus endith part 1 of our trip photos. Coming up, as far north as it gets railway wise, and a day out on the main trunk.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Making poo

DB squeezes one out:

It's taken quite a bit of mucking around over the past two weeks but I've almost applied enough black paint to turn my meadow of meringues into a pitched paddock of poo. Not that it looks any better...

Getting paint all around almost 8 feet of these delicate treeforms took a fair bit of time and elbow grease. As you may recall, this section of the layout will be viewed from below, so it was placed on its side and attacked from the left side of this pic - I wanted to make the sure the underbellies of the trees were not white. From here I'll start greening things up.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Going bush (for the next week)

Well, still busy at work, and just winding down to the first holiday this year. I have however had a chance to have a bit of a hack with the foam. its no fun to work with, and if I was working inside the lady of the house would have some words to say. Some of possibly more than 4 letters.

Anyhoo, heres where we are up to.

This is a combination of charming creek and the Ongarue tram.

Looking the other way

The railtruck heads up the valley. there will be a scenic break along the purple line at the back, and the line will vanish round a corner into a tunnel off to the left.

When I get back I'll get some plaster and do the hillside and riverbed.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

No Man is an Island

DB postulates:They say that money can't buy happiness.

But isn't it hard to stay motivated in a hobby when you are a team of one?

So last Tuesday night I visited what seems to be the only model railroad club on Long Island that isn't full of smelly, drooling, shify-looking, unshaven, overweight, balding, Lionel-train-loving freaks wearing conductors overalls and striped hats festooned with badges (I am of course excluding myself from the count here). There were of a few of that tribe there, but at least it wasn't full of them so you could walk around without picking up too much dribble or other bodily fluids on the soles of your shoes.

N at left (4 BNSF locos are pulling an 80 car coal train), HO at right
I had been to this place many years ago so I knew it had big HO and N scale bowl of spaghetti layouts, and it's pretty much on the way home from work, but the relatively astronomical monthly membership fees put me off.

Let me explain why. This is not a Manhattan or Mairangi Bay demographic, it's more like Mangare. Yet these guys rent a 20x70 foot unit in an industrial block.

HO brass scratchbuilt liftbridge

It's secure, air conditioned and moderately spacious. The big permanent HO and N scale layouts are wireless DCC equipped, with nicely laid and wired Atlas code 55 track (on the N scale layout), the baseboards aren't all cardboard and staples, and some of the scenery isn't awful either although in the tradition of many US layouts, they are a little "urban and busy" for my personal liking.

Interlopers from south of the border

You can say what you want about the quality and philosophy of the layouts, and it does feel a bit weird walking down the model railroading equivalent of a red-light district and contemplating paying for one's model train company, but hey. No man is an island.

Video of the N scale layout. I ripped up that lower line in Tuesday...

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Boxes, Little Boxes.....

More drivel from Am_Fet:

I think I am slightly cursed in having a mind that cant quite switch off from model trains. I've often spent time in boring meetings mentally working out a layout to fit on the meeting desk, or even into a space the size of an office cubicle (back in the days when I inhabitated such a thing).

So while spending time at a friends place last week I was suprised to see a whole pile of old fruit boxes sitting on his wood pile. Apparently they were from a neighbour and make suprisingly good kindling, he said...

I think he was a bit surprised when I asked if I could grab a few. As a box, they are reasonably unremarkable; roughsawn and around 400 x 150 in size. However, turn it upside-down and thats when the magic happens:

Viewed like that, it looks suspiciously like a poor mans version of the MMW module, except ready made. Slap on some foam and some track and youre pretty much ready to go. Stack em up and you could really go to town with a longer run:

From memory, we were looking at a similar idea back before the MMW module ends became reality. We were looking at trying to find some wooden trays at spotlight that would work in exactly this way.

BTW, there really is no version of a "poor mans MMW Module" $20 for 2 module ends and the hardware, it really is a cheapish way of getting started anyway.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Going Bush V

So, a rethink on my plan for the layout/module. I was not overly happy with the tight curve on the mainline which was less than 600 mm.
having a bit of a rethink I then came up with this.

By moving the module ends to the corners of the layout the curve on the mainline is reduced and the station becomes larger, which looks better I think. The other change is on the bush tram side where I've split the viewing area in 2, and added a second loop. The plan is to add a bush camp, possibly with a steam powered skid and a log loading point, but there is a very real possibility that it won't all fit in.

I then started waving the knife around to cut out some of the river gorges. This re aquainted me with the 'joys' of expanded polystyrene...

It looks good, but the mess is unreal and really doesn't want to be cleaned up. I'll have to get the vacuum out there to tidy up. At least its not sticking to my clothes that much. It does give me some interesting riverbed effects though.
I'm now trying to work out how to bend MDF round the edges and get it to hold its shape while it dries. All good fun....

Monday, September 03, 2012

Going Bush IV

More bush tramming. First up, what you are looking for in a Rhododendron tree to supply scale logs.

'Size and cat are optional'

I also spent some time pondering track layouts and have come up with a major rejig, which I'll work on in the next week or so. One of the big questions that I've been thinking about is how deep/high should the river gorge be. The options are 60mm......

And 120mm

The Judge decided that 120mm was the way to go, as I want the trains to be completely dwarfed by the scenery. I've glued 2 pairs of sheets together with Gorilla glue and once this dries I'll get on with terraforming. once tahts done then I'll get the trackbed sorted.

Oh, and with impendng holidays the number of weekends is shrinking quickly before the hutt show, and I have to have something sorted by then.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Back to Broken River

DB temporarily awakes from hibernation just in time for the end of the northern summer:

 I've not had much to post about over the past while because I've not really been doing any modeling. This may be because the train room has become the default storage place for all manner of household junk, or because I've not had a lot of free time, or a million other excuses; but with my good woman away for a few weeks I thought maybe this might be a good time to get back into it.

 As an aside, this was supposed to be the second post in my comeback series (which usually last for about two posts per comeback) but I don't have any pictures for the initial sermon on rail prostitution that will now follow as Senor Druff permits.

 Anyway in this second edition, being presented first, [can you tell I'm watching The Matrix on a full tank of Ben Marco Malbec as I type this? God bless spell checkers] I was clearing out the train room today and decided to revisit the barely started Broken River module. I figured I might as well bite the bullet and attempt soldering some track feeders onto it just to get the damn thing finished, otherwise we'll end up selling the house without ever seeing if this layout in the sky with diamonds thing would ever work.

 As you might have noticed, I'll often happily be modeling along at a million miles an hour and then suddenly run into a minor roadblock (like painting a backdrop or wiring a Tortoise or soldering some track feeds, or putting underframes on my 56 foot cars) that you sensible modelers would just plow through, but just stop me dead in my tracks. And once the momentum is lost, I end up in hibernation for a year.

 So, fortified with copious glasses of resolve (too early for wine at that stage), I managed to solder my way along Broken River with the elegance of an elephant driving a space shuttle through the eye of a camel: a bus wire pair along the length, a few fishplates soldered together, and two pairs of feeders. Wow. Despite being allergic to soldering, that wasn't so hard now was it.


After handing the keys of the Discovery off to the valet, I hot glued some cardboard strips onto the bare left hand half of the layout in the approximate shape of Mt Eiger and covered these with Woodland Scenics plaster cloth. A quick spray of the tracks with some brown primer from a can and suddenly, after a year of pausing, I'm suddenly in scenicking mode, which is something I enjoy far more than the building of the infrastructure which has held me back for so long. So in the spirit of cheap, disposable and embarrassing, I made a few tunnel portals out of corrugated cardboard painted grey and also some tunnel liners (a sheet of corrugated card painted almost-black). Ugly.

About this time I was also thinking about a post on this very blogary that mentioned the use of expanding foam as treeforms. Clearly I was not concentrating on tunnel portals.

Funnily enough, I recall buying such an expanding foam insulation product some time ago and after some rummaging I found it. On the top of the can it said "Dow Great Stuff Gaps and Cracks." On the bottom of the can it said "best before Feb 2010" but nonetheless, I foolishly tried this on a small 6 foot section of the 6 foot module as a test. The stuff comes out like whipped cream from a can so you have to be gentle extracting it, and then it slowly blobs up about 50% into a sticky ball before later setting as a hardish, nonsticky blob.

Unfortunately the drinking-straw-length applicator on mine had broken so I had some trouble aiming the puffballs and ended up getting more than a few sticky carcinogens on me during the process.  I'm not sure whether my life-expired can is truly representative of a fresh batch of the current product's capabilities, but nonetheless, I can report that he results are definitely: ummm, odd.

Now (thanks to the Malbec) that I have regained my senses upstairs, I have actually read that blog and see that they put their blobs in a denser pattern than I on the Cliffhanger layout. 

Any moment now I expect to see Teletubbies and unicorns weaving through the meringues on my layout. Will I get my just desserts? Tune in for the next exciting episode.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Saturday morning

Well, with the engineering work on the bush tram moving into full swing, things on the large layout have stayed on the back burner. Even so, I've made a bit more progress.

Moving on with the module alignment project, I purchased some decent hinges. After a bit of a fight I managed to remove the pins. I then filed the ends down so that could get the damn things out easier next time without the application of quite so much brute strength.

So, here they are in place and I've cut the rails as well. This should work OK. A test run with the Ed's shows that they no longer run across the module joins like a drunken sailor on shore leave. Long may it stay that way.

On another tack I've been doing some more thinking about tramways for some odd reason. Just a few track plan sketches, maybe something more concrete in a few weeks.