Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A question

Pondering time today. There has been a rush of work on the 3D CAD printing lately, with quite a few models produced. The quality of the print is not easy to make out at the moment, but for those of us wanting a 'close enough' model, the future does look bright. I must admit to being unconvinced but far be it from me to stop anyone making models, as long as they are in the right scale. It even has me wondering if I really need to put wires on the insides of my J sheep wagons (they are a pain in the ass to do and there are quite a few of them to finish). The inner finescaler seems to be rather quiet on this one as I'm keeping him occupied with dreams of 6 and 8 coupled loco mechs. I'll have to find a coin to toss.

This also raises the question about the state of S scale at the moment. Is there anyone actively modeling in the scale? Is there any progress? Is there a forum that we don't know about or has the scale fragmented into small groups isolated from each other? Likewise for the 'other' 9mm scale.
Enquiring minds do wonder....

Monday, October 29, 2012

RailEx - Day 2

 RailEx, I'm back at RailEx. Back in the horticultural hall where 19 years before Darryl and I built our first NZ120 layout together, the night before the show.

Since I don't do religion, getting out of bed on Sunday any time before 10 is a struggle. 7:30 was a bit of a stretch. Especially when you get to the hall and get asked  'what took you so long?' and 'why do you live in a hick town?'.

Arriving at the hall, I was type cast as a forward thinking adhesive user by soldering iron wielding Luddites and so held up the front end of the demo tables with Michael. My detailed explanation of why one uses adhesives and that heat will not melt 2 pieces of wood together were completely lost on Mish, but she did bring lunch for all, so it sort of balances out. Sitting down,  I followed the instructions I had been left, which was reach into the bag and start whatever came out.

'A lightbulb moment, Just as well I wasn't bending over...'
Fortunately the options were UGA or J.
Anyway off I dived and grabbed a couple of UGA laser cuttings (as I wanted a couple more for the layout). These merrily went together with pauses only to play 'hunt the piece I want' in the bag of bit. Oh and interacting with the public....
This seemed to go well. I didn't scare any small children that I could tell.

I knocked together 2 Uga's and then cast round for something else to do. A J seemed out of the question (I only had an hour left) so I went for the only think left. An enquiry received the reply 'You mad rash fool!' which is technically not a 'No', so I assembled a G scale Uga as well. If there is another one cut, I think I could do it blindfolded.

Also on the table was a 5" radius cirle of track where the Cb and rail truck put in a good day in their first real test run. I started off with running them singularly, but since I had the DCC box I discovered I could run both of them at the same time without too many collisions. The railtruck ran a bit hot, but the Cb was fine after running in circles all afternoon.

All in all not a bad show, I had a quick wander round the layouts but nothing overly grabbed me again. had an interesting chat with a fellow RMweb member about operating show layouts. He had not brought his British OO layout as operating it for 2 days was quite exhausting. A roundy roundy was far easier to deal with. Maybe my grand plan to run Paekakariki is a layout too far after all?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

RailEx - Day 1

Am_Fet writes:

Well, obviously a full weekend leave pass was never going to be a goer, but when MD stated he could only make it for Sunday, I quickly volunteered for Saturday.....so its a family tag team, as it were.

I rocked in Saturday afternoon and found Michael, Mish and Cabbage already setup around their "Kai Iwi" layout and hard at work, although I do think there was a severe case of discrimination involved; Obviously those will soldering irons and panel beating tools wanted nothing to do with those using adhesives, and so we sat back to back all afternoon......snobs....

Luckily Mr Laser had called through earlier in the day and dropped of a bag that, after what looked like a trip across a narrow rutted road at speed, contained several loose J and Ug jigsaws.  After taking 15 minutes to sort out and set up, I got on with it.

Or to be more precise, I didnt.  A lot of interest was shown in what I was doing by the paying punters, so in the first 2½ hours I had succeeded in finish a side and an end....and was beginning to lose my voice in the process.  I had printed out a screenshot of MD's award winning J5, and most people were astonished that the bits I was squinting at actually made up into the model pictured.  Cabbage also folded up one of his brass underframes in a spare 30 seconds and, along with his Nz120 container wagons, created a lot of interest.  More screenshots of Peters burgeoning Shapeways creations featured regularly in discussions on how our scale was being helped by technology (Here is his shapeways shop).

A few highlights:

- "So, what are you doing?"  (My answer was "Going Blind!")  (I got away with using that joke all afternoon...)

- A women and her two teenage daughters (Hello, girls!) spent a good 10 minutes talking to us before admitting her husband had his trainset in a box and in 28 years of marriage it had never made an appearance....and she dispaired if it ever would.  5 minutes after she left, said husband appeared and sheepishly admitted he'd been sent over by his wife....and then stayed for 10 minutes himself!

- Michael nearly getting into fisticuffs with one of those "special people" who inhabit exhibitions (although, apparently, not as many as follow steam excursions which seem to double as Asbergers Conventions) over what scale we were modelling in...."So, its 3mm?" "No, its 1/120"....apparently its all the Poms fault (of which this gentlemen was one) and their inability to do scale conversions properly when it came to make model trains.

- Giving away my meagre collection of business cards (okay, I only had 3!) to serious punters who I hope to hear back from.

- Mish producing (as if from nowhere) a 44 gallon drum of V (or similar sized can) just when it was required.


-Can people please stop using sound???????????  PLEASE???????  Sure, it looks great when you stop and look at it for 20 seconds, but hearing a f***ing CHUFF CHUFF CHUFF noise for 4 hours would have St Francis of Assisi kicking babies....I think it was the monotony more than anything else.

-Realising that I couldnt remember how to put together my own kit (Doh!).  Only had to backtrack twice.....

- Getting a sore back from a bad chair....plus I think I've picked up some communicable disaease, probably from the aforementioned strange punters.

Well, no doubt MD will provide a writeup of todays experiences....and regrettably I have no photos to show you, as no one thought to capture on film the rare sight of me actually doing some modelling (what were they thinking!).  So I'll leave you with a shot of Cabbage providing a creche service to some children of a stall owner....although whether youd get creche registered that involved soldering irons is a bit doubtful....although we only had 1 minor burn from a soldering iron (something you only do once!).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fooled me...

Saturday afternoons modeling session started with the forced eviction of an interloper who obviously couldn't tell the difference between the New Zealand bush and my highly detailed (though incomplete) replica.

'Looks like it might be a bit harder to shift than Hone'
'Seems to have the right number of legs left'
 I'm happy to say that it is now enjoying the exotic delights of an old woodpile behind the garage in the company of its mate who I found trying to bum a lift to work in the back of the car on Friday morning.
This incident has now added 'Weta creek' to a list of possible names for this scene.

With that out of the way, I decided to have a crack at highlighting the Cliff faces. This was done by dry brushing shades of grey starting with a mid grey and working up to a light grey. I will still have to to a wash of dilute black to add the shadows to it, and then glue on some foliage.

The only problem is that it now screams 'bad wargaming terrain!' at me when I look at it. I may as well be playing warhammer.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday morning

Well, there has been a lull in the modeling here this week. Primarily down to things being up in the air over Ralex. Without a genuine deadline I just don't have any drive to actually get on and get the layout 1/2 finished even. I'm also not too sure about the look of my insta bush. more on this later.

'Hmm, OK, it looks worse in real life'
Followers of the scale will have noticed an increasing outpouring of 3d CAD models in the last few months, including a first steam loco top for the scale. I have a wide range of thoughts about this, mostly conflicting between my inner finescaler and his merrily bodging outer sibling. I must commend those working in this new medium for having a go at a wide range of topics, and I will be extremely interested in seeing them in the flesh to make a judgement on the printing process. I'll freely admit to a pang of jealousy as I do feel somewhat left behind, being the Luddite that I am. If this had been round 20 years ago We would have been running with this hard and fast I would imagine, sort of along the lines of a mad arms race with who could build what. It was bad enough back in those heady days when the weapons of necessity were paper, plasticard and superglue ( oh hang on, they still are to some extent).
One thought that I did have is that while its nice to get a 1 piece top (and for the majority of us that would do), It might be interesting to investigate the use of metal etching to form the thinner bits like cabs and grills etc. This is along the lines of mixed media kits that are starting to appear in the UK at the moment. Maybe this is a better way forward in the short term until the printing process matures, or the prices for some items come down? Bing the short pockets type I would still 'shell' out for a loco top at those prices, but the wagons seem a bit steep to my mere scientist wage. Maybe I should have been a plumber,. The hours would have been better....

Right, the sun is out for the first time in 2 weeks (I keep forgetting that Schloss Dandruf is 'technically' on the west coast), so there is plenty of gardening to do. Then its off to get some more Scenic textures flock and have a go at the rest of the bush line once it starts raining.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday layout idea

Came across this in my searches for another loco project that will push the boundaries of sanity.

The Milton lime and cement works. Click here for the hi-res zoom-able original

And another collection well worth a look

A collection of bush tram/ logging photos.
I've found this collection very interesting as i know the area quite well having fished the lower Pelorus river quite often when I was in Nelson.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Attack of the meringue's

Time to come up with something clever to make vast tracts of the NZ bush.

Mr Bond had previously had a go with expanding foam, but I figured I could do better. armed with a can of gorilla expanding foam, after a couple of goes it all sort of came together.

'Ahh, they are everywhere....run for your lives!'
After beating them off with a paint brush loaded with dark green paint, its starting to look better. There are some bits that I can't reach with the brush, and I'll have to sort out how to do that.

 Next step will be to use different coloured flocks to represent different trees. I'll also add some larger trees and tree ferns.

I also had a go at the log camp scene but ran out of foam. I also discovered that its not a great smear type filler as it goes to a horrible glue, but keeps expanding. Good and bad points, but it is easy to sort out with a knife.

And last week, someone asked how the layout was going to fit into the wider scheme of minimodules.

Here is the start of the second module.The NZR station will sit on this edge on a curve, with the start of the bush tram at the back and the siding off to the sawmill offstage at the right.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Going Bush IX

Well, after last weeks rush of blood to the modeling regions, the pace has somewhat slowed this week.

I've done a bit more work on the second scene. Mostly just sculpting the creek bed and part of the hill. Oh and adding the back scene for this side of the layout.

 I still have to cut the exit hole in the left hand back scene, but I have yet to sort out just where it will be. I will need to mock up a workers camp and a log hauler here, as well as some loading skids.

I also added a bit more paint to the 1st scene with the undercoat for the cliff face. A bit of green was added to the none grey bits. I then added the track and loco for a quick photo or 2.

Its starting to look a bit better. Hopefully I'll get some more done this weekend, which given that it is the lady of the houses' birthday, may not happen.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In Defence of Brass

Am_Fet writes:

Seeing as I am on leave this week (school holidays and my daughters ballet exams converging creating a need for Dad to become primary caregiver for a few hours a day), I made an effort to take an evening jaunt up to the wilds of Stokes Valley to see Cabbage.  Now, I know the warnings about entering "Snake Gully" after dark, but I thought this to be a mission of great import.

The reason was brass, or rather, our scales love/hate relationship with it.  To sum it up everyone loves the idea of it, but hardly anyone seems to want it when its available.  Its something Andrew Wells found when he started with his Fm/Da/Dc kits and Cabbage is finding it now with his UK/IA/IB wagons (and a little birdie tells me the OM and ZH arent too far away either).

So why the Apathy?

I think it comes down 2 things:

- REASON 1: Difficulty of working in brass

Lets face it, working in Plasticard or White Metal is easy; break out a knife, some files and slop some glue around and youre pretty much good to go.  But this brass stuff?  Cripes!  Doesnt respond to a scalpel, needs a hacksaw to cut, takes an age to file and to join it together, apparently I have to learn to "Solder" (Or as the Yanks say, "Sodor")!  Surely that will involve needing a soldering iron the size of a babies arm....and flux!  Nasty stuff.....can eat through your best trousers quick as look at them, not to mention skin!  Best wear asbestos gloves; actually, best wear a full flame retardant suit, those irons get hot!

REALITY CHECK!    Sure, all of those may be slightly true if you are panel beating in 9mm (and I have, trust me), but this is Nz120 we are talking about.  Most of what you'll see will be etched kits in brass so thin it can be sent through the post in envelopes.  Assembly will mostly consist of folds, and the only cutting you'll need to do can be achieved with scissors or a sharp scalpel cutting onto a piece of wood.  Cleaning up is the domain of needle files, so no big hassle there, cos youve already got some of those, havent you!  I read once that a good brass kit is as easy as folding up a card model, and if it has tabs and slots (most do), then you can even hold it together with a decent glue, meaning you dont even have to go close to a soldering iron.....

- REASON 2: Irrational Fear of Soldering

Once youve experienced soldering, you will never go back, trust me.  And again, because we are working in Nz120 you can consign those foot long soldering behemoths to the back of the cupboard, as all you'll need is a small 12v iron you can grab from Tricky Dickies.  And flux!  No longer the evils of "Duzall" that would eat through a perfectly good workbench in an afternoon....we've now got the joys of things like Phosphoric Acid that, although not quite in the "swig straight from the bottle to relieve halistosis" stakes, is fairly benign stuff.  I'm told even Coca Cola will do the same job at a pinch.

So the whole thing is pretty simple really......hold the bits together, slap some flux around then touch the iron with some solder on it to the joint, everything goes fizz and ....presto.  Solid as, and all in a few seconds.  Dont like it?  More flux, more iron to melt the solder and reposition....sounds easy and it is.

To learn how easy soldering is, Find someone else who can solder......having someone guiding your initial attempts is the best way to start.  However, if you live out in Upper Golfballawao and the nearest soldering expert is at the local garage 150 miles away, leap in and have a go!  Really, what have you got to lose?  Apart from burning the house down of course....

Anyway, thats the end of todays sermon......to end up a bit of show and tell.  I filmed Cabbage putting together one of his UK kits from scratch to being ready to have a blob of glue or solder to hold it together to show the process, and from go to woe it was about 15 minutes (with a break while we tried to find another camera after the first card got full).  BTW, his workbench is off the family room and Marissa and Jo were watching "Distraction"....hence the background noise.  Oh, and the second camera seems louder and...well, different.  You have been warned.

Railex bombshell.

Well, this will put the cat amongst the pigeons (or among those with large layouts).

 (posted on the NZ railchat group, but from what I've heard its true)

Dear Railway Enthusiasts
This is a preamble broadcast update to all on my RailEx address book, relating to The Lower Hutt City Council formally cancelling the availability of The Lower Hutt Town hall for our upcoming exhibition. This follows their evaluation of  a recent earthquake assessment report.
This does NOT affect the neighbouring Horticultural Hall which we have generally used in tandem to host the RailEx when in Lower Hutt.  
The RailEx committee had been aware of the report and had made enquiries that indicated any impact would not likely affect this years show, and I had indicated this  understood status in communications over the last month. However, yesterday we received formal notified that the Town Hall was to be closed for use, effective immediately.
A meeting of the RailEx committee this evening has resolved to proceed with RailEx 2012 using the reduced footprint of only the Horticultural Hall. Advertising had just started with billboards being erected this week/weekend and newspaper advertising committed for next weeks print schedule
This will necessitate a reduction in the number of exhibitors and the available space for others.
For those who have been involved with the lead up to this years show, please expect a more specific notification of how this situation may affect your exhibits 
Peter Clapcott
Secretary RailEx2012

Still not sure where this leaves the MMW/NZ120 modular group, but I'd imaging in a slightly better position than those with a layout the size of a small south pacific nation.

Saturday, October 06, 2012


This was going to be a morning post but it seems that daylight savings has finally caught up with me.

I received in the post yesterday some more rail joiners and so this week I'll make a start on the track work.

Given the burst of layout building this last week, I've also been thinking about layout choices in general. I'm a great fan of large 'trains lost in the scenery' type layouts. However my experiences with my bush tram layout (which I must give a name) have got me wondering 'have I missed something?
If I had worked on smaller layouts I may well have got a wider variety of modeling done. primarily at the moment I do rolling stock and track. I'm at a bit of a loss on how to proceed into buildings and ground cover. The bush tram has been a bit of fresh air as I'm just firing on and solving problems as they occur. Maybe its because I feel I don't have quite so much emotionally invested in it if things don't quite go to plan. Contrast this with Paekakariki, a mammoth undertaking. Modeling a well known spot has a certain level of expectation that you are going to get things correct. I'm also not 100% confident about my track making skills at the moment either. Will the track last 10 years or so? will it last if I ballast it tomorrow. i its ballasted how easy will it be to repair? All wee things that hover at the back of my mind. With the bush tram I'm not overly worried about any of this.

Also, as a question, how many of us are off to Railex, and how many modules will we have?

Friday, October 05, 2012

Chasing Trains Wahoo

Further to the research into a prototype for the new turning modules for the Micro Model World end plates we stopped at Taihape station to check out the public facilities and I remembered 0-4-4-0T talking about using this station as the location for the 3 track curved yard.
Yard looking south 

Bridge in the background would from the scenic back at one end of the yard. Nice and easy to build the over head as well

 Yard looking north 

On the way to Waiouru we come across a freight heading north with an interesting mix of locos on the front
Guess the diesels were just hitching a ride north. Watched it cross the northern explorer at Waiouru.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Going Bush VIII

Cutting & gluing & carving & smearing continues a pack out in the Man-sion.

First up the gorge scene. Added tonight was the last of the scenic break and more of the magic filler. Its not perfect but tidier than any of the alternatives. I've found a good way to apply it is with a large artists brush. seems to work (for me) better than a spatula.

I also started on the second scene, 7 mile camp. More messy carving and adding the back scene formers. The track is (again) just to show what the track plan will be like.

And finally heres the overview of the other side of the module (the one away from the NZR).

The left hand scene is not quite the way I had envisaged it, but it is very hard not to overestimate just how much space you have to do things. The far left will be the fiddle yard and the mill siding from the NZR station on the other module.

Breaking New Ground

Am Fet writes:

At the local club Tuesday night, Cabbage surprised us all by sashay-ing in with his new Nz120 turnback loop..... So taken were we all with it, that plans were immediately put in place to begin terraforming the stark whiteness into something a bit more interesting....and luckily we had the correct tools on hand...

With any luck Cabbage will publish a write up of his latest discoveries in "insta-layouts"....its a good'un!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Going Bush VII

Well, either I'm on a roll and the creative juices are unblocked, or the drive on a deadline (which is 25 days away chaps) but the upshot is more modeling tonight (the most in quite a while).

After painting everything last night, it was time to spread the white filler again. Now, this stuff is not cheap ($20 a litre) but once you get past that, its actually quite good to use. There's not the mess of plaster either (which in this case has been replaced by the expanded poly crap). So after starting off smearing it on with the good old screwdriver, I got out a paintbrush to get some finer detail. This tidies things up till the filler sets some more. While waiting for this I added some back scene formers from wood veneer that I had acquired in a trade for PCB sleepers. These were cut to the correct height to give a module height of 40cm (chosen to fit into the car when stacked face to face) and then attached with gorilla glue and pins. I'll add a smoother surface once I have more of the shrubbery in.

 I've added the tunnel at the back which needs a bit more work. however its sort of looking the way I had envisaged. If only I still had some moss from the old days to make trees.
And here's what it looks like from a lower angle.

(As always, once I get started there is the complete mind blank on taking pictures until the end of the evening.)

Monday, October 01, 2012

Going bush VI

Right, back to the shed.

I got tired of looking at the expanse of white and so decided it was time to throw a bit of colour around. The end result is this.

Its a start, and I can now start blending in the surfaces to make it a bit less layery. I can see I need to make another moonlight raid to get some more road gravel for my patented west coast river bed making method. Then tehres all the bushy bits to add on top, which will hide a multitude of sins. First up will be the cliff face, which currently looks like....

Cake anyone?