Sunday, December 18, 2011

Silos, Steam Train Tours, Wheels, and a Merry Christams!

I feel somewhat slack when looking at the date of my previous post, Wednesday, June 29, 2011. The second part of 2011 has not been so fruitful for modeling, and although few little things have been done, there has been nothing worth of a blog post.

In July my wife and I went on a trip down to Robertson via the Southern Highlands behind 3642 with 4490 assisting, and travelled in the rebuilt GMS 1, which has been built from the ground up pretty much into a beautiful lounge car with an open observation platform at one end.

The trip was very relaxing, and the service provided for this carriage was exceptional, with very nice food, and plenty of it! Anyone who knows Robertson would appreciate that in July it’s far from the warmest place on Earth, and that typical Southern Highlands “breeze” blowing didn’t help in making it all that comfortable walking around Robertson. Surprisingly though, traveling out on the observation deck was almost completely wind free and quite warm, with basically unrestricted 180 degree plus views.

I bought a whole bunch of RP25/88 wheels in various axle lengths to replace the RP25/110's or similar in some of the RTR items I have, mainly some of the smaller 4-wheel items like S Trucks and RU’s. I popped some into one of the Lima TAM’s I have, but I think what I will do is put the RP25/110’s that I replace in some of the other items into the TAM’s as the heavy bogie sides really obscure the wheels to the point where flange depth aside you’d be hard pressed to tell what wheels are in there.

I went to the Liverpool Exhibition in October, and whilst I enjoyed wandering around for the first time on the Sunday morning, which was so much more crowd free that the Saturday typically is, I felt that this years exhibition was somewhat lacking in anything really new or interesting.

The large O Gauge layout Arakoola was brilliant, and a highlight for me, and although I don’t model in 7mm, the result, if you have the room and the skill is impressive. The locos and rolling stock appear to have much more bulk about them, they actually look heavy, and move with so more momentum to them than the smaller scales.

With continuing house renovations, and a slight change in purpose for the spare room, progress on the shelf layout has completely stopped. In fact it has stopped to such a point, and with the changing purpose of the room now being more of a family room, I don’t think it will go any further, and what little was done will be largely removed.

However, my wife being the generous and understanding person she is, somewhat surprisingly suggested an alternate space for my modelling, a basically purpose built 7.2 x 3.6 meter room that will be situated in the back yard next to the garage.

For those who have been reading this blog from the beginning, you might remember the 7.2 x 7.2 meter garage that was initially going to be where I would built my layout. In that time the mess from moving in has gradually been removed, and more space is now available in the garage, but the reality is without spending a considerable amount of money on lining it, as well as stopping the dust that seems to come in through the roof and around the tops of the roller doors, it is not really the best place to have a layout.

Along with that, the layout would have to share space with two cars and lots of spare parts, as well as all of my tools, a work bench, and other items that really have nowhere else to live. In the end it would be a compromise, not so much on space, but with heat and cold, as well as dust and debris, all of which are a major enemy to the operational effectiveness of any layout.

If everything goes to plan and the 7.2 x 3.6 meter dwelling appears in the near future, the challenge is designing the layout to fit what I’d like vs what can be done without making it an operational disaster. Gunnedah will take centre stage along one long wall, with nice sweeping curves at either end, however fitting in the other areas I’d like to model is going to require some lateral thinking.

I’ve drawn up some initial plans that I might post up later on, and after that I’d certainly welcome any advice or thoughts.

The past week saw me head to Melbourne for two days with meetings at the new head office located in Richmond just near the River. Upon arriving on the Thursday morning a quick tour of the building for us Sydney folk was arranged, including the roof. The best part of the roof visit was the wonderful view of the Barrett Burston Maltings site including the rather impressive concrete Silo’s. There’s a bit of history and information here for those interested.

As Gunnedah has a silo within the yard, as well as the larger silo outside of town, I’ve become keen to study their various designs, and take any opportunity to capture the unique texture and coloring of them, as well as the weathering styles they develop.

Apart from all of that, there’s not much else to say, except to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Hopefully 2012 will see lots more posts on my blog, but even without much progress of my own this year, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your blogs and the wonderful ideas and techniques that have been shared, so keep it up.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want ... But If You Try Sometimes ...

You might find, you get what you need.

With the recent release of the Austrains FS/BS/BSR passenger cars, the debate over the now familiar multi-pack selling method has once again poked its head up.

These cars come in three different packs, each with three cars, one FS/FS/BS set in Tuscan & Russet, one FS/FS/BS set in Indian red with dark roofs, and one FS/BS/BSR
set with silver roofs. Not a bad way to offer them if you have to sell them in a three pack, but it still leaves a bit of inflexibility if you want a little of each style, but don't want to buy three packs which at the end of the day will set you back $900 (soon $990 with the upcoming price rise).

I found myself in this position at the Epping exhibition, primarily wanting two sets of FS/BS cars, but due to my modelling era, wanting a lone Tuscan & Russet car for the mix as most would have been repainted into the Indian Red by the early 60's. I also wanted a BSR, but then I'd have to pick the silver roofed cars, and would have one less car for making up the mail trains that don't use a BSR.

I had a bit of a think about it, and figured the most workable scenario in the end, would be to get a T&R set, and a dark roofed set. At worst I had a couple too many T&R coloured cars, but not knowing how long the sets would be available I didn't want to gamble on maybe getting another set at a later date when the bank balance had recovered from the exhibition!

I figured that anyone who only bought the T&R sets would most likely want all of them, however thought that there may be a few people who like me would want just a single T&R car in their lash up but would rather have the two Indian Red sets if three whole sets weren't in the budget..

The other thing was, looking at a typical mail train of the era, the FS/BS cars were often complimented by the 12-wheel TAM sleeping cars. Lima released these cars onto the market in the early 1980's, and although time has marched on, they are still the basis for a decent looking model once a few details are taken care of. Better wheels, full height roof vents, interior, couplers etc, nothing too high tech or particularly expensive at the end of the day.

The Lima cars are semi readily available on Ebay, but the prices vary somewhat, you've then got postage charges, not to mention no control over being outbid and having to pay crazy postage prices sometimes. There had to be a better solution to getting a couple of TAM's as well.

So it was over to the Aus_Model_Rail group, and up with a post on a simple solution to getting what I, and hopefully someone else wanted. Did anyone want to swap a T&R car for a Silver Roofed car, and a T&R car for a pair of TAM's? No money need exchange hands, just a simple barter among like minded modellers.

Within hours I had my answer. An offer to swap my T&R car for a Silver Roofed Indian Red car, and another offer for my other unwanted T&R car for two brand new in box TAM's. How easy was this. But it got better!

On e-mailing back and forth it seemed the person with the silver roofed cars had bought two sets of silver roofed cars, so also had two BSR's as well. I thought why not ask if he wanted to swap one of my dark roofed cars for a BSR, and to my relief he was happy to do so. He got rid of an extra BSR and I got one.

So in the end,
after putting up a simple swapping offer on a forum, and without exchanging any money I ended up with:

1x Tuscan & Russet BS
1x Indian Red FS - Dark Roof
1x Indian Red BS - Dark Roof
1x Indian Red FS - Silver Roof
1x BSR Buffet Car
2x TAM Sleeping Cars

I dare say there are many many modellers out there who are in the same situation with these multi-packs, having more of something than they want, which in some cases could have stopped them getting something else they want due to limited finances.

So instead of just whinging about the multi-pack selling, speak up, get a simple message out there, I have this, would like to swap for that, and you might be very surprised how easy it can be to get what you want. This is the third time I've done such a swap, and each time has worked perfectly, so for me it's a no brainer.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

But Weight ....... There's More!

Thanks to Peter Mackenzie's post on the Aus_Model_Rail Yahoo group, the mystery of the excessive weight has been revealed.

Basically there is a huge big weight inside the tank, about 66 grams by my scales which is the full length of the tank. Way too heavy, and hard to imagine why it was designed to be that big?

In any case Peter's method of removal is shown below, for those of you who aren't a member of Aus_Model_Rail.

"The end cap of the tank at the handbrake end is not glued and can be removed
with little effort.

There is a screw in the middle of the underframe, this retains the weight -
remove it.

The weight should now slide out, the ladder at the open end will need to be
eased out as it fouls the weight.

You can now cut the weight to your desired size or replace with something else."

I found that cutting the end wings off the weight (second picture) and using the fully circular centre section gives a weight of about 26 grams, which equates to a total wagon weight of about 45 grams which is ballpark for what you'd want.

However, I chose to fill my wagon with an appropriate volume of real oil, as I would hate to be one of those toy train players who fill oil tankers with lead!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

4 Wheel Oil Tanker Brewing Up A Storm!

Not just a cheesy title to go with a picture I quickly photohacked, the new Austrains NSW 4 Wheel oil tankers are causing somewhat of a kurfuffle on the various Australian forums and news groups.

It would appear that some people are bitterly disappointed with the items that have turned up, siting various departures from the prototype, and basically accusing anyone of buying these things of being a "toy train player"!

Not sure where that places someone who has bought a few "toys" but will run them on hand laid code 55 rail with sleepers laid out to NSWGR branch line specs along with hand laid points to the same NSWGR specs?

I can see both sides of the argume ....... ummm discussion, and some valid points have been raised, mainly relating to the weight factor, with these tankers being unusually heavy, and making the point that there seems to be no real reason to get some basic things wrong like axle boxes, that would have been no harder to get right.

The other point is that these tankers were always advertised as being released under the Basix range, which means that the super accurate details may be missing or more generic than normal. On the plus side metal wheels, kadee compatible couplers, some very fine and yet very strong handrails and steps are features which you wouldn't have gotten not so many years back on RTR stuff. Remember the plastic wheel dunny seat coupler era guys?

Right, wrong or indifferent, I watched these tankers sell like hot cakes on the Saturday at the recent exhibition, and like my wife who bought me an extra set because she simply thought they looked cute, I'm sure plenty of others were rejoicing at having some "near enough" 4 wheel tankers to add some variety and an Australian flavour to their layouts. I dare say if items like these bring more people to model Australian, then it's basix-ly (sic) a good thing.

I'm not a real tanker expert, so personally I'm hoping the tanker experts will point me in the direction of all manner of photo's, drawings, history etc so that I can if I want try to make a better model out of what I already have.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and those who know a lot more about these things should point out any errors and problems, but in a way that educates and enlightens those who don't know as much, not in a way that belittles and divides people. That's no way to promote or bring new people into our mostly enjoyable hobby.

Peace love and mung beans baby!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Additions and Exhibitions

The June long weekend once again saw the Epping Model Railway Club Exhibition held at Brickpit Stadium, located at Thornleigh which is one of Sydney's northern suburbs. This is a nice close one to me, only about 45 minute trip down the F3 expressway and a few minutes along Pennant Hills Road which is a nice change.

However, as good timing was kind enough to bestow itself upon me, I also got the call from Toms Hobbies at West Ryde through the week that my six packs of PGH and MHG brake vans (three packs of each) were ready to be picked up. So a quick detour down to West Ryde was slipped in before the 10am start at Thornleigh.

These brake vans have been available for a few weeks, but as I ordered mine with weathering due partly to my laziness, as well as being very happy with the Job that Phil does, meant that mine were a little longer before being ready to pick up.

It's very much on the to do list that as the weather again warms up, I'll fire up the compressor and get the air brush out ans start doing it myself. In the mean time I wanted some RTR satisfaction and stuff not weathered just doesn't do it for me.

Along with the brake vans, I'd noticed that Toms had some green 32 Class loco's on Ebay for $400 which is down from the original $585 or so. Whilst there were no green 32's left by the mid 50's, I none the less crave a little colour in what was a rather drab N.S.W.G.R. look as far as steam was concerned towards the end of the 50's. So along with the brake vans a Green 32 was also purchased.

I also noticed the latest edition of the "Australian Journal of Railway Modelling" which is a brilliant magazine, sitting on the counter at Toms, so a copy of that was purchased as well. Not a bad start to the day at we hadn't even gotten to the exhibition yet!

Speaking of green steam engines, I was somewhat surprised and very happy to be presented with a Green Eureka 3813 a few weeks ago by my wife as part of my 10th wedding anniversary present, that didn't quite make it for the actual day. I was sure that Eureka were sold out of sound equipped 3813's, but my wife said that Ron was very helpful in "finding" one for her. A few days later a Trainorama 4201 turned up as well, rounding off a nice "reward" for the past ten years.

But I digress. So it was on to the Exhibition, and we arrived about 45 mins before opening time at 10am. I guess we were about twenty or thirty down the queue from the front which wasn't too bad, and before we knew it we were in. As per usual 99% of those there early head straight for the second hand stall in the hope of a bargain. I waited until later in the day, and in all honesty didn't see anything of any real value there. In fact there was stuff there dearer than what you could buy it in the shops or in some cases from vendors at the exhibition. There were also things there I'm sure I've seen at the last two Epping Exhibitions, so maybe some people don;t get the message!

Austrains created the usual bun rush with the release of their NSW 4-wheel oil tankers, as well as the newly released FS/BS/BSR passenger packs. I picked up a couple of packs of the oil tankers, as while they are not strictly 100% accurate for each version, they are none the less quite nice, and with a bit of weathering they will look the part. I was also amused but not surprised to see a set of tankers up on Ebay Sunday morning that are already up to more than new price. Fools and their money .............

I also grabbed a pack of Indian Red FS/FS/BS carriages and pack of FS/FS/BS Tuscan and Russet ones. Most of the Tuscan and Russet carriages would have been repainted by the 1960's, however I've seen a few pics of the odd Tuscan and Russet carriage still around well into the 60's, and so wanted at least one to mix it up a bit. As you can only buy these things in a three set, I might look to see if anyone else wants a Tuscan and Russet FS in exchange for another Indian Red one. I hear people complain about having to buy rolling stock in bulk lots, but honestly, I'm sure there will nearly always be someone out there in the same situation happy to swap amongst these packs to get a bit of variety.

A few small purchases at some of the trade stands rounded out the spending for the day, and so it was on to look at the exhibits. Not a huge amount of layouts were present, but most were of a high standard.

Jembaicambene is always a favourite of mine. It features some lovely scenery, especially around the river with the bridges, with very impressive looking water that just captures that slightly murky muddy look that is so hard to get just right. Its collection of steam era loco's and rolling stock is always a highlight as well, no dirty big NR's for this layout (thank goodness).

Carlo was an N scale layout loosely representing the Carlingford station and surrounds. I quite enjoyed looking at this layout as I spent a lot of time in my 20's with mates who lived in that area, and I knew the guys who owned the servo on Pennant Hills Road just up from the station. Seeing this area in miniature brought back some fond memories, so for that reason alone I really enjoyed this layout.

The highlight of the exhibition for me though was Bowen Creek, the N.S.W.G.R. themed layout built by
Andrew Campbell and Ian Millard, with track work to P87 standards. Paraphrasing Bowen Creek as being a layout built to P87 standards does not do it justice though. The whole layout is built to a standard that is extremely high, with scenic detail equaling as impressive as the track work. The bridge and river bed section is simply stunning with the washed out ground around the base of the tall tree in the foreground being one of the best bits of scenery modelling I've seen, period.

It's one of those layouts that the more time you spend looking at each mini scene, the more details you see. In fact it wasn't until I got home and downloaded the images off the camera and iPhone that I noticed some of the finer detail. I've added five images to this post which I hope do this fine layout justice.

As well as the pics I've uploaded three videos to Youtube. For whatever reason, they aren't appearing here on the blog in widescreen and the image is chopped off on each side, so go to the following links for the full size vids.

Unfortunately I don't have anything of note to add on the modelling front. Ongoing house renovations seem to be taking up a lot of spare time lately, not to mention the foul winter weather Sydney has been cursed with, making doing anything outside almost impossible, which included doing any real cleaning out of the garage to facilitate getting started on Gunnedah!

In the mean time, work should continue again on the shelf layout in the spare room, so hopefully some actual modelling posts should soon follow.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

1930's Era Narrow Gauge Railway Discovered On The Central Coast

Who would have thought the New South Wales Central Coast region would still have an operating narrow gauge railway that dates back to the 1930's?

The term railway is probably stretching the boundaries of what this actually is, although by definition it fits the criteria, that of transporting passengers, or goods as it were by rail, which it certainly does.

So, how did I discover this "railway" and where is it? The Thursday having just past happened to be mine and my wife's tenth wedding anniversary, and as a surprise my wife booked a short getaway to a place called Kim's Beach Hideaway ( ) which is just south of the Entrance on the NSW Central Coast. As an aside I could not recommend this place any higher for anyone wanting a brief escape from the rat race, but I digress.

Whilst my wife was reading some literature the place which dates back to 1886, the following paragraph caught her attention and she read it out aloud to me, "The railway line for guest luggage has been in use since the 1930's, initially to transport coal that was used for the hot-water boilers and fuel for the kitchen"Arga" stoves".

Of course I had visions of tiny steam powered engines pulling short rakes of flat wagons or tiny hoppers and the like, but the reality was somewhat more basic, although none the less interesting.

After actually locating the track, it raveled itself to be an approximately 18" gauge line, which began at the lower southern entrance, and meandered behind the beach front huts for about seventy or eighty metres before ending under the restaurant which I guess is still located where the original boilers would have been for the kitchen.

As you can see by the image of the rails they are somewhat rusty and decayed, no doubt due to the close proximity to the beach and the close to eighty years of use, but none the less still allowed the lone cart I saw pulling luggage and kitchen supplies to glide along, making the job of transportation a might easier than by using man power alone.

Apart form that, I don't have a great deal to write about modelling wise, although with a week off work I'm hoping to get stuck into a few things so hopefully I'll have something of interest to blog about soon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Big Bad Bob's 8101 in Original Livery - Where Is It Now???

This is a rather unusual post, but with such a keen following of dedicated bloggers out there, what better place is there to get the word out than the bloggosphere.

So firstly a bit of history on the subject for those who may not have been around at the time.

When I was a young'n of around 13 or so, I'd begun reading the Australian Model Railway Magazine on a regular basis. Knowing it was due to come out always filled me with anticipation, and after my four odd kilometre ride down to St George Hobbies at Sans Souci on my BMX on any given Saturday I was either excited to see that latest issue through the shop front glass, or disappointed to see the old issue still sitting there.

I always read the letters section, where readers would ask questions or share information, with some discussions running over consecutive issues. In todays world these are mostly now handled in news groups and forums and what took months back then to find out takes literally minutes in some cases.

One of the first topics that really grabbed my attention was by a guy by the name of Bob Cooke, who always signed off Big Bad Bob. Maybe being a teenager at the time I read with great delight the letters from Bob, stirring up the establishment with a barrage of comments that drew the ire of many at the time.

The biggest controversy was without a doubt Bob's complete and utter contempt for the then State Rail Authority, who decided that the locomotives, rail motors and beautiful old passenger rolling stock should be painted in the then soon to be referred to "Candy Stripe" livery. For the traditionalist who thought that the classic Indian Red and Chrome Yellow lining looked a treat, this was an abomination of a livery.

So Bob began stating that he had found out the whilst in the workshops before being entered into service, 8101 was painted in the traditional Indian Red and Chrome colour scheme, and was hastily repainted in the candy livery immediately prior to entering service. Well, did this open up a hornets nest, and the seriousness of some peoples letters was something to behold. For a hobby that is supposed to be enjoyed the amount of anger this produced was something special to read. In fact for a couple of issues there was actually research and comments back and forth debating the issue, as not many really new for sure of the whole story was right or wrong.

A funny retort to Bob's protests happened at one of the Sydney exhibitions where a group of modellers put together a short train with a look-a-like 18 Class steam engine and some old four wheeled rolling stock, all painted in the then new bright new liveries of the SRA, V-Line and ANR. I've added the picture as I thought it was rather amusing at the time, and showed that some at least do have a sense of humour.

I thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever read in relation to the hobby, and issue by issue Bob continued to stir the pot, until the ultimate act of defiance was perpetrated by him taking delivery of the newly released Casula Hobbies Class Brass 81 Class, numbered 8101, in its "original and rightful" livery painted by a mate of Bob's Doug Rowe. I for one thought it looked awesome, and oh how I wished I could a. afford a Brass 81 and b. have it done just like Big Bad Bob's!

My wish will kind of come true some time in the near future, as Austrains are producing a new model of the 81 Class and are doing a small run of them numbered 8101 in Indian Red, as a bit of a throw back and a laugh to the original controversy. I just hope it looks as good as Bob's did!

All of this now brings me to the present. Most would know that Bob Cooke aka Big Bad Bob is somewhat involved with Trainorama these days, and has a long history of consulting and being involved with having various items of Australian locomotives and rolling stock produced over the last few decades. In a discussion on the Aus_Model_Rail group it has been revealed that this piece of modelling history in indeed lost! Bob seems to have no idea where it currently is after being loaned to someone, and this to me seems to be a bit of a shame.

So I thought I'd put up a post on my blog to see if anyone out there knows where 8101 might be these days? So talk to your mates, get the word out, and lets see if we can get 8101 back to its rightful owner, or indeed back into the hands of someone who will give it a good home "wink".

So if you know something, or know of someone who may know something, please let me know!