Sunday, November 11, 2012

Too Long Between Drinks!

I've been meaning to add a blog post for a while, but I hadn't really taken that much notice that my last entry was in January! I'd like to say time flies when you're having fun, but this year has mostly been anything but for various reasons.

It's been one of those years where life does its best to challenge you, various illnesses in the family that have involved hospital visits, my job has been more stressful than normal, and my wife's position where she has worked for eleven years has fallen victim to the all too common "transferred to India" syndrome, effective February 2nd next year.

However, it hasn't been all bad, so lets not get all depressed about it, there have been some highlights as well, but almost nothing I have to say on the modeling front, which is a major reason for no updates.

For the first time in years I missed both the Thornleigh and Liverpool exhibitions, both due to things outside of anyones control, and while I did miss going to both of them quite a bit, maybe I didn't miss them as much as I thought I would.

It is probably a result of everything else that's been going on this year that have just taken away my attention from what I'm doing, but my train brain just hasn't been as switched on as it has been over the past few years. Am I losing interest in the hobby, not really, as I still thoroughly enjoy reading everyone else's blog updates as much as ever, and still try to get the latest edition of AMRM as soon as it hits the shelves.

However, the one thing that's probably played on my mind a bit more this year than most, is the continuing lack of delivery of projects that have been "coming" for quite some time now. I'm not whinging about it, and completely understand the reasons why etc etc, but gee it will be nice when the P.O. Box starts to be filled with trains again. Maybe this will spark a renewed enthusiasm and get me back on track, excuse the pun.

In any case, I should try to make some point of this post rather than rambling on with the "woe is me's!"

I think this hobby is one of the few that if you are into in any real way, it's part of your life in one way or another, for life. I remember getting my first trains when I was about five or so years old. They weren't new, but a buch of trains that I think were my Dad's at some stage. They were mainly Tri-Ang from memory, a mixed collection of 4-wheeled freight wagons and one bogie well wagon of some description, that if I remember correctly was metal and not plastic.

The stupidity of my teenage years saw most of these swapped or sold to buy "proper" N.S.W. trains like a Lima 38 Class, 12-wheelers, various A.R. Kits wagons etc. I also suffered a break-in to the garage where I had trains set up when I was in my mid teens, where a few of these models were stolen. Among them was what I think was an early Dublo model of a British Class 20 D8000 diesel.

This big green diesel was my favourite when I was young, the colour, the shape, and it had this strangely interesting"burning dust in the heater" smell about it when it ran, as well as a bit of a groaning grinding noise, which to me made it sound and smell just like a real one! I've added a pic of just what mine looked like, and truth be known if I could buy one in H.O. I'd proudly run it with my N.S.W. prototype stuff, just as a reminder of the old days.

The other pic is of me, Christmas day circa 1976 I think, with my consist of brand new Tri-ang V.R. B Class, with four Hornby Trans Australia carriages, and the rag tag bunch of old British freight wagons I'd inherited in tow. I couldn't tell you how many times they circled the pine board layout that day (it was probably until the little blue power pack grew so hot I was told to give it a rest possibly), and others to follow, but many many hours ours of enjoyment were had.

I also think that this is one of the great things about this hobby, that you can get as much enjoyment as a kid just watching a bunch or random trains running around chasing their tails, as you can from building a fine scale representation of a real location, with period rolling stock and every little detail in the scene you can manage.

The other good thing is that modeling is not always about the result, but simply the journey it takes you on through the various stages of your life, where life's other priorities may at various times dictate the amount of hours of finance you can put into the hobby, but none the less you should still be able to do something interesting to suit those constraints.

So while this year has been one of very little time to spend actually doing anything tangible, hopefully next year will allow a bit more time to get back into things, and continue what started thirty five odd years ago.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow

Whilst the weather outside isn't really all that frightful, and it's too humid at the moment to even think about having a delightful fire crackling away, I thought it might be interesting to try out a method I read about lately for replicating snow.

After having the spare room where my modelling desk is converted into an actual bedroom over the Christmas break I've not been able to get to any of my modelling stuff. However last night after getting home I got stuck into de-bedrooming the place and dragged out my small test diorama that I did some hand laid track on last year and attempted to turn the temperature down.

Something I've mentioned before, is my personal dislike of almost every layout representing sunny days with clear blue skies and typical summery conditions. Granted, if you are modelling most Australian locations, that's a typical thing to model, however in certain places, you do get filthy storms, rain, and snow.

Now I'm not talking about a winter wonderland where everything is buried under three feet of snow and there's no other colour but white to be seen, but more when you have that light drifting snow that doesn't cover everything, but seems to gather in clumps, and randomly covers the ground and structures.

So, armed with some baking powder, I began sprinkling it randomly onto the ground cover and track work, being careful to keep it fairly light and not too thick, so as to represent what you would see after the snowing has stopped and some has already melted.

In general the baking powder does a great job of mimicking the texture and slightly sparkling colour of snow. Gently wiping it off the sleepers so it sits mainly on the ballast and against the track fairly closely replicates photos I have of these types of snow falls.

The next thing that I think needs to be done, is the whole area needs to be hit with a bit of a gloss finish, to try to replicate the slight sheen surfaces get when they are damp, but not fully wet like after rain.

Coupling these features with a dark stormy sky, and possible some lighting with a blue tinge, should go a long way to adding some real atmosphere and representing a gloomy, damp, freezing cold day on the railways, and not the typical bright sunny day.

Obviously depending on the area you are modelling, snow may just not be part of the plan, but if you happen to be modelling one of those areas where snow is semi common during the winter months, this could be something that tickles your fancy.