Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More modules

Just to show that anyone should be able to build a module and participate, here is one from the German FreemoN guys.

Small and simple, and either a place to display models on a shelf, or the first part of a larger layout.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

MMW Modules - a plan

Am_Fet ponders:

From MD's last post comes this photo from the Fatherland:

I've got to admit this sort of layout has always got the juices flowing....a meandering, free form layout with lots of operating potential and the ability for someone to  perform a job before meeting back up with someone else at a main station and tying up for the night.

Some of you will have heard of Lance Mindheim from the states....he currently is featured in a lot of hobby publications making exquisite models of the industrial trackage in the Miami area.

He has some really interesting ideas about how to make a layout larger via operation....I can recommend you read his blog at

Anyway, these two things got me thinking about how we can do this in a NZ prototype....and found just thing:  The Wanganui Castlecliff branch.


I wont go into the history too deeply, but it was essentially built as a private railway  before being taken over by the NZR.  It was closed under TOLL but reopened when a diary plant and inland "port" were opened at the end, so today the line is run by DC or DBR powered shunts.

However, wouldnt it be fun to model the line as it used to be but set in todays timeframe?  Just look at all these private industrial sidings!

Each one could be rejigged to handle ZH or ZA traffic, and some of the buildings are just crackers.  Take for example this warehouse from the NMACo:

And just to show how simple the track layout is.....

Right at the end of the line was the Harbour Board wharf and sidings which would include some real interest as far as modelling and shunting is concerned.  Hidden over the back where depots for Shell and Golden Bay cement as well, so there is the chance to run UC tankers to make life really exciting.

And you can even model it how it used to be if you were that way inclined....

Okay, so what have we got?  Roughly about 6km of actual trackage with about 10 industries to shunt, a long narrow right of way that suits the MMW modules and lots of photos on the Interweb with lots of support from streetview in Google Earth.

If I was doing it, I would look to support 3 crews of 2 people each.  You would have 2 "shunt crews" equipped with DSC/DSG locomotives who would maybe have "zones" they would shunt from the main yard at the wharf.  A third crew would take a couple of DC's (or DBR's for the adventurous) with main line traffic to and from the wharf out to staging.

I've got lots of industry track plans for anyone interested....its a fascinating wee line well worth a look, I feel.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday morning

(This column fueled by pink cream buns from round the corner mmmmmmmm)

Its a pondering time here this morning. mainly around the convention and associated thoughts.

First up I would like to encourage everyone to go (its Hamilton I know but...) and bring along a model to enter in the competitions. you may not think its that good, but others may have a different opinion. The gentleman who won the John Rappard trophy last year didn't think he would do so well.

The old ghost of 'should we try to organise a modular layout for the convention' rumbled out again last week, rattling its end plates. I know its a pet hobby horse of mine, and I feel I should be driving/flogging it more. However its a lot more difficult given the fragmented nature of the NZ120 population. last century there were strong pockets of NZ120 modelers in Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington. Today I would guess that apart from the Bay of Plenty there are not really any strong groups of more than 2 (please prove me wrong).

One thing we will have to sort out is if people want to build a roundy-roundy type layout, an end to end with turning loops, or a staging to staging type layout.

Eventually, I really want to see something along these lines. I know its not everyone's cup of tea, but it would be fun.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thursday night

Just to report that the ballast glue has finally set without going white.
As you were.....

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday night

Following on from last nights post, I took a few more photos.
The first shows a horrible close up of the hill behind (or in front of ) Paekakariki. I do prefer the look of the 'pre planted' scenic material vs the static grass look. I know it can be done well, but a lot that I have seen looks nothing like real long grass.

 The directionality of the grass isn't perfect, but it does look OK I think.

And as always, I had to have a play, didn't I. the photos are slowly getting better.

I'll have to ask Mr Bond about how to increase the depth of field.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday afternoon

After putting it off for a week, it was time to glue down the ballast. I soaked the ballast with water laced with detergent, then applied thinned down PVA to set everything. What I had not thought of was the glue heading some other places. I also turned the heater on to keep everything warm so that it wouldn't set white

At the other end of the layout there was a hillside that needed some additions. I had purchased some Woodland scenics foliage chunk stuff last weekend. Move over Johnny Appleseed, its time for Edward Bracken and Harvey Gorse.
Well, its not really like that, its just gluing chunks of dark green foam onto the hillside on a random fashion.

The straight line is the join between sheets of scenic texture. It will also do very well for a fence line.
I'm still pondering on what to do about the road and the edge, so I have not brought the foliage right down to the base of the hill.

And that where we are up to at the moment. The whole hillside will get a spray of a dust colour to fade and tie it together a bit better, and then add some trees (possibly of the cabbage variety).

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday morning

Well, its been a while since a post here.
Its been one of those things that I've had some good ideas at work, but they have then been forgotten as I wonder how to push my current 'behind schedual' project along.

So, trying to dredge some of my thoughts out of my memories (what did I have for breakfast yesterday?)

I've been interested to see some discussion in the last week on the location of the Brass Ka locos that were made 25 odd years ago. This was going to be a 'first of many locos and came along just after the 30' guards van. These models still command premium prices on trade me, though whether its a sound investment like Mighty river (which I thought I already owned part of...) I don't know. This then sort of leads into brass locos for NZ 120. I think that we are probably doomed on this point as none of use have hugely deep pockets, and I have no idea about how one would go about this. Its the same with RTR from china. it seems like a huge punt, and I have no idea how one would go about these things. You would have to have a swag of money up front to do it, and a very solid hand on quality control.
And which protiotype would you pick. An Ab, or a De? Maybe a Dsc or a Ja or even a Ka. who knows?

Ok, so that's out of the way, what about some  loco kits (for kettles ). Again I'm not sure how they would sell, and like any kit, would they get built? I believe that the uptake of Kiwitrains models has been solid (but not spectacular) and so whether or not others would be willing to dive further into their shallow pocket to buy a fine scale model is an unknown. Its easy at the front end where people say 'oh if you made one I would buy one'. Its when the kit actually is available suddenly you get the 'oh sorry, not today'. The same goes for the 'If you made X then it would sell'. J sheep wagons anyone?

Finally, the fliers are out for the model railway convention in Hamilton next Easter. Now Hamilton is a place that has never inspired me to visit again, as downtown on a Friday night feels like Palmy on a wet Tuesday night. having said that, I will probably go, and its just a question of what I take with me. I'm not sure about any competition entries as they do suck modeling time away from projects that would be larger volume wise. Layout wise I'm still not sure about taking Paekakariki. maybe its time to get people behind a project like a modular layout. is 10 months enough time for everyone to build something to display?

I've also been allowed to expand the DCC control system (birthdays are good things) and so we may add another handset. I've also put the geeks on looking at adding throttles using a PC to Loconet adaptor and wifi, so that smart phones can be used as mobile hand helds. Again, its not something I've seen on shore in this country. However given that there is not solid on line presence for other scales we don't have any idea what people are doing, do we. The same goes for modelers of other prototypes in this country. Does there need to be a central New Zealand railway modelers forum so that we can get ideas from other scales, and vice versa.

The peanut galley open!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

More blasting

A small amount of work this weekend sees me teasing the ballast out a bit more. I'm now onto the smallest brush I could find. Even so, it does take a while to do.

I'm sort of happy with it. It's just the fact that once its glued thats it, there's no going back.
I'll have to check the overnight temperatures this week so that my glue doesn't dry milky.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Jobs I hate


Its not done yet but its a complete PITA. I stiil have to do the sculpting and then glue it. Next time I'll do it in smaller areas.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Sunday night

Further work tonight assembling all the bits from yesterday. It was a bit dark and wet. armed with the correct screws this time things just flew together, which was nice as its not overly comfortable working on a hard concrete floor.

Getting everything into place and setting up the locating hinges.It was a bit of a strain, but I'm not planning to move it very often.

 I now need some more 3mm MDF to surface the module prior to putting the turntable on.

Looking at this tonight I am now pondering if I need a scenic divider between the fiddle yard and the layout. In reality its just a big flat area with no tree lines or large collections of buildings. I may just ballast and scenic the fiddle yard and use it as a model display area. I'm hoping that getting this finished will allow me somewhere to put all the rolling stock that currently is all over the Man-sion.

In a related question, does anyone have any photos of the main line at Paekakarikiarround the loco depot?

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The ends

It has been a long time since I have cut out the bits for a module(here and here). Today my wood working skills were again disinterred from their grave and dragged into the cold light of day.
While my collection of tools is sadly lacking, I do have friend and her collection of power tools is amazingly good. So this morning I purchased a sheet of plywood and headed out to get it cut up into bits. It only cost me a pumpkin. I then brought everything home and started assembling.

Progress was terminally halted late in the day by a terminal lack of long screws. Another visit to Mr Mitre 10 is in order.
'No appendages were removed during the cutting of this plywood.'

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Monotonous boring jobs

Sleepers are not a fun job. Its a long repetitive job, which never looks quite right after you have done it. Once I'm into the rhythm it goes quite quickly though. I had left the sleepers I cut last week soaking in dilute black paint for 4 days, then took them out to dry last night. Spending an hour I managed to do an entire 4' length.

Spacing is done by the mk1 eyeball and the sleepers are lined up on one side with a ruler edge. No skill just plodding on.
The other line I have managed to save for tomorrow night. Can't have too much excitement can I.
Update 2/5/2013
And the second track is done.

Tonights work brought to you by Palmerston pale ale