Thursday, 14 December 2017

I’m never studying again

I'm sure many of us have uttered this phrase. This is the third time I've said it, but this time - this time - once uni is out of the way in March, 2018 will be free for modelling. At least that's the plan!

I've said earlier in these pages that I think Rozelle Street has run it's course for me for now, and so aside from actually finishing the wagons I said I'd weather this year, I'd like to have a go at another small layout, hopefully one with a continuous run or at least the ability to take on a continuous run in future. For now, it still provides me with a layout that fits with a lifestyle where I can comfortably fit 30 minutes or so to run trains when I have spare time. It's also a great photo backdrop for the few models that do make it off the workbench!

Thanks for your comments on this blog throughout the year. I've appreciated the feedback, particularly at the Malkara exhibition. I hope the methods and ideas have helped and inspired!

Aside from another layout, the electric loco fleet is set to grow in 2018 when the Auscision 85 class arrives, and the sound-equipped Auscision 48 and SDS 81 class are both due before the middle of the year too. Clearly, I need a bigger layout. I'm also putting it in black and smudge right now that next year is the year I finish the supplementary interurban MUB set I've been steadily accumulating parts for for the last three years. 

For now, notch back and coast past the home signal for Christmas.


Friday, 6 October 2017

Liverpool Exhibition and more weathering

I've been going to the Liverpool Exhibition with my brother and granddad for around 25 years this year, so it was nice to be able to do that again as a family this year. You never know how long you've got together, so it's nice to do something we enjoy.

Almost as soon as you walked in the door this year was this great little layout by IDR Models proprietor Ian Ratcliffe. I'm not sure of the curve radius off to the staging, but the whole main portion of layout can't be much bigger in length than Rozelle Street's 1.4 metres. It's good to see another small, Australian-prototype layout showing that you don't need a stack of space to have an interesting and entertaining layout.

Although obligatory, a look in the Auscision cabinet didn't disappoint. I've opted for sound in my 48 class when it arrives, and I'm really looking forward to shunting with it. Delivery will be in late December or early January they reckon.

Geoff Small's "Mullet Creek" was back out again this year running around a lot more of the recently-released and modern rollingstock than in previous outings. Not being able to run my own V set in a continuous loop, you will completely understand when I say that I came back to this layout a few times on the day.

After the show I headed to my brother's place to help him with wiring up his layout. It's set in the mid-to-late 1960s and is based on a "what if" line over the Blue Mountains to the Central West and represents a mid-mountains junction station on that line, with a branch to Bilpin. Electrification ends to the west of the junction, so there's also a few engine change moves which allow for running steam, diesel and electric locos. Off to each side are 'city' and 'country staging yards, with the loop allowing for simply running a train around on those days when you just need to watch some wheels turn. After some fairly simple but time-consuming preparatory work, we had trains running by about 10.30pm. I'm looking forward to seeing this one evolve too, but that's another story.

Back at home on the public holiday I played around with some weathering effects using a simple brown acrylic paint weathering wash. Below is the before and after on some RACE containers. By the late 70s these containers were both faded and dirty, which is a skill I need a little more practice on before I'm completely happy with it. Still, it's better than the out-of-the-box plastic look!

I also had a go at an SDS models LRC RACE container. By my era there was a definite orange hue to the weathering of these wagons, so I still need to play around with that one a little more. I'm fairly happy with the rain-soaked effect for now though.

A bigger job on the cards is weathering up five FWHs to run with a few of the WHXs as a mill wheat train. I thought I'd experiment with this one first and add just a few coats of brown wash. In this instance I used an 80/20-ish mix of brown acrylic paint and isocol rubbing alcohol (rather than 100% isopropyl) without a dullcote layer sprayed on beforehand. I found that the paint mixture would start to mottle the model's original coat and create a streaking effect that I wasn't completely happy with. The phone camera photo below doesn't show it up particularly well, but I've left it for now to see what it looks like with fresh eyes this weekend.

For now though, all of these little steps help build the overall scene to make a convincing model.

Til next time.


Monday, 25 September 2017

Weathering PRX cement hoppers

Today I've used the extra day offered by a public holiday to tackle a job I've been putting off for ages - PRX weathering. 

I had bought a pack of Southern Rail Models' PRXs a few years ago not long before SDS models released theirs. The SDS version are to my eyes at least a better model. So for me the SRM ones are guinea pigs for experimenting with weathering techniques and will eventually end up sold on eBay or swapped with other modellers for more wagons I can't live without. I was really happy with the crushed pastel crayon technique I used on the PCC hoppers a few years ago, but I wanted to see if thinned acrylic paint will give the same subtle look I'm after for wagons that will have only been in service for about a year.

After first applying dullcote to all of the PRXs, I painted Tamiya Grit Effect Light Sand in small blobs around the domes, and coated it in a dark grey and then a smaller area in medium grey to give the texture and effect of dried cement that tends to cake on the top of these wagons. I did this about a year ago, but you could do this part of the process on a Friday night and be ready to do the rest by Sunday.

Next, I mixed together a few drops of Tamiya acrylic thinner, some XF-20 medium grey and about 20-30ml of water to make a thin grey consistency. I applied this with a soft-bristled brush, first liberally coating it and then dragging it down with the brush in streaks. The pictures speak for themselves - this worked better in some places than others... In future I would probably thin this even further and apply in much lighter layers.

I also gave a quick brush of the mixture over the bogies and visible parts of the underframe.

Not being afraid of wrecking these wagons, I went a little stronger with the tone and amount of paint than I really want for my era, but they still fit the bill for very late 70's/early 1980s first-contract run of these hoppers. I was actually surprised how much better they look on the layout under lights and running around!

In the time that it's taken me to write this post I've agreed to offload these two to a mate in exchange for two new, clean SRM NPRYs. Guess I won't have to worry about a market for these wagons when I eventually finish weathering all four!

I look forward to having another go and playing around with the technique, but I'm fairly happy with this as a first go.

'Til next time, cheers.


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Making your own photo backdrop

As promised, this post is all about how I achieved the photo backdrop on Rozelle Street.

On my previous layout I'd used Haskell Backscenes' adhesive backdrops to depict a country NSW theme, however that wasn't going to cut it for an urban-themed, inner-city layout. A look through available commercial options from overseas backdrop manufacturers provided options that were too representative of their European or US origins. Sometimes you can cut corners and hide out-of-place details. Unfortunately there isn't much room for that on such a small layout.

While stumbling over a railway-related video from the National Film and Sound and Archive on Youtube (search for NFSA), I noticed a lot of their films featured large, panning shots of urban scenery. I figured that I could take a screenshot of this, edit it in very basically in paint, and print it out at Officeworks in colour.

After a week of sifting through the NFSA's Youtube archives, I found a film titled 'Rooftopics' which had just the right scene. Being from 1971 it was as close to my era as I was going to get.

So I grabbed this scene above, and after a few minutes using the rectangular 'select' tool in Microsoft Paint, had this:


One shot wasn't going to be long enough, so I needed to duplicate the scene without making it too obvious, like this:

I played around a little more with the select tool and came up with this:

Ultimately this one was better because it spread out the distance between the trees. Some of these and other features which stick out on the skyline, like the church bell tower or chimneys, were ultimately cut out as I went along to further break up the skyline. I made another scene which has the noticeable white apartment block in the last picture below. This is a key detail bringing the scene into a more modern era.

Once I had the scenes printed, I cut a few out and tried them for size and fit. The first one came out with too much of a blue hue, so after loading the picture into a Word document and playing around with the picture colour and contrast in Microsoft Word, I had the below, final outcome:

On the day of the exhibition, I marked the scenery heights on the back board lightly in pencil, and coated the back of the backscene printouts with a gluestick. After lining them up with the scenery markings, I applied them and gently smoothed out any wrinkles or air bubbles by hand.

I still need a fence either side of the factory to help with the transition from front to rear, but it's mostly done now.

So there you go, really easy and something anyone with basic computer skills, a glue stick and the internet can achieve!


Saturday, 2 September 2017

Small details - trackside

I did promise some additional information on the new photo backdrop for this post, and that is still forthcoming, but for the time being I thought I'd focus on two of the smaller jobs I wanted to complete before the Malkara exhibition; Uneek whitemetal lineside details.

I undercoated each of these with a Tamiya self-etch primer, then spray-painted them with Krylon ultra-flat brown to get a good undercoat colour. Then I brushed on various crushed Conte pastel crayons (the same as used for wagon weathering), highlighting areas such as the raised parts of the sole plates with Faber Castell pastel pencils. To finish off, all were coated in 100% isopropyl to seal the weathering. In some cases, I would iso' then add another layer of powdered Conte crayon, then iso' again to seal.

The first of these are some sleepers. These had a few layers of light and medium greys after the Krylon layer, finished with a layer of black powders to tie everything together. I've laid them here to denote where the inlaid un-couplers are on the main.

Next up were the sole plates, finished off with a layer of mixed maroon red and light brown, and dusted with orange in places. A few years ago I helped out at the Zig Zag Railway with the clean up following the 2013 State Mine bush fire. One job was to move fire-damaged sole plates into a skip for sale as scrap metal. Each plate weighed between 12-17kg. After an afternoon of heaving a few barrels' worth of these plates into a skip atop a truck, I can attest that a long-discarded pile of sole plates looks every bit as brown and rusty as this. If anything, I've gone too easy on the orange colour of the rust to adjust for my era, but I'm happy with the result. They're pictured here next to the LCL container-come-ganger's shed.

Finally, an unrelated detail. I've mentioned before the different wagon sizes I keep on the layout at any given time to mix up the challenge of shunting the inglenook. After nearly a year in operation it was time to up the difficulty setting on the layout to "75-foot goods wagon." Voila - the Australian National Railways' VFX by Auscision. The ANR signage on the wagon sets it neatly in the latter part of the 1970s (Australian National Railways was formed in 1978) but before the Railways of Australia four-letter code was introduced in the early 1980s. The era narrows! Combined with the yard signal installed a little closer in from the edge to limit the available shunting neck, this has added a little more planning into each puzzle.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm tossing around ideas for the next layout. So far I want a main west Sydney location in the same era, but under the wires so that I can run a number of the electric trains I've started to accumulate. The VFX will be a neat addition to general freight consists heading over the mountains, and these wagons stick out in the photos I've seen of trains from this era.

The next step now is how to build such a layout in the confines of a small apartment, and how to make it a continuous run without taking over much more space than it already has. I'll be honest - progress on that front isn't going to happen anytime soon, but that's where the designs are heading.

Next time, the Backdrop. Really this time.


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Malkara 2017 Exhibition

With the layout now back at home and everything again stored in the various nooks and crannies it lives in in my apartment, it's nice to take breather and look through some photos from the weekend.

My brother and his partner very generously came down to Canberra and helped me get the layout to and from Malkara, as well as helping me to exhibit it. Shunting a plank for two days straight has it's limits, so I first would like to acknowledge their contribution; could not have done it without you. 

A number of modellers who read this blog came up over the weekend and said hello. If you're reading this, thanks for saying hi. It's always good to put faces to names in what can sometimes be a solitary pursuit outside of a club. Plus it's good to know that the entries over the last few years are helping or at the very least entertaining people!

I don't have many photos from Saturday because most of it was spent catching up with people and just enjoying running trains, but here's what it looked like just before kick off.

An addition since last year has been a custom-built signal, built by Dale Richards. You may recognise his work from many of the Epping Model Railway Club's layouts including Binalong and Bethungra. The upper signal arm is a lower-quadrant signal (for proceeding off the layout) and the arm adorned with an 'S' is a 'shunt ahead,' meaning that the train can draw ahead of the signal in order to shunt, but can't pass it. From what I've been able to ascertain so far from the guru's, it permitted moves in a yard as long as the rear of the train didn't pass the signal (and I am happy to be corrected and pointed to the chapter and verse of a better definition!).

I've added this signal for visual interest, but also because signalling is a distinctive feature which helps to establish the layout in a specific time and place. In the operations we were running, each operator would draw up to the signal, request a 'shunt ahead' path via the horn to the signalman (whichever one of us wasn't the operator at the time) and then draw ahead of the signal as far as necessary without going off the layout. By Sunday afternoon we were using this for nearly every move.

Sunday morning we reserved for some out-of-the-ordinary running. Mainly because we can, but also because these museum-quality passenger carriages spend most of their lives under my bed and deserve a run. Any excuse to get out the Southern Aurora :)

Once we'd had our fill of running those for a whole, normal programming resumed.

 As the crowds started to die down we slowly removed all of the rollingstock via shunting moves off the layout.

I felt sorry for the gentleman who rocked up at 3.55 on Sunday afternoon to only see the X200 shuffling a solitary JHG in and out of each siding until the clock struck four. I couldn't help thinking about a blog I was reading a few months ago - probably on Trevor Marshall's Port Rowan in S Scale blog - lamenting exhibitors who pack their trains up early and leave one token consist doing the rounds to satisfy the requirement of exhibiting until closing time. While the 'horse and cart' consist isn't exactly breaking this rule, I'm borderline on whether it's in the spirit of the event. As much as I would like to keep running trains, I need to get home and my brother needed to get on the road, and we still have to return to work tomorrow. I enjoy the shunting layout, though more and more my experiences are cementing in my mind the benefits of a continuous-run layout in future.

Finally, here it is, almost all packed up for another year. Mercifully, it still all fits in the back of a medium-sized car!

Next time, I'll go into detail on how I achieved the backdrop. 

For now, I am zonked. Until next time!


Friday, 4 August 2017

The night before Malkara

I didn't get to finish all of the jobs that I wanted to before the Malkara exhibition tomorrow, but there's some additions to the layout in the last year which enhance it since it's last public showing. If you're in Canberra over the weekend the show runs from 9-5 on Saturday and 9-4 on Sunday at the Malkara School in Garran. Come and say hello at Stand #3!

I'll upload the post-exhibition photos and an update of how it all went when I get a chance sometime in the next week.


Saturday, 27 May 2017

Preparation for the next exhibition

I received confirmation yesterday that Rozelle Street has been accepted into the Malkara Model Railway Exhibition in the ACT. In between when I applied to exhibit earlier this year and now my work schedule has changed, meaning that I'm going to be away a fair bit more than I had been expecting. Much like the last time I exhibited, it's going to be a series of condensed modelling weekends between now and August!

I'll save the photos of the smaller details I'm adding until after the exhibition, but for now one of things holding my attention recently has been the SDS models' JHG. Aside from being a fantastic, highly detailed model of the most modern of the 'caboose' style guard's vans on the NSWR, it also comes with working marker lights. These are controlled by a tiny (and I mean tiny - I had to gently use needle-nosed pliers), directional switch underneath the model behind the battery boxes. I appreciate the size because it is completely unnoticeable on the vehicle when viewed from either side at track height, even at the slow speeds I use for shunting on the layout. I'll probably run trains without the marker lights for the most part because you need to physically pick up the vehicle to change their direction. Still, a neat addition and probably a sign of where standards will go for future guard's van releases by the various manufacturers.

I also recently took advantage of the Auscision 86 class re-run to pick one up for myself. Much like the SDS models' 81 class I have on the way, this isn't a sign of a blog or era name change. I just like these locos and the Candy scheme is as close as I can get to my era without looking out of place. One of the layout ideas I have for the future is a Blue Mountains-themed line, and should I ever want to go down this path I figured it'd be easier to get the loco now than trying to hunt one down on eBay without paying through the roof for it. And hey, if that doesn't happen, eBay is where it will end up and I'm sure there will be a market for it.

I'm conscious of not having many "how to" posts recently, so I'm planning to use the next few months' worth of smaller jobs to provide some newer content in that regard. Until then it's going to be a little bland here.

Anyway, if you're going, look out for Rozelle Street at the Malkara exhibition and come and say g'day. It's always good to put a face to a name.


Friday, 21 April 2017


Been a bit of a while between posts so I figured it was time for an update.


First up, here's the last thing I've done recently that falls into the 'modelling' category. My granddad's hands are getting a little shaky for modelling these days, so I finished the milktainers last year in time to hand over to him to put on an OSF and start running before Christmas. As I've mentioned in other posts, the Road and Rail Resin milktainers are great little kits to put together. However, there are some elements that take more time and patience than others. I've got another two to go for myself, so I used the opportunity while my soldering gear had dominion over the kitchen table to build all of the ladder frames. Hopefully this will make building those two a little quicker when I get around to them.

New arrivals

The next few arrivals reflects what my modelling had consisted of for the last few months: plonking. In around February I received a pack of BDYs. I'm a bit light-on for open wagons in my freight wagon roster, so it was nice to receive these to provide some colour and shape variance to the traffic in the yard. Once I've collected some white EZ line, I'll add tarpaulins to this one and weather the other as an empty wagon.

Next I received two MBY motorail wagons in the livery used when run behind the Southern Aurora. Most of the wagon is die-cast, so it's already sufficiently weighted and doesn't need eight road rager model vehicles to achieve smooth running. I'm waiting on Auscision's cars to add to finish the wagon off. Getting the wagon out of the packing cradle (and back again) without breaking anything should be a category of scale modelling in itself. Needless to say, they're both staying in there until I can get them out to weather and put on the track for good.

Other news

I got married earlier this month, so most of my time since Christmas has been occupied with trips interstate to buy stuff, meet suppliers, and just generally plan and prepare everything. With the big day now passed, I'm looking forward to using the extra time for some more modelling.

I've applied to exhibit Rozelle Street again later this year and I'm waiting to hear back whether that will go ahead. As with the Hobsons Bay exhibition, I'm using it as a bit of a deadline to complete a number of detailing jobs. Looking at the list so far they all seem like 15-minute jobs, and having seen the success of Billabong Marina using a similar concept, it could be quite a useful strategy to get back into it again. We'll see.

For now though, back to shunting.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Building a shed for the meat siding

I've previously outlined the cardboard-and-paper method I used to construct the overbridge, so I thought I should close out the last of the 'how-to's for Rozelle Street with a little detail on how I constructed the delivery shed on the meat siding.

A few years ago the Australian Railway History had a feature article on the station and yard at St Leonards in Sydney. Included in the article was a single black and white photo of two TRCs waiting in the meat siding at a simple, skillion-roofed building. The inspiration bug bit instantly upon seeing it and Rozelle Street presented the opportunity to create a similar scene. Aside from the ARH article I didn't have any other reference photos of the building and was having trouble locating information about it on the web. That was until one of my many procrastinations on YouTube found this video (from 16'21") which yielded some footage of the building before it's demise. I don't know who posted the video, but I acknowledge their ownership of the content. 

(Image Credit to YouTube user tressteleg1)

(Image Credit to YouTube user tressteleg1)

The original building is a lot longer than what I had room for, but by using selective compression I could capture the main features; the doors, the painted corrugated iron, the chocolate-brown doors, and the brick stilts.

With the hard bit done, I raided the kitchen cupboard for cardboard and made an approximation of the sizes based on the wagons I had at hand and the trucks in the second shot above.

Once I was satisfied that this would fit on a cardboard floor and with enough room for a rail-side loading platform, and allow the tallest wagons likely to use that siding to fit under it, I fit the floor and tested it again. 

I then started to add the corrugated iron patterns downloaded from Scalescenes. As with the bridge, the larger parts were glued on with a UHU gluestick, with PVA applied and spread thin over the job with a toothpick for the finer details. The trees didn't make the final cut for scenery. 

The doors were cut from a specific "doors and windows" printout by Scalescenes. They appeared close enough to me to resemble what was on the building to capture the look, and make it appear believable, if not prototypical. I also added a barge board around the top to both hide my rushed workmanship and because it's subtle detail in the original building.

To finish the model and protect it from any future additions/amendments to the scenery, I gave the whole thing a spray with matte clear (available at Bunnings) from a rattle can.

All up the building took around one-and-a-half nights to build, with a lot of the speed attributed to the materials and the quick drying time of the glues compared to structures I've built from styrene and resin materials.

I highly recommend this method as a quick, easy and pretty forgiving way to start scratch-building if you don't want to outlay a huge cost in tools and equipment just yet. If you want any additional info, feel free to leave any questions in the comments below.


Sunday, 1 January 2017

New Year's update

Greetings all and Happy New Year!
The most recent development since my last update has been the addition of an IDR models X200 complete with Stay Alive and DCC sound. This came to Rozelle Street courtesy of my brother and his partner to mark a milestone birthday recently. It's a great little loco and a welcome addition to the fleet. I'm enjoying the coasting option while shunting particularly.

End of a layout

Hold your horses - Rozelle Street isn't going anywhere anytime soon. As I mentioned in this post about 12 months ago, the layout I had been working on in Sydney in 2014-2015 had been split over a few locations in storage temporarily after we moved. While doing a clean out recently I've come to the decision that it is unlikely that I would be re-assembling that layout anytime soon. The storage costs mount up over time and the branchline junction station concept wasn't holding my interest anymore. Plus, if I did put it back together I'd want to reconstruct portions of it to take advantage of lessons learned in building Rozelle Street.

In short, it had served it's purpose for me.

I put it up for grabs on one of the Facebook sites I'm active on after Christmas and am happy to say that both modules and the return loop have found a new home with a younger modeller who wants to finish the layout and exhibit it this year. It's nice to know it's gone to another modeller and gives someone a leg up.

2017 - Year of the...

Much like other bloggers have been doing in recent posts, I've been thinking about what I want to do in the hobby this year. Aside from the addition of the detail items I've mentioned in earlier posts, the arrival of the new loco has got me toying with the idea of building another layout which could support more varied operations. As I think of plans I'll share them here.

In short, this year I want to exhibit Rozelle Street again (and a little closer to home this time), and weather my cement fleet and meat wagons. Bit of an odd selection, but the cement fleet finishes a project I've already started (I think we all have this problem), and the NRY, TRC and MRC wagons provide a new challenge.

I'll add that progress and further musings here as it happens.

For now, here's to 2017!