Thursday, January 24, 2013

On Holiday III

Well, a bit late, but being back at work will do that to you.

Final site visited on our trip down south was another out of the way preservation effort. Well, not quite technically correct as its on state highway one, but its in Ashburton. Not a top ten tourist destination by any stretch of the imagination.

Anyhoo, The Plains railway has been on the preservation map for quite a long time (over 40 years). It is located on the first 3 km of the now closed mount Somers branch. They have a small range of preserved locomotives, but its an interesting selection.

One thing it shares in common with the Pleasant Point railway is the the presentation of the grounds.

'Simply magic'
The station building originally came from Cust in North Canterbury.
No steam locos in operation today, but just as interesting was the Vulcan Railcar on that day. An extremely useful item for a smaller preservation site to have as theres not the problems associated with maintaining a steam loco and a couple of carriages.Also good for the less than optimal track.

 After a ride (well, you have to don't you) I spotted a sign stating that tours would be given of the loco shed. Asking at the counter, I was told 'Oh, just wander round the back, there's a group working in there today'.

Off round the back, and here we are.

K88 is probably the most famous preserved locomotive in New Zealand, so I don't have to say anything else. There was some work being done on the brakes by 2 youngish chaps.  Ja 1260 lurks in the background. Laird Druff regaled me with tales of hitching a cab ride from Hampden to Oamaru on a trip home to Timaru one night, and hitting 70 miles an hour . On the twisty section south of Oamaru this would have been something. Anywhere this would have been something. I wish there was some way to substantiate the story's I've heard of the speedo needle hard against the block past 90 on the Canterbury plains. The Ja required a boiler washout.

A64. Another ideal sized loco for a small preservation railway. It made me think about an NZ120 model again. Unfortunately she is out of commission awaiting a new 10 year boiler ticket.

Here's another picture of the Vulcan heading down the row of pines towards the hills.

 As a final shot, here are two for the future. K 94 and F 150 await their turn for restoration to running order. The cab and tanks for the F are also on site.

'If I won Lotto...'
So, another small set up well worth a visit. Most surprising is that admission is free and there is a small charge for the train ride. All rather silly really.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Aims for the year

Right, back on deck here at Schloss Dandruff and today was the first day I had ventured back out to the Man-sion. This was just a cursory 'where the hell is everything' trip, but went downhill from there. A bit of a tidy up lead to putting every wagon I could find into the passing loops and sidings. For some odd reason this then lead to gluing some microtrains couplers onto wagons. This very quickly went downhill with springs flying everywhere. after a 10 minute search, and only finding one of three springs, I then proceeded to jump up and down on the carpet in the rough search area to kill the remaining 2 for all time (as I didn't think I should be throwing heavy objects at walls in frustration). Maybe I should look at a different coupler for my wagons....

So, after a bit of time spent thinking (while stroking the hillside, its very soft), I started to compile a list of tasks for the layout. never really a fun thing to do, but I thought I should probably have some aims for the year. This time last year I was gearing up for the convention and so a lot of the work was cosmetic. Actually, reading back through shows me just how much (read sod all) things I got done last year. Having a real job does suck modeling time...

There needs to be some work done under the hood with the wiring. The DCC set up needs to be properly sorted with all the various bits fitted in. I also need to bomb proof the track droppers. The track work needs to be complete with the track joins between the loco depot boards sorted. I would also like to get the end modules built as well. The north  one to be a loop and the south end a fiddle yard.

I think that the most progress needs to be made in the scenes. First up will be to mock up some more buildings (Paekakariki township) and complete some more hillsides. Then start replacing the mockups with real models.

Well, its a start I guess. Maybe it will be done by the next convention. Oh, that's only the plans for the large layout......

Saturday, January 12, 2013

On Holiday II

Wasn't sure if I would have anything else to post about, but surprise surprise theres more to come.

Spending some time in Timaru (the Clacton-on-Sea of the south) I set sail for the local railway line to find something interesting. Timaru is one of the old ports on the east coast and was a major transit point for the farm produce from South and mid Canterbury. There was also a large town to support.

So, onto the pictures. First up, one of the more famous buildings on the railway, just north of the railway station. It was once served by a private siding and wagon turntable (even in my lifetime).

 Looking the other way from the pedestrian overbridge, We have the rather empty main yard and old railway station (now a garage and intercity bus terminal). Its also very ugly in that horrible 1960's style.

 A closer pic of the non-descript warehouses on the other side of the line. Just thinking, their non descriptiveness would make them an ideal shunting layout background.


 Back on the station side of the line, and it gets interesting again. There was once a short passing loop and a siding running back towards this building. The name and purpose are pretty obvious.

 Just as an extra bit of useless information, during one of our trips to timaru, we found a rebuilt Dg sitting in this very spot (though the number escapes me, I think it might have been 2330). I even souvenerred a paint flake off it, which showed just how orange International orange really was. theprobelm then came later as painting the correct shade onto a model looked completely wrong.

Heading down to the south road crossing there is another interesting collection of buildings. closer are 2 seeds stores, and behind what I think was once the (good) Timaru brewery.

And a local icon, the old mill, which was once a night club.


And just to demonstrate the rise from the 'seafront' to the top of the hill, here is a shot looking down on the loco depot.

Friday, January 04, 2013

On Holiday

Well, I was intending to do a bit more blogging over the break, but Internet has not reached some areas of the south island yet (well, easily hackable wireless connections at least). And while I have not seen much in the way of trains (the correct number attached to the phrase "Oh, you will see a few trains on the way down" is 2), there were other things to do. These involved getting on a borrowed bike and setting off into the countryside on selected parts of the Central Otago rail trail. First day was a short trip up to Chatto creek (also known locally as 'sh*thole creek'). The first section is pretty flat from Clyde to Alex, and was a nice warm up. The main thing things to look at were.....

'Trees and dry hills'
Both these pictures are taken looking back towards Clyde just in case anyone gets confused.

Once past Alex the terrain changes and we are up into shist country.

The Trail follows the Manuherikia river valley for the first part of the journey. Its reasonably easy going as the 1 in 50 tiger hill bank is after Chatto creek. there are patches where the valley opens up and we are out into big sky country.
 There are the amazing rock outcrops.

 Probably even more incredible than the landscape, if that is possible, is the mark that the early railway builders have left upon it. This was entirely done with hand tools which defies our modern day imagination.

 So, first day back on a bike for a decent ride since I left Nelson two years ago and a final tally of 55 km.  They lady of the house made it 40 km before her legs gave out and was picked up by the support crew. My legs gave out on the final stretch back to Clyde. When you are passed by a retired couple and can't catch up with them again your day is done. Oh, and at the end of the day I wished my ass was asleep. Fortunately the bike riding and sitting groups of butt muscles are completely different, so the end of the day was not that bad.

 Over the years I have at times kicked around modeling parts of the Otago Central branch. after this day I'm just not sure that it is possible to do it justice unless one is prepared to use a large area and wide baseboards. Even then it is a huge ask.

'How can one model all of this?